Category Archives: Gaming

“Wreck-It Ralph” – the ultimate video game movie?

Image

Video games and movies – traditionally uncomfortable bedfellows, wouldn’t you agree?   Made on the cheap, by inexperienced directors graduating from making adverts and frequently starring actors who would clearly rather be doing something else, the list of video game adaptations is a list of movies which aim low and miss even that humble goal.

So, perhaps, a different strategy is required?

Disney‘s “Wreck-It Ralph” is a movie set in the world of arcade games, has cameo appearances from many classic gaming characters and does such a good job of imbibing the essence of video games and utilising the best aspects of film that you wonder why in the name of Mario Mario anybody would want to make a cheap cash-in action flick out of an FPS when they could be doing something far more worthwhile – and financially lucrative – like this.

The film follows the titular anti-hero, voiced wonderfully by John C. Reilly, who toils as the archetypal bad guy in 1980’s arcade game “Fix-It Felix Jnr.”  A combination of career fatigue, hostile co-workers and a lack of cake prompts Ralph to experience a mid-life crisis and our protagonist realises that he no longer wants to be bad.  As noble an ambition as that is, the video game world needs antagonists and Ralph soon realises that he’s going to have to take matters into his own gigantic, 8-bit hands by winning a medal and reaping the spoils which come from ascending an arcade game’s leader boards.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Though steeped in nerdy video game arcana – oh hai there, Konami code! – “Wreck-It Ralph” functions best as a propulsive action adventure with a simple and mostly unobtrusive moral about the importance of not judging books by their cover, and is well served by a talented voice cast.  Reilly is impeccable as the sad sack wannabe nice guy, Sarah Silverman is just on the right side of the cute/annoying divide as game glitch Vanellope, as ostracised by the other characters in her kart racer game “Sugar Rush” as Ralph is in his digital home.

You don’t need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of arcade gaming, home consoles and game trivia to get the most out of “…Ralph” – sensibly, this film concentrates on inhabiting the world and giving a layer of delightful referential subtext for fans to geek out over whilst allowing a young audience to enjoy a blisteringly-paced adventure with so many primary colours on screen during the “Sugar Rush” race sequences that you’ll think you’re having some sort of acid flash-forward.

A must for gamers, a safe bet for family audiences and a fine addition to the ongoing canon of Disney animation, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a deftly-made, charming example of what the House of Mouse does best and illustrates the combination of artistry and storytelling which marks them out from their competitors in the overcrowded CG animation field.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Films, Gaming, Geekery

“Spy Hunter” movie hoots up road for Warner Brothers

Image

It defeated John Woo‘s attempts to make it and bested Paul W.S. Anderson‘s best efforts to tame it, but Midway’s classic “Spy Hunter” apparently has a director brave enough to take it on.

Ruben Fleischer who brought you “Zombieland” (yay!), “30 Minutes or Less” (…erm…) and “Gangster Squad” (oh dear…), is now intent on making vehicular espionage shenanigans the new hotness and has a script which Warner Brothers are sufficiently happy with.

So, explosions, then?

So, explosions, then?

Clearly, the original game’s avoid civilian vehicles/evade & destroy bad guys/upgrade your super tricked-out spy mobile game play might have to revisited somewhat nascent franchise-in-waiting to literally take flight, but a devilish part of me would love for Fleischer’s take to somehow incorporate the classic top-down viewpoint somewhere into the film – after all, who didn’t love the FPS sequence in the movie version of “Doom”?  Anybody?  No?

A fun, frivolous gadget-based spy adventure sounds fun to me – perhaps one which occupies the silly, popcorn territory now vacated by the Craig era of “Bond” movies?

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Gaming, Geekery

New Xbox watches you

 

Kotaku, the gaming news blog which is ever the scourge of the self-described thinking gamer, may have done it again.

Citing information and documents gleaned from arch thorn in the side of Microsoft, SuperDAE, the games blog today claims to have an inside track on many things Xbox 720 related.

Fancy having a Kinect plugged in all the time (because the new Xbox integrates the peripheral video control deeply into the Xbox UI)?  Keen on the idea of playing a game as you install it to the now standard 500gb HD platter?  It would be intriguing to see how much of this stuff comes to pass and how much is just click-bait designed to inspire comment thread meltdowns (which drives more clicks) – if the word on the boards is true, we’ll find out just how much is on the level on or around the big Sony announcement on 20th February.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

New Xbox – no Xbox?

Image

 

Ruh-oh.

Edge Online is reporting that Microsoft’s next Xbox console may require users to have a permanent internet connection, virtually ensuring the end of the second-hand games business.

You’ll still be able to buy a physical copy of a game (which will ship with a one-use unlock code, tied to your Gamertag), but Microsoft’s overarching strategy for the next-gen is download-based.  Great if you live in a major city with serious broadband infrastructure, but not so brilliant for everybody else.  Can’t afford a decent download speed?  On a monthly plan which caps your downloads?  Sucks for you.

This is, to say the least, a bloody risky gambit and one designed to lock out a great many gamers who can’t afford to buy a $60/£45 game every month  – I find it hard to believe that Microsoft, of all companies, would view providing a download version as an opportunity to pass on cost savings to the consumer.  Their ‘on-demand’ store on Xbox Live currently charges hilarious prices for games – and I would suspect that controlling the method of delivery to gamers will only make that worse.

