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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Far Cry 3 Analysis: What Is Vaas?

Vaas is defiantly one of the most popular characters in Far Cry 3, with his interaction with the player being one of the highlights. But what is Vaas supposed to represent in this deadly wonderland, and why is he interested in Jason (AKA the player).

Simply put, Vaas is just like Jason. Both of them were drawn in by power. Hoyt recruited Vaas using drugs and the promise of power. Citra drew Jason in using very similar tactics, using drugs to cause hallucinations that Jason believed woud lead him to become a powerful warrior. Basically both of them are mere pawns in a deadly game of chess on Rook island. Hoyt uses Vaas to terrorize the isand, and Citra uses Jason to fight back at the pirates. When it comes to conflict, Jason and Vaas lead the fight, they are the ones doing the main fighting. Hoyt and Citra just give orders and relish in the victory that their soldiers earn.

Vaas seems somewhat aware of Citra's true plans for Jason, as he mocks the idea of Jason becoming an all mighty warrior just because Citra says she can make him one. The idea at the start is that Vaas is insane, but when you compare that to the fact that Jason has deluded himself into thinking he is some kind of savior ,then Jason seems even more insane.

Vaas has been compared to the Cheshire Cat, in the way that he almost acts as a guide. He is Jason's motivation for vengeance, he is the constant threat just waiting to tie a block of stone to your feet and drown you, he is the one that spared your life so that you could become just as brutal as him. In a strange way, he made Jason become just like himself, brutal and uncompromising. He acts as a warning to Jason because Vaas is what Jason could become, a pawn that acts as someones attack dog. During the final encounter with Vaas, he mentions being reborn in a Christ like way. This is because he lives on inside Jason, as Jason has now become just as brutal and prone to violence as he was.

 Prior to the final encounter with Vaas, Jason climbs out of a mass grave, and the way he has to push his way out is almost like he is being born again after almost being killed by Vaas (a lighter in Jasons pocket stopped a bullet Vaas fired at point blank range. Dennis then says you have returned from the dead which also leads into the whole being reborn thing. Its after this incident that Jason finally learns that he has to become just like Vaas to beat Vaas. He assaults Vaas directly, infiltrating his island and slaying everyone there, including Vaas.

Vaas also claims to have set you free, by allowing to unleash a brutal instinct. Its like Vaas in example of everything Jason needs to be in order to "win". Vaas has a very interesting presence on the island. I almost expected him to be a part of Jason's Mental State seeing how he is barely seen. Even when Vaas died I still felt his presence on the island, probably because Jason has now become just as notorious as Vaas after killing him. Its like he has killed the king and taken his throne.

Also the final fight with Vaas seems to be a battle of the minds as well as a physical fight. Its like Vaas in inside your head at this point, as indicator of how you are becoming just like him. This idea of also enforced by something Vaas says during this event. He says "you are me, and I am you". He is right, after all they both have the same purpose, they are tools for violence. The insane side of Vaas possibly occurred the same way Jasons did, he was thrown into a impossible situation and had to choose how to survive. The games main title screen also reflects the parallel between them, literally. Its shows distorted images of Vaas in a reflected surface as it switches from Vaas to Jason, with the two of them being symmetrical to each other.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Improving Resident Evil 6

I was recently thinking about why I think Resident Evil 6 failed as a concept, and I thought up my own Resident Evil 6 story line and how it would lend to a scary, atmospheric, and survival horror themed game experience.

The Problem with Resident Evil 6 was the fact that the story was designed to be this high octane vapid action movie that barely stopped to take a breath or build any kind of suspense. I thought to myself about how Resident Evil 6 was a missed opportunity in a actual positive evolution of the series that would bring it back to its horror roots. I have written a short story outline for an example of a story I think a new Resident Evil game could have had that is possibly better than the one we got with Resident Evil 6 ( I don't mean exactly, but somewhere in the same territory.)

