Trance – The Review

First off, I quite like Danny Boyle. His range is really quite impressive and he proved that he is able to infuse a movie with quite a bit of stylistic flair that may well save it from is rather lackluster/disappointing story (third act of Sunshine, I am looking at you). His skills are put to a good use in Trance, a slightly trippy, energetic and at times shockingly violent film.

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The central ideas explored in Trance include repressed memories and how suggestible our minds are once we are willing to let someone in. Comparing this movie with Inception is understandable, but overall, it is a much more intimate affair, lacking that breakneck action which defined Inception’s third act (at least for me). While Inception was overall a heist movie, this is a thriller, with relatively little action. In a nutshell, don’t go into this movie expecting spinning corridors and a star studded ensemble cast. What you will get out though, is a movie with great cinematography, good soundtrack selection, good acting and a plot which is good to a point, but could do with a bit of trimming due to  some plot holes that boggle the mind.

The story starts with a montage about dangers of being a fine arts auctioneer, told by the main character, Simon Newton (McAvoy). McAvoy brings quite a bit of charm to the role, something bolstered by a pretty well written dialogue during the scene. His normal working day is ruined by a quartet of incredibly well dressed thieves, led by Franck (Cassel). The heist itself is directed with quite a bit of efficiency, which however did not detract from its stylishness. The result of this was me yearning for a heist movie directed by Danny Boyle. However, this is neither here nor there. In any case, the setup is simple, with Simon attempting to stop the heist in an ill-advised moment of heroism and getting hit in the face for his trouble. However, the painting in question (Witches in the Air by Francisco Goya) is missing, after what appeared to be a successful heist.

Look at him, all dapper. Bonus points for spotting a cameo by Danny Boyle

Look at him, all dapper. Bonus points for spotting a cameo by Danny Boyle

This leads to Franck enlisting the help of a hypnotherapist (Dawson) when it becomes clear that due to the head trauma Simon is not going to remember the particulars of the heist, more specifically what happened to the painting. The inclusion of hypnosis as a plot point serves as a justification for visual trickery that Boyle is known for. Some sequences are a delight to watch, especially one involving French countryside, a small chapel and an iPad. Yes, there are iPads in this film. More than one in fact. The colours are vibrant and energetic which makes the darker themes present in this movie a bit more palatable.

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While the divide between reality and dream/hypnosis is quite clear in the beginning, it becomes less so as the plot progresses. The second act of the film lacks the immediacy of the first one, with the plot becoming a bit weighed down by the interpersonal drama between characters, with their darker facets being exposed for us to see. Depending on how much you are willing to suspend your disbelief, this is very much rescued by a relatively strong third act which deals with very dark issues that you would not expect this movie to. While some plot points rely very much on our acceptance of hypnosis as a master tool which can be applied the way it is in this movie, the style and verve brought by Boyle rescues this movie and makes it very worthwhile to watch.

Even dingy warehouses look nice in Boyle's vision of London

Even dingy warehouses look nice in Boyle’s vision of London

Casting is pretty good, with McAvoy and Cassel leaving a rather favourable impression once all is said and done. McAvoy brings a lot of charm (he even uses his Scottish accent) to a role that at times is rather unsympathetic. Despite me knowing that he really does not deserve it, I found myself rooting for him by the end (strange, I know). Cassel brings his usual intensity to the role, playing a rather affable character capable of great violence and rage. His demeanor can shift from a smile to a sneer in an instant, which is really something you should see for yourself. Admittedly, I am quite a fan of his, after seeing him in Eastern Promises and Black Swan, so if you liked him in those roles, you will probably appreciate him here. Rosario Dawson is not given much to work with here, which is unfortunate as plot wise she should really occupy an important position. Unfortunately, she is very much a satellite character, defined by her relationships with other characters

