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Square Enix Announces Marvel Partnership

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Behold! Marvel have finally grown some balls and are now grabbing them to get serious about producing AAA games.

Square Enix has announced a multi-game partnership with Marvel. To top it off, Crystal Dynamics will be working in collaboration with Eidos Montreal to produce ‘The Avengers Project’ which is the working title for the first game to be born out of this newly announced partnership.

Square Enix are highly known for the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchise, Crystal Dynamics brought us Tomb Raider and Edios Montreal gave us Deus Ex so, it’s a very good place to be at.

Marvel had made some attempts in the past to create console games but they never really did hit the bar, so they moved their focus to mobile gaming. But now with Marvel Studios dominating the silver screens and TellTale Games producing a Guardians of the Galaxy game, it really is about time Marvel stepped up to the plate and give us gamers what we really want.

All details are very vague at this point, but it’s been announced… let’s celebrate!

 

 

The Good, The Bad and The Bloody Awful

Happy late New Year guys! 2013 has been an incredible year for the world of film and video games, with an even better 2 years ahead of us (from what we know so far). It’s that time where we can reflect on what we’ve seen and played over the past year. It was actually quite difficult putting this post together considering there has been so much greatness in 2013, so forget about a “Top 10” etc, here’s a brief flash back at the cinematic awesomesauce poured over your chips.

2013 1

First up, it’s very easy to say that Marvel had a fantastic run, and is still jogging their way to the far far away finishing line smoothly. Iron Man 3 (at the moment currently dubbed as the “last Iron Man”) was fantastic. Everyone had their own opinion on it, but really, it was superb. Getting to see Iron Man stripped down to just Tony Stark with anxiety attacks after New York aka The Avengers Phase one really put the icing on the cake. It was a brilliant way to start off Phase two and it was based around Christmas time (thanks to Shane Black) so there’s an excuse to watch it all year round.

2013 2

Second in command, Thor: The Dark World was even better than the first. Based around mostly Greenwich, London and Asgard, Thor became the Thor we all enjoyed from The Avengers (not that we didn’t’ enjoy him in his first solo film, there was just something different) not to mention that devious brother of his, Loki. After his award winning performance, if there was an award just for superheroes, Loki is still the one you want to watch. Patiently, but very impatiently, you wait and can barely contain yourself when Loki is off screen. Saying that, Thor 2 has a really strong and entertaining story that really does grab a hold of you, without pulling you too far into the dark world. Quite frankly, you really wouldn’t want to end up there.

2013 3

Hugh Jackman had returned as our favourite X-Men, Wolverine in… The Wolverine. After the first attempt to give Logan his first solo act in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was time to move forward, rather than going back with all the origin stories and get serious. The Wolverine, set mostly in Japan, occurred after X-Men: The Last Stand, where he’s gone off on his own again with Dr Jean Grey stuck in his head, trying to make him feel guilty for killing her off (even though she killed Cyclops and Professor Xavier). This time however, some dude he had saved back in the day wants Logan’s power of not aging so he can live longer, trying to claim that Logan is ready to die and he’s not, oh the nerve! But anyways, it’s super awesome and Wolverine still has his sarcastic spark and don’t care attitude, even though he really does care and we meet this awesome red haired Japanese girl who literally can beat the crap out of you with her eyes closed. It was dubbed as the “Wolverine film we’ve always wanted” and it’s a fact that it really is. To top it all of, the post credit scene is to die for! It’s what connects the whole X-Men series to the next instalment Days of Future Past, out this year.

2013 4

Moving away from Marvel and slipping into 5th gear, DC had a pretty good run too without a Batman film in site. RED has personally become one of favourite Bruce Willis films (it could actually be my favourite). With the success of the first, yes a sequel had been made with hope for a third. RED 2 adds Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins to the mix, with the original crew back for another beating (except Morgan Freeman obviously). The relationship between Mary Louise Parker and Bruce Willis onscreen is just so hilarious but sweet at the same time. She’s the type of girl we wish we could all be.

2013 5

Next in line was yet another reboot for Superman hailed The Man of Steel. This was actually a huge surprise because its predecessors were never as good as the Christopher Reeve Superman, nothing had even come close. After saying that, Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan really hit the nail on the head, hammering it hard with this one. For an origin story, Man of Steel was unbelievably good. The new man with a cape, Henry Cavill donned the Superman closest to Reeve’s version without a doubt. Michael Shannon as General Zod was fantastic; the only downfall with the film was unfortunately Amy Adams. She’s a great actress, but being cast as Louis Lane was a huge disappointment and just did not work at all. It was actually quite awkward watching it. But other than that, one of the best things about Man of Steel were those camera angles used during the fight scenes and just the way it was filmed on a whole. To add to the excitement, at the SDCC (Comic-Con) it was announced that the Man of Steel sequel would have Batman in it, later on notifying us that Batman would be played by Ben Affleck. 2015 guys!

