Musically Bankrupt

February 23, 2012 § 2 Comments

The Borderlands 2 release date announcement trailer(try saying that ten times) was recently released, and it had, well, a piece of music.  Said piece is Doomsday, by Nero.  Now, ignoring the fact that it has a little dubstep break, and how annoying that is(parody or not), it also stood out, because it used the same music as the Armored Core V “Doomsday” trailer, which was released all of one week beforehand.

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page here, this is the Borderlands 2 trailer:

And this is the Armored Core V trailer:

And this is by no means the first time video game trailers have shared music.  Now, it’s a long standing(but modern) tradition for trailers for games to feature “real world” music, that is, music that was not written specifically for the game.  That’s fine, but do they have to double up?  This goes beyond just game trailers though, have a look at this part of the trailer for Avatar, and listen until Jake opens his eyes in his Avatar form:

That music is “Akkadian Empire” by AudioMachine, for those playing at home:

Alright, pretty cool song.  Hey, feel like watching some of the release trailer for Starcraft 2, Wings of Liberty?

Hey yeah, that song’s pretty- OH GODDAMMIT.  No, no wait, it’s fine.  Avatar is a movie, Starcraft 2 is a game, they’re both different genres.  At least it hasn’t been used aga-

OH GODDAMMIT.  No, no.  It’s alright, it happens all the time.  That’s fine.  Maybe I’ll cleanse my palate with some CoD.  I mean, they’re already ripping off hundreds of better movies, so I’m sure the music will be fi-

Is…  Is that?  No.  The drums there, are they?  They couldn’t be.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Alright, let’s switch from Call of Duty.  To what was essentially just a bad CoD clone.  Homefront.  Good concept, and some cool trailers though, trailers like this:

So, that music?  It’s “Black Blade”, by Two Steps From Hell.  You can also find it here, in Binary Domain:

Hey, while we’re talking about Sci-Fi, did you see that cinematic trailer for Mass Effect 3?  You, know, this one:

… … ellipsis … (supposedly that song was also used in one of the trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic, but, for the life of me, I can’t work out which one)

No, but seriously, it’s not actually that bad.  I’m sure there are other examples, but I can’t find any.  I’d just like to point out though, that the videogame/movie trailer music crossover is larger than you might think.  Did you know that the Killzone 3 story trailer:

Used the song Calamity, which was also used in this Twilight: Eclipse trailer:

Now, in this case, the video game was using the music before the movie.  Of course, it should be noted here that the music is by the aforementioned “Two Steps From Hell” a company that professionally makes music for trailers.  Video games, and movies.  They’re quite good though.  Well, generically epic, but good at generically epic.  For instance, the Mass Effect 2 launch trailer:

And this is more or less the end.  I’ll be honest, it’s mostly Two Steps From Hell’s fault.  If you can blame them.  But I really wish people were creative enough to not just re-use the same freaking songs for everything.

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Unnamed TAYle: Part 4

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

2:05 pm. Ask Me Stuff Square.

The roar in his ears grew louder.  The prick of the blade against his throat seemed harsher than any pain he’d ever felt before.  Shady closed his eyes, and thought of his family.  He knew they’d be supported, it was all in the contract.  Still, he’d loved to have had a proper chance to say goodbye.  A wave of his hand, a firm request that his son play some games, like a good little boy.  And that would be the last that his family ever heard of him.  How he died would be a secret too.  That was part of the contract as well.

The roar peaked.  And he felt the blade, tearing through the neck of his skin, as it flew through the air.

“What?” cried Shady,  as he opened his eyes, to find his four assailants crumpled on the ground.  Their lifeless bodies crippled by a pair of motorbikes.

“Sorry about your neck, friend,” one of the riders called, his voice like the moonlight reflecting off the sea on a cool summer night, “it should be right though, it looks superficial.”

“Why did- who are?” Shady sputtered out, bewildered by their appearance.

“Oh, don’t you worry about us, we’re here to he-” Said the rider, cut off as he saw some people leave the vault.  Revving his bike up, he and the other rider charged towards them, as they fled around the building, and into some forgotten side street.  Shady ran after them, reaching the alley in time to watch the intruders climb over a building, briefcases, filled with lord knows what clasped in their hands.

