Thursday, March 28, 2013

Go Goa Gone: Bollywood finally gets bitten

As a kid I watched a lot of Bollywood films, mostly a lot of movies staring Amitabh Bachchan.

Till this day he is one of my favorite actors, and not just out of Bollywood. His film Toofan was something I watched over and over again as a kid because it was the closet thing I could get in terms of a "superhero" movie which was in my mother tongue.

Amitabh Bachchan as Toofan (Hurricane)
 As I grew older and got into movies, mostly horror movies, I started drifting away from Bollywood a bit. Through my folks I would still catch a few of the classic films, but mostly I grew up on 80s horror out of the states. 

I don't think I've ever been excited about a Bollywood film since my Amitabh Bachchan days, but this week I came to know about one film from the mother land that has me pretty pumped.

Go Goa Gone is an up coming Zombie Comedy from Bollywood. Not only are these guys finally putting out a Zombie movie... but they've decided to make it funny. Which is cool because even the supposed "serious" Bolly Horror movies like Purana Mandir (Another favorite) have elements of comedy and the usual sing and dance, which detracts a lot from the tone of the horror.

The film is being directed by the duo of Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K who are US based film makers originally from India. And looking at the trailer for their film Go Goa Gone you can tell that these guys love zombie movies.

I see hints of Shawn of the Dead in there, as well as sharp nods to most zombie movie cliches. My particular favorite is the "Bad Ass" character in the film as played by Saif Ali Khan. His a Desi boy parading as a Russian lol.

The film has already gotten some major hype online and was even trending the other day on Twitter. With zombies being everywhere these days, just the novelty of a Bollywood made zombie movie brings a bit of freshness to the genre.

 The premise is pretty straight forward, but provides the rigth set up:

When three friends head to Goa to get their minds off all their stress, they realize that their visit has been rearranged by zombies. Seeking the help of an Indo-Russian zombie slayer named Boris (Saif Ali Khan), they must fight together to defeat these intruders!

Check out the trailer and tell me that it doesn't look like fun.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spec Ops: The Line. This is my dream, this is my nightmare

So yesterday I finished Spec Ops: The Line

O my god.

I've always felt that video games have potential to be the current form of narrative. Like books, video, TV, or what have you... Video Games are the new form of story telling. They aren't something to simple be played any more. The problem with this is that most games bank on hooks and game mechanics which provide replay value. In this day in age when the gaming market is so competitive you need to give the player something that's worth investing their time and money in.

This leads to shit like multiplayer games, death matches and what not. Simple game hooks that are easy to pick up and carry on so as not to loose the gamers attention.

It's with these things in mind that I wonder how the heck did Spec Ops: The liner ever get made, and I know that there are other critics that share my sentiments.

"The Line's" hook isn't so much in the gameplay, although I really enjoyed it, instead The Line brings you in with story. And yes there are heaps of games with great stories but the Line does an incredible job of slowly soaking you into itself.

Spec Ops: The Line tells the story of a small squad of Delta Force operatives sent to the shattered city of Dubai after a massive sandstorm has rendered the city uninhabitable. You play as Walker, the leader of the Delta squad. Your mission: locate the survivors of the 33rd Brigade led by the mysterious Colonel Konrad.

It starts off pretty average, you shoot at people and yell out orders.

But then something happens. Your character starts to question what's going on. Why are we shooting these people... do we need to kill so many to move. It's this semi breaking of the 4th wall to make you question your actions that starts Spec Op: The Line's descent into darkness.

The thing is, it's not that The Line doesn't make you do things you don't already do in other shooters, in stead it's innovation lies in the fact that it makes you feel like shit for doing it.

Anyone who has read Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" or seen Apocalypse Now will be familiar with the story. "The Line" is the gaming link to Conrad's Novel the way Apocalypse Now was the film link.

There are heaps of articles and such all over the net now about how awesome this game is, and so many articles discussing the ideas and theme the game puts across. There's even a really cool write up which has a real Marine commenting on the game and giving his 2cents on all the cool stuff the game accomplishes. And this one in particular called "Don't be a Hero" is a great read as it has a lot of insight shared by the Devs in the making of the game. There even an article that tries to break the game down psychologically.

Earlier I was talking about how a game like this would be such a hard pitch to sell to a publisher. Because the beauty of The Line is in exploring the narrative and like all good narratives, it's the ending that nails it. The narrative being so focused does aim the whole thing towards a more leaner style and one might think that this takes away from such things as "re-playability" but I found myself immediately starting the game again on a higer difficulty.

And like all good narratives... I didn't mind "reading" through it again. The ending totally floored me, and though I could see hints of it coming it didn't diminish the impact in any way. As if the ending wasn't enough of greatness... the game throws in a killer epilogue as well.

