Saturday, January 21

Doing a 360

Before the weekend, I finally got my very own Xbox 360 console. I opted to get a less expensive Japanese version, which I intend to have modified eventually if and when the system is busted open. It’s still pretty early in the life of the device, so it’s quite pricey- however, my set comes with the complete package that includes an optional Hard Drive, wireless controllers and one game. The whole kit and caboodle cost me just as much as much as the Archos AV700 I got late last year, which is fine considering I’m getting a machine that will be providing me tons of next-gen entertainment in the next couple of years.

This early I have to say that I am pretty impressed by how slick the whole thing is. It just looks so futuristic and smooth, like it wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi movie. I am particularly blown away by the wireless controller. It’s amazing to feel this freedom after a lifetime of playing games with controllers tied by wires and cables to the central console. It’s incredible, like playing a PSP or handheld save your screen is the big TV. WHOA. The down side though is that the controller is battery operated, so either I’ll be buying batteries every so often or I may have to invest in rechargeables and a battery charger.

The system looks great, and on my first play time seemed to drift off and before I knew it, it was dawn and I was still raring to play. Oh well. I don’t want to keel over so I’ll be sure to have rest (and give the box rest as well) every now and then. I’ll also see about getting a broadband connection so I can connect to the Xbox Live marketplace eventually.
My review on DOA4 to come soon. For now though, I have to log on a few more hours of playtime. While the batteries last.

Friday, January 20

Best Videogame Movie Yet?

That's the impression I got after watching the latest trailer of Silent Hill.

Whereas the first teaser spot was kinda... off... the full trailer makes me totally excited in this movie adaptation of the classic survival-horror game series from Konami. In a contrast to the Biohazard/Resident Evil games which basically puts players in the shoes of trained combat professionals on missions, Silent Hill throws in hapless souls out of their daily humdrum lives into a horrifying mystery quest. The frights are more visceral, more twisted and less monster than they are nightmares grabbed from the darkness inside the human mind. At stake are their very souls, and the souls of their loved ones, typically lost and missing in the all-consuming fog.
The new trailer has it all... the innocent victims at the start, the inevitable accident that traps them into the realm of shadows that is Silent Hill. There's the protagonist- a young mother (Radha Mitchell) seeking her missing child (Jodelle Ferland). There's Cybil, the hot lady cop straight from the first game (Laurie Holden), a with-like woman named Dahlia (Deborah Kerr Unger) foretelling doom, and a worried father (Sean Bean, hopefully as a real hero this time) trying his utmost to actually get IN Silent Hill to find his wife and child. Apparently the town's being consumed by something terribly evil, and people are actually being forced to hole up and run from its grasp or be utterly destroyed. The key to it all is the spectre of a young girl (yes, another evil young girl to inspire terror), with which the protagonist must somehow deal with if she is to save her child...

By the latter half of the trailer, the imagery turns to the familiar horrors of the game- ghastly apparitions, dark realms of shadow, rust and blood, bandaged walking and grasping abominations. And the sirens... those evil sirens are blaring by the end, and the familiarly creepy Silent Hill music is playing... They got it. They got it all.

The director of Silent Hill is Christophe Gans, who may not be a popular director but megged the very atmospheric Brotherhood of the Wolf, and that will surely aid in the creepy feel of SH. I can't wait to lose myself in this film. And it looks to work, thanks to the recent craze in creepy films. Silent Hill may just have what it takes to be the most successful and at least, faithful videogame to movie adaptation yet.

Silent Hill sweeps into theaters this April 2006.

To see the awesome trailer, click here.

Thursday, January 19


The events in the latest Batgirl comic seems to have put me into the mood for sexy, petite Asian girls with perfect killing-machine beautiful bods. Yep, I feel like doing another K.I.A. comic, and soon. Hopefully focusing on the adventures of my own Kai will make me forget the travails of Cassandra Cain.

Anyway, I ended the first K.I.A. anthology release with Agent K suddenly remembering her real name- Kai. Then what? It's conceivable that she would then go about trying to learn all she can about herself; aside from still wracking her brain for the shards of memory that are flitting about, just out of reach, she may try to track down some of the faces in her head. Foremost of course, is Angel, whom she has been seeing everywhere faintly until 'Shock to the System'.

