Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Before the year ends...

The holidays are just about over, leaving the rest of the year to stress out about different things other than gift buying, driving to relatives, and the repercussions of eating sliced potatoes covered in cheese sauce. This year is ending on some good notes, some fantastic comics were read, some amazing films were watched, and some truly enthralling video games were played. There were many things that came out that were the opposite side of the coin, but in truth I'm going to be optimistic.

It's kind of shitty then that Jack Thompson, despite being disbarred, continues his attempts to rain shit all over his (read as "God's") enemies, which have taken the form of Take 2 Interactive. T2 is the company behind Grand Theft Auto, and even though I'm not a fan of the game, I don't really think they need to be judged as unleashing hell on earth through their products. Jack Thompson's recent delusional letters can be read on Gaming Politics here.

There is a wall of text up continuing the debate of video gaming being considered art. It's a bit long to diminish hopes of a quick read through, but there are some good points made about it. The theme that John Lanchester gets across though, is that in the next 20 years or so, video gaming will be indeed considered as much an art form as films, television, and music, and this will be proportionately affected by how much gaming becomes accepted by the general population. Prepare to be critted for 50,000hp by the lots of words on the page here.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm not the only one in on the joke...

I know for certain that I'm not the only one that feels Uwe Boll is bad news bears. So Black20 launching a trailer for Uwe Boll's new movie and having it stylized with dialog the only way that Uwe Boll can, is pretty genius. I needn't say more, check out the trailer for Contra: The Movie here.

Also of video game adapatation news is Paul WS Anderson's version of Castlevania is stalled until further notice. This is great news since I can only imagine what he would do with the story. Even though he relinquished script-writing and directing to a guy named Sylvian White, he is apparently still attached in some way. I personally hated what he did with all of the Resident Evil movies (making them either intentionally or unintentionally campy) and Alien Vs. Predator could have been so much better, I honestly though the heroine and the Predator were going to have a romantic make out scene at the end of AvP. Write up on IGN here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The X-Box and PS2-era platformers are some of my favorite gaming experiences to memory. The list includes games like Jak & Daxter, Psychonauts, Ratchet and Clank, and one that sits on the top of the list, Sly Cooper. Sly Cooper, a game similar to Splinter Cell where the main focus is to not be seen while still employing the cell shaded raccoon wall-running goodness. Every level was broken up into one world where the sub-levels would all have that theme to explore. Add in collecting tons of items and great voice acting and you have a top notch game. So when I heard that Sucker Punch Studios was finally taking the same step toward a more mature title (a la Insomniac Games with Resistance) I was intrigued.

There's some gameplay footage up on VG247 for Sucker Punch's current title, inFAMOUS, and I was watching it I couldn't help but see some of the style of Sly Cooper present. The developers sound genuinely confident during the interview which is always a good sign, they obviously should, but it also doesn't seem like they're full of it either. It looks like a sandbox version of Force Unleashed with a bigger focus on wall and structure climbing. The video is worth checking out, and can be found here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jammed up, jam sandwich, jamwich...

So it's a relatively slow news day, so I'm going to put it out there that Electrical Eyebeams is going to start something new a few weeks into 2009. In addition to promoting the blog a bit more, myself MikeEyebeams and my good friend and funny man John "Savage" McClintock will be doing a weekly podcast (pre-recorded) that will be posted every Friday. Based on the feedback we get, we'll keep doing it as long as we can. We're planning on starting with a 45 minute show at the moment, during which we will recap some of the stories that I have posted during the week, and possibly some other stories that McClintock brings up. We're hoping to spend no more than five to seven minutes per news topic, and will find a way to break up the mix of just us talking for 45 minutes straight with flashy audio clips.

With this story, I will leave you with an interesting "Top Ten of 2008" list I found, and the internet napalm that the list spawned. Looking through the comments that follow the list is a general mix of intelligent debate to "u r teh stoopid! u din't evn play this gam i bet!" which is a prime example of why I was so nervous about enabling public comments on this blog for so long. It's really odd how the ability to type well can be such a strong signifier of someone's intelligence in a place devoid of real human interaction no? The "10 Most Overrated Games of 2008" can be found here. I can't help but agree with pretty much all of it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All I need now is some gold fronts...

As someone with fond memories of gathering 'round the television to watch the Batman cartoon of the 90's, hearing that Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy (the voices of the Joker and Batman from the cartoon respectively) are going to be voicing the same characters they played in the show in the upcoming Arkham Asylum gets me psyched to play the game. The DVD's of the original series are available now, and are worth the purchase if you are at all a fan of the comic book series. The stories portrayed in the show were usually some heavy shit for a 10 or 11 year old to behold. The villains in particular were often far from fantasy, and their stories were often pretty complex (my favorite villain is still Clayface). Knowing that Mark Hamill takes his vocal portrayal of the Joker very seriously spells out that this game is not screwing around. VG247 leaked the news here.

