Monthly Archives: April 2013

Wizard Secks – Hey! What’s in that pipeweed anyway…..

Wizard Secks

Wiley Wizards…

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RIP LucasArts 1982-2013 – Koshr’s Take

So, if you’ve already liked the 1K Crew Facebook Page, then you’ve probably already seen my link to Kotaku’s article about Disney letting LucasArts go. Basically, this article states that Disney has laid off nearly 150 people off and that their two current projects(Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault) are cancelled. They do technically reserve the right to license these titles out to other developers but that is very unlikely to happen. Apparently, Disney has “decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model.” Much like Obi-Wan, when I read this article I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I feared that something terrible had happened.

Now, I personally LOVED so many of the games with the LucasArts “Gold Guy” opening and I could probably say that if it wasn’t for LucasArts games, I wouldn’t nearly have been the gamer I am now. While everyone else was wasting hours away on their N64 in Hyrule, I was saving the galaxy from the Galactic Empire one Tie Fighter at a time. At this time, I was still a casual gamer so I was hard pressed to find a game that held my attention enough to play all the way through to completion. I think Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was actually the first game that I ever beat(I was a late bloomer, so sue me). I won’t even mention the hours I spent trying to beat Boba Fett in Shadows of the Empire or Sebulba in Episode I: Racer.

I can easily remember the moment I realised that I had become a ‘hardcore’ gamer circa 2003. It was summer, nearly my birthday. I had been so impatiently waiting for the release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You can ask VaderFan. We cycled through countless KotOR backgrounds for our computers in the Cybercorps class we shared. I still have a terrible drawing of HK-47 that I did based off of a screenshot in an old GameInformer. As much as I had anticipated KotOR’s release, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had only just recently started playing D&D 3.0 so I was very new to roleplaying. KotOR was the first game that I played and replayed numerous times, back to back, for the story alone. That ‘moment of infamy’ was when I first *SPOILER* realised that I(the character) WAS Darth Revan the whole time *END SPOILER*. Ever since, I have searched for other games to pull such emotional ties as KotOR did and as small as that list is, KotOR still sits very high(just behind the first Mass Effect). With that, I can easily say that I owe a lot of my gaming life to LucasArts and they will be missed, but that’s not all I have to say. There is still a future.

As I mentioned before Disney has shifted their focus of LucasArts from internal development to a licensing model. My first thought is that I hope the Star Wars RPG that Obsidian had pitched LucasArts a while ago can get developed. This might also allow for more amazing third-party-developed Star Wars games. Both KotOR and Battlefront were not developed by LucasArts themselves. They were developed by BioWare and Pandemic, respectively, who oddly enough merged sometime after these games had released. LucasArts being forced to close their doors also sparked Raven to release their source code for Star Wars: Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy finally allowing for modders to be able to more easily make mods for these games. My speculation is that this could possibly spark enough interest for Disney to consider another Jedi Knight game. (How amazing would that be!) These are my hopes despite Disney having said that they were more likely to focus on social/mobile as opposed to console releases.

With that, here’s to hoping for the best. May the force be with you!

– Koshr

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VaderFan at the Movies – The Croods

the-croods-launch-1-sheetDreamworks has returned with another family comedy that predates the age of the Flintstones. Like Dreamworks fashion, they bring some stellar stars into their animated films in this case we get Nicholas Cage as the father, Grug, Emma Stone as the elder daughter, Eep, and Ryan Reynolds as Guy. Then we have other notable roles such as Catherine Keener as Ugga, Cloris Leachman as Gran, and Clark Duke as Thunk. You got to love these names since they’re the most caveman names you can think of. Also like Dreamworks fashion, they bring in great animation with comedy, and a story that fits for the kids and the adults. One of the directors, Chris Sanders, also directed How to Train Your Dragon and Lilo & Stitch, where he played Stitch, and voiced the sloth in this movie, Belt.

