Saturday, February 18, 2012

A little indecisive and the waiting game

Ask anyone whom knows me well and they'll tell you that I'm rather indecisive. Be it picking a game, movie, CD or what particular version of each of those items, or even just as something as simple as choosing what to eat at an outing... I seem to mull over things and weigh the pros/cons of each for quite a while before I purchase something.

Such is the case with Mass Effect 3. I initially pre-ordered the 360 collector's edition in November, through EBGames (their website specifically). A week or so ago, I canceled it in a move to get the PS3 CE instead. Not long afterwards I then canceled that and went back to the 360 CE version, which I again canned for just the standard version of the game. *This all took place in one afternoon/evening btw. Later I decided I wasn't happy with the normal edition and tried to get the CE 360 version ordered again. But EB Games must of sold out? They told me, "that edition isn't available any more". SO! I pre-ordered the PS3 CE along with a 360 regular version... just in case.

Not happy with spending money on two versions, I decided to look elsewhere for the 360 CE. Amazon didn't have it for sale and a few other places said it wasn't available. I finally found a place online that had it, Futureshop listed it and a bonus "Trilogy Edition Steelbook case" with it. So, I added it to my cart and went through the checkout... only to be greeted by an error code and an explanation that I did not fill out my address. I checked every thing I could and I knew this was not the case. Three or four emails later to their support page and I'm left running in circles as they tell me to delete my IE cache data (I don't use IE... but they insist this will fix the problem). Some head shaking later, I decide it's a problem with their website and I try to figure out exactly what. Turns out... because I had a '#' value somewhere in my address line, the code of the site got caught up on it... as I removed it and the site started to act normally. I did get my 360 CE version of Mass Effect 3 ordered :) It comes with this neat Steelbook that has "Mass Effect Collection" written on the side and space for 5 discs inside (ME 1, ME2 and 3 each have 2) - Not sure if I'll use it, but it's cool anyways. From there, I went back to the EBGames site and canned my PS3 CE and 360 normal edition with them :P

The other thing on my mind right now, which didn't take nearly as much thought as to what version to get (I feel I'll have no use for 3G and refuse to pay for the service, thus it's the Wifi model for me), is the upcoming launch of Sony's Vita handheld. I did take a look at their "First Edition" packages which came out this past Wednesday... but I didn't like that it only came with a 4GB memcard and Little Deviants (a game I had little interest in), so I opted to waiting the extra week for the official launch and getting an 8Gb card (would love the 32GB card, but $100 is too much for that) along with Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Model not included, sadly. :P
This is... as far as I can remember, the first gaming device I've gotten at launch. I got my PS3 a few months after release as I didn't have the money at the time of launch and it was near impossible to find one locally when I did gather up the cash. Every other system I've purchased down the line of their life spans. So I'm excited to get my hands on something so fresh and new :) Sadly, I've had to cut back on spending for other games (I really wanted to pick up the Jak/Daxter Collection, Twisted Metal and a few others) to make the purchase easier on the bank balance, but I feel it'll be worth it when it arrives next week :) Kinda friggin pumped. Not gonna lie :P

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chronicle impresses

*I try my best to keep any spoilers out, talking in generalities and only really touching on things you would most likely get from the trailer.

I saw this title last week, but it's been sitting with me... and I'm heavily considering going to see it again (not something I do too often in the realm of $12 movie tickets). I actually first heard of it just a week prior to it's debut, as it's trailer was shown before the new Underworld flick (a film which wasn't very good, sadly)  and it instantly caught my attention as a lower budget hero-like movie, something akin to Hancock.

In some ways it was like Hancock... but in my opinion, it surpassed that film with what felt like more down to earth characters, more heart, better writing and interestingly with a tenth of the budget to boot. Costing a mere 15 million to produce (which seems like a small amount in the world of pro-movies of today) the film doesn't really feel as if they were limited by the budget at all.

Like I mentioned, the characters feel very down to earth. They are three, kind of different characters whom are brought together by a find which changes their lives from that point on. Andrew, the main character of the film, is a troubled youth whom lives with a sick mother, an alcoholic father and generally keeps to himself in social situations. Bullied and left on the side lines, he only ever really chooses to hang out with a cousin of his, Matt, whom is more of a middle ground kind of character who much easily blends into social events, but still has his hang ups when trying to figure out who he is. Lastly, Steve, is much more charismatic and outgoing - even runs for class president in their high school.

The movie starts as Andrew gets himself a new video camera which he starts to use as a way to document things in his day to day life. Be it the abusive tendencies of his father, his mundane, but also poor life at school or when he's out with his cousin; Andrew always seems to have the camera on, filming - despite constant questioning and weird looks from others who wonder why exactly he's filming. This whole idea, while an interesting way to introduce us to Andrew and those around him actually gives the film a much more realistic feel in the sense that you're along for the ride... rather than watching a movie. The movie itself cuts back and forth between filmed scenes and those shot with Andrew's camera but... they seem to almost blend together more and more as the film goes on.

