Dead Space vs. Resident Evil: A Review.

29 04 2010

Hey everyone time for another review, and for this one I put on my time traveling hat and went all the way back to 2008 to find a true gem of original IP’s this generation; Dead Space.  Enjoy the review, and by all means follow me on twitter @zackysmack for up to the minute humors antic dotes about my life and listings for new articles, or email me questions, comments, concerns, and anything else ya got to zackysmack@hotmail.com.  Also be sure to download my Podcast off iTunes.  Happy reading.

Box Art

Yeah...it's alright.

Dead Space is a 2008 game developed by EA Redwood Shores for release in October of that year on the PC, 360 and PS3.  It is of course a survival horror title akin to Resident Evil games, specifically the 4th entry.  In it you play Isaac Clarke a deep space engineer off to the Ishimura with your team to fix a damaged communication array, naturally everything goes to hell the second you arrive and are attacked and separated.  From then on it’s up to Isaac to brave through hordes of enemies to repair the ship and hopefully find a way to save the day.  The style is 3rd person action, with a tight over the shoulder camera and an emphasis on strategic dismemberment as well as zero gravity game play.

Okay so this game puts me in a tough spot because it’s nearly 2 years old now, which might not seem like much to some.  But in this world of fancy ass next gen consoles 2 years is a fucking lifetime, especially considering this game was built on a heavily modified version of the Godfather engine, which is a open world engine designed for the PS2.  So keeping that in mind this motherfucker is impressive as can be, but once you get past that technical marvel you find a lot wrong with this title most of which can be chalked right back up to the now 6 year old engine it was built on.  Also on it being an early title to go multi-console and the EA team generally has no experience with this sort of thing.  So I will try to keep that all in mind when throwing out criticisms here.

Sense inevitably all survival horror games pretty much just get judged on how good they are in comparison to RE4, or as the box would say 4RE, in much the same way every MMO gets judged based on WOW, I suppose the fairest way to do this would be to compare the two and see what happens.

Head Shot

Dead Space takes it on Visuals.

Okay right off the bat Dead Space gets about a billion points in its favor for never putting you in totally unfair situations like RE loves to fucking do.  RE frequently put you in situations where you couldn’t win, you basically just had to waste ammo for 10 minutes and then move on, or the amount of variety of enemies it spawned seemed scientifically designed to kill you the first time until you figured out a better way.  Dead Space never falls into this trap, preferring to make the game difficult by using more traditional means, like giving you say 110% of what you could handle with ease.  So for me on Medium the first time I never really felt like I was totally screwed in most combat situations, they were tense but I felt like I could win them.

In fact basically for the whole of combat Dead Space blows RE right out of the water.  RE had you fight hordes of slow moving zombies where you could pretty much just walk backwords with a pistol and headshot them all to death, Dead Space gets around this by allowing the enemies to jump into the ceiling and wall vents and then pop out behind you, so basically you are never safe.  The enemy types are varied and interesting, with only 1 that I would call overwhelmingly cheap, that one being a normal enemy that when you kill explodes into 10 smaller enemies no matter how you kill it.  Essentially though RE was all about the head shot, it was your all purpose zombie slaughter spot, Dead Space introduces ‘Strategic Dismemberment’ which I thought was just brilliant.  So most enemies pretty much shrug off shots to the chest, instead to kill them you have to dismember them via the arms and legs.  Cut off enough body parts and they go down and die, this is good for 2 reasons, 1 it’s really fucking cool, and 2 Clarke is an engineer not a battle hardened soldier, his weapons are simple cutting tools which complements the game play.  This makes it somewhat believable that this engineer could live through this situation.

Dead Space Engineer

Pictured Above: A normal engineer.

All in all the dismemberment is a really great way to get players thinking outside their normal shoot box, you have to play a little different which I like.  It’s also funny as fuck when you use statis to slow down an enemy and then hack of his legs in mid air so he kind of floats around the level this screaming bleeding torso.

Strength of main character has to go back to RE though, for all of RE’s embarrassing writing and god awful overall story, at least RE’s main character talks and is alive.  Dead Space for some reason made Isaac a mute, Gordon Freeman style.  I get that Redwood wanted emersion with this game, hence there is no HUD, no pausing to go to your menu, nothing like that at all.  His health bar is neatly displayed as this blue bar attached to his spin, and all communication and ammo counters are shown as little holograms projected in front of him.  The camera is tighter to his shoulder then is normal, so overall you’re meant to feel like Isaac, in theory anyways.  In reality all it really did was make the situation more unbelievable to me.  If someone saw and had to do half the shit Isaac does in this game he would have been screaming and yelling his head off.  There is a subplot where your girlfriend or wife or former wife is onboard the Ishimura somewhere and you’re trying to find her.  Everyone acts like you are super concerned for her and loves her, but you wouldn’t know really because Isaac never says or reacts at all to her.  By the end of the game you still know nothing more about her than you did at the start, and that is that everyone seems to know that you knew each other at some point in the past and now apparently love each other, but sorry EA if you want me to give a shit then you’re going to have to at least have the central character emote to her in the slightest of ways.

Emotion

Clarke facial expression 1 of 1.

A lot of people didn’t like Dead Space’s ending, and I will avoid spoilers here by not giving away what happens at the end but merely say that it more or less leaves the game open.  Which RE didn’t really do hence RE5’s completely different characters, plot and setting.  However bear in mind what Dead Space is trying to do; Dead Space wants to be a Hollywood horror movie akin to Event Horizon and Aliens, it has all the trademarks; scary aliens, mysterious plot, supporting characters who motivations are suspicious, evil scientists,  and tons of dark corridors with flashing lights.  So think back to all those movies like that and remember how they all end?  With a cliffhanger; it’s not EA wanting sequels (although they do), it’s the game trying to fit into the genre as much as possible, sense the late 70’s horror movies have had trick endings, it’s just the way things are done.   So in the end I give this one to Dead Space for actually giving us an interesting ending, rather than RE4 which basically gave us a sickeningly simple ending.

