Archive for April, 2009

Konami Axes “Six Days”

I’m honestly not surprised this happened, and I’m sure this was a possibility that ran through the brains of many Konami execs. The question now is, will a new publisher be sought out?
clipped from videogames.yahoo.com
Mere weeks after its unveiling, contentious war game “Six Days in Fallujah” has reportedly been abandoned by game publisher, Konami.
“After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it,” a Konami PR rep told
Asahi.com
. “We had intended to convey the reality of the battles to players so that they could feel what it was like to be there.”
Revealed to the press earlier this month, “Six Days in Fallujah” focuses on the Second Battle of Fallujah, a grim 2004 conflict that claimed the lives of over 2,000 civilians, soldiers, and insurgents.
Despite (or perhaps due to) the game’s authentic bend, military veterans, peace groups and bereaved families immediately condemned the title for its touchy subject matter, claiming it was both insensitive and tasteless.
“Six Days” developer, Atomic Games, has yet to announce if it will continue to pursue the game’s release.
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April 28, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Revew: “Caprica”

If you were wondering, as I was, what could possibly fill the gap left by this year’s finale of Battlestar Galactica, fear not.  The creators of that successful sci-fi series have given us the prequel, Caprica, which not only gives insight into the creation of the BSG universe, but also tells one hell of a morality tale.  And, it’s got great writing, too.

Released just last week on DVD, Caprica, for those who don’t know, is the pilot for next years SciFi Network series of the same name.  It tells the stories of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas; both have lost loved ones in a terrible act of terrorism, and both are finding ways to deal with the tragedy.  The heads of the families, Daniel Graystone (Eric Stolz) and Joseph Adams (no, that’s not a name misspelling, played by Esai Morales) meet and become friends .  However, their friendship becomes strained when Daniel, a computer and inventing genius, finds a way to bring her daughter back to life.

That’s really all I want to say about the plot.  Not like there’s any major twists or anything like that, it’s just that the writing for this pilot is so good, one should experience for themselves before reading a summary of it.  What I will say is that this show appears to be carrying the torch left behind by Battlestar Galactica.  That show gave us a drama in space, and here we get a family drama set in ‘the future’.  One of the reasons I loved BSG is because it raised all sorts of interesting questions not tackled by conventional shows (‘Is there a God?’, ‘What created us?’, ‘Is there really a right and wrong?’).  Caprica, at least judging by the pilot, has raised a sole question, and it’s a big one, ‘What is a soul?’

Visually, this show shares a lot with its predecessor.  In BSG, many of the exterior scenes that take place on the planet Caprica have a golden over-saturated look to them.  Since all of Caprica takes place on the planet of the same name, the visual style carries over.  Also, there’s also a little bit of grain tossed in, as well.  I’m not sure if this show was shot digitally or not (I’m inclined to think it is), but it doesn’t have that same grittiness of BSG, and it doesn’t need it.  The reason for the grain here was probably more of an homage to BSG than anything else.  Also, you won’t find that pseudo-documentary style handheld camerawork in Caprica, the camera moves more traditionally.

The acting, as expected, is great.  Eric Stolz plays his part well, showing us a conflicted father who, more than anything, wants his family to stay together.  Esai Morales (a very under-appreciated actor), gives us a Joseph Adams who is trying to bring up his only son properly and give him the life he never had.  It’s very easy to see how William Adama (played by Edward James Olmos in BSG) became the man whom we see later.  Joseph tries to be a moral, righteous person, even though it means taking the road less traveled.

Caprica may very well be the show to watch next year, and it suckes that we have to wait so long for the series to really begin.  Galactica fans also have something else to look forward this year: Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, a TV movie directed by Olmos, which tells the BSG story from the Cylons’ point-of-view.  As a 90-minute pilot, Caprica doesn’t disappoint.