Proudly continuing his tradition of being an affably evil Frenchman

Proudly continuing his tradition of being an affably evil Frenchman

Musings

  • The soundtrack is quite good, using quite a lot of electronic music. Once again, this is a collaboration between Boyle and Rick Smith of Underworld fame, so if you are a fan of scores in previous Boyle films, you will probably like it. There is also a pretty good use of UNKLE which I am quite partial to. Give it a listen here and here
  • It appears that everybody who lives in London lives in a flat which I can only afford if I sell most of my organs. In other words, the flats in this movie are incredibly cool and probably extremely expensive. Quite a bit of an upgrade compared to the squalor of Trainspotting
  • Again, I really think that a movie could be improved with some things not spelled out and better left to viewer’s imagination. Not only it would add some ambiguity to the characters involved, it would also avoid a terrible plot hole that was created as a result of the scene (the one at the end)

Acting

  • McAvoy is pretty good in the role, providing a lot of humanity to his character, while some of his mannerisms early on indicate that there is more to him that it seems. To say more would be to spoil the plot, so I will stop there.
  • Cassel is good as usual, while looking cool as well. Probably all due to his accent. On another note, most of his roles seem quite similar. He really ought to take on something different to avoid typecasting.
  • Rosario Dawson really deserved a bit more screen time spent on fleshing out her character. Despite that, she does reasonably well with what she is given, especially bolstered by scene near the end of the movie (not the ending itself though)
  • Cassel’s multiracial henchmen are played rather adequately. At no point did I pause and think: “Good god, these guys are terrible.”, so they fulfilled their role perfectly. Hooray for adequacy, I suppose?

Conclusion – Trance is a fun movie, which attempts to deal with pretty heavy issues. Some of it is done rather well, while some points suspended my disbelief to its breaking point. Either way, it is all made worth it thanks to Boyle’s cinematography. Do give it a watch.

 

 

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Searching for Sugar Man – The Review

Searching for Sugar Man. This was quite a movie. I am generally not particularly interested in documentaries (unless they cater specifically to my interest), but my flight was overly long and my friend was particularly eager to watch it. Before you knock me for watching it on a low resolution screen with shoddy audio quality, allow me to retort. One, this is a documentary. Not exactly high octane action that requires a gigantic screen. Secondly, the screen was actually decent and I used headphones that were quite a bit better than the stuff supplied by airlines. Besides, there is no point in opening their packaging (of airline headphones) and forcing them to put them into new packaging for next flights. I love the environment. Before I get lost in one of my tangents, let’s get back on track. Searching for Sugar Man.

I find all of these recommendations and reviews a  bit too much, but I couldn't find any better poster. Deal with it

I find all of these recommendations and reviews a bit too much, but I couldn’t find any better poster. Deal with it

The movie tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez, an American folk singer who disappeared into obscurity despite achieving cult status in South Africa (he also had a tour in Australia, but this is omitted from the movie). Cinematography is simple and unobtrusive, which is quite appropriate for a documentary about music. It does look quite nice though, with slow shots of cities such as Johannesburg and Detroit. Some minor visual effects are also applied. Those do not distract from the story, simply used to add a bit of flair when cities in question are looked at. Some old footage is also used appropriately, which really only adds to the experience

The story follows efforts by South African music aficionados and journalists to uncover the truth behind Rodriguez’s disappearance. It is rather difficult to discuss acting as this is a documentary. The story behind Rodriguez was quite interesting for me, despite or perhaps exactly because I’ve never heard of him. Either way, please try to go into this movie blind. To do otherwise would be a disservice. The story is quite fascinating really, not in the least because it demonstrates just how much of an impact a musician can make on social trends at the time, in particular the efforts to end the apartheid regime. Some insight into music industry is provided which is also quite interesting.

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Music used throughout the movie comes from Rodriguez’s albums: Cold Facts and Coming from reality. I personally found music choices to be quite good, with some songs emphasising some of the more poignant moments. The music itself I found to be quite good as well, and after giving it a listen, I am not surprised Rodriguez’s status as a cult musician.

