Archive for December, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized on 24 December, 2008 by J-Man

I won’t be posting anything tomorrow, so have a happy holidays everybody.

Quantum of Solace Review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , , on 24 December, 2008 by J-Man

Verdict: Utter genero-action film.

Quidditch of Solarium

Oh boy. This is gonna be a tough one. Maybe I should do a Zero Punctuation thing, and make this into a mini-podcast of my hatred for this film. Then again, my microphone is broken, so I’ll make do with this keyboard. This is basically a lesson in how not to make a Bond film. Go back to the Sean Connery days of Bond, and there are 3 things that are apparent in every film; social stealth, gadgets (including cool cars), and finally a certain level of suave-ness. Quantum of Solace has none of these. There’s not a single scene without action, which I would usually appreciate, but the fact this means a sacrifice of story and character development means I began to loathe the non-stop gunfest that is “Quantum.”

Moving on, Daniel Craig is the most unenthusiastic Bond I have ever seen, trumping my deep-seated enmity towards Pierce Brosnan. Aside from the non-stop pouting, he’s now a cold-blooded, merciless terminator. In every other scene he either kills innocent policemen just trying to do their job, or performs some feat that would require the strength of Hulk Hogan to do in real life. An example would be when he sends a motorcycle flipping through the air by simply slapping the handlebars with his palm. Or when he snaps off a metal doorknob with apparently no effort. Finally, if you’re going to have Craig scarred, bruised and bloody after every scene, make sure there’s continuity. Last time I remembered, you can’t heal multiple lacerations to the face in less than 24 hours.

In fact, I no longer classify the Bond series as original. The fact that if you put Quantum of Solace and Bourne Ultimatum together and can’t see the difference (like me) greatly pisses me off. And they didn’t even plagiarise correctly! Where Ultimatum had a strong story which actually provided proper motivation for the protagonist, Quantum of Solace provides the plotline “Holy shit there’s some baddies in some South American country let’s go shoot them!” As for the use of “all 4 elements” that the director never shuts up about in his interviews, no-one gives a shit whether the action is at sea or on land, as long as it’s good. In fact, it seems they’re trying to compensate for the dire story by throwing on so many novelties that it just gets boring. Director: If you switch to a different country every 10 minutes, you lose the effect.

Well, I’m past my preferred word count of 400, but you need to be warned about this film. Even if you didn’t go to the cinema to see it, and are just wondering whether to pirate it or not, don’t. Actually, do. It’ll rob the director of the money he doesn’t deserve. Note: this is in no way an endorsement of piracy, just a joke. *Cough*

Far Cry 2 Review

Posted in Gaming, Review with tags , , , , , on 22 December, 2008 by J-Man

So, it’s taken me an embarassingly long time to finish this (due to my annoyingly short attention span). I seem to recall reviewing this a long, long time ago, but I had a look at it and decided to rewrite it. It was a 2 page affair, and pretty decent, but I think I’ll compress it for EG. It’s interesting in that you do actually have control over the story, with the game frequently letting you choose who to kill (or less commonly, live).

The graphics are beautiful, and in my personal opinion superior to Crysis’. The gameplay is also brilliant, albeit difficult at first. I think its fair to say that the problem with Far Cry 2 is that for every brilliant idea they put in, they half-ruin it. Take wound treatment, for example. Sick of the “regenerating health” mechanic so common in other games, I was looking forward to pulling bullets out of my own limbs, but it turns out that the real system is far less imaginative. It amounts to this; if your health is low, tap H. Your character will lean over and pull a bullet out of his arm with his own teeth/push a bullet through his arm with his own index finger/ram pliers into a gaping hole in his arm and pull the bullet out.

And then there’s gun jamming. Apparently enemy weapons degrade to an unusable point when their owners die, despite working perfectly up to that moment. You have to purchase your own weapons and visit arsenals to get even half-reliable weapons. Or there’s vehicle repairing, where you have to fix your own vehicles if they take too much damage. Like the wound system, it amounts to tapping a key and watching your character repeat an animation.

It’s incredibly frustrating that a game could have been so brilliant, yet squanders its ideas. Oh, not to mention the buddies, who’ll over-complicate a mission so much I ended up killing every single one of them, and that’s before the bastards betrayed me (oops, spoilers).

