Console Games


Brettspielwelt! QuakeLive! A borrowed PS3! Our first dice game in a long time! Our summary of the games played in 2011.

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I'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Wikipedia link] [Official Site] SPOILER WARNING: SPOILERS IN ALL THESE LINKS! NO UNMARKED SPOILERS IN MY REVIEW THOUGH!

PLOT SUMMARY: (from IMDB) “Architect, and Father Ethan Mars joins a Private Detective, a Journalist, and an FBI agent in a race against time to save his son for a child murderer known as the Origami Killer.”

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Sibling who watched brother drown successfully drowns many other children.

QUIRKS: Interactive film noir fiction. A single-player game.

Received GameSpy’s PS3 game of the year award for 2010.

Uses the PS3 motion-sensing controllers in unique ways.

Although the gameplay is very simple, some of the things you do with the controller are things you’ve never done with a controller in your life. (We played at the intermediate skill level.)

Different characters can die depending on what you do. The plot is not completely linear.

You have “free will” — but the plot still moves in a certain direction. Sometimes, you are doing things that you think affect the outcome, but they actually won’t. Sometimes you are forced to do things, even though you think we have free will. This continually reminded me of the movie eXistenZ, where people are in a game, and end up saying things that they don’t mean to say, because it’s what their character needs to do to advance the plot.

VISUALS: I’ve never played an HD (720p) console video game in the comfort of my own home before. Although I get superior resolution to that with PC games, I’m a more on the casual side of gaming, so I’ve really only played Quake3/QuakeLive at that resolution. Anyway, it looks really good. Even for 720p. The people look almost photorealistic. They used 90 actors. They used motion capture. Things look good enough to trigger the uncanny valley effect. It’s nice to see how polished things have become.

SOUNDTRACK: Appropriate.

MORALS: Sacrifice is the ultimate virtue.

POLITICS: Cops just want to find someone to blame.

GOOD STUFF: Excellent look and feel. Quite immersive. This is somewhere between watching a movie and playing a video game. A great deal of the game is cut scenes.

And the twist? We knew it would happen, but we still didn’t solve the mystery before the game told us the solution. And that’s good, I’d rather not spoil it for myself.

BAD STUFF: You never quite know if what you are doing truly makes a difference. I’d like to see choices affect the story even more than they did here, but obviously it’s really hard to write a “choose your own adventure” that retains a polished consistency.

CONCLUSION: I tend to dislike one player games, but this one is so much closer to a movie that there is hardly a difference between watching, playing, and watching your spouse play. So me and Carolyn took turns and shared the experience. In the end, this was quite a unique game. We’d never brushed our teeth, snorted drugs, changed a diaper, or performed CPR in a video game before. We’d never used a motion-sensitive controller in a non-pointing (i.e. Wiimote) fashion before. There were a lot of “video game firsts” in this story for us. Which is good, because in the time it took for us to play through this, we could have watched at least 8 movies. So it really needed to pay off to be worth it. And you know what? It did. I wouldn’t play a game like this again — not for another 10 years — but I’m glad we did. It was pretty neat.

For instance, while playing a cop, I accidentally shot a mentally disturbed man during a warrantless search of his apartment. That’s a first for me — doing something that I would blog about if I heard about it on the news :) There was a time when I held a gun to a character’s head for a full two minutes of real-life time — because I honestly couldn’t decide if I needed to kill him or not. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that the game might force a decision if I don’t hurry up and decide, so it’s not like I’m just taking my time. I was really trying hard to decide as fast as possible, and it took me like two minutes. (I let him live, and flamed the people in the IMDB forums who killed him for the wrong reasons.) Great moral choices here, though they could have been more ambiguous. But a couple were ambiguous enough to be very interesting situations.

RATINGS:
Clint: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.
Carolyn: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.
John The Canadien: 5/5 stars, IMDB 9/10. “Best PS3 game since Grand Theft Auto 4.”
The native public rating for this game is: IMDB: 9.4/10.