Would Kai trust Vanya and KALI enough to openly ask for their help in finding her past? Probably not. As Agent K, she has learned to be more cautious... she'll do her probing on her own. This will lead to abruptly ask for a vacation (the simple act of which I have already written a script for) to have time to do her sleuthing. But what will this search uncover? Angel Ace? The SIVA? What happened in the time between Kai's 'death' and rebirth as Agent K? What role did Vanya and KALI play in the current situation of Agent K/Kai?

All these we'll try to take up in the next K.I.A. release (and perhaps with a mission story or two). I really would like to continue Kai's adventures in smaller sizes than the original anthology (so I can do it more often), but still with colored covers and good production values (instead of making it a Xerox book like Kunoichi Boy). As I said, it's my favorite. Heh. We'll see what happens, soon.

There. I've forgotten about Batgirl already. DOH!!!
Comics in Crisis

Some comic bits...

Darn, Infinite Crisis is a doozie of a read. Four issues and I'm still reeling with each new reveal, with the pull-no-punches action and the cataclysmic developments. It's enough to make me want to go out and grab a new copy of the Original Crisis on Infinite Earths to relive the events that set the seeds for all the dire situations happening presently in the DC universe. Whoa. Gotta pause... Whoa. This issue is so far the best in a so far outstanding and appropriately grim and universe-changing series.

The latest issue of Batgirl is cataclysmic in a smaller way. WHAT THE FOCK!!!!! HOW CAN THEY DO THAT!!?! SPOILER ALERT. Yeah, they killed Batgirl AKA Cassandra Cain. The spunky, coolly awesome little oriental girl in the batsuit gets stabbed through the chest in this penultimate issue. And no, she's not on her last legs as the issue ends- she's DEAD, as in, she breathes her last breath, says her last words then trails off into silent stillness with her eyes open DEAD.

Then Shiva comes, picks up her limp body and takes her to.. where? Well, there's a Lazarus Pit nearby just begging for Cass to take a bath in, but we'll just have to see how this ultimately ends. Will Cassandra Cain remain dead (which SUCKS since she was pretty awesome and is so similar to my own Kai) or be resurrected? One thing's for sure, whether she's alive or still dead at the end of the next ish, the Batgirl series is over. As for the character of Cassandra Cain, we'll just have to see. I do hope that if she does stay dead, they don't just forget her. She mattered, damn it. I want to see her live on and continue, hopefully as one of the new members of Birds of Prey. Darn, it's going to be a long wait to February...

Wednesday, January 18

Waiting for Armageddon

The many, the proud, the deadly.

I never thought I'd be excited over a Mortal Kombat game, but I am. Yeah, the previous couple of installments- Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and MK: Deception are collecting dust, unplayed, in The Sanctum- but I find myself quite in a tizzy over the upcoming Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.

The latest issue of Game Informer magazine has released the first solid info on the upcoming MK title. Contrary to expectations, the latest MK will not be a next-gen title. Yep, it will instead be coming out on the older PS2 and Xbox. The reason for this is so Midway can tie up all the loose ends left in the current storylines before moving onto the Next Gen platforms.
Aside from that though, there's little revealed about what will be in store in terms of story. What is revealed is more about the gameplay, features and perks that are coming with Armageddom.

First of all, MKA will feature over 60 characters. Yep, you read that right. More than 60 kombatants- which is literally almost everyone who has ever appeared in an MK game, in all the released platforms. This includes even obscure titles like MK Mythologies Sub-Zero and MK Special Forces. The only character to perhaps miss the proverbial boat though is the centaur-like sub-boss, Motaro, who apparently might not make the cut (good riddance).

