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SiN Episodes: Emergence (2006)
A brief, but fun shooter.
The original action-packed FPS "SiN" was a truly groundbreaking game of it's time; featuring real-world locations, tight controls, a damage system that targets specific parts of enemies,a sexy villain and much more. However, it was sadly overshadowed by the critically acclaimed Half-Life. Then came the expansion pack, Wages of SiN, that continues the adventures of John R. Blade, as he fights Gianni Manero, a mob boss that is trying to take over Freeport City with his army of mercenaries and mutants in Elexis Sinclaire's absence. Though, it's only 3 hours long, it at least satisfied the appetites of fans of the series.
Now comes SiN: Episodes. The game was released on the promise of more stories to come in the future. Many plot points are strongly hinted at throughout the game, such as Jessica Cannon's mysterious connection with secondary antagonist Victor Radek, the whereabouts of Elexis Sinclaire, and her plans for Blade, but sadly they are to remain unresolved since Ritual Entertainment, the creators of the series, went bust several years ago. A reboot of the series was planned at some point, but it remains to be seen whether or not to be in progress. With so much potential for a franchise utterly gutted, I was left(among with many fans) cold.
Despite being the only episode released thus far, Emergence has a lot of good things going for it. The controls are tight, gameplay is challenging, the graphics are nice, crisp, and decent, and the sound and voice acting is top-notch; the major gripes being that the SP campaign is too short, not a lot of enemy variety, and only 3 weapons to carry. In one of the later levels, you get to see Freeport City with VERY strong hints that exploration of the city(for the first time in the series) would be possible. But due to Ritual now being a casual games company, sadly such possibilities are dead in the water. As for the story, it's very comic-bookie in nature, with a dash of Robocop and Demolition Man, with some funny social satire jabs at corporatism and big business. Had the series continued, we might've gotten a deeper perspective of Freeport City and the main characters as well. If Lara Croft can get a well-deserved and more refined revival, then so can John R. Blade; a relatively obscured hero of the FPS genre whose presence is strengthened by the charismatic, yet ruthless dark-haired Elexis Sinclaire, a combination of brains and beauty that is without a doubt, a PERFECT match for Blade.
Having played this on PC, I gotta say, for what it is, it's a fun shooter. It's a real shame that it should've been a true sequel to one of my favorite FPS. With a full sequel, the world of John R. Blade, would've been fully fleshed out and more coherent(how Blade was captured by Sinclaire remains unclear)with more variety; especially with the enemies and locations to fight in. I haven't played Half-Life yet, but from what I heard, it's a fantastic game that SiN equally should've gotten the praise and admiration that it deserves. Still, it's cool to play as a bad-ass action hero blasting mutants like nobody's business and SiN fits that role perfectly.
Inderrated, but fun shooter.
So Half-Life achieved widespread critical acclaim upon release in the late '90s, but SiN received little attention due to the various bugs and no doubt it was overshadowed by the latter, but SiN is a game you should definitely play because it's a fun retro-First Person Shooter, and a really good one at that.
You play as Colonel John R. Blade, a vulgar, trash-talking cop who wants to know who is putting out a DNA-altering mutagen drug called U4, a clever anagram for euphoria(nice to have a game with lots of personality)/ After investigating and tracking down one of her cohorts, Tony Mancini, a mob boss in fictional Freeport City, he soon learns that it was none other than Elexis Sinclair, a rogue geneticist/mad scientist with a sexy allure, with gorgeous looks and a killer body(by '98 PC game standards). But there are many twists and turns in the plot that keep things very interesting.
What's really fascinating about this game is that Elexis Sinclair has both beauty and brains to match; a perfect foil for Blade. And the rest of the cast round out this sci-fi story terrifically, especially J.C., Blade's resident computer hacker who works for Hardcorps, a private security force that has taken over local law enforcement in Freeport City. Their constant banter with each other makes for some interesting and hilarious moments, and it gives this game a sparkle of charm in a sea of serious, modern FPS. The story and writing is great and comic-book like with a dash of Demolition Man and Robocop for atmospheric good measure. The level design is concise and cohesive. In fact many of the locations in the game have a realistic layout, making it seem as if it can take place in our world; a nice touch and the weapons have lots of punch in the sound department.
