Ded Space

Dead SpaceTHE most stressful game I’ve ever played.

The USG Ishimura has stopped communicating. The planet cracking space vessel was on a mining mission but has been silenced. Isaac Clarke is a technician that has been dispatched as part of a small team to reinstate communication with the Ishimura and her crew. Clarke has a vested interest in this vessel as his girlfriend is part of her crew. Soon after boarding, the team finds that things are not right. There appears to be signs of fights and dead crew all over the ship. Strange noises and sounds haunt every corner of the vessel. The team is separated and Clarke must work mostly by himself to survive the same horrors that ravaged the Ishimura’s crew.

Even though the game was released in 2008, it still stands up very well six years later. Dead Space’s graphics are superb given that this was an early game in the life cycle of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. From a control standpoint, it is a quick learn to master the weapons and abilities. Several different weapons become available throughout the game but used only the plasma cutter. It not only keep the weaponry simplified but also earned me a gold trophy. The inventory system gets better as you upgrade and can carry more items. It was an early aggravation to balance and choose what items I could keep in the limited inventory. The true demeanor of the game comes from the blending of sight and sound. The soundtrack adds immense terror and isolation to the game. The eerie feel keeps you on guard constantly with the sounds of screaming and rustling coming from the ship’s duct work. Subtle instruments accent the lonely corridors and lull you into a false state of relaxation just before the next wave of Necromorphs attack. At times you begin to question if you or the character are going insane with the voices speaking and singing coming from unknown origins.

Not being a fan of horror based movies or games, I was reluctant to play this game. However, I decided to try it after playing and thoroughly enjoying the Dead Space game on iOS. The full console experience was far better than the iOS compliment. The full-scale of controls and environment are used to their utmost. This was possibly one of the best console games I’ve ever played. A truly solid control set kept any game play frustrations to a minimum. It took me the better part of a month to finish this game. Even though the campaign clocks in with a length of about twelve hours, I found myself playing in only one hour increments. It wasn’t the difficulty that kept my pace slow(admittedly I played on the easiest setting), rather it was the amount of stress and terror I felt during every game session. I really wanted to play more but just found it too mentally exhausting to do so. Every time I quit playing I looked forward to playing again. It was even the small almost nearly unnoticeable things that added to the game. For example, you could walk into a room and there would be storage crates that you can open to obtain items but sometimes if you left them unopened, you could turn around only to find one of them to be open when you look at them again.

Best part is that you should be able to get this game on the cheap. I managed to get all three Dead Space games used from GameStop for less than $30 during a promotional sale. Currently, Dead Space is listed as $15 used at GameStop or $20 new. Amazon has it for about $17 new.

After I play something else to ease my nerves, I plan on carrying on into next chapter of this series.

Thor: The Dark Whirl

Thor: The Dark WorldSaying it was better than the original isn’t exactly a compliment but it’s a place to start.

We find Thor defending Asgard and trying to bring peace to the nine realms. Odin is aging and waiting for Thor to finish his conquest so that he may be named the new king of Asgard. The pursuit of universal peace and unity is interrupted when an enemy, Malekith, from a time long ago emerges and sets out to complete the destruction he sought against the nine realms. This will take Thor back to Earth where the nine realms are converging. At this convergence is where Malekith is planning to release his weapon against the nine realms and return them to darkness.

Not that the first Thor movie was terrible, it just wasn’t very good. The sequel seems to be constructed better both in story and in character. Although the movie was fairly transparent and predictable it was still entertaining. The story wasn’t very deep to say the least and it seemed to bounce around a little bit too much at times. Seeing the same cast reunite and continue the story was nice – always nice to see Natalie Portman. Much like the first movie, Loki was still my favorite character. If you wonder if they will make a third movie, let’s just say that door was left wide open to the point they may have taken it off the hinges.

Overall, I say the movie is highly watchable. I watched it for free via a free rental code from Redbox. Maybe not purchase worthy at this point but definitely a rent and watch. There is just one thing that gets me and it’s not so much a problem with this movie as it is a problem with the Marvel movie universe. What bothers me is the fact that although all of the franchises are connected and have crossed over, they still largely ignore each other. In Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3, both heroes are need of help but never try to call their fellow Avengers. Apparently working solo is still the preferred method. Even the events of the Avengers movie are hardly acknowledged and only mentioned is a passing moment. I have not seen the second Captain America movie yet but I can only guess that it has the same issue. Maybe when the second Avengers movie is released all the heroes will recognize that each other exist again.