To sum up the movie short, the film is about the cave family, The Croods, where they must leave their cave after it’s destroyed, enlisting the help of Guy to survive the unknowns of the outside world. Watching this movie, I can’t help but notice all the basics of screenwriting, and how it is executed well in this movie. We see the family in the world they know of, which is staying in the cave, hunting for food, and never go to the outside world. Of course Eep, just like all teenage girls, does not want the lifestyle her father bestows upon her, and wishes to just travel outside the cave to be adventurous. She travels out of the cave, where she meets Guy, who is a human that evolved into less of a brute, and more of using his mind kind of guy, a more modern human if you will. He then showed Eep fire, a horn, and warning he world will end. Once the cave is destroyed, we get into the first act. We see how the world the family knows get turned upside down, and they’ll have to evolve from there.

Then we get some of the character interactions. My favorite is the relationship between Grug and Guy. Grug lived his whole life in fear, following the rules, despite how strong this man really is. Guy is the opposite, going out in finding about new things, and using his mind to develop ways to adapt to situations. The family likes Guy, listening to what he says, while ignoring Grug. Grug gets jealous and angry, so comedy ensues around the situations, such as putting Guy in a log, and Grug trying to act all cool coming up with ideas. Then, of course, Grug gets all fatherly defensive when Eep starts to fall in love with Guy. Eep shows the typical teenage girl characteristics when they see the cute guy. They get all jumble, and girl shy, trying to get the guy to notice her. She also always listens to Guy over Grug, since she likes the guy over her father. Typical teenagers, no respect for their elders. It took awhile since she’s a hundred times stronger than Guy, but they do fall in love with each other eventually. Then we get Gran and Grug, which is the whole mother-in-law, son-in-law relationship where they hate each other, and the running joke in this movie that Grug always gets his hope up when he think she’s dead, in which she replies, “still alive.”

Now, let’s get to some of the animals in the movie. This is a unique world that is created since all the animals are some sorts of mixed hybrid. We got som frilled lizard hyenas, giraffe elephants, a tiger owl, a dog gator, and a saber tooth parrot, which chased the family through a majority of the film. The only normal animal is Belt, which is a purple sloth, sidekick to Guy, keeps his pants up, and provides comedic relief with his high pitch sounds. Some of the animals provide a lot of the comedy in the movie, since their goofiness are made for the kids, but their deaths are also done in a comedic way for the grown ups to enjoy. One death involved a dog gator rolling over a cliff on top of the tree. It really made me laugh since it is a scene that came out of nowhere.

The animation is great. The action set pieces that are put in are always exciting to watch, along with the characters’ animation and face movement. It’s atypical 3D animated film where all the expressions are over exaggerated, but it’s still enjoyable to watch. Not many things that I can really critique about the movie other than the plot is quite predictable, but I enjoyed watching it so much that I didn’t even bother trying to predict what’s going to happen. The actors also gave a good performance in their separate roles. So this is definitely a great animation film to watch with some friends or family.

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VaderFan at the Movies – GI Joe: Retaliation

Joe

GI Joe is back to kick some Cobra ass. I was really excited about this movie after watching some of the trailers, since Cobra Commander is in his full glory with his classic helmet, taking over the white house, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as Roadblock, also Bruce Willis is in it, and some pretty cool action scenes. However, actually watching the movie, it didn’t really meet any of my expectations at all, and in fact, it’s pretty dull. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of GI Joe, I didn’t even watch the original growing up, just the 90’s reboot where Cobra Commander wears a burette and a skull mask, but I do know the awesome sauce that the series poured over the nerd culture, and I do know how good it tastes. The sauce in this movie is a bit mild.

