Tag Archives: Capcom

Heroine Complex

Running from the forces of patriarchal ass-hattery, "Remember Me" heroine Nilin

Running from the forces of patriarchal ass-hattery, “Remember Me” heroine Nilin

How difficult is it for video games developers to include female characters in their title?  Bafflingly tough, if two news stories this week are to be believed.

No sooner has French developer Dontnod revealed that publishers turned down their upcoming title “Remember Me” as it featured a female lead,than one of “Mass Effect 3″’s writers indicates that the games industry is actively resistant to featuring female characters.

If your game’s lead is a smart-mouthed dudebro, you’re on easy street but anything outside of that slight , gender-fixated design stipulation is an uphill sell, it would seem. So much for inclusion and broadening the audience, eh, chaps?  I suppose we can take some comfort from the RPG genre, where the demands of flexible character creation will out and more diverse options are frequently available but what’s to say that the next-gen can’t offer us a bit more diversity from our action platformer hybrids and shooty-shooty stabby-stabby fests.

There’s a case to be made that simply reskinning the male lead with an alternate female character model and doing nothing subsequently to address changes in the story would be almost as bad, but shouldn’t developers be trying to use the level of horsepower at their disposal to give us more choice?  Hello, player agency?  Or is that just a meaningless buzz phrase with zero actual meaning?

I suspect that some spurious marketing data suggests that people don’t buy games with female leads (just as Marvel are unlikely to make a “Black Widow” or “She Hulk” movie because nobody went to see “Elektra” or “Catwoman“), but this argument always strikes me as remarkably bogus and far too convenient.

A good game with a central female protagonist, person of colour or any non-traditional lead will sell if the mechanics are solid and publishers support it – the issue that I note time and again is that Game X is green-lit, gets good preview word of mouth and then falls over at retail because there’s no marketing behind it.  You can’t get people to buy a game if they don’t know that it’s out there.  I doubt that most consumers would actively boycott the next “Call of Duty” if you were playing a female Marine in some near-future combat scenario – they’d want to blow stuff up and head-shot dudes and the gender of the first person avatar you were inhabiting wouldn’t necessarily resonate that much.

Of course, I’m sure that the number of polygons and bump-mapping complexities necessary to render the ladies convincingly is the problem, and certainly not residual banal sexism and creative mindsets firmly locked in the 1950’s.  FYI, games industry, you’re not supposed to want to be Don Draper, lads – he’s kind of a dinosaur.

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PS4 – new tech and shiny dragons

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Killzone: Shadow Fall” image via US Playstation Blog

Hmm…orange.

So, Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4 system last night amidst hoopla, fancy curved video screens and more new media waffle than I could parse early this morning.

What I gleaned from the talk about sharing, convergence and new experiences was that the new system is powerful (so what else is new?), designed with social media integration in its DNA (witness the sharing button built into the new DualShock controller) and that all that horsepower, invention and design has been pressed into service to make a new “Killzone” and “Drive Club”,  which looks quite like “Forza” only shinier.

So, iteration rather than innovation?  Possibly. But, is that so terrible?

Apple and Samsung have made phat stacks of cash from users willing to drop hundreds of pounds every year on a slightly curved version of the same mobile phone they bought previously, so why shouldn’t the console makers choose to unveil a system which makes every thing look a bit better, sound nicer and have moderately more realistic animation?

Capcom’s “Deep Down” – Here Be Shiny Dragons…

This was a curious event, really.  Lots of cheer leading for the slightly tarnished Sony brand, which emphasised the console maker’s strong points – innovation, engineering, production values – and pitched the new system as being able to seamlessly interface with those new-fangled tablets and smartphones whose ubiquity and quick play convenience have delivered a drubbing to the Japanese gaming giant’s own PS Vita handheld console.

It isn’t just Nintendo and Microsoft that Sony have to take on this time – it’s a sector of casual gaming which really didn’t exist when the PS3 debuted and which seems to have won the hearts, minds and wallets of “Angry Birds” addicts who would run a mile from being described as (cough, spit!) a gamer.

Can the core experience likes of Capcom’s intense-looking RPG “Deep Down”, dark superhero spin-off “Infamous: Second Son” and new Media Molecule quirkiness do the business and convince the public that they need Sony in their living room again? Will E3 bring us something as crazy and absurd as a look at the actual console – what do you call a console reveal which doesn’t actually show you the hardware?

And what do Microsoft have up their sleeves (so long as somebody from MS keeps Don Mattrick safely backstage at their press event and away from a teleprompter, I’ll be a happy man) to change the game anew?

 

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Oh, The Romanity!

Erstwhile public enemy number uno for enraged Capcom fanboys and gals the world over, Paul W.S. Anderson has taken time out from his busy schedule of making feature-length cosplay reels for his good lady wife and has announced his next project – an epic romantic adventure disaster movie set amidst the chaos and spectacle of Pompeii on the day that property values went bye-bye.

“I’m not wearing skin-tight rubber jumpsuits, Paul.  End of.”

Game of Thrones favourite soulful bastard son Kit Harington is in negotiations to star and do his best Leo DiCaprio impersonation as a young, delightfully coiffed slave forced by plot contrivance 101 the undying call of true love to venture into the city and rescue his forbidden sweetie as Pompeii falls victim to the harsh vicissitudes of nature and several terabytes worth of CG angry molten death.

Who could want for more from life than the auteur who brought you “Mortal Kombat“, “Aliens Vs Predator” and those “Resident Evil” films using historical tragedy as a picturesque, gee-whiz backdrop for the juvenile leads of the piece to meet cute and get all snuggly-like?

Ahem.

As a confirmed cinematic masochist fan of Anderson’s brand of goofy genre fare, I’m already down for this doubtless 3D-assisted voyage through one of history’s darker chapters and eager to see just what somebody renowned for his visual flair and loopy action sequences is going to do with this backdrop and potential for widescreen spectacle.

Or Milla J. punching dudes in the unmentionables for two hours.  Either/or will be fine.

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“Dredd” movie review

If it’s September, that must mean that we’re due a 3D action movie or two to lead us gently into the more reflective Autumn season and transition gently from the explosive mayhem of the summer – whilst I wait for the next instalment in the Capcom derived video game-to-movie franchise which dare not speak its name at the end of the month, these early weeks are taken care of by “Dredd“, director Pete Travis and writer Alex Garland‘s attempt to give this iconic comics anti-hero a film worthy of his stature.

He is the law.

And what a film it is – lean, hungry, mind-bogglingly violent, stylish and thrifty, “Dredd” is the kind of sci-fi western that you feel as much as watch, with brutal action sequences and melee combat having a positively visceral effect when viewed in the 3D format that this film is primarily releasing in (there’s controversy in the UK about how few cinemas are playing the 2D prints – only one of Britain’s Multiplex chains are showing it).  Any worries that we might have had about whether this film would be as disappointing as the 1995 Sylvester Stallone/Danny Cannon iteration are comprehensively erased by what is a confident, stylish action movie which makes a virtue of a lower budget and creates a uniquely convincing world.

Not having $200 million dollars to throw at expensive CG and gargantuan action sequences has made this version of “Judge Dredd” get creative and construct its post-apocalyptic world in modern-day Cape Town.  There are the huge city blocks of the comic, but they’re nestled in against a resolutely practical and contemporary backdrop  – highways and overpasses, contemporary vehicles and clothing all stop this film from distancing the casual viewer.

Don’t let her inside your head! Olivia Thirlby as rookie Judge Anderson in “Dredd”

The plot is as straight-ahead as it gets – a gang-related murder in the Peach Trees block is attended by taciturn law man legend Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and ride-along rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), pitching them head-first into conflict with hooker-turned-syndicate crime maven Ma Ma (Lena Headey), whose drug empire is run from the building and whose army of heavily armed thugs are intent on stopping legal interference in whatever form it takes.

That simplicity, in essence, is one of the best things about this film – The plot single-mindedly concentrates on propelling the action forward and the script focusses on making the world convincing rather than in beating the viewer around the head with distracting gadgets and surface detail to hide the fact that there isn’t much of a story.  This film doesn’t reinvent sci-fi cinema as you know it, but it does a brilliant job of making this post-apocalypse world seem like a postcard from the future – the tech is all backdrop rather than foreground, showing up periodically to let Dredd do something cool and doesn’t draw undue attention to itself.

Urban is great as the titular bad-ass, finding a way to make the character funny without getting mired in cheap one-liner schtick and showing some holes in the metaphorical armour that his otherwise imperious icon of justice wears – a Dredd who bleeds and occasionally needs to think on his feet to get through the hellish multi-level fight through the under-siege building he finds himself occupying is infinitely preferable to the one-man killing-and-quipping machine that the Stallone version gave us.  Olivia Thirlby is great too as Anderson – there’s a fantastic scene which gives her psychic gifts ample room to roam and we get to see how she would interrogate and intimidate a perp into silence – it’s telling that a scene where a bad guy gets the upper hand on her doesn’t convince entirely as being anything other than a plot contrivance as up till that point in the movie, her neophyte Judge has shown that she has the right stuff and wouldn’t necessarily get suckered in the way that she was.

The 3D is a selling point, but I found it restrained for the most part – used sympathetically to inhabit the scenes where futuristic crankers are on the ‘Slo-Mo’ drug which slows down time for the user but not employed to constantly chuck sharp objects at the viewer or as a way to distract viewers from creaky storytelling.  There’s a climactic scene which employs the broken glass trope of action cinema in a curiously beautiful and aesthetically pleasing way – is it worth the price hike?  I’m not sure, but it is native 3D rather than post-converted shenanigans, so let that guide your ticket-buying choice.

This is a fine, stripped-down action movie with an intriguing take on the iconic character and the future-shock world he inhabits – I hope that it leads to more adventures for the 2000 AD law man and that all concerned behind the camera find a way to retain the tactile near-future dystopia they’ve delivered so credibly in this very entertaining film.

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“Resident Evil” – one film series, hundreds of dead(er) zombies, multiple opinions…

Regular readers of this blog will doubtless be aware of – and lamenting quite a bit by now – my inexcusable “Resident Evil” film fandom.

