Saturday, May 19

Coming in Third

Friday night found me going out with Salt Mine workmate Joey and her hubby Rey to catch the latest Dreamworks CG feature, Shrek the Third at Greenbelt.
Unfortunately, I found this latest Shrek to be the least of the three Big Green Ogre movies released so far. The characters are still loveable, but the gags are just not as funny. At least for me. I don't know... maybe I've just watched too many jokes or seen the trailers too often to get cracked up. On the other hand, the lady next to me was positively bursting at the seams with laughter.

In any case, Shrek the Third isn't horrible, nor is there any cardinal sin committed like Spider-Man 3's Butler Bombshell. It just feels... stale. The new Arthurian add-ons to the cast are okay, but just not as developed as previous additions; they're more plot devices than characters that suddenly come to life like Puss in Boots did in Shrek 2. The movie has a bit too much going on, and the finale... well, the finale just sorta happened and that was that. Nowhere near the manic pace and action-packed hilarity of the Finale in Shrek 2.

If it isn't obvious by now, Shrek the Third comes to me as an inferior film to the previous two Shrek movies, particularly to Shrek 2, in everything but the quality of CG animation. Hopefully Shrek 4 (yes, a fourth film is already underway) will be fresher. Well, as fresh as a stinking Ogre can be.

On to Pirates 3, then.
Starcraft II

It's official. Blizzard debuted a CGI trailer for the long-awaited sequel to it's classic sci-fi RTS in Seoul recently. I'm not the biggest Starcraft fan, but I know a good thing when I see it. So far, here are some facts known about the game...

There will be three factions once more doing battle- Terran, Zerg and Protoss. No new races, unfortunately. The Story Mode will feature appearances by the game's previous important characters, such as Terran hero James Raynor, Protoss commander Zeratul and the Zerg Queen, Kerrigan. The game will be released primarily on PCs and Macs- no console plans yet (Boo). While the game has been in development for quite some time (ever since the completion of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne), there's still no word of a release date.

Well, Starcraft II is coming... perhaps sooner than anyone may realize. Something to look forward to in gaming in the months ahead. Heh.

Thursday, May 17

Heaven or Hell

There's an epic blockbuster coming later this year... it's an action-packed fantasy adventure starring a female heroine. No, it's not Angelina Jolie or Kate Beckinsale... in fact, unless you're a gamer, you probably won't know much about Heavenly Sword, the next big videogame lurking on the horizon for the Playstation 3.

Set in a brutal fantasy world, Heavenly Sword tells the tale of Naruko, a young woman born under dire circumstances. Her birthday is the same as the day that the god of their world was supposed to come to the world, which is an evil omen. True to that sinister precognition, evil would soon sweep the land in the form of King Bothan, a bloodthirsty monarch backed by a vast army bent on genocide. Obsessed with a relic known as The Heavenly Sword, Bothan is ready to kill anyone and everyone in his way to what he sees is his destiny- to wield this weapon and rule the land as a god himself. Naruko's clan is the one entrusted with the keeping of the sword, and so it is them that receives most of Bothan's tender affection. After her home is invaded and her people enslaved or massacred, Naruko takes up the Heavenly Sword herself, even though she knows full well that doing so will inevitably lead to her own death- since no mere mortal should hold the Heavenly Sword and live. And so, with her life ticking away to oblivion, Naruko sets off on a one-woman war against an overwhelming enemy.

Beauty and strength. Naruko embodies both. And she enjoys long walks on the beach, too.

What sets Heavenly Sword from the rest of the pack is the blinding promise that this game has had from day one. Touted as one of the PS3's true next-gen titles, the game has slipped again and again from release dates, delayed for developmental purposes. Still, images and clips of Naruko laying the Smacketh Down on hordes of enemies, in gloriously hi-res graphics and animation, keeps gamers' mouths watering for Heavenly Sword. The Developers, Ninja Theory, also say that the game will not only be your run-of-the-mill hack-and-slash; they're calling it a cinematic fantasy-action drama, an epic movie players take control of. Adding to this claim is the fact that Lord of the Rings' alum and veteran actor Andy Serkis is on board to direct and act through the game's cinematic cut scenes, via motion-captured animation that strives to capture a character's emotions squarely on the digital personages appearing in the game.

He's no Gollum, but with Andy Serkis behind the evil King Bothan's movements, he's sure to be one meaty villain.

High-impact fighting mechanics and bone-crushingly brutal moves, hi-res and hi-def visuals as well as high-powered performances are all behind Heavenly Sword. I've seen only bits, but it all looks cool. I can only hope that the gameplay, story and content of this much-anticipated title is worth the wait. But at least, with Metal Gear Solid 4 nowhere to be seen, this should tide PS3 gamers for the rest of this year as 2007's big gun. Er, sword.

