Monthly Archives: May 2011

Ubisoft – gone Hollywood?

Hollywood has a difficult relationship with Games.

Olga Kurylenko, you're so much better than this. Timothy Olyphant? Well...

Many a gamer has lamented the end result when producers make films from beloved games series and contrive to deliver a product which neither satisfies the core audience who know the property nor the wider demographic who treat the movie as just another action/sf/horror/thriller at the multiplex on a Friday night.

Many film critics generally use the term ‘like a video game’ to decry the kinetic, negative qualities found within a studio actioner – inevitably setting off an orgy of eye-rolling in any half-awake gamer who knows that Hollywood only sees the surface patina in anything and rips-off the new hotness and it’s stylistic innovations with tiresome irregularity. A relationship, of course, which goes both ways, as anybody who saw James Cameron’s “Aliens” and then played Bungie’s “Halo” games will wryly attest.

As though to try and ensure that Hollywood doesn’t have things all their own way when it comes to adapting lucrative video games franchises into potential trans-media behemoth cash cows, Ubisoft’s recently announced plans to get into the film business on a larger scale (they already own a digital effects studio) are to bear fruit in the form of proposed “Assassin’s Creed” and “Splinter Cell” movies.

Defy the future?  What does that even mean?  Personification of the infinite - that shizz is deep, yo...

Defy the future? What does that even mean?

Though the first entry in their ambitions to get into the film business, Summer 2010’s moderately accomplished and just-about-successful “Prince of Persia” did reasonable box office, it was far from the launch of a new, bi-annual film franchise. If it did anything best, it perhaps convinced studio execs and producers alike that you don’t have to jettison everything about a games series and start from a blank slate in order to make a movie which scores on a worldwide basis. There was enough of the game’s DNA present in “PoP” to appeal to anybody who ever played a game in the series – that said, it’s a DNA so in debt to the Douglas Fairbanks/Michael Curtiz/swashbuckling adventure films of the 1930’s that a film version seems more of a foregone conclusion than with any other game-to-film adaptation.

Both current Ubisoft properties have the germs of a successful, character-based series of films – in Desmond, the “Assassin’s Creed” games have a Neo-esque hero caught in a Science Fiction conspiracy thriller storyline of mouth-watering complexity, with lots of action, characters, time periods and a strong visual identity which would lend itself happily to film.

Really, I think the key is to adapt games wisely, and not do so just because a producer has the rights to a story which already worked in one media sphere and so can be translated, relatively cheaply, into another realm and deliver a primed, ready-made audience who’ll turn out on opening weekend and swell the coffers before a swift transition to dvd and the home viewing platforms.

As for “Splinter Cell”. I have but one recommendation:

Just add night-vison goggles...

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Why Was I Banned?

Cry Havoc and let slip Teh BanHammerZ!

Many joyous Lulz can be yours by reading Why Was I Banned? – in which buffoons protest their Xbox Live bans via the mediums of self-righteous indignation and creatively appalling spelling.

Schadenfreude – not big, not clever, but so very filling…

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Kaz Hirai says “Soz”…

What a nice man. PSN is still not up in Europe, but why not follow @PlayStationEU on Twitter for more up to date info? And be nice – civility costs nothing, wouldn’t you concur?

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PSN – it’s back…

PS3 - It

Beginning overnight (UK time) with a phased restoration rolling out over the United States, Sony have begun the cautious process of restoring access to their Playstation Network online gaming platform, with firmware update 3.61 now available for download.

Once that’s installed on your PS3, it’s a matter of checking back regularly to see if PSN has been switched on for the European territories in which it operates and then following prompts to update your log-in password – if your PS3 profile was activated on a different machine, the password update process involves checking the e-mail address linked to your PSN ID.

Patience is of the essence, here – I downloaded 3.61 quite briskly and installed it overnight, but as I write (10:32am GMT) PSN is still not live. A few more hours really makes next to no difference with this service outage and I would rather rejoin a service which is safer, more robust and fit for purpose than one which is just ripe for the hacking.

There’s a BBC tech story on the new firmware and the outage in general at the BBC News site.

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Modern Warfare 3 – spoiled rotten?

Hint - there will be shooting and Veteran will be a pain in the arse.

Kotaku has the potential motherlode of all spoiler posts, which purports to leak images, audio and crucial storyline elements of this autumn’s guaran-damn-teed blockbuster FPS, “Modern Warfare 3”.

As a casual “Call of Duty” player – I skipped “Black Ops” entirely, didn’t finish “MW2” on 360 (suffered through it on PS3) and can’t get too excited about “MW3” – Kotaku’s post indicates a game which builds on the apocalyptic events of the second Modern Warfare title and takes the pitched battles all over the globe. If you heed the Call of Duty each autumn, this would appear to be everything you want, bar your own Predator drone and a moody Hans Zimmer soundtrack backing you as you stride majestically down the precinct on a Friday night.

I do caution you that if you want to go into the game unspoilt, don’t even think about clicking through to Kotaku’s story – assuming that the content is legit, there’s no stone left unturned and pretty much every event in the game’s storyline is laid out.

Everything, dudes – down to Ghost’s ickle bunny slippers. I mean – who knew?

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Test Drive Unlimited 2 – Strike!

Viva la revolucion! To your proletariat supercars, my fellow revolutionistas!

In one of the weirder stories of the week, it appears that apparently embattled French development studio Eden Games, who brought you titles like the first next gen “Test Drive Unlimited” and the “Alone In The Dark” update, are meeting the threat of redundancies at their studio head-on by going on strike. And they’re inviting you to strike with them.

Citing chicanery and corporate bunkum from their overlords at Atari, Eden Games propose to down tools in the hope that the proposed cut of 51 jobs from their 80-strong studio can be avoided, and that they can get the attention of Atari CEO Jim Wilson, whose continued invisibility is cited as a particular sticking point.

Is this a chicken or egg scenario? Are Eden’s games hamstrung by wranglings behind the scenes that gamers are not privy to or has their output dictated their fate? Neither the “Alone in the Dark” remake nor this Winter’s “Test Drive 2” have met with rapturous responses – in the triple A era, have ambitious but not wholly accomplished, mid-range titles like Eden’s met the challenge of the market place and been found wanting?

Mind you, if Treyarch can go from also-rans to heavy-hitters just via proximity to the all-conquering “COD” franchise, is it a logical leap to guess that Eden are under the auspices of the wrong corporate parent and might flourish elsewhere? Stranger things, and all that.

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Google’s Chromebook – Sorcery! Sorcery, I tells ye!

Google have just announced their Chromebook – the netbook/laptop/convergent NowBox(c) that promises to be a web navigating device for folks who really don’t want a computer.

A computer for the rest of us or a hobbled box which is still too complex for many of the target market? Smart tech like the Android or a future bank holiday weekend offer gadget at Argos?

Digressing only slightly, as a mostly competent navigator of Teh Internetz, I am always surprised to learn about UK government-backed schemes such as Race 2012, which aims to get the nine million UK citizens who’ve never braved the internet online.

Nine million people – essentially the population of Jakarta, the 10th most populous city on Earth – who have never bought into the brave, digi-future. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Now, if those 100,000 digital inclusion volunteers can also retune the tech refuseniks’ grudgingly-purchased Freeview boxes so that I don’t have to, I’ll be a chuffed bunny and no mistake.

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