RECOMMENDATION: Worth checking out if you’re into single player games, or film noir serial killer mysteries. Especially if you are mostly in the mood to watch a movie, but instead want to play a video game.

IF YOU PLAYED ALREADY, check out the different game endings here. Also check out The Old Warehouse, another page about how the warehouse scene affects which endings you will get. For us, our particular choices meant that [highlight for spoilers] only Ethan and Madison made it to the warehouse. Jayden had to give up on the case. We also failed to save the cash register guy, shot the crazy religious guy (during the warrantless search, as mentioned above), and Carolyn let Lauren drown in the car by kicking out the window without untying her

SIMILAR STUFF: The “act quickly when prompted” / “Simon Says” style definitely reminded me of the early laserdisc arcade games: Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace.

Movie rights secured. Will it happen? Will it be good? At times, the game plot reminded us of Saw — but not grotesque.

MOVIE QUOTE: “Ethan Mars has had psychological problems since his first son died. He feels responsible for his death- a sort of morbid neurosis. He is haunted by visions of drowning bodies.”

SPOILER ALERT! Heavy Rain deleted scenes. The caption to this video explains why anyone who played this game would probably want to watch it:
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 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] [Wikipedia link]

PLOT SUMMARY: A slacker musician must destroy the 7 Exes of the Girl Of His Dreams in order to win her heart.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Loser woos fickle slut by becoming insane serial killer.

PEOPLE: Where do I start? Soooo many people in this movie. A ridiculous number of characters! Band mates, roommates, 10 exes…

Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Spaced, Hot Fuzz), who co-wrote it with Michael Bacall (who is actually a minor actor, in Inglourious Basterds and Free Willy).

Scott Pilgrim is played by Michael Cera (George Michael Jr. from Arrested Development), who, while being kind of annoying and making you want to punch him, is somewhat appropriate for the role. Still… He seemingly just plays his George Michael character from Arrested Development in every movie. He’s like a one-trick pony. It maybe could have been better with someone else, but he was the right person for doing this now. His love interest is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Grindhouse:Death Proof, The Thing 2011, Final Destination 3, The Ring 2). His gay roommate is played by McCaulay Culkin’s brother Kieran (Home Alone, She’s All That, The Cider House Rules, godawful Music Of The Heart that I was forced to watch on my honeymoon Vegas plane trip, and of course 1 ep of Frasier). His bandmates are played by Mark Webber (Whiteboyz) and Johnny Simmons (Jennifer’s Body, Evan Almighty). His sister is played by Anna Kendrick (Jessica Stanley from the Twilight movies).

The League Of Evil Exes are played by: Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans (The Human Torch from Fantastic Four, Nick Gant from Push, Mace from Sunshine, Not Another Teen Movie), Brandon Routh (Superman in Superman Returns, Zack & Miri), [highlight for spoilers] Mae Whitmin (homely “Ann” from Arrested Development is now a lovely, legal-aged blonde lipstick lesbian), Japanese musician twins Shota and Keita Saito, and Jason Schwartzman [as Gideon] (Ash from Fantastic Mr. Fox, Funny People, Ringo Starr from Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story, I Heart Huckabees, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Spun, Slackers).

Scott Pilgrim’s exes include Kim Pine, Scott’s drummer, played by Alison Pill (Dan In Real Life); Brie Larson as Envy (bit part in 13 Going On 30, United States Of Tara), and [highlight for spoilers] Ellen Wong.

Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation, Funny People) reminds me of Dildo Valerie in this movie.

A pair of cameos: Clifton Collins Jr. (“I need you like my elbow needs an asshole” from Rules Of Attraction, Tack from The Stoned Age, which was originally going to be called “Tack’s Chicks”, Crank 2, Extract, Star Trek 2009, Traffic, Boondock Saints 2) and Thomas Jane (Thin Red Line, Boogie Nights, Buffy The Vampire Slayer the movie, Magnolia).

Oh, and kinda funny – the little girl drummer from the other band is Abigail Chu, who played young Dren in the movie Splice. WTF!

