Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Beachhead studio's addition to the Call of Duty franchise detailed in this astoundingly obnoxious 7 minute shill. Ladies and gentlemen, Call of Duty Elite. I'm really not sure who this info burp is supposed to appeal to. It seems to have been made by a company that utterly detests its customers, but wants to play like they're pals. A curious proposition since this trail basically announces an entirely invented way to make us, the consumer, slightly poorer. We're all idiots desperate to drop coin at the mere whiff of Stan Bush pop-trash apparently. There's zero indication of what will be free and what will be paid content other than further toady assurances in the attendant paperwork that standard multiplayer will still be free. Free, as in you've already paid retail for the game, and possibly an online subscription fee for your platform.
On-message white noise aside, Elite also seems to be selling on a whole slew of functionality already available in Call of Duty: Black Ops, listing it off in an excited bro voice as if it's all wonderfully new. Heat-maps? Render exports to YouTube? Don't we already have all of that? Explicit strategy guides are new, but how worthwhile would such ubiquitously circulated game plans be? Will they be ruthlessly updated? What can this offer over a quick peruse of GameFAQs or DenKirson's latest graphs and charts? The push on community and matchmaking services is a trifle bizarre too. Yes, in theory it would be nice to play with someone who isn't going to scream racial epitaphs down my ear, but that's a secondary concern to finding a host that doesn't lag me out, something that has already theoretically been taken care of by location filtering on match search results. I say theoretically, because it hasn't.
If Activision really wanted to present a worthwhile function to build a new revenue stream around, there's nothing the Call of Duty series needs more than greater netcode stability, be that under-the-hood tinkering or dedicated servers. Black Ops, in particular, suffers in this regard. You've probably found yourself unconsciously adapting to that title's total imprecision by spraying at your target in small, circular motions rather than straight blasts. In Black Ops you often have to account for where you target may soon be as much as where he is now. But, you know, forget all that, we have statistics! Drop-down menus! I bet you can't wait to give us more money!
Rumours are drifting around about bulletin map updates, rather than larger DLC dumps, with your subscription fee netting you a new arena every month or so. Interesting in theory, but where's the industry to feed this insatiable increment juggernaut? Presumably, Treyarch are now hard at work on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 to meet their mandated November 2012 release date. Raven Software, the usual map pack team, are knuckling down on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's online component, as well as the next James Bond studio sinker. Even if they both have teams hard at work, will they be producing work that justifies the level of investment Activision are expecting? If maps are being doled out on a monthly basis does that mean we can expect more 'classic' maps, repurposed from older titles? What happens to our subscription stages when the new Call of Duty title is released? It's incredibly unlikely Black Ops authored stages will be compatible with Modern Warfare 3.
You get a sense that this isn't a trailer designed to appeal to any consumer that actually plays Call of Duty games. Instead it's a camouflage fist-bump reel designed to get Activision shareholders frothy at the idea of extra spends coming their way. In closing, it's also worth pointing out that the everyman twonk hammering on throughout this piece doesn't even kill the chap with the RPG at the end of his slow-mo gameplay clip. There's still a red target report even after all that useless helicopter strafing, and the car exploding. How's that for attention to detail?
Interested parties can sign up for the Call of Duty Elite beta here.
Monday, 30 May 2011
Courtesy of G4TV, here's ex-LAPD detective Skip Bauchman talking us through one of LA Noire's early cases. Reassuring to see a genuine cop puzzling through LA Noire's slightly confusing questioning system. Often, it's not so much a lack of hard graft policing that trips you up, rather it's an unclear understanding of how your character will contextualise your findings. Also interesting to note that Mr Bauchman approves of cases rapdily descending into violence. Here was me thinking Team Bondi were desperately trying to shoehorn in some more action for the dimwitted and inattentive.
Retro City Rampage! What this one-note trail fails to illustrate is that rather than limiting itself to 8-bit yuck yucks at the expense of Grand Theft Auto, Retro City Rampage also takes pot-shots at oodles of NES era greats, from Metal Gear and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Bionic Commando and The Legend of Zelda. The Retro City Rampage project began as an unfinished demake of Grant Theft Auto III, designed by Brian Provinciano to run on NES hardware, entitled Grand Theftendo. Provinciano has since recruited a teeny-tiny team comprised of Jake Kaufman and Leonard Paul on tunes, and Maxime Trépanier on cut-scenes, for a final retail iteration.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Mortal Kombat demonstrating a unique aftermarket approach. Want to follow their example? Here's how in four easy steps! First, build a franchise with a unique selling point. Mortal Kombat chose colour-coded ninjas and spine removal. Your mileage may vary. Second, run said franchise into the ground. You want to really destroy it. Produce so much shrieking, broken junk that your brand seems positively radioactive. Bad tie-in movies are a good start, but to really turn the knife you'll need at least a couple of lifeless spin-off titles and perhaps even an animated TV series. The more alienated fans there are at this point, the better.
