Tag Archives: artwork

Alice: Madness Returns

In this game of twisted returns to Wonderland, American McGee’s Alice returns with a vengeance. Featured on Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360, this game may leave you feeling a bit queasy and reeling. I haven’ played the original before, but this game got me pumped up enough for it. And you can buy the first one and play it on your game system via PS3 online or Xbox Live! All is wonderful in Wonderland…

This game takes place after the events of the first. The Red Queen is defeated and Alice feels she can return to a sense of normality. Or so she thought… Blaming

Now that’s what I wanna see (I loved her different dresses).

herself for the death of her family and sister Elizabeth in the house fire, Alice is sent to an insane asylum. After fighting back against her demons, she’s released, only to find herself slipping in and out of Wonderland.

Flying fanciful free… to your death.

But this isn’t the Wonderland I know and love. This Wonderland is deranged. There are dolls roaming everywhere, black liquid acid, everyone has been deformed and crippled! Steampunk has taken over! Alice must find what is going on and stop the Infernal Train that is haunting her dreams as well as her waking life. To save Wonderland, she must save herself… and vice versa.

This game had me off me tits for most of it. I had little semblances of what was real and where I was in space and time. The characters were familiar and yet bastardized at the same time. Up was down, down was left, right was wrong, and all that old shite. (You see the English mannerisms coming in, don’t you?) Alice has become snarky and meaner in her teen years, and it all goes to show that Alice had to grow up sometime. (She still loves her stuffed rabbit though…)

Oh, all the tools at your disposal…

The gameplay… was average. You jump and glide from platform to platform, hoping to don’t burst into butterflies, with that horrid far-off scream. You battle enemies, some easy, some impossible without the Hysteria feature that kicks in at low health. Whatever anyone says, the Infernal Ruin (the train mud dumps) are nearly impossible to beat, even on normal. I can’t imagine Nightmare mode… Most of the time you know the ways to get around, and every once in a while there’s an alternate route to take (thus, replay value). But for those really stressful times that come up in the game, I don’t really feel like going back and replaying stress. It’s not good for you, you know?

Off with her silly little head…

I think the game designers need to make Alice 3, and really vamp up the graphics. For an Xbox 360 game that was 10 years coming, it was rather lackluster. Alice’s hair is flying all over the place (actually cool) but glitches that weren’t even meant to be in Wonderland abounded frequently. If I have to play that game again and constantly fall into oblivion because there’s a glitch, I may become mad myself.

The voice acting was fine but not a lot of work was put into the cutscenes. You find out all this information in a right hurry, and it doesn’t seem to come to you where you can add up the dots. The picture cutout scenes were quite cool, but the in between mini games with the Japanese 2-D jumping and the doll’s head pinball, that has to go.

Get some of that sick depravity.

Overall, I loved the feel of this game. It was creepy, unsettling, and really focused in on my fear of dolls. Nothing feels childlike in this game and you feel that every second is your last with constant death and restarting. To analyze madness in such a way with the characters and the feeling of 19th century London, Alice Liddell really has things stacked against her. To question what is sane and insane was cool, the gameplay left something to be desired (got a bit repetitive towards the end), but, for an Alice in Wonderland fanatic, this game is just what I ordered. I own different copies of the story, different artwork, I’ve seen a dozen films, and this game combines my love of Alice and the gang with horror. What could be better? (Maybe better gameplay…) A solid 6.1 out of 10.

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Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

In continuation of the Ezio Arc of the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: is a slight continuation of the events of Assassin’s Creed 2. In considering this a half-stop between AC 2 and AC 3, this game delivers a whole new amount of gameplay almost identical to AC 2. Taking place entirely in Rome, Ezio climbs and leaps from the historic buildings of Rome and the surrounding countryside. You can rebuild Rome from the tyrannical rule of the Borgia family and attempt to take back what rightfully belongs to the people. In the vein of a Robin Hood story, you use the money from the government to buy the tools you need to take back Rome. The fight is on.

What lacks in this game in comparison to Assassin’s Creed 2 is the slow moving plot. The second game moves so fast with Ezio’s plot and how he becomes an Assassin, it leaves little to be done in the second. It’s all about the revenge story in this one. The Borgias have remained in power by Ezio’s inability to finish the job and he’s paying for it now. With the help of the Assassin’s Guild and a new feature which allows you to send and use Assassin’s to do your

Just a bit of the historic gold.

bidding, its up to Ezio Auditore and crew to save Rome.

This gameplay is identical to the gameplay in Assassin’s Creed 2. There are a couple of exceptions. The free running is a bit more advanced with some better gloves for climbing and some more advanced moves in traveling through the extra areas in order to collect the armor of Romulus. The synchronization experience in the game is a bit frustrating with having to attempt to achieve 100% with every mission. A lot more of the missions in this game dealt with not being detected, a fact which frustrated me to no end. If the job is achieved, I would like it to be up to me how it is done. If I want to kill everyone and then deal with the target, what’s wrong with that?

Abe Lincoln joke anyone? Maybe an Assassin from the Guild killed him too… In AC 5…

Anyways, the rest of the game is just as fun as the second game. The Subject 16 missions are just as fun and challenging as the first, indicting the entirety of the world’s powers in what appears to be a power grab by the Templars that control the world. The artwork and historic building information makes me feel smarter while I’m playing a video game. I love games like this with basis in history that allow you to function as a badass Indiana Jones and solve the mysteries behind some of the world’s biggest marvels. With art, weaponry, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s weaponry, history becomes kick ass.