Nevertheless, Far Cry 2’s single strength easily pulls it back from the abyss of mediocrity, that being the combat. It really is based on tactics rather than reflexes, which is refreshing in our world of Call of Duty and Halo. The fire is the best I’ve seen in any games, making World at War’s flamethrower look more like a pack of matches compared to Far Cry 2’s. While vehicular combat is weak, it’s easy to simply get out of your car, shoot an rpg at any pursuers and drive off.

Many have suggested that the frequent enemy outposts slow down the game too much, but if you think what Far Cry 2 would be like without them, all I imagine is a beautiful but empty world with rare gunfights. Besides, the combat is the best part of Far Cry 2, so why do people want less of it?

Ubisoft also appear to working on some new DLC (downloadable content added to the game after release), which shows Ubisoft’s efforts to improve their existing products.

Architecture in Helsinki

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on 22 December, 2008 by J-Man

New music update! I’ve heard a lot about this on James, but never really got round to listening to it. Until 30 minutes ago. Now I’m researching their albums and finding websites places to pirate purchase their music. That makes 2 great bands I discovered this week!

Helsinki

The music is generally bright and kinda uplifting, and will provide a worthy opposite to Rage Against the Machine on my ipod. Here’s an embedded video for you to get the idea:

Waltz with Bashir review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , on 20 December, 2008 by J-Man

In short, this is my film of the year. It’s consistently brilliant throughout in every way I can think of, and it definitely sits among my top 10 films.

waltz_with_bashir

In my typical fashion, I’ll deal with the technical side first:

fucking brilliant.

Moving on… Nah, I kid. The artwork is gorgeous, using my favourite technique of all time; using colour to represent emotions. The washed-out yellowness at the climax of the film suited it perfectly, and the frequent use of this brings beauty to what could have been an entirely bleak film. The animation is great, although it isn’t rotoscoped the animators have still been able to show emotions on the faces of all the characters.

In fact, the film is solely based on characters, rather than events. The centre of the plot is a former Israeli soldier with amnesia, pushed into searching for his past through hallucinations of a certain massacre he witnessed. He does this by talking to other people who were involved in the war, and thus allows the film-makers to explore different narratives and storyline while still relating it to the protagonist of the film.

It can be bleak in parts, depressing in others and uplifting in none, but that doesn’t stop it from being emotionally affecting and moving. I think an 18 rating is too high, there’s only 1 scene with sex, and the worst part is the real pictures of the massacre. I’m going off-track here, but surely images of an event that actually happened shouldn’t be concealed from us. Sadly genocide happens, and we can’t just pretend it doesn’t for the childrens’ sake.

Anyway, the film wraps up nicely by showing us the reality rather than the hallucination. It’s a deep film, and I recommend you see it. Definitely worth a BAFTA, hell, even an Oscar.

Hancock review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , , on 20 December, 2008 by J-Man

One of my most anticipated films is Watchmen, becuase it deals with the idea of superheroes becoming more like unstoppable fascists, superior to mere mortals. I thought Hancock’s story would be along similar lines, just reversed, with him despised by the people he’s trying to save. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a steaming pile of-

hancock-poster

Anyway, let’s deal with the technical aspects of the film – production design is boring, camerawork was tedious, sets unconvincing, performances rubbish, special effects average, character development was almost non-existent and there was not a single funny joke in the whole fucking film. Hancock starts off with a dead-beat hero hated by all for being shit at his job, and he remains shit throughout the film. I disliked the character throughout the whole film, and felt totally disconnected, almost pleased when he died. Oh  wait, he doesn’t. Towards the end of the film you think they were going to go in a whole new direction by having the protagonists die, but it turns out that they survive, despite the plot of the film stating they should fucking die.

It’s equivalent to HAL suddenly rebooting at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then again, they probably just wanted to have the option of making a piss-poor sequel then releasing it during a national holiday so the director has some more money to buy alcohol and can stay off the streets. Where he belongs.

Slight change

Posted in Gaming, Site news with tags , , , on 19 December, 2008 by J-Man

If you direct your eyes to the header above this text, you may notice I changed the image. It’s gone from the gleaming sci-fi dystopia of Mirror’s Edge to the ominous hand of the Illuminati in Deus Ex. I think I prefer this one much more, as it also ties in with the whole philosophy/politics slant of this blog, whereas the last one felt kinda irrelevant. Anyway, if you had no idea what Mirror’s Edge is, it’s a game about free-running (the activity of running through a city), while I will soon do a post on Deus Ex.