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E3 2012: Sony Finishes Strong



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E3 2012: Sony Finishes StrongSony is the second of the “Big Three” to have their press briefings at E3 2012. Much like Microsoft before them, it was a little light on surprises, but they did bring the heat with several extremely impressive demos.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Beyond: Two Souls
  • Heavy Rain developer, Quantic Dream, kicks off the show with a CGI presentation of their new game. Jody Holmes (voiced and performance captured by Ellen Page) is a girl that has always sensed that there’s more to the world than what we can see. The presentation begins with a police officer trying to get through to a seemingly catatonic Jody. He explains to her that he found her at the scene of an accident. After several minutes of trying to convince her that in order for him to be of any help she needs to open up to him, she still doesn’t respond. After more pushing Jody seems to get a little frustrated and she (or some unseen other force) telepathically throws a mug of coffee against the wall. This, understandably, frightens the cop, who proceeds to get out of that room as quickly as he can. As he’s on the way out, an entire SWAT team busts in through the front door of the police station with the intent of capturing Jody. This doesn’t go well for anyone. What followed was a quick montage of action clips that showed a helicopter crashing to the ground and what appeared to be Jody showcasing the ability to inhabit the bodies of the police officers.

    While they didn’t go into what the actual gameplay would be like whatsoever, what they showed definitely left me intrigued to see more.

  • Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale
  • It’s very obvious where this game gets its inspiration from. Someone at Sony looked at Super Smash Brothers and said to himself, “We have some characters, let’s do one of those.” Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all. The gameplay involved building up a super meter to unleash special moves to eliminate your opponents. The characters they announced were Kratos ( God of War), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal), Fat Princess (Fat Princess) , Sly Cooper (Sly Cooper series), Nathan Drake (Uncharted) and the Big Daddy (Bioshock). They also announced a version for Playstation Vita as well as cross-compatibility between the two versions. It’s Super Smash Brothers with Playstation dudes.

  • Playstation Plus and Vita Talk
  • Next up were several rapid fire announcements about Playstation Plus and the Vita. They announced an expansion of the free titles available for the Plus service, including Infamous 2, Little Big Planet 2 and Saints Row 2. PS1 classics for Vita were up next, including Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy 7. Hulu Plus and Crackle are both coming to Vita, and Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified was announced as well. No details on that, however.

  • Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation
  • Exclusive to Vita is a side story to Assassin’s Creed 3 proper featuring a lady assassin. Not much was shown, but it looks like Assassin’s Creed 3 on the Vita. It will link with the PS3 version of Assassin’s Creed 3 to unlock new content. They also announced a bundle with a crystal white wi-fi Vita and 4gb memory card. Releases October 30th, 2012.

  • Assassin’s Creed 3
  • A lot has already been said about this game, but Sony had a little surprise up its sleeve for the show. Sneaking and stabbing will not be the only way to wage war against the Templars during the American Revolution. Get behind the wheel of a warship and get yourself into some full-on battles on the high seas. Dynamically shifting weather makes sailing and shooting unpredictable. The waves crashing against the sides of the ships look absolutely incredible. If I wasn’t already excited about this game, this puts it way over the top. They announced exclusive DLC for Playstation 3.

  • FarCry 3
  • Four-player co-op was the name of the game during this presentation. Players were tasked with grabbing explosives to blow up a bridge. It wasn’t made clear whether this was an option available on the entire open world map, but they did say that there was an entire co-pp campaign to play through. Once again, exclusive DLC on the Playstation 3.

  • Wonderbook
  • Next up was an extremely bizarre presentation for a new augmented reality game/book that uses the Playstation Move and Playstation Eye to use augmented reality to bring things inside a storybook to life. The first book/game published for Wonderbook is “The Book of Spells”, which takes place in the Harry Potter universe and is written in part by J.K. Rowling. The bulk of the…gameplay (?) consisted of reading a storybook to discover spells and the motions you need to make to cast them. If you’re into Harry Potter, this looks like it’ll be right up your alley.

  • God of War: Ascension
  • Kratos is still pissed, or since this is a prequel, he’s just starting to get pissed I guess? Lots of God of War stuff happening here. Slashing and stabbing with the signature blades. Some quicktime event finishing moves sprinkled around for good measure. There was a very interesting moment when Kratos was standing on a wooden dock that seconds later was destroyed by a giant sea monster. After pausing for a second, Kratos was able to use a new ability to rebuild the world around him and create platforms to reach a higher area. He was also able to use this ability to suspend enemies in the air for a moment to open them up for combos. Looks like more God of War. If that’s your thing, then you’ll feel right at home.

  • The Last of Us
  • Sony saved the best for last. Naughty Dog, of Uncharted fame, is behind this shocking and brutal look at the post-apocalypse. The demo started with a man and a young girl in an abandoned coffee shop looking for supplies. After moving on from there, they enter an abandoned hotel that’s occupied with hostiles. Moving silently, the man is able to take down one enemy before all hell broke loose. Ammunition seems extremely limited so you need to make every shot count. You’re able to switch seamlessly between a gun and melee. And believe me, the melee attacks are absolutely brutal. At one point the man’s pistol runs dry; this prompts his enemies to become more aggressive. After dispatching the initial wave of enemies, the man and girl have a moment to rest before more come.

    This is the point where they showed off the very cool menu interface. Rather than just being able to pop in and out of a menu at any moment, you actually have to physically take your backpack off and choose things inside it. After grabbing a Molotov cocktail out of the backpack, the man uses it to dispatch the remaining enemies. The demo ends with the girl saving the man from the last attacker, and after a short scuffle the man ends up with the upper hand and the bad guy ends up with a shotgun blast to the face. Absolutely incredible. This is “game of the show” type stuff.

    While it was kind of an underwhelming show overall, Sony ended up on an extremely strong note. Two down, one to go. What you got, Nintendo?

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    Night of the Living Dead 4K and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection



    It’s been a long time coming for these two classics, especially Night of the Living Dead after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment, whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

    IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

    According to the site, Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring the late Jonathan Demme (director), stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas.

    Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

    These will be added in February of 2018 so make sure you save up some cash after the holidays!

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    DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!



    Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

    Directed by Adrian Corona

    I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

    Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

    Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

    Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

    If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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    Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review: A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form



    Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

    Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace

    “Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

    That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

    Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

    At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

    These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

    Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

    It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

    If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

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