Musings

  • I found the soundtrack to be quite nice. Here are some of the standout songs for me

Conclusion – Searching for Sugar Man is an uplifting story that everyone should watch. Even if you are not particularly into documentaries, the story behind it is quite fascinating and in another world would probably be made into an Oscar bait movie. However, it is real in this case and thus should be immune to such criticism. I apologise for the lack of detail regarding plot and acting. However, it is impossible to discuss such things without impacting your enjoyment of this fine documentary.

 

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Pacific Rim – The Review

So, I just watched Pacific Rim. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. Was it a brilliant piece of storytelling? Not really. But then, does it need to be? After all, this is a movie about giant robots fighting Godzilla inspired monsters. If you insist on every single fact being explained scientifically, then you will not enjoy this film. Asking questions like “Why are monsters coming out of a portal in the Pacific Ocean?” or “Why can’t we just nuke them?” is definitely going to impact your enjoyment of this movie.

A great poster, with a distinct style. How come, we don't get free posters in UK?

A great poster, with a distinct style. How come, we don’t get free posters in UK?

With this out of the way, I wholeheartedly recommend this movie. The high octane action is quite something and hopefully it will keep you at the edge of your seat. This is a movie that you have to see on a big screen. The effects are spectacular and the fights are very well choreographed. Unlike many other movies that rely on shaky-cam and slow motion, the action is very easy to watch and to follow, which feels quite refreshing. When Jaegers hit or are hit by Kaijus, you can definitely feel the impact of the blows.

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There is an economy and efficiency to the way that this movie is handled. Things are explained and some context is given, but not enough to slow down the proceedings. The movie as a whole moves at a brisk pace, with rarely a scene that is wasted. Some of the more questionable scenes had to be included as a build up to a potential sequel. While when viewed in such context these scenes are a fine, if Pacific Rim were to be a standalone movie, it could do with some editing and cuts.

Rather than spending time overexplaining the situation, Guillermo del Toro instead opts to compress all of it into a montage. The origin of Kaiju and humanity’s choice of weapon (Jaegers) are detailed. Some smaller world building details are also added and will delight you if you are into this sort of thing. I quite enjoyed the fact that in this universe Kaiju became a new norm, with their remains being scavenged, them becoming a fixture in entertainment and successful Jaeger pilots being treated as rockstars.

Kaiju Blue, an interesting piece of worldbuilding which is unfortunately not expanded upon

Kaiju Blue, an interesting piece of worldbuilding which is unfortunately not expanded upon

The film itself has a very distinct feel to it. The rockstar comparison for the Jaeger pilots is quite apt as all of them possess a certain air of “coolness”. To be frank, the whole movie possesses this air of “coolness”. While other movies are content with highlighting a cool moment and essentially saying “That was really cool”, Pacific Rim lives and breathes “coolness”. While there are definitely moments that stand out, stopping for a second and considering things like the costumes of the cast, names of the Jagers and even the hair of certain characters made me think: “Damn. That was a very cool movie”. It has a certain heightened reality feel, not quite unlike anime, with characters dressing and acting in a very specific way.

The work that went into these cockpits is amazing. Check the link below for a video featurette

The work that went into these cockpits is amazing. Check the link below for a video featurette

This tone is established pretty early on, with two Jaeger pilots getting ready to fight.  The fact that they do so while sporting huge grins, wearing combat boots and leather jackets emblazoned with their Jaeger logo really tells you all you need to know. While this may sound campy, it is done quite well, blending in, instead of sticking out. This is not a serious grim movie. While the predicament that characters are facing is rather severe, the movie never feels overly pessimistic or depressing. However, this is not to say that everything is done with a wink and a smile. Characters react as you’d expect them to, with disappointment and sometimes anger when things do not go smoothly.

