Something strange has been happening lately. I know there’ve been new releases for games, but I haven’t been GETTING them. I’m SUPPOSED to, but lately, it’s like pulling teeth to actually get a hold of releases. Well, I’ve finally gotten my hands on a few of the newer titles…and, in the meantime, some new DVDs as well, that are sort of related to games, so let’s take a look at what we’ve got, shall we?
THE 80S AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE
Anyone who knows me, knows what a huge 80s music fan I am. And these same people also know what a huge GUITAR HERO fan I am. So, you’d think that the new expansion to the series, GUITAR HERO ENCORE: ROCKS THE 80S would be a perfect fit, no? Well, in many ways it is, and in many ways, just like the 80s, it’s light on substance, and you don’t get as much bang for your buck.
First, let me be perfectly clear…this is an expansion. In fact, Red Octane has made it painfully plain that this isn’t anything more than just GHII with a fresh coat of neon paint. The venues are the same (just new colors). The characters are the same (well, you only get half of them, and the one’s you do get…well, they’re all 80s glam). Hell, even the loading screens and menus are the same. It’s the same damn UNLOCKABLES from GHII (well, guitars and finishes anyway…no new tracks and videos). And sadly, that’s the biggest problem with the title from the start…while it does offer 30 new tracks for your fretboard frenzies, it doesn’t offer much more.
And those tracks…sure, the 80s had a LOT of great music…but great GUITAR music? Aside from a few hair metal bands, it’s a mixed bag. Sure, there’s some great tunes on here, but honestly, I think the choices of these tracks has some bearing on what will appear on GUITAR HERO III rather than what was popular in the 80s (why no Van Halen? Where’s BEAT IT? And why ONLY A LAD instead of WEIRD SCIENCE by Oingo Boingo?). Some are good (who knew a Winger song would be so hard to play) and some are questionable (somehow, I don’t think an 80s cover of RADAR LOVE or BALLROOM BLITZ should count). Worst of all, however, some are just downright BORING to play. I love Accept’s BALLS TO THE WALL and Quiet Riot’s METAL HEALTH as much as the next headbanger, but good LORD, they are dullsville to tap the strum bar to.
Also, I know the 80s were full of things like this, but when have you ever heard a song fade out IN CONCERT? In the game, you’re supposedly playing alive show…so why should THE WARRIOR fade out at the end? Hell, the first four songs in the game EACH have sections where YOU’RE NOT PLAYING AT ALL. Sigh…Before I start sounding like I hate this game (well, it maybe too late for that…) I will say that once you get into the groove of things, it swings just the way it should. And if all the songs may not be familiar to you, some of them (especially the later ones) finally do get to be fun to play. Plus, it’s something to tide you over until the next installment. Still, for $50 (the price of a full game), it seems more like the decade of excess than ever…
One Gamer’s Opinion:
I hate to say it, but even after all these years, I’m still a MORTAL KOMBAT fan. I even dug its late effort, MK: ARMAGEDDON when it was released on the Xbox and PS2. Now that it’s on the Wii, however, we have another addition to the “late to the party port” pile of games with tacked on waggle controls.
The theory was simple: take the last entry and map all the special moves to motion sensing movements. Sounds simple, yes, but it’s execution is anything but. To do this, you’re supposed to hold down the B button on the wii-mote and make the appropriate motion. Unfortunately, the game never knows that you’ve made it. I’ll be standing there, swinging my arms back and forth wildly screaming “throw the damn spear!” while instead Scorpion is getting his ass handed to him by the CPU.
What’s worse is the normal attacks? They’re mapped to the D-PAD. Yes, that’s right. Up, down, left and right on the tiny d-pad at the top of the wii-mote are your punches and kicks. Joy.Still, at least they threw in a few specials for the Wii crowd, such as console exclusive fighter KHAMELON (from the N64 version of MK TRILOGY) as well as wii-mote driving in the (admittedly lackluster) side game MOTOR KOMBAT. Plus, there’s the option to use the classic of Gamecube controllers in the game…but that sort of defeats the purpose of the port, now doesn’t it?
Sure, the graphics looks decent (for the Wii) and the character creation is pretty cool (I love all the copyright infringement options) but overall…this is a port that should have stood well enough alone.
