Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Half-decent game gets half-assed review and title...

The game front has been a bit slow as of late, this is the calm before the Christmas storm. It gave me the opportunity to finish off the last game on my list of second-rate shooters and that would be Frontlines: Fuel of War for the X-Box 360.

Frontlines was put together by the newly formed Kaos Studios, who were formerly called Trauma and worked on Battlefield titles like Desert Combat. This is what piqued my initial interest in this game as the Battlefield series has always been a well-respected online multiplayer franchise with its own distinct, clear-cut style.

And this indeed is what you get with Frontines: a clean shooter cut from the Battlefield cloth. I found two things working against it however. Its use of Unreal Technology didn’t separate the game from the herd on a visual level and the oversaturated genre that is the post-modern military shooter didn’t help this in this regard either.

As should be expected the story is as limp as the title. Fuel of War? That's just plain fuel. Filling up a tank is no different than any other combustion engine. You're not saying shit with that line. If that's what you went with then what titles were discarded? Gasoline of Battle? Petrol of Skirmish? Strange but it's an ironically apt title. Frontlines lacked individuality or personal style, its own soul, which is a shame because it played competently overall.

In addition to the standard arsenal of weapons Frontlines features drones, or remote controlled attack vehicles. Miniaturized versions of tanks and helicopters mixed up the gunplay and offered a new perspective of the battlefield. Less successful were the many vehicle sections that brought nothing new to the table. The best part of Frontlines was the large maps and multi-point objectives that you had to complete without a lot of direction. You were allowed to attack the problems any way you felt like and take the heat for your decisions. These levels rewarded exploration and a patient approach, which is a far better design model than pushing forward through a script in order to activate and deactivate spawn points.

If you like how Frontlines plays then it’s a good platform for your online multiplayer as well. There is a robust community and they are releasing downloadable content like extra maps. Myself, I’ll probably be crawling back to Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat.

I also downloaded Wipeout HD on the Playstation Network, a futuristic, anti-gravity racing game with an old pedigree. The slickness of its 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second is only matched by the cool techno soundtrack. The Playstation seems to be pulling ahead of the X-Box when it comes to downloadable games. This title, Ratchet & Clank’s Quest for Booty, and the episodic Siren: Blood Curse illustrate a high level of quality, a new game experience rather than a nostalgia trip. By comparison X-Box released Braid, a game with great art but essentially a Mario clone, and Duke Nukem 3D, still a really fun shooter but clearly a product of its times. LIVE is regularly touted as the superior experience but these days I mainly see that as spin.

So far 2007 was a better year for games than 2008 but it’s an unfair comparison. To that end here is a list of games and their release dates that are on the horizon. (I'll be updating and adding to this list as more information becomes available.

Dead Space – October 14
Fable 2 – October 21
Little Big Planet – October 28
Fallout 3 – October 28
Resistance 2 – November 4
Gears of War 2 – November 7
Mirror’s Edge – November 11
Call of Duty: World At War - November 11
Left 4 Dead - November 17

Okay, so now it's nine potential game purchases over the course of a month! This industry, it is recession-proof! All of these games are getting glowing previews and all of those games are coming from developers who know what they are doing. It is therefore a ridiculous amount of content that can totally reverse my personal verdict on 2008. I hope it does.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Today's Special: Sad Kitten Sandwich with Extra Cheese

October 14th: Election Night in Canada! This very special event only happens around three times every four years so I’m sure we’re in for almost nothing of interest. Now in order to get his way Prime Minister Stephen Harper had to break his own fixed election legislation. Well good for him, that’s what I say. Look at what fixed elections have done in the U.S: nineteen goddamned months of mostly unattractive people in pant suits and flag pins saying the same things over and over again. They will have been interviewing for the Presidency for almost two years and they might only have the job for four. That’s bananas!

Plus, fixed elections have created a nerdy version of the football-desk style of news-casting that just isn’t working. Have you caught this act yet? They have four or five old dudes, actual journalists from back in the day for the most part, who go over every perceived nuance in tedious detail. Then they pass the camera over to a new generation of analyst douche-bags who pack in their very best sound bites for all of the sixty seconds they’re allotted. You can smell their desperation; this is their big chance to make an impression in hopes that one day they’ll be invited into the inner circle. Everyone in the American election process, from the politicians to the pundits, is shilling for a fucking promotion.

