March 29th Weekly News Roundup(Not Captain Rantastic’s rant edition)

29 03 2010

Here is the scoop everybody; I am in the middle of beating and writing a review of God of War III.  During that time I decided to sort of merge a couple other ones I was working and add to them to make a news roundup for everyone to enjoy while they waited.  I thought it was pretty good, granted it was kind of pure rantness for 5 pages, but it still made good points.  But apparently you didn’t agree, I got the most response to an article ever on that one, and it was all negative.  The complaints were mostly valid though; the roundup had gone from 12 small articles about actual game news, to 3 large articles about shit no one cared about.  So I am going to make it up to everyone here by a smaller roundup with a focus on pure gaming news.

Here is the second news roundup for everyone, the non rantastic rantathon edition.  As always follow me on Twitter @ zackysmack, or email me at Zackysmack@hotmail.com.  And with that, away we go!

Fox Logo

As fair and balanced as Fox News

Jerry Holkins announced at the start of PAX East that there will be no more Penny Arcade Adventures.  Verdict: That sucks.

Mike and Jerry

I don't know why it didn't sell either Mike and Jerry.

I am a big fan of Penny Arcade, and by that logic was a big fan of their RPG Episodic games.  I bought the first one when it finally debuted on the PSN and was very happy with it; they had great humor to them and generally solid Turn based RPG gameplay.  The first one had a rather odd difficulty curve; I will definitely say that, think of it like two lines intersecting at a 90 degree angle.  Basically the whole game was very easy, and then the final boss fight was an exercise in controller snapping frustration.  I think one of my friends Velius(a contributor on this site) would say that beating the final boss without dying is one of his more proud video game achievements.  So when the next one came out I snapped it up right away, it used a great character importing system and a decent overall story arch.  I think most of all I just really enjoyed reading all the dialogue; it just felt fun to play.  Humor is actually pretty hard to get across in games; something that really makes you laugh out loud is hard to get across because you can’t really time your line delivery when someone is just reading it.  All in all the second one was a vast improvement over the first and so I was more than happy to buy it and beat it, as were most of my friends(Thanks to the wonderful Playstation sharing system).  So like a lot of the Penny Arcade fans I was just kind of waiting around for the next one, because originally it was announced as a 4 part series with HotHead Games.  However some changes went by HotHead in the last few months, thanks to a new publishing deal with EA they are pulling their focus from Penny Arcade and putting it in there other properties.  See HotHead in between Penny Arcade’s came out with a little one known as Braid which turned out to be a great one, and they also have a bevy of interesting projects in the works so I can completely understand their position in accepting the EA money.  It’s a shame that Penny Arcade had to be the victim of this whole deal, but in true Penny Arcade fashion Mike and Jerry have agreed to finish the story on their site.  But I would have really enjoyed playing it out myself.

Fruit Fucker

Come on the villian was a giant robot that raped fruit, how do you not buy that?

Future PSN updates will be moved to Wednesday instead of Thursday.  Verdict:  That was really a no brainer I thought.

Wednesday

Indeed

So the PSN has always done its weekly content updates on Thursday, which is as good a day in the week as any I suppose.  But here is the thing, Xbox does there’s on Wednesday, now I know what you’re thinking, ‘Zack, who the fuck cares when Xbox does theres?’ well voice in my head once again you are gravely ill informed about the situation.  See here is the deal, I already own a PS3 and not a 360, and so it doesn’t really matter to me when they do updates for it, by that logic 360 owners could also give two shits when there store updates.  So why the hell would they change it?  Well the answer is simple of course, for all those people out there that own both consoles, see if you own both then you have to decide which platform you’re going to buy games for.  If the 360 sends out demos on Wednesday and you download it and play it on their well you’re far more likely to buy it for the 360 then the PS3.  Multiplatform titles are something you want to sell tons of, it keeps developers in your good graces.  So Sony is trying to make sure those multiconsole owners play it on the PS3 first.  This all pretty much hinges on Sony starting to update the store earlier then 6pm sense last I checked the 360 does its updates at like 8am.  So this is two parts for Sony, 1 they need to move updates to Wednesday to at least be comparable, 2 they need to do those updates early in the morning.  If Sony can pull that off, which trusts me I doubt they can, they will have taken another step towards being a completely equal service to Xbox Live, now just give me my mother fucking Cross Game Voice chat.

Besides now I get my Zero Punctuation and my PSN update in one day, which makes Wednesday my new favorite day of the week.

Yhatzee

Yay!!! *excited giggle*

Miyamoto says the reason games sales are down is because games lack the quality they used to have.  Verdict: Yeah and you’re one of the worst offenders Miyamoto.

Remember how Wii Music redefined what was really good about games, how it took the rythym game and turned it on its ear, and simultaneously sold millions of copies while being a stunning advancement for gaming as a whole?  You don’t remember that happening?  Was it because Wii Music was an utter failure, and basically boiled down to being able to make the same 5 motions 500 times to generate the shittiest midi file music that you couldn’t even save because the Wii sucks the darkest corner of my balls?  In fact lets really look at Miyamoto as a designer, he made one really great game a while back, Mario, and has pretty much rode that wave through constant and utter failure ever sense then.  Every Mario game until the 64 basically just re-hashed the original, and then he struck lightening with 64 and proceeded to remake that game a billion fucking times again.  Somewhere in there was Pinkman or Pikman which its only real contribution to the gaming world was being the basis for a pretty good Penny Arcade comic.  The thing is that everyone cuts that dude so much slack because of the Rose Colored glasses of Nostalgia.  Ever stop to think maybe the reason most of his recent games haven’t been that good is because he isn’t that good?  Maybe we shouldn’t just listen to him as our source of information, kinda like a Japanese Pete Molyneux, always quick to criticize others but never answer to their own incompetency’s.

Molyneux

Ha ha ha ha its so true too.

I guess his Wii games were pretty good, for Wii games.  See this goes back to the thought that Japan as a whole really struggled to get around the next generation consoles, making games for them with fancy new game engines is just not there strong suit.  So Miyamoto did what Nintendo did, just blatantly ignored technology and its advances in favor of basking in his own former glory.  I guess I just find it hard to keep a straight face when Miyamoto says something like that, because he goes around talking about developing the future of games, and motion sensing being ahead of the curve to the ‘old fashioned’ consoles.  When in all reality he is pretty much just refusing to move forward with games, instead opting to use old technology that he feels safe and secure with, like a warm glass of milk, a favorite blanket, or the knowledge that your creepy uncle isn’t coming over for your birthday.  Something like Heavy Rain is interesting and experimental; Portal and Bioshock started off as experiments in gameplay and storytelling as well and ended up really dazzling.  Now with Move and Natal the big consoles will have everything the Wii doesn’t and everything the Wii does, which will really put him and Nintendo in an awkward spot for justifying their system.  In the end I don’t think games were down from last year because of a drop in quality, I think they were down because MGS5, GTAIV, MW :1 and Halo 3 didn’t come out this year.  In fact I feel from a quality standpoint this was actually a pretty great year for games, and I don’t think Miyamoto really released one hit game, all he really has coming is Galaxy 2 which is just a re-hash of Galaxy 1, so yeah you know what Miyamoto?  Comments like that might work with your Nintendo owners group, but I got over being nostalgic years ago, some guys in there basement made Braid and it was easily better than 80% of the shit you did with the Mario franchise.  Don’t even get me started on the heap of mediocrity that is Zelda, consistently the worst series of games I have ever played, yeah even the N64 ones.  Also the generator of the most fucked up examples of Fan Fiction on the web.

