Saturday, July 31, 2010

Random Web Bits

Another day of random bits around the web.


The Ritz-Carlton gaming room is nothing new, but a nice change of pace for hotel gaming. At least it's a classier, higher end version of the $20.00 for an hour of Super Mario Brothers, on SNES. The lounge itself looks like someone from Extreme Home Makeover came in and splattered green everywhere possible, but it's not terrible. The fringe curtains, I don't understand. But I can see what they're trying to do. Some people might want to play games during their vacation and the Ritz wants to provide a more luxury experience in a public setting. Wonder what the fee is to get in.


Another Kinect fail for Microsoft and their marketing team. In a demo of Kinect Sports and Dance Central, it was clear to see where Kinect's faults' lie. Just as I had listed in my Kinect review, the product is in need of an update. If a non-gamer, such as the bikini-clad women, are unable to play the game, then what would make the average consumer want to buy the product?


The Goldeye Controller finally has a game attached to it, making the $70.00 price tag more feasible. Goldeneye for the Wii will come packed with a golden controller that mimics the N64 gamepad. It's listed at Toys R Us right now, with others sure to follow pretty quickly.


Blog of the moment is from Destructoid member jc83 on how to be a video game expert. While amusing and diabolically, I'd like to see someone try this and have it work. What an evil, mastermind of a plan. It's too crazy to not succeed!

Friday, July 30, 2010

90.4% is a big number

And I thought I was having a busy week.


Capcom announced their April-June quarterly profits were down by 90.4%.


Holy


freekin'

hell.


If it weren't Capcom, I have the feeling that the company would have immediately closed it's doors.


Capcom made a statement on their website regarding the huge downturn in profits (the full debrief is listed in the PDF files on the website). The main issue is that Capcom didn't have many titles release during this time frame. Their expected hit was Lost Planet 2, which did ship 1.5 million units worldwide. However, it didn't meet the project 2 million mark. Which is still a pretty good shipment rate for a small period of time, but it's not Capcom numbers.


Capcom's main response is that due to the multiple delays with the game's release, marketing was scaled down and caused the title to be lost in the sea of others in the genere. In essence, there was nothing that made the game stand out from everything else on the market.


I can agree with the marketing aspect dropping off dramatically before the game’s release after it had been pushed back several times. When they were working on the game and a demo was released for muti-player mode, I remember my brother and I playing several hours. It was a lot of fun and some improvements on the first game. But that was nearly a year before the game’s release. After they announced some special in-game character codes, the hype died. Killed my interest in the game.


They declined to comment on much else with their financial meeting, but yeah. Ouch. That is going to screw up a lot of games down the line to make up for this hit in the pocketbook. With Dead rising 2 and Marvel vs Capcom 3 on the horizon, hopefully those will bring some life back to Capcom's numbers.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Winner of the Geekiest Town Is...

Derby England! As posted by the BBC, the city created a new road and titled it Lara Croft Way. The name was chosen by public vote (89% no less) based off the video game character created by Derby-based gaming studio Core. What better way to celebrate a new road then to have someone dress up as Lara Croft and strut around in short shorts around town. >.> Congrats Derby. You are officially super geeky town of the world!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Medal of Honor Taking Chances

Did anyone read this on Destructoid? It's quite the piece about the new Medal of Honor having a section where you play as Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Initially, I did a "no way" because adding something like that seemed so...ridiculous to a game. That's an instant-boycott moment.

Somehow I was able to get in on a demo party of the game that included a battle where you have to be a member of Al-Qaeda. It was interesting. I didn't play this time. Merely an observationalist. I'm not an FPS person and haven't been a fan of Medal of Honor, but I was curious what the fuss was all about.

It definitely provoked a reaction.

Some people pushed it out of their mind that they were playing as a terrorist and able to complete their missions with ease. Others were standing and watching with dumbfounded looks upon their faces. There are a few vets from Iraq and Afghanistan in the viewing room, whom immediately left the room once they saw the content. It's pretty realistic and not something someone with bad memories wants to relive again. Needless to say, they won't be getting the game. But they're the same way when it comes to any movies or television shows about the war. They won't watch it because it digs up the past. My father is the same way with anything deal with Vietnam. I get it. Which is why I'm probably more hyper-sensitive to it then most.

I'm torn on this issue. A part of me wouldn't want to play as an Al-Qaeda because of personal feelings regarding their faction, how they act, things they have done, etc. With a friend that has family that has lived under the thumb of the Taliban, it's hard to disassociate a game from reality.

On the other hand, my media scholar finds the concept intriguing. The idea of playing as a terrorist is going to push people's buttons. How are people going to react to it? Why is EA making this bold move? What are the social implications that are going to arise from this? My brain is twitching. It's a dissertation waiting to happen.

This won't be a game that I'll purchase, but one that I would probably put forth some effort into researching (a.k.a. borrow from a friend). I'm curious to see the outcome with the audience. For now, people around me are in a mixed review state. No one knows what to make of the game.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Musing ~ Kinect vs. Move vs. Wii

Out of no where, the Kinect made a surprise appearance at a local mall here (even though it wasn't on the list of locations) and I was dragged by my friend this evening to try it out.


Initially I was resistant, assuring myself that there was probably going to be an insanely long line of people blocking all of the escalators, all while during one of Macy's sales that seems to happen every weekend. To my surprise, there wasn't a soul near the Xbox 360. Maybe it was due to this Kinect demo being last minute and an out-of-nowhere call. Maybe it's because it was a Sunday evening and most places close down at 6 pm. Whatever the case, there were more people interested in buying kitchen appliances and the 3 for 1 tank top sale then there were at the Kinect table.


So, it was just me, my friend, and the guy working the demo space, Fred. The system was one of the shiny new slim models (and now I understand why people have been clamoring over it, from an aesthetic viewpoint). The system was lying down width-wise with the Kinect sitting on top of it, facing a rolled down, lime-green, paper wall with a large blue X just a foot in front of it. The TV was flat screen, at least 48 inches wide. I guess to easily point out all of your mistakes and show why you suck at playing with the Kinect.


My friend was first, being the wonderful Microsoft fan boy that he is. First, the Kinect has to scan you to determine your height and approximate body bulge. You have to do the silly tests of “place your hand here” to make sure that the Kinect has scanned you accordingly. Then it’s on to game play!


The first game was Joy Ride, basically the Xbox 360 version of Mario Kart using the 360 avatars. You play the game by holding your hands out in front of you and pretending to grasp a steering wheel. For a speed boost, you bring your hands towards you and the push them back out while keeping in the steering position. Initial impressions were that the Kinect is an upgrade from the Playstation Eye and Xbox Live Cam. The body scan takes a more accurate projection of your height and weight, so there is more control over your movements within the game. Little twists and turns made with your hands on the steering wheel reflected fairly well in the gameplay. Not immediate accuracy, but good enough to get by and counteract with the minor inconvenience. We also found that you didn’t have to grossly exaggerate your moves to get the car to steer. You can do a small turn and have it relate to how you would really drive a car.


