Friday, 29 February 2008

Iron-icly looking good

I must be getting cynical in my old age, I have become very prone to writing off movies without knowing anything about them. Unlike Indy IV though, which I deep down knew would probably be ok (pleease), Iron Man has never been on my radar. Dismissed early on with a curled lip at the prospect of Robert "Downey" Jr as a super hero. Snort! What a ridiculous proposition. Never mind the fact that he plays what? an Iron man? in a futuristic suit of armour fighting bad guys? Double snort! Thankyou no, I'm reading Balzac.

But really, once again my sensibilities prove susceptible to a tight trailer, which is what we see above. Tight I tell ya. Maybe there will be a blockbuster summer worth checking out this year.

Via Myspace

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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

There Will be Blood: Drink it up

The oscars came and went with a little less clamour than usual, despite all the will it/wont it go ahead hulaballoo. No country for old men did well - a fine a film sure, but There will be Blood came away with just a best actor and cinematography. And no best picture. This is strange to me, as I found this to be one of the most impressive films I've seen for a while. Certainly more interesting than the admittedly quite interesting NCFOM.

The latest from PT Anderson, Blood bizarrely shares much in common with previous efforts Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love, as we follow Day-Lewis' extraordinary "oil man" Plainview, through the various stages of his career at the turn of the 20th century. I was rather rooting for Viggo for best actor before seeing this, but the gong, it seems has gone the right way. From filthy and tenacious hole scratching silver miner, to batshit insane oil supremo, Day-Lewis puts in an extraordinary performance, chewing scenery and cast members up in a relentless torrent of abuse and well, shouting. The character is incredibly complex, and I thought rather likeable - although most people I've spoken to view him as a monster. Put it this way, I'd want him on my side. This is full of fabulous quotes, as long as you can imitate the voice properly, the milkshake speech is already a full fledged internet meme, and the OTT performances (yes there are others in it) makes for a twistedly funny film.

But should the best film oscar have gone Blood's way too? Hard to say. On No country again, I found to be rather safe and conventional, and seemed a more overtly oscar chasing movie. Blood is far from conventional. The soundtrack is insane (brilliantly) and the plot is quite subtle in its dark deconstruction of the american dream. The impact of the film is so closely tied to the main character that its easy to give him all the credit. At first glance, he is the film. This all may have gone against it, which saddens me a little, as this on repeat viewing may turn out to be a modern classic from a full fat genuine, bona fide, post-Kubrickian auteur. PTA drinks your milkshake.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

RIP HD-DVD: we hardly knew ye

We've reached the end of the line for hd dvd then, bringing to a close 2 years of silliness, confusion and flogging of dead horses. This can only be a good thing for all of us, as confusion was the watchword for the whole situation. To walk into HMV and be greeted with two competing HD formats with no ostensible difference must have quite literally blown the minds of those who weren't in the know, leaving them shambling home like dazed zombie extras. What was the point of all that confusion? Nothing. Nada. We all knew in our hearts Blu-ray would best Hd-dvd in the end. How? The name of course. Anything with "ray" and a snappy spelling of Blue was bound to win. Besides, blue is a better colour than mauve.

So we can all rejoice now and rush out to buy a bluray player now right? I think not, for there are as I see it, two problems. Firstly, this whole format shift has come about 5 years too early for me and simply does not represent the quantum leap in quality, as say VHS to dvd did, that I deem necessary to warrant the repurchase of my film collection. Again. Decent dvd players will upscale my existing collection fine, and they'll be dirt cheap by the time I can afford a decent TV (thats the other problem). No I will most likely pick up a PS3 in about 2 or 3 years (assuming some games have come out for it by then - zing) as no doubt that will also be reasonably cheap by then, and I will of course have become generally more affluent and wealthy, natch.

