In a different world, Max Payne would be a solid contender for the worst videogame to film adaptation in movie history—taking its place right alongside Super Mario Bros. and Mortal Kombat II as the main exhibits in the case that Hollywood simply doesn't understand gaming. However, as long as the Antichrist (known more commonly by his human name, Uwe Boll) continues to churn out films like Alone in the Dark, Max Payne will just have to be content with the title of "not very good" as opposed to "out and out awful".
Payne, starring an angry and mopey Mark Wahlberg as the title character, is a film that I really wanted to like. It's beautifully shot (it's got a gorgeous neo-noir color palette working in it), it has some decent action scenes (although I think the games did a better job of integrating the John Woo influence), and it feels like the people involved cared about the end product to at least some degree. This makes it all the more disappointing that the end result is a film that feels a bit like Constantinepart 2 (which was another film I wanted to love because I've dug the Hellblazer comics for years).
Sony delays LittleBigPlanet so as to not offend Muslims; Braid gets a negative review (not new, but still interesting); Obama uses Electronic Arts games to advertise to our kids; Uwe Boll gets a positive write-up; a London mayor decides he actually does love (money from) games; a study shows parents happy with games; new ESRB ratings (just for fun); Will Wright's take on DRM; and one lucky kids gets a cool Mega Man costume for Halloween.
First up is news that Sony will be delaying LittleBigPlanet worldwide. It is unfortunate, but to play it safe and avoid an unpredictable backlash from the Muslim world, Sony will delay its most important title of 2008. It's all because of two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an are present in some background music.
"During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur’an. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologize for any offense that this may have caused."
Film Critic Roger Moore (of the Orlando Sentinel) has sparked a mini controversy in his Max Payne review. The blurb quote for the piece, posted at Rotten Tomatoes, says the following:
"As good as a couple of its action beats are, Max still suffers from the heartlessness that makes games emotionally inferior to movies. Nobody ever shed a tear over a video-game character's death."
Naturally, both sentences are pretty inflammatory to gamers, who've taken him to task in the comment section. Moore, who's no stranger to controversy (he earned Kevin Smith's ire a year or two ago) has yet to respond, but this clearly looks like another case of a guy who hasn't played a game since Space Invaders commenting on a medium he has no clue about.
You can follow the comments (which have been fairly civil so far—although that seems likely to change) here.
So the PS3 isn't the best Blu-ray player on the market? I'm confused. Seriously though, Sony has a major branding problem when the head of Sony Computer Entertainment, Kaz Harai, makes headlines for reminding the public that the PS3 is actually a machine that allows people to control images on screen and have fun!
Here's what Harai said in an interview with Japanese business website NB Online (translated by Kotaku):
"The thing that I did when I took over last year was to boast the appeal of games themselves... The main premise of the PS3 is video games. That's the absolutely most important thing that we cannot lose sight of."
After this year's E3, I wrote a blog post about how Sony lacked a strong vision for the PS3 in the market and with this sound-bite from Harai, it doesn't look like much has changed since then. The problem may be that Sony as a whole, had too much invested and at stake with the PS3 to allow it to simply be a game machine. They needed it to be so much more, but now that the PS3 isn't the monster success that the PS2 was based off the same technology-from-the-future branding, Sony is backtracking and trying to put more emphasis on the games. Just what the heck has Sony been up to all these years?
Unfortunately, you only a one chance to make a first impression and then its an uphill battle to get people to think otherwise. Is it too late for the PS3?
I got my greedy paws on a key for the Little Big Planet (LBP) beta, which I had the opportunity to play over the last weekend. All in all, I'd have to say... not bad. (Bonus points if you know the movie in which Lisa Luder said those words.)
"Not bad." Which is not the praise that Sony and Playstation 3 owners everywhere would like too see bestowed upon this key video game, a unique entry and selling point as we go into the fourth quarter of 2008.
Although I had mixed feelings during my time with the beta, it was after discussing them with (our very own) Brad that they solidified into something I could concretely describe. Is LBP a game I want to spend $60 and countless hours of my limited free time exploring? I'm a generally creative guy. I like to sing, write music, draw or write in my free time. (Depending on my artistic mode and inertia at any given moment.) This game initially spoke to me as a good outlet to make things that I can share with the PS3-owning world. Yet after playing the beta for a while, I have some doubts.
It's hard to imagine anyone using the iconic shape of the 8-bit NES cartridge for anything other than gaming, but artist sLip over at hush monkey studio has done just that by creating artwork in the shape of cartridges. He recently gave an interview over at the-minusworld.com (currently down due to all the traffic from digg.com).
On a more personal note, any reference to River City Ransom and other Technos games, instantly brings joy to my heart.
If you build it they will come... and they will build something you would never have imagined. Kudos to Sony and Media Molecule for creating one of the biggest sensations in recent memory. And double kudos for avoiding an Internet meltdown and allowing levels created in the LittleBigPlanet Beta to be ported over to the final retail version. These are just a few of the no doubt hundreds of creations floating around the web. Once it ships next week, LittleBigPlanet could be that PlayStation 3 killer app that Sony has been looking for.
Last year when Crysis came out, I think all of us who played it were a little disappointed in the abrupt, cliffhanger ending. It felt like the ending of Halo 2, where you think you're about to get the biggest, baddest level of the game, and then the credits roll. Crytek's reason for such a lame ending? "It's a trilogy". What? Why didn't anybody say anything before? Are they sure they didn't just run out of time to put in all the levels they wanted?
Today, EA announced that Mirror's Edge will be the first part of a trilogy. What? The first one isn't even out yet. We don't know if it will be any good or if it will sell worth a spit. Need I remind everyone what happened with Too Human?
Last year, hype over the impact of piracy and the supposedly shrinking PC games market reached a head when the NPD reported that Crysis, in its first two weeks of sales, moved only around 86,000 copies. Unreal Tournament 3 reportedly fared even worse, tallying just shy of 34,000 copies. Both of these games received enormous hype, and these seemed like pretty dismal numbers.
Then came the piracy talk. Developers including id, Epic, Crytek, Ubisoft, and Infinity Ward suggested that piracy was so rampant on the PC that it was fueling their decision to focus more centrally on console development. Was CryEngine2 the last great PC gaming engine? Would PC gamers become increasingly subject to "dumbed-down" multiplatform games and belated ports like Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect, while PC exclusives that didn't fall into strategy or MMORPG categories faded into obscurity?
I'm relatively new to the PC gaming landscape. I played some PC games here and there over the years and once lost a whole summer to Quake 3, but until a couple of years ago I had always been a console gamer. But I had always looked at the PC with envious eyes, and had always wanted a really nice, high-end gaming rig. Of course, I realized that an uber-rig was not necessary to enjoy PC gaming. But I figured that since I was going to get a new PC and I could afford to treat myself, why not get something really great? In early 2006 (back when AMD processors still ruled the performance charts) I built my first PC. My first game was F.E.A.R., which at the time was still a PC exclusive. I haven't looked back since. As both a gamer and a hardware enthusiast, I can honestly say that I enjoy PC gaming far more than I ever enjoyed console gaming. But to listen to some people, I got into the game at a pretty dismal time. However, I think that a closer look at the facts tells a different story.
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