Saturday, 25 December 2010
Good news Julian! It's Christmas, today!
It's Christmas! Lots of kids got age inappropriate video games, and are now fumbling about playing online! What better way to welcome them to the gaming fold than to kill them over, and over again on Call of Duty: Black Ops? Merry Christmas ass butts!
Thursday, 23 December 2010
The rather magnificent Japanese release cover for Extreme's modern day Risk clone, Third World War on Mega CD. Is it me, or is Clinton channelling Nixon? I don't remember Bill being quite so jowly. In comparison, the west got some throw-up text and a few generic, floating military heads. Ho-hum.
Another quicky Black Ops capture. It's strange being able to reassess your gameplay after the fact. In game, even the faintest success can often feel like skillful table turning; cue it up in theatre mode and most of the time you view a stuttering mess of competing latency. The thirty second limit poses a problem too, it gives little wriggle room for a lead-in set-up, leaving you with airless punchlines. Still there's the odd snatch that makes you smile, embedded above is a demonstration of the lengths you sometimes have to go to to get that shotgun kill. Below, find a sneaky solution to emptying your FAMAS - creep up behind foes with Scavenger and stab them! Sometimes you even get enough breathing room to actually reload.
Lost to the ages is one solid minute of me panic knifing my way through a Wager Watch. I wish I'd saved that.
Masterminded by Superman producer Ilya Salkind, Santa Claus: The Movie is the flip side to Richard Donner's franchise kicker Superman: The Movie. Both address prime Americana properties, reworking - you might say panel beating - them into hero quest film features. With The Man of Steel, Donner and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz gently crafted a film about an alien's dissociation with his adoptive planet, lacing in an arc that dealt with the pressures of trying to please two fathers. Jeannot Szwarc's Christmas fable, from a screenplay by Superman alumni David and Leslie Newman, is instead a clod. A half-hearted tale of ancient unknowable mysticism, and pseudo-religious prophecy, as foundation for the idea of Father Christmas.
This Claus isn't simply a jolly old soul with a limitless generosity of spirit. He is instead an anointed one, who transcends death to toil for eternity in the company of a magical tribe of little people. He's barely even the film's focus; once Claus is established, attention rapidly shifts to Dudley Moore's Patch, a simpleton elf who dreams of industrialising Santa's work shop. When his production line starts cranking out half-finished toys, Patch steals some levitation dust and travels to New York to work for John Lithgow's BZ, a Commie hating toy maker who peddles death traps. Although Patch is quite clearly a bit of a shit, Santa Claus: The Movie can never be bothered to acknowledge it. His self-centred need for attention is played as if it is charming. We endure endless scenes of witless capering that do not entertain, his idiocy nothing more meaningful than a mechanism to allow for the next inane development. And so it goes - children enjoy deadly inappropriate courting scenes, and Patch's skill makes an entire work force redundant just in time for Christmas. The film concludes with a North Pole hoedown and BZ drifting off into space to die. Har har! Santa Claus: The Movie is best regarded as a curio in which everybody's best-ish efforts combined to create a mutant thing geared for holiday season repeats, whilst accidentally being a fair illustration of the perils of rampant capitalism.
Saturday, 11 December 2010
America's finest moment recalibrated to tease! Watch as Neil Armstrong's Moon walk is faithfully recreated to drum up interest for the next installment in the exceptionally vulgar Transformers franchise! Twenty minutes to pick through the remains of a hulking techno-morpher space freighter? NASA are hard taskmasters. Although this shill does at least seem to want to suggest there will be some sort of story for this episode - is that an ancient Autobot at the end? It rather makes you wish Michael Bay would just use his unrestricted American aeronautics access to make a really swish flick about the actual space program. Say what you will about Armageddon, but any scene set in or around NASA tended to be cool cool beans.
Monday, 6 December 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
Javier Olivares's Batman animated short, produced (I think) to promote the screening of the Tim Burton caped crusader movies on Spain's Canal+ television channel. There's a lot of Batman squeezed into this minute and change short, I particularly liked young Bruce's indifference to the presents his parents offer; only really cracking a smile when Alfred gifts him a gigantic bat plush. Visit Mr Olivares's blog here.
Monday, 22 November 2010
A nifty little feature in Call of Duty: Black Ops is the theatre mode. Players can browse full length recordings of recent games, and even edit a short highlight clip from their accumulated gameplay. Here's Disaster Year's contribution to this avalanche of wannabe superplay - 15 seconds of fraught alleyway shoot-outs and reloads, as I (ahem) expertly dismantle a flag runner and his second chance bodyguards with the Stakeout shotgun. I didn't get lucky with those hit markers coming off that lurchy twirl, no sir! Stick around for the end where I get blindsided by yet another spawn lurker. Curse and confound it all!