But even without its warring opposite number, will bluray really dominate? Will we all make the leap? Everyone I know who owns one normally buys one bluray disc to "try it out" the retreats back to the shelves of cheap dvds, which "look great" anyway. They may get the players into people's homes, but will the format itself gain momentum? Presumably their extortionate prices will become more pallatable now the war is over, and I'll be forced to eat my doubts. Unless of course, the download model gets popular, as I personally suspect, it will - not with me though, I like to own things.

Anyway, rest ye well HD-DVD, like Artax before you; you gave it your best, but unlike him you probably won't be back. And for all you early adopters, fret not, ebay has gone berserk already, might as well get 'em in. And you can always take comfort in the fact that you own a bona fide piece of technological memorabilia. There, that feels better doesn't it?

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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Indy IV looks sprightly

Omigosh its indy.

I wasn't excited. I'd not permitted myself excitement. "It's bound to be baad" I said. Well hush my lips up and call me a liar, Indy looks fine to me. At the end of the day its Spielberg. If anyone can rein Lucas in, its him.

Go Indy go!

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Friday, 15 February 2008

Nintendo Stars for wii points: Balls.

So I was really pleased when it was finally announced that there was going to be a use for those nintendo star things that come with every game. Since there had consistently been absolutely no purpose to them whatsoever (I dont need a zelda ringtone thanks, I er, have one), it was fantastic to hear that I would be able to trade them in for the entirely more worthwhile wii points.

We all waited patiently and as promised, nearly a year later, nintendo came good. So europe thought. I, as I suspect many others found, that on the day the site was impossible to get into. Everyone was cashing their points in. I smugly hung back. "Whats the rush?" I smirked, "its not like they're going to run out". Right?

Er, no. Ever since that day, on visiting the site I have been greeted with the above screen. All denominations "sold out". This is of course bullplop. How can they sell out of codes randomly generated though an algorithm? I actually saw some available cards once, the smallest 100 point variety, useless in themselves since the minimum useable amount is 500. I bit the bullet and tried to buy a couple. Of course, I was only permitted to buy 1. A day. The next day they were naturally sold out. This means, to get the some 1000 points I am owed, I will have ammassed them by roughly... never. I have no intention of checking the site daily for the privelege of chipping away at the total I'm owed. Wtf nintendo? Give me my goddamn points like you promised! At least a notification that the cards are on sale would be nice.

Free is free, but if you're gonna give stuff away, don't give me a cynical, half arsed attempt. I have earned my stars, now hand over the points.

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Tuesday, 12 February 2008


So, gaming. Pretty well established past-time right? Pretty much well defined itself as a mainstream form of entertainment? NO! A mere 26 years ago, the spectrum was doing its thang, and how different that thang was. Those glorious, halcyon days of yore still bring a bead to the eye, and a tug to the heart. Its sometimes difficult to believe how recently games have come to the place they're in today. GTAIV, Bioshock, Wii Play? How has this happened? What an extraordinary age we live in! Think load time are bad now? You young whippersnappers don't know you're born! Its easy to forget how young gaming is as a medium, so you should pause to reflect on this the next time its getting a bashing from fuckwits on Fox news, no wonder they struggle with the concept. Those old enough to remember the speccy and all its joys may have given up their gaming habits to get mortgages instead, but many of us press on with the new fangled bastardised hobby of ours. Some of us still love it, and even suggest that games are much better now and the old ones are merely ghostly reminders of an age long since improved upon, best viewed through the rose tinted specs glued stubbornly to our eyeballs.

But thats all bollocks of course because we can still play this wondrous heritage here and now, in this age of hd, surround sound, 5.1, 2.non-sense. The retro scene is thankfully alive and well, presumably organised by many of my generation who probably did get mortgages and who firmly refuse to play anything with more than seven colours. Some of these technological refugees saw fit to compile the wholly remarkable World of spectrum and its incredible archive, which I've been meaning to big up for a while. This wonderful resource can plunge you back into the heart of your earliest gaming memories in the time it took you to eat your toast this morning.

And while many of your fond memories may prove to be ruinously pinkified, many are still solid prospects, and the nostalgia of even bad games with amazing music can be enough. Get yourself an emulator, download ALL of your favourites (except Ultimate play the game, or Rare as they call themselves these days, or party pooping gits as I call them) stick your oldest Now album on i-tunes and pretend like its 1982. Now this is living!