Ending

The ending is sickening but in a different way.

Gameplay is a clear win for Dead Space, even though both of them have the same basic gameplay, over the shoulder shooting with an upgrade system and item system, Dead Space does some other really neat things to give it the advantage.  Its standard corridor shooting is living up with interesting little bouts of Zero Gravity fighting and in a couple of really intense moments, fighting with no oxygen.  So first off the Strategic Dismemberment is a big gameplay change and really cool, but next up you have the Zero-G fighting.  Now at certain points the gravity isn’t there but your boots are magnetized so you can basically walk on any surface in the level.  This is cool and intense because now enemies could jump at you from any location in the level, and once there dead they sort of just float around in the environment.  This all really comes together in one boss fight inside a giant tube that has you literally running in circles around the environment.  The mechanic has two issues though, 1 you can’t look up so it’s impossible to see enemies crawling around above your head.  2 if the room is a square you can’t walk from one plane to another you have to jump which means if you’re running and gunning you could hit a wall, then have to back up, then turn around and then jump all while being stabbed and shot.

My favorite mechanic and the most criminally underused are the zero-oxygen levels.  From time to time when walking down a corridor an asteroid will rip out a chunk of the wall and cause all the oxygen to leave into the vacuum of space, thankfully Isaac’s suit can support life in dead space….not really sure how, it just does.  Anyways a hell of a lot of thought went into this mechanic which is used something like 5 times in the game.  First off, there is no sound sense there wouldn’t be, which is awesome because anything could be happening behind you and you would never know tell it was stabbing you through the penis.  Second off certain weapons don’t work, like the flamethrower won’t fire when in these situations because there is no air of course, both of these really help to generate a sense of fear.

Zero-G

Which way is up? Guess.

Okay complaint time, this is the one thing that really kind of breaks the experience for me, this game has about 10 guns all which a wide variety of upgrades and abilities.  But the first thing you get is the Plasma Cutter and honestly you can beat the entire game with just that gun, you never need to acquire or use another weapon for the rest of the fucking game.  This means you’re going to be rolling in upgrade parts and ammo, and be able to full upgrade your entire suit and gun before you get half way into the game.  I had this happen to me on my first play though on hard mode.  Also there is this really thinly veiled attack on Scientology in the game, which isn’t really game breaking or anything, it’s just weird that it was added in.  There is a religion practiced by most people in the games universe that was written by a sci-fi writer and the only way to advance in the religion is to donate money.  They’re the ones searching for the marker which is the thing that makes…..uh well that part sort of up in the air, but it’s probably evil.

So in the end Resident Evil may be the father of the survival horror genre but Dead Space currently has the crown.  It’s got tons more atmosphere, its loads scarier, the characters actually fit the setting in a way that generates fear, and the story makes sense which is a vast improvement.  Overall you feel way more immersed in Dead Space which in the end is what really helps to generate fear.  The problem of course is that neither of these games are really Survival Horror, Siren Blood Curse and Fatal Frame are survival horror because you are totally helpless.  If you try to fight something you lose, because imagine yourself fighting a horrible monster from space, it probably wouldn’t go well would it?  In these games you’re an unstoppable killing machine who mows down otherworld mutants like a blowtorch through butter.   So there is my primary problem, for all these games talk about fear and terror and horror it all falls apart the second you realize you are more powerful then what you’re fighting, it’s hard to be scared of something you can easily kill.  So all in all Dead Space is the best action horror game I have ever played, and it is scary it’s just not horrifying.

Scary Stuff

Scary yes, but not really horrifying

Peace





We Got a Show!

27 04 2010

Hey everybody just a quick update on what I have been doing here.  I just finished recording and posting up my first official podcast.  You can download or listen to ‘The Zacky Knows It All Show: Pilot’ here http://zackysmack.podbean.com/feed/  Please comment if you like it and pass it along to your friends.  If anyone has suggestions for a show logo or wants to submit one then please feel free to do so, I might even send you some sort of prize if your submission is accepted.  Of course email me at zackysmack@hotmail.com or follow me on Twitter @zackysmack for future updates.  Enjoy the show!  I will do another update once iTunes posts the show up so you can just setup your downloads from there.

Peace





RPG Weekly by Velius

22 04 2010

Hey folkes, so I am sort of back.   Getting the apartment all sorted out which involves moving furniture, arguing with Charter, some wiring improvements to the place, and getting working appliances.  So I haven’t quite finished my batch of articles, instead opting to drive back and forth to Home Depot every 5 minutes.  But good news; part time bondage enthusiast and full time RPG enthusiast Velius is perhaps starting a weekly feature here.  This will be sort of his opinions on RPG’s which can be retro or new, western or ‘J’, you never know what he will decide to write about.  So enjoy RPG weekly.  As always follow me on Twitter @Zackysmack or email me at zackysmack@hotmail.com with any questions or comments you may have, hell if you want to submit an article for here I will take it.  Otherwise enjoy the article.

I play a lot of RPGs; in fact I bet out of all the genres, I have probably a 5 to 1 of RPGs to every other genre. Through my many, many RPGs I have played through I of course have come up with opinions, thoughts and all around things to talk about with them. I felt the need to share, so I’m sharing.

Dungeon Crawling is defined as: ‘a type of scenario in fantasy role-playing games in which heroes navigate a labyrinthine environment, battling various monsters and looting any treasure they may find.’ according to Wikipedia.  It’s practically a swear word in reference to being on the back of the box, the only worse word is ‘rogue-like’ which is so ubiquitous with hardcore I bet it’s even in thesaurus.com. But Dungeon Crawling, it’s a scary damn word. It means lots of grinding, little story, and a ton of not fun to a lot of people. Recently, a lot of RPGs have gone back to this sub-genre of RPGs, but they all have added their own little twist to mask the grind.

Demon’s Souls

I fricking love this game, with good reason too. What Demon’s Souls does is it takes the idea of a rogue-like, (the ultra end hardcore of dungeon crawling) looks at it and throws away all the parts that are not fun. Hmm, I die and start over with nothing? Maybe it would be cool if I am given a chance to regain my progress, done. Detached from the experience through a bad interface? How about total damn immersion, boom done.