Character work is pretty simple, but it is hard to imagine it being more extensive without taking away from the action sequences. Characters fit basic archetypes with Raleigh (Hunnam) being that brash, cocksure pilot, Stacker (Elba) being a stern but fair leader and Mako (Kikuchi) being an inexperienced pilot, eager to join the fight. There is even a character who follows the “arrogant kung-fu guy” trope to a letter, doing it so well that it is quite easy to feel animosity towards him. Characters are described in broad strokes, with their past being a prime reason for them acting the way they do. Arguably, the relationship between Stacker and Mako is the emotional backbone of the movie, and it would be interesting to see it more developed. Side characters are also quite interesting, in particular other Jaeger pilots. Inclusion of Ron Perlman is also a boon, him giving Hannibal Chau enough flourish to stand out and be remembered. Charlie Day and Burn Gorman provide some humour, which to be frank was not to my taste.

Raleigh and Mako

Some of the themes that this movie touched upon, such as finding a partner on a battlefield, overcoming the odds through co-operation and dealing with one’s traumatic memories/battlefield stress are quite interesting, but are slightly underdeveloped. I particularly enjoyed how Kaijus were seen as a threat that has to be dealt with on a worldwide scale, rather than one single country’s problem. There was a sense of togetherness in the movie, a theme that in order to solve problems co-operation is necessary. While this is definitely not a new theme and has been used extensively prior, it stood out quite a bit to me. Rather than have a movie where America saves the day, this movie was about a combined effort (main character’s Jaeger being American notwithstanding)

Musings

  • That soundtrack was sure something. Hearing that guitar riff during some battles was extremely thrilling and made me want to pump my fist in the air. You can listen to it here
  • Guillermo del Toro’s attention to detail remains intact. Whether it is Russian pilots using proper Russian or Chinese people actually speaking Mandarin, there was a plethora of small touches that made the world as authentic as possible. Architectural decisions that were made when constructing the sets were very well researched, emulating the way the area would look in the real world. A featurette detailing the way a cockpit set was made is pretty amazing
  • It is also quite clear that Guillermo del Toro enjoys building the world rather than destroying it. There is a lot of worldbuilding present, which will delight you. It also enables further development in the sequel if this does well.
  • The fact that Mako was not reduced to a pure love interest makes me quite happy. While the characters would benefit from more depth, reducing her to a romantic interest would be quite a disservice. On this note, there is a complete lack of titillation in this movie, which is rather refreshing if you consider the way Megan Fox is portrayed in Transformers

Acting

  • Charlie Hunnam is quite good as Raleigh Beckett, bringing some charm and confidence into the role. However, there really is not much for him to work with, thus his impact may be quite limited. On the separate note, he is in a TREMENDOUS shape.
  • Idris Elba continues to wow me as usual. For a stock role he does extremely well, providing a tremendous presence. He chews through some of his character’s cheesier lines like there is no tomorrow, making them sound believable.
  • Rinko Kikuchi does well with what she got. I got an impression that she was supposed to mimic that big eyed anime girl stereotype at some points which may grate some. However, this can’t really be her fault as she does what she can with the limited characterization that she got. Getting a heroine that is not afraid to get into a fight is quite refreshing however
  • Charlie Day provides some levity as Dr Newt Geiszler, but the humour did not do much for me. Perhaps this is more to do with Charlie Day’s delivery more than anything. I am admittedly not a fan, having seen him in some other movies. His character, a Kaiju nerd would be quite interesting if the movie was not so centered on the fights
  • Ron Perlman is another standout in a movie. Just due to his presence, the need to explain his character was rendered moot. Just looking at him was enough to understand just what kind of man he is. 

 

Conclusion – All in all, Pacific Rim is a movie executed with a lot of panache and love. If you enjoy seeing action and don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of character work in the genre which is not particular optimal for character work, you will enjoy it. Now go out and see it. I am keeping my fingers crossed for Pacific Rim 2. 

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Xbox One Eighty?