The next game was Kinect Sports, the bowling portion in particular. It’s basically bowling without going to the ally and wearing the smelly shoes. You have to pick up a ball from the return field and throw it like you would in bowling. You can move around, change which ball your hand is in, and even throw it granny style. My friend decided to lob it down the field like he was passing a basketball and the game responded to his action by giving him a gutter ball.


While all of this was going on, I talked with Fred the demo head about the green screen and the field of range for the Kinect. What it came down to was the Kinect acts a lot like the Xbox Live Camera. You have to be a certain distance apart in order for the Kinect to get a full view of your body. While the Kinect is better at adjusting itself to zoom in and out, you still need to be a good 5-7 feet away from the camera before the Kinect will begin to recognize that there is a person standing there. The green screen was set up to keep any passersby from being detected by the Kinect. And apparently it likes to pick up on multiple people/objects quite easily. So if you have a poster that’s loud and bright just behind you while you’re being scanned, it might get picked up as well and fudge your body movements in the game.


I played a bit of the bowling, and while I liked that it felt more like real bowling (i.e. holding a ball, putting a spin on the throw, etc.) it didn’t feel like a unique experience. It was Wii Bowling without the controllers, basically. The throwing still felt the same. The movement of the spin on the ball still felt the same. Putting the avatar into the game, is still the same. The only differences were the lack of controllers and instead of pushing left or right to move your position, you have to take a step to the left or a step to the right.


Fred also pointed out that when the Kinect is doing it’s scan, you have to stay as still as possible because it’s easy to become out of sync with the game. We found this to be the case when my friend was playing Joy Ride. Although he was pretty still, the Kinect pegged his weight 20 pounds over and 2 inches taller, which threw off the schematics of the wheel and forced him to take harder left turns then he probably needed to. I know little things like this are easy to compensate, but are equally as annoying that you need to spend the time to make those adjustments.


My impressions of the Kinect: Not worth $150 USD. I’d rather get a Playstation Eyetoy or Xbox Live Cam and obtain the same results. Here’s the controller/system break down:


Kinect: Overpriced Eyetoy. Gives a more accurate body reading then previous gaming cameras. Game choices unoriginal (copy/paste Nintendo!).


Playstation Move: Unashamed sex toy. Best in terms of controller fit with the hand. Small movements with the wrist not always detected.


Nintendo Wii: Longest in the motion control line. Has improved on slight movements of the hand/wrist/arm with the Wii Motion Plus. Still a little awkward to hold the controller. Can be finicky if you’re not properly aligned with the motion sensor.


Overall, I’m torn between Move and Nintendo. I think the move has the best hand fit controller, minus the pink/blue ball, so it’s easier to control your movements. However, the Wii Motion Plus seems to have a better reading on your movements (as long as you align yourself correctly) and doesn’t have to fiddle with cameras. Kinect isn’t even an option. $150, plus additional hardware you have to buy if you do not have a Slim system that will bring the total somewhere over $200. Why would I want to do that? I have a Wii system with the same games. I’d like to see how the Move handles FPS, Resident Evil in particular. That will be the sale for me. If I can try out the Move with that, and I like it, I will buy it.


Today’s demo has confirmed that I will not purchase a Kinect. Thanks Microsoft for saving me money.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

This is why you avoid the tabloids.

I'm in a no writing mood. Not that there is nothing to discuss in the gaming universe. Rather the explosion of crap at work has pushed me into not wanting to type. You push a bunch of buttons all day long you get tired of it after a while.


Earlier this week Daily Star, being such a reputable news source as it is, reported that Rockstar is making of version of Grand Theft auto based on the life of Raoul Moat. If you don't know who that is, Wikipedia will be happy to oblige. According to Daily Star, the title of the game would be Grand Theft Auto Rothbury, and even claimed to have found a picture that was circling several credible gaming websites.


Look at the article! "And last night gaming websites showed the cover of Grand Theft Auto Rothbury - a version of the Xbox hit Grand Theft Auto."


Clearly, the writer fails at any form of research. And that's probably why he works at Daily Star. But that's not all! Apparently the writer went so far as to get a comment from the grandmother of Moat's ex-girlfriend (who was killed, by the way). And of course she was furious about the idea.


Needless to say, Rockstar be pissed. And something amazing has happened. They retracted the story! I here the choir of angels singing again~ From today's Daily Star edition:


"We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication and did not contact Rockstar Games prior to publishing the story," admits The Star. "We also did not question why a best selling and critically acclaimed fictional games series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event.


"It is now accepted that there were never any plans by Rockstar Games to publish such a game and that the story was false. We apologise for publishing the story using a mock-up of the game cover, our own comments on the matter and soliciting critical comments from a grieving family member."

I really wonder how much of this story Mr. Jerry Lawton (the writer) completely bullshitted, and how much of this he believed. Because that's a pretty crappily photoshopped picture of the so-called "game." If he truly found it on a gaming website, it was probably on a forum where people were making fun of GTA and bad spinoff ideas. I'm hoping that there is some ounce of sanity in this man's head and he knew he was bullshitting the entire thing. Otherwise, this world just got a little bit more depressing. Either way, this man needs to rethink his career path.

Friday, July 23, 2010

LBP2 Date and Collector's Edition Announced

And the choir of angels sings~

The Playstation Blog has announced the date and some interesting collector's edition items for the game. The game is on track to release November 16th, 2010. I'll be damned. They're keeping their word.

The collector's edition is going to include a copy of the game, a 7 inch SackBoy doll, book ends (and they're pretty spiffy), and a mess of downloadable content/costumes. The costumes include a set from Disney/Pixar, The Muppets, Playstation Classics, and an Animal pack. If you don't purchase the collector's edition, you can get a section of these separately from a retailer (depending on whom you order it from). All for $79.99. *runs off to preorder*

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Masks to make any cosplayer happy

And that will be another topic for another day. Neca (toy company) has made some bitchin' Bioshock gear that would make all fanboys drool. They revealed their new line at ComicCon, and it is pretty. In a badass way. They have recreated a Splicer mask, as well as unveiled a new Splicer mask. Both are wearable. Though I'm sure most people would be keeping them in a safe, away from any harm. I don't believe they would technically be collectibles...but it's hard to say. Neca is also releasing a line of action figures to accompany the masks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Waiting Sucks

You would think that I would have learned by now to not camp the play button on an MMO. But I still do.

So instead of a normal posting, have fun watching this Sony ad:





And then the TV3 Australian Promo ripoff:



How appropriate that they have disabled commenting. Have fun with that one Sony!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Testing Out The Move

For some reason at work today, some people stopped by for a demo of the Playstation Move. I don't know why, but I'm not going to question it. Anything to get out of this chair for a few minutes.

