31Mar2010 1845: Disgrace
So, God of War 3. It just did not move me at all. It picks up literally minutes after GoW2 and all its changes are skin-deep, but the magic is gone. As I progressed through the game I became more and more aware of exactly how much was new content (chimera, bosses) and how much was recycled (everything else). And when you're going to spend your HypeBux(tm) talking about how great the titan battles are, you should at least endeavor to beat a five-year-old game.
The titans could have been awesome, but Kratos is still limited by his three valid positions: standing, climbing a wall, and hanging vertically from a ceiling. That means no matter how "real-time" your titan's movements are, no matter how much crazy shit is going on in the background, Kratos himself is always dealing with a surface that is flat and either horizontal or vertical. And the transitions between them, when the titan is flailing around or swatting at our hero, would once have been handled with cutscenes or trickery; now that they're totally real-time they're open to fantastic occurences like Kratos ending up grasping thin air, then dying.
Kratos even bitch-slaps a titan on his way to do something else. I couldn't find a good video of it, but he's flying up a shaft on his way to Olympus, sees a titan through a window, we press a single button, and Kratos slams his sword in the titan's eye. It falls off the mountain while Kratos resumes his flight upward...and that's the entire scene. That titan is never seen again. What the shit is that all about?
I hear there's epilogue DLC on the way, which would go a long
way towards tying up the cop-out ending they have now. If we're lucky it might
also explain why
In the very short "pro" column, we have Hera. What do you think would happen to a goddess married to the most philandering jackass in the pantheon? I can buy this.
[Jorge Drexler - Una Cancion Me Trajo Hasta Aqui] is crazy if he thinks I'm going to type all that title again. This song came and went while I was typing about God of War and I didn't really notice it. It had guitar, I guess? And sounded like mellow guitar pop, figure it's like that Jack Johnson guy. Is that his name?
[Daniel Hope et al - Chaconne in G Major] is classical that you won't recognize and won't care about. Also it's set to a dangerously low volumne, so much so that I had to look up and make sure it wasn't the video of the week.
[Paper Tongues - Trinity] is music by committee. I imagine the committee of singers pictured on the album cover met with a committee of old white guys from the record label and held a vote on every line of the lyrics. Nobody should be surprised that this process resulted in some limp Clear Channel rock.
[Kardinal Offishall - We Gon Go' (clean)] has a frankly offensive apostrophe. Is this how rap music shocks the white man nowadays? Poor punctuation? Kardinal spends four minutes dropping names and saying how great life is. And showing love to Toronto? It's not an interesting video and it's far from a good song.
24Mar2010 1745: Number One With a Bullet
Scientists just discovered another hominin by accident, making one more humanish species that Homo Sapiens annihilated on our way to the top. Woohoo! Take that, as-yet-unnamed suckers! 40000 years ago seems really recent for all these demihumans to be sharing space with us; it takes focus and dedication to wipe out a roughly equal ape using only breeding and stone axes.
Speaking of wiping out species, I managed to locate a PS3 at the Moorhead Target as usual so I am now able to participate in God of War 3. Spoiler: Kratos is going to kill everything. I just got past the part shown in the Quick Look so it's time to start being "amazed" at the "surprises" in store. Surprises involving blood.
I hope to power through by the end of this week, doing my duty to close out the trilogy, because Just Cause 2 finally landed yesterday and my fingers are itching for some splodey. After murdering most of ancient Greece I will upgrade to leveling most of the buildings in a country. And the news about that game just keeps getting better, like their homage to Lost. Yes there's a hatch, but in case you missed the significance of the beginning, that island also blows up any plane you fly over it. Yes!
Before I forget, I really think Adobe is trolling the Internet with this video. Photoshop has made so many impossible images seem real that, perversely, I have trouble believing that a video about approaching Photoshop magic could be real. And it is magic.
[Superlitio - Perro Come Perro] is Spanish ska. That's it, that's all. It tends towards the softer end (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) rather than the angry end (Skanking Pickles) but...ska. Average!
[Zoot Woman - Memory] is a video for a...it's an electronic song that...y'know, just shut up and watch it. It uses some magic rotoscoping frames to tell a first-person tale of loss and heartache. It doesn't quite know how to wrap it all up, but I couldn't tear my eyes away. Very nice video.
[Archie Bronson Outfit - Shark's Teeth] wants to have five lead singers, but they only actually have two. Solution? Lots of fucking echo all over the place! It burns my ears!
[Chosen - Castaway] is like a splash of cooling water on my burning ears. Because it has all the flavor and energy of distilled water. Generic radio rock ahoy!
1645 17Mar2010: Missing in Action
Put on some rollerskates and glasses like mine, it's time to remember when home taping was killing music.
It happens quite literally every time I get a new game console, but it's still odd to find out the PS3 is sold out everywhere. And I don't just mean that Fargo is going through a temporary drought (because we're not), or that I've missed the shipping cycle for this week and will have to wait a few days; God of War 3 has given me a reason to finally go pick up a PS3, but the combination of God of War 3 and Final Fantasy 13 has given everybody else a reason to get one as well. When the Internet itself can't locate a single PS3, shit has gotten real. It's too bad, I was hoping to crank out GoW3 this weekend before Just Cause 2 releases next week.
