Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One One

Racthet and Clank: All 4 OneIf you like a good buddy or co-op campaign, this game is a good choice. Playing a single player game of it just might leave you frustrated at points. All in all though, a top-notch Sony exclusive.

Ratchet and Clank is a long-standing series in the Sony repertoire. I, however, have never played any of the games until this one. This game starts out with the namesake heroes explaining their retirement. Much to their dismay and surprise they find their retirement to be short-lived as a huge monster begins its attack on their city. From there you play as the heroes trying to save their city, their world, and others from disaster. The game is structured to be a four player co-op game but you don’t have to play it that way and have the choice to play online or offline. If you play a single player game as I did, you will play as one of the heroes accompanied by an AI of the other hero. Even playing in a two player format, the story plays out with the full storyboard of all four featured characters. Even if you haven’t played the previous games you will not be lost or confused by anything that is going on in the game. Its pretty easy to get a sense of how the characters got to the point they are at and relate to each other.

That game is constructed well on all fronts. The graphics are excellent as long as you realize that they are not done to be true to life and are supposed to be of a cartoon-ish fashion. The cut scenes are so detailed that you can see details of the fur on Ratchet and the in-game graphics back down very little. The only reason you won’t see the same detail is because the game play is scaled out to allow the in-game action to occur. You are offered a variety of weapons that you must purchase and upgrade at weapons stations throughout they game. These purchases will cost you the bolts that you must collect during your play-through so make sure you grab as many as you can. As is in any game, there will be faults. I noticed that playing a single player game that the AI companion just went stupid sometimes. The AI would go off the screen, jump to its death, or not do the correct action needed to help you along at times. These instances were few and far between and should not effect your overall game play.

I got this game for the low low price of free with my Playstion Plus membership. That promotion is over at this time but you can still get the game for cheap. A brand new copy is only $9.99 at Amazon. Used is not a good option since GameStop and GameFly are asking $17.99 and $14.99, respectively, for used copies.

Lara Croft: Boob Raider

Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderWho doesn’t love a movie that has everything? Robots, lost treasure, guns, romance, a sexy lady, a James Bond, supernatural beings, and its based on a video game.

For those unfamiliar with Lara Croft here is the quick version. She became popular as a video game character essentially because a large amount of perverts got their kicks from playing games that feature a female treasure seeker with overly large breasts and made a lot of sexually implying grunts as she battled along her adventures.

Of course with that kind of following Hollywood was eager cash in on this popularity and make some money. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider stars Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and you follow her on her latest treasure-seeking adventure. She is sent on a journey to find the Triangle of Light by a dream and clues left behind by her late father. Along the way she must fight her enemies and stop them from finding the Triangle of Light and using its power.

Since this is a movie based on a video game be prepared for some pretty outlandish if not outright silly story and action moments. The gun battles try to capture the game play of the video game. Previous attempts to capture the look and feel of video games have not fared well and this movie does little better. On the plus side, at least this movie had decent production value and did not look terrible doing it. Some of the attempts to put the dialogue and humor of the game into the movie seem forced and out-of-place. Remember that any movie based on a game is going to fall short of pulling off what the video game is capable of. It’s the same problems of scale, detail, and time that renders most movies adaptations of books lacking when compared to the original manuscripts.

Even though it was just a play for money, they did try to make a movie that was somewhat true to the spirit of the original game. So much so to the point that Angelina Jolie’s breasts were “augmented” to be closer in size to the video game character’s. There were even moments when it seemed that the movie’s scenes attempted to be like the cinematic sequences of a game. Where Hollywood failed was in their lame attempt to have a reunion of Jolie and her father Jon Voight by casting him as her father in the movie. If anyone expected years of animosity to disappear on a movie set then they were just foolish.

This movies does stand as one of the better movies made based on a video game. I won’t name the names of ones that were worse, particularly any involving plumbers. Netflix subscribers can watch this film at their leisure. Those interested in having this pleasure to have and hold can find it at Amazon with the sequel for additional viewing pleasure. Take the time and watch this movie for a spirited little adventure and to just enjoy a female version of Indiana Jones.

Transformers: Fell for Cybertron

Transformers: Fall of CybertronThis game is a top-notch sequel to its predecessor and does it proud. Although it had its share of sophomore issues the game is a great follow-up and continuation of the first.

The story of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron picks up from where Transformers: War for Cybertron ended. The Autobots are making a desperate effort to flee Cybertron and the rath of the Decepticons. The game makes a strong start by placing you on the Ark, the vessel the Autobots are attempting to use for their escape, in the midst of an attack by the Decepticons. After the stage is initially set, you are taken slightly back in time to when the Autobots are making their preparations to leave. The game takes you through missions on both the Autobot and Decepticon sides just as the first game did. The Autobot missions have you going to gather what supplies you can and to try to foil the Decepticons plans of stopping you. When playing as the Decepticons, you work to advance your plans of destroying the Autobots and subduing treachery within your ranks.

This game made some improvements from the first but also took away a few. The graphics are the most notable improvement. The characters and environment are noticeably sharper and more detailed than the original. Players will immediately notice that the double jump has been removed and replaced with a dashing mechanic. This makes the ability to access spaces not necessarily impossible but rather different from what had become comfortable or expected from the original. Weapons are now upgradeable at terminals throughout the game but you must have available credits to do so. Most of the weapons are similar to the original’s but you can no longer pick up a fallen enemy’s weapon to use. Weapons can only be changed when one is found in the environment or at one of the aforementioned upgrade terminals.

