Video Games

Puppeteer_Pirate

If you care about video games, then you’re probably not even reading this right now. Most likely, you’re deep inside of Grand Theft Auto V, living a life of excess and loving it. And now that GTA V’s online mode has finally overcome most of the bumps and is actually turning out to be pretty fun, all the more reason to stay inside its warm embrace. We’ll be talking about Rockstar’s triumphant return to the seedy underbelly of crime soon, but we wanted to highlight the amazing storytelling and whimsical design of Sony’s Puppeteer for the PlayStation 3. With the PlayStation 4 being introduced next month, this might represent one of the last great PS3 games. Despite the childlike art adorning the cover and the name, this is actually dark game: you play as Kutaro, a young boy who has been turned into a puppet and had his head torn off. While you can find other puppet heads to utilize, and gain special abilities from them, and you spend most of the game armed with a magical pair of scissors, this isn’t a cheerful story with your princess waiting in another castle. Puppeteer is dark, disturbing, and completely amazing, thanks in no small part to game director Gavin Moore. We spoke to Moore in Japan about all things Puppeteer, so read on for the full interview, and be sure to pick up a copy and give it a whirl for yourself.

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Video Games

There have already been a number of major changes in the lives of our Girls in the HBO series’ second season – Hannah has an e-book deal, Marnie is finally struggling with career and romance issues in a believable way, and Shoshanna is in the first adult relationship of her life – but nothing has been as markedly relatable as a giant life change than Jessa’s (impending? already done? totally just laying in wait until it can pop up at a more inoppurtune time?) divorce from idiot Thomas John. While we’ve seen a bit of the fallout from their final bust-up (in previous episodes, it’s clear that Jessa might not even be showering as of now), the newest Girls episode, “Video Games,” provided us with the seemingly novel opportunity to really get inside Jessa’s head – by visiting her family. Jessa and Hannah head upstate to visit Jessa’s dad, his latest girlfriend, a pack of ill-fated rabbits, and one of Hannah’s most inappropriate paramours yet (hint: not a rabbit), and the result is a glimpse inside Jessa’s childhood, some serious regression, and a surprise ending that leaves a lot to wonder about. After the break, Rob Hunter and I just flat out disagree on a lot of things about “Video Games.” We both, however, agree that Hannah’s got some great one-liners this time around.

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Boiling Point

In the wake of the most recent tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, where a gunman murdered twenty-seven people, many of them children, people look first for answers and second for responsibility. What caused this event and who is to blame? It doesn’t take long for people to point the blame at things they don’t understand: guns, video games, movies. As objects can’t bear responsibility for actions, being inanimate, I’ve always considered this to be a silly, borderline maddening ordeal. When looking to lay blame, we should look for people, not things. But, none the less, in the world of an ever-present, ever-on media, there is bound to be rampant speculation and accusations against the things many of us love. Even some within the system, like Django Unchained star Jamie Foxx, have allowed some blame to be set upon violence in Hollywood films. Does fictional violence cause real world action? Is entertainment to blame for real world tragedy?

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Ron Guyatt Jurassic Park

Imagine how impressed your dinner guests will be when they pass by the chocolate fountain in the hallway and spy the Isla Nublar map hanging on your wall – complete with detailed information on where the Raptor and T-Rex pens are. “Is that an antique from a wealthy. erstwhile relative?” they’ll ask. “Why no,” you’ll say, “it’s a Jurassic Park-inspired print from Ron Guyatt.” And they will swoon. Guyatt’s work is simple, but dynamic, toying around with the imagery of famous films, television shows and video games alike. Targets range from Kung Fu Panda to “Scott Pilgrim” to “Tetris,” and each print is curiously affordable. Check out some of the movie prints for yourself:

