Assassin’s Creed III To Drop in October

The headline pretty much sums it up. IGN reports from an earnings call from the CEO of Ubisoft that ACIII will be released at the end of October. So far there is no mention of what the setting of the game is going to be, but it’s apparently been in development for three years. This could explain why it might have seemed like they were rehashing the same engine and setting into three different Assassin’s Creed games over the past couple years. Don’t get me wrong, Ezio is a very interesting character, and I enjoyed the renaissance setting that the game presented. However, I think it’s time for a change in scenery.

The question is, will they take the game into the future, back into the past, the present? Will they do something like Japan (ninjas), the Middle East (desert ninjas), the New World of the Americas (tomahawk ninjas), or somehow incorporate that trademark melee combat for something a little more modern (Starbucks ninjas).


Did Lucas Even Watch the Original Star Wars?

There are many conflicting view points on the Star Wars films, and what Lucas has been constantly modifying and whether or not it is positive or negative to what he is trying to accomplish. However, if there is one thing that the fans can agree upon, it’s that it is fun to complain about Star Wars. Star Wars is like politics. There are too many different ways that the films make people feel, and because of those feelings, people are going to derive different views. Despite personal opinions, there are a few empirical data points that I feel need to be addressed, not only to the fans, but to Lucas himself. A man who is seemingly trying to either create his perfect vision of a film, or has no creative outlet what-so-ever and can only cling to the franchise that gave him a halfway decent reputation to begin with.

In “A New Hope” we learn that Vader “betrayed and murdered” Anakin Skywalker, the father of the film’s protagonist, Luke Skywalker. Obviously, if you’ve been anywhere near a film or person in the last 20 years you know that this is speaking in more of a metaphoric sense as opposed to a literal interpretation. Obi-wan would not have used these words without thinking carefully about their phrasing. The betrayal of Anakin Skywalker is something that would greatly affect Mr. Kenobi, especially considering he’d been essentially raising the boy into adulthood. Obi-wan is telling Luke that there was something inside of Anakin that betrayed who he really was. More specifically, there was an influence that caused Anakin to turn against everything he stood for, essentially killing that good still in him. In Return of the Jedi, Obi-wan’s ghost tells Luke that Anakin was twisted and corrupted by the Dark Side. That sounds like a pretty uncomfortable transformation, both internally and externally. Not to mention he had a wife/lover that would be dealing with this dramatic change as well.

Now, let’s look at what Lucas did with these descriptors in the prequels.

Never, at any point, does Anakin Skywalker really have a conflict of interest within himself about what needs to be done. If he had we would have heard him talk about it, considering that any internal dialogue or need for “acting” was replaced with obvious exposition. When Anakin was feeling held back by Obi-wan, he would throw something and comment about being held back. When someone was scared, they would say they were scared. It was a bit surprising to see someone smile without some sort of dialogue paraphrasing “I’m smiling, look!” Of course, I’m being a bit dramatic, but my point remains the same. Anakin wasn’t betrayed or killed by any interior conflict. In fact, his change into Darth Vader was extremely anti-climactic. Someone simply said “I now call you, Darth … Vader.”

Anakin’s path down the Dark Side was driven by his fear of losing his wife during childbirth. Not to an explosion, or assassin, or an EMP caused by some sort of solar-flare causing the equipment to malfunction, but by complications in the birthing. This all seems a bit lazy, from a viewer’s standpoint, merely by examining everything else that exists in this fictional world. Even in modern times we have taken great leaps in medicine that help protect the mother during childbirth. Yet, in a galaxy where they have stadium-sized ships that are able to float into the air without jet propulsion, using what can only be surmised as an anti-gravity drive, they can’t save a woman from dying while having children. Any argument that the robot-doctors on board Mr. Organa’s ship weren’t equipped to handle a birth have to be thrown out the window, because we are clearly given a look at a robot whose hands were designed to scoop a baby out of a vagina. Unless a fan wants to say that the crew of the ship pulled the gelato-bot from the kitchen because they were short staffed, there isn’t much debate for them being without proper birthing equipment.

