Archive for the Video Game Category

The Wire: A Very Special Crime

Posted in T.V., Video Game with tags , , on March 15, 2010 by Parker Connell

I love The Wire, it’s probably the best show ever made and most certainly the best I’ve ever watched. I think the five seasons perfectly encapsulated and told the story of the characters and the City of Baltimore, I don’t think it needs any more episodes, but maybe Mr. Simon could bring Bunk, McNulty, Pryzbylewski, Lester, Kima and the rest of the gang back for one more season that takes on this: The Mayor of Baltimore embezzled money and used gift cards meant for the poor on an Xbox 360.

Think about it HBO, maybe make it into a movie.

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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Posted in movies, Video Game with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Parker Connell

Anybody remember this flick. Nerds probably do. God knows I have fond memories of it, but recently I found myself  recommending Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within based on those fond memories, which goes against one of my basic tenets in life, because anyone who knows me knows I hate and mistrust nostalgia. However, after watching it in an objective unbiased manner I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s still a pretty good flick.

Released July 11 2001 ( you no doubt realize that is a very important date) and produced by the people who make the Final Fantasy video games, Final Fantasy the Spirits Within tells the story of Dr. Aki Ross, some sort of sci-fi doctor who lives in a world beset on all sides by “Phantoms” alien invaders who have been laying siege on humanity for the past 34 years. Dr. Ross and her old man pal Dr. Sid are in search of “spirits” to create a sort of hippy weapon that will peacefully destroy the Phantoms without harm in the Earth spirit Gaia. Yeah this flick shares a few themes with the recent, moderately successful movie Avatar, but don’t take my saying that the wrong way, I’m not one of those “Avatar is just Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas in space, therefore it isn’t a worthwhile film”. You see there is an important difference between Avatar and Dances with Wolves:

This sucks, Avatar doesn't

So along the way the main chick Aki meets up with a pretty kick ass military outfit called the Deep Eyes. These guys are specially trained to fuck shit up, and they are voiced by Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, and some actress named Peri Gilpin who sounds really familiar but I couldn’t find anything I knew her from. The voice cast for this is actually quite good and moderatly all-star at least in my mind, beyond Baldwin, Rhames and Buscemi, Dr. Sid is voiced by Donald Sutherland, and the bad guy General Hein is voiced by James Woods, and of course if there is moderately serious voice acting to be done Keith David must make a small but important appearance.

While the voice cast is great and for the most part the characters match pretty well, I had a major problem with the look of Alec Baldwin’s character Gray Edwards. Now I love Baldwin, he is one of my favorite actors, dramatic or comedic, and he has one of the most distinct voices out there. His character, however, doesn’t match it. Matter of fact it looks like the people at squarsoft really wanted Ben Affleck.

Like really REEAALLY wanted Ben Affleck

That’s another thing, apparently people at the beginning of the new millenium were really aroused by pixels. Looking through trivia and pictures about this movie I found this:

11 year old me probably would have loved this... i guess

A non-existent person made it onto Maxim’s hot 100 ladies of 2001. Now I know that Maxim isn’t really a high integrity magazine but seriously this just seems odd, and combined with the shirtless GQ pose of CG Affleck, Final Fantasy The Spirits Within probably creeped out a whole bunch of people.

So obviously the visuals excited some people 9 years ago but do they hold up? My answer to that is a resounding mostly actually. There were only a few times when characters looked like corpses on strings (mostly with Buscemi’s comic relief character Neil) and a couple other times when it just looked bizarre like when Sexy McSexpants and CG Affleck relieve the almost unbearable sexual tension between them and kissed, there lips moved in a disturbed way that looked like they were trying to rip off their respective faces. Besides those few moments the flick looks great. The character models on the humans look as life-like as you can expect from CG and the aliens look really freaking cool, until the end of the movie when this giant tentacly thing comes out of a crater, that thing looks really lame but I mean it is made by Japanese dudes, and most of them work on Final Fantasy I don’t think they know how to end a story without a tentacle monster.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within works best if you know what you are getting into. If you expect a lot of weird hippy mumbo jumbo Gaia and spirits talk you’ll enjoy it, there are some good action sequences and some occasionally disturbing imagery, which if you ask anything more from Sci Fi you really shouldn’t be watching Sci Fi.