I recently bought this game along with Sin: Episodes. It's an episodic game series, but sadly only one episode has been released so far due to Ritual Entertainment closing it's doors; leaving the franchise in indefinite limbo. It would be nice to see the series on the next-gen of consoles because the story has a lot of potential to be something really great. An expansion pack, called Sin: Wages of Sin has been released, but it's a bitch to get it working on current PC platforms. So if you're willing to buy this, prepare to do a lot of tweaking in order to get the game to work.
Sin is a great, FPS that is charming in it's characters and plot. Although the graphics are dated by today's standards, they're nevertheless colorful and smooth with lots of nice looking environments that still look good even to this day. If you want a retro First Person Shooter, then look no further than Sin.
Almost Human (2013)
I just seen the first episode and I gotta say I'm really hooked on this show that's filled to the brim with human drama, action, humor, suspense, and mystery. But it's the human interactions between the two leads that makes the show very interesting and really thought provoking as well. Karl Urban(of Star Trek, Lord of The Rings, and of course, the utterly stellar "Dredd" fame) is really great in the role of a hard-as-nails cop who doesn't take too kindly to synthetic androids; one in particular, played by Michael Ealy, who is the complete antithesis of Urban. Ealy's character, Dorian, despite being an android, is very believable and convincing; conveying emotions that are(no pun intended) almost human. It'll be really interesting to see how their relationship plays out in subsequent episodes.
There's a lot of mystery and intrigue going on in this show so much, thankfully kept at the minimum to keep the audience guessing at the true motives of some of the characters while also giving the proceedings a heavy dose of suspense in a fantastically realized world and though it draws heavy inspirations from classic science fiction films, it weaves it's own plot and twists to keep things interesting and fresh. There are some plot points that I felt were rushed, but overall, this was a great episode to kick off the entire series. Be warned, there are some bloody scenes that are really intense, but the special effects, for a TV series, are really good and has a sense of hyper verisimilitude that, ironically enough, isn't too far-fetched. How long will it be before life-like androids begin to roam among humans in everyday life? If you don't think it's possible, then check out Raytheon, or DARPA, which are actively researching and developing this cutting edge technology. More importantly, there are lots of moral issues that should be discussed such as technology being too powerful, being replaced by androids, and as well as finding out what it means to be human and what separates man and machine.
I'd say "Almost Human" is an intelligent and thought-provoking series that within it's narrative, raises lots of questions, and though there's really no easy answers, the journey to find them is an exciting ride for those willing to undertake. I'm already anxious to see what's gonna happen next. Here's hoping that the show is successful for an entire season.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)
Well-written, tense, and incredible.
Whedon has done it again. Not only has he given us the greatest superhero ensemble piece that is The Avengers(among Firefly, Angel, and the excellent Sci-Fi epic Serenity, and other things of this caliber)but also this new and exciting take on an established and soon to be shared "Marvel Universe" known as "Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D".
This new show delves into the lives of the human aspect of the mysterious organization among it's super-powered brethren(watch the earlier Marvel films as well as The Avengers to get up to speed)with lots of thrills and character drama that Mr. Whedon is so lovingly known for as example of his earlier work. The show has a lot of ground to cover as this is the first episode of a series, as more plot and character development will be explored in future episodes, but the premiere episode is really good. Not going overboard, just finding a nice balance between action and story. Other superhero shows have tried and failed; most notably "Heroes" although the first season is simply incredible, but Whedon's new series knows what it is and is building on it tremendously. Keen viewers will notice several Easter eggs pertaining to certain characters in the Marvel universe which I will not spoil, but for those new to this show, will be quite surprised.
I'm impressed with what this show has to offer. With a great foundation to build on, it's really shaping up to be something special. The last moments of this episode will leave you breathless and anxious to see what Whedon and co will come up with next. Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of the better superhero shows out there on the airwaves; providing a nice balance of character pathos and movie-caliber action.
Riddick is back and better than ever!!
After brushing his shoulders off from the ambitious but critically panned Chronicles of Riddick(though I liked the director's cut)Riddick is back in his prime; more brutal and badass than ever before. Gone is the mythological stuff that was previously present, and in it's place is a tight, well-written storyline that feels similar in tone to the first film, but nevertheless is it's own beast of a film.
Surprisingly, and to some which may be unexpected, Riddick actually has a soft spot. Considering that he's essentially a hardcore convict and murderer, the amount of heart that he shows to the alien dog is fascinating to watch as he explores the desolate planet's ruins to seek shelter from the harsh landscape and the vicious alien creatures that inhabit it. And the villains come off well-developed as well, with loads of humor, but also doesn't let us forget that they are cold-blooded and ruthless, who are more apt to stab you in the back for momentary personal gain.
