Tag Archives: historical

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. A Nice Sendoff…

After having played these games faithfully over the years, I was kind of disappointed with the way Ezio and Altair’s storyline ended. These two historical badasses have taught me that I can view the wonderful views of Europe and  Asia from my sofa, and I learned a thing or two along the way. And what’s better than playing as a grizzled and gray old master? But what wasn’t great was the quickly knotted and severed storyline that just led Ezio to Altair through Constantinople. With some strange new additions and a lot of DLC I’ll never be able to play (more that I don’t care to), Revelations left a bittersweet taste in the mouth.

The story is quite simple (especially if you recently played Brotherhood). It’s been a few years and Ezio is starting to show his age. Now that is something I was impressed with in this game. To grow older and wiser with a character as the game progresses? THAT’S A GENIUS MOVE. I loved every second of knowing just where Ezio came

A few of the character types for AC: Revelations.

from and where Altair was going. It was an intelligent gameplay device for the series. So there’s now older Ezio, (known as the Mentor) who has come to Constantinople, formerly known as the Byzantine Empire. With warring factions of Assassin’s and hidden Templars vying for the city, it is up to Ezio to lead the charge against the unwelcome squatters.

Gotta love the Creed.

Okay, Ezio’s other purpose for coming to the Middle East. Altair, in one of the best opening videos for the game series ever, left a door locked for his lineage to discover hidden within Masayaf. Ezio rambles some henchmens’ brains and finds the door, only to discover he must find some keys in order to unlock it and find the secret weapon behind it. They’re scattered throughout Constantinople by the workings of Marco Polo and his father. Using book clues and a lot of cutlery, Ezio swings through the rooftops of the city in order to unlock the secret.

Even further in the plot is Desmond. He just hoo-hawed Lucy and is now in a coma inside of the Animus 2.0. With the help of the figment of Subject 16, Desmond must combine his Altair past lives and Ezio past lives in order to come back from the brink.

Ezio struggling a bit himself, on the edge.

Okay, gameplay: It’s the free running slaughterfest you would expect from the AC series. Ezio is older and shows it with his speed and dexterity. What could he need at this point, you’re wondering. 1 simple solution. Hookblade. This new addition to Ezio’s weaponry allows him to zipline through the city and avoid/slay guards at will. Think of it like a cane for an old man (with a blade hidden inside). Combos are as brutal and fresh as ever. Collectibles and city restoration are normal. But there were some problems.

A bit of the hookblade action.

Having to defend Constantinople from the Templars was annoying as poop. Around every corner, one of the Assassin’s Guilds was under attack. And then you’d have to do some Bloons Tower Defense all over their ass, and that took up time and cut away from you actually doing the slaughtering. There were too many missions with the Assassin recruits and having to visit them and wipe their bottoms wasn’t helping anything. And trying to get any semblance of achievements or furthering the percentage of completion in the game was weighed down by silly side missions and a block building game with Desmond. This is why I will always love the original more than any of the others. Missions, flags, and killing at will. There’s none of this side quests, hidden gems, and pampering the city B.S.

Ah yes, the young Altair. Notice the scar above his upper lip. That looks familiar…

With all of these problems aside, it was a pretty weak sendoff for Ezio and Altair. Yes, you walk around as Altair at 80+ doing some elite pwnage (never use that normally, guess I want to seem like a true gamer…)  and some nice explosions to walk away from, but nothing you would expect from the mind blowing storyline this game series has created. You find the goods, and then one of the biggest cliffhangers ever. Assload of credits and back to some freeplay. Damn it all to Hell, with AC3 coming out, you could’ve gotten me a bit more excited. So I’ll leave you with this. Play the game because it’ll make you feel a bit closer to Ezio and Altair. There are some great bits, but far from Brotherhood or AC1/2. The visuals are stunning and the history is rich, and that’s what I play these games for. Enjoy it while you can until you forget about it because you’re too busy hiding boners from AC3. Just a little bit longer… A solid 6.7

Get some of that carnage.

out of 10.

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13 Assassins: The Eerie 7 Samurai Brother

Brought to the international market by the famous producer of Departures, a famous film talked about in my household, Toshiaki Nakazawa, and given to me by the power of Netflix, comes 13 Assassins. I know I just did a review on a movie called Bodyguards and Assassins, but this movie comes from a similar historical (loosely based) standpoint with a lot of no nonsense action to it. And I mean a lot of no nonsense, balls to the walls action. There’s not a lot interspersed, as with B&A, but it delivers in the end with a huge ass scene of carnage.

Set in the 1840s Japan during the era of the feudal Shogun, a young political rapscallion, Matsudaira Naritsugu is running train all over the place. Son of the former Shogun and bound to rise in his political standing, this evil young man thinks he cannot die and is above the law. He even made a nugget sex slave out of a poor little Japanese woman. Hard to watch and hard to

Quite a bit of violence in this movie. Good costumes too.

stomache, some have even committed  seppuku, the ritualistic Japanese honorable suicide. Shown twice in the movie, it is an unpleasant act that, I have to say was tastefully done with the pull away shot that just suggests at the horror of slitting open your own stomach forcefully.

So this young man must be stopped. An aged samurai and political figure, Shinzaemon is planning on doing so. After seeing the injustices done on other family houses, no longer will those under the power of the Shogun stand for his little brother’s insolence. So, in true 7 Samurai fashion, this guy goes out and finds 13 samurai, the last of a dying occupation, in order to do the job. These guys range widely in status and character, but they all plan on fufilling their duty with conviction and honor.

Can you tell who's who?

