Braid

•February 19, 2009 • 3 Comments

 

This game goes great with room temperature red wine.

This game goes great with room temperature red wine.

Well I can’t say that I ever called a game pretentious before. Nor had I ever questioned wether a 2d sprite could fail at intimacy. Braid is quite unique for these reasons. Yeah its artwork is misleading at first glance, somewhere between cartoony and painterly. All the while parroting the most familiar aspects of mario brothers right down to a cute dinosaur greeting you at a castle door to tell you your princess is in another castle. (and sometimes that you suck at life and should give up)

 

What no flag pole?

Damn I bet that's a metaphor.

However a very lonely score permeates the world and takes over any sense of happiness the visuals might imply. You collect puzzle pieces and do other blatantly video gamey things but all with a giant self awareness and dreamlike quality overlaying the experience. Every inch of the game is a well planned puzzle involving, timing, time manipulation of many kinds, and planning. The puzzle pieces you collect however and the narrative that unfolds in the form of deep thoughts in journals or maybe even as memories and dreams tell an unnerving tale.

braid-game-screenshot-xbox-360-arcade-bigThe journey is a very personal one and abstract in nature. You don’t know whether the main protagonist Tim should get sympathy or scorn. The soundtrack and narrative give you hints but never fully disclose the details and you don’t know through who’s eyes you are getting the information for sure. If it is Tim’s personal reflections you hear then they may be deceptive. If it is a third party narration they may be missing information. Most games have stories that are beyond terrible. Gamers do not question a bad set up they generally just want to get into the physical challenge. Braid brings good character and narrative into the experience in a way that is unique to the medium. Everything works together to evoke Tim’s personal strife. Even when you are doing silly things like pulling levers and jumping on the heads of baddies there is a mental image of Tim’s life falling into the crapper.

The most depressing game ever?

The most depressing game ever?

In the end the game has extremely challenging and rewarding puzzles that the developers clearly want you to solve with no outside help. (they make this clear in their official strategy guide that basically calls you a lazy cheater  CHECK IT HERE  it’s actually kind of amusing.) The mood is one of a kind and the story might make you feel strange feelings you never felt while gaming before. Small game makers end up making another satisfying game.

Available on X-box Live and coming soon to PC and MAC.

Final Score : 9.0

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Fallout 3 Review

•February 17, 2009 • 5 Comments

 

This guy is nicer than me.

This guy is nicer than me.

Every now and then you find out that you are a complete bastard. I tried, I really tried to do the right things, help people, and make the world a better place but in the end I was just another dick. Fallout 3 gives birth to you, literally, in a post apocalyptic Washington DC. (from what I can tell things haven’t changed too much.) With nothing but your wits you must wander the wasteland and try to survive. The people you encounter are barely getting by, some better than others, and you are going to have to work with some of them to survive. This means helping people and in the process screwing other people over and apparently I’m much better at the latter part.

For instance while traversing the desolate plaines  of death I came across an abandoned kid. Yeah he was kind of a punk but if you picked on him enough he would break down crying just because everyone he loved was eaten by giant fire breathing ants. So being early into my adventure I decided to avenge his families being cooked alive and get the lad some solace. (The mission was called THOSE!, a good rip off off THEM! an old sci fi ant movie, amusing yes) So i stomped the ant hive and found his fathers charred corpse and brought the kid the “good” news. Then after all that, he has the gumption to ask me to find him a home. So naturally I put an explosive collar around his neck and sold him into slavery for 500 bottle caps (which may be stronger than the dollar is right now, start saving).

I really tried to do what was right but I had enough problems of my own what with trying to buy a nuke-cola machine for my shack. I mean just because someone spends 20 minutes telling you how they lost everything does not mean you shouldn’t break into their home and steal their last box of Sugar Bombs. First off Sugar Bombs have a huge black market value secondly the lock to their house should have been upgraded to “very hard” not “easy” if they didn’t want me plundering the place.

 

Yep I'm gonna rob that shack. God help whoever is inside.

Yep I'm gonna rob that shack. God help whoever is inside.

Thats right I rob the poor, murder the weak (but only after saving them first so I can get any rewards they might have, and to mess with them) and run errands for tyrants. I’ll pickpocket a hobo on the street and leave a hand grenade in his pocket for my own amusement. I’ll loot your house then sell your own stuff back to you at the highest price. I’ll fire a nuclear warhead into a small town right after I help save it from maraudering super mutants. I am a one man wrecking ball of atrocity.