Third, wait a couple of years until everyone's forgotten just how awful your dimwitted franchise milking got, then announce a back-to-basics relaunch. Extra points for dressing it all up in a High Definition drag that recalls your earlier, more successful, installments! Fourth, when compiling this relaunch be sure to excise the most famous examples of your unique selling point. Mortal Kombat achieved this by ditching the only fatality moves anyone ever liked, and by carefully redesigning all their most popular characters so they looked completely unlike how everyone remembered them. The upshot of all this legacy tinkering? NetherRealm Studios, the current stewards of the Mortal Kombat franchise, get to put together a retro pack featuring all this junked content and sell it as DLC a month after release for a cool cool profit. Ka-ching!
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Revenge films move on a idea of punishment, a wronged party moving heaven and earth to equalise a situation, usually by destroying the transgressor. I Saw the Devil begins like that. Secret service agent Kim Soo-hyun attempts to make himself cold and brutal to track the man who murdered his fiancee. He uses the compassionate leave granted to him to hunt and disfigure a series of likely suspects. Through a pitiless process of elimination, Soo-hyun finds himself orbiting the psychotic Kyung-chul. They clash, Soo-hyun quickly, and easily winning. Finding himself dissatisfied, Soo-hyun releases Kyung-chul, choosing instead to pursue and slowly break him. Soo-hyun theorises this will be torture for the killer, creating a simulation situation where Kyung-chul will feel the same helplessness as the women he murders.
The logic is sound, but profoundly fails to understand Kyung-chul's thought process. Soo-hyun is a man who felt and gave love. Until he embarked on his crusade, he was surrounded by people who cared for and valued him. These ties make him human and vulnerable. Kyung-chul has no such connections. His only imperative is the capture and destruction of women. He keeps his family at arm's length, and serves nothing or no-one but his drives. Above all, there's an idea that he expects to die in their pursuit. The extended catch and release scenarios don't work like punishment for him. He's immune to their spectre. Instead, they are reprieves. They allow him to go on damaging. Kyung-chul never doubts his actions, and certainly never considers revising them. Unlike many cop / criminal examinations, I Saw the Devil draws little similarities between the two states. Each is separate and distinct; and both are undone by presuming to understand the other. Ultimately, Soo-hyun's revenge is limp and self-defeating, torturing only himself. It's one thing to act like a monster, quite another to think like one.
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Exhaust World War II for gaming grist, your only alternative is to invent a sequel. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 gets its own HONK trailer (Modern Warfare 2's reveal trail being one of the earliest examples of this blaring alarm noise tease trend I can think of), detailing a world-wide extinction conflict. London popping up here as a rain-lashed locale, after missing out on last year's installment, despite some fleeting early bird assurances to the contrary. It's good to have the SAS back. I'm feeling pretty catered for this year; Battlefield 3 for wet-work reportage, Modern Warfare 3 for 'Europe Must Die!' scenarios.
It's hip to kick the Call of Duty franchise, and the Infinity Ward talent exodus last year had me trembling, but at the very least this reel allays fears we'd be getting a half-arsed side-story. Activision have drafted Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software to plug Infinity Ward's holes, and deliver a pure rugged conclusion to Modern Warfare's unseen war. After some limp teasers, thunder utterly stolen by Kotaku's spoiler-bomb details leak, it's only sensible to go with spectacle. Whether it is or isn't, it feels like a make or break year for Activision's annual Call of Duty production model. Call of Duty: Black Ops's rather dour multiplayer hasn't had quite the same legs as Modern Warfare 2's caffeinated buzz. Nazi Zombies mode aside, there's an idea that the Treyarch installments are merely tolerated, with Infinity Ward providing the real juice. With the studio only a shadow of its former self, is that trend able to continue? Disaster Year hopes so!
Japanese insert for the Mega Drive port of 大魔界村, or Ghouls 'n Ghosts. I especially like the pixel Arthur on the spine, super-deformed slumming it amongst the man-sized adventurers. Poring over the hyper-realised art, you can't help but get a cue for From Software's Demon's Souls, another game that sells on lone, fragile knights bumbling on against nightmarish odds. For more Mega Drive insert scans, check out Ed Oscuro's Mega Drive Resource.
Friday, 20 May 2011
Thursday, 19 May 2011
After frying my Japanese Saturn in a cable swapping mishap, I'd more or less given up on ever getting to play Treasure's sax-scored, scrolling beater classic Guardian Heroes. Sega and Xbox Live Arcade to the rescue! Can we get HD remasters of Burning Rangers and Radiant Silvergun next please?
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
NECA finally get their shit together long enough to issue a scale Schwarzenegger dressed in The Terminator's junkie punker threads. Doll accessories include switchable mitts, a .45 long slide with laser sighting, and an Uzi 9 millimetre.
