Sunday, November 26, 2006

Doom 3 (PC) and Speed Demos

I've started playing through Doom 3 (PC) for the second time after all. Unfortunately, my father played through the game last on a fresh install, and he went through it on Easy, which means that Nightmare isn't unlocked. This means I'll need to play through the game on Veteran first and have to play through the PC version a third time to give Nightmare a go.

This time, however, I'm playing on the default brightness setting, which is very, very dark. I actually find that everything looks a lot better in the moodier lighting, and I've been given a good jump or so already (I'm getting near the end of Administration).

One thing I must say is that the Shotgun really does suck in the PC version, most unfortunate. I've taken a lot of extra damage and even died once 'cause the Shotgun is so bloody inaccurate, even at point-blank range sometimes. The Xbox version definitely revised the Shotgun's functionality for the better, even if it did loose some close up power there.

On the subject of speed demos, I once again visited the Speed Demos Archive and checked out a couple of different games. There was a new Doom 3 (PC) Nightmare run from this past June which was a lot of fun to watch (and put me in the mood to play through the game again), I check out a 35 minute System Shock 2 run on the Impossible difficulty (that was impressive), and finally I checked out a classic Diablo (PC) run.

Always fun to watch how these guys just blow through everything so fast, and you'll often learn a trick or two you'd never have thought of on your own; sure know I did.

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx Review

A few weeks ago, the most recent Halo novel, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, hit retail shelves, and it quickly rose to the New York Times Best Seller list (like that list really means anything though) to compete with "real books."

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx is once again penned by Eric Nylund, the genius behind the first and third Halo novels (prequels to Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 respectively).

The novel's time line jumps a bit, but it all makes sense as to why. It starts out during the events of Halo: The Fall of Reach, and ultimately takes place after Halo 2, covering a lot of ground with human politics, the Forerunner's plans against the Flood (which are larger than just the Halo constructs), and details about the ongoing Human-Covenant War.

Without giving too much away, this is the first Halo novel that does not prominently feature the Master Chief or Cortana, however you will learn what happened to the rest of Blue Team and what the Master Chief may have been involved in had he not been on Cairo Station when the Covenant expeditionary fleet arrived at Earth. Great detail is shown about the lengths the higher human military is going through to try and keep a balance in the war against the Covenant, let alone to try and win it, and there were indeed many more Spartans after the Spartan-II project finished, though not the same kind of Spartans that we've come to expect.

The novel also goes into a bit more detail on the Covenant Civil War, most notably from the Elite's perspective, and what this may mean for the Halo universe in the future. And it's also official, Brutes are on Earth with the rest of the Covenant invading forces.

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx once again portrays military science fiction at it's best with a splendid mix of both action and character. Many of the novel-only plot elements from the previous Halo novels, most notably Forerunner, are expanded further or even explained, which is quite nice as we fans don't have to wait exclusively for Halo 3 to snag some more details on this great action universe.

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx is a grand continuation of Nylund's previous work, and if you enjoyed it then you will enjoy Ghosts of Onyx, plain and simple. If you haven't read the previous Halo novels and enjoy military science fiction, than you owe it to yourself to pick the series up. All the books are a gripping read, and they further expanding a richly detailed virtual universe that has sent shock waves the world over.

Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) Completed for the 5th Time

I've now completed Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox) for the 5th time, 6th if you count Co-op, and really, what more can I say about this ever amazing shooter that's been around for just over 5 years?

This is the title that made the Xbox, has garnered a massive fan base, and launched novels, toys, a graphic novel, and a whole lot of other merchandise. There's even a feature film in the works with Peter Jackson, though sadly it's on hold right now since the studios funding the film have pulled out.

The Halo franchise is a gaming phenomenon, and many gamers are eagerly awaiting Halo 3 for the Xbox 360. The gameplay of the series is so crisp, so action packed, and so varied on every play through that the Halo games are simply a joy to play through.

Now that I have Halo: Combat Evolved complete, I can return my attention to Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox), which I haven't touched in over two weeks. I also have a very strong desire to try my hand at Doom 3 (PC) on its Nightmare difficulty.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Series Canon

After a bit of drinking last Friday, I got to thinking about Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords and it's romance sub-plots and wondering if I did all there was to be done. I decided to check out Wikipedia, and while it appears I have completed all the romance plots over my 4 playthroughs of the game, I found out something much more interesting: what's considered canon. For those unaware, "canon" refers to what has officially happened in the medium's universe. For Star Wars, it's canon is defined by Wikipedia right here.

