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Sunday, November 13, 2011

My review of Madden 2010-12 for the Wii

Okay, the games are the exact same as every other Madden game except they don't have Madden himself because he retired. I am mainly writing this review to complain. As a critic I think I can do that.

They are just Madden games except for one tiny problem: The graphics. For the Wii they are insultingly bad.

I mean, look at this, Just look at it



THIS IS INEXCUSABLE. And don't tell me that the Wii doesn't have the power to get better graphics. Let's look at a screenshot from Madden 2008 for the Wii








I have to ask the creators of the game, DUDE!?! WTF!?!?!? I mean, why on Earth would the graphics drop in quality from something that looks kinda real to something that looks like it was drawn by and for a 5 year old!! Who thought that was a good idea!? If the graphics stayed the same because of the computing power I would understand. But a DROP in graphics quality!? That's just utterly insulting. in fact, lets look at other images from past Madden games shall we?



Madden 2003 for the Gamecube
Madden 2006 for the PC
Madden 2002 for the PS2

I could keep going but you get the idea. My point is, graphics that cartoonish are inexcusable for a Madden game at this stage. Madden 2011 and 2012 are no better. So, my plea to the makers of madden 2013, Make the graphics better. Can you at least go back to how it was in the earlier Madden games? I have an XBOX 360 now so it doesn't matter anymore, but for the Wii makers, why did the graphics go backwards?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My review of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood




The story for this game picks up exactly where the second one left off. I won't go into detail about that. Like the second game, this one features Desmond Miles who is helping the Assassin's fight the evil Templars by going into a machine called the 'Animus' to relive the memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore Da Firenze. He relives the memories of Ezio as an Assassin himself fighting the Renaissance Era Templars yadda yadda yadda even non-players should basically know the story.



The gameplay in this one is slightly different. This one pads the game even more than the second one did but still gets the occasional pass because, you know, you get to drive a freaking tank (and fire it) through the stretches of pointless roads....yes I know, only once though.


One new aspect of the game is something called 'fully synchronization'. That means, in order to truly beat the game you have to do exactly what the mission says with an added challenge or so help me you will not have the full satisfaction of beating the game! You wussed out on a few of those missions didn't you buddy!?

I can see why they have this. It adds additional playing time to the game. It even offers you rewards in the form of repressed memories you can go through. But here's the thing: they are still pretty darn pointless and pretty darn irritating.

For example, the first time you fight an order called the 'Followers of Romulus' you have to go through a 20-30 second cut-scene that introduces them and then you have to fight 13 of them. For full synchronization you cannot get a scratch.


In the upper left hand corner you see a bar that represents your health. Each time you get hit or fall you lose a varying number of the little squares. If you get a small scratch from a fight then one of the squares will go half empty and after a few seconds it will fill up again.

So, fighting the FOR up there I got a small scratch and healed and killed them all without another hitch...the game still didn't give me full synchronization for that minute scratch. So you have to keep trying and I must have tried about 15 times (literally) to achieve full synchronization. I had to watch that pointless cut-scene over and over again each time I got a small scratch. Eventually I realized that I could skip the cut-scene and i was very grateful...here's the problem though. I skipped the cut-scene and immediately I got attacked by one of the FOR. I got hit before I could even draw my sword (the only thing you can block attacks with). So, I realized my options were to watch the dang cut-scene every time I got hit and hope that THIS TIME I will not get hit, or skip it and definitely get hit. Either way I am screwed until I get it right. I eventually stopped out of pure frustration.


In another instance, you have to escort a wounded thief to a hideout without being detected by the guards. In the game you can go into crowds and hide so that is the best way to do it...or so I thought. Turns out with the thief even if you are hidden they still find you and you lose your shot at synchronization.

And there are levels were synchronization is simple. But there are definitely times where the objective is relatively simple but very lengthy. In one instance, you have to kill a cardinal. You have to go into a crowded square completely undetected by the guards and then you have to kill him while you are sitting on a bench. Here's the thing though, doing that requires memorizing the routes of the guards and finding difficult routes to get to the bench where the cardinal is. Then you have to wait for him to actually walk around to get to where you are (he has chats with a bunch of people on the way...no seriously he will just stop and stand there before moving on) if you get eventually do that then you are good to go. But if you mess it up, well sorry dude, you have to do that all over again if you want to get full synchronization.