Tower Knight

Holy shit, he is as big as a tower.

Demon’s Souls delivers a scary world where you have to progress through a challenging encounters and because of the immersion and the penalty (but not game over) for dying you have a constant edge of your seat without breaking into frustration (Unless of course your fighting Flame Lurker, then you are almost expected to break something). This allows you to ignore the bleak story-less atmosphere and just have pure enjoyment.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

SMT has practically redefined dungeon crawling from the get-go.  Their way of making dungeon crawling exciting is veiled in mystery.  How is their way of going through a dungeon and encountering enemy after enemy differ from every other dungeon crawler?  Well because they craft the whole experience into the dungeon, it isn’t just the battle, or the exploration, or the awesome demon fusion system.  It’s the fact I need to explore this dungeon to find battles, to befriend demons, and to fuse them to become better demons, so I won’t get my ass kicked in battle (which happens quite a bit actually).

Shin Megami Tensei

Actually pretty hardcore

This whole idea behind team building is amplified by SMT’s brand of elemental weaknesses, which likens finding the weakness of each enemy to the whole battle.  Some battles can only be won if you can get the damage boost from hitting a weak spot, and with only 4 slots on the party and demons constantly falling under the experience curve, you are constantly redefining your team.  That drives the dungeon crawling and forces you to take it more seriously than the average grind.

Achievement system

Did I mention is has an epic in game achievement system?

Dark Cloud 2

Dark Cloud 2 is one of my favorite games, ever.  It’s also entirely a dungeon crawler.  Why is Dark Cloud 2 so fun? Well it’s because they develop the whole dungeon crawling into this over arching item and geo placement system.  Finding orbs in the dungeons powers the most ridiculous (and rewarding) item fusion systems made to date.  Finding supplies for the Georama system allows you to make a town that fits the criteria set to SAVE THE FUTURE.  Add in that after you clear a dungeon you can play golf in the dungeon and win damn prizes for doing so; my god this game is fun, I am going to play it tonight in fact.

Dark Cloud

Thought I was joking?

So, there we have it. Dungeon crawling is a scary word, but all it takes is innovation and having the player invested in the dungeon beyond just ‘More Exp!!!!!!’ to really have a great innovative game made upon the absolutely oldest RPG sub genre ever.

For a complete list of Dungeon Crawlers see this page:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeon_crawl





Where the hell have I been?

19 04 2010

Hey everyone, this isn’t really an article or even that funny.   Sense with my busy schedule sometimes I can not do updates for weeks at a time, I figured it would be a good idea to inform everyone that I haven’t lost interest or quit on the blog or anything like that.  In fact it’s quite the opposite, I have reviews of Dead Space, Killzone Liberation, and the movie Rambo incoming, as well as E3 predictions.  But for the next week or so I will be in the process of moving to the Twin Cities so I will not be able to update quite like I wanted too.  But later this week or early next week expect a bevy of new and interesting content to be posted up.  So if your knew to the site or a returning fan just bear with me tell this is all taken care of, thanks for the loyalty and support.  Follow me on twitter @Zackysmack if you want to read funny antic dotes about the move, or just email me questions and concerns at zackysmack@hotmail.com.  I leave you with a few funny vids to take the edge off while you wait.

Peace





Top 5 Actors who ruin movies for me.

13 04 2010
Batman and Robin

Sort of like what you feel when you see this poster.

So as a movie fan I often sit down to watch a movie all wide eyed and excited for it only to then find out that Fucky McFuckface or Plotty McPlottwist is in it and the rest of the movie might as well be null and void.  This can come down to a few different things, either the actor is just awful overall, or was in things so awful that like a George Lucas fan you’re just not ready to forgive him yet, and other times there good actors it’s just that they only play one part and are now more or less walking movie spoilers with soothing Scottish accents.  So here is my list of the top 5 actors who basically ruin a film for me by simply having their name in the opening credits.  As always you can follow me on Twitter @zackysmack or feel free to email me questions comments idea or anything really I even take spam, so hit me up at zackysmack@hotmail.com.

Number 5, Ewan McGregor.

Kilt McGregor

Or as he is known in Scotland, Kilt McGregor

I know what you’re thinking, I made a George Lucas joke earlier and now I am just going to make fun of people in Star Wars movies for the rest of the article, but that is just not true.  Liam Neeson was in Star Wars and I would let him have his way with me if he asked despite and possibly because of the fact that he has a 12 foot penis.  No my relationship with Ewan has been bad for a long time now, with the possible exception of Trainspotting and Big Fish.  Otherwise pretty much everything I have seen him in has caused me to at least once question what the fuck he is doing.  First off he is Scottish, and although I have no direct issue with Scotts, let me say that there accents tend to sound like someone is douching your ear while they try to talk.  So often they try to compensate for this by doing English or American accents, and boy does Ewan fucking fit into that category.

Almost every movie he is in he attempts to be as either American or English as possible, most of the time even when the script doesn’t call for it.  Star Wars he tried to sound like Alec Guiness, I don’t know why, no one else in the movie was trying to do their characters justice, and indeed the rest of Ewan’s performance is as far gone from Alec as possible.  The Island is another great example, where one of the two characters he played had an American accent, the other (who might I add was a blank slate clone for the first) had a Scottish accent…..what?  I had to re-read my own fucking sentence on that one, why would the clone have a Scottish accent; Scotland doesn’t even exist in the world he comes from.  Black Hawk Down he does a laughable Southern accent that sounds about as much like a Southerner as Keanu Reeves sounded English in Dracula (Whoa now look here sir!).  The common thread in all these films is that in none of them did they ever actually call for the character to have an accent like that, Star Wars especially, I mean what the fuck, is there is an England in a galaxy far far away?  He has this weird thing where he is only acting if he is taking the audience right out of the movie with a shitty voice.

Floating head

Altough it must be distracting to have Pierce Brosnan's head following you around.

