Friday, July 30, 2010

Quick Reviews of stuff I've consumed lately.

Tales of Monkey Island Episodes 1-5 (video game)
A: Didn't know if I'd like the new character designs after playing (or watching someone play) the previous Monkey Island games. But they grew on me, and so did the story. The writers went where I never thought they would, and even though most of the puzzles were not very difficult, I was kept engaged and entertained by the twists and all the wacky characters, a trademark of the Monkey Island games.

Mirror's Edge (video game)
B: The washed out whites and the bold blues and reds really make the police state where this game takes place very unique. Mirror's Edge is the first and only "First Person Runner" game, so it's special by default. Sense of speed and desperation is always palpable, and makes parkour accessible to the most clumsy, uncoordinated of us. It's not always easy to get around, but the game teaches you what you need to do. My main complaint is that the game is too short.

Rocket Knight (video game)
B-: It's a game that can technically be finished in an afternoon. But for $7 this sidescroller starring a possum with a jetpack and sword is worth it. The cartoony graphics and lighthearted setting (if you can call an evil piggy dictator enslaving the possum land lighthearted) work well. There are some tricky puzzles but for the most part it's a lot of sword swinging and jet jumping.

Inception (movie)
A: Didn't know what to expect going in, but it is a fascinating movie. Lots of action and suspense, but also lots of deep thought. Its take on dreaming, reality, and loss was very fresh. Leo Dicaprio and co. were believable and entertaining.

Despicable Me (movie)
B+: Well done. Not too deep, but that's to be expected from a kids' movie. Very cute and funny. Steve Carrell's fake Eastern European accent was hilarious. I can totally see Michael Scott in some of the same situations. Visual effects were good. Minions were entertaining.

Bioshock (video game)
B (tentative, until I finish the game): Bioshock has been hailed by some as one of the greatest video game stories/settings ever. Perhaps the slight similarities to the Fallout series of games that preceded skewed my expectations more toward a big, epic retrofuturistic extravaganza. Instead what we have is a unique steampunk/evil carnival adventure that is somewhat claustrophobic. The claustrophobia can be excused due to the setting being a self-sufficient underwater city, but the story and setting aren't moving me that much. I've heard that it draws heavily from the works of Ayn Rand, but not having read those I suppose I am missing some of the nuances.
As a shooter, this game is good but not great. The vast array of special powers that you earn throughout tends to be a little cumbersome because you can't have them all equipped at once, and you never know which ones you're going to need at any given time.