 

I'd blame the radiation poisoning but I'm just a dick.

I'd blame the radiation poisoning but I'm just a dick.

The wasteland is massive and inhabited by tons of people just waiting for you to screw them over. Sure the animation isn’t fantastic and there’s tons of game crashing errors while playing, but nothing will deter you from reloading the game to find a new low to sink to.

Well I suppose you could play through as a noble character and do nothing but good, but then you won’t be able to afford a giant heart shaped bed for your shack to bring hookers back to.

Final Score: 9.3

Her Morning Elegance / Oren Lavie / Video

•January 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

Great piece of stop motion work that perfectly accentuates the music. 

The video was done by Yuval and Merav Nathan. Check it.

Double Dragon Review

•January 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

They even look like pussies on the box.

They even look like pussies on the box.

A dedicated team took it upon themselves to put an awesome new graphical shine on the original Double Dragon and release it back into the wild on Xbox Live. However this was like putting lipstick on a gorilla with cerebral palsy and enrolling it into a dance competition. The game opened fine enough with a musclebound Bono look alike punching Miss New Jersey in the stomach and running off with her like donkey kong. This of course makes you take up the roles of 2 homosexual stereotypes from the 80’s to save her pump wearing ass from danger. You would assume that this was the start of a kick ass side scrolling beat em up however the second you gain control your assumption is grabbed by the hair and kneed in the face repeatedly.

Bionic Bono and his thugs outside the "English Tear" ?

Bionic Bono and his thugs outside the "English Tear" ?

Playing this game in co-op mode was the equivalent of me and my friend taking the controllers and forcing them into each other’s eye sockets and then controlling the game by spraying each other with mace.  As we battled a clone army of guys with vests and no undershirts and musclebound cabbage patch dolls we were more likely to grab each other’s character and get stuck in a 14 minute long slap fight than actually make contact with the sassy street toughs who threatened us by repeatedly dropping pipes and whips at our feet. In order to defend yourself your fighter has the awesome abilities to punch his teamate in the face like a girl, kick through an enemy to no effect (unless it happens to strike your partner of course), to pick up and drop an assortment of useless weapons, and to run or jump randomly into pits despite hitting the opposite direction on the controller. The only saving grace of the game is that level one apparently turns into level 4 after you walk by 5 street toughs. After you kill your partner 78 more times or walk into an endless supply of pits on main street you will reach the epic finale. First you must battle a giant green musclebound cabbage patch man who is less tough than the standard clone you have fought on your way there. Finally you get to take down Bono and his loyal body guards. Unfortunately there are five of them which means the game slows down to a crawl and you can only kick your parter in the face once every six minutes while the bad guys aimlessly wander around dropping pipes and hopefully kill themselves for being in the game. If you mange to complete this game, which was coded and designed by nazi sadist game makers, and save the girl (without first dismantling your TV via flying chair) you get the awesome bonus of being able to fight each other just like you did all game. Only now you get the added bonus that you sassy flying kicks and punches are as effective on each other as they were the bad guys. Somehow complete this and get ready for a satisfying “Game Over” screen and a list of names of the people you now want to spend the rest of you life tracking down so you can you can grab them by the hair  and knee them for eternity.

 

Group hugs, accurate kicks, and random death will greet you at all turns.

Group hugs, accurate kicks, and random death will greet you at all turns.

Final Score – 0.0 

Top 15 Heist Movies

•January 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So I spent the last week playing a lot of Fallout 3 and in the process found myself obsessed with robbing, pick pocketing, and plotting to take everything that isn’t mine from other people. This made me think about what was so exciting about a well planned or even half assed robbery especially in movies. Here is the list of my favorite 15 movies where people steal in various ways.

15) Out of Sight – This movie oozes with style and sex appeal and shows George Clooney one smooth criminal. Great dialogue and a top notch soundtrack earned this one a spot on the list.

14) Small Time Crooks – Woody Allen leads a team of bumbling crooks on a bank job that doesn’t break any boundaries but is pretty damn funny. I still to this day quote the line between Woody Allen and Jon Luvitz. Allen – “Remember in the joint they called me the brain” Luvitz – “that was sarcastic” Allen – “it was?”

13) Inside Man – Clive Owen is 54 steps ahead of Denzel Washington and the rest of the law in this standard but clever bank job.