Of course, Microsoft don’t comment on rumours and speculation ahead of one of their major product announcements, but if this method comes to pass, I don’t see myself persisting with Xbox gaming – after a while, you begin to get the message that Microsoft are akin to the neighbourhood kid who took their football home when the game wasn’t going their way.

There’s no word on whether Sony are looking to carry out similar measures with their PS4 – and a gambling man would suggest that where Microsoft choose to go, the Japanese company might look to distinguish themselves to consumers by offering a different system which doesn’t seek to marginalize and alienate potential consumers.  Just an idea, mind you.

I’ve given up Xbox live this year and felt no ill-effect from doing so.  If Microsoft are going to treat gamers like this, it might be time for me to jettison any thought of adopting their future platforms.  I mean, as I’m European, it’s not as if Microsoft gives a toss about me anyway, is it?

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

Agent 47 lives to kill again (silently)…

Did anybody really want a “Hitman” reboot?  Twentieth Century Fox apparently did, as their 2007 movie with Timothy Olyphant, based on Eidos‘ series of stealth-based action games has a new titular killer in the form of…

Image

Paul Walker.

Yep, I’m as bemused as that casting as you possibly are.  He’s arguably not the actor who comes to mind when you think ‘cold-blooded, genetically-engineered assassin’, but I await with interest to see how he’s going to circumvent the typecasting that I’ve saddled the “Fast and Furious” star with.

Directing this time around is commercials graduate Aleksander Bach, whose ad work is at the link.  I leave you to draw your own conclusions – but as I detest adverts with every fibre of my being, I shall recuse myself from further discussion of his work (He seems to get all of the perfectly-sculpted, model butts nicely into the frame in the “Tom Tailor” advert, doesn’t he?).

For my money, we’d be better off with this gentleman as Agent 47:

Golden-voiced, stylishly menacing English gent, Mark Strong.

Golden-voiced, stylishly menacing English gent, Mark Strong.

He’s got the look, he can do menacing in his sleep and is a genuinely brilliant actor.  But I suspect that Fox would rather have a simpler proposition which they know how to sell.  If it’s cheap enough, I suppose that it will have been worth the effort to reboot the franchise, but something tells me that we’ll end up with a film which is near-identical to the not brilliant, not terrible Xavier Gens effort.

I live to be proven wrong – it’s about time that we had a decent, popcorn action flick based on a video game I.P. and this is one premise that should be hard to mess up too much.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Gaming

PS4 – 20/02/2013?

Image

Cryptic, much?

In a bid to steal a march not only on Microsoft’s next Xbox console, but also the encroaching threats presented by both Valve’s Steambox and whatever the tablet/phablet scene offers up next, once dominant gaming titan Sony is going to announce…something on February 20th in New York.

And if you were of the betting persuasion, it wouldn’t take much to persuade you to drop some currency on the PS4 being announced formally – whether this is confirming specs or just showing the case, who can tell?

It’s all getting a tad bit exciting, games fans – new generation get!

1 Comment

Filed under Gaming, Geekery

Rogue Failure. Or ‘How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Paragon’

Image

I am not and never have been a rebel.  In life, as in gaming, I tend to follow a path of general decency and behaving unto others as I would wish for them to treat me – it isn’t cool, it rarely yields great rewards and marks you out to others in the world as being even more of a nerd than they expect you to be.  Thankless existence, unto eternity?  You said it.

I am, dear reader, a Paragon, a Paladin, a White Hat – and I’m ok with it.

Image

My current favourite gaming experience, the omnipresent “Kingdoms of Amalur”, gives me the chance to play as a rogue class ranged fighter and what I’ve discovered from my now 52 hours of game play is that I’m absolutely useless when given the choice to exercise bad behaviour in games.  ‘Amalur’, for example, gives your levelled-up Rogue class the chance to use your stealth ability to sneak up on adversary and ally alike and either shank them assassin style or simply pickpocket them for nifty loot.

Curiously, I find it more morally acceptable and preferable to sneak up on humanoid aggressors and slice them six ways to Sunday than to go creeping around the game world and cut purses or rifle through wallets – how’s that for a bizarre reaction to choices that a game designer provides you with?   I’d like to think that it doesn’t prove that I’m a sociopath-in-waiting but it does give you pause.

It’s this odd disconnect between real world personal conviction and the options inherent in a video game environment  which has kept me from playing sandbox gangster titles like “Saints Row”, “Mafia” and the grand-daddy of them all, “Grand Theft Auto”.  If I can’t envisage ever wanting to be the characters or inhabiting their world, there’s no way that I’m going to play the title – it’s probably a Boy Scout reaction to the criminal anti-hero archetype but there you go.

That’s not to say that I require characters in-game to be Peter Pureheart and impossibly, impractically noble as that option offers as much of a game-breaking flaw as glitch code or poor design decisions but I don’t want to play games where the protagonist’s raison etre is slaying innocent bystanders and arbitrarily causing car crashes.  It’s just not how I’m wired, folks.

I suppose the point that I’m grasping towards is that I like being offered choice about what I do in games – perhaps I should make 2013 the year that I start to take advantage of those choices and see where they take me in games?

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs, Fluffrick, Gaming, Geekery