Also worth mentioning is the small scale of the conflict. Not too OTT action scenes which are well made, personal character studies(one gets the impression that Riddick secretly wants to die, but something is holding him back from doing so, which may be resolved in the sequel)and above all, a much better story with lots of twists thrown in. A far cry from Chronicles of Riddick, which many people were not to kindly off, but to some, has it's merits on it's own terms.
The real question is: What's next for Riddick? Hopefully, this film does good business and gets a sequel that will further flesh out the intergalactic badass's character and universe. Riddick is back and better than ever!!
Pacific Rim (2013)
One of the best films I've seen this year. A unique blend of Japanese mecha and kaiju that pays homage to those films, Pacific Rim is a film that not only dazzles the senses, but it's also a human story at heart and that's the most important part of any film that has the fate of the world hanging in the balance with epic battles at the forefront. I found this film MUCH BETTER than the Transformers films. Though those films had epic action scenes, the big difference is that you can ACTUALLY see the action; no quick-style-MTV-ADD-riddled editing. The action flows organically along with the story, which is both exciting, fresh, and well-acted. Some of the characters were underdeveloped, but the leads are impressive with great performances throughout.
Pacific Rim is one of those films that simply make you say, WOW!!! A really fun time at the movies and a nice change of pace from the gritty blockbusters in theaters now. I hope they get a sequel going because I'm really excited to see what their gonna come up with next.
World War Z (2013)
World War Z is more about the visuals than the characters.
With the summer blockbuster movie season in the swing, audiences expect all the usual trappings that come along with such; i.e huge explosions and no plot. That's what you'll get with World War Z, a film that is flash and substance, cranked to insane levels with bucket loads of CGI and little regards for smooth and cohesive narrative which could've elevated it beyond just action and special effects.
I'm not familiar with the original novel on which this film is based, but from the looks of it, it seems to be aimed at only a specific demographic; that is those that crave mindless action above all else. There's nothing wrong with that, but I suppose those(like me) that want story and character development ALONG with action, will be disappointed as World War Z, to them, only resembles the original novel IN NAME ONLY. Superficial performances from some of the lead characters, save for Brad Pitt, dull the experience immensely as a film of this caliber demands hard, vicious violence and tense, frightening atmosphere, that, unfortunately enough, are sparsely sprinkled about in this film. There's no doubt that some of the film's action scenes are impressive, but one gets the feeling that because of it's PG-13 rating, a bane of zombie flicks, are so tame that to call it a TRUE zombie flick would be an act of blasphemous disservice. Ultimately, it would seem that with so many rewrites to the script and filming of scenes, it clearly became a case of "too many cooks spoiling the broth".
The potential for something like this to be greater than the sum of it's parts were here, but the execution of such potential into something natural, organic, and emotionally and intellectually engaging, falls equally and devastatingly flat on it's cinematic ass. World War Z once again proves the inept and ADD-riddled filmmaking process of Hollywood is once again, cropping up and utterly ruining a film's potential to be something great. I'm not sure if I want to see this film again; I'll wait for the director's cut. IF indeed such A CUT exists, then I suspect it would be an overall improvement over the theatrical release, but since it's too early in the game for such a thing, I've no choice but to conclude that World War Z, ultimately, pales in comparison to it's much superior counterparts "28 Days Later" "Night of the Living Dead" "The Walking Dead" and to a certain extent, even the bloody yet comedic romp "Night of the Comet" and other notable films of this tried-and-true genre. If a sequel is made and judging by the latest box-office numbers, I don't fail to see why. Only ardent, die-hard fans can hope for the next film that features more blood and guts, more heroism, and most importantly, more character development.
Crysis 2 (2011)
An epic sequel to a ballistically entertaining shooter.
After being really impressed with the original Crysis, I was INSANELY curious to see what the next game would bring, and boy was I happy. Not only is the story more focused, tighter, and epic in scope, not only does it has the most beautiful graphics on any platform, and not only does it has the most stellar production values, but it also has the most ballsy and entertaining action set-pieces that I've ever had the pleasure of seeing and playing through.
