Thursday, 30 June 2011
Friday, 24 June 2011
Following on from 20XX favourite Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, the next legacy title scheduled for a Namco Generations nitrous recalibration is Galaga. The 1981 formation blaster has been given a psychedelic screen-swamp scrub down, and renamed Galaga Legion DX. Players are still trapped patrolling a single screen, but instead of waiting for the enemies to politely shuffle into your laser barrage you'll be twitch dodging relentless, suicidal armadas hellbent on crowding you to death.
Only a few days until total disappointment! Shockwave's still frontin' in this clip length TV tease for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; at this stage he's still all about cool pose-downs and not much else. Looks like his mech-tentacle pet gets to have all the building slagging fun. 20XX's outstandingly optimistic hopes for Shockwave getting into a set-to with the entire established cast, regardless of allegiance, isn't looking too likely. Various merchandise plot leaks point to him being at best ancillary, with all this installments villainy wrapped up in a duplicitous Autobot playing spychanger. Oh well! Can't have anything.
After Hal Jordan's limp-dicked reluctance to be awesome in last week's Green Lantern, this enthusiastic biff-bosh trail for Captain America: The First Avenger is a tonic. Instead of a dull hunk dodging responsibility, we have a pint-sized member of the Greatest Generation actively seeking burden.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Sinestro's bipolar, Hector Hammond's a screaming chump with space mumps, and Hal Jordan's an ego-maniacal jerk-off nursing Hot Shots! flashbacks. Above all, Green Lantern feels like a cack-handed best-of reel, compiled from a yawning TV serial kin to Smallville. We get massive stretches of Earth bound boredom, while Hal selfishly refuses his space-cop calling, until his exact neighbourhood is threatened. As a DC second stringer, Green Lantern would have been well advised to pattern itself after the easy breezy Iron Man. Instead of actualised joy, we get bum note hissy fits and vapid anti-romance, burning screentime and squirrelling away budget for dimwitted smoke monster climaxes. Green Lantern is impenetrably dull, and content to waste the brief vim outer space offers by bogging events down with intelligence insulting speeches - what exactly can the Masters of the Universe learn from a huckster, plane crasher that hates the working class? That's right - we're all 'only human' deep down. Work is already underway on a Green Lantern 2. The mind boggles.
NetherRealm Studios make good on vague Twitter promises of free DLC kontent for Mortal Kombat. Download the Compatibility Pack that primes you for extra character shilling, and you're rewarded with Cyrax and Sektor's BMX Bandit, Mortal Kombat 3 good looks.
Monday, 20 June 2011
A recent brush with Jason Momoa's frown-faced, dog-hump masterclass in HBO's Game of Thrones had me reconsidering the pretty boy snides I'd thrown his way. All brawn and eye make-up in Thrones, Momoa is pregnant with barbaric possibility. Literally every time he's on screen, I'm waiting for him to pull someone's arm out their socket. It's definitely going to happen. Someone's bound to piss him off eventually. An underling will say the wrong thing, then POW! - one arm down. Then, as if to compliment my bubbling interest level, this red band trail for the Conan the Barbarian remake hits, shooting 3D CG blood all over the audience. While this doesn't really look set to dethrone Milius's ponderous, zen anarchy parable, there's enough sneering savagery here to banish all memory of those shitty smoke teasers.
Monday, 13 June 2011
Saturday, 11 June 2011
2D never died. It just got prettier, and trickier; using decades of in-built player training to form a kind of meta text back and forth between developer and player. Rather than disappear altogether, cheap price points and digital distribution have allowed 2D to become almost art-house video game language, demanding bizarro interpretation and on-fly experimentation. Bastion is the latest example of this trend, a lush indie show-stopper that mixes The Story of Thor style views with an ingenious on-fly contextual commentary that issues feedback based on what the player's actually doing. Could be this year's Limbo.
Frankly, Dragon's Crown demanded its own post. Internet word holds that the title began life as a Dreamcast semi-sequel to Atlus's Saturn RPG scroller Princess Crown. Distended development time on Murasama: The Demon Blade causing the game to slip a few generations. Dragon's Crown's art-direction is something else, shredded shoulders and frowns for the chaps, jiggly delicates for the girls. It's Dungeons & Dragons regulars redesigned by Simon Bisley in a full-on sex froth (Sorceress is Disaster Year's favourite). Developer Vanillaware, made up of ex-Atlus staffers, are carving out a delicate little niche catering to the apparently overlapping concerns of grubby boys, and mathematical 2D brawler fans.
Never played the original Prey. Based on nothing at all, I chalked it up as first person shooter shovelware and carried on elsewhere, but this cinematic for Prey 2 demands attention. The banal Lost style plane event that opens this clip dulls expectation just enough for what follows to play like a delirious flight of fancy. This pops.
