Tag Archives: Adaptation

Opinion – Why Saw: The Video Game Sucks

So, a while ago I wrote a few words about atmosphere in video games. During that piece, I used Saw as an example of a bad game made playable by its creepy, unsettling atmosphere, which in turn led a few people to surmise that the game itself is actually good. Because I’m all about the people, I thought I’d take some time to clarify why it isn’t.

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Completionist – King Kong

[This post is part of the Completionist series. Check out the other entries here.]

In the achievement community, Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie is commonly thought of as a kind of hazing ritual for wannabe point whores; something to be endured to prove your commitment to the cause. I’ve never understood this. When the game was released in 2005 it was reasonably well-received by critics and audiences, and in the darkened piss-stained swamplands of movie adaptations it’s practically a masterpiece. I’m not sure when exactly the game developed this reputation. Maybe it’s just people passing on second-hand information, maybe its hyperbole, or maybe nobody can remember far enough back to say for certain. Maybe I’m just an idiot. But what I’m trying to say is that I really think King Kong is alright.

Not great, obviously. It’s let down by repetition and poor pacing, and it doesn’t have enough ideas to sustain its (admittedly short) running time. You’ll be checking your watch before the end, almost certainly. But of the five or so hours it lasts, I’d say at least three of them are pretty decent. That’s not a bad ratio.

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Completionist – Terminator Salvation

[This post is part of the Completionist series. Check out the other entries here.]

I often think that when the world’s machines inevitably gain sentience and rise up to enslave the human race, part of our punishment will be to repeatedly play video games like this. It makes sense. Not only does Terminator Salvation give artificial intelligence a bad name pretty much across the board, it would only take a couple of playthroughs to have us all begging our new overlords for the mercy of a quick death.

Perhaps that’s not entirely fair. At the very least Salvation has the decency to only last about four hours, and if you’re feeling particularly charitable you can at least describe it as functional. As a startlingly generic cover-based third-person shooter, it sort of works. A lot of emphasis is placed on flanking around enemies and firing a tiny pile of unimaginative, unsatisfying weapons at their obligatory glowing weak spot. There are scripted sequences on emplaced gun turrets and, of course, moments which have you defend a given location against several waves of murderous robots. There’s even a co-op mode.

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Review – 007: Quantum of Solace

As a gaming franchise the Bond series is still arguably clinging to the coattails of Goldeneye 64, which to this day is regarded not only as one of the best first-person shooters of all time, but as the title which almost single-handedly popularized competitive multiplayer. Of course you’ll have to take my word for all of this, because Goldeneye has aged beyond horribly and the idea of sitting around a TV, squashed up on the couch with your buddies and staring at a small quarter of the screen is as ludicrous now as seamless online gameplay probably was then. But, this is how things used to be, kids.

Anyway, Quantum of Solace is developed by Treyarch and runs on the Call of Duty 4 engine, which is about as good of a start as we could reasonably expect. It also has the distinct advantages of having a recognisable, current star at the helm, and being based on a film (two films, actually) released recently enough that people are probably still interested in them. Luckily Treyarch realized that Quantum of Solace alone was far too boring and worthless to function as the sole basis for anything, so a lot of the game is built around scenes pinched from the vastly superior Casino Royale. So far, so good.

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Review – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is apparently based on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, but I don’t think you can necessarily take Ninja Theory’s word on that. Yes, the character names are the same and there’s some kind of journey involved, but I’m pretty sure ancient eastern literature didn’t go in too much for giant robot scorpions the way Enslaved does.

Years of steroid abuse have transformed Sun Wukong the Monkey King into a gruff, feral nomad. Tripitaka (Xuanzang in the original text) has suffered an inexplicable gender shift and is now a sassy, tech-savvy chick (or sometimes a  ball-and-chain damsel in distress) that looks suspiciously like the protagonist from one of Ninja Theory’s earlier games, and fantastical Ancient China is now post-apocalyptic New York, ravaged by a global war that has something to do with robots. I understand that adapting classic literature is never going to be a smooth ride, but Enslaved is so far removed from its “source material” that I’m just going to treat it as its own intellectual property and forget about Journey to the West altogether.

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Analysis – Gone Girl (Plot Holes)

The problem with discussing plot holes is that nobody can really agree on what they are and if they matter. Everyone enters a movie with different expectations, and different degrees of tolerance for lapses in a story’s internal logic. A particularly diligent nit-picker can probably find some way to tear apart pretty much any narrative ever committed to film, but most people hand-wave those questions away to preserve their own enjoyment. Why didn’t Character X do Action Y in Situation Z? Because if they did, there wouldn’t be a movie. It’s as simple as that.

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Interview – w/ Nyn, on Warcraft: The Beginning

I recently reviewed Warcraft: The Beginning and what really struck me is that I honestly did not understand the story. My main issue with the narrative is that it did not cater to those who were unfamiliar with the Warcraft games. A lot of things happened in the film at such a fast pace. In my quest to understand the film, I did a Q&A with a Warcraft fan called Nyn.

Nyn has been a Warcraft fan for more than a decade, and first played World of Warcraft in Vanilla. She is a former guild leader, an officer in her current guild, and a married mother with two daughters. Her “main” character is named Nynaeve (from the Wheel of Time books). Nyn loves fantasy, and grew up wanting to live in Middle-earth or Narnia.

Make sure to follow Nyn on twitter – @Lawilc01

Here is my Q&A with Nyn:

Continue reading Interview – w/ Nyn, on Warcraft: The Beginning