Although it's absent from developer Free Radical's homepage, apparently when the staff showed up this morning, the doors were locked. Does anything suck more than that? Free Radical has developed some great games, like TimeSplitters (which I'll always remember had a cameo in Shaun of the Dead) and Second Sight, which if you like Force Unleashed you would most likely enjoy. It's just a rumor that Free Radical is in this kind of trouble, after all when I used to be a supervisor at a video game retailer I forgot my key once, maybe that's what happened? Check it on Kotaku here.

Oh you PR firms and your marketing genius. I found out today that a bit of news prior to Dead Space's release that I ate up was that the game was being banned in Germany, China, and Japan. It turns out that when GamePolitics called shenanigans on the story that it all came tumbling down. Dead Space is freely available in all of the above countries and that it was never banned in the first place. Reading through the GameInformer interview with Glen Schofield, the producer of the game, you can quickly realize though that some of reasons as to why the game would be banned in Japan are complete bullshit. Check out this quote here:
Schofield: I was very surprised with Japan. In finding out exactly the reasons why, it kind of makes sense. There is a cultural difference dealing with the dead. They just had something that we could not overcome and we didn't want to compromise the game. Hell, [Takashi] Miike is the king of horror over there, and if you watch any of his films they are frickin' insane. So, for us to get banned, I was a bit surprised.
Yeah, exactly, no way. A country that launched the Resident Evil series has a problem with the dead? You've probably never seen Versus either. GamePolitics article is here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bet you didn't see this coming...

There are plenty of gems out there that are often overlooked or on the verge of being forgotten years after its release. This is why is doing something great. With, you can download a classic game for a pretty affordable price, some of which are damn near impossible to find now. They just put up the first two Oddworld games for download, a series that was very imaginative particularly with the Stranger series, and is worth the $9.99 price tag.

Mirror's Edge didn't sell well, it's not a mystery. Between that and Dead Space amounting to less than half of EA's top selling game this year (being Madden, also not a mystery), it's no wonder that they're trying to drive the last bit of holiday sales by releasing some DLC. Although this DLC might make the game more fun and worth owning with the introduction of time trial levels. With the option to download top times and race the "ghost" through the level, it has the potential to play the game in a different way. Check out the news post on vg247 here.

Odd that I reference Uwe Boll yesterday and today I find out that there is a movie adaptation of Clock Tower being made being written and directed by people whose credits inclue The Hills Have Eyes 2 and Prom Night, two horror movies of iffy quality, makes me nervous of what will be done with the movie adapatation. The storyline of a girl being chased through a clocktower by a muderous lunatic with a giant pair of scissors is also kind of an unusual story that will definitely be adapted in a weird way.

The issue that many people have with these video game adaptations of survival horror games is that the sense of the game being grounded in some way in reality found in the games is usually absent from the movies. I do think that Silent Hill's movie adaptation nailed it presenting a gritty and realistic looking world absent of the insane, absent from the game shit that Paul WS Anderson usually creates in his films. I don't know how Clock Tower will play out on the big screen, but the movie posters certainly look cool. You can always tell a good movie by how cool the poster looks right? Kotaku has the posters up here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fear 2 prevails, Uwe Boll is still awful, and LoadingReadyRun sings about charity...

Censorship makes me fairly nervous. The idea of some unseen organization, a "They" or "Them" deciding what is OK for me to see is kind of a screwy idea. It is difficult to decide whether or not the general public really needs to have a "They" shielding them from the violence and depravity to be found in movies, music, gaming, etc. I'd like to believe that people are responsible and mature enough to know whether or not they want to see/hear something that might offend them. Personally, the movie Hostel, albeit one of the most popular horror movies of the last decade, I still won't see because I don't want to see a two hour long snuff film. I have made the decision to not see this movie, THEY don't need to step in and say, "No Michael, you are forboughten from seeing that film!" with a giant judgmental pointed finger. Every time I hear a video game is being "banned" anywhere I worry that it's a slight suppression of our own rights as responsible adults to watch, read, or listen to whatever the hell we want. So when I heard that F.E.A.R. 2 was unbanned in Australia, I felt it was a silent victory against the THEY. Story on IGN here.

For those people not familiar with Uwe Boll, he's a video game fan that has gotten to make movies. Between Uwe Boll and director Paul WS Anderson, they have made some of the worst big screen adaptations of some really great (and really bad) video games. Although speaking out against Uwe Boll will usually end up with you getting your ass kicked in a movie like Heckler by the big German himself, I still don't have a problem saying he could have done a lot better with any of his films. Turning an interesting Lovecraft-ian tale like Alone in the Dark into an action movie featuring Tara Reid in a starring role as a scientist (none of the characters in his films are usually present in the games) was kind of a slap in the face for people that play games for the story. So the opportunity to attend the Uwe Boll film festival and spend two days watching his movies in his presence is something I'm not not to keen on. Kotaku has a press release that spells out the same sentiments here.

