Friday, February 12, 2010

Please, talk about Heavy Rain

Proper word of mouth is going to be terribly important for this game. A commercial says "Get ready for the most innovative game of all time" and you thing, "Cool, neater ways to kill people." But if a friend says, "This game is amazing but please be prepared for a completely different way to enjoy a video game. This is NOT an action game," and whatever qualifiers one decides to throw in there. I encourage everyone with some pull (a consistent and popular blog, cubic ass-ton of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, BFFs with someone popular like Felicia Day or Tycho) to help get the word out that this game is different.

The worse thing that can and will happen with Heavy Rain is that someone will tell a pal, "Heavy Rain is **bleep** amazing! Buy now!" and then this other nerd spends $60 dollars and gets something he never expected. Next thing you know, he's telling everyone he knows how pissed he is that this $60 game is crap and GameStop will only give him $20 for it and no one should buy it and it's garbage and arggghhh! And his negative comments spread like an internet rumor that Megan Fox gets nekkid in that kid's movie (I'm going to start spreading that rumor, BTW).

Fun fact: Apparently many people expect Heavy Rain to be an intense, hardcore shooter. They will hate this game, because American's can never accept the unexpected.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Batman Arkham Asylum 2: Setting?

Ok, the way I see it, AA was based loosely on the comic storyline of the same name, right? I would say they are looking at the Batman universe for inspiration for stories. Sure, the Titan thing was new, but Bats trapped in Arkham was from the comics.

So, I've always thought No Man's Land would be a brilliant gameplay environment. But it's such a big story and setting that it would be near impossible for a first game. Then I played AA and I could tell two things. One, these guys could build a No Man's Land game out of this. They handled an open environment, great story, and paced the game well. The nearly perfected the combat and the sneaking and the bat-gadgets. Two, these guys were experimenting. I got the same feeling in AA I got in GTA 3. It felt like there was more to this, but the developers restrained themselves, they were testing their skills and the market, the consumers. I could tell that no matter the setting, the next Batman game would be the one they really wanted to make. And remember how much Vice City blew us away.

So, why No Man's Land? First, you can use all the villains and hero cameo's you want. You have a desperate situation that looks near impossible, a city beyond the brink, and that is when Batman is best. Recall the feelings in Batman Begins when Arkham is broken open, the fear toxin is spreading, and Ra's is about to destroy everything. Intense, and impossible, except or Batman. No Man's Land is brilliant because Gotham is already lost, totally and completely. I can think of no more compelling Batman setting. Also, with a fragmented city, separated by the different gangs (cannon fodder enemies) and major players (more important battles and bosses), you can still slowly integrate the open-world setting without fake limitations set on players.

The biggest thing missing from AA for me was anyone in the Bat Family besides Oracle (love!). NML included EVERYONE! Tim Drake as Robin, Nightwing, Oracle, Huntress, Azrael, a new Batgirl. This means cameos in story mode and great Batman dialog ("In twenty-four hours, Nightwing will be inside Blackgate Prison. In forty-eight hours, it will be under his control" and "You have one hour to get across town. If you can't do this, you don't deserve to be on my team.") and I would hope, and this is very likely, a co-op mode. Imagine a cross between the Challenges in AA and the Spec Ops in CoD MW2.

Two major changes would need to happen, however. NML had a great arc and ending, but the two ending elements (The person(s) behind NML and the Joker) came out of nowhere, almost. It was kind of like they decided to make a cool setting and determine an ending later - which they did, but that's ok in comics. In a video game, integrate your major players early on.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Book of Eli

I'll try to contain myself.

It seemed to go perfectly. In no particular order, the imagery was enticing, the story was gripping, the acting was brilliant, the directing was spot on. I've read plenty, seen plenty, and thought about plenty of post-apocalyptic scenarios and Washington's character makes every movement accurately. How he touches things, walks, talks, observes and measures and even what he takes, the character of Eli seems to be born for this situation. Everyone else seems to be born into their role, which is my only complaint.