Second offense is he insists on being naked all the time in what can only be deemed the Milla Jovovich effect.  Pick a movie he is starting in, and then think real hard is there at some point in that movie a totally unnecessary bath or shower scene?  Yes of course there is, because Ewan is one cocky fuck who loves to have nothing on.  The Island, Trainspotting, Ghost Writer, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Young Adam, Emma, and Deception to name a few, as you can tell plenty of penis related research went into this article(not gay).  When asked about it Ewan said ‘I love being naked, it’s for the sisters’ Shit I don’t even know how to make fun of that.  The director says ‘Okay Ewan get up an answer the door’ and Ewan replies ‘What if I got up with no clothes on?’  ‘…..okay that could be ni’  ‘Also what if you had a trailing shot of a camera following at ass level behind me’  ‘no….no that would be weird’.  It’s another thing that take me out of it, I mean Ghost Writer was a tense suspense thriller and I pretty much just sat there wondering when I was going to be subjected to his naked ass, 43:23 in case you were wondering, then I could settle in and just be pissed about his accent.

Ewan Nude

Pictured above: Penis related research.

This may sound like small quips and if you have only seen one or two of his movies then it probably wouldn’t bother you, but when you’ve seen 15-20 it starts to get on your nerves.  That’s when you get fed up with someone consistently making the same bullshit mistakes for the better part of a 20 year career.  Fuck it, he was in ‘Angles and Demons’ and then ‘Men Who Stare at Goats’ back to back and both those movies made me want to stick a pick axe up my nose.

Number 4, Hayden Christensen

Hayden

Hayden Christensen facial expression 1, of 1.

Hey what’s a cool idea for a movie?  How about a guy who can teleport, but instead of using the power for good he just becomes a total and complete jackass and robs people and lies to women to sleep with them.  But then that catches up with him when a blonde Samuel L. Jackson hunts him down using his girlfriend as leverage in part of an ancient war between Teleporters and humans.  Does that sound like a pretty good idea for a movie?  How do you ruin it?  Cast Hayden Christensen, you get the equivalent of a concrete brick with none of the stunning personality traits.  This sucks for me because he is a fellow Canadian, and now you really think I am just here to make fun of people in Star Wars, well in this case it’s more or less true.  See he fits into the category of actors who I am just not ready to forgive for previous transgressions, and he is total shit.

Hayden and Rachel

This guy sucks and he still gets Rachel Bilson and a Ferrari, where is justice?

To me he is forever going to be remembered as the guy that murdered Anakin Skywalker and replaced him with some shitty fucking emo man child.  Just like Mark Hamil had to become a voice actor and math teacher to get away from Luke, Hayden is going to have to do a lot more than cut his hair in order for me to not remember some of the most painfully awkward scene’s of dialogue in the history of cinema.  I have seen porn with more natural, flowing, and realistic dialogue than Hayden and Natalie Portman had in Star Wars.  Now that’s partially because Natalie is a raging bitch who hated Hayden and more or less refused to act with him in any of their scenes, but some of the blame has to fall on Hayden too.  His line delivery is like the musical guest on Saturday Night Live who is forced to be in one sketch per episode.

Okay so the Star Wars movies sucked a rusty fire hydrant and hopefully when Lucas dies they’ll just destroy the prints and pretend they never happened, like the Nazi’s tried to do.  Then along came Jumper, which was his first attempt at real high action sense Star Wars and good god was that total shit.  Well actually let me clarify, the movie itself is not half bad, special effects are great and the action scenes are well done, more like the first Bourne movie, but an article on why the first Bourne movie is about 80 bazillion times better than before Paul Greengrass strapped a camera to slinky and called it action, is for another time.  Hayden is just sooooooo bad it’s hard to watch, oh god is he bad, he is still just looking sad the entire time even when he is happy and blank facedly stares at people when saying anything.  So basically Hayden started off at the low point of his career and now has to crawl back to prominence; that is if any pricks like me will ever let him forget:

Never forget

George Lucas will also not let us forget.

‘Padme?  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO’

Number 3, Jude Law

Jude Law

Apparently when not filming he enjoys looking like a psychotic neo-nazi.

Zack what are you talking about?  Jude Law is fantastic, he has been in some of your personal favorite movies, and has shown a lot of versatility in his acting over the years.  Fuck you voice in my head this is my article and I don’t need you second guessing me all the time.  First off at this point you might be thinking that I just hate foreigners, in fact it’s the opposite.  See there are just far less American born actors who are in enough good movies that I can make fun of them for the bad ones.  So why when I see Jude Law is in something do I then know it’s going to be far less enjoyable for me?

Okay well first impressions can mean a lot and the first movie I ever witnessed him in was ‘Gattaca’ oh god I nearly threw up just thinking about that one.  Gattaca is one of those rare movies where every single character is drastically miscast and the story is so bad it would have been better suited to just show random images for an hour and a half and at least the art crowd would have gotten something out of it.  I remember thinking ‘why the hell is that crippled guy so fucking smug’.  That right there is pretty much what to me defines Jude Law’s entire career.  General Smugness, it’s just so irritating, and with every successive movie all that has happened is that he has gotten smugger and smugger at an exponential rate, it’s at the point now where I just want to reach into the screen and beat him to death with his own smile.  Two films that I excuse him for are ‘Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow’ for being the best Star Wars movie made in the last 20 years, and ‘Sherlock Holmes’ because he was significantly less smug than normal.

Watson

Still pretty fucking smug though.

This is the kind of guy that could be caught getting a blowjob for a gay prostitute while holding his twin 1 year old daughters and he would just turn around and flash his ridiculously white teeth and make some funny quip.  From that we move to eXistenZ which trying to understand is like trying to open solid titanium box by smashing your face into it.  Then we have Enemy at the Gates and Road to Perdition where he plays in order a peasant Russian sniper who crawls around in dirt the whole movie and never showers, yet looks impossibly smug and pretty and then a bald and evil assassin in Road to Predition that is still to hell and gone the best looking person in the movie.  I’m not saying I am jealous or anything, but I am saying that he plays gruff tough guys all the time but still looks like he just got done banging your mom when he smiles at you and winks.  It’s annoying and it takes you right out of the movie, at least it does for me, Repo Men is a great example.  In that film he is bulked up big time but you still can’t see past his general level of attractiveness.

