Max Payne 3 – Conclusions

Max Payne 3

Okay, so I finished Max Payne 3 last night, well early this morning, and I had a little think about the game. I was perhaps a bit harsh on the game, in my ‘first thoughts‘ on it. Because all said, it was a fun play through.

Now admittedly I’m not a Max Payne fan. I had played a very little bit of Max Payne 2 and my initial thoughts on that game, was that it seemed a lot like Condemned. As I said in my first post about Max Payne, I felt that I had been there before.

I guess to an extent it felt like that because Rockstar had set the whole game up as a ‘Game Noir’ and that’s okay, but did they really have to have that ‘grind house’ look to it?

I am still trying to figure out why they did the scratchy and shaky appearance to the whole thing. It did look like a addicts vision of life around him, but the bleeding and blurry colours didn’t really make a lot of sense for a ‘third-person-shooter.’

If it had been a ‘first-person-shooter’ it would have fit a bit better, but I still maintain that it was an un-necessary distraction.

The story was okay. The bit about powerful, rich, corrupt families has been done before. I suppose that with the drug cartel problem in Mexico these days grabbing headlines, it seemed the topical thing to do. But again, it still felt a little like a ‘re-run’ that I had seen before.

My other main complaint? The game was short. Damn short. I guess they felt like the inclusion of a Max Payne multi-player would make up for that. I did play the multi-player for a bit after I had finished the game. Sorry Rockstar, it didn’t add anything to the game. For a start, my character wasn’t even Max, for crying out loud. That bit was locked.

English: The Rockstar New England logo, a divi...

I guess I do have to admit that I liked the almost easy task of blowing bad guys away in their dozens. I do like shooting things whether said things are aliens, bad guys or enemy soldiers I am a sucker for a gun fight.

The ‘bullet time‘ feature is still fun, although it took me ages to really master it and the R1 feature took me forever to remember I had it as an option. But when I did remember all I could think of was John Woo’s Stranglehold game.

To be completely fair I have to say that it was a good play, but, it did not have that wow factor. So in my thinking it is more of a rental versus a ‘gotta have’ game.

I will say that I did like the fact that Max was in his mid-forties. As an old fart myself, it was nice to see a protagonist who was not young, bronzed and muscle bound. Someone instead with a bit of character on his face. Grizzled and wrinkled and still able to get the job done.

True Grit

John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.
John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was sitting here perusing my old blog posts when I suddenly got the image of John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in my head. As I sat there mentally studying Rooster, I thought of the title of the film.

True Grit.

More images came to mind. Grits, obviously, the great southern delicacy that I can live without…forever. Who ever invented this southern ‘breakfast’ dish, should be shot with the corn niblets that were ground up to make this dish.

Bland to the point of disgust and only edible after you add copious amounts of salt, pepper and butter. Blech!

Another image is that of grit. If you have ever raised chickens for eggs, you will know this word. Grit is made up of small shells and stones that have been ground up into tiny little crumbs. You have to give grit to chickens every day if you want eggs that will survive long enough for you to put them in your omelet.

Chickens
Chickens (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)

It is essential that chickens have grit to give them strong shelled eggs.

I also think of the boy scout newspaper called Grit. We used to have a town character named Burney who sold these things on the town square when I was a boy. Burney was a ‘town character’ because he had epilepsy.

Not the sharpest of tools in the shed, Burney was nonetheless harmless. He would not have hurt a fly. Strangers coming into the town would give Burney a wide berth, fearing him a little. One day Burney had a petite mal  on the sidewalk. A couple of visitors were shocked and concerned.

One of the tellers from the bank, come out and looked after Burney and made sure he didn’t bite his tongue or swallow it. After Burney’s fit was over, the teller went onto the drugstore and got him a cold Coke. Burney thanked him and sat contentedly sipping his cola.

One of the ‘non-residents’ of the town asked the teller what had happened and was that poor man okay? “Oh, that’s just Burney,” the teller replied, “He’s all right.” After glancing over at Burney one more time, the teller went back into the bank.

Burney finished his Coke and took the bottle to the store for the deposit it would net him.

I mention Burney, because of True Grit. The film, about a young girl who seeks to catch and hang her father’s murderer is looking for a Marshall who has true grit to help her. Of course all the main protagonists have grit in spades.

And that is the last thing I think of, the grit that people show in their everyday lives. Not everyone has it. Grit is that stubborn never give up attitude. The ability to keep going when others will easily give up. Grit is loyalty and the ability to not think of yourself as anything different. Grit is to be brave in the face of the fearful.

Burney was a wonderful example of true grit. Through every type of weather imaginable and if he was sick or not, this man struggled out everyday to sell his Grit newspaper. He even ignored, for the most part, the annoying kids who used to make fun of him. Every kid in town would do it at least once.

“Hey Bur-ney! Wana buy a GRRIITT!” The shrieked out question was usually said on the run as Burney was incredibly fast and could almost catch the little stinker who thought he was so witty. He would not have done anything if he had caught the kid, as I said Burney was harmless.

