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For any and all info or discussion of podcasts and podcasting. Also community related miscellanea.
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Mr. Tweedy
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Sat May 23, 2009 10:49 pm

Terminator 4

2.5 Stars
(out of 4)

I liked it. The plot was plausible, the action was well orchestrated the special effects packed plenty of big-screen punch. Well worth the ticket price and the time spent.

The movie does drag a little bit simply because not much really happens. The resistance fights the machines... and fights the machines... and fights the machines... There's a quality plot twist at the end, but that one twist is pretty much the whole story. You could probably extract a choice 10 minutes from the two hour run time and absorb it in its entirety.

But the movie is really all about spectacle, and it has lots and lots of that, grim, grimy, desaturated battles exploding in grim and grimy fashion.

I recommend it, but it doesn't deserve to be on any top ten lists.
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Post by Goldenrat » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:46 am

I also thought Terminator 4 was pretty cool. It was what I expected it would be. A special effects and action popcorn movie. I agree with Tweedy's take on this one. Glad I saw it on the big screen. Some of my acquaintances are going to pass on it because of all the negative reviews.
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Good to know

Post by StalinSays » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:53 pm

Hmm. I will check out Terminator 4. I keep hearing lots of mixed grumbles, but everyone in the end seems to say go for it. As long as its better than T3, I won't complain.

Predictably, Up was fantastic. Grand sense of adventure. Pixar really is in a class of its own.

Oh, and as I mentioned before, I enjoyed Drag Me to Hell from the early screener I saw. Saddened to hear it got lost at the box office.

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Re: Good to know

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:42 pm

StalinSays wrote: Oh, and as I mentioned before, I enjoyed Drag Me to Hell from the early screener I saw. Saddened to hear it got lost at the box office.
Is it funny? I wasn't really interested, but after reading some reviews it sounds absolutely hilarious.
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toss up

Post by StalinSays » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:20 am

It's very much like the old Evil Dead movies - scary, but with many scenes played for laughs to ease the tension. I would say about 70 / 30 horror to ha ha. Dark, but not oppressive. Worth seeing from my perspective, but horror is a dodgy genre: it is pretty impossible to nail down someone's taste. If you've liked Raimi in the past, he is in good form here.

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9

Post by normsherman » Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:40 am

And the official "Norm Sherman Seal of Potential Awesomeoness" goes to....

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2476081689/
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Post by drabblebabbler » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:29 pm

oh how wonderful! only problem is that music didn't sound very much like Danny Elfman... Tim Burton and Danny Elfman work as a pair, you shouldn't have one without the other.

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:22 am

Oh yeah! I've had my eye on that for a while. It looks very potentially awesome. I feel connected to it because the trailer music was Coheed and Cambria, and I own that album, and I was like "Whoa, a cultural reference that I actually recognize. Far out!"

Saw that trailer on Apple a while ago, then saw it again before Star Trek... That trailer was easily the best part of Star Trek...
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:40 pm

Listening to Vliot, who I found on noisetrade. Interesting sounds. Mellow, organic, lots of synth with some drum and base, plus occasional flourishes from just about every instrument know to high school band. Novel use of spoken words in some tracks.

The genre is described as "ambient/electronic", and I guess that's fair, but some of it would probably be more accurately described as jazz.

And free. FREE!!

I recommend you check it out.

Also bought The Conduit for Wii. Review forthcoming.
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Zombieland

Post by Kevin Anderson » Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:31 pm

My favorite Cheers bartenter vs. the Undead. I hope this is good.

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The Conduit

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:37 pm

Meh. I was going to wait and post a good review on my new blog and thus lure hapless victims to it, but I haven't got to it yet, so I'll just can and paste to one I put up on The Wiire boards.

Short Version:

The Conduit is fun, yo! It's a solid oldschool shooter with fast action, good graphics, awesome controls, neat guns and good multiplayer options. It's also generic, unpolished and has a crappy story. Not a classic, but well worth owning if you've got a Wii. Buy!