With the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game series, the great thing about it is that it's an RPG that lets you choose your path, light or dark, as well as gender, and no matter which path you choose in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, it'll flow into the sequel. However, according to Wikipedia and official Star Wars canon, there is a specific gender and path the player characters are meant to follow.

For Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Revan is supposed to be male and follow the Light Side. For Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, the Exile is supposed to be female and though it's not official yet, it looks like the Light Side path will be the canon one. Wikipedia source for Revan's canon found here, and the Exile's canon details found here.

Now personally, based on how dark the story is for the sequel, it seems more logical for me that Revan would have went Dark Side. Based on some dialogue in the sequel, even if you select that Revan was female they'll refer to him as male, so I long since guessed Revan was meant to be male.

For the Exile, the game's story (and specifically the romance subplots) are much more developed if you play as a male character, thus I always figured the character was likely meant to be male. I did figure Light Side though, as again the story seems to fit better (and is more complete) with a Light Side playthrough.

It is too bad that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords was so rushed at the end; what the game could have been.

Regardless though, it is interesting to note what Lucasfilm considers to be the real storyline, in accordance with the films.

Quake 4 (PC) Completed for the 3rd Time

This past Friday evening, while I was waiting for the Staff to get out of the office so we could go drinky-drinky, I finished up Quake 4 (PC) for the third time, my second on the Lieutenant (Hard) difficulty setting.

I really like how fast paced the game is, and I think Raven Software did a great job here. You're constantly moving forward, with little time to catch your breath if you so chose, however you can indeed take a pause and/or head back to collect health and ammo should you need to.

I still maintain that the game really needs a quick kill weapon, as the Nail Gun and even the game's Dark Matter Gun doesn't cut it. This lead to some really frustrating situations, mostly against Tactical Transfers (who can cut you down with a Machine Gun in literally a couple of seconds) and the odd time against Heavy Hovertanks.

My favourite section of the game is still right after you've been Stroggified and are attempting to escape the Medical Facility with your squad. The limited amount of weapons and ammo you have, plus the nice variety of enemies, really adds to the tension. That, and the Medical Facility is just plain creepy.

I also like how, even though very action oriented, you still have sections of the game which inspire a sense of loathing, caution, and dread.

Quake 4 is quite the enjoyable title, and I'm sure I'll get around to playing through it a fourth time. I tinkered briefly with the General (Very Hard) difficulty, however I didn't like how fast everything could kill me (and the lack of a decent healing option like the Soul Cube), so I'll probably stick with Lieutenant; it's still got some very good challenges.

Halo 3 Multiplayer Screenshots

Bungie has publicly released some high resolution screenshots of Halo 3 Multiplayer. You can check them out in their screenshot section here, and they also give a detailed analysis of some of the shots right here.

Aside from the fact that they look gorgeous, I also like the graphical addition of being able to see what secondary weapon the person is carrying, either on their back or leg-side, depending on the weapon.

I also like how the Forerunner structures resemble the ones found in Halo: Combat Evolved more-so than from Halo 2, sleaker and cleaner looking.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Time Calls the Sony Playstation 3 "Not Worth the Hype"

That's right kiddies, Time Magazine's web site is reporting on the North American PlayStation 3 launch, and guess what? They're saying it isn't worth it. Here's a snippet from the article:

"Look at what you get. The Playstation 3 is expensive: $500 or $600 bucks, depending on which version you buy, plus $60 for each game. (An Xbox 360 only costs $400 max, and Nintendo's Wii — yep, that name, still funny — is only $250.) For that kind of scratch you want the deluxe treatment, and the PS3 simply doesn't deliver it. It's got some good-looking games, but unless you have a top-notch TV, the difference isn't mind-blowing. (And even if you do have a fancy TV, Sony makes you supply your own HDMI cable. Stingy.) And Sony's launch line-up just isn't that interesting. Almost all the PS3's outstanding games — F.E.A.R., Madden NFL '07, Need for Speed: Carbon, Call of Duty 3 — are available on the Xbox 360, and most (all except F.E.A.R.) are out for the Wii, too. There just isn't the leverage there to make buying a PS3 de rigeur."