I know he was because to my everlasting shame, I was one of those little clowns that thought it was hysterically funny to taunt Burney. Burney did catch me once. All he did was look at me sadly and shake his head, he then let me go.

I never picked on Burney again. But I can tell you now that when I think of True Grit, it’s Burney’s face I see in my mind more often than not.

If Burney was still alive, I’d buy a Grit, I’d buy the whole damn bunch of them.

House of a 1000 Corpses (2003): Horror Zombie Style

Cover of "House of 1,000 Corpses"

Released in 2003, House of a 1000 Corpses had actually been sitting on a shelf since it had been made in 2000. Studios were reluctant to release it as they were unsure of the rating it would receive from the film board.

Corpses marks Rob Zombies directorial debut, he also wrote the film, and for a first attempt, Zombie pretty much knocked it right out of the park.

The cast of Corpses is a good one. Sid Haig (as Captain Spaulding), Sherri Moon (as Baby Firefly, Moon would later marry Zombie effectively giving her the more bizarre name of Sherri Moon Zombie), Karen Black (as Mother Firefly), Bill Moseley (as Otis Firefly), Michael J. Pollard (in a tiny cameo as Stucky), William Bassett (as Sheriff Frank Huston) and Dennis Fimple in what would be his last film role as Grandpa Hugo.

Rob Zombies first horror film would be the celluloid equivalent to his Heavy Metal music.  Zombie is an avid horror film fan himself, he adores horror films from the 1930’s and 40’s, he had already directed all his own music videos when he decided to make a feature length film.

Although the film opens with two couples who are travelling the back roads of rural America in search of local legends and places of infamous origins for a ‘travelogue’ the film is really about the Firefly family.

Captain Spaulding, who dresses like a clown, is the head of the backwoods brood. The Firefly’s are like the American dysfunctional family on acid. Every member of the family give a whole new meaning to the descriptive word eccentric.  Spaulding is at turns, funny, irascible, and murderous.

Mother Firefly is a southern belle of a gal, who can be likened to Blanche Dubois on drugs. Baby is drop dead gorgeous (emphasis on the drop dead), Otis is the most visually terrifying of the family, he lacks either the skill or the need to hide his murderous nature.

The two couples, a hilarious quartet of young people whose delight at discovering the existence of Dr Satan, are at turns excited (the boys) and disgusted (the girls). When they get directions to the tree where Dr Satan was hung, they get lost and they get a flat tyre.

It is when they ‘break down’ that they come across the Firefly clan. They are welcomed into the Firefly home and are entertained while their car is being repaired. The scenes in the Firefly home are ingenious. Baby Firefly has a definite interest in Bill Hudley (Rainn Wilson) and his girl friend Mary Knowles (Jennifer Jostyn) is less than pleased at this.

At dinner, where they all have to don masks (“If ya don’t, she won’t serve desert!” says Grandpa Hugo), they hear how Mother Firefly’s ex-husband tried to burn down their house while Tiny (Matthew McGrory) was sleeping in it.

After dinner the family then put on a show. It is “Theatre Firefly” and Baby comes out singing I Want to be Loved by You to Bill. Mary doesn’t like this one little bit. She threatens Baby and the whole evening turns deadly.

If it were not for the incredibly vicious violence, House of a 1000 Corpses could almost be a comedy. Any scene with Sid Haig as Spaulding is hilarious. He is broadly funny and antagonistic. His interaction with Bill Hudley and later with the two deputies left me gasping for breath. His scenes are comedic to the extreme.

The Firefly evening, felt so surreal. We feel as awkward and as uncomfortable as the young couples obviously do in the house. Mother Firefly is clearly mad as a hatter and the fact the both Bill and Jerry Goldsmith ( Chris Hardwick) both fail to notice this, is both funny and ominous.

The film is an almost perfect ensemble piece. The entire family each get a chance to show off their backwater weirdness and both Otis and Baby are terrifying. Otis with his clearly evil ideology and Baby with her childish and naive murderous nature both shine a bit more than the rest of the family.

Of course the iconic Karen Black as mother was brilliant. It is a shame that a dispute over salary kept her from reprising her role in the sequel The Devil’s Rejects.

Corpses was Rob Zombies initiation into the world of horror and he followed it up with The Devil’s Rejects or as I like to think of it The Further Adventures of the Firefly’s. He did hop on the re-make train and he re-imaged the classic Slasher Horror that is  Halloween, part one and two. He is currently working on The Lords of Satan.

Zombie is continually fine tuning his directing talent but he still makes what I like to think of as heavy metal horror films. I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us with his next film.

What if I Wrote a Blog and No One Read It…

2012 has been a year of stiff competition. I still do several blog-posts per day and my views vary accordingly.

I say accordingly, because there are a lot of factors that dictate how many, if any, views your blog will receive on any given day. For example, we have the 2012 Olympics going on just down the road. You have the football season. New video games and old ones (getting a DLC to correct the creators SNAFU on the original ending, is just one).