Long Version:

This is the fourth time I've started writing this, because I just can't think of a good opener. The Conduit is such a mixed bag that I'm having a hard time thinking of an angle to take. So instead of trying to be clever, I'm just going to do this bullet-point style:

The Amazing

1.) The controls. The Wii has the best video game input device ever devised by God or man. It continues to be a mystery to me why only a tiny handful of games have even tried to use it, with most simply ignoring its extraordinary functionality or else insulting it by using it for a waggle wand. While The Conduit does not milk the Wii remote to its full potential, it does make excellent use of its IR pointer, so excellent, in fact, that I say without hesitation that The Conduit has the best controls of any game, ever, on any platform, bar none. Most Wii FPS have great controls, but The Conduit takes it to a new level by introducing separate "look" and "turn" dynamics that make the control faster, smoother and more intuitive than in any game previous. As if that weren't enough, the controls are so customizable that you can essentially design your own scheme from scratch. Once you've played The Conduit, everything else feels like playing with mittens on.

2.) The guns. The Conduit has an assortment of weapons on par with the best shooters, and significantly better than most. The basic human guns are big, flashy and powerful, making them fun to shoot, and some of the alien guns have functions that are extremely novel. The de-atomizer, for instance fires a chain of energy balls. When one strikes an object, it becomes an anchor around which the others pivot. If you use this correctly, you can curve your shots around corners and hit enemies behind cover. Another great gun is the shrieker, a sort of laser-guided missile so nimble that it can do complete 360s and hit targets just about anywhere. Less novel, but still clever is the hive cannon, which you can make fire either faster or more accurately, depending on how you're holding the remote.

3.) It's on the Wii. Thank you. At last, after three long years of wandering in the wilderness, a sincere 3rd-party effort to make a kick-*** Wii game. May this be a sign of things to come!

The Good

1.) The graphics. Graphics were the conduit's key selling point, and it delivers. Gloss maps, bump maps, cube maps, HDR lighting, projected textures, etc: The Conduit has it. There have been a few (far too few) pretty games on the Wii, but this is the first game that I would say really looks "next-gen". This is first game where the devs have really tried to make the graphics good, and the graphics are good, very. On a purely technical level, the game is a landmark for Wii. However, the graphics also lack polish. For instance, the dynamic lighting is inconsistent: Sometimes local lights will illuminate your gun, sometimes they won't. Ditto for most of the other effects: They're good, but the implementation is spotty. That's why this point is the "good" and not the "amazing" category.

2.) The action. The conduit is an old-school shooter. The confines are tight, the enemies are many, and the guns have deep, deep clips. The action is not original or creative, but it is consistently intense and challenging. There's a reason that shooting aliens is a video game staple: Shooting aliens is fun, and The Conduit knows how to shoot aliens as well as any game out there. The quick controls are perfect for engaging the waves of foes the game throws at you, and, while it's sometimes hard, it's never cheap. The enemies are fairly dumb, but not so dumb that it ever feels like a shooting gallery.

3.) The multiplayer. The Conduit has solid, if unexceptional, multiplayer. 12 players, infrequent lag, a good variety of game modes, using the aforementioned awesome guns. There isn't anything here that couldn't have been done with mods in Quake 13 years ago, but it's done well, and it's a first for the Wii. Like the single-player action, the mutliplayer has a very old school feel: Fast and frantic, with quick reflexes being at least as important as clever strategies. There are a couple of strikes against the multiplayer, not biggies, but they keep it from being amazing. While there are plenty of game mode, the options for setting up games are too limited. You're stuck with the stock options and cannot do things like create your own weapons set, give players handicaps or set arbitrary limits for time and score. The maps, while well-designed from a the standpoint of literal maps, have the same unfinished look as the single-player levels. Maps are ugly, and their lack of furnishings makes options for cover too limited, especially considering the clever cover-thwarting weapons available. Finally, joining your friends online is a pain. There is no way to form parties; you just have to join a friend in their game in progress. That's a clear oversight: Parties should be a standard feature in a console shooter.

4.) The soundtrack. The music is a solid action-movie score. Nothing you'd want on CD, but a good background for alien-shooting.