Friday, 19 November 2010
Bulletin brief at just under twenty five minutes, Superman / Shazam: The Return of Black Adam reads like a whizz-bang proof of concept for a gestating series. The short ropes in Superman for visibility, noodling about with Clark's less documented weakness for magic as a springboard for our ostensibly similar hero. This emphasis on the fantastical gives the speculative Captain Marvel show a sense of identity explicitly separate from Superman's sci-fi slanted animated adventures.
Marvel's foe is fun too. Black Adam is a vandal reflection driven insane by access to limitless power and longevity. There's even a whiff of Alan Moore's Kid Marvelman in how Adam's allowed his super identity to completely phase out his mortal state. Despite paying lip-service to Moore's human cataclysm, Superman / Shazam ends up lighter and brighter than recent DC animation.
Captain Marvel's world is whimsical. His powers revolve around ill explained rules presented by a doddering ancient. Supporting players casually transform into animals and enemies fade to dust at the prospect of punishment. This could be the perfect post-Avatar: The Last Airbender vehicle for director Joaquim Dos Santos's 80s anime instincts. Captain Marvel would allow for high impact alley-oop fights whilst underscoring the bruising with a pervasive irreverence and childlike illogic. This could be Dos Santos' Dragon Ball.
Boss rush! Ten minutes of stage end swashbuckling from Sega's 1989 Mega Drive masterpiece The Revenge of Shinobi. Our hero must face: a spineless Godzilla, an undying brain sealed in a plutonium bomb assembly, a scrap yard Schwarzenegger, and a selection of American superheroes. Unifying theme be damned! These pop culture icons just gotta stand in Joe Ninja's way!
This video showcases an early release of the title before it ran afoul of litigious copyright lawyers. Although Spider-Man's heel turn was able to stay thanks to Sega having secured the licence to develop a Mega Drive game entitled The Amazing Spider-Man vs The Kingpin, Batman was eventually swapped out for a demon figure that looked not unlike Go Nagai's Devilman. Likewise, for the 1990 European release, Godzilla was stripped down to a set of walking, fire-breathing bones. Licensing issues have continued to dog The Revenge of Shinobi; last year's re-release on the Wii's Virtual Console had Spider-Man recoloured pink, Sega's usage agreement having long since expired. Disaster Year's favourite bit comes during the rubbish pile Terminator fight, Sega dwell on a character detail ignored in every franchise installment since the 1984 original - when damaged, the cyborg's skin rots and degrades, transforming him into a monstrous carrion rioter.
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
The latest character tease for Marvel vs Capcom 3 reimagines She-Hulk as a high-impact female wrestler, equally adept at stratospheric elbow drops and weaponising careless SUV drivers. As an interesting aside, did you know Marvel raced to create a female Hulk character in the wake of the The Bionic Woman TV show? Comic execs were worried that show's success would prompt CBS to introduce a similar lady lead into their own The Incredible Hulk television serial; Marvel raced ahead on that curve so as to own any potential character.
Monday, 8 November 2010
Sunday, 7 November 2010
Caligula is an almost universally reviled film, castigated for an endemic vulgarity that sees British stage thesps sharing screen space with clips of bleed-in pornography. At best, this film is thought of as a high concept oddity, a semi-serious sandal epic clashing with the short stroke urges of a smut peddler. This is an ugly film, why should it be anything but? Malcolm McDowell's Caligula is an impression of a person, his fraught upbringing under the heel of Peter O'Toole's Tiberius has done nothing but sharpen his instinct for survival. As Tiberius's last days drift along, we get a sense that Caligula is his favourite plaything - an almost equal playing the role of an indefatigable child. Caligula is able to neatly sidestep constant threats upon his life, whilst maintaining a smile. Tiberius appears to be grooming his heir as an extinction instrument for the concept of Rome.
Once in power Caligula declares himself a God, and sets about equalising his cowed ego by heaping a relentless misery on anyone within reach. Lensed at the tail-end of the 1970s, you could read Caligula as a punk overlord, a venomous little shit given to humiliating the ruling class for their phony servility. The new emperor drafts laws that make whores of politician's wives, and declares full action warfare on ponds to humiliate his armed forces. Equally, Caligula could be contextualised as a tyrant brat, a sulking infant who treats the world and all in it as his easily replaceable playthings. Lives are meaningless to this monster; inconvenience a capitol crime, punishable by torture and death.
