X-Men: First Class

Comic book fans have had a lot to be excited about these last ten years or so. After decades of mediocre-at-best comic book movies, and the one exceptional Tim Burton Batman movie, the onslaught of surprisingly good comic book movies in the early 2000’s has been a pleasant surprise. Excellent films such as Spider-Man 2, X-2: X-Men United, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Watchmen, and the underrated Edward Norton Incredible Hulk have been undercut by a relative minority of abysmal films such as X-Men 3, Spider-Man 3, and the crappy Eric Bana Hulk movie. But the turbulent up-and-down nature of comic book films makes it very hard to know what to expect when you buy that $10 movie ticket. Are you going to get Batman Begins? Or Superman 4? Iron Man 2? Or X-Men Origins: Wolverine?

Going into this summer, we have a handful of comic movies to look forward to with anticipation and anxiety. Thor, X-Men: First Class, The Green Lantern, and Captain America all debut this summer. So far, Marvel has done an outstanding job with the movies made by its relatively new in-house studio. Thor already turned out to be a good-but-not-great movie (in my opinion), and so I expect a lot with X-Men and Captain America.

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Konami let slip last week (and confirmed this week at E3) that it will be porting HD remixes of the PS2 editions of some of it's most popular franchises, including Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders, and Silent Hill for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

UPDATE June 8, 2011 (3:46 PM PDT):

Just read the following article from PlayStation Universe:

"For starters, the publisher confirmed that its HD revamps of Silent Hill 2 and 3 will feature fresh voiceover work. No date for the Silent Hill Collection has been announced yet, though the set will be released for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360." -http://www.psu.com/E3-2011--Silent-Hill-Vita-to-include-multiplayer--a011942-p0.php

UPDATE to the update November 14, 2011 (4:28 PM PDT):

Apparently, the dispute between Silent Hill 2 voice actors and Konami has been (at least partially) settled, and it appears likely that the Silent Hill HD Collection will include the original vocal cast.

Update to the update to the update November 22, 2011 (3:18 PM PDT):

OK, so once again, the info provided for the HD Collection was not entirely complete. Apparently, there are also issues with the Silent Hill 3 cast. Namely, lead actress Heather Morris.

Sigh...

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L.A. Noire box art

After decades of video gaming, the real good guys with the uniforms and badges finally get their moment to shine! But can they stand up to the vigilantes, anti-heroes, super heroes, undercover cops, crooked cops, and outright criminals that we are used to playing as?

Brain before brawn

Fighting crime isn’t all glamour and excitement. The job of a protector of the peace isn’t all shootouts, car chases, street brawls, damsels in distress, and throwing cars at super villains. There’s a lot of walking around crime scenes and looking at stuff. Figuring out what kind and size of shoe left the prints in the dirt. Reading the brand name of the lipstick of murdered women. Reading the addresses of bars off of matchbooks. Looking up the registered owner of a car with a license plate number provided by a witness. Reading through hotel registries. And accusing people of lying about stuff. It is this element of police work that L.A. Noire tries to capture. The focus of this game is taken away from gun fights, chases, and action scenes, and attempts to highlight the more cerebral elements of police work.

Although the exciting stuff does still happen, this game is a departure for Rockstar games. It puts the player in the role of a police investigator with a badge rather than the hardened criminals, vigilantes, bullies, and antiheroes that we’re used to. The exaggerated fictional cities and over-the-top dark humor have been replaced with a massive and highly detailed (although somewhat anachronistic) reproduction of 1940’s Los Angeles that takes itself much more seriously. The map is pretty large, accurate, and surprisingly densely packed with streets and alleyways. Average roads are multi-lane, sidewalks are decently-sized, and everything has a great sense of scale to it that most city-sandbox games lack. And the game only contains a fraction of the actual city!

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Alan Wake box art

Years ago, when the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 were brand-spanking new, I was debating about whether I should get a 360 or stick with Sony and get a PS3. I had a lot of built-up loyalty to the PlayStation and the game franchises that had been exclusive to that console: Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Ace Combat, Devil May Cry, Grand Theft Auto, God of War, Gran Turismo, and so on. But as time went one, more and more of these game franchises jumped to being multi-platform, chipping away at my justification for saving up for a PS3 instead of the cheaper 360. But when it all came down to it, I knew I would still be able to get all those games on the PS3, and there would still be a few of them that would remain exclusives (Metal Gear Solid ended up being the only one on the list that stayed exclusive and is worth a damn any more). But there wasn’t anything on the 360 that specifically jumped out at me. I kind of wanted Ace Combat 6 and Forza, and Star Trek Legacy looked interesting. But neither one wowed me enough to buy a whole console. I wasn’t into Halo or Gears of War, or Fable, so none of the big-name Xbox exclusives really pushed me over the top.

But there was one game that kept the thought of purchasing an Xbox 360 at the back of my mind. That game was Alan Wake. I tracked it on the internet for years, waiting for its release. Its gorgeous, scenic visuals and promise of a psychological horror story set in a small, mountain town had me captivated. But the game kept getting delayed. The fact that it was supposed to be on PC, and the lack of a firm release date, eventually caused me to give up on purchasing an Xbox. Eventually, the game was released to critical acclaim, but I missed it, since I was waiting for the PC port that eventually got canceled.

Well, I recently bought an Xbox 360 for my sister’s birthday, and one of the things I picked up for it was Alan Wake. I finally got a chance to play this game that I’ve been wanting to play for over four years.

So is it worth the wait?

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Silent Hill 2

My Pyramid Head cosplay (2010-2011)
My cosplay for 2010-2011

Silent Hill is sadly one of the most misunderstood game franchises in existence. Part of this is due to the fragmentary and disjointed way in which the original games tell their stories. The designers of the first three games didn't just tell the player what the game's story is. There is no “Bond villian wrap-up” at the end. The designers respected the intelligence of the player, gave us clues piece by piece over the course of each game, and relied on us to put it all together in the end.

But too many fans rely on information that has been circulated by many third-party documents, including some “official” strategy guides and plot analysis that contain possibly inaccurate information that ignores information specifically provided within the game. And when Team Silent disbanded after Silent Hill 4, this erroneous information became the basis for the plots of the future games (and the movie), further tainting people's ideas of the original plots.

As such, this is going to be the first in a series of analysis and interpretation articles that I will be posting on this blog in anticipation of the upcoming Silent Hill Downpour.

Of course, any discussion of Pyramid Head is going to include PLOT SPOILERS for the game. If you haven't played the game yet, read ahead at your own risk. Also, this post contains images and video that may not be safe for work!

The “Rape Time” myth

One example of an unfortunate misunderstanding with the franchise is that Silent Hill fans have latched onto this idea that Red Pyramid Thing (a.k.a. “Pyramid Head”) is a raving serial mannequin-rapist. I believe that label is unjustified.

The idea that Red Pyramid Thing is a mannequin rapist comes almost exclusively from this first major encounter with the creature in the apartment buildings.

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A gamer's life...

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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