If anything, this scenario would lead suspicion to an assassination on Padme. The people standing in the room where strangely comfortable with the explanation of “she lost the will to live.” It would be nice to consider that maybe she was killed out of fear of Anakin’s power, or ability to track her using the Force or whatever, but that is only a fan-made theory (mine) and not something that Lucas stated in any shape or form.

Regardless, Anakin was afraid of losing his wife in childbirth. Which, according to him, justifies genocide. Not only against those who might fight against him, but the children who might just be learning how to start activating a Force push. Think about that again. Anakin Skywalker, one of the greatest combative and tactical Jedi in history, kills an entire population of children to save his wife.

These aren’t even the children of the sand-people, who killed his mother and were therefore savagely slaughtered because of it. These kids did nothing more than try to follow the path of the great Jedi before them, including Anakin. All because he got a new name and felt bad about killing Mace Windu. Apparently logic and reason aren’t something they teach in the Jedi Academy, which you think they would considering how those two methods of thinking can often trump anger and fear. Which happen to be the two scariest emotions in the Light Side-world.

What I mean by logic and reason is that Anakin was duped by a method of persuasion from Senator Palpatine called “appealing to consequences.” Palpatine tells Anakin that there is a power that can save his wife, but it cannot be learned from a Jedi. This implies, obviously, that it can only be learned from a Sith, because Palpatine just told the story about how a Sith Lord Plagueis created this power. So, without any proof of Palpatine’s claims, or any research checking to see if Darth Plaugueis was a real person or not, Anakin murders one of his mentors on a hunch. Not even a hunch he had a dream about, merely a whisper of a possibility. Immediately following, as if he’d already seen the original Star Wars trilogy, Senator Palpatine puts a hood over his head, and renames Anakin “Darth … Vader.”

A quick side-note, there is absolutely no explanation as to the naming process of the Darth titles given in the films. Anakin merely accepts the name much as a dog would. This is also recognizing that a dog does not speak a phonetic language, which Anakin clearly does. Had Palpatine’s line been “I now call you Darth … Bum … Rust,” there might have been a questioning look from Anakin. I suppose he thought Vader sounded cool enough.

This interaction and series of events make Anakin one of the most unstable and dangerous people in the galaxy. Not dangerous as in the kind of person you wouldn’t want as your enemy, but dangerous as the kind of person you don’t want on your side. Everyone was able to see what Anakin did to the society of people that raised him, fed him, and sheltered him since he was a youth; turning him into a very effective peacekeeper, and giving him abilities that most normal people/life forms could only hope for. He is then taken in by Palpatine, aka, Darth Sidious. Sidious had previously murdered his master while he slept in order to become the new master of what Sith culture has called “The Rule of Two.” This implies that there will be a master, and an apprentice, but no more. There can be more pairs out there, but at no point will the Siths create a council or anything along those lines.

In other parts of the Star Wars continued universe there are other Sith factions that toy with this idea, but for the sake of length in this article I won’t dive into those. How could Sidious not think that he would eventually be betrayed by Vader? Why even toy with the power of eternal life (which is never touched on again according to the original Star Wars films) when history suggests that the Rule of Two always ends up with the master being killed by his/her apprentice? Not to mention that Sidious saw what Vader was willing to do to the entire Jedi population for just an opportunity to continue talking about there maybe being a power that could save his wife/lover.

Another example of not paying attention to the earlier films is the death of Padme. As previously stated, there was no reason Padme should have died on that operating table outside of murder. Despite that poor bit of plot propulsion, there is a line in Return of the Jedi that completely renders the death of this woman as false. Allow me to share the conversation:

Princess Leia: Luke, what’s wrong?
Luke: Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?
Princess Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.
Luke: What do you remember?
Princess Leia: Just… images really. Feelings.
Luke: Tell me.
Princess Leia: She was… very beautiful. Kind, but sad. Why are you asking me this?
Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.