Fear pervades the film, Caligula is fascinated by it. Having matured in peril, the ruler seems to be daring his subordinates to kill him. As if he finds dominion boring, wishing to return to his former state to test how sharp his excuses have remained after years of bloated indulgence. Although not necessarily a good film, there's a certain honesty in weaving real orgies into a film about Roman decadence. Frequently the digressions take on a metatextual quality, simultaneously forwarding the idea that proximity to such Godhood is an all-consuming aphrodisiac, and filling in the blanks for serious actors disinclined to fuck for film. Likewise, there's a sense of spectacle in seeing hundreds of nervous, dancing extras suffering against vast psychologically spare backdrops. Caligula the film is equal parts plucky and revolting, just like its subject.
With Call of Duty: Black Ops out this week, it's time to bid farewell to the crack compulsive time-sink that is Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer. Disaster Year has sunk umpteen days into this monster, climbing to the dizzy dizzy heights of a legitimate tenth prestige rank. Back slaps all round! Hit that milestone and you can expect obnoxious children to PM you night and day asking for free hack hook-ups. No dice child! You gotta earn this shit! I've run speed classes to stab you in your house, I've gotten hate mail for locking down bombsites with Danger Close M203 noob-tubes, and I've cowered my way back to 30 everytime I've cashed in and prestiged.
To see us out, here's a screamer reel from my favourite YouTube gameplay uploader Sandy Ravage, he of Booster Justice fame. He never sat in corners waiting for traffic, no sir. He rushed headlong into chokepoints firing Italian scatterguns wildly. So what if he was always host, and his chump foes never took out his air support? He's been an inspiration.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Got an hour to kill? Why not sift through this TV show length shill for Call of Duty: Black Ops? As well as showing off an Americana A-Bomb test site, Treyarch's PR chap also spills on the extra grind perk fans can expect. Thanks Treyarch! Nothing like making folk chip away at unpopular game types to maximise their load-out eh? I can think of few other mediums were a salesman would act so disdainfully towards his intended customers. Why must punishment shape the video game experience? Black Ops is due out November 9th; expect Disaster Year's output to dwindle further still.
Japanese box art for 1994's Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special, one of the first games to wear Suda 51's sticky little fingerprints. Mr 51 served as a scenario writer for this grappler installment, drafting a story mode that moved on unrequited love, depression, and eventually suicide. Gives that heroic cover a whole new context doesn't it? It's all a show!
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Just in time for Halloween, here's special effects whizz Greg Nicotero's directorial debut, a snappy short entitled United Monster Talent Agency. If I had to make a note, I'd ask if it wouldn't have been a fraction funnier to see some of the more humanoid actors being a little more compliant - who doesn't want to see the Wolf-Man talking about his craft?
When not beavering away on minutely detailed homages to American horror cinema, Mr Nicotero can be found working on basically every well mounted genre film made in the last twenty five years - everything from Day of the Dead and Evil Dead II to Boogie Nights and Casino Royale, with the lion's share of Quentin Tarantino's movies thrown in for good measure. Nicotero's work can currently be seen in AMC's adaptation of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charles Adlard's The Walking Dead, where Nicotero has perfectly captured Adlard's grimacing, lip-chewed, zombie drafts. Want to hear him talk about his work? Head over to Ain't It Cool News for a great chat piece with Capone.
Monday, 25 October 2010
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 disappoints. It tries to juggle nostalgia responsibilities with tick-box rejuvenation, and ends up a muddled thing. It seeks to please Mega Drive gamers by recreating classic stages and giving them a lush 3D scrub down, then fluffs the gesture by tinkering with instinct movement mechanics. In all Sonic's 16-Bit titles the basic joy was running through a series of loops before curling into a ball for a near vertical drop; Sonic would pick up a thunderous momentum that occasionally out-paced the console's ability to process information. In Sonic 4, the curl is recalibrated as purely defensive maneuver that actually whiffs any built-up speed. Rather than mark the beginning of a scroll stuttering peel, it signifies its limp death.
Movement in general stresses strolling - Sonic takes an age to rev up - a concession to a stage design remit that specialises in tease without release. Once out of Splash Hill Zone, levels junk roller coaster breeziness to concentrate on the kind of stop-start platforming utterly antithetical to the core Sonic concept. 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog found a pitch perfect balance between speed-run stages, and obstacle course interruptions that played with your freshly minted desire to sprint. Sonic 4 is a title built entirely out of these punctuations, peppered with enough punishment drops and sudden enemy attacks to make the whole enterprise feel self-defeating. What's the point of Sonic if you're not allowed to run?
Friday, 22 October 2010
Sunday, 17 October 2010
The physical effects work best in Machete, especially the thick workman frame of Danny Trejo. Trejo's Machete is a silent, scowling, granite lump. He meanders swiftly and violently through a burgeoning class war, trapped between sympathetic revolutionaries and crooked politicians as they quibble and posture about border crossing. Trejo is the movie, a GWAR fan's sketch of Charles Bronson, his face an all-points bulletin for lines and lumps; expression carved onto a brick. Elsewhere, find yet more evidence that the inherent falseness of computer generated destruction actually denies the kind of bratty glee it's supposed to induce. If a puppet or appliance rig is mangled during a stunt there's an immediate physical sense that you're watching something being broken. Paint it all in with CG, and the gag stalls on the brain signal that recognises its artifice. We know Machete isn't running real flunkies through, but we'd prefer he was ruining something that has physical space and weight, rather than miming yet another kill-thrust for a MacBook pick-up.
This May 1979 teaser trailer for Alien functions rather nicely as a standalone acknowledgement of Ridely Scott's debt to Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - Scott hoped to take Chain Saw's basic model of sustained imperilment and transpose it into a science-fiction setting. This ad even plays with the visual and aural language of Texas Chain Saw. Like that film, here sound is used as a tool for relentless, unsubstantiated assault. The soundtrack is overloaded with blaring space sounds that pulse over a driving, throbbing beat. Similarly, the visuals splutter forward in a constant state of harassed movement, mirroring Sally's sustained torment in Hooper's 1974 flick. Everything is shot tight and claustrophobic, full of agitated, hand-held fragments of people fleeing. Although we never see a particular threat, we know it's there, and we know it's hunting.
Been doodling a lot of zombies in work recently - make of that what you will. Here's a quick scan of my fav. I'm going to call him Swamp Zombie. It might help to think of Italian horror movie ickiness when you look at him.
Friday, 15 October 2010
I'm not sure Marvel vs Capcom 3's character roster can get much more awesome. Joining the likes of Super-Skrull and Viewtiful Joe, the game's latest additions include the redrafted Bionic Commando, Sir Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins, and, best of all, Tales of Suspense superstar MODOK. Getting to solo a team of video game mainstays with a jet-powered, grossly mutated, Jack Kirby created, science-head is a bit of a dream come true frankly.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
This is Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, the long-awaited (by me anyway) sequel to Sandlot's 360 masterpiece Earth Defense Force 2017. In what appears to be the standard protocol for any Japanese title that meets with modern western success, this follow-up has been wrestled away from the creatives who designed the original sleeper hit, and handed off to a middling western dev, in this case Matt Hazard studio Vicious Cycle Software. If you root around, you can find a producer interview piece where they detail reams of deadly unnecessary upgrades, including an arsenal apartheid class system that threatens to ruin the gonzo flexibility of 2017's core load-out conundrum. Attentive viewers may also note that the whole enterprise has been give the same dreary brown mech-man wash as Crackdown 2. God forbid games look different these days eh? Earth Defense Force 2017 was a triumph thanks a dogged sense of simplicity. Whilst other games jumped through extraneous mechanical hoops to engage the player, 2017 simply focused on filling every inch of the screen with writhing ants to blast. That was more than enough. Forget that lesson at your peril!
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Zack Snyder has been assigned the Superman reboot, David S. Goyer's script is reportedly a complete mess, and Darren Aronofsky is rumoured to have been shunned thanks to his desire to take his time, and do a good job. An unkind commentator might note that the whole exercise reeks of a last minute attempt by Warners to get a project rolling before the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster are lawfully allowed to recover damages incurred pursuing ownership of Superman. I'm sure it's just coincidence that a condition of a 2009 court ruling by judge Stephen G Larson indicates that Warners have to be in the process of making a new Superman film by 2011 to deny the families this right. But, you know, new Superman movie! Woooo!
Internet vapour indicates this installment will be yet another origin mish-mash, with Kal-El puzzling through the notion of actually even bothering to be Superman at all. That's right folks! This big blue boyscout is an enfeebled toad who'd rather hide his excellence for an easy life. We can all relate to that, am I right? Villain talk has run the gamut from Luthor (again) to Brainiac, before finally settling on Zod. There's a vague tease that Zod could be the galvanising factor in this Superman not being a massive overwhelming coward. Hopefully Zod is placed as an ill-tempered abilities mirror, grown weary at our planet's total weakness - it's the middle chapter of Superman II no current version satisfyingly accounts for.
Regardless of how dreadful this new movie will, or won't be, let's hope they at least get the super-fighting correct. Embedded for your viewing pleasure is a short clip of Justice League Unlimited's finale Destroyer. This Joaquim Dos Santos directed excerpt illustrates both a Superman who is not a quivering wreck in the face of titanic might, as well as how to block Gods battling on Earth. That's right folks! You simply copy the motion moves of Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball Z.
Syobon Action is a Japanese freeware title that plays with the playground formula of Super Mario Bros. The conceit operates on an idea that Mario's rules and assets are so well known that there is a shorthand of expectation when playing a visually similar game. The player expects that blocks will reveal rewards. They know that pipes are only infrequent hazards with hidden passageways to underground bonuses. Most of all, they are certain that clouds are just benign background detailing. Not so in Syobon Action. Everything you have learnt is wrong, and you will be punished for presuming those rules are in place here.
