Sunday, 27 February 2011

2011 Oscar Predicitons

So tonight is the 2011 Academy Awards, or Oscars to you and me - so what movie commentator is worth his salt by not making a comment on who will win what. Before you go on please note I've not seen many of the nominees this year (I managed to see 8/10 of last years best picture nominees) so some are based on opinions and others guesses from what I hear / see / feel about the film.

Best Picture – The Kings Speech - This is a close race between The Kings Speech and Social Network. Kings has the momentum but the academy may vote for their countrymen. Don’t count out Black Swan as the underdog here though

Directing - Darren Aronofsky - I’m going with the left field choice here as I feel many of the judges may just want to balance the books out here

Actor in a Leading Role - Colin Firth - This man has the shortest odds to win this accodlade and the only close challenger in my opinion is James Franco – acting on your own to camera is hard and this should at least be acknowledged

Actor in a Supporting Role – Christian Bale - From what I hear Bale goes above and beyond what any normal actor should have to do for a role and completely imitate the guy. Don’t be surprised if the vote swings to Geoffy Rush though

Actress in a Leading Role – Natalie Portman - This really is looking like a dead cert here – not a strong category for competition

Actress in a Supporting Role – Helena Bonham Carter - Ah now this is a good mixed back here, while Helen has the talk here I would say keep an eye out for the young gun who could sweep in here in the form of Hailee Steinfeld

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – The Social Network - An interesting tale and well told

Writing (Original Screenplay) – Inception - Of all the nominees I feel this is clearly a winner as its not based on a book or actual event but made up which makes the best film

Animated Feature Film – Toy Story 3 - I would say a close 2 horse race between How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story but for me it just has that little extra point to win this one

Art Direction – Inception - This is a truly stunning piece of art and should be acknowledged as such

Cinematography - The Social Network - From what I’ve seen this is a well shot and edited piece of work

Costume Design – True Grit - Again from what I’ve seen the film does have stunningly accurate costumes here

Music (Original Score) – Hanz Zimmer – Inception - I listened to this outside of the movie and it just gets me. Clearly Zimmer has it here

Music (Original Song) – “We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3 - Come on, have a heart!

Sound Editing - Inception - See below

Sound Mixing - Inception - The whole sound feel adds to the movie and makes it a whole

Visual Effects – Iron Man 2 - Come on did you see Whiplash? And the armour effects? But could lose out to Alice in Wonderland

Documentary (Feature) – Exit through the gift shop - Clearly this one has taken the movie industry by storm and is a good piece

Film Editing - The Social Network - Again well shot and edited

Foreign Language Film “Biutiful” - It’s the only one I’ve heard of!

Makeup – The Wolfman - Clearly this one needs a nod for the hard work put into it – even if the movie did suck

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The problem with modern gaming - part 1

Gaming is going to die soon …

Yup according to people gaming as we know it will soon be dead. Gone will the days be where you could simply pick up a controller and toil away for hours exploring the galaxy’s furthest reaches, or driving from one point in a city covered in crime as you find yourself taking people out to rise to power.

But what will you have instead? I mean there cannot be video games, surely? Life would become grey and boring. No they will be replaced by multiplayer games in which you find yourself being blown apart by people who play this game every day, as a 12 year old screams down your ear “suck it noob, you totally suck at this!” Or if you’re not into shooters, well then you can play with real people across the internet while you all try to decide which way to go, like some big road trip to the black gates.

Yes believe it or not gaming has reached a point now where it is faced with a Darwinian issue (note not the game but the Scientist) – evolve or die. But what’s the big deal surely we are in a golden age of games with many new games being seen in 2010 and making so much money, read on and I shall enlighten you into what I think are the main issues with video games.
The dead art form

In late 2010 EA Games' label president Frank Gibeau stated that single player only games were dead and that multiplayer is where it was all at in terms of the innovation of games. While this is partial true that innovation is being seen in the USE of online FEATURES and FUNCTIONS within games pure multiplayer games have proven to be a bit of bust.

Now don’t going and start with your hate mail about MMO’s, I’m getting there. Right now let’s take a look at some multiplayer only games. Shadowrun, Quake III, and who can forget Quake Wars: Enemy Territory – each of these games had a heck of backing be it through its innovation such as Shadowrun by getting PC and 360 games to play together at the same time in the same game, or through boasting about the next big sequel in Quake Wars: Enemy Territory. But they all flopped.

Now to MMO’s – beyond World of Warcraft which is really taking the world by storm with the latest expansion pack, there really hasn’t been a commercially successful challenger to this title, and we have had some big names throw their hats into the ring – Star Trek, Lord of the Rings (recently went free to play), and Conan the Barbarian all tried to have a go at getting people into the game and taking over some of that title of number 1 MMO. These are all multiplayer only and there failing maybe doesn’t lie with the users breaking Wheaton’s law but more in the fact they have the attention span of goldfish or the game is just bad.

Single-player only games have shown that they don’t need a multiplayer to be successful with the many games proving that you can make good money and a good game with games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Fallout 3, Dead Space, Assassins Creed 2 , Bioshock, Heavy Rain, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and Mass Effect 2 to name but a few.

These games all don’t have a multiplayer mode in them and are fantastic games, truth be told they all have other great elements which makes them great games such as fantastic writing, atmospheric settings, compelling stories, beautiful soundtracks and fantastic voice acting. So why is it that some people think that in a sequel we need multiplayer adding?

The case in view here is Bioshock, a sequel in itself to System Shock. To preface this next bit I am going to say that I have not played Bioshock 2 but I have played the original, Bioshock on the 360. Bioshock was one of those rare games that came along and really made a name for its self by being pretty damn good as well as just a bit creepy in points with things such as would you like to kill or save the little girls? Overall the game was well written, created a fantastic atmosphere, and brought a unique twist to another wise bloated market, making it a well worthy game of the year.

Roll on a few years and we were treated to Bioshock 2 – Now with added multiplayer! Oh how the internet groaned! Like many people I was intrigued by just how this worked since at the end of the first game we got a very definitive ending, either way you played the game. It turned out that the single player element would have you play as a big daddy in the return to rapture while the multiplayer would be set before Bioshock 1 and was all about the splicers knocking the living daylights out of one another for the sheer hell of it.

Here lies the issue, and one the internet loved to point out – we have given the multiplayer a story – it’s not big and it’s not clever so please why do we do this? Don’t these developers recall what it was like to play a game like Goldeneye on the N64? We didn’t need to know why James Bond was suddenly shooting (a very blocky and manly looking) Natalia we just got on with it.

ARGH! I hear you cry I can counter you what about the Battlefield series? Or how about your beloved Assassins Creed series in the form of Assassins Creed Brotherhood? Yes they have shown to work in some of their iterations, however this (very nicely – almost planned like) leads me onto my next point.