Wednesday, May 16

Boxed In

You'd probably think that after my revelation that the original Xbox is dead, that I wouldn't touch one with a ten foot controller. Well, no, actually- the console is still an excellent gaming platform, with tons of software (as long as I get to them before they disappear totally from store shelves). I got a used but still-in-good-condition Xbox1 from eBay (a local seller). The good thing is it came fully modded, with two controllers and quite a few games (though none that I like) at a very nice price- a brand new Gameboy would be pricier. It also comes with built-in any-region DVD playability so now I have a DVD player that can play my region-coded discs again in The Sanctum. So now I can play DVDs and a host of excellent games that deserve my attention and enjoyment. And now that empty slot in the gaming wall is occupied as well. I guess getting a Wii will have to wait. Heh.
Second Third

After the debacle that was Spider-Man 3, another second sequel is upon us- Shrek the Third is the latest chapter in the blockbuster CG-movie series about a grouchy but loveable green ogre and his life and love in a hilarious fairy tale world. This franchise apparently has no plans of stopping anytime soon- at least a couple of more Shrek movies are already being planned, and a spin-off film starring the Spanish cat, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), has also been mentioned.

The latest film picks up some time after the last movie, and sees Shrek (Michael Myers) having a royal dilemma. The King of Far, Far Away (John Cleese) is dying, and an heir needs to be found. Of course, rather than be saddled with royal duties, Shrek goes on a quest to find another guy to stick in the throne. Meanwhile, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) makes his move to take the vacant throne, and it's up to Fiona (Cameron Diaz) to rally a gang of fairy-tale princesses (voiced by a gaggle of comediennes from Saturday Night Live) to stage a counter-coup.
With pretty much the whole gang from the previous chapter coming back for the ride as well as some new faces and voices, Shrek the Third looks to continue the winning formula. I'll try to catch this soon, perhaps over the weekend at the latest. I want to be all clear by next week, when the THIRD Third movie hits Manila. Heh.

Tuesday, May 15



Right now, I'm actually regretting my decision to give away my old Xbox. I mean, when I gave it as a Christmas gift to my nephews, I thought they'd cheer at receiving a whole gaming console. But I remember that they just gave it a cursory 'Thanks' before going back to playing on the PS2. Not that I think they weren't grateful- it's that, I probably would have done better by giving them a new Playstation 2 rather than divest myself of a perfectly good, albeit apparently now DEAD console. Yeah, Microsoft is all focused on their now-gen Xbox360 console, so the older, heavier, blacker and bulkier (but weaker) original Xbox is left out in the cold. How focused? And how DEAD? Well, for starters do you know you cannot buy an Xbox console in any stores now? At least, in Greenhills I could not find a single store that would sell an original Xbox. They're now being phased out, like old model cellphones. Yeah, there are still Xbox games being sold, but the console itself is now extinct, at least here in Metro Manila.

Which is odd, I'd say, considering that there are still Dreamcasts, Super Nes's, Famicoms, Gameboys and PS's being sold. Why is the old Xbox suddenly gone? What happened to all those unsold Xboxes? I can hardly believe that all were sold. Were they sent back to Bill Gates? Or are they lining some warehouse somewhere, along with the Ark of the Covenant? Odd.

Well anyway, I suddenly got an itch at the back of my head, and the itch said, "I want to play Xbox games." These are titles like the Knights of the Old Republic games, Jade Empire and good stuff like the original Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball and the gladiatorial RPG/Strategy game Gladius. And so, I went off to the bin of all bins, eBay, and went hunting for a big black box. I'll be learning whether I win or not in a couple of hours (looks like I'll be winning though). After that, I figure I'll go off and buy every good Xbox disc I can get to build a nice library and have a back-up gaming system to play. When I get that itch. What the heck. I'll be getting the system for cheap. Someday, I'll open a gaming library and museum with all the stuff I have in The Sanctum.

Which just goes to show- never throw anything away (or give away) anything you can possibly miss or use in the future. Regret (and itches) are hard things to live with. Heh.

Monday, May 14

Getting your Hands Dirty

Today I went off despite my self-proclaimed apathy and jaded views towards our country's politics to cast my vote. Elsewhere in the country, ruthless politicos are having people bribed, terrorized or even killed to get their way. Luckily, here in Metro Manila it's peaceful, and our polling station was just a short walk away from the house. There were police and poll watchers aplenty, and the place was quiet and not at all crowded. In a bit I was done filling up the ballot and afterwards had my finger stained to show that I had done my duty.

Will it make a difference? What the heck. It will or it won't. Like the proverbial motto on Lotto- you can't win if you don't send in a ticket.

Life goes on tomorrow. Let's see what happens next.