Its been 5 years since the events of Resident Evil 5, and since Weskers death and the termination of his plans, the world is finally free from bio terrorism. All traces of any bio terrorist activity has been wiped out and the BSAA have disbanded.

In the fictional town of Inns Wick, Jill Valentine has settled down, attempting to live a care free life after the nightmares she has faced. All is looking well and good until a small number of disappearances of the towns children sparks the suspicion of a local police chief. After visiting Jill at her home on the towns out skirts he tries to tell her about a strange abandoned military complex about a mile from the town. He talks about how he has spotted signs of life there while on patrol. He also mentions that the base has a history of "illegal weapons testing". The following day Jill discovers that the chief has been murdered at his home which leads her to at least check out the military complex. Finding nothing but an abandoned base she heads back home only to find the door kicked in and the house a mess. Some one was looking for some thing, or looking for her.

From there on I would have the game play be very much like a mystery game for a fair amount of the games start. I would set up the story as a mystery and let it slowly unravel over the course of the game, just like the other Resident Evil games. Instead of jumping right into the monster killing I would have exploration of the town be a major factor, talking to the residents, noting their suspicious activity and behaviour. Basically It would feel like the village stage of Resident Evil 4, except people wouldn't be trying to take your head of with an axe, well, not yet anyway.

For an idea of what I mean when i say exploration in a Resident Evil game, I mean something like Silent Hill, which is filled with interesting locations with things to explore. Not only do I think this would be a great way to evolve the Resident Evil series from a frantic rush forwards to a slower paced experience, I also think it would offer an opportunity to bring back a more survival horror style to its game play  and let the story unfold in a compelling, tense, and atmospheric way.

Combat would be like Resident Evil 4 and 5, no moving while shooting, no ability to kick or punch unless the enemy is stunned, and ammo will be once again limited.

Other story elements I thought of that connect with the plot outline above involve an underground base populated by a new Bio terrorism group, a conspiracy within the town to achieve genetic perfection in future generations, and a new nemesis style creature that will hunt you down through out the open and expansive locations at random. And I do mean at random, there wont be any quick time events or cut scenes to help you or alert you. This thing will hunt you down will out any warning, its fight or flight.

Well anyway that's just something I came up with in the span of 5 minutes of thinking while I was bored ( seriously Capcom it isn't hard). If we do see a Resident Evil 7, will they go back to the horror themed game play? will they have actual tension and a great atmosphere? lets hope they do.

Friday, 14 September 2012

A Few Words About Rob Liefelds Deathstroke Run

I was actually enjoying the new 52 relaunch of Deathstroke. Sure it wasn't a masterpiece but it still had great artwork, set up the character of Deathstroke and how he works, and had some good action too.

And then DC went all colonel Kurtz on us and went batshit insane by deciding to hire Rob Liefeld. He was hired as the artist and writer which means we get shat on twice while we read it, or at least while we try to figure out why Liefeld cant draw people holding stuff.

Look at the hand holding the sword, absolute lunacy.

While reading issues 9 to 12 of Liefelds run I found myself beginning to wonder if this was even the same series. The writing was so cliche and bland that it made it feel like a completely different comic compared to issues 1-8. Liefeld added this whole new "my wife is dead so im going to be a massive prick from now on" style back story to the character. It doesn't fit at all because it makes it harder to believe that Deathstroke "The  Terminator" is this lethal killing machine that does what he does because he is good at it and people know he is good at it. 
Liefeld has never really had much of a full on writing duty (usually he just comes up with the plots) so why 
DC would trust him with the writing stage is one hell of a mystery.

The artwork is these issues ranges from passable to lazy, with a lack of detailed backgrounds being prominent (A Liefeld trademark, along with bad anatomy and hair cuts straight out of the 90s.). Also Lobo appears and barely resembles the Lobo people love, he isn't funny or anything. Also some of the panels raise a few eye brows. One features Deathstroke lunging at someone with a knife and then in the next panel he is delivering a flying kick instead. The dialogue mentions that Deathstroke doesn't want to kill him, but then why did he lunge at him with a knife?