Hilary Swank is to fucking ugly and unlikeable to be in cute Romantic movies, so instead she plays men or women who might as well be men.  Jude Law is to fucking cute and smug to play tough guys, but he doesn’t seem to realize or acknowledge this fact.

Swank

Is it a man or a woman? You tell me America.

Number 2, Brian Cox

Brian Cox

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA Brian Cox you stud.

*Spoiler Alerts for 10 year old movies* Hey remember the ‘Bourne Supremacy’ where we find out that Brain Cox’s character is in fact working for the other side?  Remember ‘The Ring’ where we find out that it was Brian Cox that murdered his daughter and buried her in the well?  Remember in X2 where Brian Cox turns out to be the real evil badguy?  Remember in Troy where we find out that Agamemnon actually has no honor and stabs the king in the back?  Getting the picture here?  *End Spoilers* Brian Cox is evil, or shall I say is always playing the evil guy, at least in the last 15 years or so.  Another proud Scott’s man I am feeling the need to pick on here, but unlike Ewan he has a great fake accent, and shit I can’t remember the last time he played an actual Scottsman….Rob Roy he was definitely Scottish in that one, but that’s like saying Memoirs of a Geisha starred some Asian’s.

Geisha

'Some' Asians.

Okay so about 30 minutes into ‘The Ring’ me and my dad looked at each and said ‘Well Brian Cox is in it, so he is probably the villain eh?’ guess what?  Fucking villain.  That’s what ‘Ruining movies’ means as far as Cox goes, if it was made sense 2000 and his name is in the credits in a starring role, I can automatically assume he is going to stab someone in the back.  He might as well wear a t-shirt that says ‘I will turn evil at precisely 5/8th of the way into this film.’  This ruined countless thrillers for me over the past few years and will most likely continue to ruin films well into the future.  The problem is that now when I watch older Cox favorites like ‘Desperate Measures’ I can’t help but have this nagging feeling he is going to turn evil, but see that’s pre 2000 when he typically played benevolent, albeit grizzled, old guys.  So he is sort of posthumously ruining movies for me too.

Super Troopers

Although its not possible to ruin Super Troopers.

It’s not like he can go against type here either, you cast him as like the nice old uncle or your dad or something and it just won’t feel right.  Anthony Hopkins plays a great villain, we all know that so we cast him as the villain, Brian Cox plays a great villain too so guess what?  Fucking villain.  It’s simple math really, people see him and go ‘Oh it’s that asshole from the Bourne movies’ or ‘it’s that asshole from the X-Men movies’ and are then far more likely to spend money to see him be maniacal again.  So I don’t blame him or anything, I love his evilness quotient, but please stop making him the character that turns coat because that is telegraphed the second the movie starts, just make him the straight villain for once.  You want to trick people make him a villain who turns good, or a guy who is suspiciously evil but in fact it’s really Jude Law or something, that would throw me for a loop and you’re movie might make my Twitter feed where literally 5’s of people, and 20’s of pornbot’s, would see it.

Even his voice is recognized as evil; video games, however, do the smart thing and just cast him as the straight villain.  Let me tell you what Manhunt was an infinitely better game because I heard Brian Cox’s soothing voice instructing me to shove jagged pieces of glass into people’s eye balls while he masturbated.  Anyone else and that might have just been viewed as disgusting filth.  Hell in the Killzone series he plays fucking British Space Hitler…..from space.

Space Hitler

British Space Hitler, currently residing in Space.

Number 1, Danny Huston

Danny Boy

Oh yeah he looks like a guy you can trust.

So when I wrote this I didn’t have any pictures in sense those don’t get added tell later but I can assume above this sentence there will be some picture of Danny Huston smirking like he is the devil and you just signed your soul over to him for a bag of peanuts.  At which point you will say, ‘Oh that guy!’ not many people know Danny Huston by name, his star is rapidly rising however on the back of some truly villainous roles.  Okay at this point I will say that Danny Huston is from America so ha #1 was not a foreigner so you can stop trying to firebomb my house.  Then I will follow that up by saying the reason Danny ruins movies for me is roughly the same reason as Brian Cox, he is always the plot twist guy who turns out to be evil.  But whereas Brian Cox had a good 20 years of movies before he became the premier asshole where he was generally a pretty nice guy, and he was in Super Troopers, Danny Huston has been in about 40 things, 20 of which were starring roles and 20 of which he plays the guy who turns coat.  I am not kidding; even in light hearted Simon Pegg comedies he is the nice guy who turns out to be a raging dick.

Danny and Kirsten

He is txting her about how he is going to steal Simon's soul later.

It’s ridiculous, same problem as before, I was enjoying ‘The Constant Gardener’ a few nights back and at one point my Dad asked me if I thought Danny’s character murdered someone.  To which I replied ‘Of course he did, he’s Danny Huston’ I was proven correct in the movies shocking plot twist about an hour and a half in.  He is just so incredibly typecast at this point, that regardless of whether it’s a Superhero movie, comedy, espionage thriller, revenge movie, or vampire movie, Danny is your go to villain.  It might be because he honestly looks like a personification of untrustworthy.  I mean he generally is capable of looking at you with a smile and having that smile be so completely unnerving that you want to turn the movie off.  He is kind of what I envision the devil looking like to be honest.  Now this all is probably due to the fact that he is the son of legendary Actor/Director John Huston, who incidentally does not ruin movies, and probably had one of the best childhoods ever experienced sense a 16 year old Alexander the Great had already conquered the world and produced like 40 children.  John most likely taught him how to act, and Danny took those lessons to heart, also having his dad’s fucking badass voice doesn’t hurt either.