The game was able to evoke the same level of emotion and drama as the first. Make sure you watch the opening sequence that plays at the title screen as it helps to set the tone for the game. Fans of the Transformers genre will recognize and appreciate the dotted references to other efforts such as the 1986 animated movie. Take the time to watch the credits when you beat the game to see a little bit of lighthearted humor. This game is a definite must play for any fan of the original or Transformers in general.

GameStop is still charging $34.99 for a used copy which is odd since Amazon only wants $20.60 for a new copy. Cheapskates can enjoy a used copy from GameFly for $17.99.

Punch-Drunk Loath

Punch-Drunk LoveThe first time I watched this movie I didn’t like it. The second attempt did not help that opinion. It is rough to write about something you just didn’t like but that is what this post is.

The story centers on Barry Egan(Adam Sandler) and his struggles with emotional/mental issues as he finds love. For me the movie was both uncomfortable and uninteresting at best. I’m not sure if it was trying to be a dark comedy, dark satire, or dark drama. The characters were not very relate-able if at all. It seemed that Barry Egan was supposed to be a quirky adorable character like Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond from Rain Man but came off more like a creepy mess in the manner of Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy. Even the female lead failed to draw any sympathy with her British accent and her unexplainable obsession with meeting Barry.

But it’s not all bad…I like a lot of the camera work.

I can’t recommend this movie unless you absolutely can’t find anything else to watch or you are obsessed with seeing every movie Adam Sandler has done. The movie is available on Netflix so it really won’t cost anything other than your time. Speaking of time, I’ll cut this post short since mama said ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say…shut up.’

Bulletsteal

BulletstormI bought this game for about $5 from GameStop during a special promotion and for the price it was a good game. Had I paid the full $60 that this game originally retailed for, I would have been disappointed.

The story follows Grayson Hunt, a mercenary who is seeking revenge against his former commander who had used him to carry out various nefarious deeds. The story itself is nothing new and has been used time and again in movies and video games. This game was the precursor game by the studio, People Can Fly, that did Gears of War: Judgement Day.  Having played the Judgement Day game, you can tell there was a lot that the studio was trying out in this game to see if it would work in their future games. It very well may have been that Epic Games used this as an audition for People Can Fly to see if they had what it takes to do a Gears of War game. Some of the plot set up and game mechanics are very recognizable in Judgement Day as having come from Bulletstorm.

Bulletstorm as a game is somewhat unpolished but fun. The graphics in the game are as good as any other game of its time. They are not the very best that are available but very good. The weapons of the game work well with one exception. The sniper rifle in the game is the worst weapon in the game in my opinion. After firing your round, you must steer the bullet as it nears your target but the target seems to have a bead on where the bullet is going and has an almost super-human ability to dodge the bullet. Balance that against an electric whip/lash that you can use to pull enemies into the air and then shoot or kick them. Doing that had an odd sense of reward and fun. One mechanic that just didn’t fit in is the ability to slide. You could slide at any point, be it on level ground, up hill, or down hill and you could go until you hit into something. It was never clear why this particular mechanic was even available in the game as there were limited instances where it is of any use. The game on a whole is raucous fun and the only true objective is to shot through everything to get to the end.

Amazon is pushing it at still asking $11.99 for this game but GameStop will sell you a used copy for $7.99. The campaign is less than eight hours, so it is not a lengthy investment of your time. Play it and just have fun with it. There is nothing that can be taken too seriously about this game.

Zero Park Thirty

Zero Dark ThirtyIf you decide to watch this movie you better find a comfortable place to sit for a while. You won’t be blown away by the sparse action sequences but you may be pulled into plight of the main character.

The central story of Zero Dark Thirty is about the covert efforts to find and ultimately kill Osama Bin Laden. The events and people are based on the actual but how accurate the movie is we may never know for sure. You’ll just have to take that what is being portrayed on-screen is somewhat indicative of what really happened. The actual events of Osama Bin Laden’s downfall are really just the back drop for the true focus of the movie, Jessica Chastain’s character of Maya. She is one of the agents trying to get information on Bin Laden and solve the mystery of where he is. At the begining of the movie she arrives at one of the detainee sites very green and naive of the world she has been put into. As time progresses you see her turn very bitter against the terrorist she must pursue. Some telling scenes of how obsessed and cold she has become are when she is no longer taken aback by the various methods of torture used to glean information from the detainees. Her single focus drives her so far as to become, for lack of better terms, a real bitch. Constant battles with superiors and counterparts show that she has become ruthless in her pursuit. But perhaps the most telling scene comes at the very end of the movie. After Bin Laden is dead she realizes that everything she spent the last few years of her life on are gone and over. In that scene you get a sense of how isolated and lonely she had become and now must carry on somehow.

This is one of the best movies I’ve seen done in the last few years. It was good to see that the personal struggle did not get overshadowed by big explosions and drawn out gun fights. The human element was by far the focus of this military drama. Even the supporting cast and characters brought believability and a feeling that you could identify with them as well.

Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. It’s not the typical war movie you’ve seen in the past. The faint of heart or weak of stomach may want to proceed with caution when it comes to a few of the interrogation scenes.

Your renting options for this movie are numerous. Buying options are too. Amazon will take your $15.74 and send you this great film to own.