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  ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ (The Movie)  
 
 
Posted 2005-12-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I was hoping The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe would be a gripping and inspiring movie adaptation of the book, but it was no Lord of the Rings. Instead, it was the filmic equivalent of bad sex, going through all the motions without passion, soul, or real satisfaction. Granted there are some great little moments in the movie, but I blame the director and screenwriter for this lacklustre effort. The actors didn't have much to work with, although they certainly tried hard enough.

And, always with the video games angle, I noticed that at a key point during the movie, a monstrous leader of the "bad-guy" army bellowed two of the main sound-effects used for all of World of Warcraft's bears. Made me wish I was playing WoW instead of seeing a bland movie.
 
     
 
   
 
  4 comments  
  Hands-On With ‘Xbox 360’ Launch Titles  
 
 
Posted 2005-11-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with pre-release versions of three of the Xbox 360's launch titles: Perfect Dark Zero, Project Gotham Racing 3, and Kameo. While each game was fairly enjoyable, the entire experience bolsters my first impressions of the console in general--that it is less an "Xbox 2" and more an "Xbox 1.5." You're certainly not going to see any groundbreaking features in these games. Each could have been developed for the original Xbox with less-advanced graphics.

Following are my brief notes about each game...

Continue reading: Hands-On With ‘Xbox 360’ Launch Titles
 
     
 
   
 
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  On ‘MirrorMask’  
 
 
Posted 2005-11-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I recently enjoyed a screening of "MirrorMask," a fantasy film designed and directed by artist Dave McKean, written by Neil Gaiman (with Dave McKean), and produced by the Jim Henson Company. It does, as expected, very much bear the mark of McKean, Gaiman, and Henson, echoing themes and situations of earlier Jim Henson films The Dark Crystal and Labryinth.

I'm not sure how excellent of a film MirrorMask is overall, but as a piece of engaging artwork it's extremely satisfying, giving viewers a glimpse into McKean's mind not entirely afforded by his traditional illustrations and paintings. MirrorMask is one of those movies that seems more like a dream (well, one of my dreams, anyway), not unlike Brazil, Dark City, or even The Wizard of Oz. The world of MirrorMask is populated with strange, grotesque creatures found amongst architecture that appears to have been damaged in a fist-fight between a giant-sized Dali and Escher. I recommend MirrorMask for tweens and adults interested in journeys off the beaten Hollywood path, into shadowy, unknown lands.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Age of Empires III’: Almost History [review by Gatmog]  
 
 
Posted 2005-11-02 by gatmog
 
 
     
 
‘Age of Empires III’: Almost History [review by Gatmog]
It's been five years since Ensemble last visited the Age of Empires series. While some may consider Age of Mythology an unofficial sequel, I think fans of both the genre and the series were anxious for it to get back to its roots in history. Age of Empires III provides a glimpse of the ages of discovery, imperialism and industry that laid the groundwork for what we know as North America today. And in high strategy fashion, Ensemble tries to give us something more than the map at hand by introducing the Home City, a feature that deftly incorporates the nature of colonizing the New World. I prepared myself for grand adventures.

Continue reading: ‘Age of Empires III’: Almost History [review by Gatmog]
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games’  
 
 
Posted 2005-10-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Digital Genres blog has reviewed economist-turned-game-guy Edward Castronova's "Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games," suggesting that Castranova has ascended to a canon of game studies literature that includes Designing Virtual Worlds (Richard Bartle) and A Theory of Fun (Raph Koster). Castronova is a regular speaker on subjects spanning games, society, and business; he's a Terra Nova contributor, too. I don't know (yet) if his work should be canonized, but I intend to get my ragged claws on his new book. Following are some excerpts from the review at Digital Genres...

Continue reading: ‘Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games’
 
     
 
   
 
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  Blown Away By ‘GunZ The Duel’  
 
 
Posted 2005-10-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Blown Away By ‘GunZ The Duel’
Thanks to a tip from Torley, I spent about 12 consecutive hours playing "GunZ The Duel" yesterday, a multiplayer online game that combines the third-person action, shooter, and RPG genres. The client software is currently free to download, and according to an entry on the Wikipedia, "it will remain free for everyone to play," making me curious about how Korean developer MAIET Entertainment will pay for their efforts. More on that later.

