Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Video Game: Red Steel 2

I recently found the Red Steel and Wii motion plus bundle discounted in a Walmart bargain bin.  Although Red Steel 1 hadn't been my favorite game or anything, I had heard some really good things about Red Steel 2.  At the time, I also realized that at some point, Skyward Sword was going to require Wii motion plus, so I decided to give it a shot.  Man, Red Steel 2 did not disappoint.

Red Steel 2 shares only a few similarities with its predecessor.  The main character uses a sword and a gun.  That is about where the similarities end.  For those that never tried Red Steel 1, the game could be described as a very cheesy 80's action movie.  Horrible dialogue coupled with Wii launch controls and strange comic book cutscenes that didn't really help to immerse the player.  The game was not awful by any means, but the consensus what that it really left the player just wishing it would have been what they had hoped; a game that would satisfy the player's urge to wield a sword and slice up bad guys.  

Red Steel 2 delivers in this department.  Ubisoft once again didn't take the story too seriously, but this time its far more clear that zany is what they were going for.  In a heavily Western like setting, for some reason lives different samurai clans.  Some enemy samurai want a very special sword that the Kusagari clan has, so they slaughter all of the Kusagari.  Unfortunately the "hero" who had the sword was away while all this happened.  This premise allows the "hero" who looks like a mix between Vash the Stampede and a red mage, to seek bloodthirsty revenge.  The graphics are reminiscent of borderlands.  While there are a few things one could go about collecting in the game, like tokens and sheriff stars, as well as side missions, it is fairly linear.  This is a good thing in my opinion.  The game really just feels like a roller coaster of pure action.  You get a mission, head in that direction on the minimap, knocking into barrels and boxes that for some reason always have money in them, (money being used to upgrade your weapons and armor).  Once you reach the green arrow on the map, you fight the enemies.  Rinse and repeat.  This does eventually become a little repetitive, but a mixup between what type of enemies you fight and what type of moves you need to execute keeps it fresh.

Red Steel 2 is everything Red Steel 1 wasn't and more.  Pure action.  No extremely cheesy love interest with a damsel in distress.  Tight controls ala Wii motion plus.  Stylish graphics.  If you're looking for a game where you don't necessarily need to think about where to go next, but requires some good eye hand coordination and reflexes, give this awesome game a try!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Video Game: Portal 2

Portal 2 is just one more reason why the game developer's at Valve are master's at what they do. Valve has created some of the best first person shooter games in the past years, including my favorite multiplayer FPS, the Left 4 Dead series. During the Steam summer sale, my friend and I snagged a Portal 2-2 pack which made it even cheaper than what it currently was discounted to. Needless to say, once I started it up, I beat it in almost one sitting. That's not to say it is extremely short or anything, it is definitely longer than its predecessor. However I was hooked from start to finish.

Portal 2 is the sequel to the short but sweet Portal of a few years ago. In it, the protagonist is a human test subject, forced to go through demeaning "tests" while utilizing Aperture Science's Portal gun. It is a unique concept to the series. Basically, by using the Portal gun, one is able to step through walls, fall from ceilings, enter from the ground up and so on in order to solve puzzles that the infernal computer wants to put you through, all in the hopes of reaching the end of this maze. It makes for a lot of fun and is consistent with physics.

Without spoiling anything, Portal 2 starts up where Portal 1 left off. This time, the story is fleshed out a lot more. The game also plays like a sadistic comedy. The dialogue between the AI's is a riot to hear and really engages you in the atmosphere.

I have yet to try the Cooperative mode, which essentially is a whole other campaign in which you and a friend work together as portal toting robots, after finishing the single player game, but I will be doing so in the near future. If you enjoyed the first Portal, you are sure to love this next entry. It expands on the original concept in every way, going above and beyond.

 It is a shame to hear that Valve is considering not really focusing on single player games as much in the future, in lieu of preferring to create multiplayer games, as they certainly have a knack for it.
Give this one a try. It will not disappoint.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Television: Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is an intense show.  It is one of my new favorites.  My brother had urged me to give it a watch over a year ago, but I only more recently took the time to do so.  I was hooked from start to finish.