McHail’s Navy

McHale's NavyWatching this movie now, I still don’t understand how it wasn’t a HUGE hit!!!

John McHale left the Navy in disgust over a few things. Things like how his superiors treated him and his men. He has retired to an island paradise that is very close to the Naval base where his former crew is stationed. Making his living as a seller of merchandise ranging from beer to ice cream to calendars may not seem like much of a way to make a living, but McHale’s heart is ultimately in the right place though as he uses his earnings to support the island locals. This peace and tranquility is halted when terrorist take over the island as the home base of their operations. The lead terrorist, Vladikov, is an old acquaintance and the two are soon pitted against each other when McHale is recruited back to the Navy and charged with stopping the terrorist threat in the area.

Hollywood suckles upon itself yet again for more content bringing you this movie based on a 1960’s era television show about the mis-adventures of a Navy crew in World War II. Less than twenty years after the war it was based on may have seemed too soon to be making fun of the war but waiting thirty years after the series ran to reuse the content seems cheap. I had seen some of the original series and if you put it in the time and place it was made in it was funny. Trying to bring that same humor to a more modern time had to be a difficult task and on-screen it fell short. In the end it felt like the movie basically used the title for name recognition. The humor was somewhat of a rip of and didn’t playoff as well. The names and location seemed like the only things that carried over from the show without feeling fake. Even all the star power packed into this movie could not save it. Put in perspective of its 1997 release, the cast should have been a big draw. Tom Arnold led the cast but was completed by the likes of David Alan Grier, Dean Stockwell, Debra Messing, and Tim Curry.

With all that said, I still laughed when I watched it. The humor was funny at least to me. Maybe it didn’t hit other people the same. You have to step back and realize that the humor was trying to work in that space in between realistic and cartoonish. Do you really expect a diving suit to fill up like a balloon in real life? Reusing the McHale’s Navy name wasn’t necessary for this. It could have just as well been called “The Caribbean Cruisers”.

Go ahead and watch the movie if you Netflix. It a fairly wholesome comedy that really won’t offend people. Not sure that I’d recommend putting out money for a disc copy though.

Jerney

JourneyA beautiful and simple game – yet hard to explain.

The game begins with you as the player in a desert watching what looks like a shooting star fall behind a distant mountain. The journey then begins as you make your way to the downed star. Walking through the desert you find unknown ruins and perhaps other travelers on the same journey.

This PlayStation exclusive is truly a work of art. If you are into the action packed, run and gun games then this is not for you. Journey is exactly what its name implies. You as the player are taken on a journey through a beautifully imagined and crafted world towards an unknown goal. Even after finishing the game once, I am still unclear as to what exactly was happening or why but I am looking forward to playing it again. It may be that there is no set story or meaning but it is more left for the player to make his or her own interpretation.

The mechanics in the game are as simple as the scenery is gorgeous. The player has essentially two actions besides moving, those being jump and voice. The jump action can result in a glide ability depending how many ribbon like pieces the player has accumulated. Whereas the voice action, which really doesn’t make true vocal sounds, can be tapped for a quick voicing or held then released for a more powerful vocalization. Voice actions can activate items like murals or the aforementioned ribbons. Gameplay is simply making your way to your goal. There are some chances to explore along the way but there are no enemies to defeat or puzzles to solve along the way. Granted there is one enemy-like entity that you are best to avoid but if it does contact you you are merely thrown back slightly. The multiplayer element is seamless to say the least. Two different players joined and left my game with little or no notice.

Playing this game is like no other. It has the best blend of imagery and music that I have ever encountered. The sheer simplicity that the game makers used and were able to convey such emotion with is astounding. If you are looking for a great game experience that is like no other than take the time to play this game. The total game will take little over an hour to complete.

Available only through the PlayStation Network, Journey will set you back about $15. Well worth the investment since most likely you’ll play it more than once.