“Shit,” said Shady.  “We’ve got no chance now.  Someone else’s problem, I guess.  Which reminds me, who are you, exactly?”

“Ahh, right, I’m F4ction,” said the first rider,”and this is-”

“Jo.”  Finished the second.  His voice like a thousand nightingales, singing in unison.  “We came here to join you, and, we figured you could use a hand.”

“Unregistered people joining in a fight?  This is going to require a hell of a lot of paperwork.  And I’m going to require a drink.”

5 pm.  The South side of the city.

He sat there, watching, waiting.  The rain poured down, but it didn’t phase him.  He’d sat through worse, and this required perfect timing.  They’d been watching for months.  Intelligence gathering wasn’t exactly the most thrilling job, and NotoriousR was not known for his patience while sitting around, but he’d designed the software they were using to monitor the underworld, and so his expertise had been required.  Out here though, the rhythmic patter of the rain on his skin and hair, he could focus.  He knew what was ahead of him, and he knew what he had to do.  It was a retrieval mission.  He had to get inside the building, and “convince” someone to come out.  Not just anyone though.  This was one of the biggest trolls they’d ever fought.  He held power over hundreds of local commenters, and lord knows how many in other areas.  He was to be taken to HQ for re-evaluation.

A bolt of lightning.  He counts to six, and he’s in the yard.  Clutching the compound wall, hiding in the shadow of the main building.  Another bolt, he counts to five.  Two cracks, like thunder, and he’s inside.  Climbing the stairwell,  Another flash from above, 2 seconds, and he’s in the room.  At the bottom of the building.  No external input.  The only entrance, a single door, bolted from the inside, and pressure sealed.  You could detonate a nuke out there, and this room would remain.

“What the fuck?  How the hell did you get in here?”  A man to match the language, hulking and beastly, six and a half feet tall, covered in hair, and drowning in his own fat.

“Magic,” replied NotoriousR, the sardonic lilt biting through the air, “now quiet a moment, I have to open this door.”  He keyed in a code, pressed his thumb against a pad, and had a retinal scan.  The door opened with a hiss.

“How did you open that?  How the fuck did you get through my security?”

“I told you, magic.  Now, you need to come with me.”  NotoriousR raised a gun.  Pointed it towards the man, and motioned out the door.  While climbing the stairs, the boss in front of him, a flash of lightning overhead, blindingly bright.  NotoriousR laid a hand on the man’s shoulder, and a second later, accompanied by a massive crack, they were in the middle of the compound yard.

“Oh.  I did not mean to take us here.”  Suddenly, the armed men covering the walls turned, seeing their boss there, a gun pointed at him, they knew what to do.  The boss fell to the ground, hands over his head, as his goons opened fire.  Thankful for their terrible training, NotoriousR ducked behind a concrete embankment.  Hearing the pounding on the bullets, matching the rain.  He fired off a few shots, blind.  None hit, but he expected that.  He’d never been good with such inelegant tools.  Sadly this was all he had for the job.  The gunfire stopped.  A pause above, as they moved around the walls.  Coming down, ready to flank him, he had seconds before he was surrounded.  So he did the only thing he could.  He jumped over the concrete, turned to Swiss Cheese by the bullets, and threw himself towards the boss.  His finger feels the firm rubber, the sole of a shoe.  With a massive crack, a bolt of lightning smashes the ground, tearing through the middle of the compound.

“Well, that was close,” gasps NotoriousR, gasping for breath through fits of laughter.  He sees a car drive up.  Black on black.  With shades of black.  Its dark tinted windows hiding the interior.  He gives a wave, and asks for a hand to pull the crying boss into the back.

“You have any problems?” Asked the driver.

“If I did, I’d expect you to know, Aidan.”

2 am.  The following day.

There were seconds left, the clock, counting down time.  There was a faint beeping as his time grew short.

He thought about his wife, his life.  Everything he’d had.  It had been good.  A good run.

With a boom, Mr. Explody, exploded.

Really guys? Really?

February 13, 2012 § 3 Comments

Oh.  Oh.  You have got to be kidding me.

Not sure what I’m talking about?  Does this help? “Guiness Voters Select Black Ops As Greatest Ending In Gaming History.