While it's not a new tactic to introduce us to characters with a handheld camera gimmick... this one feels a little different. As the story progresses and we get to the core idea of the movie we follow Andrew, Matt and Steve as they find a crater/cave in the woods out behind a party that's being thrown at an abandoned building. The events that unfold leave the three with "powers" or abilities in which they are able to use their minds to accomplish things; stuff like moving objects, levitating and so on. As they develop these powers and experiment more with them, they get better with them. Andrew (snapping back to my bit about the camera) even starts to move his camera around freely with his mind, allowing him to film himself and others in what ever way he wants - the idea is even noted by Steve at one point whom asks how Andrew is able to so finely harness his ability to smoothly control the camera all the while doing other things.

The three of them, of course, have a lot of fun with the new found abilities at the beginning of the movie.. but that would be boring if things just ended on a high note. Soon things start to get a little crazy and each of them starts to amp up what they can do with these abilities, while others in the group worry that there should be rules to protect themselves and others. Before we get too deep into it though, I must say that the pacing they went with, the large amount of time they spent on developing the characters, showing you the different sides of each character, really impressed me. I wasn't expecting that kind of attention to the project; it's not something you get from the trailer or promo material what so ever.

What eventually unfolds is an interesting story of three friends, their differences as people and those in their lives that shape them. The abilities idea works in well as a catalyst for that and it's a lot of fun watching the three experience this new exciting time, knowing that you would probably do the exact same thing. The sense of attachment you have to the characters is strong, at least it was with me. Not so much that I cared deeply for the characters, but more, I felt almost like I was party of that union rather than watching it from the sidelines. Very effective way to get an audience to care more about what happens through out the story. Very kewl.

The action itself is serviceable but is one of the few draw backs of the movie, for me at least. They just don't seem to burst into that level that you want them to. Maybe it's the budget... I'm not sure... but especially towards the end of the movie, I was sitting there wishing they'd bump it just a little further. Who knows... maybe we'll see another chronicle movie where they can put a little more money into those effects? Either way, it doesn't really detract from the story or the rest of the movie too much, I just felt that it could of raised the bar a little higher.

While not quite on the same level, I did notice (even in the trailer I got a feel) shards or slivers of what I got from the 1988 anime film Akira. Much less mind bending than the aforementioned title, but it does have that certain flavor at least, in my opinion of course. I A) Am considering watching it for a second time and B) Can't wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray. Awesome film.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Help fund Double Fine's new game!

Here's an interesting way to show a developer you share their vision. Fund the cost of their game's production!

Double Fine (developers of Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Stacking, Costume quest) and front man Tim Schafer (The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango) want to throw back to the time when adventure games ruled the PC and craft another gem for the fans.

While there are talks of Notch and Schafer in talks of crafting a Psychonauts 2, funded entirely by Notch (the man behind MineCraft), this is something different altogether.

The team needs $400,000 by the 13th of March to make a go of it and as of writing, they are at $249,000 (up from $241,000 when I decided to write this blog post).

Best of all? Donate $15 or more and you already have yourself a copy of the game when it comes out on steam (once it's finished) and a spot in the beta before that day.

I'm about to do so, what about you? Donate for a good cause?

Friday, February 03, 2012

She's the biggest yet

Mmm, I love to feed my geek side once in a while. Granted, I have an entire shelf (okay two) that is lined with geek paraphernalia; as well as walls lined with posters and a computer desk filling up with figures that lead to the notion of such... but once in a while I like to splurge even further and really delve into the title (of geek).

Some times I feel foolish for spending money on things like that, but... it makes me happy :) So, every so often I just see something I WANT and I get it (if financially sound... there's lots of things I want but wouldn't or couldn't put such cash aside for them).
<< This is my most recent purchase.

It makes my other Motoko Statue look puny in comparison (seen above in the background). It actually cost less than my first Motoko statue - which also shot up in price since then; I'm glad I snatched this one now instead of waiting and seeing it for triple the price down the line.

It, of course, is based on Major Motoko Kusanagi from the anime/manga Ghost in the Shell. Actually, more specifically it's from the S.A.C anime series... I forget exactly what part, the suit should be an indication... but I just don't remember... it's later on in the series, I'm decently sure.

Anyways, I'm rather impressed with the build quality. It's near or on par with the job done on the Batman Arkham City statue that's included in the SE of that game. The pants are shinier than the rest, smoother too. The coat is smooth but with a more matte look and feel while the body suit piece and skin are much more rubber like. It's kind of kewl to have the different materials as it give's a some texture, both visually and by touch.

Anyways, just thought I'd share. Here's a few more pics of it in different angles: