Brain scramble

What follows are my thoughts about The Walking Dead – A New Day XBLA title that I completed this weekend. I promise to keep spoilers to a minimum.

It’s very rare that I sit through a new game in only one or two sittings. Time restraints always mean I take my time completing the campaign of any game. Strangely enough I had made a mental decision to pass on purchasing Telltale’s The Walking Dead – A New Day. I have only played one other Telltale game – CSI: Deadly Intent – and that was enough to put me of trying another one of their titles. But then I heard positive tones from a few people on Twitter (that I respect) detailing how nicely Telltale had produced The Walking Dead – A New Day. It got me thinking and before I knew what I was doing, I took a risk and purchased the first episode.

The Walking Dead – A New Day held me for 5 hours of gameplay. I was impressed how the game essentially has borrowed what has worked in other games but contained those ideas in its adventure game setting. The characterisation also surprised me. There’s some great depth on show and the pacing of the story was just how I wanted the experience to be; measured but dramatic. The action is in keeping with the rest of The Walking Dead franchise and I’m so glad it’s not a L4D or Dead Island clone.

From the experience of this first episode, I think I’ll be happy to try the following four. Must see how my decisions affect Lee and Clementine later in the game.

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Avenged

I have tried to keep spoilers out of this entry.

I hate 3D. It’s the biggest, wettest carrot on the weakest stick. 3D exists only to inflate prices at the box office and sell you a TV you don’t need. What I also take issue with is this trend of converting movies into 3D after the filming. I believe that Clash of the Titans was and so now this Avengers movie. This is not why I go to the cinema. I don’t understand why entry to a converted 3D movie should cost more either. Holographic TVs? Sure, I maybe interested but 3D?

Never.

I really didn’t want to watch Avengers Assemble in 3D. But when the cinema you choose has only 2 screens -3 being refurbished – you don’t have much choice.

So Thursday came but I didn’t hold high hopes for Avengers Assemble. The Avengers wasn’t a comic book that I ever read. I wasn’t interested in Captain America, Iron Man or Thor. My normal reads were Spiderman, X-Men and Daredevil but the character that caught my imagination the most was the Hulk. This wasn’t just from the comic book either. The Incredible Hulk TV show from the late 70s was something I’d hate to miss on a Saturday afternoon. I loved the characters that Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno(who voices the Hulk in Avengers Assemble) brought to life in this show, even if it was only loosely based on the Marvel comic book. Back then this was the superhero show to watch, the movies were not such a great option. Now that Marvel have acquired their own studios we are seeing some very well made superhero movies.

After watching Avengers Assemble, I’d have to say that Joss Whedon has reignited my love for the Banner/Hulk dynamic. Mark Ruffalo is far better a Banner than either Eric Bana or Ed Norton and I didn’t care much for either of their two recent Hulk outings. The Hulk’s appearance in this Avengers movie did have me a little worried. I was convinced that it would be hammy and overblown. How wrong could I be? From the first exposure to the action scenes at the end, the Hulk is treated with some real affection. There’s a real understanding on how to get the best from the volatile nature of the Hulk’s ego. There’s also some excellent use of humour in the old green skins armoury but I daren’t say more to spoil things for those yet to see it.

Best movie I’ve seen this year.

‘Nuff Said.

Lost in the moment

With the first quarter of 2012 gone, I’ve reflected on those moments that have left a lasting impression on me.

Blood Red Shoes release something of a reinvention with their new album. I’ve played it constantly over the last few weeks, more than anything else this year. I hear hooks in the track that remind me of both The Pixies and The Breeders, so it could be that guitarist Laura is making a stronger impression on the song writing and composition. Her vocals are far better utilised on this album than the previous two efforts. The only weak track for me is the opener, In Time for Voices otherwise it’d have been classed an instant classic, had it been their debut album.

I’ve been lazy with my music appreciation since the turn of the century. The late 1980’s to the end of the ’90s were such good and full years that a dip was sure to come my way. I just didn’t think that dip would last 12 years! Maybe I’ll look back at 2012 as the year I rediscovered my love of music. It had a very positive effect on my life 20 or so years ago and this could be a rekindling of that effect. Although the gig I went to this time last month wasn’t a classic by any means, it was the first for over 10 years. Sure I’ve aged and am no longer an active part of the music scene but my ear hasn’t lost the knack of knowing a great song when it hears one.

One movie. One TV show. Both have had a remarkable impact on my psyche.

Drive has stayed with me ever since it lulled me into thinking it was a movie of introspection without any force of action. The lack of dialogue in Drive allows a shift of emphasis onto the look and feel of the movie. I’ve been caught off guard by how much the movie has crept back into my thoughts even though I’ve watched it only the once. It’s due a re-watch and that’s something I rarely do these days.

You can keep your CSI and NCIS and Law and Order. I’ve got Silent Witness. The current season is its 15th year and the writing is just superb. It puts those American shows in the shade for depth of story, twists and character development. I also appreciate that the show doesn’t over reach into the standard  20+ episodes per season that I see many US shows succumb too.

Readstoration

Back in the reading mix this last week. I picked up the 6th volume of the collected The Walking Dead comic and gorged that in one sitting. Added to it I have the 2nd volume of Chew comic book – I read the first volume last year which was excellent. I’d recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour and a pulse.

I’m still hanging in there with The Host. I love the humanity in the book and how well it has been entwined in a sci-fi setting. Much like how Ridley Scott filmed Alien and Blade Runner. I can sense where The Host is leading me but it has its hooks in me enough that the journey to the finish feels natural and fresh.

Maybe today I should be writing about far more topical subject – see Record Store Day – that I also have some thoughts about? Well that’s possibly a side-step that I will pull in for next week. I’m a little tied up, this weekend, with some writing prep that could lead into a very nice writing gig. A gig that could indeed be music related but more on that if or when it happens.

There’s no ‘I’ in blog

I have made a point of stating that I’m not writing a blog but a journal. I wanted to make it clear from the off. ‘Blog’ has been made mainstream and has lost its own identity to the microbloggers.

As I read How to blog via Boing Boing today, I could see how big blog sites try to belittle the small fry blogger. In the article it implicates that blogging should not be about yourself. The header, ‘Don’t blog about yourself…’ really smacks most bloggers in the nuts. Surely blogging IS about what you know and this stems from who you are and what you’ve experienced?

Reading this type of ‘guide’ just makes me frustrated. Not every blog can be successful. Not every blogger wants fame/infamy. This doesn’t mean those bloggers should quit.

By using the term ‘journal’ my hope is that I can define my existence through the words I write here. Maybe I’ll get an audience or maybe not. The fun of the experience is in the trying.

Storyville

You haven’t lived, if you don’t have a story or two to tell.

Last year I read 10 books. None of these were fiction in its classic sense; 6 graphic novels, 1 autobiography and 3 books that were connected to my OU studies. This year I’m promising myself a fuller year of fiction – starting with The Host – with the emphasis on science fiction.

The first entry made here I proclaimed how important role-playing a good story was reflective on the state of my own health. Since then I’ve been awash with some good hearty storytelling. Both CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 2 and Bioware’s Mass Effect 3 are warming my 360s hard-drive, I also have my first encounter with Silent Hill(Downpour) waiting for me too.

I know gamers get caught up in gameplay that proclaims to give a lifetime of adventure and then are disappointed when they are bribed into continuing with the ‘experience’ with an offer of a free month. It’s a sad trade mark of that game model and it’s a tax on the soul that I shan’t be subscribing to it ever again. Story is paramount to my choice of gaming experience but not at the expense of my pocket.

With that said I have many hours of adventure before me both in print and via the visual assault of games and movies that are stacking up nicely in 2012. I hope this is a good sign for my mental health in the months ahead.

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