Friday, July 1

A Game with Soul


Character Creation is the hottest new feature in Soul Calibur III.

Continuing the coolness roll they’ve had since releasing Tekken 5 a couple of months ago, Namco of Japan is set to release their next landmark fighter, Soul Calibur 3 later in 2005. The game will continue the saga of the many brave and deadly warriors whose lives revolve around the cursed sword Soul Edge, and it’s nemesis weapon Soul Calibur. Apparently the last game’s story ended with the rapier-wielding Raphael getting hold of the evil blade, thus turning him into an evil version of his former swashbuckling hero-self. Three new characters join the struggle- Setsuka is a geisha armed with a bladed parasol, looking to ‘avenge her master’. Tira is a green-haired wild girl who has a fetish for large, circular blades and ripped clothing (mmm), and finally Zasalamel is a scythe-wielding Egyptian who seems to be behind some of the sinister goings-on in the plot.
However, the biggest news in Soul Calibur III isn’t the new cast members- in fact, if you don’t find killer hula-hoop girls and slashing geishas sexy, you can create your own perfect blade warrior in SC3’s spiffy new Character Creation Mode.


Finally, you can make your dreams of a Barmaid of Doom come true.

Taking the character customization feature found in Tekken 5 to the next level, SC3’s Creation Mode lets you construct a new character from the ground up. You select from several character occupations, including Knight, Dancer, Assassin, Ninja, Guardian, Barbarian, Monk, Samurai, Pirate and Thief. Choose your fighter’s gender and you’re off! Incredibly enough, you’ll be able to customize your created character’s looks literally from head to toe- from hairstyles to facial features to layers of clothing to footwear and weapon- it’s your call.


When Custom Characters Go Wild.

Amazingly, the graphical quality of the characters seem to be on par with the more established cast, so this should result in quite a lot of designs. It’s almost certain that you can use your created character in some of the modes, as well as a special mode created specifically for customized warriors. I’m hoping we have as many options for actual gameplay as we seem to have for creation- it would be a shame to create a character and not use them to their fullest.


Dancing over an enemy’s corpse takes a new meaning.

Anyway, I’m really lookin forward to Soul Calibur III… perhaps the last and greatest PS2 fighter. But even then I’m licking my chops at the possibilities in the future. Will we see character creation in a future Tekken? On PS3? Daaaaaamn. It’s good to be a gamer. Heh.

Thursday, June 30

The End is Here


Spielberg brings us a modern re-telling of the classic nightmare.

Last night, I just needed a break so I made it a point to catch War of the Worlds in the theater after work. Despite a bit of overtime, I was able to catch a last full show of Steven Spielberg’s latest and greatest.
While waiting for the main show to start, I got the nifty treat of catching several cool new trailers. One was for Zathura, which is pretty much Jumanji except with a pulp science fiction theme (which is not surprising when you consider it’s from the same writer). Then there was a trailer for Peter Jackson’s upcoming remake of King Kong, which looked pretty impressive. The effects and production look pretty slick, and Naomi Watts looks especially fetching in the role made famous by actress Fay Raye. Plus it was surprising to see Jack Black in a role other than that of geek/loser/weirdo/comedian.

Anyway! Onto the main feature. SPOILERS AHEAD.

War of the Worlds is of course based on novel by H.G. Wells, and perhaps taking off from the infamous radio play that caused Americans to panic several decades ago, as well as the classic movie. Of course, the new version revs up the action and pushes everything into a contemporary setting and the point of view of an everyman, Ray Ferrier, played by Tom Cruise.
Ray isn’t a perfect guy. He’s an exceptional worker and he earns well enough to support a bachelor’s lifestyle. He’s got his hot car and a suitably messy place with no food in the fridge. But then, Ray isn’t a bachelor… he’s divorced, with two kids staying mostly with his wife (LOTR’s Miranda Otto) and her new and better husband (great house, family car, everything). Ray’s failure as a husband and a father is a sore spot with him, despite his fa├žade. Anyway, during one weekend when the wife leaves the two kids- hot-headed teen Robby (Justin Chatwin) and pre-teen Rachel (Dakota Fanning)- with him for the weekend, little did Ray know that his fathering skills would be pushed to the breaking point by an alien invasion.