The voice acting is phenomenal as usual in this game. The workers at Ubisoft have their shit on lock with the amazing cast they get to pull of the Italian tinted accents of all the characters in the game. The emotions and actions of the characters are appropriate and, unlike many other video games, the characters are realistic for the subject matter of the game. And, for once, this game has a main character who is above the age of 25. In his mid 30’s, Ezio can still kick as much ass, but the fatigue actually wears on him. The same goes for 50 year old Ezio in Revelations. Let’s talk about character development and just how well this game pulls that off.

Ah yes, the Borgias… and notice the crossbow I forgot to mention.

The Brotherhood has arrived.

With all these elements in my all time favorite game series, Assassin’s Creed is one of the most well thought out games of all time. The creators in every country behind the games come together under different ethnicities and creeds to create a masterpiece of a game. They bring the accuracy of different religions and histories in order to be as accurate as possible. And thinking about the fact that these characters are based on real historical figures is just the icing on the cake. So hunker down and get into Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, its a perfect slow down point in the game that allows you to seep in the glory that is Ezio and the Assassins.

 


Ergo Proxy: Existential Confusion

Even after watching this anime and reading about it, I am still at a loss for words. This anime, in a word, is confusing. To a high degree. I mean, this is intelligent, philosophical musings about the world and the purpose of life. As seen by the praying AutoReivs. That is one of those images that has stuck with me throughout the anime. Those androids, staring up into the sky, arms brought together in prayer, a rare piece of imagery that will continue to perplex me as I muse upon the meaning of Ergo Proxy.

Let me give you a bare-bones explanation of what I took away from the plot of this anime. This anime is

What is a Proxy?

focused mainly around the upper class citizens of Romdeau, one of the last vestiges of life on Earth. This is because of some great ecological disaster that happened sometime in the past that has forced dome-like structures to keep out the pollution and destruction of the outside world. Humans and AutoReivs (androids who are created for specific purposes to help humans) like in harmony, helping one another in their struggle to survive. And, even in this devastated world, there are those humans who are considered not to be citizens of Romdeau. One of these immigrants is Vincent Law (Liam O’Brien). With no past and what seems to be no future, this lowly character has some connection to the murders and soon to be discovered Proxies of this world. It is up to Rie-l Mayer (Megan Hollingshead) to discover the connection, and it is up to Vincent Law to discover his purpose. A daunting task that leaves me in awe and confusion.

Dark and foreboding? I think so.

This being a crime/suspense/thriller anime, and my wonderful girlfriend recommending it/loaning me the DVDs, I knew I would like this anime. I just didn’t realize how confused it would leave me. But, in this instance, I was not confused in a frustrating way. This anime invites watchers to come back and re-analyze this anime more than once. I feel its the only way to really grasp what this anime is trying to put across. Every episode, although some may seem disconnected to the flowing plot, are important in their scope. (One of the episodes deals with a Walt Disney look-alike and cartoon characters.) But these episodes enhance the meaning of what these characters are trying to discover. And, if you watch very carefully (as I will again), I’m sure the meaning of the show is laid out right before your eyes.

One difficulty I had following this anime was the dark way in which it was produced. The artwork is all dark from the very beginning. It’s hard to see things onscreen (or T.V.) and I felt like I was missing things that were quite important in the first few episodes. Looking back on it now, maybe you are supposed to view the anime through this lens as if you are in the dark, just like the characters. For the anime does begin to brighten as it progresses. Maybe that was the intention. Either way, this anime was truly dark, visually and psychologically. The implications that lay just beyond the plot gave it the weight of the foreboding apocalypse of the world, a comment on our own and the theorized one presented in Ergo Proxy. The way in which these images are presented is a whole other story. The combined animated mediums bring together a visual experience unlike most anime I’ve seen. This gives it that sci-fi feeling that the show really goes for, and I quite enjoyed the ride.

There were a few, although not many, notable good voice acting performances in this dubbed anime. (I might watch it subbed for fun later.) Most notably was Liam O’Brien as Vincent Law. His voice really stood out to me in a way that’s hard to describe. It was as if O’Brien knew the anguish that Vincent Law was facing in not knowing who he is and what his purpose is. Travis Willingham does a great job as Iggy, Rei-l’s AutoReiv and friend. (Loose term.) As funny

Confusing and good. Thank you Dameon Clarke.

as he is for a n android with little/no emotions, he brings life to a character that comes to realization that his purpose is flawed. Some of the best episodes come when Iggy comes to terms with that. Bravo, Travis Willingham. Patrick Seitz is amazing as Raul Creed, my favorite character in the anime. This Security Bureau head is a character of duty and conflict that comes because of that duty. He is always being pressured by the Regent and feels he has no breathing room. But when he lets all that go, then Patrick Seitz’s voice really shines through (best episodes towards the end). Another two voices that I’d just like to commend in passing are Troy Baker (my boy) and Dameon Clarke as two of the Proxies in the show (I won’t be specific, might ruin it). These elegant voice actors really bring a menacing element to the table in the way they present their characters, and they really flesh out the plot and bring to light just what Vincent Law is. Really amazing work.

Besides all this, you really have to watch  the anime for yourself. If you’re a fan of dark, twisted, suspenseful anime, this is indeed for you. But make sure you’re willing to commit to a re-watch and thorough analysis. This may just existentially blow your mind. 8.8 out of 10.