According to Revenge of the Sith, Leia should have no memory of their mother either. Perhaps she is speaking of her adoptive mother, which could easily explain away this entire conversation. However, it would also render this very important conversation to be utterly pointless.

Obviously, I have some personal issues with the film, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the time to write this article. Despite this, I feel that the issues I have brought up should have been something that a person with a deep respect and love for their original creation should have been concerned about when creating a set of prequels. Recently, George Lucas has stated he is retiring from making blockbuster films in the future. This has led some people to believe that he won’t make a seventh Star Wars film in the franchise for the big screen. I don’t think I’m the only person who, after examining his previous attempts to showcase his CGI and not his directing or narrative abilities, thinks that this might not be a bad thing. As long as Lucas doesn’t hoard the rights to this wonderful and expansive universe, and allows for a different set of creative hands to mold a new story from long long ago in a galaxy far away.

A Good-bye Post To a Creative Mastermind

The visual creative mind behind Fallout 3 has passed away, and I don’t feel like individuals in the game industry get as much attention or respect as those in the film medium do these days. Hopefully that will change, but until then, here is a well written and nice article about Adam Adamowicz, the man who conceived the visual premises for Skyrim, and Fallout.

New Bourne Trailer, also wow.

It’s no secret that I have a big appreciation for the films of Jeremy Renner (except SWAT, never, ever SWAT), and the new Bourne Legacy trailer is no different. Jeremy Renner is the modern day Harrison Ford; a guy who gets to play all of the best badasses all in the same timespan. This trailer looks fun, and like it is genuinely trying to continue the franchise, as opposed to merely cashing in the title and some fan following for Renner. I can only wish/pray that there will be a showdown with him and Damon, but only time will tell. Enjoy!

Rage-Quit Radio Episode 2 : Sequels, Prequels and Remakes

Episode two is up for your listening pleasure. Allow your ears to relax and mind to engage as Terence, Dan, and myself, break down upcoming greenlit sequels, prequels, and discuss the relevancy or need for remakes and the rest. Also, advice on how to (and not to) pick up on nerdy women, and a slew of other focused, thought out topics. Just click the play button at the top right, and enjoy.

For a direct hotlink, click here
or download

And for Episode 1 : Video Game Movies, click here
or download.

Spec Ops : A Step In the Right Direction?

A recent article over at IGN is describing an editor’s first experience with the Spec Ops : The Line demo. In our latest article, Terence talked about how rehashed and uninspired story lines make for mindless and repetitive gaming, but according to the report from IGN, Spec Ops might be a game that is taking moves in a different direction. At least when it comes to story. Being a fan of the single player modes I become disappointed easily when there isn’t any thought put into a narrative outside of “see that, shoot that, this explodes, shoot this.” Not to sound trite, but many gamers are looking for an emotional experience when playing a game. What emotion that is varies on the individual, but it is still a want or need none-the-less.

Not having gotten my hands on the game personally, I can’t speak to the games visuals or control scheme, but if the developers are putting this much effort into making the game grab you by the mindstrings, then hopefully they are putting that much thought into the rest of the game dynamics as well.

CoD’s Score is Over 9(Thousand)!?!?!?!

By Terence “Literally” Gavin:

A tale of swords and souls eternally retold! Soul Calibur 5 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 entertainment system has just launched. It is the fifth installment of arguably one of the top videogame fighting franchises of all time. Although it lacks the powerful name recognition of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, both of which have found their rightful places in pop culture, it has been a perennial addiction amongst many fighting game fans. Like both of those videogame staples the Soul series has also stood the test of time. The first incarnation of the series was the arcade unit Soul Blade released in 1996, the year Tupac died and Dolly the sheep was cloned. Yeah… that was a while back!

Like the swallows of San Juan Capistrano, thousands of geeks will flock to the premiere videogame news and entertainment site IGN to check the review. The review in question is a two pager capped off with a numbered score of 7.5 out of 10. A respectable number labeled as “good.” Placing a number or letter grade is a hotly contested topic of debate in videogame journalism right now, as many believe it is too definitive and negates any need to read the actual written word behind it. But thats a subject for a different time.