So, this happened. Microsoft actually reversed their stance on DRM. So, why do I still feel a bit empty and upset? I think I feel like this because this backtracking reeks of desperation and in some ways hubris. Microsofts expects us to take these news in stride and go out there and buy an Xbox One, just because of this change. They expect us to disregard their arrogant and ‘I know better’ attitude that they continuously displayed merely a week ago. Truly, in this situation the consumers have won. And that is a good thing. However, while we should forgive, we should not forget. More than anything, this situation shows that as consumers we do have power. Go out there and make your opinion known. It is a whole lot better than sitting back and waiting until someone does it for you.

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What we certainly must not forget is the atmosphere of hubris surrounding Microsoft’s exec’s statements on their new policy. Not only it was unclear and often confusing, they failed to actually outline any of the benefits, used a lot of buzzwords (infinite power of the cloud) and sometimes even told people to stuff it and buy and Xbox 360 if they can’t deal with the “future”. In some cases, Microsoft resorted to outright lies, stating that the always online connection is needed to harness the “infinite power of the cloud” for games such as Titanfall or Dead Rising 3. Now, I can only wonder how these games will run without online connection (if no one can tell, I am being quite sarcastic here). Another rather hilarious point is Microsoft’s insistence that these policies are set in stone and cannot and will not be changed. The truth is clear. Once Microsoft realised that they cannot expect to bleed people dry (where else is that cut from used games going to go) with no resistance, they changed their tune momentarily.

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Another point that I wish to address is the persistence of people who suddenly decided that  stifling our consumer rights equals innovation. According to them, this completely digital future can bring forth new benefits such as selling and trading digital games, something that is now impossible because the internet “whined” too much about things and preferred to regress. In my humble opinion there is no need to take away options and force this innovation down our throats. Rather than giving us only one option, Microsoft or Sony should simply make digital more appealing than physical and thus gaining our trust. Steam seems to doing it well enough after all.

Either way, it appears that this is no longer a one sided fight. Aside from the price point, both consoles are evenly matched, exclusives notwithstanding (it is a matter of taste after all). So vote with your wallets and do what you think is right. Then again, Microsoft might surprise us in few more days once those pre-order numbers start to look up. Anyways, to finish this up and in order to put smiles on my readers’ faces, here is a gif which represents what I felt like when I read these news.

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E3 – Sony

After Microsoft’s statements on used games and DRM, everyone waited for Sony to respond. And boy, did it not disappoint. The conference started innocuously enough, with some games for PS3, Vita and discussion about the entertainment side of PS4 (which I believe, almost no one was interested in). After that, the conference started to feel like Sony indirectly ribbing on Microsoft, with them discussing indie self-publishing and such. By the end however, Sony basically fired the cannons, directly targeting Microsoft.

There was a lot of games. Aside from the exclusives announced at the PS4 meeting, such as Drive Club, Killzone and Infamous (all of which received pretty good trailers), there were some new unannounced games making appearances. The Order 1866 by Ready at Dawn and Sony Santa Monica was very impressive visually. While no gameplay was shown, the aesthetics and engine capabilities were demonstrated in full. Multiplat titles such as Destiny, Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV and Elder Scrolls online got some impressively long demos which were quite something, Watch_Dogs in particular. However, the real bombs were dropped with Square Enix announcing Versus XIII (which is now Final Fantasy XV) and Kingdom Hearts III. There was even a Mad Max game, made by the Avalanche Studios.

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The indie showing was equally strong, with emphasis on developer relations. Transistor, which hit PAX by surprise was confirmed to be in development for PS4, along with many other indie games, such as Outlast, Don’t Starve and Oddworld. What is admirable is the insistence that developers can self-publish, without any interference and transferal of IP.