It is an odd creature, this Playstation Move. Mostly because of the giant phallic ball sitting on the controller that comes in multiple colors. >.>"It's a way to designate everyone's controllers." Ok. But did you have to make it look like a giant pink sex toy? (Admit it. You all were thinking the same thing.)

I was able to fiddle around with two of the titles that showed up on the E3 floor for the Playstation Move; Sorcery and Kung Fu Rider. Initial impressions: the sensor is pretty accurate. Surprisingly accurate. It feels like a more mature version of the Wii's sensor system, i.e. the Wii Motion Plus.

There isn't a wire between the controllers, so there is more movement involved. What I really like is that the controllers fit smoothly into your hands. It doesn't feel like a small brick like the Wiimote. Instead, it's been crafted to work with your hand. You feel more in control of the action because of this.

What I didn't like is that the controllers they handed us had no straps. So if it flew out of your hand, goodbye television. Now, they didn't say whether or not that would be the case for the final version, but I'd hope they would have learned from Nintendo's mistake. Add a strap on both controllers so you don't have people trying to sue you for their controllers breaking things.

Onto the games. Sorcery was a lot more fun then it should have been. It really is a game that was made for the Playstation Move and requires you to remember how to cast spells via drawing patterns out at your Playstation Eye/Camera. It's taking Harry Potter to another level. You have full control over the wand, your source of all magic doing. Graphics are playful and lighthearted. Definitely a game geared towards a younger audience, but with some charm to try and bring in the older crowd.

Movement in the game is controlled by your dpad on the Move controller. It takes a moment to get use to, but once you figure it out, it's quite easy. Your wand moves in whatever direction you wave the stick. The delay between my motion and the wand was practically non-existent. Nice to be able to shoot at a bad guy and have it hit on target with little down time.

Kung Fu Rider is definitely one of those off-beat games that's meant to appeal to our inner 13 year old. You run over and into and onto the sillies things. The premise is to make it to the bottom of the track with the most points possible. You can use random techniques while on your vehicle (this ranged from an office chair to a tiny pink elephant...)to kick and attack things that are in your way. There's even an option for multiplayer and co-op modes. With the Move, this game is a tad clunky. Mostly because it requires flicking the controller in odd directions to jump or kick something. In terms of steering, it's better then expected. Minor corrections you may make by tilting the controller do translate well with the game. It's not perfect, but enjoyable none-the-less.

The Playstation Move is set to release in September this year. For more info, recommend staying in touch with the Playstation Blog. The developers sections isn't bad.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Musing

Today is random day for my brain. So there will be a little bit of everything.


~ First thing on my mind, the video. Never going to ask a friend to convert a file again. I needed him to do 2 things. Make it into a Quicktime or AVI or SOMETHING YouTube will be able to accept, and adjust the brightness. He threw in some pictures. Thanks. Making my film degree look like an even bigger waste of time. Appreciate the assistance Mike. Yep. I'm calling you all. Punishment shall be swift and unexpected. Took a really simple concept and added unnecessary flair.


~ David Jaffe, or some of his cohorts, are heading to Comic Con with new info for Twisted Metal. They will be showing off new screen shots, some conception art, and other little goodies that only the con kids can see. Damn them.

~ I lol'ed. The concept of having a 100% Objective, unbiased review is...rediculious. You read a review to obtain someone's opinion about a product. An opinion is anything but objective. So why bother reading the review if you're going to whine about it not being objective?

Well played Mr. Jim Sterling. While I wasn't expecting you to take the task literally, a part of me is glad that you did. Maybe some of those that complained will see why an objective review is not a means to an end.

Now this isn't to say that I agreed with the original review. I felt that it lacked imaginative depth and was a jump on the "let's hate FF13" bandwagon. It's difficult to say for certain if he completed the game. It really does get better along the way. Honest. And I'm not saying that as a Final Fantasy geek. There are things that I disliked about the game that held it back from being a great title. But the critique was incomplete.

To take the original review and turn it completely around, thumbs up. You have proven why reviewers exist, and it is appreciated.


~ APB is looking to make some drastic changes to the game. Barely a month out of the gate and they're doing an overhaul. A lot of these are issues that were addressed in the alpha and beta, but had not been finalized. According to the company's blog they hadn't been pushed away; they were more focused on getting the game launched. While I get that there are expectations to meet with EA's deadlines, that shouldn't get in the way of fixing the game. I'm just saying.



Some of the things they plan to fix is the Matchmaking setup (thank god!), vehicle handling (double thank god!), and adding new missions as well as expanding on pre-existing ones to allow for more strategy. These were some of my biggest issues during the beta. Why the hell they are working on it now? Got me. Clearly I don't understand the business behind making a good game.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dragon Quest IX Review ~



We'll be doing something a little different today. It'll be part video post/part written. Why? Because of this. It's probably a good thing I try to get back into video blogging (the vlog, for all you young kids). And I have to keep the video under a minute, which is not enough time to discuss Dragon Quest. But we’ll see how this goes and based on feedback, I might do more of these.

Dragon Quest is not the franchise of success for SquareEnix in the U.S. But it's a big deal in Japan. 4 million + big deal. The last DQ game (number 8) only sold approximately half a million copies in the West. Which is understandable why SE was slightly hesistant on bringing DQ9 to the West (thank you Nintendo for being the awesome big name that you are).


If you can't tell by now, I like Dragon Quest. In these times where more of the gaming community is clamoring for changes to the RPG genre, Dragon Quest exudes the essence of a traditional RPG by sticking to its guns. With this series, you know what you are getting out of the experience. It has a great game-play formula that still works with today's audience. In this landscape of ever-evolving video game content, there is a comfort in knowing that Dragon Quest will always be Dragon Quest. And I like it that way.


Positives:

The best of Dragon Quest. It's all stuffed into this tiny DS cartridge. It is the best, and most blatant use of turn-based fighting, predictable story lines, crazy cast of characters, bonking and stabbing a silly selection of slimes and monsters, horribly funny puns, and DragonBall art style overload. And that's why Dragon Quest works. It doesn't apologize for what it is. It puts all of it's cards on the table and says "here you go." You can like it or you can leave it. And that's why 4 million (and counting!) copies have sold in Japan. All of the great and stupidly silly things people loves in the first Dragon Quest are still around in number 9.

Expansive story-line. The premise of the game is that you are a creature from the sky (basically an angel) whom has fallen to the mortal realm after being stripped of your wings and halo. So you set out across the land to find a way to get back home. Simple premise. But as you begin your journey, the story expands with a vast array of little side-trips and hitches that make the game a little more enjoyable. You find yourself doing more and more of the side-quests, not to obtain money/weapons/armor, but to learn more about the characters in the game and their relation to the overarching plot. I'm still amazed at how much more there is to the story with every town I travel through.