I’m not going to tear apart this reviewers final judgement on the brawler, as it is his opinion, and who am I to tell him he’s wrong? I do however have to bring up a saddening trend based off of his critiques. In his closing comments the reviewer does a fair summation of the article stating “The combat is still great and the graphics are still beautiful. Outside of that, it’s a slight disappointment, as this is the weakest single player experience in the series yet. The game just never attempts to give us something we haven’t seen before. It’s more comfortable recycling the same old gameplay with a few additions pilfered from other trend-setting fighting games. Shame, because in many ways this is a quality title, with plenty of depth in its combat, and refinements that will keep diehard fans busy.”

Come at me bro!

The score is dinged considerably due to an “unimaginative” single player? We game in an age of developers milking franchises by stamping out cookie cutter sequels as quickly as possible. How in the world is poor little Soul Calibur, which will be lucky to sell just 3 million copies(small potatoes in the industry now) getting dragged through the coals? Plenty of other popular IP’s have been running wild with a “new” clone debuting every year and receiving stellar review scores. Enter Call of Duty.

When the Call of Duty series received it’s facelift in 2007 with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the industry was buzzing. Infinity Ward studios had created lightening in a bottle! A first person shooter with a stunning single-player campaign set around incredibly cinematic setpieces see (a heroic helicopter exfiltration bungled by a nuclear detonation. The multiplayer portion of Modern Warfare also grabbed gamer’s attention and free time with a RPG-style level up system and plenty of gear customization all running on a fast paced, arcade style engine. Undoubtedly, Modern Warfare was to take its place in FPS history after Goldeneye and Doom! The game went on to sell over 13 million copies and recieved a meta score of 92%.

Sister developer Treyarch was then tasked to release another CoD game the following year. That game was World at War. It used the same exact formula for campaign and multiplayer components as MW, only was set in the familiar timeline of World War 2. It went on to sell over 11 million copies and recieved and aggregate score of 84%, and was criticized for not pushing the franchise further as it’s predecessor had.

This started a ping-pong effect as publisher Activision pushed both developers to release a game every other year under the COD banner. The Fifth installment since MW, Modern Warfare 3 was just released November of 2011 and is burning up the sales charts and setting more than one record. According to Activision it brought in over 1 billion worth of revenue in just 16 days beating out James’ Camerons previous record for Avatar. MW3 was well recieved and is backed by an aggregate score of 88%.

After roughly five years, four sequels, millions of copies sold for billions in revenue, and across the board favorable reviews how did Infinity Ward manage to keep MW3 fresh? Answer: it didn’t. Both the campaign and muliplayer components followed the same exact formula as it’s 2007 ancestor and every COD outing in between. IGN’s Anthony Gallegos says “Call of Duty games have become formulaic at this point,” Gamespot’s review says “Modern Warfare 3 iterates rather than innovates, so the fun you have is familiar,” and “this formula has been consistently refined, shamelessly imitated, and widely adored, making it one of the defining franchises of this generation.” Mike Schramm of Joystiq asks “Activision clearly emptied the coffers on this one – could that justify just a bit more creativity? A bit more innovation? A bit more new?”

So why does the CoD franchise continue to review so favorably? Has the franchise become such a juggernaut that when looked on by the critical eye it is blinded? In an industry fueled by innovation both technical and creative how could the greatest selling franchise be a repetitive annual affair? The answer might be found in videogame’s more mature entertainment sibling; cinema.

Summer blockbusters drum up huge budgets, are hyped with massive ad campaigns and bring out viewers by the hundreds of millions. These films often garner the most ticket sales of the year, but strangely are usually absent when the Academy Award nominations come out. Is it because the film industry has matured to recognize big budgets and large ticket sales does not produce a quality film. Maybe the videogame industry is still in such an infantile state it simply must reward Activision for its success.

Either way the fall releases are our “summer blockbusters,” and Infinity Ward our Michael Bay. Bring on the popcorn, just no Best
Picture please!