Zelda Fic

You know its from the darkest places of the internet when I had to censor the words and cut off the bottom.

Basically Miyamoto I think you’re so far out of touch with things now in the real gaming world, having spent the last 7 or so under a blanket of casual gaming, that comments like that from you hold almost no weight anymore.  Most developers and industry folks really don’t take you that seriously anymore, you’re pretty much that only one that does.

A leaked trailer possibly shows that Hitman 5 will be revealed at E3.  Verdict: I could make a better trailer.

Hitman 5

See, whole sites dedicated to fake Boxart for theoretical games.

Are you aware of fan made trailers?  If not then allow me to sodomize you with the hard dick of knowledge.  Fans of things tend to really like them, and sometimes they want to pay homage to them by making cleaver or funny videos or in some cases a better trailer then the actual game.  So website have sections of their video page call ‘Fan Sections’ where everyone can post fan made videos so as not to cause confusion with people looking for actual trailers.  Which is clearly what this so called ‘leaked’ trailer is, a fan made trailer, its mostly live action, with one or two cuts of CG stuff that looks like it was rendered for the N64.  I was Agent 47 for Halloween one year, my friend EttenCo pretty much is Agent 47, any one of us could have made this trailer.  Let’s not forget that the trailer also opens with the old Eidos logo which doesn’t exist anymore, its SquareEnix Europe or something like that.

Square Enix Europe

Yeah something like that.

Look I don’t doubt that Hitman 5 is in the works, and I really want it to come out because I am a huge fan of series.  But if they were going to tease a next entry they would probably use an actual likeness of Agent 47, and probably the voice of Dianna.  What has been circulating around the net isn’t the real thing; it’s a fan trailer with the E3 date at the end of it.  I wouldn’t hedge my bet that there will be an announcement at E3 for it, and probably a proper trailer.  Honestly though I just can’t understand how something from the Fan section of GameTrailers.com got recognition as a leaked E3 announcement.  It would be like a fat cosplayer getting mistaken for a Sailor Scout.

Sailer Bubba

You had to know Sailor Bubba was gonna pop up on that one.

When asked whether or not they liked review scores the majority of PAX attendees wished we would get rid of them.  Verdict: I completely agree.

You may have noticed that I don’t use a score in my reviews, because I don’t think my 5 pages of rambling opinions can really be boiled down into one number.  Frankly sites that give you a number are ones I really don’t like, I guess it’s nice to just be able to say ‘This is a 7.0, or this is a 9.0’ but that doesn’t really describe a game.  Matt Hazard is a 5 at best, but if you play it you will probably enjoy it enough to justify the cost of it, I mean I can think of plenty of good points, like the great anime style Final Fantasy boss fight or the account manager in multiplayer running gag.  The point is that there is really more to a game then a simple number, and my other two authors on the site agreed without having to really discuss which I thought was interesting.  I asked for articles and I got articles and never did those articles have scores at the end.  The story is that at a panel on review scores at PAX East this year they polled the audience and about 5 people said they liked the score at the end while the rest of them said they didn’t.  I think it’s just for the reasons I described, scores are just too simple for games now a days, the variety of fans and fan bases and player bases are so large that something that a reviewer hates could be completely appealing to someone else.  I enjoyed LAIR and pretty much every reviewer on earth didn’t, my roommate at the time ‘Hulk’ actually sat down and played it to its conclusion because he liked it so much and the last real console game he played was Red Alert on the PS1.  I fucking hated ACII and it was on a lot of game of the year lists, and the rest of history is just littered with examples like that, I am sure you the reader can think of your own.

Scanners

Shit, I asked the readers to think again didn't I?

That’s kind of the real problem isn’t it?  When you have a score most people just read that and head to the comments section to lambast the review or praise the review.  Often forgetting the read the 2-3 pages that explain the score, and if you’re not reading that then how can really use that review to form an opinion for buying the game or not?  I don’t just buy games that get 9’s or higher, I pretty much stick to joystiq.com reviews now and other sites like that because I think I get more out of it that way.  I remember last year at E3 this same issue came up and the chief editor at 1UP basically spent 30 minutes talking about how much he really wished they didn’t have to have review scores but that’s how fans want it.  Well PAX just proved you wrong 1UP, and if there is one thing I have learned over the years it’s that you should always listen to and do exactly as you fans say.

Scanners

Oh god he listend to the fans again didn't he?

You can pay girls to game with you on webcams in normal or naughty play.  Verdict:  I view this as dangerous.

Holy Christ is this dangerous or what?  Gamers have a horrible reputation with normal people as it is.  With are overly sexualized women, completely impossible men, and general fear of anything with a vagina, the games community is viewed as creepy by most of normal society.  I still remember booting up The Saboteur in the same room as my parents and having it go directly into a striptease, which was so horribly embarrassing it wasn’t even funny, same with God of War III or Heavy Rain.  I guess the really weird thing is that if I was watching a movie with nudity or sex in it, no one would view that as a problem but there is just something inherently more dirty about digital tits but I can’t quite figure it out.  Like the stigma attached to hentai fans, there somehow worse porn freaks then someone who just watches good old fashioned real porn with two functional adults.  It doesn’t really make sense but it’s just the culture I suppose.   Now we have GameCrush a website you can visit and pay to play online games with a girl, okay that’s pretty creepy, now here is the best part, you can play in two different options.  1 you play normal and just chat and play and probably pad your scores sense the girls being hired are mostly adult models and webcam girls who can’t play worth shit and option 2 the ‘naughty’ option, which I think you can figure out what happens then.

Batman Sex

Sex, the answer is sex.

Okay well logistically I just don’t get it, when I am trying to play games having a girl yammering into my ear would make it almost impossible to be at all good.  I would probably just end up raging and kill them over and over again.  Now if that girl was trying to have sex with me while I played that game, Christ that would be even worse, winning an online match is hard enough without someone whispering into my ear about how ‘naughty’ or ‘massive’ I am.  The best I could hope for would be to laugh from some truly awful video game puns from the porn model as she desperate tried to make a human connection to a voice on the other end of a microphone.  Something like: ‘Mmmm do you want me to play with your joy stick?’ to which I would reply ‘What?  No of course not, then you would be playing as me and you suck balls at games…..and in real life for that matter.  Hey-Oh!’  I have a hard enough time trying to play with the average online gamer screaming shit into my ear; I can only imagine that it would get that much worse when someone was trying to hit on me during that time.  So it’s not really for people that just want to play, which should have been obvious, which means it’s just for lonely online porn people.  But any slightly smart person would know that you can get mountains of porn for free without having to sacrifice your online stats, so it’s really only for people that want to live out a very specific fantasy in their head.  The question is of course is that group of people big enough to support this site?  The sad thing is that it will probably succeed, I really hope it doesn’t, I hope it fails so hard that the internet itself breaks.  Because then maybe people would stop trying to capitalize on this gamer market by playing to the worst stereotypes possible.