Character Customization galore! It's a limited system since it's confined to the DS specs, but it's a nice change from past DQ games. You can create your party to look and feel just as you want. It's a welcomed change to the franchise and allows you to alter you characters at a whim when visiting the Inn in a town/city/kingdom. The new Vocation system (i.e. job classes in Final Fantasy) allows you to alter your party's set-up to suit your play style. So if you feel like being suicidal, make 4 Martial Artists and see what happens. This touch helps to make the game a tad more Western without shoving it into your face. It still feels like Dragon Quest, but with an edge.

DQIX goes online, sort of. Location connection only (sad face), but the game has evolved to allow for a four-player co-op with a gigantic list of quests for you and your adventuring friends. It would have been amazingly awesome if this were fully online, visa-vie Mario Kart DS. However, this doesn’t diminish DQIX's attempt at making the game accessible to everyone. Think of it like the early days of Pokémon when you had to use your GameBoy and GameBoy Advance Link cables to trade your little monsters with your friends. It keeps the game enjoyable, if you have three friends to bug before they start ignoring you. One thing I love about the local connection is that you are not required to follow around the host. You can play the game as normal, and if the host is in trouble, he can send out a Call to Arms and you can jump into the fight at any time. It's a painless system. Easy to use. Easy to access. I just wish it had full online capabilities.


Negatives:

Lifeless party. The draw-back to being able to create your own party members from scratch is they lack personality. They don't contribute to the dialogue and are merely there to keep your main character from hitting the grave before level 2. Which sucks. One of things I enjoyed about Dragon Quest 7 and 8 were the charismatic and over-the-top cast that was your party. Your main character didn't say a word, but that's why you have 3 party members to act as your voice. While I approve of the character creation system, it does take away from the life of your party members.

Overindulging side-quests. IX has a lot of them. And I mean a lot. So much so that you find some of them to be a giant time sink. Especially the Vocational quests to unlock new jobs. Are the side-quests necessary? Not really, unless you want some of the coolest crap in the game. Luckily the main plot is more then enough to keep you entertained. But unless you have a few hours to kill for a quest, it can be a minor inconvenience.



Truly the negatives are miniscule and won’t overshadow the fun that spills from this game. It really is an RPG being an RPG. The charm and wit of Dragon Quest IX is worth the purchase. Unless you hate Dragon Quest. Then I wouldn't buy it. 9 is Dragon Quest in a DS package, in all of it's glory.

Friday, July 16, 2010

$62.99

Today, I was thinking about the price of video games. Not including the PSP and DS, they are so ungodly expensive. $59.99, not including tax. Most of these games will probably last you about 10-15 hours of entertainment (God of War III took me 8 hours and 24 minutes to complete). The only game I have played in recent memory that was worth the sticker price was Final Fantasy XIII? Why? It took me 62 hours to finish the story, not including all the extra crap that I need to go back and complete. I'll pay $59.99 for that.


Anything prior to Final Fantasy XIII...maybe Little Big Planet. That has a ton of content. But I received it as a gift, so technically I didn't pay for it. Let's see...what else is there...yeah. That's all I can think of. I can't justify spending full price for a video game unless I know it has the content that best suits my tastes and takes up my time. I can't even compare the time/price to a movie because it evens itself out, sadly. A 2 hour movie at $10 a pop is $60 bucks, so that's roughly 12 hours, which is the average length of most of today's video games. So I can go watch 6 crappy to mediocre movies or play a 12 hour video game.


So in this rambling/rant, I decided to look up what else I could spend with my $62.99. This price is about what I end up paying for a new video game when I include tax. The results are amusing and depressing:


The coolest so far is a copy of Wolverine Omnibus Volume 1, hardcover and limited series.


Or how about Seasons 1-7 of 24, box set?


Next is a NCAA championship licensed soccer ball.


Followed by more weirdness that is Ebay, a collectable toy horse, or a Brittish Stamp.


If you need some parts for your Compaq Persario or HP Pavillion, $62.99 is a good price.



A 10-12 inch round cake from GoDaddy.com marketplace is just a rip-off.


A costume store has a lot of shoes for 62.99.


My favorite is the garden de-icer, to help keep your plants, and rocks, and water fountains ice free during the winter.

And then you have the practical purchases:


7 Months of Netflix Unlimited plan (which is as many DVD's as you can handle and beats going to the movie theatre). Even better if you have a PS3, 360, or Wii system, because you can watch instantly from your console.


Weekend pass to PAX (or most conventions with enough money left over to buy a t-shirt).


Gas for your car (depending on what you drive, that could last you a month).


Food. Clothes. Basic living necessities. Amusingly enough, our electric bill last month comes to $62.91.


See. I don't need to buy a $62.99 game at release. I can blow it on a few months of Netflix and eat. Wait on the price to drop or for a rediculious sale causing lots of money to be lost but makes me one happy customer.

First Rule of Beta Club


Don't talk about Beta Club. Unless it's to say you're participating in a beta.


Which I have been, and why the posts have been lacking a lot this week. Apologies. But it was a really awesome beta.


Comic Con is coming up next week. It's a really big deal with the vast majority of nerds/geeks in the U.S. Comics are the staple of the U.S. animation empire. Anime could not compare even if it tried.


Comic Con has become a convention not just about comics and graphics novels, but a place for all fans of all geek things to come together and enjoy the festivities. Lucas Arts and Star Wars have had panels for the past few years to unveil new titles (Force Unleashed) and info about new shoes/movies/products. Other movie studios have jumped in with their new comic geared movies as well as off-the-wall horrors (anyone remember Paranoia?) making a start at the convention.


Fun features this year? Apparently Hideo Kojima is judging the costume contest. >.> So says Konami's Twitter. Which made me chuckle. So expect a lot of last minute, thrown together, MGS costumes. If anyone is going, show some ZOE love!


Expect some news and previews of the upcoming Thor and Avengers flicks (without Edward Norton as The Hulk, lame). The anime portion of their convention has expanded to include screening rooms and voice actors. Penn and Teller are coming in (no sh*t), a screening of the new movie Lost Boys, a presentation by Kevin Smith. All on the first night before the convention really starts. >.> No wonder it sold out months ago.

As always, there will be a feature on G4 covering the convention floor for the vast majority of us that are unable attend. Really, this is a post about Kojima, further extending his awesomeness.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blizzard Cans Real Names on Forums

Barely 3 days after Blizzard detailed their new forum system to allow gamers’ real names to be exposed next to the character names, they canned the idea after the massive outcry and threats of boycotts.


This initially started via Battle.net and StarCraft with the idea to help the forums be better moderated for spammers, gold sellers, and the like. Unsurprisingly, they dropped the idea.


We've been constantly monitoring the feedback you've given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we've decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.


From the CEO himself. Which is probably his secretary after approval from someone down the chain in the marketing department before releasing it on the forums (which was edited once on the forums). Kotkau's post best sums up that fans and customers were pissed at the idea of having their real names available on a forum for the universe to read. Concerns range from women, to those under the age of 13, to identity theft. The one thing I can say about Blizzard in comparison to other companies, they listen to their audience. If there's a problem, they really do try to fix it. Yeah it might take them 15 years to release a game, but you have a company willing to listen and make things right.