(John Huston can read J.R.R. Tolkien to me any day of the week)

So the reason I put him ahead of Cox is he has literally no filmography to show anything other than ‘guy who is secretly evil’ which means any film I go and see his name in the credits of I can automatically assume he will turn evil which often voids the whole story.  Imagine if the dead guy in Saw was played by Danny, then you wouldn’t be shocked when he turned out to be Jigsaw would you?  Then the entire point of watching that movie wouldn’t exist.  This all comes back to my ‘Star is rising’ comment, you see Danny is become quite the Hollywood star which means I can presumably except to see lots of him in the future, which means I can expect lots of movies to be worse for it.  Again I am not calling for Danny to quit acting, oh no I love that guy, I would just like some change up in his roles is all.  I mean the man starred in Torture TV, as who you ask?  The host of the fucking TV show where people get tortured.  Also let’s not forget 30 Days of Night where he was a Vampire king that’s entire purpose for living(unliving?) was to kill everything.

30 Days of Night

Somehow he looks less scary like this than in real life.

I am saying that next time you go see a movie with his name on it don’t be pissed if you can’t help but imagine he is going to turn out to be the villain, in other words, ruining the movie for you.

Peace.





Something for everybody. By: EttenCo

9 04 2010

Okay everyone, this is sort of an editorial by EttenCo on the DiRT series of games for the 360 and the PS3.  Whatever he says don’t let it fool you, he is quite simply one of the best racers I have ever played against.  Enjoy the point and counterpoint everyone.

I’m what you would consider an average gamer.  I have no particular strengths when it comes to certain genres of games (except the rare turn based strategy game which apparently required more thought than other average gamers wanted so now the genres is either A. avoided altogether B. designed with a built in “EASY” button that allows for the minimal level of thought, or C. created but never ported to America consoles because of the typical poor sales of previous turn-based strategy games. But I digress.)

The reason I point that out is because when I started playing a game called DiRT I actually started to feel like I had a grasp on a game that challenged me but that I could also measure my improvement by method of time.  Now I know this game came out a LONG time ago and even its acclaimed sequel has become old news but I recently changed my mind on something that I had first thought was a wrong turn (pun partially intended) on Codemasters’ account when they created DiRT2 and felt compelled to write about it in hopes of changing the minds of others like me.

Anyways I was saying how DiRT had felt like a game that I could potentially be good at.  Now, being a fan of turn-based tactical games, I love tweaking and micromanaging.  DiRT was a game that allowed a level of technical customization on a comparable level to that of the Gran Turismo series.  You can adjust the wheels camber, castor, and toe angles.  The balance and power of the brakes as well as the shock absorbers and stabilizers have their areas for improvement and lastly the ration of the gears in the transmission can be changed to provide more acceleration or a greater top speed, or a balance between the two.

It was this level of customization that fed my anal desire for perfection and improvement and it was rewarding to be able to take my hard work and acquired skills online and be able to strategically beat other racers by way of practiced driving technique or by way of experienced customization.

Lastly, on top of all of this was the level of tension that was brought when you realized that you maintain a fine line of balance between being in control and being out of control, and sometimes crossing over repeatedly.  The realistic damage that came from hitting a fence post or a tree or even landing jumps repeatedly and then the feedback that it gave both in the form of visual and sensory information was, in my mind, incomparable to games in the past.  In other games, grinding the outside rail of a turn usually was a way to use the game mechanics against itself to gain an edge since usually the reduction in speed it caused was minimal and your car would undoubtedly be guided to stay on course.  In DiRT, this same tactic would result in your car pulverizing the railing as well as itself, causing immediately noticeable visual damage as well as incapacitating mechanical damage to the car, even to the point where if it was bad enough, you would be removed from the race.

The reason I loved this part of the game was it severely limited the arcade-racing techniques and it almost automatically created a separation between the two types of racers or required them to think about their actions (something more people should do in general, but that’s as far as I’m going with moral judgments.)

NOW…..What I say here might cause an uproar (assuming more than three people read this……sorry Zack.)  DiRT2 was pretty much the same game as DiRT BUT, it was designed for the arcade individuals instead.  DiRT2 is still a great game and I’ve put quite a number of hours into it and still enjoy perfectly drifting around muddy dirt roads and then speeding away as the car shifts into the next gear.

What I had trouble with was understanding why Codemasters would remove the customization level that they had in DiRT and then dumb down the damage that was done to your car.  And it wasn’t until my friend, who is a fan of more arcade style racers, played DiRT2 that I understood this idea of what happened.  My friend was able to pick up the game, learn the mechanics, customize his car in the basic level he was allowed to and proceed through the races while having fun and still being challenged.  There is less of the tweaking and more forgiving physics which didn’t hinder his experience or bog him down with too many details.  Oddly enough this is something that I’ve always understood but wasn’t able to see it in this case.

So essentially what I’m getting at is that both versions are amazing games.  But if you are a car geek or somebody who likes tweaking and less forgiving reality, then DiRT is for you.  If your somebody who just like to get down to business and race and have fun while still being able to do some sweet driving on the track, then DiRT2 is your game.

And now since I’m at the end of my review and haven’t made any kind of funny captioned reference, I think I’ll do that now.

Single Engine

This represents those who like Dirt 1

Ramone

This represents those who like Dirt 2





God of War III: Kill gods while riding a Titan! A review.

7 04 2010

Hey everyone it’s another game review, this time on the chopping block is God of War III.  I waited a few weeks to A. get a Platinum award, B. allow for others to play it so I would have to put up so many fucking SPOILER WARNINGS, and C. because it was so insanely fun to play I couldn’t waste my spare time writing about it when I could be playing it.  Now of course bear in mind we have some spoilers, but you will be warned in advance, oh and I am going on the assumption you played God of War 1 and 2 so keep that in mind.  If you need to go play them quick I will wait for you to get back……..okay back?  Good let’s get going.

Of course follow me on Twitter @Zackysmack or email me at zackysmack@hotmail.com if you have questions, concerns, suggestions, ideas, or just want to rant to me about how small me penis is(true story someone did that a few weeks back).

Box Art

In the game his skin texture is that good.