Breaking Bad tells the story of Walt, a brilliant overqualified chemistry teacher, who becomes ill and has trouble paying for medical bills for cancer treatment.  Walt is a very prideful man and does not want to accept monetary support from his friends.  Through a series of coincidental events, Walt decides to put his chemistry background to use, cooking crystal meth and coming up with ways to sell it, in order to pay the bills.  This results in Walt and his partner Jesse, a former flunky student of Walt's, ending up in over their heads as they try and hide their second lives from their loved ones, try to stay out of the dangers that this line of work comes with, all the while trying to maintain a profitable albeit illegal business.

The first three seasons are available on Netflix instant streaming, while the fourth season just finished airing on AMC.  There will be one more major season of 16 episodes that promises to bring satisfying closure to an already stellar series.  Give this show a watch.  From the great acting and writing, engaging believable characters and genuinely intense situations will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Video Game: Ghostbusters: The Video Game

There is no denying that the Ghostbusters movies are classics, filled with poignant comedy in every scene.  They are so legendary that they have become ingrained within American culture.  A third Ghosbusters film has been in the works for years upon years but only recently has started to really take off.  If you are a big Ghosbusters fan, you are no doubt aware that between all of this, Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the script for a video game.

The video game actually stars all of the original Ghostbusters, the secretary, as well as many other side character as voice actors.  You play as a recruit who has just joined the Ghostbusters.  In all honesty, it really feels like you're watching an extended Ghosbusters movie.  The game plays like a 3rd person shooter, similar to something like Gears of War or Resident Evil 4/5.  The dialogue is funny, clever and very nostalgic.  It will make you reminisce about and want to re-watch the movies for the 40th time.  To say that they captured the atmosphere of the franchise well is an understatement.  You revisit many settings from the films.  More story fleshes out certain parts from the films as well.  While they gameplay may get a little repetitive, mowing down ghosts with the assortment of Ghostbusting tools that fire with the uncanny rapidity of many modern firearms, and capturing them with the traps is pretty fun.
It is as cheap as $10.00 on Steam, or cheaper if you wait for a deal.  It is also available for the consoles.  If you're a fan of Ghostbusters at all, play through this game.  It is fun and engaging to hear all of the actors work their magic together after all these years, and will definitely make you anticipatory for the film that could come as early as next year.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Movie: Captain America

I went to another summer blockbuster with a friend.  The environment was less than pleasant.  Behind us we had a child who broke almost all movie theater etiquette, kicking my seat, talking and asking questions throughout, performing tap dancing, rattling wrapping paper, chomping popcorn and bursting out laughing at the elderly dying on screen.  It made me reflect on how I may deal with children someday.  On the one hand I really don't think I would want to raise a child to be another drone in society and fit so well into the safety of the norm so as not to break it and be noticed.  On the other hand though, I think I would want to caution my child as to what is expected in certain settings so they don't ignorantly break the rules while being completely oblivious as to them doing anything wrong.  To the side of us there was a couple of twenty somethings, texting away throughout the movie.  This was most prevalent during quiet dark scenes, suddenly from the peripheral, one could notice the shimmering face of this person who was clearly not an actor/actress in the movie, accompanied by ticking sounds of the keypad.

Despite the chronic external noise, I did like Captain America.  The majority of the film is set during World War II.  An unexpected fragile soldier with a big heart becomes a hero in fighting against the evil Nazi's.  It's always been a compelling propaganda story in history, and seemed to adapt to film all right.  It is very obvious that a lot of the film is setting up for "The Avengers" movie due out next summer, with cross overs from Iron Man, as well as the expected Nick Fury appearance.  It also made me realize that if you're strong enough, you can make a heavy frisbee a pretty deadly weapon.  It was entertaining to watch and action packed.  I will agree with what film critic Roger Ebert said, that it does feel like the film is "Going through the motions," but that doesn't necessarily make it bad.  It is more or less what you would expect from this film and nothing more... or less.

If you are a fan of comic book adapted films, you're going to want to see this one.  He is the first Avenger after all, and surely you will want to be prepared for the crossover film next year.  Just do not go in expecting to be surprised and you will most likely enjoy this film.