Once Liefelds run is over things should get back to normal again, with actual good writing this time, not 80s action movie fan fiction.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Robocop Remake and why its not necessary

A viral Video and a website was recently released to build up hype for the Robocop remake which is due for release next year. The teaser trailer focused on the fictional Omni Consumer Products ( renamed Omnicorp in this remake) and the technology they create including the familiar ED 209 robot from the original Robocop. The viral video was ok and was a first step in fleshing out the fictional company for the eventual films release, but that's not what my issue is.

                                           The new suit looks like a Batman suit without the cape and
                                            cowl and with a bowl as a helmet.

My issue is that Robocop is being remade when it doesn't need to be. More than 2 decades since its release in 1987 and it still holds up as a great movie. Its themes of humanity, social unrest, and industrial decay makes it a smart action movie, which is very rare. Remaking the film is simply unnecessary because it will never have the same effect the original had and will only end up being a rehash more than anything else.

Its too early to say so right now seeing as there isn't a full trailer of any kind and the film is still in production, but it isn't impossible to have some predictions about what the final result may be. By looking at other remakes like Total Recall ( a remake of another Paul Verhoven movie) we can see how remakes usually like to pretend that they are honoring the original when in reality they are merely using a watered down version of the original to dazzle us with CGI and bombastic action scenes. I mean sure it looks great visually, but its style over substance, and there is far too much of that these days.

I will use the trailer for Total Recall to demonstrate this.

Notice how flashy and glossy and clean everything looks, it just has this very artificial feel to the whole thing and it lacks grit and the world just doesn't feel as believable as the world from the original Total Recall.

Its this glossy artificial look that could ruin the Robocop remake if it decided to use it. This is because one of the key parts of the original Robocop was its focus on the dark, decayed, and crime ridden future Detroit. It was a violent dangerous place and was far from the perfect safe future people would want. If you gave it the glossy look treatment it just wouldn't convey that danger or darkness anymore, and in turn would diminish the tone and perhaps a great amount of its satirical theme.

There is also this strange choice they made with the Total Recall remake that really changes the film in a fairly big way, and that was the decision to not feature Mars unlike the original film and its source material. While its not a huge loss it still seems odd considering that Mars was one of the most interesting locations in the original movie. Maybe that's why they needed to dazzle everything up for the Earth scenes, because there isn't the promise of a planet like Mars this time around. The original Total Recall seemed to make its scenes on earth deliberately less spectacular so that when we got to Mars further into the film then it really felt like you were on another planet filled with sights and locations you wouldn't see on earth. It felt right doing it that way because that was how the main character Douglas Quaid felt, he was bored of earth and wanted to go to an entirely different world, the same way the audience would feel.

The remake seems to limit its scope by taking away the Mars aspect and no amount of expensive CGI is going to save that. It also seems like a very bland modern action movie with flashy camera moves and unnecessary slow motion. Its world doesn't really seem all that interesting either, with its Blade Runner style vision of the future being very uninspired by this point.

This is the possible path of the Robocop remake, a bland, loud and uninspired film that doesn't really innovate on the original, but instead removes certain aspects of what made the original good just so that it looks different by comparison. Will the Robocop remake have the theme of humanity like the original? will it convey that same great satirical tone that was very evident in the original?, and most importantly, will it be as entertaining, and will it innovate. Without some form of innovation then the remake is pointless and unnecessary, you are better off watching the original Robocop. Of course we cant know how good the remake will be until its released, but by looking at an example of a recent remake we can at least ask a question, will it just be another glossy over produced bland action movie that rehashes the original in a less well made form, or will it hold up in the same way the original did.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Ghost Rider:Spirit Of Vengeance Movie Review

Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance has gotten an awful amount of backlash recently, with several critics and audiences bashing it for its lack of a deep story and even going as far as saying that the first one was better. In my honest opinion is think these negative claims do not do this movie justice, and I thought the movie was a tremendous amount of fun. The films directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have offered a fun, stylish and action packed thrill ride that is made even more entertaining by the awesomely over the top performance of Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, the films main character.