If 60 of the baddest, meanest bastards and bastardettes in Outworld and Earth Realm aren't enough for you... then KREATE your own! MKA will include a Kreate-a-Kombatant mode which will allow you to create your own death-dealer from the ground up. Dress him or her up from head to toe, customizing everything from eye color to breast size (Yes, you read that right too). Not only that, but you'll be able to select each of their special attacks and moves, and even name your special techniques yourself. Yeah, like Soul Calibur 3 it will be Attack of the Bikini Fighters all over again, but darn, it's gonna be fun. Hoho.
Tired of the usual Fatalities? MKA will also have Customizeable Fatalities. It's not clear though how this will be implemented. I'm pretty sure you won't be able to represent EVERY twisted fatality dream out there (particularly anything to do with pouring hot oatmeal down some orifices), but we'll just have to see.

In terms of other modes and extras, MKA will feature a redone Konquest Mode (which was basically a mini-adventure in previous games) that will be more similar to the recently-released and quite excellent Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. Unlockable secrets and extras, once accessible only from Konquest, will now be reachable by play in other modes, and will be found in the game's new Vault (which replaces the old 'Krypt' as the storehouse for goodies).
As for actual gameplay changes, all we know is that the fighting system will be overhauled. You can customize combos and there will be a new way to do air combos. You will also be able to control where you throw opponents, adding a bit more strategy to environmental dangers like deathtraps and stage-specific dangers.

WHEW! That's a lot. A damn lot. And I am giddy with glee. There's a cool fighter coming still to the present platforms, so fighting game fans looking to see what may be the best MK ever would do well not to sell off their PS2s or Xboxes just yet.

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is set for release on Xbox and PS2 in October 2006.

Tuesday, January 17

A Lion in Winter

I finally got to watch Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe last night. After a pizza dinner at Greenwich (yummy original crust pizza), I made a beeline for Gateway Mall's nice theaters. I caught the last full show and had my choice of pretty much everywhere to sit since there were only about a dozen people in the spacious theater. And good thing too, since the goddamn idiots behind me kept talking and talking even after the movie started. I walked off and found myself a nice seat near the front, nearer to the screen, away from cinematic barbarians.

Anyway, Narnia is the first in what may be a series of films based on C.S. Lewis' fantasy novels. Actually, I haven't read the actual book, but I DID watch the classic animation movie based on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe shown years and years ago. So, yeah, I knew what was going to happen even before getting in the theater.
The four Pevensie children- Lucy, Edward, Peter and Susan- are living in London during The Blitz in World War II. After a night of bombing from above, their mom sends them packing off to the countryside where they'll be safe. They are sent off to stay in the rather large mansion of one Professor Kirke, along with the McGonagall-like housekeeper, Mrs. MacReady (Elizabeth Hawthorne). While exploring the mansion during a game of Hide and Seek, Lucy (the youngest) discovers a huge wardrobe closet which turns out to be a portal to the fantasy world of Narnia.
There, she meets Mr. Tumnus (a quite well-cast James McAvoy), a faun, and has a bit of tea with the hoofed halfling creature. However, fun and lightness soon turns into menace when Lucy learns of the White Witch, Jadis (played note-perfect by Tilda Swinton), a tyrannical sorceress who has locked Narnia into an eternal winter. Eventually, all four Pevensies enter Narnia, and there is some drama as younger brother Edmund finds himself making some pretty daft decisions involving sweets called Turkish Delights. Ultimately, the children unite with Narnia's Lion King, Azlan (voiced by Liam Neeson), and together fulfill a prophecy to vanquish Jadis and bring summer and justice to the land.

First off, comparison with the more mature and sophisticated LOTR trilogy are unavoidable- the effects (or at least some) were done by WETA Workshop, which also did LOTR's eye-popping FX. The flavor and mood of Narnia however is more storybookish and whimsical compared to the midieval pseudo-history of Middle Earth. While LOTR makes you feel that you walked into some lost chapter of earth's history, Narnia is a trip into a fairy tale.