Sony's botched up with the PlayStation 3, as the console simply doesn't justify its own cost. I really do think that they'll come in last this console generation unless they do a price drop and shape up quick, otherwise I think Microsoft's got it this round. Heck, the Xbox 360 is the current gen console that I'm getting.

You can check out Time's full article right here.

La Senza Sleepwear

Everyday as I head to work, I pass by a La Senza, which is great 'cause lingerie store = hot models. A bit ago, however, as I was heading up the escalator and admiring the cleavage ads, I saw a large advertisement for this, Happy Feet themed sleepwear.

Ok, honestly, when I think of a place like La Senza, I think of boobs, not dancing CG penguins voiced by Elijah Wood or Hugh Jackman, and the more I think about it, the more I find this whole Happy Feet sleepwear line disturbing.

When I'm admiring a woman in lingerie, I want to think hot; I want to think sex, not cute and animated. I mean seriously, what's next? Hugo Weaving's face plastered on each bra cup? 'Cause yes, Mr. Anderson, that'll really going to get me going...

Spider-Man 3 Trailer

Sony has released the first Spider-Man 3 Trailer, which you can check out on the official site right here, or at iFilm.

I must admit I'm quite happy with it as I was originally concerned that they were trying to cram to many ideas into the film, however this trailer certainly shows a much better sense of focus. Looks like the main plot will revolve around Sandman and the alien costume, with Harry and Eddie Brock pulling supporting roles. Hopefully they don't get too fuddled up with Gwen Stacy vs Mary Jane.

Anyway, check the trailer out.

Halo's 5th Anniversary, New Halo 3 Info

This past Wednesday, Halo: Combat Evolved turned 5 years old, and to celebrate, Bungie has released some new information about Halo 3.

First and foremost, the screenshot pictured is the first shot ever released from the Campaign, and while giving away nothing new, it looks nice. Check out the actual article for a high res version.

There're also plans for a Halo 3 Multiplayer beta in the spring, and a CG commercial will be released on Mon. Dec. 4th. There's also going to be some new Multiplayer maps released this spring for Halo 2, however they're going to be an Xbox 360 exclusive (for an Xbox game, which is dumb), and they they won't be free.

Check out all the Halo goodness in Bungie's anniversary article here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox) Purchased

As I mentioned at the end of this post here, I've been in the mood for a great RPG to play and pass some time with, and to that end I did borrow Fable off the Staff. I rented Fable about a year and a half ago, but I encountered an annoying perma-target lock bug and was also really turned off by the Hero Save system (which I still think is dumb) so much so that I didn't get past the basic childhood training before returning the copy.

Well this time I made it to the end of training and found that, stupid Hero Save system aside, I was quite enjoying myself, and thus decided to use a Future Shop gift card I received for my birthday to buy my own copy. Of course, the original version of Fable is no longer for sale on the Xbox, and only the Platinum Hits version, Fable: The Lost Chapters, is. This of course suits me just fine as Fable: The Lost Chapters is an expanded version of the game with more Quests, Items, Spells, and Emotions for the player to experience. From what I've read it's not enough to warrant a re-purchase for those that have the original game, however for those of us who missed it the first time around, we get to experience a bit more fun.

Not that I really know what's new content and what isn't for obvious reasons. All I know is I started playing it today and I must have played for about 6 hours straight with only a few breaks. The game is certainly addictive once you get going, and I found it hard to put down. After basic training the game has been using a World Save option, and thus my real major gripe has been done away with.

Thus far I'm playing as a good Hero, going about my Quests and trying to help people. I'm mainly using the Sword and Lightning Spell, but I'm also fond of archery and want to expand those abilities. I've also been flirting with a lot of townsfolk and and presently trolling for a wife. I'll probably buy a house soon and simply rent it out until I get married and settle a bit.

One thing I'm noticing is that the world of Albion is truly more alive than RPGs I've played in the past. People in towns will stop working and go to bed at night (except the taverns, which are open 24/7), they'll react if you steal stuff, and comment on your deeds as you pass by. People will recognize you, praise you, and laugh at you, all based on how you've been playing the game.

While the story thus far isn't anything compelling like that found in BioWare's RPG's, the world is more open and alive than in their titles, but with much more focus and purpose than was found in the (to me) disappointing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Game of the Year Edition. You can customize your Hero nicely with tattoos, haircuts, beards, and a large selection of clothing and armour, and there's also a lot of weapons to choose from. Interaction with various people is also fun using the emotion system. You can flirt, sneer, flex your muscles, tap dance, and even fart to get, or loose, attention.