London 2012 banner at The Monument.
London 2012 banner at The Monument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summer is also the season of the Blockbuster film. School is for the most part out. Holidays are historically taken in the summer months. People who have been glued to their computers, laptops and iPads are now going out and cutting their grass, having barbecues and garden parties.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Basically the season of dithering and resting while waiting on warmer weather has passed.

The only ‘constant’ is my posting to my blog.

Of course you do get concerned when you check your view count and realise that it has increased by exactly one view in the last four hours. You tend to grumble and think why am I wasting my time. Don’t people realize that I live for high view counts? That my postings are like my party trick?

Look mummy at how well I can write! Look at my broad topic range! Look, no typo’s! In essence I feel like a performing dog. Running through hoops and jumping flaming walls and hearing cricket noises when I’ve finished.

I know, I’m over-reacting. My daughter calls me the “Drama King” and for good reason. Yes. I do exaggerate. But that is only for effect. I know that folks will pay more attention if I am telling a story about, oh, say…grasshoppers and the little buggers are in their millions. Grab’s your attention, doesn’t it? The mental picture of millions of little hoppers running around is much more eye-catching than hundreds of em.

Yes I am complaining, but, I’m also oddly content. Because if I can get just one person to read my little post, I’m happy. One person that is not a friend or a family member. One person who is an actual stranger to me. This makes me happy. This fulfils the longing in me to be noticed for my talent.

Okay so my talent equates to juggling three balls and very occasionally dropping one. But, minimal as it is, it is still a talent of sorts.

Even if you think of it as the literary version of running off at the mouth.

Assassin’s Creed III – Meh With a Capital M

I must be one of the only people in the world who is not excited about the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed III. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I’ve just gotten bored with it.

When Assassin’s Creed first came out in 2006 I was swept away by the stunning graphics and the wonderful story line. The main character, or hero of the game if you prefer, was Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad. Set during the third Crusades, the game’s tapestry was rich with history, both real and imagined.

Of course we only see  Altaïr once Desmond Miles, bartender extraordinaire, has been plugged up to the Animus. A machine that allows modern day folk to ‘live’ their ancestor’s memories.

Most people I know, didn’t like the first one. Stating that it was repetitive, boring and too long. Of course the biggest complaint was that you could not really assassinate anyone. Which is true, the moment you killed your target, no matter how discrete you were, you had to fight for your life.

So okay a little annoying but not enough to put me off the entire game. Just the graphics alone made my eyes feel like they were stretching out of their sockets trying to take in all that breathtaking, colourful and real looking verse.

What a wonderful blending of science fiction and historical drama. The Animus, which tied all the memories together was exciting and scary.

Still definitely my personal favourite out of all of them.

Which leads me into my first complaint. The next Assassin’s Creed had a new protagonist Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Desmond is rescued from the evil Knight’s  Templar aka Abstergo by the modern day Assassins. When he enters their Animus he re-lives the life of Ezio.

Now Ezio was okay, but, he isn’t Altaïr and his story arc is nowhere near as interesting. *Please remember that this is just my opinion.* But obviously, Ezio is the masses favourite. Because he  has come back no less than four times. I quickly got over any excitement I initially felt when I heard that a new Assassin’s Creed was being released.

But my lacklustre reception of all things Ezio, was not just down to his character. My dissatisfaction grew because of the change in the graphics and the storyline.

Gone were the breathtaking graphics that ‘one’ brought to the party. Gone were the brilliant mixing of history and science. Instead we were given graphics that were…okay. We were given a larger history lesson via on-screen data messages, a lot. And the interaction between Desmond and his ‘saviour’ Lucy Stillman, suddenly changed.

By the time that Brotherhood was released, the Uncharted series was huge. As Nolan North voiced both Desmond and Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series, and Nolan’s speciality is ad-libbing and engaging in banter with the other actors, Ubisoft decided to have Desmond and Lucy interact with each other differently.

What??

Where did this come from? When did Desmond and Lucy turn into Nate and Elena? Why try to make them into characters from another verse?

All this just proves to me that Ubisoft has lost their way with the franchise.

Assassin’s Creed II and beyond I could just about deal with. I was still able to suspend my disbelief enough to go along with Ezio dealing with Leonardo DaVinci, and the Borgias.  But it did get increasingly difficult to enjoy the games themselves. I still haven’t finished Revelations. And before I move on, I do have to say, I like the fact that Ezio is older. I mean seriously the guy had to age sometime.

Now III has an assassin interacting and presumably influencing the American War of Independence. *cue mouth dropping open* Huh? I’ve seen the trailers and the new assassin’s ‘costume’ (yes, that’s right, I said costume) is so out of place compared to what everyone else is wearing, I’m surprised that he isn’t shot on sight.

There is also the little detail of the ‘assassin’s tomahawk’ it looks far too modern and again out-of-place. The whole thing has completely broken down my ability to suspend my disbelief.

I really do think it is time for Ubisoft to move on.