So of course, we have this huge debate going on about our internet identities. I'm subject to this as well since I almost never post my real name in the interwebs. Googling myself I'm near the bottom of the list. But googling my internet identity, the first 4 pages are all me. Except for that one weird book that is about Greek mythology I think? That's not me.


The internet exists to allow yourself to be free of restrictions of the real world and not worry about the consequences. Case in point: You can be an asshole on the WoW forums but a sweetheart with your coworkers and no one would ever know. Which is why the prospect of having your real name out there for the world to see is daunting. The last thing I would want is someone at work to see my name attached to this one character, and all of the comments I have made, and then bring it to the office and be confronted. Not that I have posted on the WoW forums, but you get the idea.


It's a lost of ones-self on the interwebs. That's the thing that scares us. We create this identity for ourselves online (whether it be someone we're not or a more real version of ourselves) to hide away from the world. When our name is exposed, that identity is lost. Amenity is what helped build the internet. It's a tough subject to handle.


While I don't disagree with Blizzard wanting to better handle their forum situation, they didn't go about it the right way. Truthfully, I don't know where I could begin in such a situation and don't have a better alternative to provide. I'm sure Blizzard will come up with something, but touchy issue. Retaining amenity is an important factor to all whom troll the internet. Taking it away will cause backlash and nothing but.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Musing - Kane Madness!

Gather round children. It's time for another musing.

Today we're going to talk about the idea of having a "Citizen Kane" of video games. It's talked about a lot. Just Google it. Ebert talks about it, Kotaku brings it up from time to time (not always with games though), and Destructoid to name a few. Though the Destructoid article is probably one of my favorites...at least the title is nifty. It's something that gamers have been striving for in an attempt to try and prove to the world that video games can and should be taken seriously.


But here's the flaw in the concept. You know how Citizen Kane was first received when it was released in 1941? It bombed. At a budget of $500,000 (that was a lot in those days kids) the film lost $150,000 during it's initial run. There was a huge uproar and bad publicity over the movie, that it was destined to fail. It was nominated for 6 Oscars and every time the film's name was mentioned, it would get booed by the crowd. It amuses me whenever someone starts talking about "The Citizen Kane of video games." Clearly, people aren't aware of the film's history to understand how awkward of a statement that really is.

Here is a brief overview of what the hell happened with this movie. And I'll try to keep it brief.


For those whom haven't seen the movie, it's basically a point by point comparison to William Randolph Hurst's life. Though Orsen Welles never openly admits to it, it's pretty obvious. From the beginning, production of the project was chaotic. Welles attempted to keep the film on a closed set, but eventually a rough cut had to be shown to the press and one magazine took it upon itself to make the comparison between Kane and Hurst. Hurst Publications went into an uproar to ban all promotions of the film and anything being released by RKO, Radio-Keith-Orpheum. Keep in mind at that time; Hurst Publications owned roughly 70% of the media outlets in the United States. They controlled the business (before it was cut up and the whole monopoly thing became an issue). If they weren't going to promote your studio and your movies, you were going to be wiped out.

So after a multitude of legal sessions, RKO and Welles reached a deal with the publication company and agreed to a series of concessions (such as cutting the film from it's 2 hour and a half hour course down to an hour and 59 minutes and limiting the number of theaters that could show the final product). As the film was nearing release, Hurst still wasn't going to publicize the movie (though they had no issues with other RKO films). Which cut out about half of the theaters in the country and limited viewing to larger cities in the few theaters that Hurst didn't own.


Reviews of the film were mixed. And I'm referring to the legitimate, non-Hurst publication reviews. People toted the technical prowess of the film and its break from traditional Hollywood narrative. However, an overwhelming number did not feel the story was strong and alienated the audience. It might be safe to say that even if Hurst Publications didn't ban the film, it probably would not have faired well amongst the general public. It took nearly 20 years before the film was available in Europe and began to receive notoriety, and was inducted into the Library of Congress in 1989. AFI (American Film Institute) didn't add it to its list of Top 100 films until 1998. Basically, it took a really, really, really, really long time before Citizen Kane was accepted by "higher art figures" as one of the best.


Realistically, we as the gaming community should be saying "The Gone with the Wind of video games" as our tagline. That movie was so much more revolutionary and changed the face of Hollywood right out of the gate; where as Citizen Kane took decades to be absorbed into the culture. I'm not talking specifically about numbers, i.e. money. Look at movies before Gone with the Wind and look at movies afterwards. It really did change a lot of what Hollywood was about, and so many techniques created in that film are still used today. Personally, I'd much rather have a Gone with the Wind then Citizen Kane, for video games that is.


I feel that a lot of this idea of Citizen Kane of video games is more of a cliché that we're expected to say. Because Citizen Kane is so overused as the epitome of what is considered a great movie, we've fallen into that cycle to abusing its power.


I didn't like Citizen Kane the first time I saw it. Nor the second. Nor the third. Probably not the fourth time either. When you're in school for film, you are required to watch Citizen Kane and Blade Runner at least once a semester. I didn't start to appreciate the nuances of Kane until I stopped thinking about it as the best movie of all time. Once I pushed that thought out of my head, thanks to all of my professors for reiterating how "great" the movie was and making it a chore to all of us students, it became tolerable and soon it was growing on me. Now, by no means do I think it's the best movie ever. The story is still bland and could use another go around with Welles. But it is an impressive feat in terms of cinematography and sound design.


Anyway, back to the topic. The cliché of alluding to Citizen Kane is something that every media has done. Even books. And how you make a Citizen Kane of books is beyond me. Naturally, video games are going to follow this course of logic.


Here's my point. Do we need a Citizen Kane of video games? No. Do we need a Gone with the Wind of video games? Not necessarily. Would it be nice to have? Sure. Are we there yet? Not really. We're still in the early phases of games being accepted by the general public. Critical theory is still a wide open field and there hasn't been any definitive research to promote video game's as a respectable field of study. And by respectable I mean placing into the academic field as more then graphics design. In truth, I don't believe it will be just one game that breaks the classification of what is a video game. Rather, I think it'll be a group of games or a studio that helps push forward the gaming movement into the next chapter.


In truth, I wish that people would stop using Citizen Kane as the go-to for what should be considered great. A good history lesson and a quick observance of film theory would do our community well. We shouldn't have to compare a great video game in order to promote its quality. While I understand that it helps provide the audience with a reference point, it ends up delineating the value of the product. Let the work speak for itself.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kojima Law!

Be prepared for more work bashing in the upcoming weeks. Apologies that my posting hasn't been on a daily basis. Yesterday everyone in my department called in sick, aside from myself. And I mean everyone. So, needless to say, I was way too exhausted after work to do anything, let alone write up a blog post. I'll try to make up for the sporadic posting, if the real world would stop being a jackass.