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While the games were impressive in their own right, showing quite a bit of variety, what strikes me as particularly important is the tone of the conference. Sony appeared to be self aware and conscious of consumer’s wishes and requests. The DRM issue was singled out and dealt with in a clear and concise manner, leaving little room for interpretation. No online checks for single-player offline games and no restrictions on used disc based games. The price is also a big thing, with it being $100 lower compared to Xbox One. The only negative news was that PS4 online multiplayer will only be available to PS+ members. However, with rising server infrastructure costs, this is understandable. Also, the fact that PS+ offers a great value through its game content greatly offsets this.

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Overall, I believe that this conference was a resounding success. While normally declaring someone as a E3 winner is silly and often quite biased, I believe that Sony’s conference is a brutal blow to any goodwill that Microsoft hoped to garner through their conference. Absence of Vita, while upsetting is understandable. However, I would really love to see some kind of Vita Direct feature in future, so the device won’t simply fade away.

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E3 2013 – Ubisoft

I gotta give this to Ubisoft, their presentations are rarely boring and tend to include some surprises. This year, the conference largely followed the template set out by the previous one, including the return of Aisha Tyler. Thankfully, no Tobuscus this year, so that was a definite improvement. The content that was showed was a mixture of gameplay demos and CGI trailers, each game usually having both.

The conference started with Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains playing some music, looking slightly bemused and promoting a new Rocksmith game. As the celebrity appearances go, this one was quite decent. Not completely disinterested and not suspiciously enthusiastic. Splinter Cell Blacklist was showcased next and got about as much time as it deserved, seeing how it is going to be released in two months’ time. It was mostly limited to a montage trailer, showcasing different locations from the game and the characters you will play as. South Park: The Stick of Truth also had a presence, with acknowledgements about the change of management and nebulousness of its holiday release date. The trailer was quite good, however I am not sure how much (if any) of it was gameplay. Or perhaps it is a complete opposite and it consists wholly of gameplay. Again, not so sure.

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Trials Fusion and Trials Frontier got some time in the spotlight, for next gen consoles and mobile phones respectively. It is quite good to see Ubisoft showcase them like this. Along with this there was some F2P game of sorts, which unfortunately did not quite explain what the gameplay was supposed to be like. The trailer shown was whimsical and rather funny at some points, but utterly horrible when it came to actually explaining what the game is all about.

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Just Dance was announced, to no one’s surprise due to its profitability. Already announced games like Assassin’s Creed IV and Watch_Dogs only received CGI treatment, probably to save time. A Rabbids game/TV show was also announced, further strengthening the notion that this year E3 is all about transmedia entertainment. Rayman Legends received a demo, which while welcome is perhaps a bit overdue. However, it still looked great in motion and I can’t wait to play it on my Vita this September

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Now, onto the more exciting announcements. The first one was for a racing game called The Crew. It received quite a lengthy demo, demonstrating the size of the maps available, with cities like New York, Las Vegas and Miami available. What particularly impressed me was the off road nature of the game. There is a lot of area which is accessible, and a lot of it is off the roads. A part of demonstration emphasised the point that there are a lot of alternate routes available for racers who modify their cars accordingly. There was also an emphasis on the multiplayer nature of this game. Apparently the players may choose to populate the world with other online players, resulting in cars in the world being controlled by a mixture of AI and real people. I am not quite sure how this will actually work in practice, but I cannot fault Ubisoft for a lack of ambition.

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Tom Clancy’s The Division was another standout. It started after a three minute long presentation that would put any conspiracy theorist to shame. It was quite evocative of last year’s E3, with Ubisoft saving its big surprise for last. The game appears to be an online RPG with some tactical shooter elements. There are skills and damage numbers as well as loot. The game looked very nice, with very futuristic HUD elements. The premise itself was also quite interesting as it put players in the shoes of government response agents tasked with assisting population of major cities in America that were hit with a pandemic. Only time will tell whether this premise will be used to its maximum, with mission variety not limiting to the usual “go there, kill stuff” mentality which is often found in MMORPGs.

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Despite the slightly familiar vibe of the Ubisoft conference, when compared to EA’s conference it wins by a mile. At least it managed to bring out some titles that were completely unexpected. Also, no E-Sports.