And Bill Hader (Year One, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Adventureland, Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Brothers Solomon, Superbad, Knocked Up) narrates.

HAIKU REVIEW: Seven ex-lovers —
Much like seven syllables —
are hard to manage.

QUIRKS: Based on a comic book, which is itself based on a song by Plumtree.

The director said it was done in the style of a musical, except instead of breaking into song, they break into fights. Videogame-esque fights of epic epicness.

Full of subtle and overt video game (Pac-Man, Mario Bros., Zelda, Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter, Soul Calibur) and pop culture (Seinfeld, DuckTales, X-Men, Tank Girl, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, The Matrix) references.

Tons of trivia related to this movie.

Very purposefully mis-matched in pace. It starts out like an acid trip, and ends like a video game.

Very surreal.

VISUALS: Frenetic, video-game influenced visuals. Think Crank meets Code Monkeys (but live action, obviously). Great special effects. At first, it seems like they’re just adding visual english words for the sake of making it comicbooky, but by the end you realize this was just setting the pace for the later, more epic visuals.

SOUNDTRACK: I wasn’t particularly impressed, but I never am with made-for-the-movie music. It was passable for what it was. It worked. It could have been a lot worse. Sooo many soundtracks… I do like that rock beat electronica. Haaaaa!

MORALS: Any problem can be solved with enough violence. Even by Michael Cera.

GOOD STUFF: An epic of epic epicness! The tagline is kind of annoying if you haven’t seen the movie, but after seeing it, it really describes this well. Part comedy, part romance, part adventure, part action, part fantasy — this takes the best aspects of SO MANY EPIC GENRES and smushes them altogether into an amazing surreal fantasy-action-adventure-comedy-romance! It is said that this movie reverses your aging while you watch it. Chinese herbal medicine specialists are now conducting experiments to see if this movie has medicinal properties.

BAD STUFF: Variety says it is “an example of attention-deficit filmmaking at both its finest and its most frustrating” and that “anyone over 25 is likely to find director Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the cult graphic novel exhausting, like playing chaperone at a party full of oversexed college kids.” That sums things up well: If you’re a Watching Wuss, you might not be able to handle this. If you can hold your attention through something with crazy action, like Crank 1, Crank 2, or even The PowerPuff Girls Movie (which was quite good), then you can certainly handle this. This movie is more endearing than any of the ones I just mentioned. But yes, it might be too much for people. And people without a history of video games might not appreciate the references as much.

Personally, I had to think hard to find any flaw in this film. I did find two, but then realized one wasn’t even a flaw:

0) I didn’t like how Ramona Flowers [highlight for spoilers] “couldn’t control herself” [pff!] around Gideon. I think this means that she is somewhat not in mature control of her emotions and actions. This basically means that, even if they get married, she may just bump into a guy that she runs off with, since apparently certain people can make her not be able to control herself. It just makes her character less pure of heart, and thus less desirable, and thus a bit less perfect of a match than, say, The Princess Bride. But wait! Actually, she had a microchip implanted in the back of her head to control her mind. So really, this isn’t a flaw at all. It’s just another example of videogame surrealism.

1) I also had trouble with the beginning. At first I was like, “Oh no! This is some teen emo movie!” … It seemed too after-school share-your-feelings-y for a bit. But it was also paced like an acid trip during that part, so it took the edge off. It got SOOOO much better SOOO much faster. But still, it didn’t leap into perfection within the first 30 seconds like, say, Crank 1.

2) Hipster culture assimilating the geek culture it once made fun of. That much is always going to be annoying. At least we won in the end.

3) Was Michael Cera right? Maybe, maybe not.

These flaws are really minor to the experience of watching the movie.

CONCLUSION: OMFG this movie was awesome on so many levels!!!!!!!!!!!!! I may have to seriously consider this movie for my favorite movies watched in 2010!

