Random, et Al

29 06 2009

I’m still wound up in Prototype ( which should explain the brain damaged post that is this ) and the TES Construction Set while trying to watch State of Play. It just isn’t working ( easily compared to this pitiable attempt to keep myself eschewing this blog as well ). In any case, here’s some of the notable events that has happened since my last post :

  • Unlocked a lot of new combat moves and powers in Prototype
  • Started working on a new mod, stopped short of a release with a cameo of an annoying bug
  • Found out that a very small amount of Japanese Oblivion players use one of my mods
  • Michael Jackson died of a cardiac arrest
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen grossed $200 million in the box office in it’s first week, paying no regard to the reviews it received
  • Public Enemies was induced into the IMDB Top 250 list before it’s official release
  • I managed to update my collection of music by The Corrs
  • Updated AudioSurf and was made Pro Champion of a few obscure ( according to AS ) songs
  • Improved my standing in the field of Quantum Mechanics
  • Watched The Insider

That about sums it up, give or take. I’ll let Calvin have his say before the last three minutes.

An Opportunity

An Opportunity

Smart kid, eh ?


E3 2009 Day 1 – The Story so Far

3 06 2009

E3’s finally here and I get to see the action ! Not on the spot though, but through GameSpot’s E3 Live Channel. It’s terribly exciting  and palpably so, even at a distance of seven thousand eight hundred nautical miles. Granted, this is my first insight into the events that happen during this time of the year at the LA Convention Center, but anyone who follows the gaming industry ( or plays games at the very least ) would and should be just as excited about this annual event. For the unborn, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is an annual event where game developers and other heavy weights in the entertainment arena  show-off their upcoming games and technologies. This year’s event, unlike the previous year’s, is open to the public. So pop your head in if you can. And while you are at it, take a good look at the exhibitions – There happen to be some really good items in this year’s show. Here are some of the items that were in the spotlight during the first day, it’s motif being “Motion”.

Sony unveiled the PSP GO’s official details ( which is an oxymoron considering it definitely wasn’t the best kept secret in this edition of E3 ). It just happens to be a smaller version of the original PSP with a few differences : No UMD drive ( it’s got 16GB of flash storage instead ) and a slightly bigger slide-up screen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sport a touch screen like the rumors suggested. It’s expected to arrive in the North American market by October the 1st, with a price tag of $249. The PS3 got it’s own motion controller which would let the console employ the dynamics and freshness of the aspect of physical movement in video games, that the Wii had heavily banked ( and reaped ) on. The game line up for the PS3 and PSP was also improved upon with titles like Gran Turismo and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PSP, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves,  God of War 3 and Modnation Racers for the PS3.

Microsoft’s press conference had a lot of things going for it. It started off with the company reveling the New Xbox Live Experience, which brought in a new dashboard, Netflix streaming and Live avatars. Next came news of Final Fantasy XIII coming to the XboX, and the PS3 release subsequently being put off until both[versions] could be released simultaneously. The rumors about Metal Gear Solid 4 being ported to the XboX 360 was confirmed by Hideo Kojima. The new game, titled Metal Gear Rising, will not be featuring Solid Snake. Microsoft also unveiled a motion-sensing camera and revealed news on quite a few upcoming titles such as Left 4 Dead 2, Halo Reach, Forza 3, Alan Wake, etc. Nintendo mostly kicked off with news on some of the new titles in it’s console’s game lineup; some of which being  C.O.P.: The Recruit, New Super Mario Bros and Wii Fit Plus. Ubisoft‘s President and CEO Yves Guillemot, talked about the company’s foray into the visual effects arena ( which was heralded by it’s purchase of Hybride, the French-Canadian digital arts studio behind the movies 300 and Watchmen ) and uPlay. James Cameron alos showed up and talked about his collaboration with Ubisoft and the game-adaptation of Avatar, which was being developed by the company.



News about many exciting titles were revealed as well. Crysis 2 got a teaser-trailer, Assassin’s Creed 2 had some gameplay mechanics revealed. Ubisoft also revealed demo gameplay footage from the latest installment in the Splinter Cell series, Splinter Cell Conviction. Remedy showed off some of Alan Wake’s gorgeous lighting effects with their demo footage. A gameplay demo of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 showed an setting where the player actually gets to do some rock climbing. Left 4 Dead 2 was given a release date ( November the 17th ) and Bioware turned quite a few heads with their demos of Mass Effect 2, the sequl to the original game, and Dragon Age : Origins, an action RPG set in a fantasy world.