Skulls of the Shogun is a delightfully ugly turn-based strategy gobbler that sees the skeletons of deposed dignitary wandering the feudal lands desperate to chomp down on their opponents skulls. The game surfs a wave of good tell from E3 floor journalists, who've eagerly chalked up favourable comparisons to Nintendo's Advance Wars series.
Friday, 10 June 2011
With a lead that looks like Street Fighter 4's Ryu character model redesigned to convey maximum young-man rage, and a throaty, grumbly dub voice to match, Asura's Wrath looks set to be Capcom's take on God of War style divine vandalism. This clip trades off betrayal narratives, but other trailers have demonstrated a six-armed, man-sized Asura trading blows with planet sized deities. Muscle explosion! With most of Capcom's internal staff apparently knuckling down on Dragon's Dogma, Asura's Wrath is being developed by CyberConnect2, a company that specialises in action adventure anime adaptations, like the .hack// and Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series.
Irrational could'a rested on their laurels and just issued another mystery dispatch from their new steampunk setting. Instead they've released a minute and change of pure unadulterated motion set in a roller coaster world. Best of all is the tease that Elizabeth will be a persistent presence in BioShock Infinite, with her and the player character, Booker DeWitt, exchanging flirty, shirty, teamwork talk.
Hype vid for Sony's PlayStation Vita which, going on the first musical cue heard here, is a holy Roman artifact recovered from a Michael Bay movie. If nothing else, the new analog sticks look far more comfortable than the PSP's skin-shredding nub. Clip lists off a broad catalogue of first-gen software, from the tech-muscle sights of a handheld version of PS3 wunderkind Uncharted, to Sound Shapes' abstract puzzle peril. It's your usual collection of base-covering sport units, and wacky IP pitches designed to milk newfangled features. Reality Fighters aside, the weirdest looking proposal is Dragon's Crown, a mondo topless side-scroll brawler that looks like Russ Meyer's slobbering recalibration of Golden Axe.
Thursday, 9 June 2011
Battlefield 3 latest shill imagines a running tank battle between state-of-the-art American tanks and Soviet surplus boilers apparently piloted by the Iranian army on the outskirts of Tehran. Thanks to DICE's Frostbite 2.0 engine, this is the best looking nightmare simulator yet seen in video games, easily outstripping recent Modern Warfare 3 footage for sheer mind-numbing detailing. How much of this bleeding-edge tech reel will actually be possible on home console, or average joe PC remains to be seen, although it's heartening to see a renewed focus on the campaign element. Recent Battlefield installment haven't exactly enjoyed the most robust single-player modes. Battlefield 3 looks to be offering the kind of experience that last year's Medal of Honor promised, but woefully failed to deliver - reportage flavoured bulletins from the World War III front line, told with the visual vocabulary of YouTube atrocity leaks, and Sky News hysteria journalism.
Street Fighter X Tekken is still looking a little too threadbare to get truly excited about, instead 20XX is pumped for this YouTube clip exporting, hip-hopping, windowboxed re-release of Street Fighter III Third Strike, my second favourite installment of Capcom's deathless fighting series (Street Fighter II' Turbo is still number one). Looking forward to face kicking folks half-way around the world with Urien's big lanky legs. It's why they invented wireless broadband Internets!
One of the first Wii U exclusive announces is Ubisoft's Killer Freaks from Outer Space, an alien invasion chewer that sees a slobby opportunist firing wildly at monstrous gremlin state Raving Rabbids, and bloody loving it. Word is that the screen on the Wii U controller is used for aiming and target acquisition, with the sticks dedicated to movement. A next-gen light gun game then? Cool!
Continuing Nintendo's long-standing trend of excellent codenames succeeded by lesser release branding, Project Café becomes Wii U. As usual, rather than attempt to wow with dry technical jargon, Nintendo talk about the toy potential. We are sold the key point of interaction, in this case a backwards compatible controller, that resembles an iPad by way of a Wii Classic Controller, locked in an airy, safe, middle-class environment. Share prices have dipped slightly since this rather anaemic announce, but who seriously bets against Nintendo?
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
When my nine-year-old self first considered the plastic game pieces of Space Crusade, this is more or less what he imagined - armoured football hooligans relentlessly pulverising fragile alien meat sacks. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine doesn't look like it'll rely on minutely timed, frame count combat, but those orks sure do a good job exploding.
Gameplay reel for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, ably demonstrating the kind of micro-campaign the series specialises in. Many games would be content to break this sequence down into three distinct stages, not so here. Instead this segment blurs clashing objectives, guiding the player along a strict linear path, through the bowels of New York's totaled tube system and onto a floundering nuclear submarine. This is James Bond in Thunderball, and you're 007.
