Mattel has announced that it will be rereleasing hoverboards in time for 2015, the “future” year in which Back to the Future II took place. The new hoverboard design does not actually hover, however, but “glides” as a concession to parents’ concerns about safety following the “dangerous” design of the original hoverboard.
I generally enjoyed Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. I was less impressed with the sequel, The Magician King. While The Magicians seemed largely about how magical fantasy worlds are no real escape from the harsh truths of reality, The Magician King simply seemed needlessly brutal to me. If you’re inclined to skip reading things that get introduced with the term “trigger warning,” then give this one a pass.
Back in February, after months of deliberation about what kind of phone I should upgrade to, I bought an iPhone on Verizon. Shortly thereafter, I began receiving many, many inquiries from friends and family members asking whether this was a good move, whether they should upgrade, whether it’s worth it, and so on. I told them all the same thing: “It’s still too early for me to say.”
Well, it’s been some months, I’m less busy with work, and I’m looking for an excuse to blog, so it’s no longer too early to say. Here are some thoughts for those of you who were once like me: Not trying to choose between different smartphone brands (which is another question altogether), but those who have been using a flip phone without a data plan for years, and are wondering whether those shiny iPhones your friends seem to love finally give you a reason to get a smartphone.
The short answer: probably not. But it’s still pretty cool.
I explained this game to my girlfriend as “I’m a witch with amnesia who likes killing angels,” and that probably pretty well sums it up. It sounds good, but probably I’m not the target audience for this game. I resisted buying it for a long time on principle because of the over-the-top display of T&A, but I heard so much about the gameplay being awesome (and some women actually finding the protagonist empowering) that I picked up a copy on sale. In the end, though, I just found it to be a harder version of Devil May Cry, with a a convoluted and bizarre anime-style plot that gives Neon Genesis Evangelion a run for its money. The other thing that gives Evangelion a run for its money, though, is the art direction: the angels look horrifically awesome, and the environments (which sometimes include enemies so big you must run upon them) are as grand and spectacular as anything out of the God of War series.
Finally, if this short review is using too many references to other games and movies to make sense to you, consider that a friendly litmus test: Bayonetta is full of references and inside jokes for nerds, right down to a last-minute cosplay gag. This is a game for gamers, geeks, and fans. I feel a little sheepish I didn’t like it more.
In the near future, vampires rule society, humans are rounded up like cattle, and when the blood supply gets low, the vampires turn monstrous. Cue the human resistance who discovers a cure for vampirism and takes great risks blah blah blah ho hum etc. I’d heard this movie was bad, but it isn’t; it’s just entirely predictable and completely uninteresting beyond the otherwise promising premise. It’s paint-by-numbers Hollywood filmmaking, which is why you probably never heard of it despite at least a couple high-profile cast members (Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke). Not a terrible way to spend an hour and a half on a sick day, but probably not worth the effort I put into finding a torrent for a working file that wasn’t in Spanish.
You know, this game actually made me appreciate the first Kane & Lynch even more. Unfortunately, that’s because it was so unimpressive in comparison. At least its predecessor had some fascinating things going on with messing with player perception and narratively purposeful forced-failure. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, on the other hand, is a fairly straightforward four-hour campaign without much going on beyond shooting lots of Chinese guys. To the game’s credit, the “set design,” “cinematography,” and sound design are pretty excellent, but it’s a shame they had to ruin the believably movie-like setting with some of the worst modeled and animated characters of this generation of gaming. And while the “Fragile Alliance” multiplayer is just as interesting and twitchiness-inducing as ever, the matchmaking system makes Gears of War 2‘s hellish lobbies look practically elegant.
Overall, I’d say I got my twenty bucks’ worth, and I would be happy to play with friends online if we can figure out a way to actually get into the same party—what can I say, I like to pretend to shoot guys in pretty environments—but I can’t recommend paying much more than you’d pay to see a movie.
First of all, no, the game is not about porn. Yes, I can see why some of you asked me this already, given the whole “sexy heroine” approach, but this is the kind of sexy heroine who gets bonus points for shooting guys in the junk. If Kill Bill and Grindhouse had a video game, this would be it. In terms of third-person shooter mechanics, it’s basically John Woo’s Stranglehold—jumping, sliding, running against walls, and shoot from two guns in slow-motion—but generally more fun because it’s easier to fire at multiple targets, and it’s even more over the top.
I can see why many critics dismissed it, as it doesn’t really bring much new to the table as a shooter, but it pretty perfectly captures the action B-movie aesthetic it’s shooting for, from an intentionally grainy image (which you can turn off if you prefer) right down to using old drive-in ads for loading screens (which are the best loading screens ever). There are a few really frustrating instant-death scenarios and particularly challenging fights that really hurt the sense of cinematic progression, and the game is pretty short, but overall, it really raised the bar for Jason’s test for worthwhile movies; seeing a protagonist jump from car to car on a highway while shooting people, for instance, is now pretty well covered in games.
Fun, appropriately retro-futuristic Daft Punk soundtrack. Striking, generally interesting visuals. Bland, relatively inoffensive plot. Unobtrusive, probably unnecessary 3D. Confusing, surprising lack of attention to the title character.