One Gamer’s Opinion:
DVD REVIEW: HOT FUZZ
Wait a sec…a DVD review…in a video game column? Yes, I know what you’re thinking…what does this have to do with games? Well, honestly, co-writers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (of SHAUN OF THE DEAD fame) are just like you and me, dear readers. They’re geeks, and they relish in their geekdom, making movies that they and their friends would enjoy, just as much as we would. HOT FUZZ is such a film, and while it’s not DIRECTLY based on a game, its influence is apparent.
Building on the idea of a American buddy cop movie, but setting it a sleepy English village gives the filmmakers freedom to pay homage (and spoof) not only to the Michael Bay and Tony Scott blockbusters, but also the awesome British thrillers of the genre, including the original WICKER MAN. Helping this along is a huge cast of British cinema who’s who playing seemingly bit parts in what certainly unfolds into one of the biggest (and most hilarious) switcheroo’s ever. Top cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is so good that his superiors in London decide to ship him out to the quiet village of Sandford…mainly because his 400% arrest record is making the rest of them look bad. While in his new digs, he’s gone from chasing thugs to chasing swans, all until a mysterious string of “accidents” seem to point to something larger…and much more sinister.
Aiding and abetting is Angel’s clueless partner Danny Butterman (SHAUN OF THE DEAD’s Nick Frost), who’s desire for the “real” action he sees in film is only matched by his town’s complete lack of a need for it. While Danny dreams of living his favorite films (BAD BOYS II and POINT BREAK), Angel has, and his admiration for that is endearing…and one of the film’s buddy aspects that it plays so well on.
Where the film really shines, however, is the way it mingles the drama and action so expertly. Just as with SHAUN OF THE DEAD’s horror, pathos, comedy and romance, HOT FUZZ takes the best moments from every cop movie you can think of, and lovingly pays homage and tribute to them. And yet it still does something unique and special with it, all while placing it in firmly in the world of comedy. If only American parodies could do that (I’m looking your way DATE MOVIE and EPIC MOVIE).While the film itself is hilarious and unique, the DVDs special features are truly for the fans of both the filmmakers and all things FUZZ. The audio commentary shows what geeks Pegg and Wright truly are, with Edgar spouting off the catalogue of films they watched, referenced and loved in their youth, and Simon stakes claim to how the film is set up like a video game.
Simon: “Here’s the street level, then it’s the bar level.”
Edgar: “Why didn’t they follow him?”
Simon: “well, they have to do the supermarket level first”
Also included is the featurette on the FUZZBALL RALLY, the US Tour the boys (Pegg, Wright and Frost) took the film on to promote it before its release. I was privileged enough to see it on the DC leg of the tour…
…but unfortunately, did not end up on the DVD. Still, it’s a fantastic, candid documentary of three close friends and how much the American audiences embraced this film (including AIN’T IT COOL’s own Harry Knoweles and this site’s big bossman Kevin Smith).Sadly, while we get the FUZZBALL US doc, we know more features are available as Simon and Edgar allude to the “other commentaries” and features that are only available on the version across the pond in their one commentary on the US disc. Still, there’s the usual outtakes, deleted scenes, HOT FUNK (the airline version of the film, shown in snippets of excised expletives) and THE MAN WHO WOULD BE FUZZ (Simon and Nick doing their Michael Caine/Sean Connery impressions). Also, and this may be a bit nitpicky of me, but in the trailers section, the “UK TV SPOT #2” and “DIRECTOR’S CUT TRAILER” are switched…but the fact that the awesome internet-only cut trailer was included at all is still awesome.
Fans of SHAUN will have a lot to enjoy here, but both films stand strongly on their own. This is more of a movie for fans of the genre, just as SHAUN was, and no one seems to be a bigger fan than the filmmakers are themselves. Full of action, drama, mystery, and of course, gut-busting laughs, this is one of my favorite movies from this year, and already my favorite DVD. Now if only I could get the UK features…
One Gamer’s Opinion:
(oh, and if the audio commentary wasn’t enough…on the webpage for the DVD, there’s a video game of the film! Check it out below.)
Till next time friends…
THE GAME ON! RATING SYSTEM
Ratings From Greatest to Least:
Kick Ass, Right On, Okay, Eh, and Stinker (aka CRAPTACULAR)
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