The Bad

1.) Story. There was a time when all the story anyone expected out of an FPS was two paragraphs in the instruction manual. Those days are long passed. We've played Half Life 2. We've played Modern Warfare. We expect a story that at least establishes a strong context, even if there isn't a great plot. Sadly, The Conduit does not deliver. There is a story in The Conduit, but it doesn't matter. The characters are flat and literally faceless, providing nothing to connect or identify with. The conspiracy is vague and cliché. There is never any sense as to where you came from when a level starts or where you're going when it ends. There are no cutscenes. There are objectives, but they don't matter: All you ever have to do is scan stuff with your ASE, and it beeps to alert you when you need to do this.

The times when the story most fails are at a few moments that should have been climactic, but instead fall flat. Good games use contextual cues to build up tension and suspense, then throw something huge at you when the time is ripe. The Conduit does not have this sense of pacing. The worst example of this is the end of the Pentagon level, where a huge alien appears more or less spontaneously and does nothing special. If it had been just a random part of the level it would have been fine, but as a boss battle, it was pathetic. Putting something ordinary where we would expect something spectacular results in disappointing anticlimax.

2.) Art design. While the graphics in The Conduit are excellent on a technical level, the same cannot be said about the game's design. The design isn't so much bad as unfinished. The guns look very good, and the character models are descent, but the environments all seem empty, like a movie set before the props have been delivered. Most of the rooms you will travel through don't even have any furniture, must less signs of recent habitation. What props there are are blocky, ugly and repetitive. The characters seem similarly unfinished because, while the models are good, the animations are frequently jerky and glitchy. The end result is a game that reminds you at every possible opportunity that, yes, this is a game. "You are not really a secret agent. There aren't really any aliens. You're just playing a game in your living room," the game says, and that's not something a game should say.

3.) Bugs. There are bugs in multiplayer. Not enough to be a serious issue, but enough to be annoying. The worst bug is one that puts you into a game with your character frozen in place and all the buttons unresponsive. The only way out is to turn off the console and try again. There are a few rarer glitches that have to do with player movement, the sort common in online shooters. These aren't game-killers, but there's really no excuse for them to be there, considering how straightforward the game is, and how long it spent in developement.

4.) Wasted potential. Even though the game is fun, there is no escpaing the feeling that much more could have been done with it. The ASE is a great example: It's the all-seeing eye, for Pete's sake! It's just begging to be used to solve clever puzzles, to find enemies' hidden weaknesses, to reveal obscure bits of story. But all you ever really do with it is pull it out when the controller says "beep". Beep beep beep. Scan. Put away. It's barely more than the game's way of flipping levers. It could have been something so much more interesting, and that goes for many other things in the game as well.

5.) Lack of polish. This has already been mentioned, but I think it deserves its own point. The game is chock full of things that simply seem unfinished. For instance, you cannot shoot out windows. There is obviously no technical reason for this: It's just missing. Every shooter I've played since Goldeneye in 1997 has had shootable glass, and the fact that you can pour bullets into a television monitor to no effect is literally shocking. There is no destructibility to the environments at all, which, again, is shocking in a modern shooter. This is the most conspicuous, but there are hundred other little ways in which the games simply seems unfinished, as if it could have used another few months of development. As previously mentioned, this lack of polish it very inconsistent, with some elements of the game looking great and some looking pretty shoddy.

The Terrible

Nothing to see here.

Conclusion

I am conflicted as to what score The Conduit deserves. On the one hand, it is slavishly conventional, lacks AAA polish, and has few memorable moments. On the other, it is a technical landmark for the Wii, has solid multiplayer, and is pretty fun. Is it a classic? No. Not at all. But it's good enough to tide me over while I wait for a classic. I would certainly be lying if I said it is a great game, but I think it is an enjoyable game, and significant because of its uniqueness on its platform.

Much as the Wii fanboy in me wants to toss out a "9", I think I have to give it 7.5. I am glad I bought it and I recommend you buy it too, but it's not something you'll regret having missed if you don't. I intend to keep The Conduit only until a better Wii shooter comes out, then trade up for that, but I'll be contentedly blasting aliens in the meantime.