GameFuel

Not only was it a cheap cash in, it was the shittiest soda flavor in decades.

One final note here, girl gamers aren’t a mythical creature, I in fact know quite a few and there good.  No they are not fat hippos, and no they are not the skinny insanely hot emo girl that is the other extreme that comes to mind when someone says gamer girl.  No most of the time there just girls, who enjoy games much like we men do.  It’s a strange concept to accept but hear me out, you know how sometimes you watch a romantic comedy and at the end say to yourself ‘Hey that wasn’t that bad’ well the same thing can happen to girls too, in fact that can just decide to play games and enjoy them a lot.  You have probably played with them before more than a few times, but sadly they can’t use headsets because the second they do everyone will notice it’s a girl and then either kill them out of spite for not having a dick, leave the match out of spite for not having a dick, or hit on them because they do not have a dick.  It’s kinda sad really, some of my best friends are girls and I enjoy playing games with them online but the majority of male players make it so fucking hard for them that they can’t go into public matches.  I honestly have known girls that beat guys in matches and trash talked like guys do all the fucking time and got reported for it and banned for a week.  I mean wow how pathetic are you if you can’t handle getting beaten by a girl.  Seriously world of gamers, grow up.

Beat by Girl

I have said way worse then that and never been banned before.

Peace.

P.S. alright real news and shit, hope you’re happy, I’ll do an E3 prediction in a week or so.

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Weekly(Monthly?) News Roundup March 25th

25 03 2010

Hey ladies and gent’s, quick update here for you.  I will be moving soon, and starting a wonderful new career in the programming industry.  So as promised I will most likely be getting a dedicated hosting service for this site which means it will sadly be moving away from its humble WordPress origins.  Hopefully now there will be a little bit more order to the chaos that is this site; maybe some pages instead of a 500 page long main page, and hopefully an RSS plugin.  I will keep everyone informed of site changes though, and with a steady job and income the thought is that more regular updates will come, I would like to guarantee one article a week.  One final note before we get the weekly news roundup started is that once I get set up in my new place I am going to try my hand at podcasting, sense speaking for 30 minutes yields far more then typing for 30 minutes.  Those will be available for free to anyone that wants them, and hopefully I will have some guests who want to come in and discuss things as well, sense I hear you can just Skype people and record it back.  So without further adu here is some more information on topics and articles that interest me.  As always, follow me on Twitter @Zackysmack or email me at Zackysmack@hotmail.com with any questions comments or ideas, drop a line in the comments section is you feel so inclined.

Fox News Logo

As fair and balanced as Fox News

In case you are new the news roundup here on the site, it’s pretty simple, as the week goes around I write down topics and articles that I found interesting.  Now I come on here, give you the name of the topic, what I think about it, and then try to qualify my statements in my usual insane hard to follow manor.   4 topics this week, generally irritating things, most of it is really fanboy related which was completely on accident.  So if you’re a fanboy prepare to be made fun of by me, who am not a fanboy, which will be explained later.

Assassin’s Creed II’s DRM Server is the bane of the PC gamers existence.  Verdict:  Yeah it is, but its PC Gamers fault that it is.

DRM

Yeah pretty much like that.

I make no bones about it folks, I really don’t like PC gamers and there generally elitist attitude.  I think that if anyone represents a very negative stereotype for what a gamer is, its PC loyalists.  They have this weird attitude that because they bought a PC that gives them every right to rampantly pirate games, and then complain when the companies that make games, stop making PC games and start making console games.  They aren’t selling out you little shits, there trying to go out of business, any PC game maker now can pretty much figure that more than half of the people playing there game didn’t pay for it.  It’s no wonder that the PC has become almost exclusively for the MMO crowd, it’s the only thing you can guarantee people had to pay to play.  They also get RTS games because the console controller can never work for those games, and finally they get some FPS titles albeit about 6 months after I played them on PS3, and then sit around and brag about how much better they are then console players because they have a mouse.  It’s kind of like me bragging about how much faster I am at running then a man who is pulling an elephant.  No shit you’re faster with a mouse, it doesn’t mean you better, just that you have a more response controller.  Some companies are still gracious enough to release PC games from time to time, but because they’re aware of the piracy problem, they try to put measure into place to ensure that people who are playing it, paid for it.  That ladies and gentlemen is when all hell breaks loose, because it’s at that point that every pirate in the world resolves to pirate the ever loving shit out of that game in an effort to prove there a bigger asshole.

Pirate Cat

This image shows the level of intelligence a typical pirate has.

Look if I go to a bank and open a checking account that does not mean I have the right to then walk into the vault and just take anything I want.  Nor does my RewardZone card give me the right to just take games and movies from Best Buy.  So why do PC gamers feel that purchasing a PC gives them the right to pirate games?  You know what?  I wouldn’t even care that much if they just pirated the games, I mean it could be fun watching Publishers try and beat them, like some sort of fun cat and mouse chase movie starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt.  No the reason I really hate them for it, is the whole PC gamer attitude, which is pretty much ‘I own my computer which means anything made for it is also mine by right’  There like evil handlebar mustache wearing land barons from old cowboy movies, I see it therefore it is mine is not course for legality.  Remember 15 years ago when Nintendo pretty much published all their own games, and there were maybe 3-4 3rd party game makers on earth, Sony had to Publish all their own games, and so did Sega.  What happened to cause nearly every single PC publisher and game maker to switch to consoles?  Well that’s an easy one, Pirates; pirates came along and starting stealing massive amounts of money from the game makers, which made those consoles pretty damn appealing.  Do you think studios like 3D realms and id wanted to make console games?  Hell no they didn’t, switching over was annoying and time consuming, no they did it out of necessity.  Because it was either switch over, or go out of business.  Just a few years ago some Greek Mythology game was available on torrent sites a good 4 weeks before its scheduled release, 3 months later the studio had to close and 70 people lost their jobs.  It was around that point that PC gamers had the gall to say the game just didn’t live up to the high PC standards and that’s why it didn’t sell.  Oh I thought it had something to do with 90% of potential customers already owning the fucking thing 4 weeks before it was available for purchase.

Pirates!

The irony is I found an image of a PC pirate game, on a PC torrenting site.

The point is that PC fans are their own worst enemies, they complain and hound anyone who tries to stop them from stealing all their games, and then complain and hound anyone who refuses to release things on the PC.  Modern Warfare 2 cut out a good chunk of the online features that were expected, for their PC release, so how did PC gamers react to this?  By all saying that ‘It’s okay, we will just pirate it then until you give us back our features.  That’ll teach them.’  It’s the equivalent of a 4 year old throwing a tantrum when they don’t get there way, except now it has grave affects on the industry as a whole.  It’s wholly dangerous when your loyal fans get upset over missing features, and feel that if they then steal your product from you, that in 2 years when the next one comes out you’ll give them all those features back.  No they won’t, in 2 years they just won’t release the fucking game for you at all, or they’ll put on game crippling DRM’s like ACII.