2013 6

It wasn’t just Comic book adaptations that did well this year, Ron Howard’s Rush is definitely a front runner to win some sort of an award this year. The biopic tells the story of 2 F1 race car drivers who’s had this on going feud for years, until one of them gets involved in a life changing accident. The great thing about this film is that it’s not really a racing film; it’s not primarily focused on the races. It’s more about the relationship between the two drivers and you get to watch them grow. It truly is an amazing film.

2013 7

Other films that came out for 2013 that were very enjoyable to watch were Now You See Me, World War Z, The Great Gatsby, Disney’s Frozen, Django Unchained (it was technically released in the UK 2013 so ha!), Bad Grandpa, Fast and Furious 6, The Conjuring and to end the year we had The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug which is a must watch for all LOTR fans and The Hunger Games Part 2: Catching Fire. Both films leaving you in a right pickle as their cliff hangers were just too intense. You get the feeling of your eyes welling up thinking “I have to wait a year to know what happens next?” [Insert that Kevin Hart picture that’s been surfing around the net]

2013 8

The worst film without a doubt that was released in 2013 that I’ve seen was Texas Chainsaw. Where could one start with this pile of garbage. It was bloody terrible, honestly, don’t even bother try giving it a go. The story was weak, the performances were boring, there was no need for it to be rated an 18 either, it could have easily passed as a 15. There was just nothing to this film, nothing at all.

2013 9

Ending on a high note, video games have had an exceptional year with the release of GTAV, Beyond Two Souls, Tomb Raider, God of War Ascensions, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag to mention a few. GOTY (Game of the year) definitely has to go to The Last of Us. Naughty Dog always produce the best, but The Last of Us just went beyond that. There are no words to describe how amazing the campaign is. The story is so strong, you’ll play it more than once and that’s a guarantee. The mechanics of the game is very easy to manage once you know the controls, the feel of the characters are realistic, the voice acting is incredible, the relationship between the protagonists Joel and Ellie is just mouth watering,  I could literally go on and on. The Multiplayer at the moment is lacking a few more modes etc but they are working on it, so it’s just about being patient, but what there is of the multiplayer is awesome. Everyone is just waiting for that announcement for a Co-op now *wink wink*. Honestly though, if you haven’t played TLOU, it’s definitely worth playing. It truly is a masterpiece.

So that’s 2013! Done and dusted, bring on 2014!

The Last of Us – First Impressions

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Releasing next month, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us looked and sounded very promising after their fantastic run (and currently running) Uncharted series. Only just being fully completed about a week ago, I managed to attend a special event where I got to get my hands on the pre alpha version of the long awaited title.

The most important aspect of the game is the actually game play. The controls are very easy to understand and are quite similar to Uncharted, but whether or not you’re familiar with the Uncharted series or not, the ease of the controls will allow you to just fall into place and feel comfortable whilst playing.

Joel is a very lovely character to play with. His movements are very free flowing quite like Nathan Drake (Uncharted) but you also feel the weight of Joel in his movements. He’s not a light weight character like most game characters. This adds depth to the game play, especially when it comes to the hand to hand combat.

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The hand to hand combat is one of my favourite features to the game play. It’s brutal, with realistic elements to the way he punches and takes the enemy to the floor and beats the crap out of them. The intensity within his fighting style feels very realistic, pulling you into the game’s atmosphere and is great fun. Also his crouching state is very reliable and easy to handle (unlike the crouching style in Tomb Raider), it’s very smooth.

As it is quite the survival horror type game, there is obviously a lack of bullets; they are very limited so it’s best to just use them when it’s absolutely needed. However, the game does give you many opportunities to use objects as weapons and to also combine two or more objects to make a stronger weapon. E.g. a wooden stick, some tape and a pair of scissors. Also Joel has the skill to detect enemies behind the wall, which helps a lot when wanting to save your bullets and just stealth the enemy, (Playing out stealth attacks are also very smooth and enjoyable when done correctly) so this definitely makes up for the shortage of bullets. The gun play is very sturdy and not all over the place, so you get a good hand on your gun whilst aiming. Also the camera movements are more realistic with the character. It’s much like looking through Joel’s eyes to play the game, even though it’s third person. One example is when Joel is moving backwards, usually a character would turn around, but Joel actually walks backwards, which adds to the intensity o the game especially in combat and there is someone behind you.