For a complete list of the events and news that happened/revealed during the first day, take a look at GameSpot’s E3 Day 1 Wrap-Up. Stay tune for Day 2.

Yves Guillemot

Coraline, the movie – It’s a Peach !

31 05 2009

I’m an ardent fan of Neil Gaiman and his works. I first encountered them when I was going through my old comic collection. His “Books of Magic” was my first viewport into his wonderfully imaginative world. I liked the book at once and found myself getting his other works. My next stop was at Stardust and it didn’t disappoint. On the same high, I managed to watch the film adaptation of the novel, only to find that – to my dismay – it wasn’t as good as I had expected it to be. Nevertheless, it had a few good moments ( and had an uncanny resemblance to the Elder Scrolls : Oblivion, as I later found out ) and I could say I might have enjoyed bit of it. That was a year ago.

Yesterday, I got myself to watch the latest adaptation of his work – Coraline – and am pleased to say that it was well worth the time spent ( the fact that I hadn’t read this particular book might have helped with that judgment ). A little background info – The novella was published in 2002 and garnered many awards. It was even compared to classics like Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland. It follows the story of a 11-year old girl called Coraline (not Caroline, which may lead you to have normal expectations from the person :)) who moves into to a new apartment, aptly name as the Pink Palace, in the country side. Isolated as she is, and getting very little attention from both her parents, she finds herself exploring the ancient house, meeting it’s other inhabitants. In her adventuring, she manages to find a secret little door that leads to an alternate dream world where she finds the “other” versions of her parents and neighbors. A curious aspect of this place, as she finds, was that everyone inhabiting it had buttons for eyes. Finding her “other” parents more caring and easier to relate to and the rest of the world just as interesting and wild, she starts to visit them frequently. But the illusion slowly breaks up to reveal the nightmare it really is, showing the true face of the “other” world and it’s loving mother. “Coraline now has to realize what’s important in life and fight to keep herself and her family alive with the help of a talkative cat”, quoting Kenneth Turan.

Down the mouse hole

Down the mouse hole

On to the movie – The film is an animated one, created using stop-motion animation techniques coupled with 3D effects, which delivers an impeccable visual style that is both atmospheric and stunning. If you’ve read the Books of Magic, the 2nd part specifically, you would notice a resemblance. Henry Selick excels once again, creating the first all stop-motion 3D feature film. Nothing less to be expected from the man who gave us The Nightmare Before Christmas. The stark contrast between the 2 worlds and it’s inhabitants and the sheer scope and audacity of the auditorium scene, with it’s 200+ canine occupants, makes it hard to keep one’s mouth closed.

Excellent acting by the cast – Dakota Fanning delivers an expert performance as Coraline, and very believably so. Mr. Bobinsky is enacted by Ian McShane, who puts up quite a show with a Russian accent that’s as funny as his(Bobinsky’s) figure.  Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman perform as the parents, both in and outside the alternate world. Teri Hatcher’s performance is especially noteworthy, offering a creepy feeling to the “other mother” while perfectly emulating the “other-other” one’s personality. The excellent soundtrack, composed by Bruno Coulais, only enhances the movie’s dreamy feeling with it’s adorable nonsense-language lyrics and berceuse music. The simplicity of the film betrays the amount of work put it into it – One wouldn’t believe that the film was in the works for a staggering total of  a hundred and seventy nine weeks, ninety six of it in pre-production, involved the work of four hundred and fifty people and was staged in a 140 000 ft warehouse which was separated into fifty lots, totally hosting a hundred and fifty sets. It seemed that the film’s production process was just as grand as the film.

Did all that work pay of f then ? Seems so. For starters, you’ve got my opinion :P.[Also] Just falling short of  $17 million, the film grossed $16.85 million on it’s opening weekend and received favorable reviews, sporting a 88% Fresh score on the Tomatometer and MetaCritic indicating a good reception. As of April 28, 2009 the film has grossed a huge $83.56 million worldwide.

A movie well suited to be a classic, Coraline leaves a distinct and memorable impression in the mind of the viewer with it’s delightful characters, imaginative story line and contemplative mood – An experience that shouldn’t be missed. For those who missed it in the theaters, the home-video is slated to be released coming July.