Thus far I'm very pleased with Fable: The Lost Chapters, and I'll be typing more about it as I continue my adventure in the world of Albion.

The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (PC) Impressions

I've been playing The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (PC) on and off for over a month now, and I must say that I'm rather disappointed in the title. The demo I played held much promise, and while the game features high production values, it's the interface that's done it in for me.

Basically, this RTS is all about large scale battles, large scale battles with poor macro and micro management options. I've found the overall unit control to be very reminiscent of RTSes from the late '90's, which is awful given the fairly standard control scheme that's the bread and butter of the genre.

Basic things like clicking a portrait to centre on a unit or group of units, Tabing through large groups to access special abilities, and having a visual command card reference to know when you forces are at the size strength you want or they're being depleted. All of this is absent from The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, and I simply can not understand why EA did this! The game is so beautiful with so much possibility, but fails because of such poor controls.

As I play the game I can see the potential that it could have had with a proper RTS interface, but as is the game feels incomplete and the large scale battles are a mix of frustration and boredom as you simply huck battalions of units at one another. Hero control is also rather poor, as you can't quickly access their special abilities for any kind of battle altering use.

I've also found the Campaign design to be lackluster and rather uninspired. The story just doesn't flow, and though I've completed the Good Campaign, I can't say I was overjoyed with doing so; I didn't feel much accomplishment or reward. The Evil Campaign has started off nicely, however I've encountered a frustrating challenge in the second mission due to poor unit control and have stopped playing due to simple annoyance.

Skirmsh (and Multiplayer) has potential, however I don't know any build orders and I'm honestly not overly compelled to find them out. War of the Ring mode is certainly interesting and a nice twist in the gameplay style, however I found it got a bit too repetitive after a few games to garner any long term interest.

I actually looked at selling my copy through the course of last week, but most places will only pay around $15.00 for it when it cost around $60.00 (though it was a gift and cost me nothing). For that price, I might as well keep it, though unless I discover some hidden fun in Multiplayer and Skirmish, I'll probably only play the game when I get really bored and have nothing better to do.

At present, I'd advise everyone not to bother picking this title up, and this'll probably be my last time giving a non-Blizzard RTS a go. How this title racked up so many high review scores is beyond me, as I've found so much fault with it.

Am I wrong though? Are there simply control options no mentioned in the manual that I've blindly missed? If so, post a comment and let me know, or if you feel differently about the game, share your thoughts.

Wish List Game - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic III

This past week, I've found myself thinking a lot about RPGs, and I've come to the conclusion that what we need is for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic III to be announced. While there isn't anything official, it is rumoured that Obsidian Entertainment is developing the title, and I can only hope that they, or someone else, is.

The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series is one of the best action/RPG series that I've played, and I truly want to see it become a proper trilogy. However with the rather rushed ending to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, (thank you very much, LucasArts), where could the series go from there?

Since the sequel was a true sequel to the original and not a prequel or a title set in the same universe but at a vastly different time, the developers are, in my opinion, rather bound to create a proper trilogy, which would mean the story would be set shortly after the last title around a weak Republic recovering from multiple wars, as well as a near extinct Jedi Order and Sith Empire. Essentially, the third title would need to be about rebuilding, and I think some very interesting twists could happen along this path.

The first thing of course would be the player character. In the past, you played a character meant for the path of the Light who turned out to have a very dark secret, and in the sequel you were a former Jedi General who's story made much more rational sense along the Light path. While the player could always follow the path of the Dark Side, I often felt that it mainly didn't feel right with the established story (especially in the sequel), and that being the bad guy was more about leaving bubble gum on park benches rather than being a sinister monster.

So for another installment, why should the player character be a former or struggling Jedi? I think it would be very interesting if your character was a former Sith who fully knows what he or she was about, but who's path is in question with the collapse of the Empire. Perhaps he or she will have taken up an aggressive life style at the game's beginning, such as a bounty hunter, and perhaps you begin the game stalking someone of import, such as Visas Marr.

Which of course brings about the thought of the main player Quest, Party Members, and returning characters from the previous titles. Not only was Visas brilliantly voice-acted by Kelly Hu, her character was also detailed with enough mystery left over and able to follow the Exile on either a Light or Dark path that she'd make a strong returning character, and an excellent mentor figure for this player character to follow. As for other returning characters, the droids are a given (we really need to have HK-47 solve that Assassin Droid sub-plot from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords) and I think Canderous Ordo and the Mandalorians would fit into the dark theme as well.