There are a lot of things I’m going to talk about this movie, so here’s your spoiler warning. The movie starts off explaining that Duke, reprised by the handsome Channing Tatum, taking over a new group of GI Joes: Roadblock, played by The Rock; Lady Jaye, played by Adrianne Palicki; and Flint, played by DJ Cotrona. We get to see the Joes in action, and some relationship history between Duke and Roadblock, which wasn’t executed well since their jokes were pretty lame. We get some feeling that they’ve been friends for years, however it seems to undermine everything that happened in the last movie. We’re missing other characters such as Scarlet, Heavy Duty, and General Hawk, some of whom are my personal favorites from the cartoon. Then, out of nowhere, the Joes are under attack, which results the least tragic death for a main character ever, the death of Duke. We just see his face, cut to a vehicle explosion, and the emotionless expression of The Rock. We couldn’t tell if he actually died. The Rock didn’t even seem to care that his best friend died so horribly, it’s pointless. So, at this point the villain Zartan, posing as the president (Jonathan Pryce), states that the GI Joes has became evil, and Cobra has defeated them, thus making them the good guys. So, now it’s up to the remaining Joes to stop Cobra.

Meanwhile, Storm Shadow, played by Byung-hun Lee, and Firefly, played by Ray Stevenson, broke into a high security prison to rescue Cobra Commander. It was a cool breakout, with Firefly’s motorcycle breaking apart into rockets to destroy the facility, and Storm Shadow using his awesome ninja skills cutting through bullets and a bunch of guards. Now, here’s the problem with this scene. Destro is in the prison also, and all we get to see is his eyes squinting once in awhile and looking angry. Then, out of nowhere Cobra Commander said, “You’re out of the band,” and left the fool to die in the prison. It does not make sense at all, since Destro is one of the key villains in the GI Joe universe, and just to write him off like that is almost a kick in the balls. I have a feeling they did this because they couldn’t get the original actor from the first movie to play him in the second, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Cobra Commander in the first one, and they replace him in the second, so it does not make sense at all.

Then we get to Japan where Snake Eyes spars against Jynx, where the RZA plays the blind master, narrating what they should do to bring Storm Shadow to justice. Here is where I find the movie to be enjoyable is how Asian the RZA acts. He really got the accent down, even the pronunciation sounds so Asian it made me laugh. The guy really wants to be Asian; I mean he is part of the Wu-Tang Clan. Now, Snake Eyes and Jynx goes to some mountain to capture Storm Shadow, and the action sequence here is really cool. They use zip lines and fight a ton of ninjas on the side of the mountain, and the way it’s done looks like a realistic portrayal of a ninja anime. The ninjas they fight have to be the worst ninjas in the world since they keep falling, tripping over each other, and can’t hit anything for the life of them. It’s like they graduated from the storm trooper ninja school or something. After all this, Storm Shadow all the sudden changed sides, and decides to help the Joes. Here is where the movie starts to lose me. One thing I always looked forward to when I was younger was the fight between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. We barely get that in the movie, and at this point, I never will. Then Bruce Willis shows up, and his character was a waste, it was pointless to have him here.

Now, I’ve been focusing so much on the plot on this movie, and I’ll be the first to tell you that when it comes to action movies, plot don’t matter it’s the action. However, when the action scenes are really dull, you just can’t help but notice everything about the plot. The action scenes suffer the problem of being shot way too close with a shaking camera, so it’s hard to tell what’s happening, and the explosions aren’t even impressive. A lot of it is stuff that I’ve really seen. Eventually Cobra Commander recruits all the world leaders into a war room, where he then reveals that he has a doomsday device that will destroy each of the major cities. Guess what, the Joes manage to stop him from destroying the world. He did escape, but he never did a cheesy “I’ll get you next time,” line. I was really expecting it when he climbed atop his helicopter to fly off. The plot may seem enjoyable to watch, but a lot of it fell flat. Many characters are wasted, everything is all over the place, Cobra Commander barely makes an appearance, and all the action scenes except the ninja fight aren’t that great. If you’re with the right people who like to make fun of movies as they watch it, this one is good for you, but other than that, it really isn’t worth watching in my opinion.

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