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E3 2013 – Microsoft

So, that was Microsoft. A pretty decent showing and they actually kept their promise and made it games only. While there are some quality exclusives, it may be a bit telling that they chose to start the conference with a demo of Metal Gear Solid 5 along with a split second appearance by Kojima. Also, stealth horse. You have to see it to believe it.

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There was an unveiling of an Xbox 360 redesign, which is quite nice and appears to have the same visual identity as the Xbox One. Unfortunately, no price cut, so not sure how this will resonate with the consumers. World of Tanks is apparently coming to Xbox 360 as well.

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Crytek’s Ryse was showed next. Unfortunately, I came away rather unimpressed. The demo appeared to be highly scripted (which is okay) and consisted mostly of Quick Time Events (which is less okay). While some people may be excited at a prospect of a game set in ancient Rome, I just wish that they went about it in a different way.

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Battlefield 4 also got some stage time, resulting in a demo which while nice, was not particularly surprising. Dead Rising 3 was also shown off and it looked pretty fun and quite interesting really. The problem I had with it was mostly due to its much bleaker tone, a departure from previous games which were colourful, wacky and allowed you to dress you character in hotpants. Forza 5 demonstration was quite strange, starting with an unveiling of a sports car, which nonetheless got a reaction out of the crowd. It is quite unclear for me why that deserved time and attention of the attendees. The game itself looked quite nice, as racing games go. The “Cloud” capabilities of Xbox One were pushed to a forefront in this demonstration. Apparently player data is collected and it can create digital avatars of the players that adopt their gameplay habits. It sounds like an interesting idea, but I am not quite clear on how it is going to be implemented. Halo of course was also unveiled, or rather something relating to Halo.

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Rare’s Killer Instinct was one of the games unveiled. Due to my unfamiliarity with previous Killer Instinct games, I cannot say much on it. However, I did find the presentation that they gave quite perplexing due to a “rape-ish” joke used by one of the presenters and emphasis on the Smart Glass. Quantum Break by Remedy was interesting as I am quite a fan, however the trailer they showed failed to explain anything regarding the game’s connection to episodic TV content. A game by SWERY also had a mention, which is incredible by itself. Project Spark appeared to be Microsoft’s answer to Little Big Planet, and aside from awkward banter, it looked quite impressive. Titanfall was a big announcement, or would be if the news weren’t leaked few days ago. Nevetheless it looked quite good. The action was fast, exciting and I am sure that it controlled well. What I am less sure about is whether a multiplayer centric game which is also an exclusive can do well in a market which is oversaturated with other multiplayer shooters.

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The Witcher 3 was also presented which was a bit of a blow to me due to CD Projekt’s insistence on no DRM in their games. However, I understand that they cannot ignore any potential customers and must act accordingly. The trailer looked great, although I am a bit hung up on some aesthetical choices that were made. Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive felt as a breath of fresh air, with its bright colours and whimsical design. No gameplay trailer however, but I am afraid that it will end up being a ho hum shooter with some coat of paint on it.

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Microsoft chose to end their conference in a rather abrupt fashion, not discussing any current concerns about DRM or used games. Their price point was $499. While this cannot be compared with PS3’s beastly $600 price mark, this is still quite expensive and I remain unconvinced as to whether I should buy an Xbox One. With their stance on DRM combined with this price Xbox One is rather unappealing to me. Along with this, their exclusives appeared to focus solely on the more meat and potatoes shooting rather than something more experimental like what Sony does (Beyond, Heavy Rain, etc). Which is an okay thing for some, but not something I enjoy as much. Another concern is Microsoft’s conduct in the past. While there was a string of strong exclusives at launch, this dried up by the end. Is that going to happen again? It is still to soon to tell. Regardless, no conclusions can be made until Sony unveils PS4 and discusses its price along with their position on DRM.

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