I can see how it could be argued that the game designers wanted to add a new challenge to the game. But frankly it is just padding. We don't friggin' need it. If you want repressed memories find some different way to do it. Make them like the Subject 16 glyphs. If we don't find all of those then oh well. It is no failure on our part because we just didn't feel like playing that optional part of the game. But with full synchronization the designers (maybe inadvertently) mixed bitter failure with sweet success. I can't fully enjoy slashing the Followers of Romulus to ribbons because I let one nick me a bit. I know that full synchronization is optional but still, by adding that portion the game has moments that a small mistake means that failure is mixed with the success. When I finished killing all of the FOR I didn't think "man, it was totally awesome how I just stabbed that one dude in the head and then slashed another one in the neck a few seconds later" I felt more of "dang it, I let that one nick me a bit. I fail."

It's like the pointless mini-missions of the second one. Only gamers that care too much about beating the whole thing are going to spend the time and effort to get it all done. And it's not just something that you just go "ah, too bad. It doesn't matter that I didn't do it totally right." While that is true, there are apparently memories that you cannot access without doing it totally right. If you do want to spend the time getting full synchronization, you have to go back through and do it over and over again until you get it right. One of the best weapons in the game by far is the crossbow. If you beat the game and want to try an early memory again, you can forget the crossbow.


I am probably ranting here, but what I am saying is that the full synchronization thing is just plain mean. It isn't adding more challenge to the game as much as more padding and frustration by shoving failure into your face to go with the success. I can only hope it isn't in the next one.




The graphics are still amazing so that's a plus.


Also, there are moments int eh game where you get to use really cool modernish weapons (such as the aforementioned tank). Once again these missions are tarnished by the full synchronization aspect but they are still fun.



Overall I would highly suggest getting this game especially if you liked the first two. I loved playing it. I cannot wait for the next one to come out!


My official rating of the game: 9.0/10

My review of Assassin's Creed 2









I started off my Assassin's Creed experience with this game. I beat this one before I started with the first one and I found myself just not caring enough about the original to continue with it. I suppose that I wanted to see where the story went next as opposed to where it had been.




The story follows Desmond Miles who is caught up in the present day war between the Templars (bad guys who want to enslave the world) and the Assassins (The people trying to stop them from doing that). He goes into a machine called an 'Animus' that allows him to relive the memories of his ancestors so he can figure out modern day secrets. The ancestor he lives through in this game is Ezio Auditore Da Firenze (Florence) and he lives through Ezio's memories as Ezio attempts to kill the people who murdered his father and brothers as well as unraveling the mysteries of the pieces of Eden while fighting the enemies of the Assassin order. The makers of this game clearly put a lot of effort into the story and it definitely shows here. The game has a great story (complete with end-of-game cliffhangers of course) that leave the player coming back wanting to play more. I like the story because while it offers a lot of gameplay, it is not so long that you start to lose interest in the game itself.


Speaking of the gameplay, I had a blast playing it. The controls are not difficult to master at all. They kind of are at first because the game shows you symbols of what buttons to press. So, instead of saying press E to go into 'Eagle Vision' it shows an icon of a yellow head and eventually the player learns that this means press E (Unless the player has set the controls otherwise...also, as a side note, I played this on a PC). Thankfully the game teaches you how to fight pretty early on so you looking at an icon of a blue hand will make sense to you when it comes time for combat.

Another thing about this game that is really cool are that assassinations. Hiding in a haystack? With one click of a button you stab a guard in the back and pull him in. Hanging off the edge of a building? Click and stab a guard in the nuts and pull him off the building to his doom. You get the idea. One addition to this game that I loved was the duel hidden blade feature. You can now walk up to two guards and stab them BOTH in the face. With one you have to pick which one you stab and then fight the other one. In a game like this, cool kills are a must and this game totally delivers on that.


