Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mass Effect 2 (Day Two)

* Ten hours in. First round of characters recruited, first encounter with the Collector's complete. It might be the sheer level of anticipation I had for this game -- which was considerable -- but so far, the story hasn't fully done it for me.

Of course, it could be I just hate working for space Nazis. No matter how selfless and noble you make Shepard, you're still stuck being the errand boy for a bunch of human supremacists. And I can't help but take it personally when you are reunited with old friends who give you the sour milk face upon seeing you alive and well and wearing a Cerberus uniform. I wonder if I missed a dialog beat or two, because it took far, far too little convincing for Shepard -- my Shepard -- to climb into bed with these goons.

* Love the new interrupt system for the dialog sequences, which are much more diverse and cinematic than the ones found in the first game. And the interrupts are the icing on the cake. My few renegade points have come from these interrupts -- the best one being Shepard stabbing and electrocuting a mercenary in the back at the same time.

I defined my morality to my brother, a Mass Effect fiend like myself, as "good with the occasional back stab."

* All this talk about Mass Effect 2 a hankerin' for Mass Effect 2.

Night, losers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Avatar (Day 2),36604/

But enough about politics, let's talk story.

I have little doubt there'll be an extended cut of Avatar on DVD.  Cameron, always the trendsetter, was one of the first filmmakers to release a director's cut with Aliens, and he continued the trend with his next two films, The Abyss and T2.

The theatrical cuts for each of those films held their own and felt like a complete experience. The theatrical cut of Avatar doesn't feel complete. I still recommend seeing it in 3D for the experience, which is a big evolutionary step forward (note that I say evolutionary and not revolutionary) in CG characters and Digital 3D.

I'll hold my final opinion on the film until its DVD release, but I think there are key problems with the film as it stands. The first - and biggest - is the first act. Cameron can't wait for the audience to get to Pandora and prove to us that the extra money we paid to see the film with an additional dimension was worth it.

(Continued tomorrow ... maybe.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Avatar (Day 1)

Well, I'll say this: James Cameron did it. He's now the only filmmaker to make two movies that have grossed over a billion dollars and there's a very real chance that Avatar could take home the Oscar for Best Picture.

What makes this particularly amazing is that Cameron is a man with such a stubborn, singular vision -- and, in the case of Avatar, one that goes well against the current grain of Americana. The film has become a huge source of debate and controversy -- over its quality, its artistic merit, and its obvious political stance. (Cameron's politics are all over the map -- but as he's proved again and again, a fan of big business he ain't).

I have very little interest in discussing the politics of Avatar. While I may share some of Cameron's beliefs and sympathies, Avatar's antagonists -- especially Colonel Quaritch, who is given truly unparalleled levels of badassery thanks to Stephen Lang -- are so ridiculously cartoonish that I couldn't take the film seriously. And for a film that so boldly holds the eight years of Bush doctrine in contempt, it's a bit hypercritical that Cameron created a scenario where one side is completely in the right, the other completely in the wrong (the private military in Avatar are the very definition of "evildoers"). The only good humans in this story or those who fully support the Na'vi. In short, the characters are either with the Na'vi, or they're against them.

(Continued tomorrow -- where I'll go into the nuts and bolts of the story.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Of Wives, Scanners, and Glory Holes

My wife made a joke last night -- while I was a running a Star Wars Saga game, nonetheless -- that involved the phrase "glory hole."  I thought if girls tried to say things like "glory hole" or "rim job" or "donkey punch," their heads would explode a la Scanners.  That's what my parents always told me, and now I know they're liars -- which makes that two startling, disturbing revelations in a twenty-four hour period for me.

But just because an imminent head explosion was not in my wife's future after having a potty mouth, that still doesn't shake my belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with this. Simply put: girls shouldn't be allowed to say that.  It's that simple.  I mean, doesn't that violate some form of treaty that our two sexes have had in our perpetual cold war?  I think sanctions and other forms of penalties will need to be authorized and enforced against her, which will probably take the form of rude bodily functions administered to her in her sleep by yours truly.

OK.  To be fair, the joke was pretty funny.  But I still feel...feel...violated somehow.

Even worse: I'm not sure I mind.