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Monday, 11 February 2008

GTA IV : Do Want

GTAIV has a spiffy new website up, with lots of things to fiddle with. While always lurking in the pit of my consciousness, I am now reminded why this game is going to be great. People have shown concern that the move to a more realistic GTA may leave the world shorn of its irreverant humour, but the website just confirms that its as biting as ever. Checkout the section promoting the high fructose corn syrup drink "Sprunk" (Sprunk is definitely down), and the brilliant take on Stomp - "Banging trashcan lids for an hour".

The "Love meet" personality test is also worth a look - apparently my genitals are "ragged from overuse".

Oh there's also lots of character videos and new screenshots, but no one cares about that sort of stuff do they? April 29th needs to get a move on.

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Saturday, 9 February 2008

Rez HD - "Feel the vibraaaaation"

I have up 'til now resisted the lure of microsoft point purchases. Nothing on Live has particularly piqued my interest. At all. I have no desire to play Halo again. I do not particularly wish to pay good money for a weird version of street fighter II. And I positively refuse to pay money for "pictures" of all my favourite gamer heroes. Lameness. This is incidentally in quite a contrast to the virtual console on wii, which I think is fantastic and has pumped my wallet hard over the last year. But now Microsoft's turn has come it seems, with the arrival of Rez HD. I never played Rez on the dreamcast, or Ps2, and have only really heard about it in recent weeks, as the internet got all moist about it's re-emergence. I wasn't even that excited to try it, but the demo popped up in the recently added section on live, and so I shrugged and downloaded the little blighter. This is where the demo service really comes into it's own, take note nintendo.

That said, I've tried other demos, and yet this one unlike them made me get my wallet out to sign up for points right away. Right away meaning after playing it through about 16 times, with my eyes streaming, making it hard to see those credit card numbers and my ears still reverberating with the thumping goa trance. Man that is some toe tapping goodness. The full game though is quite an astonishing experience. The interaction of the visuals and music, the much touted synaesthesia, really is a spectacle, pushing this game to the level of video art, an amzingly creative acheivement. As much as I hate trance per se, I love this stuff, each of the 4 levels tracks building and building to tub thumping crescendos. And then the 5th area, wow, just wow, pure coolness, really very zen. If this is all sounding a bit cryptic, I really can't be bothered to explain what this game actually is - its impossible to convey without making it sound a bit poo, the video above will have to do.

Its not a big game, or a very difficult one, but with lots of unlockables left this is clearly going to have some legs. At £8 who can argue? Its also as addictive as crack coated peanuts. It kind of reminds me of that game that seduces the crew of the enterpise because it gives them all "pleasure". Silly Ryker.

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Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Zero Punctuated: COD4

Another fantastic review from the brit down under, and of a game I'm loving at the moment. So it must be shared, although I have nothing useful to add. I should do a post about why I love COD4 at some point, but right now I have a pie in the oven, and I'm just keen to get something other than the horror below at the top of the page. Enjoy!

Zero Punctuation at the Escapist

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Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Cloverfield: Like the trailer, but longer

So, Cloverfield then, just saw. Interesting. Such a simple premise, makes you wonder just what we were all expecting. On reflection not a lot really, it is literally an extension of the trailer. Wait, all films are. What I mean to say is that there is nothing to happen in this film that you can't imagine from the trailer. Nothing, not a one thing. Another good argument for me to give up watching trailers completely. That's not to say that what happens isn't good, not by any means. On the contrary there is much in here that is both thrilling and exciting. And these are good things. The images, aside from oftentimes being lifted straight from the recent memory of new yorkers and the world alike, are at times stunning, and the interest level never dips. Even the [some might argue] overlong first act was nicely paced for me. I might suggest that the film is roughly 5 minutes too long at t'other end though, allowing itself an indulgent money shot that is really not necessary, but that only slightly sours the otherwise fat free carnage and silliness that precedes it. I say silliness, the strength here is that it is largely played totally straight, and while the characters themselves are as shallow as you might expect in a blairwitchumentary, the situations around them are always pretty solid. You still get the feeling the guy would have turned the camera off though. Don't know how they'll ever get round that one. It'll be interesting to see how this veeery traditional monster mash does at the box office, up against such relatively highbrow fare as it is.