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The AI’s are not scripted so their reactions are different in each scenario, but they are very brutal, especially the Clickers. The Clickers are much more of a handful than the infected people and there are basically two ways to kill them. Ellie is also a great companion. She doesn’t get in the way and she really does help you out. Overall, the game play is very clever and makes you think your way out of situations, it’s very technical so you can’t rush your way through. Patience goes a long way.

The graphics and visual effects are amazingly brilliant. There is a lot of fine, technical detail in the characters and the environment, for example, when moving through the grass, it moves and sways the way grass should. A very simple, but interesting finding was the way that Joel puts his gun away and you would actually see it in his back pocket whereas in other games, it would disappear in certain positions, and then reappear.

Overall it was a very exciting, action packed game that relies on patience, skill and applying yourself to the situation. It may be tricky, but the ease of the controls and lack of disturbance from Ellie makes life a bit more easy and the game more enjoyable, even when the deadly Clickers are at large.

There hasn’t been much news on the multiplayer aspect of The Last of Us as of yet, however, there has been a strong rumour floating around that it will involve the co-op feature online and offline, but with the release date vastly approaching, there is a lot of certainty that more information about the multiplayer will be revealed.

A well worthy game to be played and so far, the results are very pleasing. Pure awesomeness.

Where’s the Harm in CG-animation? – Video Game Adaptations

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It seems after much debate and not much success with live action adaptations of video games, the universe has finally seen sense and is broadening their heights and opening their minds to the future of CG-animated adaptations. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, but now it’s becoming a tiny trend and hopefully more will follow.

The Resident Evil franchise should be very proud of them selves because their CG-animated movies are really good. You get so much more out of them and they follow the game franchise, literally, but not just by turning the game step by step into a film, but by becoming part of the game. For example, the most recent Resident Evil CG-A feature, Resident Evil: Damnation, takes place before the latest game, Resident Evil 6, where Leon S. Kennedy has to investigate the rumours of Bio Organic Weapons (B.O.W.s) and it also ties in with Ada Wong’s story which is a campaign to be unlocked in Resident Evil 6 once you’ve completed the other three. It’s quite like the Final Fantasy franchise. However, the live action films of Resident Evil don’t coincide with the video game at all, purely for the main reason that the main character Alice isn’t even a character in the game franchise and the main characters from the franchise are usually absent in the film. The films however are at an ok standard, but compared to the CG-A ones, they are quite a disappointment. The CG-A versions should definitely get more recognition.

2010 saw an ok attempt at turning Tekken into a live action flick, however there were many flaws with the characters, the absence of crucial characters from the video game and an ok story line. 2011 saw a better attempt at Tekken, however, it was a CG-A version. Tekken: Blood Vengeance had more potential and proves that the franchise could actually really go far in the world of CG-A.

The big news that has been announced in the past couple of weeks has been the release date for an animated Ratchet and Clank movie (2015) and the production of a Heavenly Sword CG-animated film. With this news, it only gives hope that more will follow in the foot steps of Rainmaker Entertainment and dish out some more of these exciting creations.

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One film idea that has been in circulation since 2011 was the idea of an Uncharted film. To be honest, an Uncharted film would be “totes amazeballs” however, live action would simply spoil it. Nathan Drake is such an iconic character, quite like Lara Croft (and we all remember how that went down) it would be very hard to accept someone literally standing in for the actual character (and Nolan North). Rumours were floating around that Mark Wahlberg was the one to take on the role of Drake (as he is the action hero type). As much as Wahlberg is a fantastic actor in his own right, this role just isn’t for him. His personality and voice alone would cause problems with the role (and the fans of the franchise would give it a right slating… you know what we’re like). A new candidate has arrived on the scene recently in the name of Bradley Cooper. This makes much more sense in terms of physical appearance, personality etc and could possibly have a better hit with audiences (Angelina Jolie had the characteristics for Lara Croft, yet still the film was so-so). He also has the look of the bad boy-Brit Harry Flynn, so he could possibly just take any role (although he’d need to put on a strong “correct” Brit accent to pull it off). Yet still in this case, CG-animation would be perfect for Uncharted. We would have the original characters and a fun adventure. The video game series feels like a film anyways so why not just make it into a feature length film? It would just tick all the boxes you could think of and it’s the best option. Yes Please!

The future of CG-animated films are beginning to get a bit more recognition and by getting more people to spread the word, there’s more of a chance these flicks will at least get a theatrical release rather than just a straight to DVD and Blu Ray release.