Saturday, January 22, 2005

Movie Concept -- The Cool Factor

In most action movies I've noticed a certain element in characters that keeps repeating itself.
I call it the Cool Factor. The Cool Factor determines how powerful someone is and how long they are likely to last in the movie. Characters with a high coolness are powerful and usually last for the majority of the film. However, coolness comes with a cost. Cool* characters sacrifice intelligence and common sense for strength and skill. Characters who are too cool are usually too stupid to survive the film (most villains). Lame and uncool characters usually have more common sense and knowledge than the cool ones. These characters also usually do not survive becuase they lack the cool to defend themselves and require cool characters to defend them. Thusly the hero and sidekick. Examples of such pairings are: The Tick and Arthur, Blade and Abraham, Hell Boy and John Myers. Such parings are usually unbeatable as the combined intelligence and coolness beats most opponents.
Another element of the Cool Factor are the characters who I call "cool ninjas". Not ninja ninjas. Ninjas, like the ones in Elektra, are so cool that they're realy stupid and in one scene they all crashed through windows in the same small room without even looking inside. They all died in a fiery explosion from a leaky gas oven lit up by a candle. A little caution would have saved the mission. Cool ninjas are those characters who are deceptively uncool, but will wow the shit out of you with their unveiled coolness. Yoda, Gandalf the Gray, Stick, and Su Hua-Chi from
Drunken Master are all masters at disguising their cool. These characters have the added bonus of actual brain power to go with their cool, making them demi gods. Cool ninjas tend to train cool characters, even though they can't seem to teach them anything that dosn't involve kicking ass.

Elektra -- Crap

I should have known after Daredevil this was crap, but I went and saw it anyways. The movie is about Elektra (Jennifer Garner) after her experiences in New York with Daredevil (Ben Affleck). Revived by the mystical and blind Stick (Terence Stamp) Elektra becomes an asassin and accepts a job that places her on an island with Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic) and his thirteen year old daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout). The background is that there's been a war between the forces of good and evil for centuries and now both sides are looking for the "Treasure", a person with unique and powerful abilities. *SPOILER* The Treasure turns out to be the annoying 13 year old american girl Abby. So many times in the movie I just wanted to step into the scene and strangle her so she'd shut up! For being a martial arts prodegy, she was exceedingly gabby and weak. All she could do was sling this bracelet around and beat up non-main characters. Elektra succeeded in pissing me off as well. Throughout the movie she's constantly whipping her sigh's in the same circular motion like she's hot shit. And when people se her want to say hi, she appears behind them in a flash like she's showing off. The forces of evil are headed by a Japanese council (those evil Japs!) that sends super stupid ninjas and assassins to kill Elektra and Abby. They're stupid in that one of them smashes a tree half with a branch, and while it's falling the baddy seems to forget about it (even with all the noise its making) and pursues Abby. Squished.
Yeah, this movie sucked, and is another reminder that the Marvel movies are merely a fad for Hollywood's lack of imagination these days. Go see House of Flying Daggers.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War -- Almost good

Dawn of War could have been so much better than it was. It was like
Relic Entertainment got bored after making a single campaign of eleven missions and decided to ship it off so they wouldn't have to finish the rest of the over-acted story. For fifty bucks plus tax you get eleven missions and multiplayer.

Hey, Relic, let us look at other, better RTS games and learn a little. Blizzard brought us Warcraft and Starcraft with each giving a seperate campaign for EACH race. Not just the Humans, but the Protoss, Zerg, Orcs, Undead,and Night Elves all had their own campaigns with around ten missons each or more. Also, Westwood gave us Command and Conquer, each game letting us play all the forces. HOW COULD YOU NOT FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE?!

The one campaign you play on Dawn of War is easy, very easy, and can be beaten in about nine hours. So this new game lasted three days for me, and now it's done? Ah, but there is the skirmish and multiplayer, which I suppose Relic thought would make up for its laziness. It dosn't. Skirmish has many uninteresting game modes which you've had plenty of practice of in the campaign. The multiplayer is fine, but really is just a contest of who can play faster and create the bigger army and crush everyone else. No strategy required. There is tons of micro management in equipping and reinforcing infantry squads, upgrading all kinds of weaponry and abilities, and improving structures. Thankfully, the resource system is very simple and requires almost no worrying about. In maps there are several capture points that, when captured, give you points to buy things with. You receive a constant flow of "requisition" from these points so long as they are yours. The other resource is power which is handled by building structures (they all have different names so I'll call them power plants) that dish out power. Power dosn't power anything, It's just a secondary resource that's required to buy bigger units.

Dawn of War has four races: Space Marines (campaign race), Orks, Eldar, and the forces of Chaos (evil space marines). Each race is unique and fun to play, but all primarily focus on the same thing: make the biggest army. Unless you are the
Space Marines, then all you need is three squads and you can wipe out hordes of Orks easily and many more Eldar just as easily.

The game does a good job with the maps. Urban fights are crater ridden and filled with bombed out gothic churches and... well, it's all gothic but it looks great! The terrain always looks great, whether it's a jungle or snowy mountains.

The sound is okay, terrible over-acting (except for the cockney Orks) from responding units that have to tell whole scriptures from the Imperial Codex or the mythology of the Eldar.

This could have been a way better game if it had include more missions for those people who don't like the multiplayer, or at least it would be worth the fifty bucks you paid for it.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Serious Sam -- Under rated, but not out gunned

About three years ago a shooter came out that simplified and enhanced the FPS experience. Serious Sam: The First Encounter, a shooter of gargantuan proportions, is probably the most fun and least complicated shooter I have ever seen.
The story is meaningless so I won't go into it, all you have to know is that Earth is in trouble and Sam 'Serious' Stone is sent into the ancient past to stop the trouble from ever starting.
During the first levels, you may think this is a very retro shooter, using the same level design concepts Quake and Doom used. Randomly placed monsters and secret passages. Once you get passed the warm-up and face the first large arena rooms, then the true nature of this game shows itself. You use very large and well supplied guns to blast away about, oh, 500 beasties of varied appearances and roles in combat in huge arenas in and outdoors. The fast paced action of the game is non-stop and with plenty of monsters lunging out at you from unchecked corners and trap doors.
Your weapons are largely huge and rapid firing with the exception of shotguns and pistols. During the game you use things like a quad laser cannon, minigun, rapid firing rocket launcher, and an even a cannon that fires a single iron ball that rolls right over/through large numbers of foes.
The levels all take place in ancient Egypt and all over Egypt. Almost all of the maps are massive, jam packed with mutants and aliens and fitting several arenas within. All are beautiful and fun to explore.
Serious Sam has a nice sense of humor throughout its length, most of it coming from Sam's one liners.
While Serious Sam really dosn't bring anything new to the table it still has plenty to offer and isn't as short as games appear to be these days. Hours of amazed entertainment come out of playing this alone, but
cooperating in these levels with up to sixteen freinds is unbeleivably fun.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Prince of Persia -- AW, DAMMIT! NOT AGAIN!

Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within is what happens when you take those annoying jumping puzzles from other games (like shooters, ugh!) and put some creativity into them. Dash across walls over great gaping pits in the floor, roll under traps, run up walls, jump from pillar to pillar, and much much more. The drawback to all these neat acrobatics is that you will mess up in a series of death defying jumps and die MANY, MANY times. The game's length is probably shorter than it seems, but all the retrying and dying makes it longer.
What makes this game playable are the time controlling abilites the Prince can use to survive messing up over a spike pit. The #1 useful ability being Recall, which allows you to do over the last ten seconds of your life. So if you mess up once, die and then try, die, and try again.
The only reason I found to play this game all the way through was the fun fighting system. The Prince is just as acrobatic in combat as he is in maneuvering through the palace. Throwing your foes into each other, walls,and spike pits is very satyisfying, but not as satisfying as stealing an opponents weapon and cutting off his head with it in a smooth combo of moves. The Prince can also jump off walls or swing around pillars to fend off multiple opponents.
This game is not about sound or graphics but does a fair job in both departments.
If you're looking for a different game and don't mind tedious do overs, this is a great game to play.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Halo 2 -- More of the same

I liked the first Halo. It was the best shooter around at the time, excluding Counter Strike. A few years later and Halo 2 comes out after several push backs. You'd think Ubisoft had had enough time to come out with a true sequal but instead they bring to you a large expansion pack.

Ubisoft has given us some new enemies like drones and brutes. Drones (in essence) are flying grunts and brutes are tougher elites that go berserk. I enjoyed the addition of the drones but the brutes seemed tacked on to serve the story line. They and the Elites are fighting for the favor of the Heiarchy. This gives the player someone to shoot as an Elite when the game shifts from Cheif's point of view.

Weapons have seen a lot of editing and additions, most of which for the worse if you ask me.
The assault rifle has been renamed "submachine gun" and in the rifle department now lies the Battle Rifle. It has burst fire and zoom, which is great for multiplayer but really sucks in the actual game. I use it to kill grunts until I find a plasma rifle (unchanged). The pistol has gone to hell with no zoom, looooooower damage, and it's hard to find. Many more addtions to the weapons lineup are uninteresting, temporarily satisfying, or just plane unnecessary.

The story line is about as interesting as the previous and is no more humorous.

Halo 2 does deliver with visuals from better looking models (freind and foe) to terrain ranging from a middle-eastern city to ancient ruins on another Halo.

I enjoyed Halo 2 the first time I played it through, but that was about it. I felt like I had played it before. Halo 2 is an above average shooter, but does not raise the bar as its predecessor.

Half-Life 2 -- The Anti-Halo

So everybody talks about the big ol' Halo 2. I never hear about Half-Life 2 no matter what gamer I talk to. Here's why that pisses me off. HL 2 delivers more as a sequal, has better story writing, better graphics, and holds the doorway to the best on-line gaming to date! HL 2 is an amazing game.
This is the first game where I could say the sound was 10 out of 10. Grenades make great echoing *poom* sounds and the shotgun never sounded more satyifying. Every weapon has its own purpose and is not interchangable with any other.
You actually care what happens to your freinds. The characters are extremely well developed and compelling. Great, great voice acting.
Visually this game conquers all. Beaches, rivers in the country side, dark nightmarish alleys and sewers, all are beautifully rendered and set the mood as if you were at the site.
HL 2 takes full advantage of physics in giving you problems to solve, weapons to propel at your foes, and cover you can move with you.
My only complaint is long loading times passing in between areas.
If you're going to play game and enjoy every damn minute of it, might as well make it this one.


Welcome to my blog! Here you will find my own personal reviews of games and movies. If you're looking for huge range of titles, you'll probably need to check another site. I only review the stuff I have and hope to turn you on to some of them.