Gearbox's austere /dull Brothers in Arms is another series ripe for a volte-face, semi-colon rebranding. Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 is a trashy muddle that aims for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, and ends up closer to 70s British war comics. Not the worst miss in the world by any means. An interactive approximation of Garth Ennis's recent sweary hairy Battlefields comics could work. Maximum optimism aside, it is rather rubbish to note that Furious 4 is yet another World War II title that attempts to white-wash the symbols of the Nazi regime from history. I know it eases distribution in several European countries if you replace the swastika with a stylised iron cross, but surely if you're aiming for maximum pulp fiction larks, and perhaps an ethical stance on sanctioned video game murder, it's better to be killing Nazis rather than just Germans?
Ninja Theory's scratchy rethink of Devil May Cry continues to underwhelm, despite some sparky thuds and trip-hop beats. Above all there's very little indication that Ninja Theory, and their Capcom paymasters, have any idea what to do with the Dante character. Series creator Hideki Kamiya imagined him as a supercool smart alec, much like Buichi Terasawa's Cobra. In series reboot DmC, he's a skinny jeans wearing frowner, with ill-defined authority issues.
Thursday, 2 June 2011
If Capcom are rooting around for another Final Fight Double Impact style legacy title ripe for a HD spruce-up, might I suggest Saturday Night Slam Masters (known in Japan as the splendidly vulgar sounding Muscle Bomber - The Body Explosion)?
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
With a lengthy stint of dilute stinkers to his name, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was Arnold Schwarzenegger's last starring role before he embarked upon a political career that saw him elected as the 38th Governor of California. As such, T3 can be read as both a payday sequel to stuff Schwarzenegger's coffers, and a public relations push for the star's impending aspirations. Certainly, this terminator resembles little more than a flagging, toothless repurposing of Schwarzenegger's Terminator 2: Judgment Day performance.
Although in similar shape to his mid-forties, T2 self, Schwarzenegger sports a deep red tan that clashes with his leather-daddy outfit and any pretence that he's actually from a terrible future. Director Jonathan Mostow also fails to give the star any killer establishing shots that aren't immediately voided by ugly, after-the-fact tinkering. It's a kick to see Schwarzenegger juggling a coffin full of rocket launchers like a futureshock Django, but the moment is mangled by Mostow's need to paste on post-process slow motion.
The film rolls on and on, never finding any way to make Schwarzenegger look iconic. Instead he's a bumbling old man, hair permanently fixed in a state of greased shock, snowboarder sunglasses stapled to his face. He doesn't look cool, he looks absurd. Factor in a reprogramming shorthand that replicates the near-human state of T2's father figure, a suffocating rash of Schwarzenegger career quotes, and a long streak of bawdy, contemptuous humour at the killing machine's expense - "Talk to the hand!" - and you have a performance that wades into full-on parody.
Elsewhere, Edward Furlong's vandal John Connor has mutated into a trembling loser played by Nick Stahl. Stahl's Connor is a messianic bum, taken to crashing motorcycles and day-labouring after T2's theatrical ending robbed him of his ambition. Stahl burns screentime furrowing his brow and looking confused. There's zero sense he's capable of leading anything. Indeed as soon as the Terminator shows up he instantly abdicates any sense of command. Much more convincing as an impending Techno-Caesar is Claire Danes's Kate Brewster, a revision role perhaps originally written to be Sarah Connor.
Although by no means as capable as Linda Hamilton, Brewster does occasionally ask questions and take the initiative, something the dumbfounded Connor never quite manages. The suggestion here seems to be that Connor is the cuckolded sap pushed front-and-centre by his Brewster wife to be the male poster image for her own military ambitions. Cameron's films posited Connor as a scarred and cold Übermensch, forged by an abusive upbringing to be the shitkicker Christ that topples the machines. T3's sole shot of Future Connor is a scruffy old Stahl limply leading a victory chant whilst wearing oversized fatigues and a worried expression. Fuck that guy.
The weak linking continues with Kristanna Loken's irritable TX, a female shaped terminator programmed with the need to writhe in ecstasy whenever she tastes her target's blood. An early emphasis on the TX being aware of the uses a sexualised identity can afford her does raise the intermittently interesting idea that she might try and seduce her quarry. In the end though, all this cat housing amounts to nothing. Incredibly, the idea of a mechanised honeytrap was better explored in Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, at least there Bay was able to conjure a terrifying sense of destructive, sexual otherness. In T3 any such posturing is ultimately revealed to be cynical titillation.
Unfortunately the TX wasn't conceived to be interesting, she exists solely to turn up late and harass our heroes forward. There's an overwhelming sense that very little imagination is being flexed on her behalf. Her basic physiology is founded on a solid metal core, so immediately she's less interesting / invincible than the T-1000. Cameron's Terminator films also afforded their villains scenes of detective work and incidental murder. Threat was close and constantly stressed. A few brief assassinations aside, T3 only manages to burp up a sequence were TX idly sets some trees on fire after getting her ineffectual plasma weapon junked. She's vapour. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines simply doesn't give a shit. It knows you'll watch it out of some dimwitted allegiance to past glories. Why should it even try? It's a sequel designed entirely to be just another instalment in an unending multi-media franchise.