Mr. Tweedy's Score: 7.5. Buy it if you love the Wii and FPS, but come with tempered expectations.
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District 9

Post by normsherman » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:29 am

District 9

4 out of 5 clown eggs.
2 parts cool premise with aliens, 1 part iron man, lightly drizzle in some militant Nigerian scam artists and blend evenly with typical, predictable Hollywood plot devices and cheese (oh, and holes galore.) Serve chilled with copious amounts of over-the-top gore.
The movie seems to not take itself too seriously and then you realize it was set in South Africa for a reason, and you remember just how serious Peter Jackson takes himself. Aside from the blatant (and maybe offense) apartheid allegory, it was worth a watch for sure![/b]
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:16 am

I'd been curious about District 9.

Back when they were still punting around the idea of a Halo movie, Neill Blomkamp was picked to direct. His creds were fairly thin at that point (2005), but he had made this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNReejO7Zu8

It's like District 9 in drabble form(?).
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Neat

Post by StalinSays » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:52 am

I will be checking out D9 tonight. I have high hopes.

Oh, and because I skipped the real time ratings

Transofrmers 2: 1 out of 5 stars (abysmal, why I even saw it is beyond me - weakness of character)
GI Joe: 3 out of 5 stars (stupid, but it is a movie about toys, of course its cartoonish)

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Re: Neat

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:26 am

StalinSays wrote:Transofrmers 2: 1 out of 5 stars (abysmal, why I even saw it is beyond me - weakness of character)
For shame.
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yesssss

Post by StalinSays » Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:23 pm

OOOOoohh loved me some D9. Sold out on a Sunday night no less. I've got that Matrix tingle - unexpected gem thriller. Here's to two incredibly disappointing sequels, one of which will contain albino dreadlock twins.

I'm going to forgo reviews, because all detail sharing is a betrayal of the spirit in which I saw the film, complete sparkling virgin snow purity and unawareness. That's the best place to be. But see it.

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Re: District 9

Post by Goldenrat » Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:39 pm

normsherman wrote:District 9

4 out of 5 clown eggs.
[/b]
Agreed! Good sci-fi movies on the big screen are a rare commodity and this was a fun summer ditty with a message here and there and cool alien technology. I wanted to take the little prawn home with me, he was a cute little bugger.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:22 am

Braid. Buy it. Play it. Love it. I haven't beaten it yet (it's fairly short) but it just might be my new favorite...

http://braid-game.com/

What I find most fascinating is that this is the only game I've ever played where the game mechanics themselves are symbolic. For instance, your primary "default" ability (the one you have in every area and at all times) is to rewind time. Your character, Tim, is a man who we are told is full of regret over his mistakes in his past relationship with the "Princess." He muses: It is impossible to learn without making mistakes, but mistakes cause injury. How wonderful it would be to be able to make mistakes, then go back, retaining the wisdom you gained from the mistake, but erasing the damage. And then, when you go into the game, you find that you can, indeed, go back, having learned from your mistake, but being able to avoid the injury.

All other game mechanics have similar symbolism, which adds greatly to the game's visual and aural beauty.

I'm actually in great suspense over what will happen when Tim reaches the final castle. Is there a Princess inside? Does she exist? If not, what does Tim's quest mean?

It's only $15, PC or Mac (and on 360 if you've got an X Box). Buy it, seriously, even if you don't normally like or play video games.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:45 am

Finished "Braid."

Wow.

I can't claim that I really get it, but it feels deep and tragic and beautiful. Poor Tim! But is he? Is he tragic because of his loss or better off for the wisdom he gained? And would he really be glad if he had found the Princess, or would he find that his hopes had been ill-founded? Do you always want to get what you wan to get? Or does the goal exist only for the chase?

If there was any doubt before, "Braid" proves video games as a bona fide art form.
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Post by ROU Killing Time » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:56 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote:Finished "Braid."

Wow.

I can't claim that I really get it, but it feels deep and tragic and beautiful. Poor Tim! But is he? Is he tragic because of his loss or better off for the wisdom he gained? And would he really be glad if he had found the Princess, or would he find that his hopes had been ill-founded? Do you always want to get what you wan to get? Or does the goal exist only for the chase?

If there was any doubt before, "Braid" proves video games as a bona fide art form.
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