April 28, 2009


Can you imagine two of the greatest game developers, Valve and Bioware, with different specializations, FPSs and RPGs, merging into one glorious amalgamation of awesomesauce? I can now.

With the help of Garry's Mod, Valve resources, and imagination I can guess was heftily inspired by Bioware RPGs, someone has concepted (yeah, I made that one up) out a Team Fortress 2 RPG. Seriously. I want.

Aside from actually becoming a reality, it's thrilling to think about. A lot of work as been put into it, and it gives a lot of creedence to the power of Valve's characters. Heavy story games such as role-playing games need detailed, in-depth characters, and this creation emphasizes just how possible it could be.

Again: I want.

-- "I will shoot you. And I know robot karate!"

April 26, 2009

Difference Between Speech and Action

In another introspective, pondering piece, I'd like to skim the surface of badasses who quote the Bible. My recent delving into the Good Book aside, it's interesting to note how much more attention is paid to characters in stories who commit murders and atrocities yet speak Christian scripture like they actually follow its moral compass.

My interest was piqued while recently watching 3:10 to Yuma, with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. Russell plays the outlaw Ben Wade who recognizes himself as a bad person, yet quotes the Bible on multiple occasions and prays with his just-as-despicable gang after a successful heist. He wasn't seeking out redemption; it was merely a dichotomous character study rife with hypocrisy. And I'm talking about it, so I'm only confirming its inherently interesting qualities.

I make the distinction based in redemption because this reminded me of Sam Jackson's character of Jules in Pulp Fiction. His path evolved with the help of his scripture orations, something wholly different from that of Wade.

My point may be moot because a story is not as interesting without such dissonant characters. It's only disconcerting to think the messages found in their source material is less impacting coming from those who may follow it more faithfully. With that, I'm forgoing my usual movie quote with a passage a friend pointed me toward recently...

-- "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Philippians 4:8

April 25, 2009

Why Zombies?

The last few years have seen a zombie renaissance. The phenomenon has spread through movies, video games, comics, and books. And not just tongue-in-cheek survival guides, Jane Austen's world has seen an invasion into the undead dilettante psyche with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I've been thinking about it, sans any research that has no doubt already laid out all of my ideas, and think I know why people enjoy confronting these ultimate antagonists. Zombies present the all-in-one, most evil beings. Their motives consist of finding living flesh and consuming, nothing else. This single-minded cannibalism is universally perceived as "not good".

By itself, this wouldn't be enough to set them apart from other unthinking, murderous human beings. But each one was once a living, breathing being. They are mirrors of the human condition. Their purely instinctual nature leaves them devoid of choice or the ability to think past their undying hunger. It's just easier to accept them as villains more than anything else; it's automatic. They even outrank Nazis, only because Nazis have choice, families, and the ability to feel emotion. Encountering a horde of un-fearing zeds would be intense to say the least.

There's gotta be more to this, but I've been done writing essays for awhile. I'll have to expound on it some other time.

-- "I only gamble with my life, never my money."

April 23, 2009

Faith's Flop of a Finale

At the expense of not writing anything, I'd just like to say I finished Mirror's Edge today. Finished as much as the game can be for not having a real ending, that is.

As disappointing as the finish was, the game was great. The intensity of the chase and racing to the end of each chapter was exhilarating. I wasn't able to free my hands of the controls to hit Esc while escaping; I felt like I couldn't pause. I haven't felt that way except in games where I literally couldn't pause.

Good times.

-- "Remember, all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."

April 20, 2009

The Vertigo Is Unnerving

I finally got Mirror's Edge for PC thanks to a $20 special on Amazon. I pretty much only buy games I know I'm gonna like, and it hasn't disappointed.

Detailed in a previous post, my choice for the PC version hasn't been a complete wash. Unfortunately, I can't get my 360 controller to work on my computer without an additional purchase. I'm "suffering" through with the mouse/keyboard, but it still feels good. And the PhysX feels really good. In reality it's not anything but a few loose cloths, transparent plastic draping, and ever-so glorious, shattering glass. All these details make thrilling chases feel even more spectacular.