We got it right in Canada, kids. Six weeks, in and out, and we’re done. We pick the next steward of our collective mediocrity with minimal fuss and then get on with our lives. There’s no chance to get drunk on pageantry, no time to snipe at who stood behind what Greek column or green backdrop. What’s that? Harper’s on YouTube tearing the head of a cat off with his teeth? No time to look at that; the election is almost over. We better finish this one before they call another.

When you’re the Prime Minister and you want to hold an election you have to request that the Governor General dissolve parliament. Man it would be cool to see that actually happen just one time. All the members would be begging the G.G. not to push the big red DISSOLVE button. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean would not flinch from her solemn duties, however. With wide, hellish eyes and snarling teeth she would push that button and then all of parliament would melt into a huge pool of vanilla soft serve ice cream.

Speaking of which, who’s your honky this time, Canada? (Cricket sounds on the internet) How did they get here? I’ve been talking to friends and there is no clear-cut answer for people of our age and outlook. Sadly, most people have resorted to strategising, meaning they’re not voting for someone so much as they’re voting against someone else. How about that Canadian spirit, eh? As mushy as the Wonder white bread our politicians are made of.

It seems many don’t like Steve Harper for the same reason we would always pick him last to be on our sports team. You don’t like him because he reminds you of a middle management type: you know, the guy who fails utterly to inspire or make you feel good about your job but will bust you every time you make a filing mistake, no matter how small or hidden.

Stéphane Maurice Dion, who by all accounts is a thoughtful, intelligent man, is unfortunately nothing but third-place weakness on display. I was in disbelief at how the Liberal leadership convention played out. Was it not supposed to be a competition? Was a winner not supposed to emerge atop the pile of defeated? Gerard Kennedy seems like a solid guy but that political ploy he helped orchestrate is a far cry from his hockey playing days of old. He was barely behind Dion but I guess felt that folding in order to curry favour with the new party leader was better than risking getting beaten fair and square. At least Bob Rae deserves some props for sticking to his guns.

Shortly after the convention Dion announced that Kennedy would be his special advisor on election readiness and renewal with – get this – “intimate involvement in all aspects of election readiness and the platform.” Sounds kind of gay but it fits because it looks like those two have fucked each other and their whole party now.

What they should do is get down on their knees and BEG Jean Chrétien to come back. You need blood of the warm, red variety to win elections and it has been drained out of Canada’s premier governing party.

Who else is left? Gilles Duceppe? I like the guy, he’s got some panache but that sovereignty thing is a killer. If it ever came to pass I would have to say that I was born in a foreign country. What about Elizabeth May and the Green Party? She’s got a pretty impressive resume. It looks like she’s going to be shut out of the debates again even though they get a million in federal funds on account of the votes they received. They even have an M.P. now that former independent Blair Wilson of West Vancouver’s Sunshine Coast joined the team. The Prime Minister says that that inviting the Green Party into the debate would be like giving the Liberals two seats. That’s some classic Harper distain for you. He can’t stand the fact that Canada produces more left-leaning political parties than right-wing ones. How dare we organize government representation that reflects our personal views and beliefs!

I think Jack Layton has been rather successful this term. It’s unfortunate he’s got the reputation of being the angry-crazy man. I suppose that comes with the territory of living in perpetual opposition. I think that’s who I’ll be rooting for this time around. He’s been consistently against the Afghanistan military misadventure, he was quite the muscleman on the Clean Air Act, and the skin that stretches over his skull is clear of mar or blemish. I hope he continues gaining percentage points for the N.D.P. It doesn’t hurt that he’s married to fellow M.P. Olivia Chow either, that’s a reassuringly competent political couple right there. Do you think they’ve ever, you know, done it in Parliament? A quickie in the Legislative Assembly perhaps? A little in-and-out during the Victorian Tea Tour? I could point them out a couple decent spots in Queen’s Park.

At any rate this is the pettiest of elections. It’s just power for power’s sake: Harper’s making a run for his majority, and figures now is better than ever. This is nothing but ego politics and serving the country is way down on the list. It bugs me though. If he gets even the slimmest majority it’s a free pass to make all kinds of changes to our country. We’ll wind up going to whatever war the Americans pick next. Rick Mercer is liable to get really audited, with pliers. Canadian movies will suck even more, which hardly seems possible.

Here’s hoping that Canada doesn’t want a majority government. I don’t think Canadians should be telling other Canadians what to do just because 51% percent think one way and 49% think the other. Look at what Bush did with those numbers. Regardless of who wins we should still all be cool with letting people do their own thing. Hopefully that wishy-washy mindset will prevail. It is, after all, the Canadian way.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In this post I will claim that some Americans are unsmart and just like that - PING - I'm on a watchlist...