DRMs

Seriously if you aren't on the internet you can't play ACII on PC's

That’s the point of the whole article, ACI came out a few years ago for PC and it had something like a 60% pirate rate because Ubisoft was one of the few left who weren’t using Steam and still wanted to make PC games.  Mostly because that was there bread and butter for the last 10 years or so, the PC market I mean.  But this time around they wanted to actually make money on the game so they went ahead and stuck a DRM on the disc that basically crippled you from ever really getting to play the game.  Honest people got shafted when the DRM server crashed and you couldn’t play the game for 2 days or so, as someone who paid for the game that would piss me right off.  So I can understand the honest gamer’s complaint about that, but on the other side of things Ubisoft still has to make money on this if you ever want to see and ACIII.  Naturally when Ubisoft first announced the DRM restriction, pirates hacked the Ubisoft site and left up all kinds of banners saying a DRM crack would be available soon.  The real shame is that that section of the industry got so bad that the bulk of the people feel the appropriate response to anything is to just steal it until the company changes there mind or goes bankrupt.  Honest gamers are getting fucked by those pirating dickheads who have this odd sense of entitlement to them for no real reason other than that fact that they can.  Ubisoft is also getting fucked by those pirates because it forces their hands with DRM’s that just make them look like the real assholes.  Neither side is right, the DRM’s are too far, and the pirates are just idiotic, the poor everyman is caught in the middle.  So the real lesson here is that PC gamers have no one to blame but themselves for the DRM’s and the loss of games, if they would just pay for things they want like everyone else then there wouldn’t be this problem.  If you only like things enough to get them for free then I don’t really think you are a real gamer anyways, you’re just some annoying parasite on the side of real fans and real gamers.

Lamprey

Fuck, Lamprey eels are creepy.

Besides is only being able to install a game 5 times with your DRM really that bad if you think about it?  Your average PC comes with at least a TB of data space and ACII is what 5GB?  Unless you own more than 5 computers that you want to play it on, how is that really a big deal?  I had DRM issues once, know what I did?  I called the fucking number on the back of the fucking box, and talked to a very nice lady from EA who gave me 3 more installs, it took about 5 minutes.  Sense EA spent 3 years and 20 million on the game; I am actually pretty okay with having to make a 5 minute phone call once every 5 years.  Maybe I am just some sort of mutant who doesn’t completely freak out when something that was made for millions of people isn’t exactly the way I want it right out of the box.

Mutant

MUTANT!!!!

Is it acceptable for Aaron Greenberg to re-tweet articles about how shitty Sony fans are?  Verdict: Do fanboys really need his help that much?

Mid last week the shit pretty much hit the fan when Aaron Greenberg(Group Product Manager for Xbox and Xbox Live) tweeted a blog post(not that much unlike mine) titled ‘Why Sony Fanboys are the worst’ or something to that affect.  I get that its Greenberg’s job to promote the Xbox, but I was under the impression that he was supposed to do this with actual numbers, and sales data, and games, and Natal, you know actual physical things that raised good points and arguments.  If some random Xbox person had Tweeted this, well it wouldn’t have really been an issue, but you see Greenberg is at least supposed to maintain an air of professionalism about himself right?  Again if it was a real article written by a professional and not just some Xbox loyalist it probably wouldn’t have mattered.  The thing of it was that the article itself was actually pretty good; it used valid points and examples and made an overall solid argument.

Greenberg

Unrelated Aaron Greenberg picture.

But the title was all you saw on Twitter, and it was all you saw on N4G, and the title was inflammatory, the title was not intelligent or concise.  No the title was just bait to start a flame war, a way to generate comments and get your name out there, much like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, something I have tried to shy away from if at all possible.  I am perfectly happy to just have 5 readers if it means I get to wear a cape of integrity.  Granted sometimes my articles appear like fanboy rants, but if you read them I always qualify my arguments and make points, I do it in a humorous way, but it’s still somewhat poignant.  See I used to want to be a fanboy, in fact I used to freely admit it, but no longer, because I realized something that seems to have escaped most people.  Console makers, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, don’t know I exist.  At best I am a number on a sheet of projected sales figures; whether I am online defending them to other nerds makes no difference to them.  Sony is a big company, so if Microsoft, they don’t need me to defend them to anybody, because they don’t care about me, not as a person nor do they care about what you have to say about them.  No Greenberg re-tweets something like this because even though it is unprofessional and in poor taste, it sparks a flame war, which generates people commenting on and promoting the system.  It’s free advertisement, and that’s all they’re really after here.  If Kaz Harai ever tried to use one of my articles to bash a rival console, I would tell him to fuck off, because that’s not what I am trying to promote.

Kaz

Unrelated Kaz Hirai picture.

I don’t want flame wars, because I don’t think any one group of fanboys is better than another, there is no fanboy caste system.  They’re all the same thing to me; whiny little children who would rather deny the existence of reality then actually deal with the possibility of being wrong.  See everyone is wrong sometimes, I was wrong to by a PSPgo, and Greenberg was wrong to re-tweet that article, and OJ was wrong to murder his wife, and J Edgar Hoover was wrong to order the assassination of J.F.K. and Marilyn Monroe.  Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all do equal amounts of utterly retarded things from time to time, Sony doesn’t have cross game voice chat, Microsoft charges billions for harddrive expansions, and Nintendo hates people who play games.   Nothing that I or anyone else says is going to magically change that.  The sooner everyone realizes that they are nothing more than numbers on a sales sheet and stops wasting their lives defending someone or something that will never ever give them the slightest bit of thanks for it, the sooner we can actually start getting what we want.

Sales

How video game makers see there fans.

Instead of all the Sony fanboys wasting their time calling Microsoft fanboys idiots, they should spend that time complaining about what is actually wrong, that way it might change.  Microsoft fans could also use their massive numbers to get some changes too, but instead they allow themselves to be played against each other like pawns by a company that stands to profit from there fighting.  If the people who stand to make money from you, tell you that you’re better then someone else because you buy their product, why would you listen to them?  The other side is telling there’s the same thing, then you fight online and they make more money.  Greenberg didn’t do anything that was outside his job description, he just did something that was morally wrong, but no one called him on it they just took the bait and started fighting amongst themselves.

Is EA sueing South Park for its Tiger Woods episode the right thing to do?  Verdict: It’s classic overreacting.

(Editor’s note: At the time this was written EA’s later statements about not suing anybody, hadn’t come out yet, but I am publishing it anyways because my thoughts dead on mirror exactly what EA said.)

South Park

You really gotta worry about people taking this seriously.

Earlier this week South Park came back on the air with an episode about Tiger Woods of course.  The kicker was the skewering of Tiger was based around his video game.  Naturally the day after that aired someone called EA for a comment, which was: “while I personally found the episode quite funny, there are definitely a few copyright infringements in there that I’m sure will be dealt with accordingly” Pretty innocent comment, but as the theme goes this week everyone freaked the fuck out.  See EA never really says they are going to sue anybody, they in fact said that the show was pretty funny.  Legally you can’t sue someone for doing a parody, EA knows that of course which is why they would only consider it if South Park directly broke a copyright agreement which I don’t even think they’re capable of.  As far as I am concerned South Park hasn’t really been funny in a couple of years now, it’s basically just 2 guys Trolling for 30 minutes a week in the hopes of drumming up some controversy.  The amount of negative feedback that was generated by the suspicion that EA might sue somebody was just ridiculous, it’s like everyone on earth just instantly felt the need to defend South Park and its freedom of speech.  In much the same way people feel the need to allow Republicans to speak, or the crazy guy on my street corner who yells at people to stop wearing pants.