If you can't tell, I'm enjoying the game. Though there are some disappointing features: the melee combat feels a bit off and the leeway, given in games such as Assassin's Creed or Prince of Persia, isn't nearly enough for long jumps and grabbing onto pipes. Adversely, there are two aspects I didn't expect to feel right at all: the shooting combat and Esurance cut sequences. Maybe it's the presence of a mouse, but the shooting seems just fine. And as cheesy as the cel-shading may be, the stylization fits with the rest of the game.

Playing without trying to obtain achievements has actually been a relief too. I love getting them on my 360, but the lack thereof frees me to not worry about how I could be playing instead of the way I like. It's like playing a new game with that old, retro love.

-- "That was the best vacation ever! I love our family."

April 16, 2009

The Hatchet Man's M.O.

With the recent media teasers coming out for Assassin's Creed 2, I've delved back into the original to satiate my desire for that specific mix of parkour and bladecraft. I had been feeling the itch for awhile but was tipped over the edge by the look of the Italian Altair. If nothing else, it has drawn me away from my Peggle fetish.

It has felt just as good as it did the first time, though I've acclimated much faster this time. I first played it over a year ago, so none of it was still fresh in my mind. The controls aren't exact and help in certain parts, but I'm even more delighted by the news of being able to swim in the next iteration. Tip-toeing on dock poles doesn't auto-help as much as I'd like when insta-death is a minor misstep away.

This time through I'm killing all the templars and getting all the flags scattered about the maps. I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying it and how easy the templars are to kill (they seemed nigh-impossible last time I played). But overall, it's the same greatness I loved before.

Da Vinci's workshop, double wristblades, and Renaissance flair can't come soon enough. I can't wait to see more of Desmond and Lucy's story told unwind with Ezio, the ancestor with a vendetta, carving his way through the past.

-- "I don't pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people."

April 14, 2009

Saving Winters' Privates

Thanks to a readily available set of DVDs, I finally got around to watching the Band of Brothers mini-series. I knew it would be good; I loved Saving Pvt. Ryan.

I was afraid it would just feel like more of Ryan. I'm glad to say it was and wasn't. The cinematography, the attention to detail, and subtle music scores all felt very similar and just as great. And other than the training before D-Day, I wasn't finding much else too different that might otherwise blow my mind.

Until Part 9. The approach toward the end of the war in the final two parts was impeccable refinement and taste. It's weird to say taste when referring to the discovery of the Nazi death camps, but it's fitting. Nothing was shied away from, over-pronounced, or trivialized. I'm sure it all helps when your executive producer has tackled such subjects in Academy Award winning films, but it conveyed an extended look into the emotions from the brothers not yet seen.

The other obvious thing setting the brothers apart from Saving's 2.5 hour adventure was the testimonials. It added extended reality more so than just saying, "Based on a true story," and drives home what all those men sacrificed.

-- "Goldie, how many times have I told you guys that I don't want no horsing around on the airplane?"

April 13, 2009

Plenty of Jedi = Plenty of Bounty Hunters

Bioware recently wrote about the Bounty Hunter class for their upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. From their purpose and design to their goals and inspirations, Bioware always has big aspirations for its games.

The developer is known for great games filled with great stories. Their character designs always outdo the rest with epic tales. It's hard to not sing praises about their games. However, I'm trying to be skeptical about their foray into the MMO genre. They sound like they want to change paradigms, something we've heard from many developers with delusions of grandeur. My interest is definitely piqued, especially with this write-up of the Bounty Hunter.

The Star Wars mythos has pivotal hunters throughout the plethora of stories and fan-fic with definitive characteristics. After hearing what The Old Republic plans to lend to the class, you can't help but feel giddy. I get to control a character with the power to take out a Jedi or Sith sans Force?

Le sigh. Like I said, I'm trying to remain skeptical, but Bioware never makes it easy on me (see Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect).

-- "Last night, Darth Vader came down from the planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't take Lorraine out that he'd melt my brain."

April 12, 2009

New York's Godzilla

Can you guess which film my title refers to? From its inception, it is what J.J. Abrams wished to accomplish with Cloverfield. I was never into the big monster movies of the past or the new Godzilla adaptations, but this one had me intrigued the whole time.

Perhaps the first-person storytelling did it or the "mis en scene" atmosphere (eat that films professor that gave me a C), but Cloverfield struck a nerve so much I perused the special features on the DVD. I haven't done that in years with the exception of Serenity.

