Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Friday, August 22, 2008

Game Play: The Last Guy Demo (PSN)

The only real complaint I can make about The Last Guy is that I'm not sure I can agree with such a loose definition of the term "zombie". I mean, this is just the demo and we're already staring bouncy eyeballs in the, uh ... eye.

That's just not a zombie. It's an eyeball.

But in general the game is pretty much gold. You rush around, collecting people along the way and try to determine safe routes to get them back to the escape zone. Thebouncy happy dance music is completely in tune with the pace and atmosphere. The backdrops, drawn from satellite images, look amazing.

It's hard to tell just how long the simple concept will last - but based on the demo I'd would certainly be giving it a try.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's Old Is New Again

This picture was cheerfully lifted from this article, talking about integrating rich media elements with consumer electronics for fancy information age mashups (more or less).

What's crazy is that when I saw that picture, I realized I had seen it before. Or rather one very, very much like it. I was at a conference in San Francisco held by a company some people might have heard of called Netscape where they were illustrating their new flagship, Communicator. Communicator was Netscape's salvo into what they thought would be the next generation of browsing: a one stop shop of information integrated deep into your computer where you could pick your email, schedule your life and get information pushed to you whenever it wanted.

At one session they pondered - why stop at computers? why not televisions? And showed a mockup of a baseball game with Internet fed information scrolling on the bottom. TV channels and push channels - all rolled into one.

Of course, another company we might have heard of was a bit annoyed at the idea of Communicator being the core location of their own flagship and spent many a dollars putting it back into a much smaller box.

And that certain company is not completely to blame, mind you. Communicator was full of weak points. Push channels never really took off. We now live very comfortably with their simpler, more portable and more maintainable cousin - RSS. Webtops in general were a pretty buggy affair (and I should know, I hacked one together for State Farm capable of launching Windows apps). Instead we have a modern web app world, where you don't really need either a webtop or a monolithic application capable of running all your apps in one stable.

But over a decade later, it's interesting how the song very much remains the same. It's a big world of information out there - and sooner or later it will get crammed onto my big TV.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Game Play: Warhawk

Well that was disappointing.

After reading a few reviews and being quite interested in the so called "4-player offline" mode. From what I read the game was a delightful little romp dogfighting while making good use of the PS3's motion sensing controller.

Thing is? Not so much. For one thing, "4 player offline" means "LAN". Yes, some reviewers are either reporting or repeating that this phrase but let's get specific - you cannot play Warhawk without being online somehow, be it your local network or the Internet.

Which really sucks because if there was ever a game that needed an offline mode it would be Warhawk. To be precise, Warhawk really needs a tutorial mode so that you can learn the controls before waltzing into a map and getting shot down over and over again while you can't figure out how to even aim.

I won't waste too much time complaining about a game I've already deleted from the hard drive, but let me finish with wondering why the hell they even have walking and driving portions to the game. It makes the entire offering feel like a cheap Halo knockoff - especially when they are the only bits you can figure out quickly.

Big thumbs down.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Movie Watch: Perfume - The Story Of A Murderer

Perfume is an odd corner of cinema. It's wonderfully shot, stars a handful of notable actors (including Dennis Hoffman), has a tight and interesting story and most people probably have never heard of it. The movie follows the life of perfume journeyman John-Baptiste who has "the greatest nose in the world". While that might sound like possibly the most dull concept in the world, read the subtitle again. Baptiste is a man who enters life in a gruesome way, lives abused and outcast and seeks desperately for the ability to cling on to the one thing he understands, aroma, in what quickly turns into brutal ways.

The main problem with Perfume isn't that it will bore you, but that the tone can feel to topple between drama and horror without submitting to either one. At time there are even moments which feel not necessarily light, but the narrative adds a kind of whimsical feel. Still, while not entirely unpredictable, Perfume will grab you with its unique plot and keep you until the end.

And again, the visuals are lush here. One of the curious things about HD is that a good DVD can upscale to the point where you might think it's Blu-Ray if the source material is good enough. Perfume is that kind of film.