It's been a little while since my last entry. Just wanted to talk about a few things.
A correction here:
I mentioned in a couple of my previous journal entries that I had been meaning to use the song and anime combo in my "The Masks We Wear" AMV for some time. I should have clarified that I meant using them in a full-fledged video, as I did use the combo before in a short segment in the Gothik II MEP I took part in several years ago. I've updated my video info page to reflect that.
Attack on Subaru?:
Do you like Attack on Titan? Do you like Subaru? Even if your answer to both questions is no, I still think you should check this commercial out:
This commercial actually gives me a little hope that a live action version of the anime/manga could be done somewhat properly. The Colossal Titan in particularly looked really cool.
There have, of course, been several video games that I've been playing through the last few months. I'll just give some short thoughts on each instead of my usual wall of text for each game:
I Am Alive:
A friend of mine recommended the game to me, and despite hearing some mixed reviews on it, I gave it a shot. The game does a great job presenting a foreboding atmosphere, and the game also let's you know early on that you're not indestructible, as you can die pretty easily if you take on too many enemies at once. My main issue is with the climbing aspect which is made tougher by a "tiredness" mechanic that causes you to fall if you climb for too long (and believe me there is a lot of climbing). I know it's more realistic, but personally, it just caused me more frustration. 3/5 stars
DmC: Devil May Cry
I was a little iffy at first with somebody else other than Capcom developing a Devil May Cry Game, particularly after seeing Dante's new look. However, after giving the game a chance, I found it to be really enjoyable, despite finding it a bit easier than previous games in the series. The combat system is great, the soundtrack and voice-acting is well done, and the social/political commentary was enjoyable to watch (if a bit on the nose). 4/5 stars
As with the previous Bioshock games, the real star of the game is its setting. The floating city of Columbia looks and feels like a fully realized place. Early on in the game, I just found myself walking around and staring at the architecture, and listening to people talk on the street. Also, I really liked the character of Elizabeth (whom you're sent to rescue), as she provides your journey with a sense of humanity with the way she interacts with the world around her. My only gripe is that the combat can sometimes feel a bit repetitive (despite having fun Vigor powers). That being said Bioshock: Infinite is definitely one of 2013's best games. 4.5/5 stars
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Truth be told, I wasn't terribly impressed with Assassin's Creed III. Maybe it was franchise fatigue, but I just didn't find it as enjoyable as the previous game. That was why I was so surprised as to how much I enjoyed Assassin's Creed IV. My favourite part of AC3 was the naval combat, and AC4 greatly expands on it. Playing as pirate Edward Kenway, you'll be spending half your time on land, and half your time at sea. It's your time at sea that's the highlight, as you engage in combat with British and Spanish forces, pillaging ships, and (if you want) adding them to your fleet. If AC3 burned you out on the series, I would heartily recommend you give AC4 a shot. 4/5 stars
XCom: Enemy Within
One of my gaming habits is that I rarely replay a single player campaign once I completed it. Despite loving XCom: Enemy Unknown, I was hesitant playing Enemy Within, since it does not change the single player story, and simply adds new tech and upgrades to use. When I got it for a Christmas present, I thought I would only play it for a little bit. It took me only a couple of days to beat the campaign again. Seriously, the new Exalt faction, the new upgrades you can give your soldiers (particularly being able to turn soldiers into hulking mechs), and the Covert missions all make it worthwhile to play the campaign again for a second time. I didn't think it would be possible to improve on Enemy Unknown's near perfect gameplay, but Enemy Within has done just that. 5/5 stars
State of Decay
