Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Summer Of Disappoint

So, I've decided to change up the format a little. So here we go with my first post about movies.


#3. I decided to put Revenge of the Fallen as the least disappointing of the disappointments because I never expected much to begin with. At the very most we can say that the original Transformers was a sub-par Michael Bay flick, which puts it somewhere between Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2. This is about Revenge of the Fallen though, which was shaping up to at least be better than its predecessor. So, what was wrong with it?

Let’s get the geekery out of the way, and say that a Transformer that turns into a human is totally not canon. As for other problems, there was too much LaBeouf, too much Fox, and generally too many people. The movie’s called Transformers, not The Witwicky Robot Adventures. The comedy was on a Junior High level, complete with racist robots that give Jar Jar Binks a run for his money on the annoying quotient, and robot testicles just to make sure we become dumber by watching this trash. Most importantly, the movie was boring, and for a movie with this many explosions, Bay had his work cut out to make it that dull.


#2. Deadpool. Let’s just say it: They screwed up. Sure they screwed up just about every character they introduced in this film that was from the comics, but Deadpool was almost made an example of. At this point X-men fans have received a thorough flogging thanks to Brett Ratner and the betrayal of Bryan Singer. We wanted to give this one the benefit of the doubt though. A new director and a whole movie about our favorite X-man, we had high hopes. In the trailers we saw clips of Wolverine fighting through time and multiple wars.

Then the movie came out, basically ignoring not only the comic book canon, but the previous films as well. I’m not one to rip on special effects, because I never really found them important, but these were pretty bad. In fact the effects seem to be getting worse with each successive X-men film, but that’s beside the point. Top it off with the infamous adamantium bullet, and we have a mess of a movie.

#1. Let me make this clear, I think that Revenge of the Fallen and Wolverine are much worse than Terminator: Salvation. This list is about disappointments though, and I had incredibly high hopes for this. It had an awesome trailer, and excellent cast, and we were finally going to see the epic robot war that was hinted at in the previous films.

So what was the problem with this? One name: McG. The man cannot direct, and there was no emotional center to the film. Were we supposed to be watching John Connor or Marcus Wright? The action was fine, we saw a believable post-apocalyptic world, and we just didn’t care. It felt a lot like the Star Wars prequels in that big important things happened, but the director could not make us feel the stakes or the emotional weight. In the end, it was a perfect failure.

So, that's it for now, I plan on writing another top 3 for my favorite films of the summer. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Neotokyo: Review

Most mod teams these days want everyone to know about an upcoming release; they advertise updates and pictures of models and maps on a nearly daily basis. Meanwhile a few mods seem to keep quiet for months or even years before releasing a handful of screenshots to satiate the wanting masses. This can work both for and against a mod. On one hand you end up creating a high level of excitement for when the mod releases, but on the other hand if the mod does not deliver the creators may end having an angry mob on their hands.

Neotokyo began as a mod for the Unreal 2 Engine. It was built quickly so the team could enter it into the Make Something Unreal Contest. While this early version did receive a small fan following, and you can even see some of the ideas that made it into this newest version, the team decided to go back to the drawing board for the then new Source Engine. So, after over five years of teasing does Studio Radi-8’s masterpiece Neotokyo live up to the hype they’ve built?

For starters, Neotokyo is one of the most polished mods I have ever played. Some mods that began development at the same time that have since been released could stand to have this level of work done on it. I know a lot of care was given to this mod, and countless hours of testing were done, and it shows. The maps are truly a sight to behold, and give the perfect sense of Sci-fi and Anime that the developers were obviously influenced by. Taking place mostly in dojos and cityscapes it’s hard not to get immersed in the game, which is something most modders take for granted when it comes to multi-player.

As for the gameplay itself, it would be easy for an outsider to simply push this off as Counter-strike in the future. While the game is team based, the goal and the balancing are really what make the difference. The current game mode called “capture the ghost” is One-Flag CTF with a twist. The “ghost”, a robotic torso that spawns randomly on the map, can be seen by both teams at all times. When the opposing team picks it up, the beacon for the ghost turns red. Meanwhile the player who picks up the ghost can now see beacons that represent the players of the opposing team and their distance from the player holding the ghost.

At the beginning of each round you choose your class; Recon, Support, or Assault. Recon is a quick class with low armor, Support is slow with high armor, and Assault fits nicely in the middle. The guns in the game are mostly of the automatic variety, and yet the non-automatic guns tend to make their presence known by delivering a powerful punch to your opponent. The better you play the better guns you unlock. Assault and Recon have a Predator like invisible camouflage; also each class has a special vision mode, and grenades that are actually useful.

The game has a strong focus on team work, and for good reason. While you may at first have the urge to run around and be a hero, the guns do enough damage that you’ll soon learn that it is unwise to stand up to more than two people at a time. The game also launched with tons of servers up; probably the most for a non-Steamworks released mod I’ve ever seen, so you’ll never have to be looking for a game. While the balance of the game is nearly flawless, I do feel that the Support class is a bit overpowered, and running into a team made up mostly of them is almost certainly a death warrant. Since you unlock guns by score, it does make it hard to just jump into the middle of an ongoing game when everyone else has better guns than you. Also, with all the time put into the balance and the general look of the game, you would expect the same quality in the animation department. After one uses their knife for the first time you will see that animation is one part of the mod that could use further polish. But once you’re complaining about the quality of the animation you’re soon to realize that you’re probably nit-picking.

Neotokyo accomplishes what it set out to do, and is a great if not essential mod for owners of Half-life 2. With rumors of it coming to Steamworks, new game modes, and 10 maps known to be in testing it’s looking like this game will only get better over the years.