If you've been paying attention to Saturday-night huckstering, you'll know that Super Mario Bros. recently turned 25. I quite liked Nintendo's Jonathan Ross fronted advert, it was a potent mix of shilling celeb sincerity and bright-faced kids yelping. 25 years is a very long time in video games. A year is a very long time in video games. Play a game you liked from about a year ago. Go on, do it now. Already feels a bit second rate on some level doesn't it? Some small blemish or annoyance you glanced over because it was new will begin to gnaw at you ever so slightly. It makes you worry about your entire critical faculty doesn't it?
Anyway, back to Mario. To celebrate Mario's quarter century, here's some record breaking speed-running. What this super-play elegantly illustrates is how precise and finely tuned Super Mario Bros controls are. You really do control Mario. You do not coerce him through some bizarre half-hearted input limitation left over by lazy developers. You press the button, Mario instantly carries out the function. The game's basics are so solid, you can eventually become this expert.
Happy Birthday Mario!
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Whether unintentional, or by design, Kanye West is able to effortlessly communicate someone teetering on the brink of a complete emotional collapse. Take this performance. He makes you believe he's baring his soul to explore his artistic impulses. The no-filter juggle between evasive eye-contact, centre-stage Dad-dancing, and the childlike sample spamming speak of someone desperate to be remembered. He's a star. Thanks to Miss Disaster for the tip-off.
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Disaster Year is chomping at the bit, desperate to get its hands on a copy of Takashi Miike's festival darling Thirteen Assassins. Miike's latest tells the story of a troupe of untested samurai being hired to ambush a brutal, despotic feudal lord. In order to annihilate him and his vast entourage, the samurai seize control of a village and transform it into a gigantic trap fortress. Thirteen Assassins is generating incredible buzz; Kurosawa comparisons, in particular, are being flung around all over the place. Let's hope it gets a UK distribution deal quick smart!
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Because you've been good, here's a minute and change of shill for the Coen Brother's Christmas present adaptation of Charles Portis's True Grit. You don't got John Wayne no more, but you do get Jeff Bridges by way of replacement. That's a good deal.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
How much this ad will resemble the final flow of BioShock Infinite is anyone's guess, but this proof of concept gameplay short deftly, and repeatedly, shifts between the alien sights of a floundering pure-blood sky city as wonder, and the interaction play the new world offers. If Irrational can bottle even a fraction of this magic, we're in for a 2011 treat.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
What's interesting about this home video re-edit of Superman II is that it's a purely speculative recalibration, designed as the concluding chapter to a version of Superman: The Movie that doesn't even exist. Originally Superman was to end with the Man of Steel averting nuclear disaster by punting one of Luthor's ICBMs into space, thus freeing the Phantom Zone Kryptonians. The time rewind finale that played at the end of the released Superman was to be saved for the sequel, with Clark playing God to undo the ruin Zod has made of Earth.
Assembled from as much Donner footage as possible, and hung on a bare frame of Richard Lester's work, this approximate cut does much to undo the eccentricities of Lester's sequel. Zod's presence is clipped and fleeting, ditching much of the culture clash hysteria. Greater emphasis is placed on Zod's hatred for Jor-El, recontextualising Zod's aimless bullying of Earth as a necessary dithering before Superman appears. Likewise Superman's dabble with humanhood is bracketed with Godhead projections of Marlon Brando's Jor-El pleading with his lovesick son to keep a cool head. The scenes between Reeve and Brando vibrate as the full messianic subtext of Superman is explored.
Dressed as a human, Superman outlines his desire to live with Lois as a human. Jor-El calls him selfish, saying that making one person his focus contravenes the mission. He cannot commit to both. Superman rages, knowing his father is right. He is thinking only of himself, but doesn't he deserve to? Hasn't he earned the right to explore his own desires? What's interesting is how centred and calm Jor-El is. The phantom projections of the Fortress of Solitude blur the line between simulation personality, recording, and actual soul fragment. Here Brando delicately and patiently outlines the folly, while providing the means with which to perform it. Richard Donner's Superman II presents a messianic predicament but firmly contextualises it in emotionally human terms. The father is willing to do what he sees as an ethical wrong in order to provide a happiness for his child. Likewise, when it all does go wrong, the same father is equally prepared to extinguish the half life that remains to him in order to restore the super-man. Christian doctrine is inverted as the father lays down his life for the son.
In Lester's film Superman's power shrink was an artificial obstacle to allow Zod a speedy dominion. It also presented Kal-El as a dimwit, blind to his other half's desires. In Lester's II it often appears that the clumsy Clark identity is the root personality, that the poised Superman is the elaborate act. In Richard Donner's II Superman is the clearly the true state of this man.
