Art & Design, Culture, Gaming

Filling in the gaps: why mythology encourages more engagement

Half-Life 2, Harbour by Valve/thmxShort of a modest FMV sequence to tease your appetite, a game’s manual intro page was once all the backstory you were given. In a time where any major franchise worth its salt is accompanied by a herd of canonical novels, comics and web shorts, game mythologies are being undervalued. The thrill of discovering mythology in-game, of that knowledge impacting gameplay and playing purely for wonder is being undersold.

Culture

Bionicle and the power of imagination

Every generation has its defining toys and every child their own personal favourite. I’ve always been a bit of a tinkerer myself, and I spent many a happy hour playing with Brio and Meccano when I was a child. But the ultimate in construction toys was, and will always be, Lego.

Culture, Music

Best albums of 2010

Gorillaz, Phase Three, press image 01I’ve been enthralled and captivated by so much music this year. Below are five of the newly released albums that have stayed will me this year. The one and only Gorillaz top my list. But, really, who else was going to, mmm?

Culture

Watchmen: below the waist?

Have you heard about the Watchmen? Well before I happened to pass one mesmerising promotional poster, coming out of my local movie theatre, I had no idea what this whole craze was about. And come to think of it, I still don’t because I haven’t even seen the movie or read the graphic novel. The movie is out now I’ve been fairly excited to see it. I’m a sucker for comic book movies, so when I discovered that Watchmen collides two of my favourite themes – comic book heroes and maverick detectives – my interest peaked quite considerably.

I don’t think I was prepared from some of the reactions I’ve hear though. Rorschach’s ruthless approach to justice (Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau now seems a poor comparison) didn’t deter me, but I had no idea that the movie was going to contain such mature scenes as frontal nudity and severe violence (as reported by friends who’ve already seen it). Then again, coming from 300 director, Zack Synder, I guess I should have expected as much. When I first saw 300 I was pretty grossed out by some of the scenes, but I’ve come to really enjoy the graphic artistry of it all.

Somehow though I’m not sure I’ll see Watchmen in the same light. With so much talk about how “Watchmen changed the face of comic books” I’ve already had my preconception about what it might be. I think I was hoping this movie might fall somewhere in between Spider-Man and Sin City – iconic, gritty and full of character, but at the same time, not outright hitting you in the face with sex, drugs and skin-crawling violence. Well, guess I was totally wrong about this one.

Regardless of the critics reviews (which I have not browsed) and the unavoidable word-of-mouth comments I’m hearing, I’m still excited about the movie. As long as this seedy, adult world is brought to life on-screen with competence, quality production values and, above all, an engaging narrative, then I’m should leave satisfied. And you know what? If it’s good enough maybe I will pick up the graphic novel.

Culture, Gaming

Invasion day: Killzone 2 arrives at last

Killzone 2, PS3, 2009, 01 (1280x720)Killzone 2 is out. Now that’s four words I almost thought I may never write. It’s also a little strange writing this post about the game now, on its release day, when I haven’t a PS3 within 10 metres of me to play it. I never envisioned this would be how I would spend my day on the release of such a long-awaited title.

Well I’m not hugely bothered. In fact, I’ve already played the game for review, and had a fantastic time doing so. The whole atmosphere and concept that Guerrilla Games has created – in regards to assaulting this hostile world with a couple of trash-talking soldiers, arriving on some extremely vulnerable landing craft – is very exciting, to me that is. I don’t wish to say too much about the game itself, as it’s only just come out, but I would like to say a couple things about my own feelings towards Killzone 2’s journey from hype to home console.

Culture, Music

Lions, tygers & bears

Jazmine Sullivan, 2008, J Records press photo 01 (975x548)Impulse. That’s what got me to buy Jazmine Sullivan’s debut album, Fearless, and it’s also the reason I wrote this post when I did. I’m not one to follow the music industry closely at all. In fact, the very idea of zealously buying singles from the so-called ‘pop music’ top ten just sickens me. That’s not to say that there aren’t many good artists around nowadays, it’s just that image and mass appeal has become so much of a factor in today’s music industry that I find it extremely hard to encourage myself to trawl through the endlessly unoriginal rehashes just to find the ‘good’ stuff. The phrase ‘style over substance’ has never been more fitting.