If there's ever a time people seem to be charitable, it's during the holiday season. Although next year I'd like to start fucking with the conventions of charity and doing stuff in June, I try to pick a charity that I believe is doing something good and matters to me. Child's Play is a great charity that was founded by gamers for this time of year, and I will be donating my yearly jars of change to it (usually adding up to about $80). The people at LoadingReadyRun had an ingenious fund raiser tied to Child's Play that they've done the last two years that has raised collectively over $75,000. Their response to spending several days playing Desert Bus Infinity is done through a clever parody of "Video Killed the Radio Star" here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is Saves The Day still even relevant?

Some cool tidbits, also an announcement will be made for after the new year as I plan on bringing this blog to the next level. I'm also working on getting another writer on board to help contribute to the music end of things a bit more than I am capable.

Double Fine, the genius developer behind Psychonauts, a fantastic platformer from a few years ago has had Brutal Legend in the works for quite awhile now. It even has Jack Black voicing the main character, which still may be cool, he's still relevant right? Regardless, it looks like it will be a melding of Norse mythology and heavy metal so I'm into it. Originally, the title was going to be distributed by Activision/Blizzard, but was dropped when they decided to cut some weight. The news is out today that Brutal Legend is going to be distributed by EA, so that is probably good in some way, even though it's not EA's own IP I'll keep my fingers crossed that this game sees the light of day. Link to Double Fine's site is here.

Bethesda has released the G.E.C.K. (standing for Garden of Eden Creation Kit, an object in the game that plays an important role in the story) for the PC version of Fallout 3 which I'm sure will get a lot of people psyched to begin making their own quests and new areas to explore. Granted I don't know how limited or unlimited the functionality of the world editor will be, but usually people find fantastic ways to use the tools they're presented. Official statement is on Bethesda's site here.

The New York Comic Con will feature the usual cavalcade of amazing artists and writers, but one would be remiss for the chance of the recently announced guests of honor, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (better known as Penny Arcade's Gabe and Tycho). What those two have done for the gaming world is amazing, and it started and has continued since with a witty thrice weekly strip about the industry. Newsarama has a great write up here.

That is all, oh I'm also changing the commenting rules so don't be a prick.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

News can be good news...

There's a lot of interesting articles up all over the place today. The first bit of news that caught my immediate interest is an in depth look at the upcoming downloadable content for the X-Box 360 and PC iterations of Fallout 3. IGN has an interview posted about the content and how it will likely change the way the game is played to a certain degree since you'll be able to control strike teams, a new perk, and participate in a canonical battle (the content patch is called Operation Anchorage) in the Fallout universe. The interview is on IGN here.

Some additional screens of Heavy Rain (not to be confused with the 1998 Christian Slater action movie Hard Rain) have been posted on CVG. The attention to detail that Quantic Dreams is putting into this game looks astounding. I particularly like the house pictured below, it looks like one of those nifty container houses being built everywhere but the United States. All of the additional screens and a gameplay video can be found through the link here.

Some more downloadable content soon to drop on the 360 for Fable 2 will be the winter-themed Knothole Island. Eurogamer is responsible for the first post regarding this, but a wonderful gallery of images can be found here. Hopefully it will be longer than the Halls of the Dead patch.

I recently found an interesting comic at the local shop that I neglected to pick up but probably will return for today. There's a full write up with pages on CBR here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People who played Pong still play games? Shenanigans!

Oddly enough, Steven Spielberg is a gamer. I was aware of his participation in EA's Boom Blox, but I do remember wherever I read it saying that he was a gamer. In the same way that no one can ever be called an expert of anything, at least not without it being taken at anything but face value, this article also called Steven Spielberg an avid fan of gaming. To say I didn't believe the statement would be an outwright lie, a huge understatement. I still don't believe he plays games, he talks about in a recent interview with Yahoo Games, about how he is currently enjoying Call of Duty 4, a game where I felt the story was able to drive the single player campaign better than any other CoD game to date. Something Spielberg is known for, however, is storytelling; that is something I will believe. Regardless of his credibility when speaking as a gaming pundit, he certainly brings an interesting perspective in the interview about gaming and reading it is certainly worthwhile. Article is here.

Activision has leaks, EA is still screwed, and what does $4 really mean for comics?