The master of the known universe, Hideo Kojima posted an interesting set of ramblings on his twitter page. I no like the Twitter. But I'll follow Kojima. For what he says is truth.


After watching a documentary regarding foreign exchange students at a Japanese University, he came to conclusion that the new generation of Japanese game designers don't have the motivation and drive to keep up with the West.


"The Game industry is very similar. The West is very motivated. The younger generation of Japan is losing.


"The designers and to-be-designers in the West have the focus, ambition, and ability to make their dream become true. So it is not the Japanese technology or culture that is losing, we are lacking the motivation.


"Lately I have come to conclusion that, with highly motivated foreigners... it doesn't matter where they are from, working with highly motivated individuals is the only way to move forward. I am tired of taking care of people who do not have the passion"


An interesting perspective. And I can't disprove his theory. Not just because it's Kojima, but because I haven't been fully absorbed into the Japanese gaming production environment to give a completely accurate comment. But I can understand his point from a Western perspective and general understanding of the Japanese culture.


On the one hand, we (as in the U.S.) have been brought up with this idea of the "American Dream." The concept of achieving one's goals and putting your passions before all else. At least I can say that my parents have always been encouraging of following my dreams, but I know from friends that it goes along similar lines. With the Japanese, the focus is on having a good, steady job and raising a family. The long-term is to be financially stable and you can find happiness through this way. It's not about picking a career that you like, but what will keep you and your family together. I know this is a generalization and I can't really speak on behalf of the Japanese people. This is based off of 2 years in Japanese class and the handful of friends that I know living in the region. But based on this point alone, Kojima makes a lot of sense. When you work for the sake of working, you are less likely to be motivated. When you work because you want to work and enjoy the work, then you are more likely to be motivated.


But then there's the other side of the coin. There are still a lot of great games being produced in Japan. If Kojima is stating that there is a lack of motivation, we shouldn't be receiving the high quality products that we have been. You could attribute the work due to the technology, the knowledge base, pre-existing copyright (lots and lots and lots of sequels). I think Kojima is looking more towards the future. At present games are still at a high enough quality that motivation wouldn't be a factor. However, the youth starting to come into the workforce may affect that quality. The same applies to kids in the U.S. and Europe. More are seeing gaming as a viable profession that they can enjoy, so it only makes sense that quality will improve over time.


It's a simple, but interesting point that Kojima brings up. And Kojima's word is law. Respect it

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Gundam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The giant Gundam is up and running...running as in it's eyes and cool lightsaberish weapon are lighting up. It doesn't move or anything like that. Though I'm sure in a few years the Japanese will have working prototypes and will take over the world. >.> This is really freekin' cool though. My brain still can't wrap around how to begin such a task.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

More weird FF14 pictures.




Famistu has posted more pictures of the upcoming Final Fantasy MMO (XIV, not XI). You have your jobs, mages, tanks, warriors. And there's a mixture of the crafting classes. I think they're trying too hard to make the crafts look badass. The cook looks like a bandit.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Geeks can Cosplay and still be hot

Anime Expo took place this past week, and online galleries are blowing up with the massive amounts of cosplay to be had. But, how was that not expected? It's one of the biggest anime conventions in the U.S. >.>

Since my past few posts have been overloaded, let's keep this one simple. Here are a couple of my favorite Expo galleries.

Eurobeat King (one of the best cosplay photographers).
StarFlash Expo Photos
Entire ACP catelogeu. With a lot of fing photos. >.>

Monday, July 05, 2010

PS Plus -1

I don't get the Playstation Plus business model.

I think it's an attempt to be more like Xbox Live and its millions of subscribers. That's good money going out the window Sony is losing by having their network free.

If I am to understand it correctly, The Playstation Plus is suppose to allow subscribers a chance to obtain new products, downloads, and demo's before they are released to the general network. It also acts like a discount card, in that you can purchase add-ons and the like at a reduced rate. It also provides automatic downloads (no need to turn on your system), and a rotation of "free" PS1 and PSN titles on a monthly basis. I think the Playstation Blog best sums up the Plus system.


Now for some of the problems:

Still no cross-game voice chat (like you have on Xbox Live and why it makes the system much more appealing to online gamers!)


In order to keep and have access to the content you have downloaded, you need to be a Playstation Plus subscriber for life. If your subscription expires, your access to the content is locked.


Some of the "free" game content can only be played on a PSP.


Here's my thing. I hate that Sony keeps throwing around the word "free." It's not free when you're paying for the service to get the demo or the add-on. Free means no money spent. It would be nice if Sony would advertise truthfully, but let's be honest. That won't happen. Realistically the system is "If you didn't have Playstation Plus, this demo will cost you $5.99. But if you do have Playstation Plus, as part of the service, you don't need to pay to play this demo." It's not really a free demo because you're paying for Playstation Plus. It's all about context and wording. Something good marketers know. You throw around the word FREE enough, people will pay for it. Web Based RPG's are great at doing this. Here's a Free MMO! But if you want the special items, extra levels, and all of the cool crap, you need to pay for it. But it's sort of Free!


As the consumer, we should think of this as a rewards program. There are a multitude of online companies (some are legitimate) that offer discounts and coupons for retailers for a monthly fee. Sony is asking that you pay $49.99 for 12 months of Playstation Plus for demos and PSN games, a 20-50% discount on certain game add-ons, and access to demos before non-paying users. Now if you're someone who spends a lot of money for game add-ons, you could probably get your money's worth within the first month of Plus. Those $1-3 discounts for add-ons start to add up. However, if you're not someone who constantly buys items from PSN, you're better off passing up this offer. That 20% discount for use maybe once a month won't pay off the cost of buying the Plus package. Then it's just $49.99 for demo's that you may only play 2 or 3, for $2.99 each. Oh, and you can't play them after you cancel your service. Not really a good deal to me. At least if my Xbox Live Gold Subscription ends, I can still play the crap I bought.

Sony needs to strengthen their marketing on this one and decide on a solid plan. Right now, it feels wishy-washy and appeals to a fraction of the consumer base. We can still play games online for free. We can still chat for free. We can still visit Playstation Home for free. There's little incentive to get Playstation Plus.


Maybe this is just the beginning phases of the system. Maybe Plus will offer more PS3 exclusive downloads and expand the library from more then just the PS1 Classics. Maybe we'll get that silly cross-game chat in PS Plus, though that will piss off a lot of the consumer base for not making it a default feature. Technically it's free with Xbox Live if you don't have a Gold account (Silver is still free). It feels like Sony is missing the point on the subscription service. They need to provide more of the goods and fix their terms. It's an evolving system that has barely been out for a month. I get that. They need to speed up the evolution process if they expect to get the results they want. Sony can't afford to let this one slip out of their hands so quickly. If Sony can't get their online service to take off within the first 5 months, drop the project and move on. We’ve been waiting on those LBP costumes you all were raving about last year. Finish those first.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

This is what happens when you have 10 hours to think.