State of Decay has a lot of bugs in it, some of which can break missions. Also, the combat (particularly the melee combat) feels very awkward, with hit detection being off sometimes. These may seem like huge issues, but I'm telling you, if you stick with the game, you'll find it to be one of the best open world or zombie games out there. Unlike many other zombie games, you'll need to gather supplies to build your base and defend it from attack. You also have to deal with conflicts and issues that members of your group of survivors encounter. You can also switch between survivors (if you're friends with them), but if you lose a survivor, they're gone for good. This game is definitely worth a look. 4/5 stars
Saint's Row IV
If you thought that the third Saint's Row game was a bit too "serious", then Saint's Row 4 is the game for you. The game has you fighting off an alien invasion in a virtual world (a la The Matrix), and also gives you special powers to use on your foes, such as super speed, freezing enemies, and telekinesis. This makes the game feel a lot more close to Prototype or Infamous than Grand Theft Auto. In fact, I rarely used a car to get around. Fun is simply the best way to describe this game. The game revels in its total absurdity, and I love it! 4.5/5 stars
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
With the gaming press recently handing out awards, one name that popped up many times was Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The game itself revolves around solving a series of simple puzzles along your journey, but that belies the story of hardship that these brothers have to go through towards their ultimate goal. Honestly, if you're not even a little moved by the end of the game, then you might be an android (in which case you need an emotion chip implanted). 4/5 stars
AMVs and Beyond: Two Souls
My AMV plans (or lack thereof):
For a few years I've been out of making AMVs. This was mainly due to not only a lack of time, but also a lack of motivation. I just really didn't "feel" like making another AMV. That changed this year when I saw the trailer for the upcoming Ender's Game movie, which then motivated me to create Ender's Evangelion. Also this year, I made The Masks We Wear, which was a simple drama AMV, but I finally got around to using the anime and song combo of Darker Than Black, and The Smashing Pumpkin's "Disarm". I've been meaning to use that combo for a while, but for one reason or another I hadn't until now. Quite simply, it felt good to be making AMVs again.
After The Masks We Wear, I planned to get around to making a more technically complicated AMV. The idea for it had been simmering in the back of my mind for a few years, but I simply did not have the time to make it. Well...that unfortunately has not changed. After comparing how much work will be required to make it, versus the amount of free time I'll have in the future, I decided to put it on hold again, rather than half-ass the project. I will admit though, my idea isn't exactly high-minded, but it's one I want to do. I really hope that one of these days I'll get around to making it, but for now, I'm probably not going to release anymore AMVs for the rest of this year.
Beyond: Two Souls
I recently completed Beyond: Two Souls for the PS3. I really enjoyed Quantic Dream's previous game, Heavy Rain, and was more than willing to give their new game a try. After playing Beyond: Two Souls, I thoguht that, overall, it was an enjoyable experience, but not as good as Heavy Rain. On the positive side, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe put in really stellar performances for their respective characters. Also, the character modelling and facial animation are top notch, and I thought that the game's supernatural storyline was good enough that it made me want to play more to find out what happens next. I should note that the story of the game jumps back and forth between different parts of Jodie's (played by Ellen Page) life, and this method of story telling works pretty well for the most part.
On the downside, Beyond: Two Souls felt a lot more linear than Heavy Rain. Of course, Heavy Rain has the advantage of playing from the perspective of four different characters. Also, the movement controls felt a little clunky, particularly when your searching an area trying to find the spot where you're supposed to interact with to further the story. Lastly, the sections where Beyond: Two Souls tried to include more "conventional" game mechanics (e.g. stealth sections) felt a little forced and out of place.
Still, if you enjoyed Heavy Rain, or if you like a video game with good story and dialogue, I would definitely suggest you give Beyond: Two Souls a shot.
I give Beyond: Two Souls 4/5 stars.
2 for 1 opinion exchange (updated)
If anyone is interested, I'm still doing an op exchange. Just note that I have now switched the video I want an opinion for to my latest AMV, The Masks We Wear.