ON the flipside, this game flirts on the edge of what David Wong of Cracked.com calls 'padding the length of your games' There are moments (few and far between) where you have to run or ride to a destination that is far away from where you are going. It doesn't happen often and when it does you usually have something to occupy your time with (such as throwing guards off of the carriage you are driving). But it flirts the line.


Another negative of the game is the minute side missions that you can do. these are things such as delivering letters, races, and beating up people. I gotta say that while I can see why they are int here, I don't feel that they need to be. Why may you ask? Because only the most devoted player to the game will actually start doing them once the main story is over and even fewer are going to do a lot of them during the story. I mean, which would you rather do? Deliver a letter to someone else's lover or sneak into a restricted area patrolled by dozens of guards to stab an evil Templar in the back of the neck? The second one of course. This is Assassin's Creed, not Paper Boy. Get someone else to deliver your darn mail. I have to save the world dang it!

Having said that, the assassination missions, while still missions that few will actually get around to doing, are okay because when you start one you actually get to finish it by stabbing some bozo in the neck....twice if you want.

Also, the glyphs that 'Subject 16' leaves in the game (I'd go further into that but it is best if you play the game to get the full info on that) are great because they add a new challenge to the game and it adds a new element to the already great story including famous moments in time that are given the Assassin Vs. Templar touch.


Also it must be said that the graphics of the game are spectacular. I doubt that anyone knew that we would go from this kind of story game graphics










To this kind

















It's amazing isn't it? That is definitely a plus.




I know that there is some controversy about these games for being too violent and especially for its religious themes. Well come on people, it is a work of fiction. Does Ezio say some stuff that I disagree with? Of course. But it is a fictional game and unless I see otherwise, I doubt that the designers would say 'Let's make this game Ubisoft's official policy on life and religion." There would be no way to get away with that.

One more negative, throughout the game you are running around and you run into people called minstrels. They run in front of you and try to sing to you. They are only there to get in your way and nothing else. No they cannot be killed. You can pickpocket them and they go away. My point is, they are absolutely pointless. There is no reason to have them at all. I hope the 4th one doesn't have them at all.

Overall, this game is really fun and I would highly suggest getting it if you haven't already. It isn't amazingly violent either. Is their blood? Yep but its not like a geyser spews out every time Ezio stabs someone. Cool kills combined with a spectacular story combined with excellent graphics game this a game worth having and worth playing.



My official rating of the game: 9.4/10

Friday, November 4, 2011

What makes The Exorcist so horrifying

As any good horror film scholar will tell you, there are 3 different reactions one can have from a good horror film: startled, scared, and horrified.


Startled would be if you scrolled down and saw a picture of the face of a spider and you didn't know it was coming.

























Which I won't do.

Scared would be if a giant spider appeared behind you and chased you around. That would scare you even if you weren't arachnophobic. Or as another example, if you were scared of spiders and you thought that I was going to show a picture of a spiders face (as an interesting note, spiders have eight eyes for extended vision. That still makes them scary as f***)  the thought of scrolling down to see the face of the spider is scary to you. I know it would be to me.


Now, an example of horrifying would be if I told you that a spider had been going around to the newborn wing of hospitals and eating his fill of the newborn babies. Don't worry, that won't happen. But if it did it would horrify you to hear that right? Does that make sense? No? Too bad. For those of you that do get it, I can tell you why The Exorcist is horrifying as opposed to scary.


I know that The Exorcist has been labelled as the scariest movie ever. I beg to differ. I personally think that (and don't laugh) Paranormal Activity 3 is the scariest movie ever (I told you not to laugh...don't argue, it's my opinion) because it lets you fill in so much of the scariness of the film with your mind. Do we ever see Tobey? nope but we see the scary things he does. Good, now I see The Exorcist as the most HORRIFYING film of all time. Why? Well, I'll tell you.



First off, meet Regan MacNeil

This is Regan holding...something. A walkalazoo. Call it what you will...




So, a few fun facts (alliterations eh?) about her, first off she's 12 years old and she has a famous actress for a mother.