The attack is heralded by freakish lightning strikes, which hit the ground repeatedly. The buildup is tense and quick as the ground suddenly breaks, revealing… perhaps some of the most terrifying imagery of aliens yet seen in modern cinema. It’s not just the weird and cool and slick designs of the alien ‘tripods’… it’s the stark realness of it all. The things look real, and set against an everyday cityscape, they look all the more freakish and… real.
Anyway, soon after the first tripod appears, Ray decides to pack some stuff, grab the kids and get the hell out of Dodge… and that turns out to be a pretty good idea since everything behind them soon turns into dust and destruction. Now, with only the elusive hope of finding some sanctuary in Boston with the ex-wife (who may or may not be there at the end), Ray and his kids must somehow survive not only the menacing alien war machines but the simple madness that humanity tends to sink into when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

This is easily one of Spielberg’s darkest films yet- easily on par with Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and to an extent, his classic Duel. He does still keep his standards- the blood and gore is never gratuitous, but there are images and implications here that are truly disturbing and macabre- which leads me to believe that impressionable youngsters should NOT see this film- it’s that scary.

That said, it’s one hell of a ride. The tension, the action and the performances are spot on. Cruise is pretty good as the slightly obnoxious Ferrier, perhaps one of his more intense roles in his career. Dakota Fanning is the image of childish smart alecness and innocence thrust into a madhouse of fear, and you can just imagine a real kid reacting as she does to the horror that she sees- I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Oscar nod for this kid. As for Justin Chatwin, I really disliked his character, but I think he did a fairly good performance. While the monstrous special effects lord over most of the screen, the reactions of the cast are what sells the sights and this pays off in spades in making the tension and chaos onscreen believable.

Did I like it? Hell yes. I was thrilled, scared, amazed, appalled and thrilled again. The film has a relentless pace, though it noticeably slows at one point, when Ray meets the kooky Ogilvy, played by Tim Robbins. I do not agree too much with the resolution of this particular subplot- I think the end of it was unnecessary, but I guess it adds that much more grittiness to the movie. That aside though, I was absorbed with every second and I did have a bit of fear in the back of my mind that when we exited the theater it would be to a burnt-out wasteland with alien tripods looming over us…

Leave the kids at home. Watch this in a theater. And thank God that this is just fiction.
Crash

My PC went haywire last night, refusing to load. I found myself staring into a 'You Must Reinstall Windows' message, and only my boundless self-control kept me from doing an Al Capone on the CPU with a baseball bat. Damn it. And everything was running so well. I may have to accept the fact that I am running with a pretty old computer, and it may eventually stop running altogether. Certainly a brand-new PC is not impossible, but it will take time to save up for that. That's a 'project' class acquisition- easily on par with a new phone or a gaming console.
Anyway, I'll just reinstall and see what happens. If we crash a couple more times it may be time to put the old beige box to rest. Darn it.

Wednesday, June 29

Fat-astic Food

Watched an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on ETC. It had The Chin Man doing a sort of cooking segment with some guy who apparently runs a diner or resto that specializes in a couple of incredibly high-cholesterol delicacies.

How high? Well, the first dish they put together was a hamburger patty grilled and topped with bacon and cheddar cheese put in between a sliced, slightly grilled Krispy Kreme donut (with glaze). Whoa. Talk about mixing flavors. Anyway, the donut burger was pretty wild... but it was the second dish that went a bit over the top.
How over the top? How does a hotdog wrapped with hamburger meat stuffed into a bun smothered with chili and topped with bacon, onions and a fried egg sound? Mmmm.

Yep. A nightmare for diet-lovers. But DAMN... I want to taste these things at least once. I doubt any resto here will try them on their menu though. I guess I'll have to grab a box of Gonuts Donuts, some burger patties and make my own cholestereats.

Heh-heh...