Look at that picture. Putin is sooo going to tap that.

My self-imposed moratorium on politics ended when the Republican National Convention rolled into town because, as the kids on the streets say, the shit just got real, son. Sarah Palin exploded on the stage with the best-in-show performance that secured the love and loyalty of her party’s base. That’s all it takes, one good speech, and with that she has generated enough credibility to take a run at the White House.

First I want to give a shout out to my main man Levi Johnston. He’s the stud who impregnated Bristol Palin.
The guy fucks this chick and as a bonus he gets the best seat in the house at the convention. What a twist of fate! The only thing I got the last time I fucked a seventeen year old was a massive guilt trip as she sat there hugging her knees while rocking back and forth saying: “I thought you were the one but you are SO NOT the one! Daddy’s going to kill me!” Actually it’s a pretty good memory, I’ve got no cause to complain.

We are seeing the normalization of teen pregnancy in America and it seems to come hand-in-hand with the dumbing-down that population is experiencing. I think I’ve figured out why the Republicans are all so gung-ho on banning abortion. Unwanted and teen-birthed children grow up to become their base, and their military of course. Planned Parenthood is the domain of professional thirty-somethings, a tool of your average Democratic voter.

There was much sweet hypocrisy uttered during the convention. Rudy Guiliani was the best example. His jokes were tired, he tried and failed to be self-deprecating and his attempts to inspire others met with similar success but when it came to attacking Obama he transformed into a spear of lighting. He had the gall to dismiss the efforts of community organizers and then deride his party’s opponents as elitist. Remember it’s the Republicans who consistently and effectively champion tax cuts for the rich. This however defines an important distinction as to what elitist means when mouthed by the neo-conservatives. It’s not wealth or standing but education and the ability to use it intelligently that is a target for insults amongs this party. The theme of this election seems to be people who are proud to be stupid versus those who are worried that they are smart.

An arena filled with people chanting “drill baby drill” is scene from a fictional dystopian political rally, a dark future satire. To my dread and amazement it happened in real life. I think the G.O.P. see vainly searching for sufficient oil in Alaska and the Arctic as a win-win situation. Hitting the jackpot is of course a mathematical possibility, something that pleases their scratch-n-win sensibilities. Failing that, the environmental destruction of the north is sure to hasten the apocalypse, and I believe that if some of the evangelicals don’t get to see it in their lifetime they are going to feel cheated.

The Republicans vowed time and again to “shake up Warshington” and that was just too rich. They have had control of the Executive and Judiciary branch for the past eight years. They controlled the Senate and Congress for five and six years respectively. America is a mess of their making and they want voters to believe they can fix it better than those who opposed those decisions in the first place. It doesn’t make any sense but remember this is the party that supports teaching creationism in school and refuses to believe billions of humans driving cars and consuming factory-made goods have an effect on the environment. We are talking about a people who are embracing wilful ignorance.

What’s telling about the Republican mindset is there is no admission of wrongdoing when it comes to their domestic and foreign policies. I saw no accepting of responsibility, expressions of guilt or attempts to atone for the war crime that is the Iraq Occupation. Instead, Sarah Palin mocked Barack Obama for talking about the war and not once mentioning the word VICTORY. Palin insists that a nation can engage in a pointless, illegal, immoral war that kills thousands and turns millions into refugees yet still somehow emerge victorious, all the while remaining unrepentant. This is delusion and it threatens to sweep the country yet again.

I think it’s insane that the American presidential race is a close one but I must admit it fills my dark heart with a certain amusement. Is the American majority truly this stupid? Are they really that averse to admitting their own collective mistakes? Are they still willing to continue down a failed path in hopes of achieving different results? In 2004 it was already common knowledge that the Iraq War was a quagmire based on lies, and that Bush was an idiot, but the American people let him keep his job anyway. A precedent for making comically wrong choices in the face of facts has been firmly established.

The vice president I would like to have sex with as if she were a seventeen year old who had a mother in the White House - oh shit that's my autism kicking in - pull out!

This link is to prove that when my friend Marc talks I am actually listening. It's a Sarah Palin fansite that will update you on all things Sarah Palin and give you handy tips like what hand basket you can co-ordinate with your shoes for your trip to the Infernal Pits of Torment.

It's not moose killing that defines leadership but moose dressing really sells it for me.

This article not only introduces you to some of the issues Ms. Palin stands for but why she connects with her voters. This is not the America I grew up with.