Hobo

Alright, well I would probably defend this guy, but he's the exception.

In the end EA never said they were going to sue anyone, the comments they made reflected that, but the majority of the population that cared, just instantly assumed EA was the bad guys in this situation.  Which is the wrong way to think about it, at the worst EA is trying to protect a property that they have a ton of money invested in, and at the best they enjoyed a good healthy parody.  The TV show that is making fun of the situation should never be the good guy, after all regardless of how the show does they have already been paid.  I don’t think EA is a champion of rights or anything, but neither is South Park.   The problem I have is simple; assumptions are a dangerous and slippery slope, and assuming that EA is going to do the dickish thing isn’t actually the safe route anymore, EA has tried really hard to get back into all of our good graces this console generation.  They shake up there franchises and bring out new and interesting titles, but everyone still seems to hate them which I feel is kind of baseless.  It would be nice if people appreciated them for all the concessions they have given ‘us’ over the last few years, because a lot of people lost their jobs over that.

Gamespot now boasts more hits then IGN.  Verdict: One Satan is not better than another.

Lesser of two evils

Sort of the same concept.

This kind of goes back to a lot of the arguments I have made in this article; the second something becomes ‘for profit’ then it ceases to be truly un-bias.  IGN and Gamespot are the biggest sites in the world for video game news and reviews and such, which means they make the most money at it.  So it’s safe to assume they have the most to gain from generating traffic.  Now I am not one of those idiots that think the reviewers take money from publishers to write good scores, heavens know, it’s nothing that direct.  Gamespot just gets money from advertising, and then it’s sort of expected that you will cut a game some slack, and if you don’t then they’re going to fire your ass.

Kane and Lynch

In there defense, I think it was better than a 6.7

IGN on the other hand takes a far less obvious approach to rigging things; the criticism I am about to give is one that IGN is commonly accused of and responds to the criticism quite frequently.  See any major release IGN will always do a ‘first impression’ for, and they will always say it’s the second coming of Christ.  So that will generate a ton of comments from everyone and get everyone to eagerly anticipate the full review.  When the full review comes out it will generally start the same way ‘I know we said this was going to be good, but….’ And then they go on to usually give it one of the lower review scores of any site.  They always maintain that this is the result of there much more stringent review guidelines, but the rest of us can see that that is total bullshit sense most of the time there final review tally has almost nothing to do with the actual score.  I.E. a final tally of 9.6, 9.5, 9.8, 9.4, 9.3 will sometimes equal a 9.0 and other times equal a 10.  No the reason they do this is because all those people who egarlly were anticipating the review will comment the shit out of the article.  They will yell and swear and call them names, but in the end the IGN guys could care less, there advertising revenue goes up.

So see neither one of the two sites are really what I would call ‘honest’ reviewers, they have the art of generating hits down to a science, and that is all there really after.  Gaming is so much of a job to them at this point that this sort of lost the general charm that it has for the rest of us.  They don’t have to pay for their games; therefore it makes them a little more jaded when it comes to reviewing.  Both sites use videos from PS3 to showcase 360 games, and vice versa, sometimes even using PS3 screenshots to help pump Wii games.

Gears of War

IGN is reporting this new game: Gears of Wii

I don’t really think Gamespot is now generating more traffic than IGN, I just think IGN is generating a lot less traffic (as evidenced by all the recent layoffs).  I pretty much stopped getting my gaming news from them about a year ago, I moved on to more independent gaming blogs that are a little less soured by money.  No one in this online world is truly fair about games, I don’t make any money from this site but I would be lying if I said I didn’t hold PS3 in a higher regard then the 360(and a fuckload higher regard than the Wii).  I mean Joystiq posts about 30-40 articles a day, while you’re lucky to get 5 out of IGN.  If anything all this news really shows me is that in the great pie-chart of websites visited there would just be a ton more slices getting traffic.  I mean 5-6 years ago you pretty much had IGN, Gamespot, and 1UP, now your options are much better, and I think a lot of people are sticking with smaller sites with tighter communities and the big ones are suffering as a result.  But as the theme goes today, really the only people IGN has to blame is themselves.

Peace





Assassin’s Creed II, a game about random thugs. A Review.

14 03 2010

Here is the deal this review is going to reference the game Hitman a lot, and probably Assassin’s Creed I, so fair warning you should probably go get a little background on those first.  The references to Hitman are because that game is about an Assassin and pretty much nail it dead on, and sense AC wants to be about Assassins I feel comparisons should be made.  As always follow me on Twitter @Zackysmack if you like this, comment below if you feel the need, or email me at zackysmack@hotmail.com if you have any ideas or questions or needs for advice.

ACII Boxart

Look the only weapons you will ever need.

Assassin’s Creed II is a 3rd Person Sandbox adventure where you play Ezio, well you play as Desmond a guy in the future who is living out the memories of Ezio in the 1400’s to train himself to become an assassin.  The game follows about 20 years of Ezio’s life an introduces you to many famous historical characters and events, mostly for the purpose of weaving together a story about how most events of history occur as the result of a secret war between Templar’s and Assassin’s.  Assassins seek to free everyone from Templar control and Templar’s seek to free Assassin’s from being alive.  Your character will change over time, acquire new weapons and armor and find lots of stuff which will give you more weapons and armor or more money to buy weapons and armor.  This is widely regarded as one of the best games of last year and a vast improvement over the first version.  Well I am here to tell you that it’s all bullshit because it’s one of the worst games I played this console generation and represents a massive step back from the first game.

ACI Box Art

Look, its something better.

So let me qualify those statements in a way people can understand.  First off let’s look at what some of the general complaints were about the first AC and what the sequel did to improve upon them.  So one of the biggest complaints about the first AC was the fact that it had roughly 3 mission types and you just repeated those over and over and over again.  In ACII there are really only about 5 mission types but the difference is you’re not required to do a certain amount of them in order to get access to an assassination.  In fact there really isn’t any reason to do missions in ACII because you get fuck all for doing them, maybe a couple thousand florins but with treasures littered all over the game and your villa generating 20,000 florins every 20 minutes it kind of obsoletes the need the do missions for money.  Sense you no longer get more health for doing the side missions it really obsoletes the need to do them.  In my opinion making it so there is no benefit to doing the side missions isn’t really good game design, yeah the original made you do them but at least it gave you a useful and tangible reward for it, something Ubisoft seems to now feel is beneath them.  Indeed almost nothing in this game gives you a useful reward for doing it, which brings me to the second major issue with the first game that they tried to fix for this one; the difficulty.   In the first Assassin’s Creed everything you did you did with a general fear or death because; the enemy was just as adapt to free running as you were and could kick your ass in a 5 on 1 fight, the water meant instant death, nearly anything you did caused alarm to be raised and you had to escape by the skin of your teeth, your health regenerated but only out of combat, and if you died you went back to the central point of the city.  This resulted in the first game being brutally hard so perhaps some scaling back in that department was necessary, but ACII seems to hit the mark and then get onto a rocket ship and fly to Pluto.  This game is pathetically easy, the only real challenge is figuring out ciphers for in game video unlocks, everything else; the combat, the assassinations, the escaping, your wanted level, and getting money are all so incredibly easy.

