Posts Tagged ‘july’

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Review: Street Fighter

July 31, 2012

Ohhh, boy.

I’m going to get this out of the way now for anyone who doesn’t know, but Street Fighter is a failure of a movie. It is terrible in it’s acting, and my God is it ever glorious. If Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a budget of infinity dollars, this is the kind of movie they would be doing. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better time watching a worse movie.

So, let’s jump right in. The fictional South East Asian nation of Shadaloo is ruled over by General M. Bison, a ruthless dictator who has captured several dozen aid workers. He demands a twenty million dollar ransom from the Allied Nations regional commander, Colonel William Guile of the United States Air Force, or he will kill the hostages and the world (in his words) will hold the Allied Nations responsible.

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Review: Demolition Man

July 31, 2012

Y’know, any time you get Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes together, someone’s going to bring up Demolition Man. And then some nerdy GTA fanboy (Yo.) will bring up how Demolition Man was also the name of the mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City where you had to use the toy helicopter to blow up the building.

Unfortunately, the movie Demolition Man has nothing to do with blowing up buildings. Wait, no, that’s a lie. At the start of the movie, Officer John Spartan of the LAPD goes into a building to rescue hostages from a crimelord named Simon Phoenix, and then Phoenix sets off his explosives and brings the building down, with the hostages still inside. Interesting side note; the name of the movie comes from the nickname of Stallone’s character, the demolition man, because it seems like any time he goes in to a situation, something winds up exploding. Which forces me to ask, why would they send in someone notorious for being a walking explosion to rescue hostages?

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SimCity Retrospective: SimCity 2000

July 30, 2012

This one was actually my first experience with SimCity on the PC. Back in the mid-90s, our local Wal-Mart had display computers set up, and one of them had SimCity 2000 loaded on it. I was back there constantly, and thinking back it may have been a contributing factor in petitioning my parents for a computer.

SimCity 2000 introduced some pretty significant gameplay mechanics, namely water and subway systems, new civic buildings (prisons, schools, colleges, libraries, museums, hospitals), connections to neighboring cities (named after Red Dwarf characters), and maybe more importantly, the zoning system was revamped, allowing for single tile zones and more flexibility in placement.

Also added were newspapers, which give important updates, telling you that your citizens are getting sick of the crime, or that your power plant is on the verge of collapse, or that no one will shut the fuck up about not having a stadium. I’LL GET TO IT WHEN I GET TO IT, YOU ASSHOLES!

Ahem.

Well, getting back on topic, the library in the game features an, I think, amazing essay by Neil Gaiman:

Cities are not people. But, like peole, cities have their own personalities – there are a dozen Londons, a crowd of different New Yorks.

A city is a collection of lives and buildings, and it has identity and personality. Cities exust in location, and in time.

There are good cities – the ones that welcome you, that seem to care about you, that seem pleased you’re in them. There are indifferent cities – the ones that honestly don’t care if you’re there or not; cities with their own agendas, the ones that ignore people. There are cities gone bad, and there are places in otherwise healthy cities as rotten and maggotty as windfall apples. There are even cities that seem lost – some, lacking a centre, feel like they would be happier being elsewhere, somewhere smaller, somewhere easier to understand.

Some cities spread, like cancers or B-movie slime monsters, devouring all in their way, absorbing towns and villages, swallowing boroughs and hamlets, transmuting into boundless conurbations. Other cities shrink – once prosperous areas empty and fail: buildings empty, windows are boarded up, people leave, and sometimes they cannot even tell you why.

Occasionally I idle time away by wondering what cities would be like, were they people. Manhattan is, in my head, fast-talking, untrusting, well-dressed but unshaven. London is huge and confused. Paris is elegant and attractive, older than she looks. San Francisco is crazy, but harmless, and very friendly.

It’s a foolish game: cities aren’t people.

Cities exist in location, and they exist in time. Cities accumulate their personalities as time goes by. Manhattan remembers when it was unfashionable farmland. Athens remembers the days when there were those who considered themselves Athenians. There are cities that remember being villages. Other cities – currently bland, devoid of personallity – are prepared to wait until they have history. Few cities are proud: they know that it’s all too often a happy accident, a mere geographical fluke tha they exist at all – a wide harbour, a mountain pass, the confluence of two rivers.

At present, cities stay where they are.

For now cities sleep.