GunZ: The Duel is a character-based action shooter pitting lithe metrosexual combatants and their weapons of mass destruction against each other in a variety of attractive locations. Think The Matrix meets Tekken meets Quake. What sets GunZ apart from any multiplayer shooting game I've ever played is that characters level up RPG-style, competing in the same arena with other characters of varying levels. Fortunately, the scoring system rewards challenge accordingly, so it's an advantage to play against higher-level characters.

With each level, characters enjoy increased abilities and may accumulate new weapons and more fashionable armour. My 14th-level pretty-boy character, Icubus (yes, there is no "n"), is currently sporting a bleach-blonde Caesar cut (offsetting his three-day-old beard nicely), an open-collared white shirt that reveals just a hint of pectoral muscle, and a soft caramel-coloured leather jacket inlaid with red velvet swirls. This gay-as-Christmas ensemble takes a deadly turn when combined with my military-grade sword and pair of submachine guns. Die with a smile on your face as Icubus blows you away. Hard.

Continue reading: Blown Away By ‘GunZ The Duel’
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Dungeon Siege II’: The Intense Clicking of Evil  
 
 
Posted 2005-09-13 by gatmog
 
 
     
 
‘Dungeon Siege II’: The Intense Clicking of Evil
Dungeon Siege was largely criticized for taking a hands-off approach to character development and being little more than an arena for monster battles - not to mention a lack of actual dungeons to explore. With so many options for automatic control of your party, the game almost played itself. An anemic story and little reason to proceed except to obtain more loot left players like myself wanting more. Thankfully, Gas Powered Games (GPG) has eliminated most of these shortcomings in Dungeon Siege II, creating a highly playable action RPG that comes the closest to duplicating - if not outright supplanting - Diablo II's successful formula. Though the roleplaying part is still sadly relegated to being the first letter in the genre's acronym. But I'll get to that.

Continue reading: ‘Dungeon Siege II’: The Intense Clicking of Evil
 
     
 
   
 
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  First Impressions:  ‘Dungeon Siege 2’  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-25 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
First Impressions:  ‘Dungeon Siege 2’
I didn't play the original Dungeon Siege video game, but I would assume that it involved assaulting underground lairs. I've spent nearly a day playing its sequel, Dungeon Siege 2, and my character has spent more time in the trees than under the earth. Perhaps, if I could stand to play the game any longer, my character might engage in some actual dungeon siegery.

The good news is that Gatmog from the excellent gamesblog Tales of a Scorched Earth will be bringing us a complete review of the game. The bad news is you get to read my initial impressions of the game to hold you over.

Continue reading: First Impressions:  ‘Dungeon Siege 2’
 
     
 
   
 
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  “Jade Empire” Strikes Back  
 
 
Posted 2005-05-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Mindjack.com is running my review of Jade Empire, an Xbox game I completed a couple of weeks ago and generally enjoyed. The game is very similar to the KOTOR series, but is pared down and more action-oriented, which sort of bridges the gap between mainstream and specialty gamers. My only complaints are the long and frequent loads, as well as occasional crippling slowdown, although there are some interesting little glitches as well--you can read about a weird bug I encountered here.

Sidenote: Mindjack is also running a feature on how the new Battlestar Galactica series changed the TV landscape via fan piracy.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Virtual Reality-Check:  Second Life Reviewed 1 Year Later  
 
 
Posted 2005-04-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Where We're At

Second Life is an innovative virtual world populated by human-controlled avatars, considered by many to blur the lines between "real" and "virtual" life. Although Second Life members act only through digital avatars, the interactions have real (often tangible and measurable) impact on our lives--at its most crass, Second Life allows us to accumulate play-money that be converted into American dollars; at its most sublime, humans at opposite ends of the globe can affect each other's emotions through Second Life's communication tools.

Second Life is always changing, its residents constantly anticipating new developments and improvements. While I'm interested in Second Life's future, after a year of residency I find myself asking "Where are we now?" The simple answer is "Not where we should be."

Continue reading: Virtual Reality-Check:  Second Life Reviewed 1 Year Later
 
     
 
   
 
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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