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Koming to a Konklusion on–Oh No! A Plot Twist! Hurkh!

June 8, 2011

Gull Iver: inventor of the indie birdsong.

Hnngh. A man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridiculous!

Arrrgh!

Sorry if you were expecting the scheduled weekly Mortal Kombat Legacy nervous breakdown, my pretty no readers. Tancharden, the oft-maligned (around here, anyways, the idle-headed pignut) director of the series has delayed the airing of the final episode until San Diego Comic-Con, presumably because he wants to see the mixture of disappointment, disgust and relief that it’s over playing across the viewers’ faces live and in person. Apparently, it focuses on those mischievous cyborgs, Sektor and Cyrax, so I’m hoping it reveals Cyrax to just be some guy with a robot fetish, and Sektor is a C-3PO replica with a paint job and some light armaments. FIGHT.

Anyway, in enforced lieu of the ACTUAL conclusion of the Koming to a Konklusion series (barring Legacy being renewed for a second series or something, but that’s unlikely. Right? Right??? Buhhhhhhhh), I’m instead just going to talk about some things.

Press Y to see the Title Text.

TOMB RAIDER

Right. Is it time for me to break out my standard “ARGH WHERE IS THE GAMEPLAY” rant? Any excitement I had for this reboot following the spiffy pre-rendered trailer that was released a few days earlier was summarily quenched by this ridiculous “gameplay” exhibition. As far as I can tell, the guy controlling the action basically held the analogue stick forward, and then just mashed furiously at whatever buttons flashed up on screen. That’s not Tomb Raider – that’s Whack-a-Mole with walking bits and nice fire effects. Sure, it might not be representative of the game at large, but that is how they’ve presented it at the biggest games convention of the year, so it’s their fault really. In any case, now, instead of actively looking forward to the game, I’m left neutral, waiting for reviews to tell me whether there’s actually much of a game there at all.

It’s been a recurring theme of E3 this year – in the name of looking “spectacular” and “cinematic”, most exhibitors have neglected to show any bits of their games that would actually be fun to play, in favour of sections dominated by fancy, distracting camera tricks, expensively and intricately designed set-pieces, and big stonking BUTTON PROMPTS because how else would you know how to play the game? Even setting fire to a bit of wood involved tapping the right trigger until a progress bar was filled. HNNNGGGHHHH.

On the upside, it’s made other games look really wonderful, simply for showing how their game is open to actual interaction: Skyrim’s “Walking With Mammoths” bit looked utterly stunning, especially when the angry giant was summariy (and apparently completely randomly) swept off by a passing dragon, and hurled into the distance. Prey 2’s chase through a scene from Blade Runner looked real nifty, despite being played in a weird filter that made everything glow in primary colours. And Far Cry 3’s reveal trailer looked interesting, despite the silly Static-X bandmember that’s playing the chief antagonist. (And disappointingly, it seems they’ve ignored my ideas for the game, but maybe that’s not all that disappointing at all.)

Also, all of E3 has been ruined forever by UbiSoft’s Mr. Caffeine. WHAT WAS THAT

You play this uncharacterful lump of rubbish. I don't even know his name.

INFAMOUS

I summarily failed to return to Enslaved’s technicolour apocalypse after Sunday’s post, on account of a terminal lack of the enthusiasm necessary to summon up the willpower to trudge through another four dozen Mech fights to get to some mildly involving story bits. Instead, I took advantage of Sony’s grovelling apology for their monumental PSN blunder, and downloaded, free of charge, fitfully popular electricity simulator Infamous. It’s a lot better than the demo I’d played previously suggested, if staggeringly silly, horrendously acted, and the victim of some previous-gen texturing. (I actually double-checked to make sure I’d connected the PS3 with a HDMI cable – that can’t be a good sign, either for the game, or my hopes of ever not being the least interesting man in the world.) It’s tapped into that urge that’s within EVERYONE WHO EVER LIVED to be Spiderman – hopping around buildings and train tracks and streetlights, and then crashing from a towering skyscraper to the street below sending out shockwaves that sends cars hurtling away from me, is always a good amount of fun, especially when you toss in the ability to casually electrocute everyone.

Some of the game’s ideas seem at odds with each other though: I’ve been playing as a silly old boring do-gooder, healing people and saving the city and whatever, instead of doing the sensible thing and using my newfound status as KING OF POWER to smash and crush the world to bits (especially considering the fact that the entire populace hates you at the start of the game because of something you did in a poorly-explained cinematic). And the game recognises that occasionally: you get phonecalls from your annoyingly American friend Zeke telling you they’re hanging posters of you and singing your name in parades and asking for your phone number and all sorts of nice things. But then it makes absolutely no difference to the way the city reacts to you. I’ve seen no posters. People still just bump into you, fall over, and get trodden on. They still stand by and watch me get swarmed by countless dozens of Reapers (WHY DOES EVERY GAME NAME THE BAD GUYS REAPERS) despite outnumbering them about 7,000 to 4. Bah, I say, before returning to play the game almost to completion within three days, and fixing you with a stern gaze as a warning not to say anything.

It also amuses me that the entire world is playing Infamous 2 as I dive into its predecessor from four years ago. (Two years ago. (Shut up.))

Incidentally, youtube their performance of When My Time Comes on Craig Ferguson's show. The only good thing to come from that show. HE WILL NEVER BE CONAN

DAWES – NOTHING IS WRONG

On a more cheery note, Dawes released their second album today. Yesterday. Which is it if I haven’t slept yet? Tuesday, anyway. As if knowing that My Morning Jacket’s Circuital would be a distressingly awful mess making everyone wonder why “Yim” “Yames” won’t just drop the cutesy indie pretensions and call himself Jim James again and actually make an album that’s listenable in its entirety instead of consisting of like three actual songs and then maybe eight or nine half-baked ideas he got after listening to an album no one likes from the seventies as if that will make his band more interesting to people when it actually just makes me increasingly unlikely to actually pay for their music from here on out and shockingly uninterested in seeing them live since they’ll be touring in support of THIS album and THIS album and to a lesser extent the previous one have been filled to varying extents with rubbish music, and that I’d need a blast of good guitar music to make up for it, they’ve gone and made a bloody brilliant album.

The immediate standout song is the fantastic “Fire Away”, a bright and sunny bit of rock that builds into a gorge0us call-and-response coda and lovely guitar solo to close. But what stands out the most overall is the sense of cheeky nostalgia that pervades the whole record – “If I Wanted Someone” is a cover of a Neil Young song that doesn’t exist, right down to the choppy guitar workout, and “So Well” nabs its riff from Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”. I don’t know how they thought they were going to get away with that one, actually.

ENOUGH OF THIS.

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