This makes for the more ecclectic look of Narnia's creatures- the armies of both good and evil are made up of half-man, half-whatever races, or even actual animals like cheetahs, rhinos and beavers (ah, the Beavers...), wolves and foxes. While the faun and centaur warriors certainly look awesome, the armies look mismatched and motley compared to the armored humans of Middle Earth. Don't expect gritty combat- this is simpler by a long shot (with armies led by children, what do you expect?) but still you can expect some pretty exciting battle scenes by the end- a big pay off for a pretty long film (going a bit over two hours).
In terms of acting, the Pevensie kids are pretty good, though I have to say there's a bit of woodenness to some scenes. Lucy's (Anna Poppenwell) face is definitely button cute and perfect for the role, while Edmund (Skandar Keynes) has the sullen look befitting his character. As expected, Tilda Swinton own ever scene she appears in as the icy queen, even more so in her climactic fight scenes- that girl can swing a sword and make it look serious... I wonder if she can do it as a protagonist, eventually?

Worth watching certainly despite my nitpicks, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a respectable entry into the fantasy film genre. Give Narnia a visit in theaters now in the Metro.

Monday, January 16

Kick Ass Babe

Milla Jovovich is the ultimate ass-kicker in Ultraviolet.

WHOA! I just saw the newly-released trailer for the film Ultraviolet, and I have to say I'm anticipating this film with eager beaver glee. The film is set in the future when genetics have allowed for the development of mutant, superhuman beings. However, these beings were hunted down when the ruling government saw them as a threat. The last remaining mutated supersoldier is, of course, the titular Violet, and she's got a bone to pick with humanity.
The film stars Milla Jovovich as the pistol-packing, shades-wearing, bodysuit-hugging super agent, which is kinda fitting since the psychedelic, dazzling and comicbook-like visuals of the futuristic world Ultraviolet exists in bears a bit of resemblance to the Fifth Element, which Jovovich also starred in. The visuals also bring to mind the look of the videogame Killer 7, which I really, really dig.

The fight scenes look pretty amazing, with UV taking on literally armies of black-suited thugs, so this will be a feast of carnage (though maybe bloodless) and lots of supergirlpower action.

Will this be something awesome or just all flash and sizzle? We'll just have to wait and see. I'll be sure to give this a big lookee-lookee when it comes slamming in later this year.

To see the awesome trailer, click here.
The Final Countdown

I guess I'll have to at least try to give that Neil Gaiman contest at Fully Booked for comics or fantasy literature a good ol' fashioned college try. 100,000 smackers isn't something to sneeze at. We've all got until the end of February (the original deadline was extended from end of December) to come up with some extraordinary stuff. Of course, I'll have to start wracking the noodle for some new stuff... I know something's still in there untapped. Just have to tickle it a bit and milk the head udders. Maybe I should get some inspiration by watching something cool- hopefully Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in a nice, big theater. We'll see what the grey macaroni pumps out soon.

Finally, I'm able to update. It's been a pretty busy weekend for me: I had to attend a shoot for one of our major clients. It was an MTV/Promo TV commercial, starring lovely local singer/actress/model/VJ Iya Villania and quite a few attractive young women as well. We shot the spot in two days of shooting inside a studio, which meant long hours of sitting around as the crew set up the shots, and take after take was filmed. Yeah, I and my art director Trish had to spend hour upon hours on duty (sipping sodas and nibbling on chips and candies periodically placed before us), but it was cool to be on the client's seat and see everything done well. The Production House was great, the talents were marvelous and the director hilarious. By the time we finished it was early morning Monday, but what the hey... it looks like the commercial/MTV's gonna look great and that's all that matters.

One funny little thing- to pass the time during some of the longer setups, I actually watched the whole Aeon Flux movie on my O2 Mini. It's actually the first time I actually watched a full-length movie on my mobile, and it wasn't half bad. It's a great way I guess to see some films that you ordinarily don't have time to see. And I still had lots of power left over till the shoot packed up. Coolness. My thoughts on the film? Well, here's a mini-review for the mini-watch. Cool story with some nice mysteries and a bit of the psychobabble and philosophizing morality plays from the original cartoon. I would have liked Trevor Goodchild to have been blonde though- the actor wasn't bad but he looked kind of non-descript. Miss Theron gave a great performance, but I still hate her costume. Not bad at all, and perhaps I'll give it a watch when it slips into Manila theaters.