Today is the 4th of July, i.e. Independence Day for those in the U.S. Though if you want to be historically accurate, it should be the 2nd of July, but let's not get into semantics. I got to spend my holiday at work. Today is not Independence Day in this building. Instead, tomorrow is to ensure that all employees get a fair chance at holiday paid time off. -_- Logic train away!

Seeing that most of the U.S. consumer market is out and about on the official holiday today, it gave me a lot of time to reflect on my constant churning through MMO's.


The only stable MMO I have had in my life has been Final Fantasy XI. It's practically a member of my family. No, I don't have any serious emotional/mental issues. At least that I'm aware of. >.> I have been playing this game for well over 5 years. That's long enough for me to marry the game, have a child, and divorce it (go America marriage rates!) The second longest MMO was Star Wars Galaxies. Back when it was good. And that was only a year. Before the spaceships expansion and the rise of the Wookies. When it took nearly a year to earn the respect to begin Jedi training, and I could send out legions of Stormtroopers on Mos Eisley and laugh at the Rebel's as they die en-mass. It was fun to be a bad guy back then. And I left at a good time. I remember my brother raising all hell when they patched the game and took that one year-learn to be a Jedi time and squished it down to a month. They completely changed the interface, dummed down the graphics, threw out the crafting system, and made all of those non-Jedi jobs obsolete.

I have played a number of other MMO's, both pay to play and free, in-between SW and FFXI. I still try out new ones every now and then, though my soul has been sold to SquareEnix. But they never last for more then 2 months before I quit. Usually long enough to enjoy the first 30 days for free, and then I'm out.


World of Warcraft I lasted for roughly 3 months, mostly because I had my boyfriend to keep me entertained through all of the xp grinding. If he were not around, I wouldn't have lasted as long.


City of Heroes/Villains? Barely a month. I had ninja minions and that made me giggle. That was about it.


Guild Wars. My brother played for quite a while. I only borrowed it for a project to film some areas. Great to have an online community that doesn't have a monthly fee, but you end up paying in other areas, such as lack of service, long downtimes, and the like.


Champions Online. I couldn't get past the character creation screen without it crashing constantly. New computer. At the recommended specifications for running the game. From what I have heard from friends, it's City of Heroes with more costume customizations. I think I'll pass.


There are others in there from major publishers, but not worth mention. But there are free/browser MMO's that I have attempted before.


The longest so far is Evony, which is more of a strategy MMO, less of an RPG. That lasted about 3 months on and off, until people that I played with got dispersed to other guilds and we couldn't chat with each other. But it's not a bad game. A great time waster when you're bored at work. Start a building, go work for 20 minutes. Then build a wall. Work for an hour. Maybe attack someone. Work for another 6 hours. It really is a strategy game that's super slow. But hey. It works. What I also liked is that there was a daily reward system, aka the wheel of fortune. For those that didn't pay to get more money, or extra in-game items, you could attempt to win them on a daily spin of the wheel. Sometimes you would get good, or iron, but other times you would get the in-game currency to allow you to purchase those extra items that people were spending real money (aka, dollars) on. It was kind of nice to play a free game that gave you a chance to be on the same footing as those spending real money.


I've tried out Maple Story, Adventure Quest RPG, Pirates of the Caribbean, Twin Skies, Free Realms, Gaia Online, but they all ran into the same issue. Free games are only free for so long. Enough to get the bare minimum of quests and items. Unless you pony up real money (more then what you would pay for a month subscription for an online game) the free games give you what you pay for, nothing.


Recently I have tested All Points Bulletin. While it's not a bad game, there is a great lack of substance that will prevent me from purchasing said game. And if you have read my review, it shouldn't be a surprise.


The more I look back at all of the MMO's I have played, the more I realize that I should stop trying. Not because I don't want to (for the sake of being a female gamer I must expand my knowledge!) rather, it's a giant waste of time. I have only stuck with 2 games out of the dozens that I have played. And I have come to the conclusion it is because of one major point: a coherent, overarching, cohesive story.


WoW, City of Heroes, Maple Story, Evony, APB. All of these games have one thing in common. You make your own story. If you are not into the full role playing experience, it's nothing but a level grind. There is a very generic layout. Typically you pick a side of good or evil and fight against the opposing players for your team. NPC's are there simply to give you fetch and kill quests. You don't have a story arc that you need to complete.

While I'm all for a game that allows the user to explore their creativity, I'm not paying the $49.99 price to purchase the game and then $15.99 a month to come up with my own story. I can do that for free. It's called an imagination. There's this great program called RPG Maker 2000 that allows me to make my own game and create my story for free with my imagination. If I'm buying a game, I want to get the full experience, story included. Running around on WoW as an undead Warlock was fun for a few days. And then it became boring really quick. Why? Because I didn't have a story to push me from Point A to Point B. The only reason to leave the starting town is so you didn't have to be clobbered by Level 70 Alliance members looking for an easy kill. That's not a reason to go forward. Rather, it's not a viable reason to move forward in terms of wanting to continue to play the game.


Galaxies and FFXI offers something that few MMO's do. Well, Galaxies use to. Not anymore. Back in the golden days. They offer a story and a mythos to keep the player interested. Yes there are the stupid fetch quests, but you also have to fight to save the world/galaxy spanning a mired of detailed plots, unique NPC's that you actually start to give a damn about, and learn to become more in-tune with your fellow man. FFXI requires you to be in groups in order to finish certain plot points. Which is probably why I still play. You have to be a human and learn to interact with other humans. Not a bad thing people. Galaxies, you could get away with doing a lot of the story points by going solo, but sometimes you couldn't, no matter how powerful your Stormtrooper army was. The games that I gave up on were all single-player experiences. You don't need a group to get to level 70 in WoW. You don't need a group to save an innocent citizen in CoH. Sure it made gaining xp easier, but it was unnecessary. Which became boring because you didn't have a soul to interact with. Hmm...I think I jumped the gun too early on this point.

Anyway, it really comes down to the story. I know that FFXI doesn't have the best graphics. The game has been out for 8 years and with it still being supported on the PS2, they can only do so much within their constraints. Really, the graphics aren't bad for being an 8 year old game. If you have a decent enough computer, some areas are really pretty. For all of the time and effort I have put into this game, I still enjoy playing it. I want to finish up the most recent expansion Wings of the Goddess (if I can get my friends to help out, hint hint). I still like partying with random people that I have never met and knowing a little bit more about the real world through their eyes.


To all of those naysayers, I'm not saying WoW or CoH or MapleStory are bad games. But they're not for me. I can understand how such titles are easy to get into for those who want something simple that you don't need to invest a lot of time in. I managed to get 2 characters to level 40 in WoW in less than 3 weeks with no effort. Seriously. I farmed that whole time while my pet attacked anything that was standing behind me. I have never made so much money in one game before. No I didn't sell off my gold. I used it to buy better gear and gave it all away to random people just before I left. In case anyone was wondering.


