Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Brütal Legend: A review with many images

Prepare yourself for a world of heavy metal
I have many reasons to love Double Fine Entertainment: They made Psychonauts, one of the best and most unique 3D platformers I've ever played. They're a Bay Area company, so they're local boys. They are run by the immensely likable Tim Schafer, and they used to (but no longer) employ Scott Campbell (and Scott C did a large chunk of the concept art for Brütal Legend). I recently added one more reason to like them: they made Brütal Legend, a game that allowed me to spend more than 20 hours exploring, fighting in, and ultimately saving a heavy metal world.

Brütal Legend is famous for a very mixed reception at its launch. Commercially, the game was a failure, and it led to Double Fine shifting their focus from AAA titles to smaller, less expensive projects. Gamers didn't know what to make of the hybrid tactical/action game, which combined elements of Real-Time Strategy, open-world exploration, and hack-and-slash fighting.

I had the (somewhat dubious) advantage of waiting several years before playing the game because it took that long for a PC port to come out, but that meant that I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into. I played Brütal Legend on its own terms, and I found myself loving almost everything about it. It's not a perfect game, but it's so relevant to my interests that I don't even care.

(Brütal Legend has such a cool-looking world that this review called for a lot of images, some of which are a little spoilery but presented without context.)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

There's no paper in Star Wars, and 4 other things I am glad Star Wars lacks

Image from the datapad entry on Wookieepedia
Star Wars fans know that one of the rules of the setting is that there is no paper in Star Wars. Star Wars may take place "a long time ago," but it's full of spaceships and blasters, so it makes sense that people wouldn't still rely on chopping down trees, mashing them up, pressing the paste flat, and smearing ink over it to convey messages. Instead, characters in Star Wars use datapads to record and transmit information. If characters absolutely have to jot something down, they use flimsiplast, which is basically "space paper."

Though the lack of paper in Star Wars is hardly vital to the setting, it got me thinking about the other things that I am glad Star Wars doesn't have. As it turns out, most of the things on my list exist in Star Trek but not in Star Wars. I love Star Trek, too, but these differences help the two great franchises "feel" different, with Star Trek being more science fiction and Star Wars being more space fantasy.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thoughts on the upcoming Superman and Batman movie

Apparently a new movie featuring both Superman and Batman is in the works, according to an announcement made at Comic-Con. When I first heard the news, I had a brief moment of excitement, and then boredom set in almost immediately. I thought the recent Dark Knight trilogy was okay but seriously overrated, Superman Returns was just bad, and I haven't bothered to see Man of Steel yet. But I've had some time to think about it, and I think that a crossover movie might actually be pretty cool, depending on what direction they take it.

This post contains spoilers for the Dark Knight trilogy. Coming right up, in fact.