12) From Dusk Til Dawn 2 – Criminals and Vampires crash in this bloodbath of a bank robbery movie. Its over the top, ridiculous, and damn enjoyable. 

11) Dog Day Afternoon – Sometimes you rob a bank for a good cause. Even if that good cause is getting your gay love partner money for a sex change operation. So maybe it wasn’t such a noble cause. “Attica Attica!”

10) Oceans 11 – The remake is a showcase a perfectly drawn up plan and has some fun snappy moments that improve on the original. In the version starring Frank Sinatra they come up with the amazingly perfect plan to turn off the casino’s lights and just grab the money in the dark and 78 mins of just talking and drinking. 

9) The Lady Killers – The Coen Brothers bring in a remake of a decent old robbery flick and Tom Hanks nails a pretty goofy role as the head of the robbery.

8.) Sexy Beast – Ben Kingsly is a ridiculously aggressive recruiter of a safe cracker in this australian flick. Strange pacing but excellent movie with awesome characters.

7) No Country for Old Men – Sometimes you steal based on opportunity which leads into one of the best chase movies of all time. I will never look at an air tank the same way again.

6) Snatch – A cat and mouse crime epic. Super broad characters and some of the best indecipherable dialog ever. One line from this movie and now I see pigs used as a standard disposal method in all kinds of movies and shows.

5) Heat – The movie itself is pretty bland but the robbery scene that it climaxes with is one of the best ever on film.

4) Raising Arizona – (This is the third Coen Brothers movie on here) Well it starts with robbery of a baby and leads into pretty much ever kind of holdup and over the top crime situation possible.

3) Killing Zoe – A  bank robbery set in France that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. Blood drenched, aggressive, and full of outstanding characters and dialog. DEfinitely check out this one.

2) The Lookout – This one kind of snuck in and out of theaters. A brain damaged kid is exploited to rob the bank he works at. It is extremely well acted directed and realized. What could have been a much lighter fair ends up being a great character movie with complex layers. 

1) Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – The name describes it perfectly. This is the second Guy Ritchie movie on here but it is one I could watch over and over. The direction and dialog are perfect.

World of Goo Review

•January 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

 

World of Goo by 2-D Boy

World of Goo by 2-D Boy

 

Independent game developers have been churning out some of the most interesting and enjoyable game experiences in recent time. Yeah sure there are plenty of blockbuster games that have devoured hours of my time but it is rare that they ooze with as much charm and passion as their indy counterparts. World of Goo is developer 2-D Boy’s first major release and it holds up against all of it’s multi million dollar counterparts.

Releasing originally on the Wii and on PC platforms the teams has been working around the clock to code out versions that for Mac and Linux users to enjoy as well. The game involves goo, little blobs of multicolored goo based blobs with eyes who are used by a major corporation as the primary ingredient to it’s line of products. They are cute little blobs with plenty of personality and it is up to you to use their inborn properties to build bridges and towers and all sorts of other ingenious physics based contraptions so they can be sucked up and exploited by the company via large tubes placed about the stages. All the puzzles involve physics in unique and clever ways and will make you laugh as much as they will prove to be a challenge. With over 40 stages and a competitive online component where you use all the extra goo balls you collect to build the tallest tower you can before it topples.

The look of the game is clean vector based and cartoony. There is a lot of charm in each stage and the animations are spot on.

The game controls are all drag and drop based and are intuitive with a mouse set up (I have played the game on a Mac) I imagine that the Wii mote would prove as satisfying of a control scheme. 

The learning curve and level progression is appropriate and they even allow you to skip around a bit if you find yourself stuck on any particular puzzle. The completion of each puzzle is satisfying and will have you wanting to best each stage. 

This game should be checked out if you want to play a very good and unique puzzle game for a cheap price. Everything is available in all formats as a digital download. 

2-D Boy’s site

Final Score – 8.6

 

You are so hot…

•January 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

You are so hot that volcanos sacrifice themselves by jumping into you.

You are so hot, you make the Human Torch look like just The Human.

You are so hot, Mexicans keep trying to put you into a giant burrito.

You are so hot that on three separate occasions you have been mistaken for the Earth’s core.

You are so hot that it is illegal to stand next to you while holding fireworks.

You are so hot that we never get snow or rain we only get steam.

You are so hot that rolling ten sevens in a row is named after you.

You are so hot, Al Gore points in your general direction at all times angrily.

You are so hot you have to order all food raw so that it wont be burnt by the time you swallow it.

You are so hot that I’m going to have to leave you.