As two-minute trails go, this is a neat summation of The Last Boy Scout. Too nasty violence followed by a million-dollar zinger, a buddy relationship that borders on paternal, American football, and total Tony Scott grain. The ad also sells on the less cussy Shane Black one-liners, coming on like a snarky Holiday season feel-gooder. 80s synth beats employed to mask and warp the miserable intent behind many scenes. Watching this now you're struck by how much of The Last Boy Scout you remember as either unscored, or with music low-low in the mix. It's all gunshots and people noise in my head. According to the kind of trivia soundbites IMDb has all but eliminated for being too interesting, everyone hated making this film. Damon Wayan's felt marginalised, David Geffen wanted to donate profits to AIDS charities, and Bruce Willis's hairpiece got romanced by a horny cat.
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Cha Tae-sik is still, a ghost that haunts a slum tenement. He spends his days hidden in a pawn brokers doling out pocket money to junkies and strays. He keeps himself removed, and impersonal. Half his face is hidden by a mop of unkempt hair, eyes frequently fixed elsewhere. He's Spike Spiegel's languid live-action doppelganger; all boredom and determined disinclination. Tae-sik's sole concession to company is a chatty little girl named So-mi who needs somewhere else to be while her mum shoots up. After some ambitious, but ill-considered, swindling said mother finds herself gobbled up by the organ trade. So-mi is enslaved, drafted to serve a drug trafficking underclass. Tae-sik isn't pleased. He must move now. The Man from Nowhere plays around with prolonged in-action. It understands how to slowly trickle out hero information for maximum pop. It's aware enough to strand its protagonists in unfavourable odds situations just as his past life as a human weapon is teased to light. Violence is kept intimate and ruinous - knees on noses and knives on arteries. Above all, The Man from Nowhere knows that the best kind of avenger is one who no longer gives a fuck. Phantom men with no ties, dedicating their dying act to the utter extermination of everything and everyone foolish enough to stand in their way.
Monday, 9 May 2011
Robo-hysteria from Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen, a TV anime series loosely based on a plethora of Go Nagai manga, and directed by Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still helmer Yasuhiro Imagawa. As short as this clip is, it's peppered with teeny tiny homages to Imagawa's earlier series: as well as naming this tyrant crusher punch for Chujo the Silent's desperation move, I'm also hearing the sound effect used when The Eye of Folger preps for its disaster attack. Currently pestering Manga Video to do the decent thing and licence this for UK distribution.
Rather than manufacture any sequences with a recognisable sense of tension or terror, Scream 4 is more comfortable taking diminishing swipes at the building-blocks of its own genre. Characters auto-critique their actions to a suffocating degree; for some reason director Wes Craven finds it interesting to shoot endless scenes of TV actors standing around trying to work out the perfect fake-out context for their own, inevitable, death. Scream 4 doesn't have anything to talk about. Unlike the original Scream's obsession with masculine violence within the knife and knicker genre, Scream 4 doesn't seek to deconstruct a distinct horror movement. Instead it more-or-less disregards current torture trends, or even PG-13 demakes, to invent meaningless 'new' rules based on no film anyone has ever saw. The film's violence is significantly more frenzied for this outing though, despite a series low 15 certificate, and the killer's identity and motive absolutely pop, but there's barely any foreshadowing to help the knife twist land. A bold, teeth-kicking conclusion is swerved too, wasted to serve a static fourth act where punishment is meted out. Brand boredom maintained for the inevitable fifth instalment then.
This Evangelion 2.22 score excerpt plays over a city-at-rest montage in the feature, but close your eyes and you can imagine Oliver Reed picnicking with his beloved; a quiet moment in an otherwise brutal Italian Poliziotteschi flick scored by Ennio Morricone.
These bulletin length, character focused clips for X-Men: First Class do a better job of selling concept than the cheapy mainstream ad campaign. Instead of lightly underwhelming CG submarines being held aloft, these ads have zeroed in on minutiae, teasing a film built on X-Kid specific training sequences. With the Harry Potter franchise wrapping up, and this 60s set revision kicking off, why not make bratty school-set hijinks the crux of this film's shilling? Professor Magneto laughing at an incompetent child whiffing his abilities is worth a million million computer generated missile attacks.
Via the medium of screaming, LtMkilla critiques the latest DLC addition to Call of Duty: Black Ops. His points are valid; the Romero golem's constant presence can become incredibly frustrating, and the Nazi Zombie mode in general gives only the barest concession to the solo player. The reward structure of the latest map baffles too; before the hidden story fragments formed a meta-game for the confident player, here they're the mission. If you want to add to your achievement score, look forward to scraping through mid-teen rounds whilst hunting for disappearing Vodka bottles.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
News to me! Remake vandal Alexandre Aja is bringing Buichi Terasawa's cigar smoking space-cad Space Adventure Cobra to the big screen. Only another two years to wait! I should make some time and cue up Piranha 3D for homework; Aja's The Hills Have Eyes remake pushed all the right nasty buttons. Image courtesy of Premiere.Fr