Tuesday, January 31, 2012

News: Netflix

To be truthful, this isn't necessarily new information, as it was originally reported back in September of last year, but instead serves as a reminder to the forgetful or notice to the unknowing.  February 28th marks the end of a contract with Starz and Netflix, which will result in the removal of approximately 1,000 titles available instantly streaming from Starz Play.  When this was originally announced, it caused Netflix stocks to plummet.  Starz has provided much of the recent and relevant content on Netflix, in regards to movies at least.

Some argue that this will actually be good for Netflix, as it will allow the company to save $300 million that would have gone to Starz and instead allocate it somewhere else.  Netflix has started to make deals for original programming and exclusive content, such as the upcoming new season of Arrested Development.

While only time will tell the affect this will cause in the long run for Netflix, I strongly urge everyone who has a Netflix subscription to make use of the catalog of content that theoretically will be gone by the end of the month.  Although I primarily have used Netflix to watch television shows I had not watched previously, admittedly a number of the movies I have watched have been made available by the Starz Play deal.  It is kind of a shame for any consumer to watch as a price gets hiked while simultaneously losing a ton of content from said service.  Here's hoping for a positive outcome for Netflix.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Video Game: Duke Nukem Forever

Gearbox, the developer behind the critically acclaimed FPS Borderlands, formed a subsidiary group, Tryptich Games to put the finishing touches on the game that the shut down 3D Realms left unfinished.  Many a Duke Nukem fan awaited Duke Nukem Forever for years, during its unnecessarily long development time.  Like anything that takes longer than expected to be released, while waiting, one wonders the two options, whether this delay was to polish something that would truly blow us away, or if the impending experience wasn't coming together quite right and in the end would be a product along the lines of which Duke Nukem might tell the game developers to "Blow it out your ass!"

Well after playing it to the end, in my humble opinion it's neither.  It is about what I expected.  The game really is a victim of its own hype.  Duke Nukem Forever became so infamous for how long it was taking to be released, that fans and haters alike kept close tabs on its progress.  Take for instance Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy as a similar situation.  Both of these cases, the end result is something okay, but underwhelms the listener/player so much in comparison to their anchored perspective of what they expected versus what they're getting, that it results in an uneven judgment and inevitable backlash.

Duke Nukem was panned for its outdated graphics, lack of innovation and strangely its title character's elementary behavior among other things.  The game actually plays all right.  It has a few humorous quips, as it attempts to capture a faux universe where everyone worships the ground Duke walks on for saving them in the past and hopefully will protect them in the future.  Another common complaint I've noticed is the adoption of more modern FPS elements, such as recharging health called Duke's Ego (like Halo's health system) and the ability to only carry 2 weapons at once (akin to modern war shooters).  This too, as well as a more linear playing field, disappointed some people hoping for the more run and gun type of atmosphere from the older games.

Ultimately, the game suffers from delivering a different experience than what the masses expected and hoped for.  The game plays fine and is not boring by any means traversing through action packed sequences and over the top driving scenarios reminiscent of any 80's action movie.  I'd recommend picking the game up on a severely discounted deal on Steam or in the bargain bin where you can most likely expect it to be soon for the console versions.  Go into it without the hype and notoriety it gained for its long development cycle, and without the critically negative reception it received flooding your mind.  Instead, expect nothing amazing and you may find yourself enjoying a decent shooter, which if anything, may serve to make you look forward in anticipation for Gearbox's actual creation of the next Duke Nukem game.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie: The Adventures of Tintin

Another movie theater trip with friends, another audaciously mortifying experience with surround sound popcorn and foot stamping aplenty.  Whoever set the trend for it being all right to chow down with some of the most ridiculously loud food possible to eat while simultaneously paying money to watch something that commands the respect of silence and concentration, especially when surrounded by large groups of people that will most definitely be subject to the whim of the consumer's masseter muscles overture, should have a taste of their own medicine with ears wide open.

With that, I'd like to recommend The Adventures of Tintin.  This movie utilizes motion capture and 3D animation.  The end result is something that looks visually stunning and downright realistic in some situations.  The movie follows the story of Tintin, a journalist who goes on many an adventure with his trusty and intelligent dog, Snowy.  Often times, two similar looking bumbling interpol agents happen to be on the same case and often tie into the story with humorous effect.  Another key character, Captain Haddock, a seafaring man who's thirst for adventure is as unquenchable as his love for alcohol, generally gets dragged into the fray.  I had never read the books/comics, nor had I seen the TV show, so I went into the movie knowing very little about the source material, save my friends' high hopes for the film.  That didn't seem to matter though, as it essentially supplied the viewer with all the information they needed to know about the history of Tintin.

With Stephen Spielberg at the helm and John Williams doing the music, I could quickly tell this film wasn't going to disappoint, just by the stylistic opening credits and theme.  Apparently Tintin has gone on many adventures, but this one epic is definitely worth seeing in my opinion.  An action packed adventure filled with suspense and mystery, some humorous elements and fast paced forward momentum.  The movie had seamlessly excellent transitions between the scenes and some pretty neatly illustrated chase scenes as well.  It all fits neatly together to be a pretty enjoyable experience.  It is a pretty clever movie and I'd expect most people would enjoy it.  I recommend you give it a chance, especially if you've got a yearn for adventure you would like to whet. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Video Game: LIMBO

LIMBO is an incredibly atmospheric platformer game.  I recently purchased it on Steam in response to a friend's recommendation.  It is really short, ending in only a few hours, but where it lacks in length, it makes up for in fun gameplay.
There is little to do with story in this game.  the details of the game read: "Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters LIMBO."

Other than that, there is no narrative.  Not a single spoken or written word in the game.  Instead, it relies on the atmosphere to tell the story.  There is little music, save for a few unsettling queues during some changes in pace within the game.   As the boy, you make your way across a forest that you originally wake up in, into new settings such as a cave, city, machine etc.  All of this happens seamlessly as you move from left to right, completing various physics puzzles along the way.  Although admittedly short, the developers of the game reasoned that rather than create repetitive puzzles or variations/clones, it would be better to offer the unique puzzles they did create, short but sweet.

Pretty, artistic and affective to the senses, one's short stay is worth the price of admission into LIMBO.  There really isn't a dull moment, only fun condensed into this short game.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Movie: Limitless

I thought Limitless was a pretty interesting movie.  It is currently available streaming instantly on Netflix. It centers itself around the ever fascinating topic regarding the fact that humans don't use the entirety of their brains, and humors the affects that would occur if a drug were able to allow one to harness that other portion.   
A demotivated writer named Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), serendipitously happens upon his ex- brother in law from his past marriage, who also happens to be a shady drug dealer.  Eddie, being in such a depressed and uninspired funk, eventually decides to take a specific drug that he was ensured would help him focus, and transforms into an extremely intelligent, witty guy with an incredible drive for being constructive.  However, when the drug wears off, he loses this ability to harness the rest of his brain and becomes regular old Eddie again.  This sets the stage for a plethora of interesting events and engagements with other people Eddie would never have met or interacted with, had he not taken the drug.

The movie is pretty entertaining.  The colors of the movie are dull and gray when Eddie is sober and brilliantly colorful when he is on the drug.  Without spoiling it, obviously things start to happen that shakes the foundation of Eddie's new lifestyle.
If you haven't seen it, give it a viewing.  If anything, it will probably make you consider what you would attempt with new-found confidence and brainpower.