31 March 2010

God of War


I recently bought a nice big TV to go with my PS3, so it’s about time to start getting some kickass games. The God of War series is one of the biggest titles around for the system, and there’s a new one that just came out a little while ago, although it shall be a while until I get to that one. Instead, I decided to start from the beginning with the new GoW Collection, which is the first two games ported from the PS2 to the PS3.

There haven’t been a lot of improvements from the PS2 versions, at least not that I’m aware of. I heard mention of higher resolution textures and stuff in one of the included docs for the first game, but of course all the 3D models still have the same polygon count. The biggest improvement is the move from standard definition to 720p. My system is 1080p capable though, so I can see a lot of jaggies in 720. It’s okay though.

Anyway on to the game itself. It’s a lot of fun interwoven with a few hair-pullingly frustrating puzzle/timed bits that almost had me walk away from the game a few times. Oddly though, it’s fun enough to bring me back after a couple hours, unlike some other games from which I often take weeks-long vacations. The fun is derived from a lot of button-mashing, bloody combat and pretty cool environments. The aspect of character improvement is always attractive to me, and that's present in the form of health/magic bar increases and unlockable weapons and skills with upgrade capabilities. Kratos is pretty badass at the start of the game, but by the end he’s a freakin’ blood factory. It’s so very satisfying to slam two massive blades on chains onto a cyclops from 20 feet in the air and see him turn into a swirling mass of glowing red sphere thingies.

There are a lot of quick-time events of which I’m not too fond. Also the camera is a total dick. I could very rarely see where I was going in difficult terrain because it would be pointing sideways or something. Some of the puzzles had me dying so many times that the game would offer me easy mode, but of course that has no effect on puzzle difficulty. I did succumb to it eventually though near the end during a fight with alternate-directional moving floors, big-ass grinder things, fire spouts, and about 100,000 harpies throwing fire bombs at me. Combat was quite a bit easier after that.

I’m not really a history/mythology nerd, so I wasn’t all that drawn in by the background, but it was still kinda neat. Kratos’ story is good’n tragic which makes for an intense plot, which is shown in a few quite nice cut scenes of good length and neat art style. I enjoyed it.

Now I have a bunch more extra video things to watch and another game to play.

29 March 2010

Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones


It’s time for a music review! YAAAAY!

This album is the first of a trilogy (ergo Triptykon) headed by Tom Gabriel “Warrior” Fischer of the now permanently defunct Celtic Frost. CF died after their wondrous return in the form of Monotheist, which I might write about someday. There were some major interpersonal problems that led to the complete dissolution of the name. Still, this band has the same exact sound as CF did on their last album, as Tom has stated is the point. You could say Tom is Celtic Frost.

Tom also says that the lyrics in this metal masterwork largely deal with his anger over the problems leading up to the breakup, although that’s really hard to tell; it’s a lot of metaphorical religion hating stuff that I can’t really be bothered to analyze a lot. I did take a glance at the liner notes, and Tom has added commentary for each track explaining what it’s about. I’ll probably read that stuff later.

Anyway, if you haven’t heard Tom’s music before, it’s a very heavy sludgy metal with black, death, doom, and thrash metal influences. Tom’s voice is very distinctive, with few other vocalists that sound like him. The guy in Secrets of the Moon kinda does, which is one of the reasons I like them a lot. There’s also a pretty distinctive guitar sound that I can’t really think of the words to describe. I love it though. I think H. R. Giger’s original album cover art might be a good visual descriptor of the sound. Mostly it’s just really angry.

This is what you get when a guy with a clear vision holds to that vision throughout his career. Good music.

06 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland

alice-new-redhair-1200 scarytim-burton

So Tim Burton made an Alice in Wonderland movie. Great. I got pretty excited when the first screen grabs came out; it looked like what I imagined a Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland movie would look; dark, gritty, and unsettling. I think at one point during the making of this film, it was just that. Then somebody decided that would be a bad idea and started emptying the crap bucket into holes created by the removal of the good parts.

So yeah, I didn’t like it. I didn’t see it in 3D which could be part of why it sucked, as the visuals seemed very soft and blurry, and the compositing of real-world elements was almost universally horrible. Very often the animations of some characters seemed awkward, which was probably what they were going for, but it didn’t work for me. For a movie that is primarily meant to be a visual work it really failed I think.

Aside from that, the plot was very simple and yet managed to feel disjointed. I guess that’s okay though since Lewis Carrol’s story wasn’t exactly the most easy-to-follow thing ever created. I think it would have been a better idea to stick to the original story instead of going the Hook route and making it a revisit. Sure, you get rid of the possibly dangerous element of kid actress whose clothes don’t always stay the same size as her body, but it’s just not as whimsical or interesting.

As I stated in the first paragraph, my impression from the first released images was a very dark film. It’s not really. Some of it’s kind of edgy, but it’s a very safe, PG movie. Of course since it is PG you have to learn something (shudder), which lead to a cringe-inducing final scene of Alice deciding things for herself and being oh so very empowered in the faces of a bunch of nitwits. Gah.

I didn’t really like any of the characters. Johnny Depp didn’t fit his role, Helena Bonham Carter had too much heart for the Red Queen, and Steven Fry’s Cheshire Cat wasn’t nearly as creepy as the animated version. Burton really should have left his comfort zone and hired some different actors for this movie. The girl who played Alice who’s name I forget was very bland and uninteresting, but at least she was pretty. I think the only character that I thought was done pretty well was the March Hare; he had the right randomly violent antics for it.

Altogether, a disappointment.