Head on over to Sean Witzke's Supervillain blog and get your read on as Witzke's counts us down through his favourite movies in a series of features winningly entitled No Star Wars. Curmudgeons may note that the list barely strays from masculine zip cinema, but who cares when the write-ups are this densely personal? He's certainly made a similar Disaster Year list more or less redundant. Of particular note is Witzke's reading of the conclusion to Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, which bypasses nihilistic knee-jerks to zone in on a speculative future beyond the petty for dear little Alex. If you want to dash straight to that, Witzke ranks it number 2.
Part 1 100 - 75
Part 2 75 - 51
Part 3 50 - 41
Part 4 40 - 31
Part 5 30 - 21
Part 6 20 - 11
Part 7 10 - 1
Track back Mr Witzke's Emma Peel Sessions label for oodles of similarly packed pop-culture commentary.
Part 1 100 - 75
Part 2 75 - 51
Part 3 50 - 41
Part 4 40 - 31
Part 5 30 - 21
Part 6 20 - 11
Part 7 10 - 1
Track back Mr Witzke's Emma Peel Sessions label for oodles of similarly packed pop-culture commentary.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
First glimpse of Shinji Mikami and Suda 51's Shadows of the Damned, looking very much as if EA have turned over their Dead Space engine and told the two developers to go absolutely bonkers. Players seize control of a shouty Colin Farrell lookee-likee as he boulders through the shuffling and demonic; set to music, and guided by situations, expertly calibrated to be a thirteen year old boy's idea of 'totally fucking rad'. Skull gun! Computer crossbow! ABSINTHE VENDING MACHINE!
Bravo Capcom! The Osaka based video game company is whipping up a PR hurricane around inbound sequel Dead Rising 2. First, we had the bite-size snack Case Zero, a 360 DLC exclusive that managed to turn your standard pre-release demo into a cash concept, without alienating buyers. Sold as a Live Arcade title, Case Zero took core mechanic introduction - the building blocks of any teaser - and wove them into a short bulletin point game experience. Case Zero had achievements, super-play concepts, and a whole shitkicker neighbourhood to play around with. It was a brief scramble, but with multiple outcomes based on player diligence; the entire Dead Rising time management experience, but in an easy-to-swallow afternoon supplement.
Now, ahead of this month's release of the main Dead Rising 2 we get word that there's to be a download only epilogue featuring first title survivor Frank West. Disappointed this game revolves around the untested Chuck Greene? Worry not! Frank's in the fan service aftercare! Dead Rising 2: Case West is set to be another Xbox 360 exclusive, but I wouldn't bet against a special re-issue for PlayStation 3 in the near future, uniting all these batty odds and ends.
Monday, 13 September 2010
"Getting this title in the cage is gonna make forty five thousand dollars difference in my annual earnings brother!"
Now that's how you cut a wrestling promo! Not for the faint of heart! Apparently there was some doubt that Roddy Piper had enough psycho chops to grapple with a punishment dishing tag team called The Sheepherders (later known as The Bushwhackers in the WWF). This was Piper's reaction. Why pose and make threats when you can simply brain yourself and not flinch? I wouldn't want to come within ten feet of him after that. Extra lunatic points for blurring reality lines by making his income woes the motor for his psychosis.
This jumble reel of Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer matches by G4 TV demos a couple of gun attachments and killstreaks I haven't seen anywhere else. Jump straight to the 1 minute mark to see Black Ops's new assault rifle attachment - as an unrelated aside, did you know that the United States military hasn't used flamethrowers since 1978? They're a public relations disaster apparently.
Elsewhere, see a successful chase down with the explosive remote control car at 1:40; and from 2:10 there's a demonstration of the two-chance Valkyrie rocket launcher. 7 kills nets you an airdrop with a launcher and a couple of missiles. This controllable bonus replaces both Modern Warfare 2's Predator missile and Javelin. This play snatch also features persistent use of player customised gun sights, and a quick glimpse of a few of the new maps.
With the main series off to explore castles in the sky, this last gasp DLC for BioShock 2 could be the final trip to Ayn Rand's Atlantis. Closure for this originator strand lurks tantalisingly close thanks to the discovery that Rapture houses a monstrous super-computer with the calculative means to puzzle out a cure for the city's geneticl subversion. As in the main BioShock 2 campaign, players again take control of a prototype Big Daddy, here a blunt force slave tasked with invading a facility at the behest of a some puny humans. Despite appearances to the contrary, 2K Marin aren't simply replaying a previous avatar beat for the sake of asset frugality. This Big Daddy has a distinct role to play in a tale that noodles on war and the individual, the flexibility of race in a universe of biological customisation, and industrialised personality.