Why Pacific Rim made me both incredibly happy and angry
I saw Pacific Rim the other day with a friend in IMAX 3D. It was without a doubt one of the most fun movie-going experiences I had in a long time! The mecha design is great, and the fight scenes are even better! While the dialogue was campy, it fit perfectly with the over-the-top tone of the movie. I also appreciated the fact that the movie didnít try to shoehorn a love story, and instead focused more on teamwork and friendship. Lastly, the soundtrack to the movie was frakking fantastic! Pacific Rim is a labour of love by Guillermo Del Toro, and it shows in each and every scene of the movie. I loved it! The crowd in the theatre loved it! Plus, seeing it all unfold in IMAX 3D is a real sight to behold!
So, after saying all those good things about the movie, what was it about Pacific Rim that made me angry? Well, Iím going to go on a bit of a tangent here: Itís not Pacific Rim that has me angry, but peopleís reaction (or lack-thereof) to the movie. This is a movie that I want to see do well for the reasons stated above. But, when I tried to convince some people to watch the movie, the reaction was along the lines of ďit looks just like Power RangersĒ. Online, people have been saying, ďit looks like a crappy Transformers rip-offĒ. Sorry, wrong on both counts. Anyone who has actually seen the movie knows that, aside from having giant robots/mecha and giant monsters, itís nothing like Power Rangers or Michael Bayís Transformers (Note: I actually enjoyed the first Transformers movie, but the other twoÖletís just say not as much).
The funny thing is that many of the people saying the above things are fans of sci-fi. These are the same people that you may hear saying ďall blockbusters these days are just sequels, reboots, or based on pre-existing materialĒ. Then along comes Pacific Rim, a movie that both critics and people who have seen it enjoy, and is also an original movie written directly for the screen (i.e. not a sequel, reboot, or based on pre-existing material like a book, video game, etc.). What happened? It gets beaten by Grown Ups 2 on opening weekend. And people wonder why Hollywood blockbusters are in the state theyíre in. Seriously, if you consider yourself a sci-fi fan, or hell, even a general movie fan, the fact that Grown Ups 2 beat Pacific Rim should make you upset. I know it made me upset.
If youíve read this far, you can probably tell that Pacific Rim is a movie that Iím passionate about, and that I think people should see it. However, I donít think you should see Pacific Rim just because itís great movie (at least I think it is), but also for what it represents: an attempt by a great filmmaker to make an original movie, based on subject material that heís passionate about. There are not many blockbuster movies these days where you can say that, and if we want to get more original blockbusters in the future, then we need to support movies like Pacific Rim. Look, I realize that this movie is not going to be for everyone (no movie is). But when I hear my fellow geeks completely dismissing this movie out of hand, and not even consider giving it a chance (whether itís seeing it in theatres or on DVD/Blu-ray), yeah, it kind of irks me a little.
As of the time I write this, the estimated worldwide gross for Pacific Rim is around $178 million, which seems like a lot, but when you consider that the budget is around $190 million, as well as the cost of advertising and the cut of the gross that theatres take, Iíve read reports that Pacific Rim needs to make around $475 million to be decently profitable, and for a potential sequel to be considered, which will not be an easy feet. So for those who have seen the movie and want to see a sequel, what can we do to help? If you havenít seen the movie, then go see it. If you have seen the movie, consider seeing it again, particularly if you havenít seen it in IMAX 3D. If you have family and/or friends who live overseas, tell them to go see it (especially in China and Japan, which are two major markets where the movie hasnít opened yet). Lastly, if youíve got some spare cash, consider picking up a copy of the DVD/Blu-ray when itís released.
Itís been a while since I ranted like this, so my apologies if my writing feels a bit disjointed. To end off on a slightly more positive note, no matter what happens at the box office, the one silver lining that fans of Pacific Rim can take solace in is the fact the movie got made in the first place. For myself and others, this movie is like the culmination of one of our geek fantasies, and nothing can take that away from us.
The Masks We Wear (my newest AMV)
Hey everyone! I've just released my latest AMV. I've been meaning to use this particular song and anime combo for a while, especially because I love both of them. Hope you all enjoy it!
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