Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Fighting" Review

“Fighting” co-stars Channing Tatum of “Step Up” and “Stop-Loss” fame with ex-War Machine, Terrence Howard. A tale of a businessman and a street vendor/fighter willing to do anything it takes to achieve pride, glory, and money.

Tatum plays Shawn MacArthur, a travelling street vendor of an assortment of items, who is new to the streets of New York. Tatum encounters Harvey Boarden (Howard) and his band of ragtag teens in the first scene. Howard’s accomplices ambush Tatum’s curio stand of “Harry Hippopotamus” books. Tatum fights them all back, but they outnumber him and steal his earnings. Tatum finds Howard soon after to collect his previously stolen earnings, and this is where Howard introduces the premise of the movie. Tatum’s eyes light up at the thought of acquiring money in any way possible (Who didn’t see this coming?), and it turns out that he’ll have to fight (and this?).

When Tatum isn’t fighting, he speaks (more on this later) and the weak back story is sort of developed with a love story intertwined. The love interest, Zulay Valez (Zulay Henao), works at a club as a bartender. Tatum stalks her until she finally shows interest, and she ends up stalking him back through Google (who hasn’t done this?). She discovers that Tatum beat up his father in high school because his father tried to impede a fight between Tatum and his rival, Evan Hailey (Brian White). This information connects the showdown at the end.

We’re treated to what seems like speech impediment riddled dialogue delivered from Tatum (it got annoying swiftly). At first, it’s thought to be due to his Birmingham roots (and the way he acts), but people in Alabama don’t speak with long pauses. Tatum did an okay job for not talking much and swinging his fists. Women can rejoice that he’s shirtless half the time, since many women swoon at the mention of his name alone. Tatum’s partner in crime, Howard, delivers a passing grade of a job, but better acting is expected from a star of his caliber (why’d he take this role?). Howard’s character isn’t truly required because his only job is to book fights for Tatum. No teachings, no fighting moves, and just a housing arrangement are shared between the two.

In total, four fights occurred, pitting Tatum against various opponents in bizarre locations. The locations fluctuate from the upstairs of a church to the backyard of a mini-mart to an upstate New York rooftop. For the most part, the fight sequences were lacking, especially because of the fidgety, in your face camera angle. It was difficult deciphering what was going on during fights, and every fight with Tatum was more or less an exact replica. He starts off by losing, but then turns the tide with some amazing move or stroke of luck. Maybe the prize money willed him on?

One of the only bright spots in the movie was the musical score with such songs as “Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City” by Bobby 'Blue' Bland, “Magic” by Robin Thicke, “Hustlin” by Rick Ross, and many others. Songs were played at the perfect times during fight scenes, panoramic shots of the city, and others. The other bright spots are the eye candy that Tatum and Valez provide to their audiences. Both were easy on the eyes throughout the movie, but these two to three bright spots aren’t enough to save an otherwise meaningless plot.

Grade: D

Patch Note Previews (For May 3 – May 9)

It’s a better week than week’s past with cheap games, but some good ones sprinkled in. This week brings us another movie-based video game (surprise, surprise), a Harry Potter game (nope, but almost), and the return of our little friend, the Patapon. Here is the 1st full week of May!

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (360, Wii, DS) (May 5th) Majesco

Movie-based video games come out like clockwork no matter if they sell well or not (they don’t). Ben Stiller returns in “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” with the video game releasing before the movie. Some of the historic figures that will be encountered include: Al Capone, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, and George Custard. It’s a star-studded cast of the ages! Look for puzzle solving, mazes, and running away from enemies (stone soldiers are one of the many). Movie-based games more often than not, flop badly, but if you’re a diehard fan of the movie, why not check it out? Help Ben Stiller combat the forces of evil at the museum on Tuesday for $39.99 on the 360 and Wii and for $29.99 for the DS.

Patapon 2 (PSP) (May 5th) Pyramid/Japan Studio

Pan-Pan-Patapon! The little villager armies are back with their addictive and rhythmic chants of war, battle, and victory in “Patapon 2”! Two huge additions to this game are the introduction of the hero class, Heropon, a unit who can shape-shift into any Patapon class and revive, and multiplayer game play, which involves cooperation among friends to achieve the desired goals.
“Patapon” was a gem, and not just because of the amazing price point, but because of addictive beats, different art style, and mini-games before and after battles. “Patapon 2” looks to offer more of the same with a continuation of the story and the same price.You can move to the beat of the war drum to purchase this for $19.99 in stores on Tuesday. Another option, if one doesn’t want to leave the house, is to digitally download this from the PlayStation Network for the same price.

Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times (DS) (May 5th) Konami

“Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times” is an adventure game, where the character goes through various places to complete a multitude of tasks as a magician. There’s customization of the character’s clothes, fishing, reading, magic battling, and much more! Think Harry Potter with “Animal Crossing” like graphics. This one looks interesting enough to take a look at because of it’s take on wizards and sorceresses with simple, but effective graphics. There’s up to 52 series of adventures one can take place in which is a plethora of adventuring. Magicians can ride their broom sticks all the way to stores on Tuesday to buy “Mysterious Times” for $29.99.

Patch Note Previews (For April 26 – May 2)

This week varies from an unknown tongue twister of a game, some more hack and slash action, and a movie video game based on our favorite superhero, Wolverine. What more can one ask for? Maybe another Hannah Montana video game? Wolverine wouldn’t be too fond of that idea. Without further ado, here’s the last week of April and the first days of May.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PS3, 360, Wii, PC, PSP, PS2, DS) (May 1st)

The long anticipated release of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (XOW) hits theatres Friday, May 1st with the video game getting the same day release. XOW looks promising with its countless number of moves under Wolverine’s command. The movie storyline is followed through Wolverine’s eyes as he goes through his pre-X-Men days. The game play is centered around what Wolverine does best and that’s slashing first and taking names later. Players have Wolverine’s adamantium claws, healing ability, and this “lunge” ability, where he jumps huge distances ala Hulk. Movie video games tend to be steered away from because of their low percentage of success, but giving things a rent never hurts anyone. You can claw a path to stores to purchase your copy on Friday for the PS3/360 for $59.99, Wii for $49.99, PSP/PC for $39.99, and PS2/DS for $29.99.
Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce (PSP) (April 28th)

KOEI brings “Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce” (DWS) to our portable fingertips, so our hack and slash adventures can be brought on the go. Now, the tides of war can be controlled in our homes and on the bus, train, or airplane. This iteration of Dynasty Warriors brings 4-player co-op play along with our main characters possessing the ability to “awaken” (think Dragon Ball super saiyan status) to a different look and a significant increase in stats. DWS seems like the perfect game for you and 3 buddies to pick up to wreak havoc on army after army standing in opposition. The price point will be $39.99 on Tuesday for the Sony PSP, but $40 each for 4 people? You do the math. For those willing to try this game, there is a demo available on Sony’s
“PlayStationNetwork” or “PSN”.

Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier (DS) (April 28th)

“Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier” (SRT) is more of a tongue twister than a video game title, correct? Nope, it’s a video game licensed by Atlus. SRT is a turn-based action game that has your team take turns swiping or shooting at the enemy during battles. Each battle sequence displays its individual, unique flavor with each character and their different move sets and weapons. Story in SRT is depicted through still anime drawings showing emotion with their corresponding lines of dialogue. The characters are drawn quite well in both battles and character interaction which is always a treat. SRT has the potential to be one of those solid DS titles, but this game could be a rare find since it’s not well known here in the states. Tongue twister extraordinaires can find this on Tuesday for $34.99 on the Nintendo DS.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For April 19 – April 25)

It’s weeks like these where writing about video games can be extremely fun because of the wide range in game titles. Oh sure, it’s not Zelda or Mario every week, but these weeks can have that amazing kind of flavor. This week in video games is littered with a triumvirate of games ranging from a portable gem to Russians and Martians fighting it out to flying robots destroying wave upon wave of enemies.

Stalin vs. Martians (PC) (April 20th)

Before you get on the phone with your optometrist, that title isn’t a misprint. Double takes were done with this preview, especially after viewing videos consisting of Stalin commanding dancing, a random girl dancing, and sprinkles of game play, all while Russian techno played (what the heck?). The title gives everything needed to be known about the game with “Stalin vs. Martians” (SM) pitting Stalin of Russia versus Martians of Mars. SM is played in Real Time Strategy (RTS) fashion ala “Command and Conquer” with Russian tanks and footmen clashing forces with a variety of Martians (picture elephants/spaceships). The game looks like quirky fun with over the top battles, and it doesn’t seem to be serious, but how can it? It’s Stalin and Martians in one game! The game will be digitally distributed on Monday for a price that couldn’t be located.

Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM 2 (PS2, PS3, 360) (April 21st)

KOEI brings the long-awaited sequel (not really) to “Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM” with the release of “Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM 2” (DWG2). All of the Dynasty Warrior iterations have followed the exact format of players controlling their selected character and destroying multitudes of army after army after army. In DWG2, gundams (flying robots!) are the characters being used. DWG2 is no different to KOEI’s formula, but that’s not to say these games aren’t fun. Hours upon hours vanish with the DW series of games because there’s that sense of empowerment initiated in players for changing the tides of war and being the difference between winning and losing. Not much difference will be seen between the PS2 version and the other versions except for high-res graphics. Are high-res graphics worth 30 bucks? DWG2 will be on store shelves on Tuesday for $29.99 on PS2 and for $59.99 on the PS3 and 360.

Steal Princess (DS) (April 21st)

Whenever Atlus releases a game, everybody takes note because of their past successes with other hidden gems like “Persona” and “Trauma Center”. “Steal Princess” (SP) has the makings of one of these gems with its nice graphics, catchy music and songs, and well-drawn and animated cut scenes. SP is a puzzle-based platform game where the player takes control of Anise, the thief, who is asked to save the prince (this is a nice change from the usual saving the princesses). Anise sets foot in each level with certain objectives like defeating all the enemies or solving a puzzle to trigger the end of the level. Players can also create their own puzzles and share them on the “Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection” network, so puzzle fanatics can rejoice. Will SP succeed like other Atlus titles? SP hits stores on Tuesday for $34.99 on the DS.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For April 12 – April 18)

This week in video games isn’t peppered with household names that capture everyone’s attention. It’s one of those dead weeks where no one knows the video games, but that’s one of the reasons this page exists. Previews are provided for video games that may or may not be known, so without further ado. The games that comprise the 3rd week of April range from a portable shooter to a stealth-based game to a classic drifter.

Velvet Assassin (360, PC) (April 14th)

Replay Studios is releasing “Velvet Assassin” (VA) where players assume the role of Violette Summer, whose character was inspired by real life spy, Violette Szabo. VA plays like the typical stealth/action game (think “Splinter Cell”) with the player biding their time until it’s time to kill off enemies. A great deal of patience is needed with these types of games because if one makes the wrong move, it could spell game over. A fresh added feature is the “Morphine mode” which lets Violette slow down time of everything in her surroundings. While a great mode, the uses of morphine are quite limited. VA looks to be different, especially with not many games on the horizon, but $59.99 is steep for any game during these times. Patient, methodical players can purchase VA for $59.99 for the 360 and $49.99 for PC on Tuesday.

C.O.R.E. (DS) (April 14th)

At first glance, “C.O.R.E.” (C) conjures up nostalgic memories of “Doom” which isn’t a terrible thing at all. C impressed with its graphics and the frame rate it was moving at, especially since it’s on the DS. Long corridors, killing rooms, and dimly lit environments scatter the setting of C. The killing rooms stand no chance with the shotguns and machine guns the player has at their disposal. C looks to detach itself from the current DS library of games. With the price point and the power of the DS’ graphics being pushed, this could possibly be a hidden gem. C will be available for $29.99 on Tuesday.

OutRun Online Arcade (360, PS3) (April 15th, April 16th)

SEGA brings “OutRun Online Arcade” (OR) to the “Xbox LIVE Marketplace” and the “PlayStation Network”. OR takes us back into time with its classic drifting timed race game play, but adds an infusion of the present with pretty cars and lush backgrounds. Players can play with up to 5 players online (6 total). This might not be for the “Gran Turismo” simulation racers because players are drifting whole race tracks which, well, isn’t real. It provides a separation from those realistic racing games with a great blend of retro (timed-races and non-stop drifting) and new school (overhaul on graphics and online play). OR will be digitally distributed on Wednesday and Thursday on the “XBLA” and the “PSN” respectively. Price couldn’t be found, but it’ll most likely be $9.99 or $5.99.

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College student trying to live out the Videogame/Sports writer's dream of making IT. It's a work in progress, haha.