When I first saw screens of Prototype and read the basic premise of the story I knew that somewhere down the road I would like to try it. Despite me also hearing that when Activsion/Blizzard/Universal/Whatever dropped a ton of titles (Ghostbusters, Brutal Legend, etc.) with this one being among them; the recent gameplay videos and screenshots being leaked are being faulted to Activision. Now the site where these were leaked just has a countdown which means past rumors aren't true. The game has probably been fine for awhile, but if I haven't seen it it's new for me. Prototype is from my understanding a sandbox game similar to GTA and/or Crackdown where you are the subject of some kind of experiment and are unleashed on the populace to battle the military, the organization that performed the tests on you, and other "subjects" that are probably more evil than you. The gameplay vids are on Joystiq here.

EA laying off about 6% of their total workforce (which was in the neighborhood of 540 people mind you to get a scope of what "6%" really means), but EA is standing behind its newly developed IP's of Dead Space and Mirror's Edge. EA CEO John Riccitiello said that even though EA isn't meeting its sales hopes for the holidays, the two new IP's are safe for sequels, and they want to try and take feedback and make them better than the first iterations. It's weird how when a company isn't doing well they want to make a better product? Who in America should begin working off that business model? Eh, who knows? Here's the 1up story.

An interesting editorial was put up on Comic Book Resources regarding the current price point of comics currently. Aside from Fell, most comics are $3.99, and if I had more time and general experience in the industry, I'm sure I could come up with an intelligent editorial too. Regardless of my inability to do anything, here is the article.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bai-oh-ha-za-do fai-bo?

Having enjoyed Resident Evil 4 so much that I replayed it possibly seven or eight times, I was psyched to hear that a demo would be dropping on X-Box Live soon. Although it looks to be a graphical upgrade of Resident Evil 4 with a lot of the same gameplay mechanics, having a partner that kicks ass on her own will be nice instead of having to constantly protect someone.

Not only will I be downloading the demo, this will be a guaranteed purchase, gameplay videos are becoming the best way to promote a game. They can act as tutorials and also you will typically know straight-away if you're going to like the game. Check out the two videos up at Lens of Truth here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thank you very much YouTube for being so lax...

I can't deny that one of my favorite all time shows is Britain's Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I happened on this show while looking up clips of comedian Jim Jeffries on YouTube and found a clip of him acting as one of the "contestants" on this music based quiz show and soon found more of the recent seasons on YouTube. Its current host, Simon Amstel's quick wit and charm totally won me over and I have religiously sought out the show. Yesterday, I randomly tried to find the newest seasons (#22) on YouTube, what I found was a Jacob's Ladder like series of clips that eventually lead to what I wanted to find. Check out the first ten episodes of this season starting with this one.

Something that has also piqued my interest is Michael Avon Oeming is doing a one-shot to be released by Top Cow in the very near future with writer Phil Hester. As with the other Oeming stuff I have read, it looks to involve swords, Norse-like mythology, and a hero that develops from a not hero over the course of the story, even though he's working with a different writer than The Mice Templar. Newsarama has a fantastic preview of Darkness: Lodbrok's Hand here.

For those not familiar with the "This Book Will Change Your Life" series (apparently the UK's version is called This Diary Will Change Your Life) the latest iteration had a great piece of marketing up in London thanks to student David Lines. The book promotes ways to make your own life a little more exciting and break up the day to day boring-ness. Fantastic picture below, and link to article on Juxtapoz here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Red beans are fucking awesome...

This looks like it's going to be epic.

Check out a preview of Shrapnel on CBR.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Art is being applied to video games?

An interesting point that had been brewing in my head for awhile, without the means to articulate it effectively, was essentially video games are starting to develop into an art form. One of the biggest obstacles that video games as a whole needed to overcome, however, are the ridiculous things that video games have come to embody in the past two decades.

First I'll mention Mirror's Edge, having only played the very short demo, I can't speak to the overall quality of the game. But someone got downright analytical about it, and what I thought was an interesting and fairly well executed idea, let alone how gorgeous and fluid it looked, turns out to be a great representation of an art form akin with martial arts. Some of the stuff went over my head so I read it twice.

Next is Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, which was featured in an interview with it's creator on yesterday, interview is here. David Cage more or less sums up what I think I've been trying to say is the biggest hindrance in video games being accepted as an art form:
We tend to believe in our industry that we need to tell simplistic or spectacular stories, where the hero saves the world, destroys evil, or has supernatural powers. This is because the videogame, as a medium, has been too immature to tell complex and subtle stories.
So as I wait for Indigo Prophecy to drop on XBox Live Arcade so I can finally try a game my friend upon its release said was worth picking up and now eat my words what like three or four years later? Sounds like the same thing that happened with Beyond Good & Evil, which is still the only game that makes me feel like I was ever at one point ahead of the curve.