God of War III is the 4th entry (ha ha forgot about Chains of Olympus didn’t you?) in the God of War series that follows the bastard son of Zeus; Kratos on his quest for vengeance against the gods that have betrayed him pretty consistently for his entire life.  It is a 3rd person action title ala Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, and Mark of Kri, the distinction being that God of War is actually good unlike the other games mentioned.  You get new weapons and powers as you progress through a fairly linear game and murder things, getting red orbs to power up your weapons and items and generally if you played or at least saw someone else play any other God of War game you know exactly what to expect.

Gameplay

Yeah pretty much like that.

Now that the summary is out of the way let’s get into the meat of the game; to put it simply this game is really badass.  I know that word gets thrown around like a mouse in a washing machine but this game really does fit the bill.  So let me qualify that, this game starts with you ascending Mount Olympus on the back of Gaia, picking up directly where God of War II leaves off.  What then happens is in my opinion the best 60 minutes of gameplay in this console generation.  Never before has a game start off like this, almost like it’s the ending that they wanted for GoWII but couldn’t do for lack of having 8 processors at their disposal.  You get right into the often mentioned ‘TITAN GAMEPLAY’ where in your fighting 100’s of minions on a the arm of a Titan as the Titan fights other gods.  Meaning at any time the perspective in which you’re fighting could rapidly switch as Gaia raises or lowers her arm.

Basically what makes it so great is that this is the games tutorial, let me say that again, the tutorial section is Kratos climbing Mount Olympus on the back of Gaia, while various other gods battle other Titans in the background.  You could be stabbing a Minotaur in the face and over your shoulder see a Titan of Lava getting knocked off the fucking mountain by Helios, while the arm your on is punching Poseidon in the face.  It’s a wonderfully realized section of game that exceeded any expectations I had for the game, and indeed blew fighting the Colossus of Rhoads from the start of 2 out of the water, and fighting the Hydra at the start of 1.  But of course what fun would the game be if you rode up Olympus and then smashed Zues and went off to pick flowers or more likely murder flowers, *SPOILER WARNING* so at the top Zues remembers he is king of the motherfucking gods and throws you and Gaia right off the hill, on the way down Gaia decides that maybe you just are a little too dangerous to have around as well and chucks you right into the River Styx*END SPOILERS*

Centaur Gut

See you gut a Centaur as a Titan fights Helios behind you.

So now Kratos has to start over with help from an unlikely ally and climb out of Hades to once again reap vengeance on everything that lives and most of the stuff that doesn’t live.  This of course now means he not only has to rip through every god but also every Titan now.  Which is a pretty fucking tall order if you think about it; thankfully you get a ton of new and interesting powerups and items.  The biggest change from the previous games is now each weapon has a magic attack and the items you get have a different mana bar that just recharges manually over time, which sounds small but actually makes a big difference on the harder difficulty levels when the game requires more strategy then holding Square and L1.  I like the new system, it gives you a ton of options in combat, and considering the weapons have less combos then before this system allows you to make combat as complicated as you want it to be.  I.E. there is more than one way to kill an enemy like say a Satyr or a Revenant.

The new O+L1 grab and draw basically eliminates the need to ever use aerial combos and makes fighting Revenant’s and Harpies just oodles of fun.  Possibly the best new feature is that for once in the entire games series you actually get a weapon that is preferable to the Blades of Exile(Chaos, Athena, whatever).  Yes indeed the Nemean Cestuses (think about the name, it helps) is ridiculous when fully powered, with few things in the game, final boss included, that can stand up to them.  Of the reaming two weapons, one I needed one time in the entire game, and you better have it fully powered for that one instance or you’re going to be stuck, and the other I actually used to kill the final boss the first time through.  So in fact all the weapons and items are pretty useful, which is amazing because in 1 and 2, I pretty much just used the other weapons when I got bored of killing with the Blades.

Ball shot

Its the one shot ball shot, even the dead feel it.

Animates are flat out amazing, everything has a fluidity to its motion that pretty much means anything you do its going to look fast, flowing, and real.  The character models are extremely detailed with Kratos being simply one of the best detailed and animated character sense Nathan Drake.  The new evisceration engine Santa Monica came up with means everything has about 5 layers of body structure to it so when you do kill or tear you see different levels tear; skin, muscle, tendons, and bones.  It all just adds another element to things that you’re slaughtering.  Speaking of new and interesting ways to kill things, Santa Monica went back to David Jaffe’s original idea board and finally implemented first person cameras during certain fights.  So if you ever wanted to know what it was like to hold a god in your hands as he begs for his life before you beat him to death, then this is the game for you.  Two final notes both of which are equally nerdy but I find interesting.  1 the soundtrack is great, the music makes you feel epic and empowered as you kill Titan’s roughly 80 billion times your size.  2 the lighting engine, typically one of the make or break parts of a game is the lighting, you don’t notice it but let me tell you, your brain does.  Stig Amussen from over at Guerilla games bought some of the independent light sources code from Killzone and used it in this game.  From darkness to light, from shadows to sun, everything looks great, and a certain item you get will eventually allow you to create light sources at will which is surprisingly difficult to actually do well.

Lighting

Independant Light Source generation, tell your friends.

Okay so most of the game is largely unchanged, it’s just bigger and a fuck load better.  But in this case it worked very well, I mean it was nice for the game to start and require almost no introduction; I could just run straight at things and start murdering the balls out of them.  The game has a break neck pace; even the puzzles are timed now in most cases, so it would have been very flow breaking to have a slow start where they showed you the weapons and moves.  No this works way better, the game starts off strong and just keeps building.  Kratos is for all intents and purposes the most 1-deminsional character who ever lived, he sees a helpless person and he disembowels  them, he sees a Griffon and he cuts it’s wings off, he sees a Minotaur and he breaks its fucking neck, he sees a god and rips their eyeballs out of their head with his fingernails.  I mean the only real character definition is that he recognizes that in some cases you have to kill things in different ways to be effective.  I.E. cutting of a Cerberus head works better then stabbing it in the back.  But that’s all part of his charm, his murderous charm that is, you like that you don’t have to sit through whiney dialogue and ambiguous morals and all that other flawed character stuff.  Kratos is flawed but he knows it and could give a shit, his is so single minded in his goal that literally nothing else fazes him.