But there are rumblings. Things change. And what if, tomorrow cities wake, and go walking? If Tokyo engulfed your town? If Vienna came striding over the hill toward you? If the city you inhabit today just upped and left, and you woke tomorrow wrapped in a thin blanket on an empty plain, where Detroit once stood, or Sydney, or Moscow?

Don’t ever take a city for granted.

After all, it is bigger than you are; it is older; and it has learned how to wait…

– Neil Gaiman

The best thing about that essay is that it fairly accurately sums up what SimCity 2000 is all about. As you play, your city is going to start to take on a life of its own. And it comes down to what kind of city you want to build. Are you going to build a metropolis? Or is a series of towns connected by road and rail more your style? Maybe you’re up for interconnected boroughs. Whatever your style, odds are SimCity 2000 can accommodate.

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Review: Rambo III

July 30, 2012

Rambo III is from a very different point in American history. The 80s, apart from the abundance of cocaine and hookers on Wall Street, was a time when most of America was sure that the Soviet Union would start World War III rather than admit to losing the Cold War. And the Soviet-Afghan war was a part of that – the Soviet Union went to fight resistance to the Afghan Soviet government while the US was supporting the Mujahideen rebels with weapons and financial aid.

Rambo III begins with Col. Trautman searching for John Rambo in Thailand, eventually finding him in a stick fighting contest in an abandoned warehouse. However, he leaves before they can talk, and they catch up to him again at a Buddhist monastery. Trautman explains that he needs John Rambo again, this time to supply weapons to Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan. Rambo refuses, and Trautman goes on the mission himself, promptly getting captured after being attacked by a Hind.

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SimCity Retrospective: SimCity

July 26, 2012

Occasionally, a gamer will come across a series that really grabs hold of them. For a lot of people, it’s the Final Fantasy series; others have Ultima or The Elder Scrolls series. As for me…well, since about 4th or 5th grade, my drug of choice has been SimCity. I used to have, and this is completely true, a copy of the DOS version’s manual. I did not own a copy of the game for DOS. No idea where I got it, and I probably lost it sometime in the last fifteen years or so.

Still, I really do love the SimCity series, and the original in particular because there’s a certain simple grandeur to it that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The series has primarily been about building yourself a city any way you want, but that isn’t to say that there are no objectives; in fact, the original came with seven scenarios: Traffic congestion in 1965 Bern, RoboCop-levels of crime in 1972 Detroit, dealing with the aftermath of the 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco, flooding (or high crime rates on low-power machines) in Rio de Janeiro in 2046, Tokyo being attacked by Godzilla in 1961, and a nuclear meltdown in 2010 Boston.

But I think my favorite thing about the original game was the music in the Super Nintendo version. Just listen to this music from the starting screen:

Video by supersdf185, go check out their LPs on YouTube.

Just listen to that music. It may be the most calming music I’ve ever heard. I’m serious, if you’re having  a bad or stressful day, just listen to this song. It’s worked for me.

SimCity is a little outdated, sure. But it’s a classic, and it’s the game that introduced me to the SimCity series, and by extension, The Sims. The original is a game I still love to play, even some two decades later.

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Review: Commando

July 22, 2012

Arnold Schwarzenegger is like the Austrian bodybuilder version of Michael Jackson. Both insanely popular thanks to their respective talents, both regular targets of jokes about their public and private image. And in both cases, it really did come from a place of love. If it were some investment banker accused of diddling kids, there wouldn’t have been any jokes. If it were just some guy from Austria running for the Governor of California, no one would have batted an eye.

But because it was the King of Pop, because it was the Terminator, everyone sat up an paid attention. Even with the jokes being at their expense, it was also a celebration of them, and that’s really what this month is about: celebrating all the cheesy things about action stars that made us love them. And I can think of no better place to start than with one of Arnold’s first big hits, Commando.

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Review: The Race for the White House

July 13, 2012

It’s not on the schedule, but this game demands review.

Where do I begin? Well, the game is effectively an election simulator, and in this task it’s more or less successful. All of the major functions seem to work, the interface is fairly intuitive (move your piece to where you want to go on the map and the cost and time to make the trip shows up underneath, red for Republican, blue for Democrat, that kind of thing), and on the whole it’s functional.

But where the whole thing starts to fall apart and does a crotch plant on a steel rail is the CG candidates and the voice acting. For example, these are the Not-Quite-Obama and Not-Quite-Romney:

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