8/10

(image from Amazon.com)

April 26, 2009 at 6:05 pm Leave a comment

‘Bioshock’ Budget Balloons, Movie On Hold

Well, good luck to them. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the last ‘Pirates’ movie, I think one of its problems was that the visuals got in the way of (what there was of) a story. And it’s probably a good thing they got a new director for ‘Pirates 4’, giving Verbinksi time to really focus on ‘Bioshock’.
clipped from www.variety.com
Universal Pictures has put the brakes on “Bioshock,” the Gore Verbinski-directed live action adaptation of the bestselling Take-Two Interactive vidgame.
Sources said that the John Logan-scripted picture was gearing up to shoot in Los Angeles, but that changed when the budget rose to the vicinity of $160 million. U and Verbinski are looking at alternatives like shooting in London as a way to pare costs.
“We were asked by Universal to move the film outside the U.S. to take advantage of a tax credit,” Verbinski said. “We are evaluating whether this is something we want to do. In the meantime, the film is in a holding pattern.”
Verbinski and sources at the studio say they are determined to make the pic.
All parties vow that “Bioshock” will not become another “Halo,” the live action adaptation of the Microsoft game that was going to be turned into a film by U and Fox until both studios got cold feet and cancelled the deal over budget fears.
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April 26, 2009 at 5:08 am Leave a comment

SAG Strike Averted?

Looks that way . . . for now.
clipped from www.variety.com
At long last, SAG’s tortuous, yearlong contract drama with Hollywood’s majors appears to be coming to a close, capping a two-year period of labor unrest that included the trauma of the 100-day writers strike.That should have the biz breathing a sigh of relief, right?

Not really.

Because even if all goes well with the new regime at SAG and a handshake deal is finally reached this month, there’s little respite in sight for the studios: The WGA and Directors Guild of America contracts come up for negotiation again in mid-2011, which means the jockeying will begin this time next year, if not sooner.
There’s sure to be more dickering in the 2011 round of negotiations over the compensation formulas that were hard-fought in the 2008 DGA and WGA contracts (the same template that SAG is poised to embrace). Already, the WGA has grievances pending in a dispute over the interpretation of a key point of compensation terms for paid downloads.
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April 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Review: Nintendo DSi

Having had about a week to mess around with Nintendo’s DSi handheld, I decided to go ahead and post my thoughts on the system.  However, it’s difficult to give a final verdict on the product, considering it’s a re-design of an existing product.  So, I’ll try and approach it from different perspectives.

The first thing that people may notice are the cameras.  They’re low-resolution (taking cell phone-quality pics at 640×480 res), with one facing you on the inside, and another facing out, on the outer lid.  Do they work?  Yes.  Do they work well?  Usually, no.  Aside from my old Canon A95 digital camera, the only digital still camera I have is the one on my Razr V3 cell phone, which is a terrible phone camera.  The DSi’s cameras are better, but not by much.  They do need a lot of light, and if the only light you have is indoor lighting, you’ll have to take pictures near the light source.  However, outside even in overcast conditions, the cameras work fine.  Once taken, the images can be stored either on the system’s memory, or on an SD card to be used on a computer.  There’s a limited selection of photo editing options on the system, and some are quite fun, but don’t expect Photoshop.  That being said, I’ve used the camera quite a bit, primarily because photos stored onto the system’s memory can be randomly selected and displayed in the system’s start-up menu.  I don’t know why I like this feature, I just do.

Here are some photos I snapped with the DSi:

There’s an audio player and editor, as well.  It can play and edit AAC-formatted music, as well as record 10-second audio clips using the system’s microphone.  I haven’t had a chance to try out the music player, because I don’t feel like formatting some MP3’s to AAC.  But, the audio recorder is kinda fun.  I’ve taken multiple audio clips and messed with them; applying slow-mo, fast-mo, robot, and chipmunk sounds to voice is a fun little distraction.  There are also several other effects that can be applied (12 in all).  Best use of the recorder: I took a recording of my voice to be used on someone’s voicemail, and the effect I applied with the low-synth voice (which sounds creepy).  I called up my girlfriend and left a very disturbing voicemail, which made her laugh because it sounded like I was demanding ransom from her.  Anyway, the recorder and player aren’t great, but they don’t hurt the system any.

The DSiWare store is where it’s at.  So far, there are only a handful of games available, but Nintendo does give 1000 points for free to every DSi owner ($10 worth).  The best use of points that I’ve seen are the games Birds and Beans (200 points) and ArtStyle: Aquia (500 points).  Birds and Beans was originally part of the WarioWare GBA games, now available in a quick, arcade-style game that requires you to catch beans falling from the sky.  Aquia is a Tetris- and Meteos-style game, that is incredibly addicting and well worth the 500 points.  Get those, and still have 300 points left over for more games in the coming weeks.