A lot more thought seemed put into this film than others (see any cheesy monster movie with a one name title). The creature had complete thoughts behind its motives and mobility. It felt very real amongst the survivors even in grandiose situations; the Statue of Liberty head was hilarious but impacts the panicked New Yorkers just like you might think.

I don't need sequels based on what I've seen, probably won't see it in theatres if one's made, but the mystery has left me still wanting more. It'll be in the queue.

-- "I wish I were big."

April 11, 2009

Left 4 Dead LARPing

Would you consider LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) if it had a more zombie/survivor motif? Well good thing this has nothing to do with that.

Some fine photographers were fine enough to make a really fun public set of photographs on Flickr and get it highlighted on Kotaku. The set is called Left 5 Dead, the obvious sequel, and includes the original four survivors plus some random pirate (named Steve?). Aside from the ass-tastic 5th wheel, the set stands out due to the presence of purpose and action the game tends to convey.

But even more so is the use of what I perceive to be an up-and-coming photographic technique known as HDR. I only discovered it recently, but you basically take multiple shots of the same scene at different exposures and merge them to create enormous amounts of detail that wouldn't otherwise be there. Just look up HDR images after viewing the Flickr set to find some other fantastic examples.

I haven't created any yet, but I'll probably make a post about it once I find my inspiration for it.

-- "Hello, Mr. Fancypants. Well I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things right now: Jack and s***...and Jack left town."

April 10, 2009

Long Enough Break

I took a break. It's probably not the best thing to do when this is one of the most constructive things on my platter. But it was a break, and I have more topics in the queue now. First off: last weekend!

The Ship of Fools improv comedy troupe from Purdue University and the Andy Ober Orchestra put on their annual joint show in West Laffy. Having attended the previous two, I was glad my schedule didn't interfere with this show.

The Fools performed with splendid precision and nary a snag. It's always fun to see them put on a show, but they were genuinely on point that night. The subtleties are what please me most with them; you can look to the side to see the better performers adding quaint little tie-ins without stealing anyone's thunder.

The AOO was above par this year too. Adding a rarely seen fourth member, the quartet pleased the crowd with many new songs smattered with a couple golden oldies as well. You wouldn't know they only practiced together maybe five times a year. ::wink::

-- "I like to look for things no one else catches. I hate the way drivers never look at the road in old American movies."

April 03, 2009

Somewhere Across The Universe Skies Are Filled With Diamonds

I've grown up a rather passive fan of The Beatles, and Across the Universe was a magnificent surprise. I had actually forgotten it was a musical based on their music, but it proved to be quite a trip, pun assuredly intended.

The film is set in the 60s pitting star-crossed lovers an ocean apart. Other members fill out the rest of the cast around them and eventually Come Together in New York's village scene. The other members happen to include likenesses of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. A couple of cameos by Bono and Eddie Izzard even guest in the lovefest.

From kismet to falling apart to inevitable re-intimacy, the overall plot is predictable though not to its detriment. What is nowhere near predictable are the visuals. They are a superb form of re-imagined storytelling paralleling the music and lives of the Revolution-ary Beatles. Even starting around the halfway point, there was a lot of psychadelic imagery. They fit so right with what I guess the band was trying to get across ending in the penultimate message "All You Need Is Love."

If you're a fan of the Beatles or liked Moulin Rouge, consider a Ticket to Ride Across the Universe. It will anything but A Hard Day's Night. I couldn't help myself.

-- "I'll come 'round sometime and get that squeak out of your door."

April 01, 2009

Sony Welcomes Mario to Generation Next

Earlier today, Sony unveiled the clandestine location for Mario's next adventure: the Playstation 3. Miyamoto-san seems to have had a mid-life crisis taking his beloved plumber into a visually realistic world full of browns and greys.

Set to join the fray of frags, Super Mario Mayhem is touted to revolutionize the world of first-person shooters. Little imagery has been released, but I'm thinking the Super Mario Bros. movie with better animation, tougher A.I., and no Dennis Hopper as King Koopa. No doubt there'll be plasmid-like fireball-tossing action too!

And it will sell millions. And the PS3 won't need the price-cut everyone's been demanding. Parents will purchase them for their kids even with the Mature rating the game has already received.

Well done, Sony. HUGE SUCCESS!

-- "Remember, trust the fungus."