Heavy Rain: One of the Greats

Posted in Video Game with tags , , , on February 24, 2010 by Parker Connell

February 23rd saw the culmination of the three years I’ve been waiting for this game. Now I have beaten it, the fastest I have ever beaten a game, and I’m pretty close to being able to say that it has beaten Shadow of the Colossus for top spot in my list of best games ever. Heavy Rain is the first game I’ve played with real human characters, characters you would see in a good thriller flick.

Heavy Rain was developed by a French company called Quantic Dream that previously made Indigo Prophecy (another personal favorite). The game tells the story of 4 people who are all affected in some way by a serial killer who has been at work for three years. People call him the origami (or origarmi/oragahmi/oregano) killer based on his calling card, a small origami figure left in the hand of his victim. His victims are also all children between the ages of 10 and 12. The four characters are a P.I., a FBI agent, a journalist, and the father of the origami killer’s latest victim.

This game deserves it’s mature rating. Not because of excessive violence, or swearing, although there is some of both in this game, no, it deserves it’s mature rating because it tells a mature story that isn’t for the little ones because they wouldn’t get it, nor will they actually give a shit. Here’s the test to see if a kid is mature enough for this game, if they can sit down for David Fincher’s Zodiac the entire time and not get bored, they can handle and enjoy this game. (Holy shit that test excludes a few of my friends from playing this game)

Also there is nudity, but only from the female character Madison, and you only see her breasts. At least twice you see a male character take a shower but you never see his penis. This upsets me because the way to make something classy is to show a penis. Think about it; the classiest things in the world all have at least one penis shot. The beginning of Antichrist, Alan Moore’s graphic text-book From Hell has more than a few, maybe that’s the thing Alan Moore stole all the dick shots in Europe, so now European art can’t have anymore.

Seriously check this book out, it's chock full of class (class = dick shots)

Another small problem I have with the game is a lot of the voice acting is sub par. Nobody in this game consistently says origami correctly. I realize that most of the voice talent was French but origami is a Japanese word so it’s pretty much the same everywhere. The main characters are all really good, especially the P.I. and the journalist chick.

Oh yeah and the graphics. The graphics are for lack of a better word… beautiful. The people at Quantic Dream took a long time on this game and it shows, apparently the better part of a decade is how long it takes to climb your way out of the uncanny valley, and while they don’t make it all the way out, it’s the best I’ve ever seen. The games industry has come so very far since Custer’s Revenge.

Let’s compare:

This...

... Looks significantly better than this

Gameplay wise this is a lot like an old point and click adventure from the early nineties, but better because I actually gave a shit, granted I wasn’t really a functioning human being when that style of game was popular. The only real difference is that now the point and click adventure has been updated with what could loosely be called Quick Time Events, but unlike previous games that use QTE (God of War, Resident Evil) the one’s in Heavy Rain are integrated smoothly and flawlessly into the game, they are organic and intuitive to the gaming experience.

But really Heavy Rain as a game is about three things, Story, Character, and Story. Which is amazing for me, I get so sick of space marines and assassins and open world who gives a shit games that an ultra linear, ultra story driven game is the best thing ever. Similarly, the story in Heavy Rain is about three things, Daddy Issues, Daddy Issues, and Daddy Issues. Seriously Heavy Rain is David Cage’s (the writer/director of Heavy Rain) Hook.

Watch it again, it's just Spielberg bitching about his dad for 2 hours

Unlike Hook, however, I don’t absolutely hate Heavy Rain. Actually I love Heavy Rain, I beat it about 30 minutes ago and I already want to start a new game up. Heavy Rain absolutely belongs on your PS3 shelf, next to the other essentials: Little Big Planet, Metal Gear Solid 4, and The Ant Bully Game.