Tuesday, June 28

War of the Worlds

I've had a ball in the cinemas recently. Mr. and Mrs. Smith was a certitied treat, and Batman Begins was pretty good. Now, while I have no plans to watch Fantastic Four, I am quite excited with the upcoming Steven Spielberg opus, War of the Worlds.
Tom Cruise stars as a divorced father who takes his two kids out for the weekend, not knowing that their world will forever be changed shortly by the sudden arrival (or unearthing) of malevolent alien invaders. As buildings start exploding and humanity falls apart at the seams, one man must somehow keep his sanity and his family together through it all.
The most intriguing thing about WOTW is... everything! There's been a fairly heavy veil of secrecy throughout the film, in most of the trailers and it is pretty exciting. Perhaps 98 percent of the action and the movie's drama, including what the aliens look like, has been held in secret- something unusual in these days when the best stuff is usually thrown into epic trailers.

I don't expect several members of the gang to share my excitement though- I'll try to catch the War when I can, after it debuts this week. Later!

Monday, June 27

Ad-mad

If you have Sky Cable, you'll probably have seen some of those ads they've been airing for themselves. There's one which is about 'Smart Kids', and has a mom reprimanding her kid (via voiceover as various scenes from educational programs run).

Mom says: Your teacher said you told your classmates to eat their money??
Kid: I just said that coins are minted.
Mom: Well, she also said you were teasing a classmate.
Kid: I just called him a homo sapien.
Mom: Michael! You shouldn't call your classmates names!

Okay, there's a big difference between being intelligent and being SMART. Now, despite the fact that 'homo sapiens' is the same word as 'human beings', there's a reason why we DON'T really use that term in everyday speak. So... unless young Michael wants to get his arse- or glutius maximus- royally kicked by some pissed-off peer, he should know when not to use some words.

Oh well. Just rambling. Moving on... Moving on...
The First Filipino Lion

RP entry wins Silver Lion in Cannes ad festival
FROM: The Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 26, 2005

Cannes, France -- The Consuelo Foundation and the United Nationsl childnre's Fund (Unicef), together with their advertising agency BBDO-Gurrero Ortega and film director Ditsi Carolino, won the country's first Cannes Lion for Film in the 52 years of the Cannes Advertising Festival.

The Silver Lion was won for the television commercial entitled "Bunso".

You can view the commercial at the other winners at the Cannes Lions web site:
http://www.canneslions.com/winners/film/win.cfm?award=0


Congratulations to my former boss, David Guerrero, and BBDO-Guerrero Ortega for this momentous win! Hopefully this will be the start of more Pinoy wins in the international ad circuits. Hooray!

Sunday, June 26

Demons at School

No, it's not a sequel to that "Ghostbusters meets Anime" series on Animax... it was a feature shown this night on Magandang Gabi, Bayan. Apparently in some school called Wireless Elementary School, several students started seeing a DEMON in the classroom. According to the kids, the demon was dressed all in red, had ugly, wrinkled skin and two horns on its head. Of course, the show had its requisite re-enactment to show us the cheezy/creepy event. The most disturbing part of the feature was when the students, on camera, suddenly started seeing demons again in the middle of an interview, inside the principal's office. Of course, the cameras didn't see any horned incarnation- just lots of kids screaming their heads off and some woman crying out 'The Mighty Power of Jesus Commands You!" at the top of her lungs.
Were the kids really seeing demons? Was it just mass hallucination? Or just a publicity stunt? Well, it made for interesting television, that's for sure.
Intruder

DAMN IT.

A roach is in The Sanctum. And it's a frickin' FLYING roach. Darn it. I had a chance to squash it and I messed up. Now it's in here somewhere, perhaps waiting for me to get to bed before flapping its parchment-crisp wings and flying into bed with me. They ALWAYS do that. They can't resist it. These flying roaches must have kamikaze blood in them. I hate this. I wish I could just squash these frickin' irritating, invasive bugs from afar. But they're protected by shadows and corners and I can't reach 'em. But just give me a chance and I'll give them their just desserts. I'll have my chance and I'll be scraping off roach bits from a slipper sole. Just you wait. I'll bide my time for now and play nice. Once slip up, roaches. SPLAT. Bastards.