For the main Quest, in a simplified form, it would be to rebuild the Sith Empire or seek redemption and rebuild the Jedi Order, something Visas could set the player character upon once the two established a basic bond. The worlds of both Dantooine and Korriban are strongly rooted in the series and of both sides, so they should make a return, however I'd also like to see Coruscant play a larger role than a brief glimpse in memories or holo-recordings.

The above is simply the basic outline for a third installment in the series, and one which I think would have a lot of potential. Not only could their be twists, turns, and betrayals with NPCs and Party Members, but perhaps the fate of Revan could also be learned, and the "real" Sith that Kreia mentioned so much in the previous title could rear their dark might. The Madalorians could perhaps fight their last battles, the Republic pushed to its limits, and the ground work laid for a stronger, less decadent Jedi Order or a more ruthless Sith Empire.

Even if the above ideas are not used, I do hope to see another Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic title, however only time will tell.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kevlar Vest

This past Friday, we had three Kevlar vests lying around the office, so I tried one on. I then went up to my staff and asked her to stab me with something. 'Cause, you know, wearing modern day body armour makes me completely invulnerable to all forms of bodily harm.

Anyway, she grabbed an Exact-O knife (and you think I could find how to spell Exact-O on Home Depot's site, but noooo.....) and proceeded to stab me with it. Now, for general safety reasons the blade was retracted, however the point is I was stabbed by a knife and felt nothing, nah-dah, zilch.

Now I know what I want for Christmas...

Oh, and the moral of the story is that if your boss is wearing body armour, it's okay to stab him or her. Really.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC) Speed Demo

Got bored and went back to Speed Demos Archive, and decided to check out the speed demo for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. As many of you know, I picked up The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Game of the Year Edition for my Xbox last spring, and while I fell in love at first, I ultimately got bored and felt unfulfilled with the title and sold it before completing it.

Anyway, I was curious to see what the final boss, Dagoth Ur, looked like since I never got to him myself and I was also curious to see how the game could be completed in only 7 minutes and 30 seconds seeing as how I must have played for literal days when all was said and done and I think I was only about two thirds of the way through.

While the content of the demo itself was just "shmeh," the short time was impressive. After watching a bit of the game again, it also reminds me of how disappointed I was with the product in the end, how much potential there was but how it ultimately fell short.

It's also helped me to realize that I really am in the mood for a great RPG right about now, something to get lost in for a while but I can't think of a title for either my Xbox or PC.

When I pick up an Xbox 360 I'll probably rent The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, however I'll be buying an Xbox 360 for Mass Effect, so my RPG woes will be solved.

Can anyone perhaps suggest a great RPG? Perhaps I should just borrow Fable from the staff...

New Browsers

Recently, both Microsoft and Mozilla have released new versions of their popular web browsers, Internet Explorer and Firefox respectively. I've spent this weekend tinkering with both pieces of software, and in brief here's my impressions:

Internet Explorer 7: Simplified and streamlined interface, however the bulk of its features that I've bothered with are simply things I've already experienced with Firefox 1.x a year ago. It's a free update, and if you're intent on using Internet Explorer as you're primary browser I recommend it due to it's enhanced features (tabbed browsing, phishing detection, etc.) and increased security (though it's already been cracked), though there's really nothing special about Internet Explorer 7. I believe it's only available for Windows 2000 and XP, however.

Firefox 2: Aside from phishing detection and some minor improvements with tabbed browsing, the biggest thing I've liked about this new version is the spell checker as I type (or blog). Otherwise, also not much I care over the original Firefox, however since Firefox is my preferred browser to begin with this isn't a bad thing as if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I recommend this browser to anyone, and insist upon its use for Macs (much better than Safari).

Overall, however, net browsing is still net browsing. There's hordes of crap and pr0n, and about 1% useful information.

Family Guy: Video Game (Xbox) Review

The Family Guy: Video Game (Xbox) is just what you'd expect from a title based on a mature, animated sitcom: Simplistic, short-term entertainment.