BioShock 2's vast arsenal is supplemented here with a withering laser rifle, and a singularity plasmid that turns frothing mutation mobs into spinning balls of fleshy debris. Legacy plasmids and weapons are rationed atypically to any previous game blueprint, forcing the user to reconfigure their strategies to better suit what's available; discovering the finer points of less popular abilities in the process. With no research means available, opponents stay strong throughout Minerva's Den. Security robots in particular become ferocious, persistent nuisances. There's no shortage of them either, even mom and pop Splicers prowl this underwater IBM assisted by mechanical bodyguards. Minerva's Den is an excellent example of a DLC epilogue, it provides a concise slice of melancholy, new toys to experiment with, and addresses some of the disappointment perhaps felt when it was revealed that we mightn't be returning to Rapture anytime soon.
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Monday, 6 September 2010
Sired by a deeply troubled production that saw the original saga director Richard Donner junked in favour of Richard Lester's lighter, financially tighter, touch; Superman II perseveres as an entertaining muddle of faintly clashing ideas. Lester's jokey, exaggerated tone actually compliments Donner's big city living. It's as if mankind has gone slightly insane now that the world has a tangible messiah. Everyone acts large, and people take catastrophic risks, assured that they now have a super-safety net should they fall. Is this what inspires Superman's weariness? In Superman II, he seems awfully eager to throw away his powers and position when an office romance opportunity arises. Pratfalls aside, Lois's discovery of Clark's secret identity could be contextualised as a passive aggressive cry for help. Otherwise, are we to believe a God thing that can alter the trajectory of time has serious trouble navigating a rug? With Superman stuck in a navel gazing funk, it falls to Terence Stamp's Zod to bring the fun.
Stamp plays Zod as an autistic vandal, utterly bewildered by anything that doesn't immediately abdicate to his whim. His lack of understanding actually disqualifies his actions as broadly evil, Zod often seems more like a bored aristocratic degenerate playing at being a tyrant. His defining criminal act on Krypton is breaking something that doesn't belong to him. We are given no sense of calamitous sedition, simply that Jor-El possess a bright sparkly toy, so a jealous Zod must snap it. He's a child. It's easy to imagine Zod has a doting, moneyed Kryptonian mother somewhere, always eager to bail her special little soldier out his latest mischief. On earth, his entire agenda is built around a playground bully's idea of submission. He just wants everyone to agree that he's the best. All this makes Zod completely excellent to watch. He has no interest in Earth, and makes no attempt to understand anything. He's instantly bored with any success, and reveals no wider master plan other than cursory subjugation. He has no use for Earth or anyone on it. He just wants their tribute. Kneel before Zod.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game asks that you be aware of the titles that have informed its experience. It helps if you've gotten your plain management tactics down through a childhood spent pumping coins into Final Fight and Golden Axe arcade cabs; but to be truly prepared players should have dabbled with Technos Inc's 1989 consumer minded NES stat brawler River City Ransom. It's a decision in keeping with Bryan Lee O'Malley's fiction, but obstinate to accessibility. Pilgrim characters start extra weak, rendering the opening stage as a lengthy humiliation gauntlet, full of rampaging chibi body hooligans with vast health bars to chip at. Assuming your character is already complete, as in say Streets of Rage 2, could get you mugged before you even reach the first gig showdown. Eventually you learn to prowl the backgrounds for shops, building up a technique boosting CD collection. With the entire Smashing Turnips back catalogue firmly in hand, Scott Pilgrim: The Game opens up, revealing a besotted, mischief minded tribute to 2D fighters and arcade affectations. Everything breaks! Scott Pilgrim: The Game is also a dream artifact, the first playable iteration of Paul Robertson's wonderful pixel seizure reels, overloaded with detail, character, and cheeky recalibrations of Pilgrim's ex dilemma. Hopefully, it won't be the last.
Hi there Keiji Inafune! When Capcom were first dipping their toe in the US video game market, they perhaps felt that selling a rampaging Pinocchio bot to kids raised on Stallones and Schwarzeneggers was a tough proposition. Their solution? A dreadfully rendered box art cover that sold on a pistol packing, muscled, monster man. That little blue man you see onscreen is pure allegory consumers! Never ones to let anything go to waste, Capcom have included this bizarro cultural clash point as a playable entity in the upcoming Mega Man Universe. They've even gone and made him all excellent and charming. All hail Capcom!
Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun continues to wow. This latest ad cues audience for the next great society eats itself flick. Shotgun's transcended it's cheapy nasty fauk shill origins in a way that Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse stablemate Machete still hasn't really managed. Previously we had a 70s grunged up revenger, chronicling the equaliser skirmishes of a potato headed gurner. Now? We've got Rutger Hauer giving extinction speeches to infants while the montage splices in mob motivated future shock, with a pulsing electronica beat. Disaster Year's booking fucking tickets.