After some awful background on this political Shogun relative bastard, the training montage begins. Not really a training montage, but a recruitment scene and subsequent honing of the skills. Followed closely by a planning stage and execution of said plan, we get a little trip to the site of the final (and really only) big battle. There are ambushes, strategies of true intellect, and dire tragedy. With no one safe and everyone’s honor on the line, who will come out victorious?

I must say the overall feel of this movie was true to its 1963 original. I’m also sure there has to be some influence from Kurosawa’s classic of 7 Samurai. I wouldn’t have put it in the title otherwise. A bunch of tough guns coming

They're really going at it...

together to stop a greater evil in a big showdown? Not many survive and evil must be thwarted at all costs? Yeah, I got that vibe from this movie. I wouldn’t have minded if this movie was in black and white either. The grainy quality of the film and the guerilla style of the landscape and shooting really gave it that end of an era, last action of a dying and barbaric peoples feel. That’s what I enjoyed, and the true suggestion of violence without entirely showing it that you get from horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s. A true classic approach to film.

This has a true 7 Samurai feel to it.

What I didn’t like about it was the confusing nature of the characters. I can’t help it, but I gotta be a bit racist. Coming from an American, white person perspective, there were a lot of Asians running around who held very little difference in stature and character to me. You can attempt to pick out your favorites, but the movie made no effort in order to discern one person from another. Maybe this was done to show the collective resolve of the characters, but it became tedious towards the end.

Another thing that I hated/loved at the same time in this film (and I mean those terms lightly) is the action in the film. For those who like a bit more stylized violence in their viewing experience, you may not find that here. For those who love the chaos and the brutality of a film that just takes one massive battle and puts it into a gigantic perspective, this may be more your style. Coming from a priviledge era of spurting blood and close ups on decapitations, this movie pulls away from that. Focusing more on the feel of battle and not the gruesome details, you may not see more than some red hacks and slashes on bodies. And at the same time that that is happening, I’m not exactly sure how true to the Samurai Way that this film is. These guys, despite their training, seemed to just go out and wave their swords around like 13 year old tweens wanting to defeat Darth Maul in their backyards. I guess I’ll leave that up to people who actually know true sword technique.

Pretty damn cinematic.

With a bit of a lackluster acting chops cast, some of the more emotional scenes were lost on me. Maybe not towards the beginning with the injustices done by the evil Shogunate, maybe not even the death scenes that abound in this movie, but surely on the delivery of lines. This detracted from the period piece I felt this movie could have been, but if you’re a fan of Samurai 7, you need to check this movie out. Kurosawa would be proud. A decent 6.5 out of 10.


Fate/Stay Night: Battle Anime at its Finest

So I saw an amazing AMV for this anime at Anime Boston and I was hooked. ( To this and t.a.t.u.) This anime, based on a video game really caught my attention. Its plot and characters are really strong and its premise taken from the video game is also really interesting. Makes me really wanna find the game and play it. I’m not exactly sure what the title of the game/anime means, but it evokes images of the anime from now on in my mind.

This anime focuses around Shiro Emiya, the son of an adopted father that taught him the virtue of helping those less

Shiro. He just wants to help.

fortunate. When his father passes away, he leaves his entire estate to him, and Shiro continues his pursuit of justice and fairness and help for those who need it. And then one day everything changes. When Shiro witnesses a battle between what seems to be two warriors, he runs away and is stabbed by one. Rin, a fellow classmate saves him and it is at that point that Shiro summons a Servant, Saber. Rin and her Servant Archer team up with Shiro and Saber and these two discover exactly what is going on.

What is going on is that they are in the middle of a centuries old battle for the Holy Grail. There are seven Masters and seven Servants that are fighting each other for control of that Holy Grail in order to grant their wishes. The only way to eliminate competitors is to kill the Masters or kill the servants. From the beginning it appears that killing Masters is more effective, for the Servants will just disappear. But things drastically change this time around as the battles continue. With Shiro’s attitude and the relationship he develops with Saber, nothing will ever be the same for these magical warriors battling for their lives.

Those are some sexy Servants/Masters.

And that’s what I like about this anime. Though it focuses around the battles, not all 24 episodes contain violent action sequences. Most focus on Shiro’s attempts to quell the violence and find another way in which they can avoid confrontation and yet acquire the Holy Grail. (And I won’t even get into how complicated the Holy Grail itself is.) Shiro is constantly, and pretty much annoyingly, protecting Saber and preventing her from her primary function, fighting. But it grows on you as the anime progresses. And that’s where they social/relationship aspect of the show grows from. You begin to discover the pasts of the characters and really wish that not a single character would die. (Kind of the case… Hard to explain.)

But there are great characters in this anime. Shiro, of course, is a conflicted, troubled, angsty main character that really has to use the anime to work out his issues. Rin, his fellow student and collaborator helps Shiro as much as she can while trying to gain the upper hand over him. Illya is a little girl with a tragic past that only needs help from others, and yet at the same time is spine-tinglingly ruthless. Shinji Mato is a troubled boy who only wants to prove himself and meets challenges in his own way (I rather like him and his Servant.) And those are just the Masters to name a few. There’s Saber, Shiro’s Servant with a ruthless attitude that borders on heroically suicidal. Rider, Shinji’s Servant that is sexy and majestic at the same time. And Archer,

Archer. He destroys.

Rin’s Servant with a hard exterior and heart of gold complex. And all these characters are based on mythological/historically ancient warriors. It’s great.

These amazing characters set against a modern backdrop sets up what comes out to be an amazing anime. The battles are epic, the Noble Phantasms are great powers to have, and the mana, attacks, and spells come right out of the video game realm. I’ve never thought of how easily story driven video games can easily be turned into anime/cartoons, but they can, and they have. (Tales games, Final Fantasy, ect.) So please, check this out, it’s worth a watch.

Check out this AMV. It’s amazing.