You take a man and make him just power-hungry enough to kill and you have a villain. Make him someone you like and could even cheer for, and you have the perfect villain. I guess the screenwriter, Gary Whitta, skipped that second part. Every character - and they are all well directed and acted - plays their stereotypical role, even Eli. Not too much room for invention or character development, I suppose. The situation itself, "post-apocalypse," is becoming quite popular again and seems to the be complaint on everyone's lips.

After I see a movie I really love, I always look for negative reviews afterwards, to help me find balance. The primary complaints seem to be about the setting and the textbook characters. Also of concern to many is the religious tones of the book.

Book of Eli is based in the idea of faith. It is the main theme and it is going to be pounded into you, but pleasantly. It's gentle and it uses lube. The morning after, it will cook you breakfast and tell you that if you're uncomfortable doing this, that's fine, but you're welcome to come back. The ideas on faith are handled responsibly, as evidenced by the final shot of the film.

The twist is reasonable, exciting, and gives weight to the rest of the movie. Book of Eli was so well directed that I couldn't find any incongruent events after thinking on the film for an hour. It's just that well made.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Three Favorite Fictional Characters of All Time

So, I checked through the tweets of whyiwatch (If you have any love for the Whedonverse, check her stuff out) and she asked her followers who their three favorite fictional characters of all time are. Twenty minutes later I needed to start writing stuff out, so here we go. If you want to cut to the chase, the answer is at the bottom.

Of course, my first instinct is to through out Spike, Mal, and Wesley. But then I realize I have an unhealthy obsession with Whedon's characters and I need to take a step back and think this through. What are my other areas of fiction I enjoy, what has influenced me, what have I observed since I was young? Here we go:

Spike: You folks want an accurate example of irony. Angel says, "People change," and Spike responds, "Not us. Not demons." Six years later, no character has changed more than William the Bloody. Rise to power, fall from grace, help the good guys, loss of love, return of confidence, get stuck with rebound girl, and neutered all before becoming a series regular. We all know what he goes through in the Buffy-verse and no one is more dynamic or shifting than Spike, and in his first episode, he seems disgusted with change. Also, he's hilarious, has his deep moments, and his fighting style is something I personally love.

Mal: Someone said I should cosplay as Captain Malcolm Reynolds. I could only think, "You don't ask a Christian to cosplay as Jesus." Everything you can put into a character to make them awesome was put into Mal and it worked. He's loyal to himself, his crew, and his ship. He's conflicted over how to live his life. He hates the establishment. And he is hilarious ("Kaylee's dead"). Smart and impulsive, he always makes for a good story. I'm trying to put together a Serenity RPG and my biggest problem is that the 'Verse feels empty without Mal.

Wesley: Like Whedon, I love for characters to change. For those unacquainted with the Angel series (and without spoiling), Wesley started on Buffy as a pompous jack-ass and as he progresses through Angel, he becomes a badass and loses his mind just a little bit once or twice. I loved, and hated, watching his character fall apart while researching. Beautifully done. Also, he had a thing with the character I had the biggest crush on in the Whedon-verse, Fred (especially season five, with the lab coat and the skirts...)

So, after getting that out of my system, I can move on. Man, this is going to take a while.

Kyle Reese (Terminator): I wanted to be him. Tough, resourceful, tormented, compassionate. This guy rocked hard. Take a man from hell and put him in the eighties in LA and what the hell can he do. Thank Odin he had a mission or he might have lost his mind. Well, lost it more. My mom sat me down to watch Terminator back when I was five and I still am obsessed. John Connor may be the hero of the future, but Kyle Reese created him. And not just in the sex way. I meant, you know, influencing Sarah Connor.