The new hero is a Force Recon Marine known as Alcatraz, who had the unfortunate yet coincidental task of being the last hope for humanity armed with the technology of the future; the likes of which no ordinary man, albeit a soldier as ever witnessed in the history of mankind. A physically fractured soul due to injuries sustained in battle, Alcatraz is locked and loaded, but what is the true nature of his mission and what fate does it hold for mankind? The first game's story had an action/sci-fi movie-like plot that was good, even though it left a few unanswered questions concerning it's context. Now with Crysis 2, we learn who created the Nanosuit, its origins, background information about it's original protagonists, and much more. However, Crysis 2 has a lot of dark themes in it's narrative, biological warfare, civil unrest, martial law, private military forces and their morally ambiguous agendas, and identity crisis(no pun intended). It's true that some characters may be underdeveloped, but that's saved for the sequel, which I'm sure will tie up some loose ends, but the story is actually really gripping; kept my attention for the whole duration of the game.
But Crysis 2 wouldn't be a Crysis game without action set-pieces. Out of all the FPS game's I've played, the series hands down has the most exciting and entertaining of them all. From massive destruction to some horrific scenes of human suffering and decadence, no other game in this genre has conveyed post-apocalyptic alien invasion scenarios like this one; for which I was thoroughly impressed. This no doubt helped along with the games stunningly beautiful visual effects that are so cinematic, you actually feel like you're in a Hollywood blockbuster action/sci-fi film. The sandbox style of play is back, though not as prevalent as in the previous game, but you still have many options on how to attack your enemies. The level of tactical decision making is key to your success and one of the series' finest aspects.
I'm not so sure about the multi-player. I've played several sessions(this was on Xbox Live) but I'm an old-school gamer who likes action and story, and Crysis 2 fits the bill nicely. There are glitches like enemies freezing in place and some inconsistencies with sound, but it doesn't mar the game one bit. Speaking of sound, this game has the most impressive sound effects I've ever heard; from the powerful roar of the machine guns to the massive scale destruction of the urban environment, the game is a treat for the ears, especially if you have a surround sound system cranked to the max. And it also helps if you have a widescreen TV equipped with 3D. I've never seen the game in 3D, but even without 3D, the game is still impressive and a blast to play so for those of you who have a set up, get this game to truly experience what it has to offer.
I really enjoyed Crysis 2; even more than Crysis 1. Heck, I enjoy both games, but Crysis 2 story won me over, simply because it's more epic in scope. Having beaten 2, I'm more pumped than ever for Crysis 3. No other series gave me the feeling of being a bad-ass super-soldier with the feel of a big-budget blockbuster action movie!! Kudos to Crytek for delivering one of the most ballistically entertaining FPS on the market!!
Iron Man Three (2013)
A real ass wiper.
After the disappointing Iron Man 2, I came into this film with high expectations. Needless to say, I am profoundly and utterly in shock at how average the movie is. It's not that it's all bad per se, but the screenwriters thought that by putting lots of comedy in an action movie juxtaposed with the seriousness and verisimilitude of a Tom Clancy novel that this would work. It didn't. The little side-kick kid was absolutely terrible; although I don't know if it was a cheap gimmick to get more parents with their kids to see it, or cater to that specific demographic, I'm not sure. But they need to stop. I wouldn't have minded if said side-kick was a teenager or someone in their early 20's, THAT would've made a whole lot of sense. All I could say is what was Shane Black thinking?!?!?! This film would've been a lot better if they skimmed the comedy bits and focused more on the story and characters; especially the villains. Although the special effects and action are really impressive, they cannot make up for the uneven and disorienting screenplay.
I don't know what to think. Should you skip this movie? Tough choice, but all if you want is something to pass the time, then go for it.(I recommend the matinée) If you're the kind of person that wants story and character development above all else, then you will be disappointed. It's a shame really because Iron Man is a really cool superhero and the first film was a blast to watch. It's MILES ahead better than this one. You're probably better off watching the first film, or wait for Star Trek: Into Darkness or the eagerly anticipated Man of Steel. Iron Man has depth and integrity along with a high dash of wit and charm. Yes the charm is there, but there's no juicy meat.
Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
A solid action flick.
After the disappointing "Die Hard 5" I came into this film with high expectations and needless to say I was really impressed. Not only does this has great action scenes and not only does this has a well-written script and acting, but it also has a very plausible storyline. Who would've thought this up? No one in particular but Antoine Fuqua makes it work very smoothly. Some of the characters seem underdeveloped, but I can overlook that in what is a very competent action movie, the likes of which hasn't been seen since..well...Shooter. "Olympus Has Fallen is another great flick by Mr. Fuqua. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next.