First and foremost, it's going to be played by fans of the show, and rest assured that it captures the show's humour and style very well. The game features three main playable characters, Stewie, Peter, and Brian. Stewie is once again pitted against his half-brother Bertram and must thwart his plans for world domination. Peter gets hit on the head and believes that Mr. Belvedere has kidnapped his family and is plotting to kill him, so he goes around town killing and destroying anything in his path while searching for the '80's TV personality. As for Brian, he's been accused of once again impregnating Seabreeze and must clear his name by finding evidence to the contrary. In other words, it's all just a typical plot for Family Guy. Now if only the gameplay was more inspiring.

Generally speaking, Stewie's levels are fun. You basically move around shooting enemies (mostly Bertram's childhood minions) with your ray gun, and as the game progresses you can upgrade your gun with extra effects such as an area attack or homing missiles. Stewie can also float through the air for a bit with balloons, and use his grappling hook at pre-determined points to get a lift. There are a few annoying "slide" levels where Stewie glides real fast along the ground, and he's a bit hard to control here however they tend to be short and there's not many of them. Stewie also has a mind control device that he can use (in pre-placed situations) to have others move around and help him complete his objectives.

Peter's levels are very much like that classic Simpson's arcade game, where you move around in locations of the show and beat the snot out of anything in your past retro-style. While generally fun at first, I found that they got much to repetitive after doing them for the seventh time. While there are a variety of enemies to fight, they mostly all fight the same anyway. Peter does also have some mini-game's thrown in though, which mostly relies on button mashing or pressing several buttons in a certain sequence quickly, but they hardly liven things up enough.

Brian's levels are all stealth based, and while unique at first become very tedious and frustrating quickly. Basically, after the first few levels, you are not given a grace period if someone spots you. If you're seen you need to start the level all over again, and of course everyone and their uncle is looking for our K9 escaped fugitive. Brian can hide in shadows and in some levels wear disguises, however in the end his levels are just too dang frustrating to be of much fun.

The game also has a lot of cutaways like in the show, and their actually presented as mini-games. The only problem is that they tend to go so fast, you've already failed them before you've figured out what you're meant to do!

However at least it captures the humour of the show. Stewie jumps on pregnant women in a maternity ward and babies pop out, Death shows up with his dry-sarcastic whit, and Joe complains about tasteless wheelchair jokes in his over-the-top fashion. While sadly most of the gags are literal re-hashes from the show, they're still funny when placed in this different context. Oh, and it has Adam West, and we all love Adam West.

Graphically the game sports a cheap animated look that helps give it a cartoony feel (which is great), and the sound effects, voices, and music are all spot on from the show. Some lines are probably pulled right from the original audio source tracks of an episode, but whatever, it still works.

The final verdict? Family Guy: Video Game is an interesting enough, short-term romp through Quahog. It's not a long game, and the gameplay is rather bland and repetitive, so I'd say give it a rent before you buy.

Kingdom of Heaven: 4-Disc Director's Cut Review

Last June I posted my impressions on the then recently released Kingdom of Heaven: 4-Disc Director's Cut and promised a review in the next few weeks, however it took me until last week to sit down and watch the bonus materials, so I'm just a tad-bit overdue.

Anyway, you can read those impressions for a more detailed opinion on the new cut of the film. In a nutshell: Different version, superior version, much more depth to the characters and a smoother flowing plot. This 3 hour Director's Cut is what should have been released to the theatres a few years back.

Anyway, the DVD set contains two bonus discs which are a full length documentary with a lot of supplementals on the making of Kingdom of Heaven from conception up to release. It goes into great detail on how Ridley met the writer (and how they were working on another film at first meant to star Russel Crowe) and how they developed the concept for Kingdom of Heaven. Great detail is shown on location, set construction, wardrobe, props, etc., that sitting down and watching the doc is to watch a full length feature itself.

The most interesting aspect of the documentary, however, is the ultimate decision to remove the boy from the theatrical version. In the original script (and in the Director's Cut), Sabilla has a son who becomes king, however Fox, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the "boy" plot took away too much from the film.

Throughout all of preproduction and production, Ridley couldn't make up his mind as to which version to keep, so they actually shot and began cutting two different versions of the film, the boy and no boy version. Ultimately, the no boy version was used for the final theatrical version and the film was marketed as more of an action flick, and of course it was greatly hurt by this simplified vision.

The proper, original version of the film is represented here in the Director's Cut, and it is highly recommended that you give it a watch. Ridley Scott is a master filmmaker, and the complete version of Kingdom of Heaven shows that he certainly still does know who to release an epic, engaging film.