Diving

The only real threat was water, and that's gone too.

Now I am not someone who thinks every game needs to be Contra 3 in order to be fun, but when you make a game as painfully easy as ACII it takes all the excitement out of everything you do because there is no penalty for losing.  There is no reason to play this game as an Assassin, walking right in and stabbing everything until the game tells you good job, works just as well and takes less time.  There is something like 2-3 times where the game requires you to sneak; the rest of the time it’s time murder time.  Bioshock had this same problem, where if you fail at something you just get to start over with no penalty at all and that again is really bad game design, it takes all the excitement out of it.  Here are the ways things are easy, in a nice itemized list.

The Combat:  You get dual hidden blades pretty much right away in this game, and then you figure out that if you get a counter with the hidden blade it’s an automatic kill, which pretty much takes the skill right out of combat.  The counter window is roughly 6-7 seconds and for anyone who has a functioning brain and hand that is a really long fucking time.  I found myself using the knife and sword when I was bored of the same 2 blade kill animations over and over and over again but that’s about it.  Any danger is also gone when you realize that at about memory sequence 4 you’re going to have more health then anything you’ll fight for the rest of the game, and also be able to carry enough instant health potations that you would have to fight something to the tune of 30-40 guys in order for you to ever be in any real danger.  Oh but Zack!  There are seekers with long sticks that counter every move you make, well valid point voice in my head, that’s why they invented the grab button; which works 95% of the time against them and instantly throws them to the ground where you can stab them.  Okay Zack you paragon of manliness, what about the big armored guys, you can’t block there shots.  Ah flattery will get you everywhere voice, but you’re still incorrect.  If you simply switch to unarmed you can disarm them and then grapple them and then stab them.  Or if you’re really cleaver climb on a building and throw a knife at them, there is fuck all they can do about that.

Combat?

The end result of all combat in this game, even when you lose.

The Assassinations:  Well the entire game is made up of Assassinations of course, but when you consider how easy combat it, and that most of the time you don’t have to silently kill your enemy, well it’s also really easy.    On the rare occasion that the game actually wants you to be an Assassin rather than a random thug it scripts the event so tightly that you’re given a clear path to your enemy and a way to dispose of them.  Remember how in ACI you had to then run across town and in thrilling foot chase against your pursuers, which sort of made you want to kill them as silently as you could?  Yeah not here, once you kill a target the game just advances time a few years and you’re left to imagine how cool and fun your escape must have been.  Hitman was the same way, beyond killing your Target you had to get out, so it encouraged you find ways to kill them that involved you being there as little as possible.  Yeah you wouldn’t get to hear their dialogue post death, so just have it in a letter or something, something to make it different or give you some options.

Kills

Now sir, please explain your entire evil plot to me.

Wanted Level:  You can walk into a courtyard and murder 5 guards in broad daylight and then go hide in some hay and everyone forgets, the only thing you then have to do is go tear down a poster or murder someone else and all is forgotten.  It’s just another part of this game that seemed good on paper but was really poorly implemented.  ACI was all or nothing, guards were either trying to kill you or not, which made a whole lot more sense in context of the game itself.  In this game, guards are only really bothered to chase you if they see you outright murder someone in front of them.  Sense the wanted system only comes into effect when its full blast, which just makes it identically to ACI, you have to wonder what the point of the wanted level system is.  I could see if guards were on higher alert, or people might turn you in reward or more guards protected things if the Wanted level was higher, then the system would serve a point or purpose, but as it is, it’s just something that makes more icons pop up on your mini map, when it gets close to full bribe a herald and your good again.

Not Suspicious

This action does not cause guards to be suspicious.

See that seems to be the entire design philosophy with this game, just throw more shit at it and call it improvement and innovation, instead of actually coming up with a good idea.  The free running engine is largely unchanged, and by that I mean it’s exactly the same, except now every building has about 10,000 more things for you to latch onto.  This again sounds good until you put it into practice, see Altair made free running easy because you were limited on what you could jump to, which is good considering when in full run mode he will leap off any ledge and just assume that you knew what you were doing.  Now though when you leap off an edge with Ezio, god only knows what his little Italian mind imagines you were trying to jump to and will frequently just say ‘fuck it’ and jump off the building to street level.  So for some reason Ubisoft decided to then make the camera not follow directly behind your character, it does most of the time, but when you turn one direction or another the camera wont swing around tell you have taken a few steps.  So let’s just come up with a situation that happens oh about 3 minutes when you’re playing it.  You are running away from something, or trying to get somewhere, or basically playing the game, and decide to go a different direction then the one you are currently going, so you turn and then plummet to your death.  This happens because you didn’t realize that directly to your left was the edge of building, and sense the camera won’t reorient until you are in mid air thinking about all the Italian women you didn’t fuck, you are now dead because you tried to play ACII, congratulations.

He tried to play

DON'T EVER TRY TO FUCKING FREE RUN AGAIN, DO YOU HEAR ME!

The game has a pretext of being some grand history spanning adventure with Ubisoft saying the story is what really drives there game.  I would ask to what story they are referring?  There isn’t really one here, Desmond goes back into the Animus again to learn to be an Assassin, I guess because all that stuff in the first game where he was the greatest Assassin of all time just didn’t count.  Instead he learns from a completely unlikeable cocky prick in the 1400 that has smoke bombs and a fucking gun which definitely makes him a better assassin then a guy who just used knifes.  Ezio is incredibly hard to like, he hits on everything that moves and that’s about it, he has as much depth as a puddle   Desmond himself is now just Nathan Drake on account of Nolan North only being able to play one character (See Prince of Persia for more proof of this) which I guess is better than the first game where he had the same level of personality as a single celled organism.  Kristen Bell return as your help, or something like that, except the character department did something weird and made her look like the Joker with this blood red lips that extend beyond her entire face.  For the most part though this game did what the first game does, by informing you of all the times in history where the Templar’s are involved but then giving you no context or reason for any of it.  So the whole game becomes just one giant cock-tease for an eventual sequel.  Even the ending is just more non-sensible bullshit *SPOILER WARNINGS* you don’t even kill the final boss, either of them, apparently after 25 years of murdering anyone that had anything to do with Ezio’s families death, when he finally gets the man responsible he decides to turn the other cheek, hang on what about the other 2000 bodies laid across history?  I don’t need him to be a good man in the end; it makes less sense than him just killing the man.  The other final boss in the real world is just as dumb, he brings a bunch of guys armed with sticks to fight you and your assassin friends.  Why not bring guys with guns?  I am sure you have them.  *END SPOILERS*  The net result is that you get no questions answered, and nothing positive comes from it all, you’re only left with more questions and a 10 year gap in the life of Ezio that Ubisoft just decided to leave out of the game and sell back to you later.  You get a pretty major plot twist right around DNA Sequence 9 and then the game just stops and leaps forward 10 fucking years with the Animus operator saying ‘Oh sorry can’t access those ones, don’t worry though stuff happened during that time’  when you finally do warp forward 10 years Ezio just has a beard.  They want you to buy back that chunk of story from them for 7 bucks, which if you’re claiming that you want this to be the definitive story driven game, it becomes hard to believe that when you cut out chunks and don’t let people play them tell 4-5 months after release.

Can I play?

'Hey can I play the rest of the game now?' 'No, and shut up.'

Finally the thing that bugs me the most about this game is the linearity of it all.  It’s an open world adventure, which should mean freedom to do as you wish, but this game hates the idea of you not experiences every fucking thing the programmers stuck in there.  It hates the idea of you not experiencing it in exactly the way and timeframe the games director intended, so every little last important thing you will do, everything that has anything to do with the story is scripted so heavily that you might as well be watching a cutscene.  ACI gave you options, not a lot but there were at least different ways to approach a kill, ACII doesn’t, no matter how you get to the target the same thing is going to happen, they will see you and run.  I got so sick of this shit so quick with this game, I would carefully sneak into the building and position myself to kill the target and just as I went for the kill, fucking cutscene starts up and then the target runs.  WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE POINT OF SNEAKING UP TO THEM!  8 years ago or so Hitman came out, the maps were usually pretty small with maybe 3-4 levels on them, but each level represented something like 60+ ways to kill a target; ranging from running and gunning, to lacing his daughters panties with deadly poison because you discovered that he is incestuous and frequently sniffs her underwear at night, to knocking out a guy in a penguin suit who is fucking another guy in a Penguin suit and then using that to plant a bomb on a carnival ride.  The point is that with 1/100th of the budget and a level roughly the size of your villa in ACII, Hitman offered up a real assassin experience.  You were penalized for anyone seeing you; it encouraged innovative kills and well planned escapes.  ACII does none of these things, every kills the same, you never have to escape, and it doesn’t matter who sees you because you just have to tear down a poster.

Options

Pictured Above: Options...and a better sense of humor.

Assassins Creed II isn’t really a game about assassins, its more about a guy who murders people, it’s just a revenge game like Max Payne, it just has a pretext of being something more, something more like high art, a crafted experience but it’s not, it’s not any of those things.  Maybe it’s because it’s a French company and they always like to pretend they’re changing the world with everything they do, but GTAIV did what this game wanted to do nearly 2 years ago and it did it a hell of a lot better.  You played through a man’s life and watched him grow and change, but you weren’t forced to experience that by draconian means like ACII does.  ACII still has you doing tutorials well into the 9th of 14 DNA sequences, and you don’t unlock the best gear until the last mission, it just cries out of too many people making it.  There is something to be said for a small tighter design team instead of the 200 person team this game had.  ACII is shallow at best, the story and characters are paper thin when you get down to it, the gameplay is largely unchanged from the first one, and the whole thing just presents itself as a cluttered mess that has too many ideas to every really give you any freedom.  Everyone on the team got to put one idea in and then they force you to at least use their idea once  This would be forgivable for something smaller, but this game has one of the largest budgets of the last 5 years and in my opinion it was just wasted effort.  For an overall consensus, I can’t recommend this game at all, unless you’re looking for an easy Platinum and don’t want Hannah Montana the movie the game to your games list, then get this one.  But that’s the only real reason I would suggest getting it, otherwise its just pathetically easy, presents no challenge, or indeed any new and interesting ideas at all.

Whores

I suppose it has the most innovative use of whores in recent memory.

Peace

P.S. To everyone who complained about the 100 Feathers, try finding all the 500 or so Templar flags in the first one.





It’s another shitty Nicholas Cage movie! Know1ng Review.

5 03 2010

Well first off let me say that this is not just going to be Nicholas Cage bashing for 3 pages, if I was going to do that I would review ‘Kiss of Death’ or ‘The Wicker Man’.  I will make fun of him in this movie, but I can’t really criticize him as an actor for it when he so clearly doesn’t care about the material he is in.  The simple fact is that I really enjoy Nicholas Cage as an actor; he is some epically horrible movies but always comes out smelling like roses with a big fat check.  Regardless of whether or not I like him as an actor though doesn’t mean I like the movies he is in, I still maintain that Con-Air is one of the best action films ever made, but we’re not talking about a great Nic Cage movie, were talking about ‘Know1ng’ a movie about the apocalypse as seen through the eyes of a mathematician.  A movie, that when you boil it down, has a plot device that only really destroys the entire plot.  If you like this article you can hit me up on Twitter at Zackysmack or email me comments and suggestions at Zackysmack@hotmail.com.

As always massive spoilers abound, I will warn when I can but really you should just stop reading if you don’t want the movie ruined for you.

Movie Poster

I can assume he dosen't know how to spell 'knowing' correctly.

Once upon a time Nic Cage won Oscar’s and was nominated for a lot more, because he is a really great actor.  Then he started being in massive budget action films which were really some of the high points of late 90’s early 2000’s blockbuster cinema.  He made gobs of money and on the strength of his finical advisor’s advice decided to invest this money in Castles and Ferrari’s.  Then a few years ago the stock market and specifically the housing market crashed and all the sudden his 8 Castles were worth precisely nothing and he was into the IRS for about 20 million dollars.  So then began the era of Nic Cage staring in literally any action film that people would pay him to be in.  This would have killed anyone else’s career but actually worked for Cage, his shitty generic movies continue to make obscene amounts of money which then allows him to be in good action movies from time to time (National Treasure for instance).  The reason, as best I can tell, is that his bad movies are so undeniably bad that people are okay with it, in a sort of ‘Chuck Norris’ effect.  Take John Travolta for instance, he was in one bad movie ‘Battlefield Earth’ and his career never recovered, but in the last 4 years or so Nic Cage has been in ‘Bangkok Dangerous’, ‘Next’, Know1ng’, ‘The Wicker Man’ and finally ‘Ghost Rider’.  But for some reason each of those movies made gobs of money despite people knowing they were probably going to be ten shades of shit.  Now recently he produced the Oscar wining ‘The Wrestler’ one of my personal favorite films ever, and is getting rave reviews for ‘Bad Lieutenant’ and both of those movies made as much money as a pregnant hooker.  So it stands to reason he has worked off most of his debt and go back to being a great actor again, most are happy, I am somewhat sad, I will look fondly back on this era of mediocrity as producing some really crap-tacular and quotable movies.  I do take comfort in knowing that some gloriously horrible ones produced during this time are still on their way to theaters, most importantly is ‘Season of the Witch’.

Still Shot

Don't do it Nic! The movie wont be that ba....ha ha just kidding stab yourself.

In all honesty my favorite Nic Cage role of the last 5 years was his 5 second turn as Fu-Man-Cu in ‘Grindhouse’ so that should give you an idea of the kinds of roles I really appreciate.

Fu-Man-Cage

Oscar for 'Leaving Las Vegas' fuck that, penacle of his career right here.

Now that we understand why Nic Cage made this movie, it might be a little easier to grasp why his performance shows his utter lack of giving a shit about this movie or anything going on in it.  So where to begin with this movie, well how about the plot?  So in 1959 a small school puts together a time capsule, one creepy girl who hears voices writes down a shitload of numbers on a piece of paper.  50 years later they crack that bitch open and Nic Cages son gets the numbers page and brings it home.  Oh and he also hears the same voices that the little girl did.  Cage who is depressed because his wife died…I think, or she was killed, they never really feel the need to make the clear, anyways he is up all night drinking and decided to decode the page of numbers.  Presumably because he is a mathematician and that’s just how mathematicians relax at night, which is probably why I changed majors in college, he then randomly picks up a sequence of numbers from the page and ‘Google’s’ it.  The first thing that pops up is some magical website that has an exact to the person death toll for the 9/11 attacks, which directly corresponds to the numbers on the page.  He then decodes the rest of it and discovers that every major catastrophe for the last 50 years is on there, including a few numbers that haven’t happened yet.  Now Nic is in a race against time to figure out who wrote this and why, before the page runs out of numbers.  Oh yeah and there are weird pale people in trench coats that only his son can see.

Whisper Dude

Fighting with Cage to be the most bland character in the movie.

As far as Sci-fi plots go it’s actually a pretty solid idea, in theory, but it quickly falls apart when everyone else on earth brushes it off as Nic’s crazy depressed ramblings and then the end happens and the entire purpose of the page is negated.  The concept of everything being preordained by some other worldly force is nothing really new, and it seems like director Alex Proyas new this, because he decided to recycle most of the ideas for it from his other movies about your actions being preordained by a other worldly force.  If you ever saw ‘Dark City’ then the pale trench coat guys are going to seem pretty familiar, except now there slightly more bland an uninteresting.  Much like Cage, I really like Proyas, I have blu-ray’s of every other movie he has done, which again puts me in an awkward spot of why don’t I like this movie?  Best I can I reason is that both Proyas and Cage needed money so they both could have cared less about the final product.  Of course in the first of a few positive things I have to say about it, Proyas brings a great visual style to the film like he always done, and the special effects are actually pretty comparable to most films of its time.  You really get a foreboding sense during most scenes; these is aided by the fact that the entire movie takes place at night, save a few early scenes, if you watch it and keep track of times in your head you’ll find that as far as this movie is concerned Cage’s character didn’t sleep for roughly 9 days.  But overall the visual aspect of the movie is rock solid, I was actually pretty impressed with the disaster sequences, and in a few moments I felt myself being generally creeped out by what I saw.

Earth

Like when he gazes at Earth with almost sexual glee.

Next up the actors; Nic Cage as I have said is wooden in this movie, his character wildly switches between being logical and intelligent to being batshit bonkers and screaming at people for no reason.  Is he believable as a hot shot mathematician, again no not really he looks too cool and too young to be any of these things.  Chandler Canterbury is Caleb who is the son, okay well here comes a bit of a rant on why child actors shouldn’t be in movies.  See all the time directors want emotional impact so they have children in peril, and rarely does it work out, because kids can’t act.  It’s a simple fact of life, they lack any of necessary training of life experiences to show genuine emotion in most situations.  *Spoilers From Now On!*  So about half way into this movie the Trench Coat brigade enter Nic’s house and show his son a horrible vision of the entire world engulfed in flame, he watches as furry woodland creatures run screaming from the woods and collapse into balls of fire and ash.  From the look on Caleb’s face you would have thought he was watching spongebob, he cracks an odd smile and shows all the intensity of a Microsoft Spreadsheet.  The other little girl in the movie is the same way, when her Mom gets hit by a goddamn truck she shows mild annoyance.  The thing is that when these actors are looking at these things happening, there actually just staring at a green screen and are told to react accordingly, but kids don’t know how to do that they don’t know how to play off a green screen.  It’s basically what happened in all the new Star Wars movies.  The only other character is Rose Byrne who is the love interest/other kids mom/unreasonable bitch.  Her character makes the least sense of anyone or anything, Nic Cage comes to her with his theory which she obviously doesn’t believe, then he drives home and she is waiting from him and says that she now does believe it..okay whatever let’s roll with it.  Now later on when Cage informs her that the only way to save themselves is to go to the location put on the sheet of numbers, she tells him that’s crazy and not to believe it and then steals the kids and runs off to the mountains.  Hang on a second; literally 6 hours earlier she was ready to break into M.I.T. to tell everyone to listen to the number sheet, what the fuck happened between then and now?

Knowing Scene

Besides making her walk through a creepy alien house, of course.

This is where I get into my major gripes with the film, first off characters wild switches between sane and insane is a little jarring from time to time.  Second off at the end of the movie when it’s determined that the sun is going to shoot a 2 billion degree solar flare at earth, the scientists brilliant fucking idea is to hide in a cave.  They even say ‘The atmosphere is going to be incinerated by the flare, we had better get underground’ what the fuck!?!  Granted I am not a scientist, but I am pretty sure that if the dome that is holding all the air in our planet and stopping the suns radiation from instantly frying every living thing on this rock were to suddenly disappear, it wouldn’t really matter if we were underground a few feet, there would be no air, ever.  Basically the movie counts on you having never seen or heard of the planet Mercury.  Finally the biggest issue I had with it, the number sheet.  See that’s the entire plot device, it’s what makes the movie go forward, but in reality it doesn’t help or solve any problems.  So Cage figures out that the list predicts future events, but then fate kicks him in the balls and he learns that he can’t stop what is going to happen, so then the last thing on the sheet is coordinates of their saving.  So he races to that location at the end of the movie where his son and his friend were taken by the Pale people, only to discover that only those who could hear the Pale people’s voices in their head are deemed to be suitable to live on another world.  So the Pale people take them to their alien spaceship and fly them off earth, oh yeah the Pale folks are energy based aliens in case it wasn’t enough like Dark City yet.  That’s why they kept trying to take Cages kids for the whole movie, so it begs the question, if no matter what Cage couldn’t go up onto the ship, and he couldn’t do anything to stop what was coming then why give him the sheet with numbers on it?  The Pale people were just going to take the kids anyways, so all they really did was just inform him that he had two days to live and could do nothing about it.  So it’s a race of aliens that finds planets doomed to be destroyed and then hatches elaborate plots to be jerks to them in the future?

Numbers

Hmm...The numbers seem to say 'Ha ha fuck you earthlings'

In the end what you have is a standard disaster film that was director by a very strange Egyptian gentleman who decided to make it really about aliens and shit.  So they then had to rework the script to fit it in however they could and it just kind of left more plots holes then the entire ‘Lost’ television series.  If you like Nic Cage movies, you probably won’t like this because it doesn’t have any heavy acting for the serious crowd, and for the fans of the shitty Nic Cage movies there are no ridiculous action moments or even any real action at all.  If you like Alex Proyas then go watch Dark City or The Crow, there both miles better than this.  If you like disaster movies you won’t like this because we can’t stop it and everyone dies, and the entire future of our civilization is left to a mentally challenged girl and a deaf kid alone on an alien world.

Rock ON!

Rock on humanity, rock on.

Peace.