Archive for June, 2014

28
Jun
14

Red Steel 2, Muramasa: The Demon Blade

Red Steel 2

The medieval Japanese/Old West Tommy gun is my favorite piece of historical weaponry.

This game includes a Wii gimmick in which it promises 1:1 movement, and all you have to do is attach a pricey peripheral device to your Wiimote. If you didn’t think the Wii was gimmicky enough, well, this just takes it to a whole new level. But to be honest, the Wii Motion Plus device does improve the function of the Wiimote quite a bit. The original Red Steel was a train wreck of massive proportions. The biggest problem with it was that the sword fighting sequences were clunky and unresponsive. They made the game frustrating and unnecessarily difficult. This issue is completely gone thanks to the Wii Motion Plus. The sword fighting works quite well, and it is responsive to the angle and velocity of your movements. That translates to the screen, where you can make diagonal, horizontal, or vertical cuts, and the power of your attack corresponds to how hard you swing the Wiimote. All in all, this worked out well. But what about the actual game?
Red Steel 2 is a first person shooter where you take control of a samurai/gunslinger in a fictional setting that is a combination of Future Old West and Feudal Japan. You traipse the desert with your six shooter and rifle, but go in for sword fights when enemies get too close for comfort. The graphics taken on a cartoony, cel-shaded quality, that mostly works given the ludicrous setting. The game is mostly fun. It has numerous objectives for you to complete, many of which are optional. The bad guys offer an appropriate level of difficulty, although a couple of enemy types were a bit too hard. There is a big variety of combat moves you can learn, which add to the fun, and also offers a level of strategy in the sword fights. You don’t have to slash away wildly if you don’t want to, although that’s what I usually ended up doing.  My biggest complaints were these: first, the setting is monotonous (the desert) and gets boring after the first few hours of gameplay, second, apart from the new moves you can learn there isn’t a lot of depth or replay value. Overall, though, Red Steel 2 was a win for the Wii. It won’t be added to the pantheon of greatest games of all time, but it is certainly worth playing at least once.
Verdict: Average
Muramasa: The Demon Blade

Tentacle rape!

Time for another Wii game review, and this one has a few superficial similarities to the one I reviewed above. This also features heavy doses of sword combat and takes place in feudal Japan. Apart from that, these games don’t really have all that much in common. Muramasa is a side-scrolling action/adventure game that is light on strategy and heavy on button mashing. There are two storylines, one belonging to a male and a female character. The characters cross paths a couple of times, but for the most part each story is self-contained. With each character you start out weak, fight through hordes of bad guys, get stronger, level up, and buy new and more powerful swords. You keep three swords on you at all times. There is actually some strategy involved in knowing which swords to carry. You can switch between swords at any point during a battle, but some swords are better for certain things than others. Some are slow but powerful, some weak but quick, and each has a special move associated with it. The swords have “life meters” too, so overuse will lead to them breaking. There is a huge sinking feeling when you are in the midst of a hellacious battle with three broken swords. Muramasa is a hell of a lot of fun. You travel through various regions of ancient Japan, each more beautifully rendered than the last. The graphics are animated, and made to vaguely resemble the artwork of ancient Japan. Enemies come from Japanese folklore, as well. Honestly, though, the story is more of an afterthought. The fun really comes from exploring the different areas, killing bad guys, and crafting new swords. While it is a button-masher, the game’s fighting system is intuitive and fluid. The game never becomes bogged down in repetition. It is blast from beginning to end.
Verdict: Good
21
Jun
14

Edge of Tom Cruise

Live. Die. Repeat. Live. Die. Repeat. Live. Die. Repeat. You get the idea.

Edge of Tomorrow is the newest vanity project from Tom Cruise. It’s based on the bizarrely titled Japanese novel All You Need is Kill. With a Scientologist lead actor, a sci-fi premise, Japanese source material, and a less than stellar trailer, this had all the makings of a disaster. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a disaster. Even more surprising, Edge of Tomorrow was pretty damn good.

I can’t say how faithful the film is to the source material, but it doesn’t really matter. The movie needs to be able to stand on its own in order to be successful. Fortunately, the story put forth by the filmmakers was compelling. Cruise plays Major William Cage, the military’s slimy PR guy who has never once stepped on the battlefield. He’s a weasel, for sure, and Cruise plays him with a smarmy attitude. We immediately dislike him, and we should, since he’s such a jerk. Cruise actually plays against type here, as a cowardly weakling who isn’t immediately the savior of the human race. His playing against type is a huge advantage for the movie, because if he played his usual hero-type, the movie would have fallen flat on its face.

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13
Jun
14

X-Men: Dayz of Futurez Pazt

Cool poster, X-dudes.

The newest X-Men film combines the casts of the original trilogy and the prequel film, X-Men: First Class. Wolverine’s consciousness is sent back in time from the distant future to 1973 where he must help Professor X and Magneto stop an event that will ultimately lead to the genocide of all mutants. I watched the original trilogy as a lead-in to this movie, mostly because I hadn’t seen them in ages, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be totally lost without a recap. Fortunately, you don’t really need to have seen the previous movies to enjoy Days of Future Past.
With that being said, I would still recommend watching First Class and the original trilogy just to get a sense of who the characters are, and to better understand their relationships and what drives them. Days of Future Past can be viewed as a standalone, and it holds up surprisingly well, but for maximum enjoyment, you’ll want to be versed in as much X-Men movie knowledge as possible.
First, the good.
1.) The movie is tightly plotted, and the story moves along at a good pace. While there are plenty of moments for dialog and reflection amongst the characters, there is never a dull moment.
2.) The acting is top-notch, with good performances on both sides of the temporal schism. All the older actors like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and Hugh Jackman fit comfortably into their well worn characters. McKellan is, sadly, given very little to do in this film, and it seems like a waste of his talents. But hey, he’s a part of this franchise and he and Stewart are SUPER BEST FRIENDS, so he might as well be in it. The younger actors turn in better performances, and James McAvoy, whom I usually find to be mediocre, actually surprised me. Professor X’s grief is dramatic and convincing. Of course, Michael F. Assbender is fantastic as the villainous Magneto. Jackman is present with both casts, and, once again, he is perfect as Wolverine.

Continue reading ‘X-Men: Dayz of Futurez Pazt’




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