There is a great moment about half way through where you have a god corned and ready to execute, so that god goes off on his requisite speech about how Kratos will only doom himself and the world is doomed if the gods die.  I was install sick of this because it has no place in this game, I mean Kratos can see plagues and horrors befalling the world which each god he knocks off, and it doesn’t even for a second make him stop to reconsider things.  No the reason that particular moment is so great that about half way through the speech it switches to first person and you realize that Kratos is just looking at the gods boots and then he picks up the god and cuts his fucking legs off to get the boots.  Does he just take the boots?  No he cuts the legs off then takes the boots.  It’s a great moment because you get that Kratos could care less about the speech and ramifications of his action then even you the player do.  He wants to punish more than you do, and you’re controlling him, you get the sense that if Kratos was completely under his own control he would be a 100 times more brutal then you are.

Layers

See its a multilayered game...ha ha get it?

Finally the ending of the game was a bit of controversy with some people saying it was unfinished and some saying it was great, I am in the latter category, I think it’s a fantastic ending.  If anything ever put a period on a series of games, that’s it.  I won’t even do a Spoiler Warning and then tell you the ending because I think it’s that great that you should only get to experience it if you buy or rent the game.  It keeps in theme with the rest of the game though, that’s for sure.  Just know that if you want closure and you want your game to actually tie into history then boy this is the one for you.

Some negatives would be the overall level of difficulty is almost non-exsistant, with the game really coming down to three boss fights and one monster encounter, and if you have the right weapons at the right levels at those times even those fights are pretty simple.  The most shameful of which is the final fight which was probably the 2nd easiest boss in the game, which after the Ares fight in God of War 1 that literally fried the PS2 I was playing it on even on Easy mode, is a little disappointing.  The puzzles are often laid out for you in advance.  The notion that the entire first game revolved around you getting enough power to knock off one of Zeus’s full god son’s, but in this game you seem to just be able to beat Zeus’s brothers to death with your bare hands.  It’s a little jarring but still you can figure after killing everything else he has he wouldn’t need a lot of help.  You only kill gods really, but then again after killing Hydra, Kraken, Gorgon Queen, even Persesus in the previous games you had to wonder what was really left.  Finally the wonderful Titan Gameplay is only really used at the start and that’s about it except for one later fight.

Hades

Hades himself is just a regular boss now.

So all in all the gameplay is pretty much unchanged but has small alterations that I feel are for the better.  The characters and animation is top notch, with the game doing the seamless transition between cut scene and game.  The soundtrack and visuals go hand in hand like a ho and a pimp, and create an overall experience that will have you so engrossed you’ll forget to sleep or eat and even go to the bathroom.  I cannot recommend this game any higher, despite the negatives I listed it’s still one of the most polished and fantastic games you’re going to play this year, and probably in this generation.  Game of the Year material?  No not really, it doesn’t give you anything really new, it just presents what is familiar with a near mirror shine.

Peace

Okay now that the serious review is over, I wanted to do some smaller non game related elements.

The sex scene: of course there is a sex mini game and for once it’s not a threesome, nope it’s just you and the goddess of love.  You know its her because her bed is the size of the fucking aircraft carrier.  Naturally you don’t get to watch but instead of viewing a jar on a table you get to see Aphrodite’s love slaves standing on the side and they basically get hornier and hornier with each correct button press tell eventually they just tackle each other and you win the game.  This is pretty much how I grade how well my sex is going, by seeing how horny everyone else in the room is.  Final note, the breast physics are second to none, with most games thinking that breasts are slinkies with nipples, this game goes the correct route, and for someone who due to a lifestyle of video games, pizza, writing about games, has B cup tits I can say that this game’s breast react pretty much like mine do.

Sexy time

Hmmm....Yes or No? Gee let me think.

Trophies:  There all really easy, without even trying I had some 80% complete on my first play through.  Even the Titan mode playthrough is pretty simple, again it all comes down to three fights and having the right weapon.  The trophy names are pretty great but that’s a momentary chuckle, although that Platinum unlocks a website for you to visit but sense everybody on the internet knows the site now some of the magic is kinda lost there.

Challenge of Olympus:  The challenge you get for beating the game, in the first GoW it was so hard I punched a table in half out of frustration; in the second God of War I did it again.  This goes back to the difficulty and that with most game series the more numbers after the title the easier it gets.  Resident Evil is a good example of this, in the first one you had to ration your game saves lest you run out, in the 4th my friend Trevor (whose game tag escapes me but knowing him its probably something really really gay) can beat it on hard with just the starting pistol.  God of War 1 had the Satyr platform challenge and it took me 4 hours to beat what was essentially a 1 minute challenge, also you had to do them in a row so if you used your rage of the gods that was it.  God of War II your weapons where at whatever power they were at the end of the game, so you had to grind the Blade of Olympus to max at which point nothing could touch you and the Challenges were still ridiculously hard.  III I beat 6 of 8 challenges on my first try with the remaining two taking another 4 tries to beat in what I can only call; disappointing.

Chimera Stab

Pic Unrelated, I just wanted to show a Chimera getting stabbed in one of its faces.

Voice acting:  Great voice actors in this game, but I just wanted to mention that Hercules (yes Hercules is in the game) is voiced by Kevin Sorbo who was Hercules on the TV show for all those years, which I felt was a really great little nod by the Santa Monica staff.

Kevin Sorbo

Sorry I am too awesome for your camera.

Unlockable costumes:  I have that game beating on every difficulty with 100% on trophies and all I have is 1 bonus costume that sucks.  I get that they were pre-order bonuses for most people but you can’t use them if you want to unlock anything else, and there just variations on the armor you already have.  Where are the Tycoonius and Dairy Bastard costumes from God of War 1?  Or the female Kratos from God of War II?

Peace again.