Tuesday, July 29

Day 15

Sometimes I let fear control me and through it I am paralyzed.

The other week I looked at a site for a new Star Wars game and noted the way it failed to pique my interest. Today I want to look at one that does. EA are known for many things, few of them good and one of them their Family oriented products. "Rated T for Teen" always precedes the "EA; Challenge everything!" clip. Until now.

'Dead Space' changes the way I look at EA as a company.

An unashamed survival horror game set in space? Already sounds promising. Genuine innovation in game play? Yes! Finally the immersion is off the chart. This is what excites me.

I believe where I was critical in the advertisement of The Force: Unleashed was in it's hack-knee storyline, bland characters and misdirected focus (advertising AI? phfa!) so I'll have a look at their website. Off the bat their is a trailer with some super creepy music that's good enough to rival the Bioshock Big Daddy hunt. I'm not wowed by the monsters or the spaceship, they seem fairly stock standard, but that's alright... or is it? One of the gimmicks of the game is their new system for killing these monsters which they call 'strategic dismemberment' and this idea is core to the entire game. You have to tear them to pieces to disable them rather than just blasting anything that moves (based on the idea that doing precise things under stress heightens the fear effect). Suddenly what those monsters are is getting very important as each requires a different strategy. So far the only character in the flesh is our hero and he is largely anonymous (or at least unknown at this point) allowing the player to imprint onto him. The same could be said for the main character in the Star Wars game, but in that situation I don't want to be me, I want to be an awesome Sith Badass. That sort of leads into the level of immersion that I'm seeing in this game. The tension is never broken; the life bar is on your back and your inventory floats before the character. Story is given in game a'la Bioshock (System Shock, System Shock 2) but Doom 3 has already ripped them off so I guess it's okay now. Plus why ignore a brilliant idea just because it's already been used? How is this game different from Doom 3 (which was admittedly quite scary) then? You're not a hardened marine, you're a vulnerable engineer. Everything isn't black so you can actually see what's going on. Strategic Dismemberment discourages spray-n-pray tactics. It's 3rd person, not sure if that's a pro or a con but I tend to prefer it, particularly with new aiming systems pioneered by games like Gears of War. Time will tell on the story aspect but the background is fairly standard horror. A game doesn't have to be a complete revolution to be worth playing, it just has to be good (ie. fun and interesting).

No longer just re-hashing sports games and buying out safe-bets, I see EA as a company with big capital and an open mind.

And finally, some quality cinema!

The Man with No Name rides into town, takes a look around and lays four Baxter's in the ground. Sure it may be a western ripoff of Yojimbo (I think it's more of a tribute, unlike The Magnificent Seven) but this movie is still brilliant. A young handsome Clint Eastwood heads up a cast of dirty, mean, ugly men who proceed to kill each other. Blondie's keen intellect and speed on the draw is balanced by his drive to help others and let no one help him. Ennio Morricone's score is brilliant.
There's nothing to dislike in this film, but in the interest of learning something let's see if I can narrow it down:
-There is little dialog (not unlike No Country For Old men some 40 years later), leaving plenty of time to engage with emotions. The tension is built and built and built in scenes that aren't in reality all that long. Actions are never explained (although in time their purpose is revealed), you have to work out why something is happening and be rewarded for thinking smart.
-It is a movie about conflict between Men and their morals. There is nothing intrusive or fake here; sure there can be love as there can be hate and desire but ultimately it is a story that deals with masculine conflict framed by traditional male values.
-Guns kill people. Every time there is a gun there is real danger. Although there is no blood effects, if one is shot, one will expire. There isn't any fanfare, drama or romance associated with the weapon and the bad guys (all of them at once in fact) die just like a regular sucker: there one minute, gone the next. There's only the quick and the dead.
-People are smart. There are those who get by on brawn alone, but never for long. If they are alive then they are cunning. The main character isn't some chump who uses his average level intelligence to outsmart dimwits.
-The film ends where it begins. There is no life changing drama here. He walks into town the same way he walks out (plus a fist-full of dollars).

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