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 9.7/10. Not quite a perfect 10 due to the beginning not *instantly* being awesome. But still a 10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 9/10.
TwoBeans: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 10/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 8.1/10, Netflix: 4.4/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 5.0/5 stars!! Can’t think of a time it was so definitive!!).

RECOMMENDATION: OMFG! THIS NEEDS TO BE SEEN! I recommend this as the feelgood fantasy-action-adventure of the year!

SIMILAR MOVIES: Look for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Animation on AdultSwim! It aired in August of 2010, and was produced by Titmouse (Metalocalypse, MTV’s Downtown, Megas XLR, G.I. Joe:Resolute, Freaknik:The Musical). I’ll try embedding a YouTube version of this, but it will probably be pulled by the copylords:


MOVIE QUOTE:

Wallace Wells: If you want something bad, you have to fight for it. Step up your game, Scott. Break out the L-word.
Scott Pilgrim: Lesbian?
Wallace Wells: The other L-word.
Scott Pilgrim: …Lesbians?

Scott Pilgrim: I’m in lesbians with you.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Everybody seemed to absolutely love this. Everybody. Everybody.

COINCIDENCES: (The Toxic Avenger 3, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) 2 movies in the same year with a plot involving the main character having to go through multiple levels in a videogame like manner, complete with on-screen displays indicating their progress. 5 levels for Toxie, 7 levels for Scott Pilgrim.
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It’s always different when Carolyn goes on a ski trip. I think the cats know something is up. (more…)

http://www.acm.vt.edu/~clint/download/imagedump/ps2-laser.jpgI just ordered a replacement PS2 laser for $72. Here’s hoping that works out, and I can remain happy with my fat modded PS2 — screw the thin ones.

So, yesterday I talked about how happy I was that I got my PS2 working again, after Starland failed to repair it. The cd/dvd drawer was jamming, and I thought if I had to fight to get it open AND fight to get it closed, that it would eventually die. To save the PS2, I had to go back in. To save the PS2, I had to destroy it. ARGH. (more…)

Well, goodbye Starland. I will never deal with you again. You suck. You refused to fix my PS2 because it was modded, even though you used to mod them. Hypocrites.

Then, without notice, you close your store down and move my playstation, without calling me, to another location. I was lucky enough to wander into your store at the last minute (you forgot to lock the door, but I saw you lock it behind me when I left), find you in the back, and get the number of your other location.

I did not appreciate having to drive 10X farther from my house, nor did I appreciate trying to find your obscure turn, accidentally running a red light, beeping at everyone (both lanes were kind enough to slam on their brakes despite having the right of way), swerving across a lane with no anti-lock brakes, and making a fool out of myself. All to get a PS2 back that you didn’t even try to fix. Fuck you Starland. First you ditch your anime, then you ditch your repair services, then you ditch your nearest store to me. What good are you? Starland is dead to me.

SO ANWYAY — I DOWNLOADED A PS2 REPAIR GUIDE. 10 screws, a couple q-tips, and some 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol, and within minutes, Carolyn & I were playing Guitar Hero 3 for the first time in weeks. Yay me! If you want something right — just fucking do it yourself. Rely on no-one else. Community means nothing unless you’re a conformist sheep. All I needd to do was clean my laser! The pussies at Starland couldn’t even clean a laser for money! (I got charged $0.)
I’m damn tempted to tag this “Technology War” — because the corporations are the ones who put the fear of modchips into the Mom-And-Pops such that Mom-And-Pops now refuse to touch modded consoles. Fuck you Sony! Starland could have made money off me, and I could have saved several hours free time. But nooo…. You drive us underground. Guess what? Those of us who care, and who bother, can still do whatever the fuck they want. And I will continue to do whatever the fuck I want. Eat me, Sony.

Tomorrow: Use the Sharkport to backup all my memory cards (while I still can). Order the HDAdvance module so I can start playing games off of a harddrive, thereby preserving the life of my questionable laser. Find old useless IDE harddrive from old computer parts box (60G? 40G? 80G? 120G?), check against HDAdvance compabitility list, and put into PS2. YAYYYYYYY!!

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