Anyway, it's undoubtedly worth a look. Reject the naysayers, sit near the front and get nauseous as exactly what you imagine will happen, does!

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Sunday, 3 February 2008


If you, like many, missed out on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, you really did just that. The best broken game of last year is a real treat despite its many glitches, quirks and issues, its dark landscapes remain morbidly compelling and worth revisiting. Especially should you have a decent enough rig to squeeze the highest settings out of it (I don't). I still enjoy wandering around the melancholy wastelands, hunting radioactive mutant pig things with my sniper rifle. I really should try and get the proper ending as well, as mine was a bit of an anticlimax all told. Deviate from the pre scripted plot too much and you're gifted with a short sharp kick to the pills as reward for all your hard endeavours. Yes, another game to re-complete. Point is, its a good one.

So colour me shocked that today in Virgin (sorry Zavvi - ugh) they're giving away this modern classic for a mere five note. "Sorry what?" FIVE quid! Ridiculous! I didn't know whether to gather all the copies up there and then in a move to become a savvy consumer, but then thought the better of it. Surely this is some mistake? I urge you to run to your nearest Chavvis and fleece them by snapping up this outrageous bargain, before the brain bug spots it's error.

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Saturday, 2 February 2008

..then name the system!

If ever a game was to score highly on the geek scale of want, this is it. I am left in a quandry though. Because, if ever there was a game to score highly on the must have the shiniest visuals and most solid physics ever scale, this is it. But if ever there was a game to score highly on the needs me to swing my controller around and flail my arms like a maniac, this is also it.

The wii sold alot of promises to me when I first heard about it all that time ago. The biggest one was lightsabres. I'm sure I am not alone in this. Since then however, I have succumbed (as I always intended mind) to the "proper" next gen console with all its techno bells and whistle glory. I have tasted of the sweet sweet fruit, and enjoyed licking my fingers afterwards. Now, I know that graphics etc are not the be all and end all, but the high powered beasts do make for different experiences above and beyond merely improved fidelity. The video above demosntrates this.

I really think the wii controls have done amazing things for gaming. When used properly, they are infinitely more fun to use than a standard controller, Resident Evil 4 is a prime example; awesome awesome aim mechanics. And what could be more appropriate than conducting storm troopers through the air, and slicing them down with the wiimote? But will the game be gimped by the realtively low tech? Kinda makes me wish nintendo would announce the wii2 already "hey, we made much more money way faster than we expected, we pushed our next model up a notch, and its ready already, here ya go".

Or will this be the first instance of where I buy a copy of a game on the wii, and the 360? Or is that too much geek? Even for a Star Wars fan? I want a lightsabre. But I need it to be shiny. Real shiny.

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Friday, 1 February 2008

Wii, 2 3 4..

I love me some wii. It has been gathering dust slightly of late though, not through any real fault of its own, rather fate seems set against it. My copy of mario has been hijacked, and my endless ocean has a game breaking scratch on the disc. Bugger. I could finish off metroid I suppose but, that has been feeling like hard work lately, and the easy charms of COD 4 have been proving too seductive. I'll do it at some point.

This wii fit business though, I don't know what to make of. On seeing it for the first time I slapped my forehead and declared to noone in particular, "they're going to make a fortune" - and this seems an accurate prediciton so far - but will it have the same impact outside of japan? And do I care? No, whether it does well or not is not my concern, will I buy it is. And I still don't know the answer. If my track record for purchasing nintendo hardware is anything to go by, I'll be in the queue on release day. But can I actually see myself doing yoga in the front room.. meh, maybe?

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