The Last of Us Sequel Confirmed?

Poster for The Last of Us
Nolan North, the actor whose voice seems to be in just about every video game made over the last 10 years, and who also worked on the Naughty Dog game The Last of Us, has apparently confirmed a sequel. North, best known perhaps for his work in the Uncharted franchise, another Naughty Dog game series, which (on a side note) will be back in Uncharted 4 with, Troy Baker (from The Last of Us) and Emily Rose is back as Elena Fisher, as well as Assassin’s Creed, from Ubisoft, as Desmond Miles.

In The Last of Us Troy Baker worked as Joel, along with the wonderful Ashley Johnson (aka @TheVulcanSalute) as Ellie and Nolan voiced crazy bad guy David who sounds completely unlike anyone else North has voiced. So it is a nice touch to see Baker “cross-over” as it were to Uncharted territory.

All fanboy gushing aside, North was at MetroCon where he was “caught” talking about The Last of Us 2. A question was posed about whether Nolan had any further Naughty Dog work lined up and he says, “I know they’ve got The Last of Us 2…” If following the link, and the reader does not want to watch the entire video, Nolan says this around 1:06, feel free to jump forward.

This is pretty exciting but also a bit concerning. In terms of games and almost perfect endings, Joel and Ellie’s journey stops where it should. There was no real place to spot an opportunity for sequel city to come in. For anyone who played the game it goes without saying that their world was not going to be a great place to be in by the end.

Still, the voice work of Johnson and Baker gave this “out-of-the-box” gaming experience a reality and empathy that propelled the gameplay into a different experience from most games on offer. The news that Naughty Dog want to return is a mixed blessing for fans of both the company and their games. With Nolan’s “slip” all that remains is for Neil Druckmann and company to provide a little more information for fans.

Until any official word is released, have a look at the remastering trailer for The Last of Us for the PS4:

Assassin’s Creed Movie Filming in September With Two Cast Members?

Poster for Assassin's Creed I
I have deliberately avoided reading anything about the upcoming film version of Assassin’s Creed game from Ubisoft. One reason has to do with Nolan North, it is his voice I hear when Miles speaks in my mind, just as it is his verbal utterances I hear when thinking of Nathan Drake, another has to do with the watering down of the game in the franchise. The news that filming is due to commence in September this year, with an apparent cast of two, is surprising to say the least.

Michael Fassbender, whom I’ve been a fan of since the Brit horror film Eden Lake, where he played a chap who did everything wrong early in the film and the equally English TV show Hex, may make a great Desmond Miles, although not as great as Nolan, in my humble opinion. The actor will also, again in my own humble opinion, never top his android David from Prometheus.

As for Marion Cotillard being the female scientist/assistant who aids Desmond? I am not really sure that she is who I envisioned as Lucy in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cotillard, so much in fact that I actually sat down and watched another French film; last year’s Two Days, One Night.

Michael Fassbender via @Pinterist
Michael Fassbender as Desmond Miles?

Another reason I’ve not read paid much attention to the big screen version of the game also has to do with the video game itself.

When Assassin’s Creed first came out, my daughter bought the game from Game in Ipswich. Her Christmas present had been a PlayStation 3, something I knew that I’d get plenty of use from, Dad’s no fool, and when we first plugged the game in, and waited ages for it to upload, we were not too overly impressed with the graphics.

Then my youngster got a better TV, an HD one. When we watched the scenes of Assassin’s Creed unfold on the screen of this new telly, our eyes did not seem big enough to take everything in. The graphics were incredible and so real. The story had already become a favorite, Altair’s fall from grace, his having to start over and the slow realization that not all is as it seems trumped what many called the repetitive game play.

The game spawned a glut of sequels, including the annoying Ezio Auditore who took over as the franchise hero. Even though my love for the game declined with each new version, I miss it. When I moved from England I sold my (sob) UK PS3, and my Xbox. I still have some favorite games, Uncharted, all of them, Assassin’s Creed, et al, all lovingly stored in a box…in the shed…sniffle. I have yet to get a replacement for either of these long lost consoles and it kills me.

For that reason alone, I’ve avoided any talk of games to movies, but also because of Naughty Dog and their Uncharted franchise’s move to film their game’s story. When they initially decided to have the game adapted to the big screen, the company opted to relinquish creative control. While fans of the game expected either Nolan North to play Nathan Drake, or at least Nathan Fillion, the filmmakers had decided to cast Mark Wahlberg as Nate.

IGN mockup of Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake
Fillion and Drake, 2010 dream casting idea.

After a few choice expletives and OMGs, the news then came that Bradley Cooper was the main choice, Fillion was considered “too old.” On top of all that, it seemed that the film version would also not have Emily Rose as Elena and Sully was to be scrapped in favor of characters who did not exist.

The last word on Uncharted the film, has Seth Gordon down to direct, according to Wikia and while IMDb has the film opening in 2016, there are no cast members listed. Thankfully, Wahlberg’s name is absent.

It will be interesting to see just what the film version of Desmond Miles and his adventures with the Animus will be. Since filming has not started yet, it will also be interesting to see who will wind up in the final cast list. In the meantime, I’ll keep searching for incredibly cheap PS3 and or Xbox replacements, cheap as in free…if you get my drift.

2 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

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.