Massive, hugely absurd set-pieces wholly at odds with the original video games? Don’t mind if I do!

Given that it’s nearly September, I must forewarn the thus concerned that I may be posting a fair bit of guff and balderdash concerning the popular Paul W.S. Anderson shepherded film series. as the fifth entry “Retribution” will be in cinemas in the US on September 14 and in the UK a week later.  Expect much discussion of the heretofore hidden, unexplored nuances and deeply coded meanings inherent in the subtext of Mr Anderson’s bitchin’ Zombie smash-em-ups.  Or, like, reviews of the previous movies and junk.

Those of you likely to gag at the numerous ways in which this series of films has messed with the continuity of the games and the universe therein may wish to skip the odd post or two – I’ll try to make them obvious enough for you to be able to do that.

How we started, back in 2002 – when Marilyn Manson did the soundtrack and Michelle Rodriguez’ character popped her clogs for the first time…

Truth be told, the films and games began an inevitable process of divergence before the first movie was released ten years ago – other than the presence of the Umbrella Corporation‘s proverbial moustache-twirling villainy at the decaying heart of each plot twist, there’s been precious little to link the two cross-media properties, save for director/producer Anderson’s propensity to cut-and-paste in elements from the games which particularly tickle his fancy (uber-bad guy Arnold Wesker, Jill Valentine, Lickers and the like).

It’s this going-off-script, cavalier disregard for canon which seems to upset fans of the games so much – the “Resi” flicks would be an otherwise easy-to-ignore sequence of sci-fi/horror mash-ups , were they not performing double duty by offending fans of video games and the long-lived Capcom franchise – why does their pioneering survival horror video game sequence have to bear the unfair burden of being the poster child (in the eyes of critics) for mediocre ‘games-to-films’ adaptations?  And where’s their George A. Romero directed version of the first movie, more to the point?

I strongly suspect that your prospective enjoyment of the series is in inverse proportion to your love of genre fare in general – if you have an uncritical love of things that go ‘Boom!’ and ‘Aarggh!’ in the night, this franchise is almost certainly up your zombie-infested alley.  If you love Bela Tarr, however, the rather more rudimentary pleasures of a Paul Anderson genre flick are almost certainly going to be denied to you.

As an object lesson in seeing how audience and critical reactions diverge on films, take a look at the professional critical response and the general public’s take on “Resident Evil”.  What I take away from those responses, other than that film critics can write and the general public has some way to go in attaining that goal, is that people don’t go to these films for the same reasons.

It’s enough for many viewers to have familiar horror tropes, action set pieces, characterisation and even plotting in place when they see a film like this one – they neither want nor expect an entry in this series to deliver anything more than uncomplicated fun and the odd jump-scare.  Critics, meanwhile, seemingly have to take a jab at video games in the body of their review – perhaps on the basis that they view them as low art and incapable of conveying anything worthwhile to an intelligent viewer or because they are aware that their reviews are being read by an ageing audience who hold the same prejudices about the medium and adaptations thereof as they do.

Milla Jovovich’s Reddit “AMA” appearance didn’t end well…

Those without knowledge of a subject matter presuming to publicly critique something in the full knowledge that they won’t have to answer criticism about it – what a marvellously tenable position from which to offer an informed opinion to an audience who will presumably take you seriously.

Expect more musings on the undead, Alice’s questionable Zombie-slaying attire, the confusing web of insanity which is the ongoing series’ plotline and the “Resident” iterations thus far in the weeks to come…

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New from GamesCom – “Remember Me”

If you’re at all interested in the world of video games, this week sees an interesting stop on the international show calendar, Cologne‘s annual GamesCom shindig.

Gamescom – Germany’s finest gaming show.

Sitting between the all-out industry showcase E3 and the nerdier, Penny Arcade-affiliated PaxPrime, GamesCom differs in being held in Europe and offering a big shop window before the Autumn games releases start to drop (increasingly, it seems, the long-established Tokyo Game Show is being shut out of much of the action and becoming less relevant, which is a real shame).

Already today we’ve seen E-Sports integration into the critically important multiplayer section of “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2”, which is one of those proverbial games changers and a flurry of rumours preceding the predictable no-show of venerable Valve vapourware, “Half Life 3“.  My interest, however, was drawn to Eurogamer.net’s story on new Capcom sci-fi action game, “Remember Me” (Facebook link).

Capcom game “Remember Me”, clearly as in love with “Blade Runner” as anybody else with a soupcon of sanity.

Ass-kicking, post-Whedon/Cameron female protagonist?  Check.  Futuristic setting in a recognizable European capital city (Paris)? Check.  Gameplay which suggests a blend of “Uncharted” platforming, combat playing homage to Rocksteady’s “Batman” games and some hide-in-the-shadows stealth sections which all third-person action games must include?  Chiggedy-Check-Check.

A third-person action platform adventure with a charismatic protagonist in a glossy setting – I’m in.

The game’s scheduled to release next May – hopefully there’s enough sci-fi action included to get me through next Summer’s inevitable games drought (which might be worse than usual if the hints about next-gen consoles arriving next Autumn turn out to be correct).

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