Mobile is Not a Dirty Word

Mobile is Not a Dirty Word

  I’ve been playing games for a good many years – about 34 of them, in fact. From the humble Game & Watch right up to the current gen of consoles, I’ve bashed my thumbs against many of their so called “buttons.” So when I say this next bit, it’s coming from someone who has a fair bit of video gaming experience behind them.   I’m getting really sick of reading comments begrudging the quality of mobile games.   Sure, Apple’s app store is flooded with games that wouldn’t have passed the fun test in the days when an Atari 2600 was considered high tech, but that is a result of what is a fairly open platform for developers of all shapes and sizes (I’m partial to 3.2 km wide octagonal ones myself). If you know where to look, there are many rich gaming experiences to be had on iOS. The touch screen of the iPad is extremely sensitive and responsive, and, when used correctly, can make for some unique experiences. Just about everyone these days is carrying around a smart phone, or as I like to call them, a powerful portable gaming device that is very occasionally used to talk to people who aren’t currently in earshot.   So why all the hate for mobile gaming? The suggestion that people who play games on Android or iOS are not “real gamers” is an absurd one. Anyone who plays a game is a gamer, and anyone who is anyone is real… do I need to draw a Venn diagram? No, I didn’t think so. I’ll listen to concerns about...
The Sound of Interaction

The Sound of Interaction

1939’s Dark Victory was a moving story of a young socialite slowly dying of an inoperable brain tumour. Starring Bette Davis in the lead role, the final scene of the film is a powerful sequence with the actress slowly ascending a grand staircase as her vision begins to falter as a result of the tumour’s influence. Knowing her performance would give her a very strong chance of winning a third Oscar, a longstanding rumour has it that prior to filming the scene, Davis asked director Edmund Goulding just who would be scoring the movie. Upon learning it would be famed film composer Max Steiner, Davis allegedly responded – “Well, either I am going up those stairs or Max Steiner is going up those stairs, but not the two of us together.” Davis knew the power of Steiner’s work and feared his score, in this pivotal scene, may overshadow her own performance and cost her an Oscar. As it stands, Davis did go on to receive an Oscar nomination (she didn’t win) but so did Steiner for his compositions. The fact of the matter is that music is a powerful and dramatic force. Davis knew this and so does Hollywood. For years, movies have made strong use of music to drive emotion in ways that on screen action simply cannot, and it has remained an incredibly versatile and powerful weapon in the film-maker’s arsenal. But it’s not just cinema that benefits from a well composed score. After years of languishing in a kind of scratchy, electronic hell, videogames have been quick to take advantage of advances in audio and storage...
Where’s My Perfect MMA Game?

Where’s My Perfect MMA Game?

  EA Sports has just released its first foray with the UFC license, following their initial crack at developing an MMA simulation in 2010. With their latest venture into Mixed Martial Arts, EA Sports’ UFC has thrust itself firmly into the spotlight thanks to stunning in-game visuals aided by a decision to leave behind the ageing technology of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Following in the footsteps of THQ’s reign with the UFC licence and under the spotlight of a rabid and growing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) audience, I had hoped EA Sports’ UFC would deliver on its promise to be a contender. I wanted the next big thing. Unfortunately it’s not.   People can be upset with EA Vancouver for being unable to create the perfect MMA game their publisher had promised. However, making the perfect MMA game is a puzzle no other development studio has been able to solve. Ignoring the “arcade” style MMA games from years ago, MMA audiences got their first taste of the UFC game franchise with THQ’s 2009 release, UFC Undisputed. This game was a brilliant first step. It entered a marketplace starved for an MMA game, comparable only to Crave Entertainment’s first offerings almost a decade prior.  Straight out of the gate, THQ’s Undisputed became the measuring stick for a simulated MMA experience.     Sure THQ’s Undisputed wasn’t perfect, but with follow-up releases in 2010 and 2012, the combined development studios of THQ Agoura and Yuke’s Osaka tweaked where possible. The franchise slowly improved, addressing things fight fans wanted to see in their game, including a deeper career mode experience...
Transformers 4

Transformers 4

  No, just no. Despite seeing this film for free, I want a full cash refund. Or at the very least, compensation from Michael Bay for the near three hours lost witnessing him do the unspeakable; make an even worse Transformers film.   Despite time passing since I first saw Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, my disappointment in this film hasn’t subsided. Explaining to friends why I didn’t enjoy this film, I receive the same blank response; “well, what did you expect?”. But I wanted more, I say. After three strike-outs but Michael Bay Transformers films, dumb schlocky explosions at the expense of story shouldn’t be the default state. .   We live in a world where fans of 80’s cartoon and comics are not only a sizable chunk of the market, but are also the parents of the next generation of consuming kids who will cling to the their childhood cartoons in decades to come.   Audiences are smarter. They know what can and can’t be done within the constraints of modern technology. The illusions of CGI no longer wow us into ignoring plot holes and bad story telling. What did I expect? I expected better, I expected a renewed take on a beloved franchise that Michael Bay has turned into a mockery in its past two films.   Typically, criticism of Bay’s previous Transformers films has been leveled at Shia LaBeouf’s character Sam Witwicky (currently topping the polls for ‘character most desired to be stepped on by a giant robot’), or the token eye-candy female protagonists who exist solely for up-skirt camera pans. Classy stuff.   But...