This one as a matter of fact




She has the kind of home life that any daughter of a single mom/famous future Oscar winner (though not for Requiem for a Dream...Julia Roberts is a thief!) parties, a nanny, she has to find ways to entertain herself (such as the above picture. She made that...kazoomadoka...or whatever)


and that too.

Well if you met her with that she'd introduce you to her friend, Captain Howdy














Say hello


That is Academy Award Winner (Don't believe me? Look it up!) Captain Howdy, he is not very pleased to meet you. In fact I'll speak for the both of us and say that we are not very pleased to meet him either. So there.



Now, I'm sure that you can see where this is going. Captain Howdy (AKA Pazuzu) possesses Regan.


Now to my points!



This is Regan post-possession



Seems fine to me





and a little later



Okayyyy a little creepy but my sister gives me that look all the time



And later




uh.....






and a little later




JEEZ GET AWAY FROM ME! SHOO SHOO DEMON CHILD IT'S THE POWER OF CHRIST THAT COMPELS YOU!!!


Exactly.


Now let's compare some pictures here.

before





after





Now you see that? That is pretty horrifying. DID I MENTION SHE IS FREAKING 12!?!?!? I mean look at her in the previous picture. She looks so happy and care-free. She has her paper-mache Walla-Walla Washington and she looks happy. In the bottom picture it looks like Rosemary's second kid got hit by a bus.



Now if you look at other horror films, you can be horrified. In David Cronenburg's 1986 film The Fly, it is pretty horrifying what Jeff Goldblum looks like in full fly mode. It is immensely grotesque. But do you know what the difference is?

The difference is is that Jeff Goldblum's character is an adult. In most horror films it is an adult that gets the gruesome scenes.

See, in The Exorcist it is a kid. Kids are supposed to be innocent. Even in horror films where there is some external threat to the kid, some older figure will come and protect the kid.

For example, in Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant finds himself taking care of the two children after the T-Rex attack. He is a big strong man with an expert knowledge of dinosaurs and their habits. When the cowardly lawyer leaves the kids alone, Lex says "He left us! He left us!" and Grant responds with a
reassuring "But that's not what I'm gonna do!"

In scary movies with kids, there is always a figure who can guard the kid from the external threats, they keep them safe until the threat has passed.


In The Exorcist? Not an option. It is the kid herself, the sweet innocent child, who is the external threat to everybody. The worst part? The mother can't do anything about it. When Regan first shows signs of possession, Chris turns over every stone in order to try to help her daughter. Every psychiatrist and medical specialist in DC is visited. Nobody can help. Chris is filled with the worst feeling any parent can have with a child the feeling of "I can't protect my child. I can't help her. I can't hold her hand and say "everything will be okay I'm here for you" I don't even know if everything is going to be alright." Not being a parent myself I cannot imagine what that must feel like. I can imagine that it is every parent's worst nightmare.


Now, did Regan bring this upon herself with the Ouija board? Theoretically, yes. But I have to imagine that she didn't know the consequences of playing with it would be. Let's go back to The Fly, Jeff Goldblum knew there were risks to his invention. He knew that something could go wrong but he did it anyways. He knew there could be consequences and thus his whole transformation is entirely his fault. Nobody can argue that. With Regan, she was just playing with a toy to entertain herself while her mother was away. If she knew what would happen she probably would have gotten rid of the thing. She got possessed because a wholly evil entity took advantage of her child innocence.


So, to recap, her possession is horrifying because she is an innocent child who didn't know the consequences of what she was doing. Her mother cannot protect her from the evil force threatening her and she doesn't know if everything will be okay. Plus, Regan is only 12 years old. She would have to be at least 5 or 6 years older before Jason would consider going after her. It is a cardinal rule in most horror that the kid cannot suffer. Well, I think that one was broken with The Exorcist don't you? And even when two people chosen by God try to save her, they can't. Not by the ways that they know how. It takes utterly horrifying means to finally get the demon(s) out of her.


Pretty heavy stuff huh?

I'll leave you with this clip. It might lighten the mood or it might just depress you even more. But it's fascinating.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsA3nxzgK-M&feature=related