Ergh.  Now, who am I to judge other people?  Who am I to say that they are objectively wrong, that their opinion is terrible, and that they should be banned from ever playing First Person Shooters ever again, forever and ever?  I’m just some guy who writes occasionally.  Although here’s the thing, I know about games.  This list doesn’t even read like “The fratboy douchebags guide to gaming.”  It reads more like “oh shit, what Games have I heard of?”

I’ll start with something less douchebaggy.  There are four Mario games on that list.  Now, I like the Mario games, but, prime examples of storytelling they are not.  Spoiler warning, here’s the ending to all of those Mario games:  Mario finds Bowser, he beats him, he goes to Peach, curtain call.  That’s it. That is not an ending worth noting, no matter how nice it is that the internals may tell a story of a trapped girl looking for release, or that Mario just really wants some cake.

Now, onto the big one.  Call of Duty:Black Ops.  This game has an ending?  That’s, nice.  I guess.  I couldn’t really tell given how much it meanders around.  Anyway, spoiler warning, I guess, if you care.  At the end of Black Ops, you find out that some character is fictional, that you’ve been programmed to kill other people, oh, and according to Wikipedia, that you still followed your original pre-programming-programming, and so you assassinate JFK.  Oh yeah, and this happens:

Watch those first thirty seconds, and if you don’t feel like being a little sick, then I congratulate you.  Fuck yeah, America won!  We fucking killed those fucking commies and shit.  And fuck all that.  AMERICA!  Well.  Uhhhh.  What?  That counts as the best ending?  To any game, of all time?

*Sigh*  So, to make some comparisons, let’s look at some endings which were definitely better than BlOps.  It should go without saying, that there will be major spoilers here.  This list was mostly generated with the help of twitter people, so cheers to them.

Half Life 2, Episode 2(43rd on the list): This is, no question, my favourite ending to any game I’ve played.  This ending proves how a pitch perfect delivery can make something.  There is no real warning that this will happen, it is sudden, and brutal, and that’s what makes it so affecting.  If you haven’t played Episode 2, then I beg you not to continue reading this entry.  This ending feels to me, like the culmination of everything the game had been building towards.  You have spent hours with these characters.  You’ve grown close to Alyx, you enjoyed the jokey banter with her, and with her father.  You’ve seen just how much they care for each other.  Then this happens:

And cut to credits.  You can’t believe what you just saw, how quickly it ended.  And that’s it.

Red Dead Redemption(6th on the list):  This game’s a little weird, in that it essentially has three “endings”, and, depending on who you’re talking to, you might get a different answer about which one’s the best.  The “first” ending, involves the resolution of the main plotline of the game.  Marston meets up with Dutch, after having chased him here, there and everywhere.  Dutch monologues about the futility of life, and how fighting gets you nowhere, before jumping to his death.

Now, your family is returned to you, so you spend some time winding down.  Living your farm life, trying to catch up to a world that has left you behind.  But, the government won’t have that.  You know too much, you’ve done too much.  You’re probably still a criminal, deep down inside.  So…

Then, finally, your Father died to the government, your mother could barely live without him.  You know that Edgar Ross is to blame for all of this, so:

Now, the last ending is easily the weakest of the three here,  but it doesn’t really matter, because as it goes, it’s still stronger than the endings for the vast majority of games out there.  Yet again though, these are endings that are built off the entire game.  They are conclusions that actually conclude.  Something that so many games seem to lack.  Going back to Episode 2, it is obviously open for a sequel, it was designed with that in mind, but, it never feels like a sequel hook.  It feels like an ending.

Bioshock(35th on the list):  OK, I’m actually putting this one in here, despite the fact that the only mention I got of it was “NOT Bioshock.”  If he’d asked whether I’d kindly do it, then maybe I would have listened, but, as it is, I’ll ignore that piece of advice.  The important thing with this one, is that’s it’s not the ending, well, not exactly.  The ending itself, is “you beat the bad guy, you have either a good or bad ending based on what you did to the Little Sisters.”  That itself is fairly weak, but, the more important preceding developments are good enough that I’ll post this here.  Everyone and their dog seems to know about the twist to Bioshock.  But I’ll repeat it anyway.  Your character has been conditioned, so that you have to follow orders which are preceded with “Would You Kindly.”