I guess what brought this up was surfing the interwebs today and stumbled upon an AdventureQuest ad. I figured, why not. I haven't played in a while; maybe they loosened up on the freebe restrictions. And I was completely wrong. Freebe games are less then free. Not even a taste of free exists. I wasn't able to go past level 2. No way to upgrade or get new weapons or buy new armor or even chat with another player until I paid their fees. What happened to the free online games? I'm better off going back to infecting the world and turning them into zombies or shooting at castles with flimsy objects via Armor Games. That's free fun. And good free fun.

So many of the formerly free online games have turned into money machines. Farmville is a perfect example of this. One hell of a money making machine that game is. People have spent billions of dollars to buy stuff for that games. Billions! For a simple online web browser game. Clearly I picked the wrong business. But for all of these games that are based on simple premises, no story required, they pack on all of these extra fees that make the free game not so free. Rather, $30 dollars a month will make you look better then everyone else in the game who is trying to get by on the freebe rules. I really don't see the point to it. If I see you advertise the game for free, I expect free to apply to everything. MapleStory use to do that before their cash store system came into play. Then it turned. At least with standard PC games that I can purchase, for a monthly fee I know that I'm getting the same treatment as everyone else playing the game. I don't have to worry about the economy of the game (sometimes...), or the horrible lag, or easy hacking. I know that I'm going to get a better product. And by better, I'd like a story.

I guess this is one endless musing of realizing that I should stop playing so many random MMO's when I know full well that I'm only going to stick to ones that give me a story. And that free MMO's have turned into useless entertainment that is not even worth the 5 minutes of creating an account. It's not really free if you have to pay for it. Now if I can follow my ramblings, that’s a different matter. *Stupidly forgets about APB review and buys it anyway.* Damnit!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Bending of the Air

The Last Airbender Review!


Hopped out to see this last night, even though everyone has been berating me with bad reviews. The most humorous so far is on i09 by Charlie Anders. I don't feel that it accurately paints the movie, but man, it's a funny read.

Positives:

It's like the book. For anyone who has actually paid attention to the series, it started out as a book before it was transformed into the television show. The book is pretty good and Shamalama pulls out most of the plot points quite accurately. Granted the book wasn't as popular as the tv show, but realistically, this was probably a better move to go with the book then the show. The book offers a more mature setting (PG13 land) that Shamalama could better adapt to then attempt to make a live action version of the animated show. It wouldn't have the same pizazz and Nickelodeon would have been better off making an animated movie if they wanted to go that route.

Zhao and Prince Zuko. Good acting on both parts. Zuko is acted by Dev Patel (the main character in Slum Dog Millionaire...does anyone remember that?), who brings a lot of life and torment into this character that best symbolizes the persona in the book. Commander Zhao is played by Aasif Mandvi. I say play because I think that best suits Mandvi, of The Daily Show fame. He puts his own twist on the character, that I felt made him more...human. Zhao has more of a personality and provides some light humor when its least expected. Intentional by Shamalama? Probably not, but more power to Mandvi for breathing some life into an otherwise dull character.

Pretty visuals. And I mean that in a good sense because so much of the Avatar television series had a great sense of color and movement and the movie captures this quite well. The blue of the water is more vibrant. The red and oranges in the fires are more red and orange. Ok, bad example. Just take a screencapture of the television show and the movie and compare the two and it'll make more sense.


Negatives:

It's really nothing like the television show, as pointed out earlier, which will make it a downfall for this movie. With Airbender, the popularity is in the tv show, not the book. By going the book route, it's doomed to fall down into the pit of failed book movies.

The kids can't act. If you were hoping for another Sixth Sense Haley Joel Shamalama magic, you won't see it here. It is blatantly obvious that a lot of the child actors have never been in a movie before, and it throws off the story. Just when you think you're getting into it, one of the kids speaks up and you're back to reality. Aang is pretty bad. I think he was chosen because he has a martial arts background and wasn't afraid to shave his head. Acting is not his strong point.

It's an adult movie for children. Much like Star Wars, in that the plot is more elevated to that of a normal PG, made for kids, movie. And just like Star Wars, there are a lot of bad puns and campy dialogue that will make you groan. And not C3PO in Attack of the Clones bad ("I'm falling to pieces!" as he's being dragged around by R2-D2. Lame). Those are tolerable in comparison. This script is like watching an Ed Wood D Movie bad. The best example of this in the film is when Aang and his crew are taken captive by the fire nation and thrown into a prison cell with a few Earth benders. I want to point out that this "cell" is really a giant dirt enclosure. Its dirt and water making a mud hut. Logic would dictate as an Earth bender, you could manipulate the dirt, aka EARTH, around you and get the hell out. But apparently, the Earth benders lack brain cells. They're content in sitting in their mud hut cell and ignoring that they are surrounded by EARTH. Until Aang comes along and says "Hey look! This is dirt! We can escape!" And all of the Earth benders are shocked at his superior knowledge and decide to break out. How is that realistic? Even a 3 year old could have figured it out. On that note, I'm taking back what I said. This isn't an adult movie for children. It's really an insult to children with how bad the dialogue is.


Because this is a geek event, here is my advice if you want to see this movie. Do your best to push out the book and the tv show. Look at this movie as a unique stand alone project. It'll make it a little more enjoyable/tolerable. I'm not saying that this a good movie, but it's not as bad as people are making it out to be if you go into it without pre-conceived notions. Oh, and apologies for the use of Shamalama. I’ve always had a difficult time spelling out his name correctly, so it’s become a habit to call him the Shamalama.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ebert's Response!

I don't think Mr. Roger Ebert expected to receive the attention he did after stating that video games are not, and will never be art. The original drama played out back in April, but now he has posted a followup going into more detail and clarifying his stance.

Now openly, Mr Ebert, you have given some good reviews to bad movies, and bad reviews to good movies. You give covariance to films that are, by all accounts, B list and have equated them to modern art. I'm still at a lost why he would have chosen the position that he did regarding video games not being art. But I am glad that you have gone back, re-thought your position, and are open to the idea that video games could, one day in the future, be art. Maybe not now, but some day.


I should not have written that entry without being more familiar with the actual experience of video games. My error in the first place was to think I could make a convincing argument on purely theoretical grounds. What I was saying is that video games could not in principle be Art. That was a foolish position to take, particularly as it seemed to apply to the entire unseen future of games. This was pointed out to me maybe hundreds of times. How could I disagree? It is quite possible a game could someday be great Art.

You should have started with Shadow of the Colossus. You know. That game Adam Sandler was playing in Reign Over Me? Which you probably gave a decent score, however I can't seem to find it anywhere in the universe of the internet your review of this film. That would have completely changed your perspective of games as art.