Odin (From Norse mythology): The god of battle, the god of poetry. Norse gods already get props for being so human (something us humans enjoy in fiction). They feel lust, greed, despair, betrayal, a full spectrum of human emotion and yet they are still gods. And Odin, the All-Father. Terrible One-Eye. After learning that Freyja, a goddess he lusts after, gave herself to the dwarves for half a week, he forces her to make men fight. Forever. He teases his own son, Thor ("Your wife's a whore") while in disguise. He sacrificed himself in an attempt to gain knowledge. I almost wish I lived in northern Europe in 800 ad so I could follow him, but I hate the cold.

Jesse Custer (Preacher comic books): Tough, funny, driven. Guy had a fucked up youth and is doing his best to make the world better, in his own morally questionable way. The guy is pissed off at everyone, especially God - for abandoning humanity. Here's the kicker: This series is probably hated by those who burn with righteousness, but it inspired faith for me more than anything I've read, watched, or heard. Also, he has the ability to make people do anything he says. That's just wacky.

Guy Montag (Farenheit 451): Like everyone else in his world, he's raised an idiot. he, however, realizes this and takes the initiative to change. There's strength in this man that was barely hinted at in the novel.

Kitty Pryde (X-Men, particularly Astonishing X-Men): I can't say much without spoiling this for the people I'm trying to get to read this, but her character is possibly my favorite in the Marvel Universe. Funny, strong, insecure (I love contradictions), and a big damn hero. Listen, read the book, you'll love her, too. (And I just realized that's someone else from the Whedon-verse. Damn it.)

Aragorn (Lord of the Rings): Like Kyle Reese, I wanted to be him. He grew up hard, living in the woods and being friends with the elves. Learned some cool tricks and how to be a real person, the whole time knowing that he's supposed to lead a kingdom. Finally, he gets the balls to take back control (I love character growth) and he takes it. Is enough of a leader to convince his people to take on a suicide mission.

Han Solo: He shot first. He came back to help Luke destroy the Death Star. He's witty, smart, and needs cash (at first). He changes and develops into an honorable man from a scoundrel. He's everything a less bad ass Malcolm Reynolds almost was. I suppose Mal would beat him out though, since Han Solo is less complex.

Kira (Deathnote): An incredibly intelligent young man who is overwhelmed with ennui is given the power to eliminate anyone. How could he not become a serial killer? And he truly believes he's creating a better world, and maybe he was. I love how brilliantly evil this guy really was. Forcing multiple people to kill themselves, infiltrating the investigation to catch him, manipulating people into helping him, and all while killing random criminals all day every day. Guy had a work ethic. Writing this now, I'm surprised how much I like his character.

This has been exhausting, and I'm sure I could think of more. I just want to give out some honorable mentions: Buffy, Batman, Johnny Truant (House of Leaves), Tyler Durden, David Dunn (Unbreakable), Snake (Metal Gear Solid), Parker (Leverage), Elektra (Elektra: Assassin). They are all great characters, but all have something keeping them out of the "Best of All Time". Buffy is almost a necessity on this list but I hate cliches, Bats has too little character development, I still don't have enough of a grasp of Johnny Truant's incredibly complex character, Tyler Durden is too close minded, David Dunn isn't substantial enough, Snake is too simple, Parker is great but her show is too new to make any "Best" lists of mine, Elektra was deep but mostly just bad ass.

So, choosing three is hard. I have to limit myself to one Whedon-verse character, to keep balanced. When I have to go with just one of them, it's between Mal and Spike. Mal was a better built character, but Spike grew much more as a character. However, only one of them was constructed nearly perfectly. Alright then, final answer is Mal, followed by Kira and Odin. I think I am comfortable with these choices, and it was no easy task. Thanks for coming out, goodnight.

tl; dr: Mal Reynolds (Firefly), Kira (Deathnote), Odin (the Norse god)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Linux - Part 2 of PS3 Fandom

You know what's awesome? Take a file from one site. Take the installation instructions from another. Miss a step in your configuration and next thing you know you're in something resembling a command screen where you don't know any of the commands. "Login name"? Hmm, I don't remember creating a log in name...