As such, it explains why your character acts like a standard video game moron, and does whatever is asked of him.  The best part of this twist is that the hints for it are there throughout the entire game, but unless you’re paying attention, on your first run-through you probably won’t notice them.

KotOR(49th on the list):  Speaking of twists that aren’t really at the end, but which make the “ending” of the game, Knight of the Old Republic springs to mind.  In this case, you’d spent the whole game hearing about the exploits of Darth Revan.  You spend spend it tracking down his apprentice, guided by visions that lead you to the Star Forge.  Near the end, though, you find out the truth.  You are Revan, your shattered mind rebuilt into one that is loyal to the alliance.  You defeat Malak, and then have the choice, do you continue what you started, in your first life, and bring your power to bare on the galaxy, or do you embrace your new life, and leave the Star Forge shattered and destroyed, and move on to more light side things?  Either way, the twist helps to bring a sense of ambiguity to everything you do, and helps to justify your character as a blank slate, perfect for that style of RPG.

 

So, thus far at least, I’ve talked about games that have at least appeared on the list, so, at least the list isn’t completely terrible.  I really only disagree with what came first, and the order of things there.  Other games that I think work, and from the list include Halo:Reach(poignant(or trite) ending, that talks about how just because you died, it doesn’t mean that life ends.  Dramatic shot of your helmet sitting in the ground.), Super Metroid(Just as you’re about to be destroyed, the Metroid that imprinted onto you at the end of Metroid 2 sacrifices itself to save you), Portal 2(GLaDOS, knowing that the Caroline part of her couldn’t live without you, deletes it, sets you free, as you are serenaded off by the turrets, followed by a song that is probably actually sung while you’re unconscious, just before the end),

MGS3(Finding out that The Boss did everything for the benefit of the US, Snake goes to her grave, salutes, and sheds a single tear).

Actually, looking at this, this will probably where I leave it.  Maybe I’ll come back later, to talk about some more games, which aren’t on that list.  I probably won’t though, I’m good at not keeping promises.  But for now at least, we have a few games that should have been ahead of Black Ops.  And about half that list anyway.

Requisite blog po-Oh, wait, I’ve already done this.

February 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Well, I was asked to do another blog post, and who am I to deny the request of a pretty girl?

Hu-h, so I guess I should find something to talk about, right?  Justify the existence of this piece of text?

Nah, I got nothing.

I’m a jerk

February 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

So, I haven’t really used this as a proper blog, by which I mean a place for me to get actual feelings and stuff about the real world out there.  But that’s probably because I’m terrible at the whole “feelings” things.  I haven’t always been so emotionless.  But I guess I just got sick of crying, and this was the only way to do it.  A side effect of that was that I became increasingly bad at understanding other people.  I have become introverted to the point of fault.  I will avoid socialising for no better reason than “I don’t want to go outside.”  So, I’ve lost touch with people.  I expect for people to understand this about me, but I don’t have a way to suddenly let them know.  It’s something you’ll either notice, or you won’t.

What does this mean?  It means I’m terrible when it comes to understanding Social Faux Pas(that’s the plural form, which is stupid).

So I’ve resorted to joking a lot.  I hardly ever say things seriously.  If I say something stupid or wrong, I can usually just laugh it off, and act like I was joking.  But if I say something offensive?  It just makes me look like a jerk.  I don’t mean to be one, not really, but that’s what I am.  I am insensitive to how people feel.  I never compliment people, not because I don’t think their actions don’t merit it, but because I’m really not sure how complimenting works.  Whenever someone says something to me, I assume they’re just being nice, so shouldn’t they feel the same way?  But clearly that’s not the case, as people compliment people all the time.  It’s just a mystery to me, and trying to think about it just makes it worse.

Anyway, where I’m trying to go with this is that I’m awkward.  And the awkwardness builds in on itself, making it worse and worse.

So, for the second time in my life, I have made someone I know very sad, without any ill intention.

Great, the worst kind of a jerk.  The accidental kind.

So, I guess I need to do something about this.  I need to be less of a dick.  I need to talk to people more.  And I need to try and have real emotions again.

So there it is, consider it a not-new-years resolution.  I need to become a human again, not just some shell that sits here and judges.

This is going to hurt.

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