Let's face it, once Just Cause 2 drops I won't be playing much else for a month or two. I am absolutely not sold on the "game" portion of the game, but even the small island carved off for the demo is an amazing "toy". Sandbox games like GTA leave me cold after a while; it's just freeform mundanity and constant police interference. But games like last year's Prototype and now Just Cause 2 go a different direction, a direction that is awesome. They're more of a jackass simulator, unleashing superpowered jerks on unsuspecting civilians. Nothing in Prototype was enough of a threat to ruin your fun, and I'm getting that same vibe in JC2...right down to killing several enemy helicopters without touching the ground in between using a grappling hook. Seriously, these are the shenanigans available in a mere demo of the toy; I see great things ahead for the full product. When your step one is "airlift a sports car onto the crane" I must salute your commitment to Fuck Yeah.
[Banda de Turistas - Lo Comandes] is exactly as depicted on the album art; a Spanish 60s rock band. It sounds like the other rock acts coming to terms with the Beatles' and Stones' influence, edging slightly towards disco. What they are doing here, fifty years in the future, is probably due to SCIENCE. Not like I should be back-talking; lately I've been digging into some 60s-era jangle pop.
[Danton Eeprom - Thanks for Nothing] has a horse on his album, but never fear! It is not country! We have just moved up into 80s new wave synth territory. At this rate we may make it into modern music by the last song. Drum machines and keyboards dominate this quite deliberately-paced breakup song. I do think it odd that the entire thing is based around three-syllable verses, but he picked a four-syllable title to slur in there.
[Dan Black - Symphonies] almost garnered some harsh words from me; it starts off as if it was another music video pretending to be a feature film. That's a conceit that generally turns me off. I don't need a full title card and four minutes of padding around the music, thanks. But Symphonies just keeps going in that vein, a never-ending stream of title cards referencing a ton of movies and genres, and the effect is pretty great. Also he leads into every refrain with the fact that he opens his eyes and beams come out, which is a pretty awesome power to have. The music? Eh, take it or leave it. But it's integrated so well into the video that you couldn't really take it out or mute it. Give this vid a shot for sure.
[Neon Trees - Animal] doesn't make our goal of modern music. I mean, look at it. "Neon" trees? Some kind of hipster mohawk on the album... not a fauxhawk. Text and images in hot pink and cool blue? It's the 80s again, back for a second helping. I wanted to believe this was what we today call "indie rock", but then the synths kicked in and I saw this for what it was.
10Mar2010 1800: Practical Effects
Universal Soldier 5 makes Universal Soldier 4 look like Universal Soldier 3. Seriously though, I recommend 5 for any straight-up action you may be wanting. For all its wonders the Matrix kicked off a decade of shiny, implausible CG action from directors who didn't know how to handle computers and actors who didn't know how to kick. Universal Soldier 5 is surprisingly subdued and CG-free, made on a tiny budget of $15 million, with all of their fighters being actual fighters. There are no hammy teenage protagonists, no improbable Internet bullshit, and only one mad scientist. And after watching JCVD you can't convince me that Jean-Claude van Damme is not an actor. In this action context, I'll choose a fighter who can barely act over an actor who can barely fight; I'll buy any MMA thug as a robotic killing machine, but I still don't believe Matt Damon can throw a punch.
Between this and The Expendables this summer, I am getting my 80s action fix in a big way.
Have you ever wanted to play Grand Theft Auto on a tropical Asian isle with a grappling hook? And earn "Chaos" instead of money? Look at this shit! The only negative I can think of is that it is strictly single-player...even two-person co-op would have made this something world-changing.
[Iration - Falling] doesn't feel entirely like reggae, so let's call it Caribbean Pop. It's a mellow love song that pushes no boundaries, but if it gets enough radio play in the next couple of months I can see it showing up at a lot of senior proms.
[Melanie Fiona - It Kills Me] is a video about an improbably-dressed woman breaking up with her man in the middle of the desert. So poor fashion sense and poor planning. And look, it's backed up by diva R&B! How fantastic! Melanie spends four minutes talking about how much she enjoys dating a man who treats her badly and who then gets hit by a British semi.
[Kidz In the Hall - Jukebox] has a very important "z" in their name that crushed all my hopes and dreams. This is a terrible rap song that I would have easily believed was a parody dreamed up by a comedy group.
03Mar2010 1745: At the End of the Tunnel
Oh goddammit. My only out would be that they haven't planned these DLC too far in advance, so maybe we might possibly finish up General Knoxx and have time to move on to another game.
Mass Effect 2? Still rockin'. At I'm guessing 80% into the storyline I finally got my hands on a decent sniper rifle -- as opposed to the first game, where one is constantly neck-deep in somewhat similar sniper rifles that all may be pretty decent. And I didn't know this until Monday, but there's an achievement for hitting guys with two psychic powers at the same time. I'm hardly using bullets any more, I just have one of my posse force-lift a bunch of dudes and I force-bitch-slap a couple of them.
[Fedro - Solo un Dia] is both generic and androgynous pop music. There should be an emoticon for a dismissive wave of a hand.
[Holiday Shores - Phones Don't Feud] plays us some indie rock from the other end of an empty arena. Imagine if you went to a Killers concert in a subway tunnel and you were the only guy there, but you still had to sit waaaaaay back in the cheap seats. Indie rock distinguishes itself with at least a little artsy pretension, but this gimmick is over the line.
[Lifehouse - Halfway Gone] skews too far in the other direction, pursuing a radio-friendly look and sound with a fervor that kind of scares me. It's just a bunch of people pretending to have fun in a park while stupid camera tricks happen. Although...does that cute redhead in the flannel have a band? I'd watch that video.
[Vita Chambers - Young Money] has forged an unholy alliance between modern pop (which I hate) and 80s pop (which can be okay). The structure and content of the song is all modern diva-look-at-me, but the instrumentation and especially the backing dude chorus are pure 80s nostalgia. I have to delete this file before I start to like it.