‘Mt. Abraxas’ by Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats is my new jam.
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Dead Island is an easy series to criticize. A resolutely B level zombie game from relatively little known European developer, Techland, it only made it’s way into the average gamer’s radar thanks to a head turning zombie-attack-in-reverse cinematic trailer going viral. Up until that point, the only other console offering from Techland had been the middling Western shooter, Call Of Juarez. The trailer for Dead Island was a huge stroke of luck for a game that likely would have come and gone without making much of a ripple. It also raised expectations to an absurd level given the developers previous output.
Reviewers slapped it for it’s graphics, it’s clunky interface, a plethora of bugs, uninteresting characters, laughable dialogue and a nearly non-existent story. I even heard people complaining that the game wasn’t like the trailer which boggled my mind because… how would that even work? (Does anyone think that the live action trailer for Call Of Duty: Ghosts means you’re going to be able to play as an aborigine warrior? It was just a cinematic trailer, guys.) The game was carried mostly by it’s melee-focused action/RPG combat. Guns and ammo were very hard to find and almost useless to anyone who wasn’t playing the gun specialist character, Purna. Hitting zombies in the face with electric sledgehammers and poison katanas was a surprising amount of fun, even if the charm started to wear off by the last fourth of the game. This was enough, however, to carry the game onto being a modest hit.
Pyramid Head x Sailor Moon
In honor of Joe Hill’s new book NOS4A2, I’ve come up with a mixtape dedicated to the book’s antagonist, Charlie Talent Manx, full of dusty 70’s rock, occult rock, psychedelic rock, and Black Sabbath-style doom.
Obviously I haven’t read the book yet (it’s out Tuesday) but Joe’s books have always had strong ties to rock ‘n roll… overtly in his first novel Heart-Shaped Box and a little less obviously in his second novel Horns. I wanted to design the playlist to reflect that. I wanted something you could put on in the background while reading and kind of get into the head of Charlie a bit. What would a man listen to while cruising around in his killer 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with a trunk full of kidnapped children on his way to some creepy Otherworld?
I hope you like it. Pick up the book on Tuesday. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Can you twerk and cry and the same time?
DJ Kayenne Ft. Adele Set Fire To The Rain Bounce Mix
Anime Micro Review: Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos
I clearly have a lot to learn about Japanese male sexuality.
Japanese pop culture is, on it’s best day, mildly misogynistic. It’s one of those things you just learn to deal with because it’s charms lie elsewhere. If you want to get into it, you’re going to do some compartmentalizing. Even the seemingly harmless romantic comedy harem anime has a weird edge to it where the male lead is constantly being berated and beaten by women over small misunderstandings.
Allowing for all of that, Nyarko-san still manages to be kinda creepy and weird. The concept is interesting enough: an anime perverting the Cthulhu mythos to service a romantic comedy. There’s some mileage you can get out of that and the show does it’s best to pepper itself with Lovecraftian references, from character names to imagery.
Things start getting awkward early. The female lead, Nyarko, is immediately smitten with the male lead, Mahiro. To the point that Mahiro is regularly having to punch her or stab her with forks to get her in line. The word “bitch” gets thrown around a bit too. The fact that the tone of the anime is stuck on “self-referential farce” just makes the shitty attitude towards women stick out even more.
This is a show for Japanese men and, evidently, Japanese men are really weird. Every character in the game loves video games. Mahiro’s mom is basically a sexy, mildly inappropriate superhero. Nyarko is constantly pleading with Mahiro to make her pregnant and throwing herself at him in various states of undress. Nyarko herself is followed around by a fellow female deity, Kuuka, who is hot for her bod. (Because lesbians are hot too, bro.)
Hell, Mahiro is so virile that even young, seemingly prepubescent boys-who-look-like-girls are attracted to him. This isn’t the first anime where there’s some chaste gay crushes going on but it IS the first where the boy with the crush looks like a 12 year old girl. For that extra bit of creepiness, I guess.
Don’t worry, though. Here in the West, you’d expect Mahiro to act like a giant, flaming fuck monster with this much naked flesh being thrown at him but he’s Japanese so he rebuffs every advance, usually violently. He may be so hot the people around him can’t stand it, but he’s still simple and pure and honorable like a true Japanese. (Or something?)
It’s all just… kind of gross, really, and it drags the otherwise perfectly decent comedy down. There’s ideas here that would actually work better without the crap surrounding it. It’s such a minefield of creepiness that I can’t recommend it to anyone who, well, doesn’t like that sort of thing.
(Cross-posted at my blog: Electric Dragon 80.000V)
I am an unwavering Garth Ennis fanboy. Which is not as easy a task as I might like. The Irish born writer is notoriously unimpressed with social media and the internet, so unless you’re following comics news sites pretty closely, his books can come and go without much fanfare. This leads to a lot of criminally underrated comics.
In the last couple of years, he’s finished up his very uneven superhero piss take The Boys and he’s done the opening arcs for a couple of other titles: suburban housewife/vigilante Jennifer Blood and a reboot of The Shadow, which were excellent but quickly dissolved into mediocrity after his departure. The former demonstrated his proficiency for mixing the violent, profane and funny while the latter indulged his meticulous knowledge of military history through the lens of a pulp hero. His empathy for soldiers and unromantic attitude towards warfare are also the basis of his rock solid Battlefields series and the fantastic Fury MAX ongoing for Marvel.
However, of his recent work, none was more wild than Crossed. Ostensibly a book about rage virus-style “zombies” taking over the world, it was legitimately shocking while occasionally indulging in some of the darkest, most pitch black humor I’ve ever read. However, at it’s heart, it was a character piece about a small group of survivors coming to terms with the new reality and the harsh, demanding rules that came with it. When any weakness can lead to a hideous death or a hellish un-life, where do you draw the line? It was truly rough stuff, sort of a comics version of A Serbian Film if the movie had any interest in the interior lives of it’s characters.
(Cross-posted from my blog: http://electricdragon80k.blogspot.com/)
This post contains spoilers!
Gears Of War is a series I’m constantly on the fence about. As much as I love the series for it’s cover-based gameplay, giant setpieces, and huge suite of modes and options giving the player great value for their money, it’s not a series without some deep flaws. The characters are all cartoons, right down to their thick-necked, impossibly proportioned character models and ridiculous “ooh rah” mentality. Unless you’re willing to read the novelizations and comic books, there’s not a whole lot of interesting stuff going on from a story perspective. It’s a bunch of war movie cliches and melodramatic nonsense that telegraphs every character moment and plot twist by signal flare.
The first Gears game is, to my mind, the only one that had the right tone: it was a romp. There were serious moments, or moments we were meant to take seriously, but it was all in service of blowing shit up. It seems that, once the first game set the world on fire, the writers never quite found their footing. They had to make the narrative more and more grandiose to match the level of attention heaped upon the game and it’s never really been to the series’ benefit. It certainly made for some excellent setpieces but the stubborn refusal of characters to act human rubbed against ham-handed moments so incongruous to what came before that my reaction was to sputter with laughter, not get choked up.
As a sidenote: there’s plenty of people who like to act as though the narrative of the Gears games are bulletproof. Why question something so resolutely stupid? Well, for the same reason I was one of the guys criticizing the storytelling issues in Mass Effect 3: if the writers want us to take their story seriously, we have to oblige them and judge it as such. If this were Bulletstorm or Vanquish, I’d let a lot of things pass because they never wanted to be anything more than a ridiculous shooter. While Gears may have started as a ridiculous shooter, it discovered ambitions along the way they could never pull off. If you just want to shoot stuff, you can pretty much stop wasting your time with this article now. It’s still really good at that.