I saw myself faced with a choice. I could retry installing and not miss that step or I could sit there and learn how to fix it from there. I took the path less chosen.

Four hours later I began reinstalling.

Monday, January 4, 2010

PS3 Fandom

So, I had ordered a 250gb hard drive for my PS3 and apparently 3 day shipping means a week and a half but now that time has passed!

The screws on the original Hard Drive's carriage were nigh immovable, so I actually went to the nearby computer repair shop and he had a better screwdriver, I suppose. Once I put in the hard drive, I transfered all of my saved data, which took a minute or two. But nothing compares to the amount of time it's taking to sync my trophies. It's kind of killing me, because whilst writing that last sentence, my DVD drive popped open on my computer. The DVD for installing Linux finally finished. I'm fairly certain Ragnarok will come and the great Fenrir will devour the Terrible One, Odin, before my trophies are done. Guess I'll just watch Buffy tribute videos till then.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Knowing when you will die: Dollhouse

If you knew when you were going to die and couldn't stop it, you would do things differently, right? Me, I would most likely do some stupid stuff like go skydiving or watch Lost. You know, things you would never do unless you knew you were doomed (sidenote: Of course, we are all doomed, we are all going to die, but knowing the specifics...). Of course, I have plans in place to ensure that mankind can be saved from the zombie outbreak if I pass. My plans to rescue what loved ones I can have been passed on to trusted associates. Oh, and I've started thinking about a will. You know, important stuff. But if I actually knew that I would die three years from now crowd-surfing at a Jethro Tull cover band concert, I might speed up those plans.

I had a point... where is it.

Dollhouse, Dollhouse, Doll-freaking-house.

Of course it was going to be cancelled one day, all show are. The fact that his name was attached to it and it was pretty out there/cerebral kind of insists that it die sooner rather than later. The big deal here is that Fox did something awesome. (That hurt my brain). First, they took a chance to extend the show a second season - one of the biggest surprise renewals evah. Then, after about four episodes of the second season, they announced their plans to cancel.

Did you know that after some guys at Fox cancelled Firefly (more Whedon), Futurama, and Family Guy, all of those series came back in one form or another. Even better: those guys at Fox got canned. Firefly fans will always mourn that series. The definition of ended before it's time. It's like Joss hooks us in with all the clever bits, intriguing characters, and mysterious plotlines, then Fox stole the rest of it like taking a screwdriver from a baby. A serious, techno-wizard baby that could - nay, should - spawn a film or three!

Oh yeah, I was saying: Fox told Mutant Enemy that Dollhouse was canned in time for the writers to change the direction of the series! I guess the cubic asstons of angry Firefly fans (and potential increase of DVD sales) gave Fox the idea to let Whedon and Co finish the series - with style.

And so far, it's gorgeous. It's exciting. It's some fantastic television that I will look back on in a number of years and very likely say it was some of the best TV I've seen. I'm still in that passionate, love phase.. I'll wait to announce the true brilliance once I come down off my "That was so awesome"-high. We knew it was going to be cancelled. There wasn't much of a hope. Stop you internet petitions (They sometimes don't work, you know) and your Fox bashing and look at the facts. Dollhouse wasn't making cash, isn't going to pull in new fans, and will make more money on DVD anyway. So let the fine folks make it an awesome DVD set.

Whedon fans have watched Dr Horrible. Intense Whedon fans have read Astonishing X-Men. We know what happens when Joss and the brilliant people he chooses to work with are given autonomy and a timeline. Arguably, Dr Horrible and Astonishing are his best completed stories. He wasn't trying to entertain the masses, he was entertaining himself. And his fans. And his team. They had control and they produced brilliance. With the foresight to change the end of Dollhouse and adapt his Five-Year plan, we are in for something astonishing. And remember to follow the people into their other projects. Google some people: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Tim Minear, Andrew Chambliss, Tracy Bellomo. They are your storytellers. Go hear their stories.