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? With a crushing techno beat built from the sounds of the games themselves, this keen short film is a breezy, incomplete timeline from Pong to beyond. It’s nostalgia-packed and striking in how drastically things have changed. From two lines bouncing a dot between them, to the lifelike composition of soldiers going into battle, it’s a nice reminder that video games have evolved profoundly in just a few decades. It’ll be fun to see what the games of 2032 bring. Toasty! What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Yesterday, we wrote about the theory that sites like YouTube and Vimeo would make festivals obsolete for independent filmmakers looking for an audience. In the age of the internet, they can directly connect. It’s no surprise that Freddie Wong‘s work has connected, because he makes accessible, unbelievably good CGI-driven, geek-friendly films. Video Game High School is his latest work – a project that was funded on KickStarter to the tune of over $270,000. All they were asking for, was $75k. That’s what internet popularity can get you. Fortunately, the work doesn’t disappoint. Granted, it’s not exactly a short film, but they’re releasing it in installments online so definitions are hard to come by here. It’s a feature length film, being told as a serial. Regardless of what Webster’s will do, this film is the future in more ways than one. What will it cost? Only 12 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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This week, while not breaking my hands, I have been mostly considering the question of video game tie-ins. Largely born out of that commercialist need to squeeze every last cent out of a film’s appeal, 99% of what is released to this market isn’t even worth considering, but there are exceptions, and they do – I have come to believe – fall within the merchandise remit. For some reason, despite the easy relationship between gaming and cinema as two immersive, escapist mediums, certain cinephiles will always look unfavorably upon gamers as their sweaty, pasty siblings. Just ask Roger Ebert. That probably has a lot to do with the slap-dash way most tie-ins are put together, and also something to do with the way Hollywood consistently fails to make good films out of games as well. So in the interest of diversity, and because my love of gaming is almost as profound and pronounced as my cinematic obsession, I hereby offer three of the greatest tie-ins every released.

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Why Watch? This is the short film version of a headshot. Video games make awful adaptation material because, for some reason, they’re more fun for executives to suck all quality from. They’ve invariably meant for high budgets, but instead of bringing the faithful along for the ride, most productions tend to flip fans the middle finger while destroying any sense of story just in case anyone else wanted to enjoy what they were watching. Not so here. With a small budget and an aim at showcasing action, director Brian Curtin has created a fantastic short based on Half-Life. It could use a bit more in the way of character, but producing such a threatening, obviously villainous group of killers helps us feel for the leads without messy exposition. There are a few low budget problems, but they’re overshadowed by how impressive everything else is. Well shot, interestingly paced, and featuring some stellar production design, this is just engaging as hell. Plus, the ending is truly explosive. I’ve never played the game, so I can’t speak to how close they nailed it, but everything I’ve read seems to praise them for staying faithful. How about it, Half-Life (and/or zombie) fans? Is this the kind of thing you’d like to see expanded into a feature? What does it cost? Just 12 minutes of your time. Check out Beyond Black Mesa for yourself:

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call-of-duty-header

Video games Call to Duty and World of Warcraft are lining up to be turned into films. Activision, the creator of the games is looking into adapting the two popular games into motion pictures.

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Officially Cool

Here is an awesome little piece of fan fun from one of the Watchmen viral marketing sites. Go to Minutemenarcade and you can play an NES style arcade game, featuring Night Owl, Silk Spectre and Molloch.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic

After months of speculation, Bioware and Lucasarts have announced that a new Star Wars MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) is, indeed, in the works.

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Officially Cool

The Joker doesn’t really come off as the fighting type, but as you can see in the new Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe game… it would be pretty damn fun to play as The Joker.

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Officially Cool

My first troubling thought though – ‘Will there be fatalities? So will I see Batman get his head cut off or something? Because I don’t know if I could handle that’.

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Lego Indiana Jones

The folks at Empire have debuted a brand new trailer for the upcoming video game Lego Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventure. And according to me, it is worth checking out.

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Our SXSW preview continues with a trailer for a doc about making music with you Game Boy. Sweet.

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Soul Caliber is one of the most badass fighting games to ever hit consoles. There has been cameo’s by non-original Soul Caliber characters in the past, such as Spawn and Zelda’s Link, but those cameos are nothing compared to who you will get to see in Soul Caliber IV.

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