The Matrix and its sequels are old, if treasured, news these days, but that same respect is rarely afforded to its imitators. Complaints of bullet time and rampant slow motion have been common critics’ fodder against action movies ever since 1999. It’s a testament to Max Payne’s appeal—or the follow-the-leader nature of shooters, or both—that Rockstar Entertainment decided to buy the IP wholesale from Swedish developers Remedy Entertainment (who are currently known for Alan Wake). Rockstar spent an estimated $105 million and eight years creating Max Payne 3, instead of putting that funding towards a surefire Grand Theft Auto expansion pack or three. If it’s a follow-the-leader gaming fad, it’s passing in appropriately slow motion.
If you’ve been following North American E-Sports lately, there’s a new FPS on the scene that stands out from Call of Duty (a franchise that is fast becoming the new standard indie game makers measure themselves against, or better yet, away from). Tribes: Ascend is the latest release from Atlanta-based HiRez Games, the makers of 2009’s Global Agenda MMO. While both shooters are free to play and feature futuristic weaponry and jetpacks, Tribes: Ascend distinguishes itself from Global Agenda and other sci-fi fare such as Halo:Reach.
Tribes followed on the tail end of the '90s mecha simulator wave. In an attempt to cash in on the success of Mechwarrior, Dynamix released Metaltech: Earthsiege and later, its Starsiege sequel. In 1998, Dynamix and Sierra teamed up to capitalize on the buzz created by Unreal and Quake. The result was Starsiege: Tribes, a well-balanced yet somewhat derivative product, an entirely different genre of game set in the Starsiege universe essentially for the sake of name recognition.
And, that’s when emergent gaming’s invisible hand took over.
Most contemporary game franchises have taken an “every other year” approach to releases. Call of Duty is the biggest first-person shooter today that demonstrates how successful this habit can be. Every other year we’re treated to a Modern Warfare title, interspersed by Treyarch’s even-numbered year offerings. So, when Battlefield 3 comes along five years after its sci-fi predecessor Battlefield 2142, there’s a natural expectation that something special is in store for gamers. The Bad Company spinoffs have ensured that the franchise hasn’t been entirely devoid of new blood in the meantime, but they’ve explored different play styles as opposed to the main series and aren’t comparable. Surely, the logic goes, Battlefield 3 has great things in store for its loyal fanbase.
I was still enthusiastic even after Electronic Arts became more involved than they have been in the past. EA has a notorious reputation amongst gamers that’s mostly deserved as a result of interfering with game development out of short-sighted marketing plots. The major claim to fame for the Battlefield franchise has always been its deep multiplayer and primary focus on its PC-based users. EA has decided to cash in on that fact.
I’ll come right out with it: if you care about good writing in games and you’re one of the few that seems to know that the Warhammer 40K universe did space marines and chainsaw weapons first, Space Marine deserves serious consideration. The rich Warhammer 40,000 (that’d be 40,000 A.D.) dystopia—a mix of Starship Troopers, the Cthulhu mythos, and George Orwell’s 1984, complete with a Big Brother equivalent—and its titular marines brought to bear in the story of a strategic industrial planet that’s under siege by marauding space Orks. You read that correctly. There’s also a space Sauron, but that comes later and really, really shouldn’t be a spoiler if you’ve read any of the advertising (or know anything about the 40K setting).
The first half of Burn Notice’s latest season wrapped up for its fall break recently, and a retrospective of where the show’s been and where it’s going is in order. USA Network’s latest brace of shows that have been advertised and produced in a style similar to Burn Notice have caused some to unfairly overlook the escapades of renegade spy Michael Weston and his compatriots. On the surface Burn Notice is reminiscent of The A-Team, from the special ops charity of its main characters to its status quo “nothing ever changes” reset button that comes into play at the end of most episodes. When consumed an episode a week, it’s a devilishly clever show.
Fanboy Comics is excited to bring you the first of many reviews from its newest Contributor, Jarret Mock!
Here’s a movie you may have missed: Neil Marshall’s largely ignored 2010 effort, Centurion. Set during the Roman occupation of England, it received barely any attention at all in the United States upon its release. Marshall has written and directed cult action-horror movies like Dog Soldiers and Doomsday in the past, always bringing along a gory style that’s refreshing in the presence of PG-13 summer blockbusters. American viewers have probably heard of The Descent, the one Marshall horror flick I really didn’t enjoy. But, when the geeky director who I remember for gleefully mashing up werewolves with foul-mouthed SAS troops or Mad Max with Braveheart decides to try out a straight-laced, historical epic, I have to wonder what he’s thinking.