Thursday, 2 September 2010
Call of Duty: Black Ops's latest tease sells on a brand new multiplayer mode that experiments with risk and reward in a Free-For-All context. Wager Match allows players to gamble with in-game currency, allowing them to stake unlock coin on their chances of a success in a series of fraught, specialist encounters. Of the four match types previewed, One in the Chamber looks the most promising. Recalling GoldenEye and Counter-Strike custom games, pistoleros have one single bullet, with a reload only available if you manage to successfully ambush another competitor. Disaster Year's mind is already racing with images of snaking stand-offs, as miss shooters desperately and inexpertly try to sneak a knife in whilst making pokey strafe runs. Hopefully these modes won't grind down into boring lurker hunts. The idle must be punished! No solid word on where you'll spend your winnings, but presumably your spends feed back into Black-Ops's custom load out systems - vapour word holds that unlockable weapons and streaks are based on individual decision rather than a rank ration.
Sunday, 29 August 2010
It's been a decade since your lonely skyscraper scaler brought jack-boot justice to Pacific City. In this dash flavoured sequel, the fascistic Agency is still floundering, fighting off science rebels by day and swamped by zombie hordes at night. Players are cast as some sort of legacy clone of the original Agent, complete with an all-new poor draft face, their body swamped in anonymous hyper armour. Likewise, the city is drained of character, rendered as a yawn of identikit slums and dilapidated future space. This world once popped with heavy ink outlines and sizzling neons, now it's just a thick paste of greys and browns. Crackdown's three wildly divergent gang zones are rendered as mulch; barely indistinguishable ruins with sticky window sills.
Your double-front enemies are also faceless, their takedown a tick-list of regurgitated actions and events, with only the barest slither of a tale to unite them. Capture the throw-up fortress, babysit the UV bomb, prevent a troglodyte invasion. There's a hint that yet again this Pacific City pandemonium is Agency created, but the slow-drip story is vapour, never amounting to anything more complicated than a reward cinematic at completion. Crackdown 2 still allows players to sculpt a human weapon, even rolling out all-new abilities for the truly determined, but the fizz is gone. Curious players are better off revisiting the wonderful original.
Friday, 27 August 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
Friday, 20 August 2010
Hideki Kamiya's Red Hot Man has been drafted for studio represents in Marvel vs Capcom 3. Viewtiful Joe was conceived as a culture clasher between American average joe superheroics and Japanese tokusatsu TV battling, so his presence here is verging on meta.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Saturday, 14 August 2010
Included within Lions Gate's Region 1 Ultimate Edition DVD of Rambo III is a suite of deleted footage. The junked clips are mostly uninteresting, with the exception of this short sequence. A fleeing Rambo snipes pursuing Soviet regulars while his ex-handler Colonel Trautman feeds instruction. This single scene captures Rambo's Golem like relationship to Trautman better than any other outside First Blood. From an early string of near misses, John's natural murder aptitude kicks in, enabling him to mechanically pick off the Russian squad. Trautman is delighted. Although unfinished, the way this extract is ordered implies that Rambo is quite happy to burn through remainder ammo assaulting corpses. Hit!
Sylvester Stallone speaks directly to lower brain functions. He understands that an action movie can have an outline rather than a plot; that how you dress this frame can more than compensate for a lack of any so-called higher artistic aspirations. The Expendables' base is your standard buddy black op. An elite pack of psychopaths must unlawfully invade a Latin country suffering a crackpot dictatorship and tear everything apart. For spice, the weak-piss Generalissimo is backed by ex-CIA heavies, with abilities that mirror our heroes, looking for somewhere tropical to get their coca crop grown.
Continuing the body horror thread the director hit upon in Rambo, Stallone's Expendables is dressed with traumatic ultra-violence. The film is often concerned with how easily a body can be pulverised until it resembles nothing at all. Accordingly, each of the mission men is assigned a ruinous superpower: Stallone is a quick-hand pistolero; Jason Statham a shuriken sniper; Jet Li a wushu bushwhacker; Randy Couture is a tumbling MMA bone snapper.
Terry Crews becomes an instant action icon thanks to a spot demoing the latest in combat shotgun technology. Crews role spins like a embedded teaser trailer for a one-man army franchise audiences are sure to demand. Nobody is marginalised. Everybody gets a moment and an admiring close-up. Stallone shoots deep-focus faces, daring you to stare at the canyons and crevices lived into these frowned up fizzogs. Stallone's eye is loving and sympathetic, particularly when regarding the brooding confusion of Dolph Lundgren, a satellite crew member who gets a metatext encore. Sylvester Stallone, an actor's director, who knew?