It’ll take a while for the DSiWare store to catch up to the WiiWare store, or even the App Store for the iPhone/iPod Touch, but I have high hopes for it.  The free web browser is nice, but it’s only good for viewing mobile-enhanced websites and not full-page sites. There’s not enough memory in the DSi to display on the graphics, video, flash, etc on normal websites, so don’t try and have this replace a laptop or something.

There are quite a few shortcomings, though.  The biggest issue I have is the internal memory and SD card.  There’s 256MB of built-in memory, which is half of the Wii’s internal memory, and quite small.  To supplement that, there’s the SD card which can support SD and SDHC cards.  But, and this is a big ‘but’, you can’t load things off of the card.  Just like the Wii’s memory problem (which was finally fixed last month), you can store games to the card, but you can’t load them, meaning they have to be installed onto the DSi in order for you to play the.

What.  The.  Hell.

Sure, the DSiWare games are very small in size, but I don’t want developers to be consigned to developing games with concern for space.  I don’t have an issue buying an SD card in order to store more games, as long as I can load them from the card.  As of now, I have a spare 64mb card that seems to be more than enough space, but I’d like to make full use of it.  C’mon, Nintendo, release a patch, let us use the SD card slot.

In the end, I don’t regret my purchase at all.  I sold my DS Lite the same day I purchased this, and I still have a GBA SP and GBA Micro, so I can still play older Game Boy Advance games.  Plus, in the future, there will be DSi-specific games that won’t work on a DS Lite, and of course, all DS games work with the DSi.  I’d recommend the upgrade specifically for the DSiWare store, as I hope that the library will expand considerably in the next few months.  While I understand why someone would want to keep their Lite over the DSi, I think that the DSi is an upgrade in every single way; it does everything the Lite does and more.  If you still have a DS Phat, get rid of it and grab this.  If you have a DS Lite, consider this just for the online store.

Here’s why: you’re not losing anything with this upgrade.  The only thing you won’t be able to use is the GBA port, which rules out GBA games and DS games that use the GBA port.  Guitar Hero: On Tour and Decades won’t be functional, plus games that use the optional rumble pak like Metroid Prime Hunters and Air Traffic Chaos can still be played, just without the rumble.

Here’s what you get: 99% of the DS library (which is already incredible), DSiWare downloadable games, two cameras, an audio recorder, and music player.  Are the last three great?  Not really, but again, they don’t affect how the system works, and the cameras’ resolution is more than enough for the DSi’s screens.

April 11, 2009 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Method Man Starring in George Lucas’ Next Project

Huh… who woulda thought? Actually, the interesting bit of news I got out of this is that Lucas won’t be directing. Which is good or bad depending on your point of view.
clipped from www.xxlmag.com

Wu-Tang rapper Method Man is set to star in famed director George Lucas’ long delayed World War II film, Red Tails.
E! News reports that Mr. Mef will join fellow Def Jam label mate Ne-Yo as well as Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the flick, which focuses on African-American pilots who had to overcome racism in order to fight in the war. Lucas has handed directing duties to Anthony Hemingway (The Wire).
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April 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Heading to Wii, PS2, PSP

I own the original for the PS1, but I’ll be picking up the Wii-make as long as the previews are positive.
clipped from wii.ign.com
Following relentless internet chatter, Konami has finally confirmed the existence of its Silent Hill reimagining, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, scheduled to release on Wii, PS2 and PSP this autumn.

Developed by Climax UK, the team responsible for the diminutive Silent Hill: Origins on PSP, Shattered Memories shares basic plot elements with Team Silent’s classic original PlayStation survival horror outing. Once more, you fill the shoes of protagonist Harry Mason as he searches the fog-shrouded – and apparently now snowy – streets of Silent Hill in a bid to locate his missing daughter Cheryl.
However, Konami claims that NPCs now frequent different locations and offer new responses, with new paths and clues altering the original experience.
Wii owners can enjoy motion control elements attempting to increase immersion in Silent Hill’s unsettling world. Your remote now serves as both a torch – to scour the darker corners of town – and a mobile phone.

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April 6, 2009 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

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