Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wii Review - The Croods: Prehistoric Party!

Imagine you’re a developer who has just been tasked with turning a kid’s movie into a video game. You don’t have a whole lot of budget to work with, and you’re likely on some crazy time constraint to get the game finished in time for the film’s release. This is undoubtedly a daunting task; so I never go into a game like The Croods: Prehistoric Party! expecting something brilliant.

But if I could sit down with all the developers of these Wii titles based on animated films, I’d have one question to ask them: Why the hell does it always have to be a mini-game collection?

Ice Age, Madagascar, Toy Story — just to name a few – have all been morphed into mini-game collections, and none of them are particularly good. I will give The Croods some credit for at least attempting to clone one of the greatest mini-game titles of all time, Mario Party – though the end result has substantially less variety and depth.

The Croods distributes its various mini-games in a board game format, similar to what we have seen in the popular Nintendo title. The only difference is that Prehistoric Party! is embarrassingly slow, looks terrible, and doesn’t even scratch the surface of attempting to be creative.

A typical playthrough begins by you walking across a barren landscape that is supposed to act as some sort of menu. The world turns into a board game after you aimlessly move to some arbitrary point, with other locations serving as galleries for in-game content. From there you and your friends will select a Crood, and begin very slowly rolling dice, watching the cube bounce awkwardly off the environment until, finally, your character moves the appropriate amount of spaces – after making some funny quip about their roll, of course.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Xbox 360 Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

After the final boss lay dead before my feet, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that no videogame has ever given me before. My hands were gripping the controller so tight that there was actually some pain in my fingers – a reminder of the well-timed parries and attacks that made my time with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance a success. 

This is not the stealth-action game that fans of the series are used to. Instead, Rising is a fast-paced, sword-slashing actioner from beginning to end, one that is more of a parody of the Metal Gear franchise than a legitimate entry. Yet, as one of the biggest fans of Metal Gear on the planet, I absolutely loved it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

It opened in classic 4:3 black and white, a story unfolding about a magician, Oz (James Franco), who has dreams of greatness. After a visit from the woman he loves detailing her pending marriage, the Wizard seems torn between the simple life he rejected and the show business life he’s barely living. The opening moments embrace the film style of the 1930s, and subtle satire is the motivation behind nearly every line. We all know how cheesy some classic movies can be, and apparently so does Raimi, who has every actor in the prologue overdoing it in the most perfect way.

Oz is a bit of a scoundrel; one who seems to have a weakness for beautiful women. He’s pulled the same absurd line about his grandma’s music box a few too many times, and it’s all about to blow up in his face. After a less-than-successful magic act, he finds himself being chased by the new man of a former love interest – who happens to be the strongman in the circus.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Xbox 360 Review: Dead Space 3

I have fond memories of playing Dead Space alone at night, afraid to push my control stick forward, for fear of what may lie just ahead. There was a certain anxiety that came with playing Dead Space and its sequel that didn’t leave you, even after your console was turned off. Sleeping at night was always a little more difficult, and that’s exactly why I loved the game so much.

The horror, the fear, and the challenges that come with survival was what made me fall in love with the series. Sadly, in this third chapter, very little of that original appeal remains. What fans are given in Dead Space 3 is a beautiful looking game with value that is only skin deep. Behind the amazing graphics and effective sound design, this latest entry in the survival-horror franchise is little more than a poorly conceived action shooter, with an embarrassing story that marks the decline in what was once a truly innovative experience.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

Jack the Giant Slayer is a visually spectacular adventure that borrows from two classic fairytales, Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer. The result is a formulaic story about a peasant who saves a princess from giants that live in the clouds, and a king who doesn’t mind his daughter’s wishes. Jack the Giant Slayer is a film that follows the classic fairytale formula closely, but in this case that actually works to the film’s advantage.

Director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) remembers why kids like fairytales: because they’re fantastical, a little bit ridiculous, and a whole lot of fun. In the end things always turn out happily ever after, and there’s really no reason not to meet that expectation. Jack the Giant Slayer is an escapist film for the whole family and, while it definitely won’t speak to you on an intellectual level, you’ll enjoy the ride—if you’ll allow yourself to be a kid again.