Choice and consequence is what resembles a "hook" in The Line. And though a lot of decisions seemed forced on to... it feels legit because you feel these same limited choices can forced on to real people out the fighting wars. Its so easy to sit back and criticise those involved in conflict,  accusing them all of all sorts of things while not really know what it's like to be in their war torn shoes.

I'm not saying that The Line is an exact replica of what these people go through... but it's clear that the devs wanted to hammer some of that feeling home. Watching the characters decay and break as you lead them from one circle of hell to another is intense and engaging.

Also... to some extent. Spec Ops the line feels like a horror game. Not in 100% of the term, but in the way it messes with your head, making you question everything around you... and the way there's something horrifying waiting to be seen around the corner.

I've played a lot of games... and loved them for all kinds of reasons. But I can't remember the last time I played a shooter and thought to myself: "damn what have I done?"

There's a quote in the game which really struck me when I heard it, and of all the 4th wall breaking stuff... this one really naild it:

"The truth, Walker (player), is that you're here because you wanted to feel like something you're not: A hero"

Play any game... what are you if not the hero?

Not here... not in The Line. A hero doesn't do what I did to get to the end. A hero doesn't stand for any of this. Spec Ops: The Line takes situations and scenarios that would otherwise be considered "Bad Ass" in other shooters and makes you feel like a psycho for doing it.

There's nothing glorious in killing... no matter what it's in name of, and The Line will cut and bleed this idea into your head... before it makes you shoot it off.

Monday, March 11, 2013

And then?

And then my Girlfriend and I broke up.

For the better part of almost 5 years she was the most wonderful part of my life, and through an act of carelessness on my part it ended. I miss her dearly and right now I wonder if I'll ever meet anyone who can be as good a friend and partner in crime as she was for me. She supported me through everything I took on, she was my best friend and I never dreamed of being without her. But as Mr Harrison had said; All things must pass. :( 

... Moving on.

I also got to check out Malaysia! which was pretty farking awesome. I've never been that far away from Fiji before and Malaysia was a country I've always wanted to visit.

It was such a great experience, particularity the size of Kuala Lumpur. Just this massive city with so much to do. Of course I hit all the malls looking for video game shops and books. I found a massive book shop at the KLCC towers and spent hours and hours there just going through the many books. At the end I only bought like three books. My boss is going over there soon (To Malaysia) and I've asked him to pick up some the books I'd left behind.

I also bought Dead Space 3 and I'll be doing a separate update on that later.

What I miss most about Malaysia though is the food. I would spend hours every night hitting the food stalls on the street sometimes eating 2 or 3 meals a night. The food was so awesome and freaking cheap as and it breaks my heart to know I won't be tasting those delicious flavors anytime soon...  not authentically anyway.

I have however picked up a Malay cook book... so lets see what that brings.

Funny thing is I felt KL was a lot like Fiji but with bigger buildings. The people there were nice and the street culture was very similar to the way things happen here in Suva.

Visiting the China market was a trip as well and so was the Indian market. Again the items there were pretty cool... but I spent so much on the fruits there. Just so many stalls with fresh fruit ready top be consumed. 

So yeah it was a great trip. And I never knew I would get into food so much. But I think it's because I farking love a good curry and all the chow there were curry based. They did have like BBQs and such ... but mostly I had the spicy stuff.

And I did a lot of mucking around. To the point where I was coming back to the hotel room at like 3 in the morning.

Though the food and such was pretty cheap, I found booze a little expensive, esp coming out of Fiji and the clothing stuff was a little on the other side of the budget. Mostly because a lot of the malls only had designer wear. I was itching for a thrift shop somewhere to see what I could find.

In case you're interested I was in Malaysia for a workshop on Ozone Depletion and it's relation to climate change / Global warming. The next part of my involvement with the project is to create an awareness on the subject.  So that's what is taking up most of my time right now... that and Dead Space 3.

What else...

I have been going out a lot recently which hasn't been nice to the wallet. Most of these night outs have ended with me stumbling home at like 4am and then hitting the office at 8am. But I think this is all part of the grieving process... and I will phase this out. Eventually.

I will however be giving up on beer before anymore of this beer belly takes effect. I'm thinking strictly vodka, tequila and rum for the night outs. Plus since I just got out of a long relationship, a lot of these night outs are kinda slow until I get at least a little bit tipsy.

And how come all the interesting ladies already have dates? What's up with that?

So yeah... that's kinda what I've been up to recently. Well that's the kinda the high lights at least. With the first 1/4 of the year almost done, it's been a pretty "hit and miss" start... but I'm sure things can only get better from here.

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