The story is about Johnny Blaze, a man who made a deal with the devil to save his father from death, and ended up cursed in the process. This curse is the curse of the Ghost Rider, a demon with a flaming skull and body which Johnny transforms into from time to time and causes him to lose control and become a destructive soul consuming monster. Johnny has exiled himself to Eastern Europe and it has been 8 years since he was first cursed. He is approached one day by a man named moreau who offers to rid him of his curse in exchange for a job that he wants him to do. He wants Johnny to protect the life of a boy called Danny, who along with his mother are being pursued by the devil himself. The devil in human form as a man named Roarke needs the boy for his own purposes and uses mercenaries for the job. Johnny must keep the boy from danger at all costs and complete his task so that he can finally be rid of his curse.

This movie movies story is simple and effective and doesn't pad its self out with unnecessary plot choices. The story gives the Ghost rider a lot more screen time in this one compared the first film, which is defiantly an inprovment.

The films action scenes are one of the films strongest points, as they are just simply awesome. The first Ghost Rider film had a bad lack of good action scenes and failed to show off the potential of the characters powers. This film however is a completely different story. The Rider has much more exciting action scenes is this film that are shot well and feature great special effects. One of the films best action sequences comes in the form of a battle on a road featuring the Rider in pursuit of a truck convoy. Its fantastic seeing the rider actually engage a convoy of trucks while riding his flaming hell cycle.

Another one of the films strongest points is the portrayal of Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider compared to the first film. In the first film Johnny was a fairly goofy character and you didn't really believe that this man was having a struggle with his curse. The film changes that by having Johnny being isolated at the start of the film, knowing full well that his curse puts everyone around him at great risk. Nicolas Cage is clearly having a blast playing this character and it is really entertaining watching the scenes where Johnny transforms into the Ghost Rider because Nicholas Cage really throws himself into the moment and just goes completely nuts.

The rider is also a lot better is this film, and at times is actually very intimidating and sometimes scary. The scene where the Rider first appears perfecly demonstrates how much darker this film is compared to the first one. The rider has also had a bit of a redesign, because now the skull is more grey and burned compared to the clean white skull of the first film. The rider also has less dialogue this time, which creates the sense of a very silent and creepy character.

The CGI work for the Rider is also fantastic and is also fantastic is other parts of the film. The film also has a very great sense of humor, and the film doesn't take itself too seriously. The film is fully aware of its self and it aims to be a fun entertaining film, and its succeeds.

Overall I thought the film was a amazing amount of fun and I would say that this goes along with Daredevil as a very underrated comic book movie. The backlash and bad press for this movie seems to miss the point and doesn't understand that the film is supposed to be a entertaining action flick that doesn't take its self too seriously. There are times when the film actually seems like a old road trip movie and the locations combined with the action scenes reminded me a little bit of the Road Warrior. People expected too much out of a story involving a guy with a flaming head fighting the devils hired mercenaries on a road while riding a flaming motorbike, and that's why it has been unnecessarily bashed. This film is way superior to first film in my opinion, and the style of this film should have been what the first film was like to begin with. Its action is superior, the characters are superior, the direction is superior, and the Ghost Rider himself is without a doubt way superior and is actually intimidating this time around rather than a goofy bland dissapointment that spewed out bad dialogue.

I highly recommend this movie and I would love to see a sequel that hopefully also brings back the directors.

Final Score 4/5
-Great action
-The Ghost Rider is much better this time
-Nicolas Cage is clearly enjoying himself and makes the film more enjoyable
-The films sense of humor fits very well with its style
-Tremendous amount of fun