Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There was a hole here. It's gone now.

A week or so back, I finally finished Silent Hill 2 on my Xbox. This means that all that's left for me is to play the original, and Silent Hill 3, and I'll have completed the series. Of course there's always Silent Hill Origins.

(Hahaha. Hahahaha. Hahahahahaha. HAHAHA. Right.)

What I noticed about Silent Hill 2, mostly, is that it's fucking awesome, and I have trouble imagining any game since will be able to emulate its fucking awesomeness. I will say however, that I don't have anything against Silent Hill 4, as seems to be the popular thing to do. I don't know if it's true that it was originally intended as an unrelated horror game, and the Silent Hill name was pasted in to add sales. Even if that's true, I've got to argue, to everyone who bitches about it, "Has anyone made a real survival horror game since, cheap name switch or not?" The answer is probably yes, because I don't have the integrity to actually do any research, but there certainly haven't been any good ones in the last couple years anyway. Furthermore, I'm skeptical of that theory in general, because of how much of The Room's plot was explained in Silent Hill 2, several years before.

I will also point out that Silent Hill 2 suffers from many fewer translation and dialogue issues than Silent Hill Homecoming did. This is somewhat disconcerting, since Homecoming was made in America, which one would think would eliminate translation problems. Do the people of Double Helix know how to write dialogue? Here's a hint, people who interrupt people tend to talk over them. If they wait their turn to speak, it's not an interruption. I imagine some conversation at Double Helix went something like this:

Fred Douchebag: I think it would add a level of excitement to our game if it were possible for players to fall asleep in between our characters' lines.

Johnny Fuckhead (who writes the dialogue): I think that sounds like a terrible idea.

(Fred doesn't hear him, because Johnny was unable to speak until Fred had left the room, for fear of interrupting him.
Johnny goes on to write dialogue, complete with poor timing, that leads gamers everywhere to believe that the protagonist and, in fact, everyone else in the game is either mentally retarded, or a poorly programmed android.)

Add to this the fact that Homecoming decided to lift most of the Silent Hill movie, rather than come up with new ideas, and you have a game that, while fun and occasionally creepy, will stay with you about as long as the typical bad dream. (An hour or so, maybe.)
I won't complain much about that last problem though, since most of the ideas they did come up with didn't make an ounce of sense. Most of the new monsters look like something better suited to Doom than Silent Hill, and every one of them displays a level of sexuality that is somewhat uncalled for in a story about trying to rescue the protagonist's little brother.

It seems that most people connect the Silent Hill franchise with overt sexuality. The problem is, with the exception of the new, crappy ones, there were always justifications. Granted it would require playing the game to understand them. Actually, just reading about the game would do. Hell, I'll even explain them here:

Silent Hill:
Really nothing that sexual about it.

Silent Hill 2:
James is lonely, crazy, and looking for his dead wife. Most of the creatures in the town are based on her.

Silent Hill 3:
Heather is a lost little girl who's scared, alone, and vulnerable to rape. Wouldn't you be afraid of a big monster with penises for arms?

Silent Hill 4:
Walter is fucking insane, but then there isn't anything overtly sexual about this one either, so it hardly matters.

Silent Hill Origins:
Who gives a fuck?

Silent Hill Homecoming:
Alex apparently finds his kid brother very attractive.

See how it falls apart at the end there?

However, none of this has much to do with my point. Yes, I have a point. Two of them actually, though both rather ill conceived while I was driving home from the dentist's, still rather tired from waking up at the crack of nine thirty. Nonetheless, I'll start to wander toward those points now.

While I thank the Silent Hill movie for being the final factor that led me to my first real experience with the games, looking back, it had a lot of failings. Part of the problem is the fact that they tried to combine Silent Hill 1 and 2 into one story. Part of it is the same thing that always seems to happen when Americans remake a Japanese horror franchise. The movie was just a vessel for the monsters, and the plot and characters were subordinate. Unfortunately, in their excitement to bring the horror of the Silent Hill monsters to a new audience, the movie makers missed the thing that make those creatures frightening: the psychological impact. By taking them out of context, the lose their power.

There were a few creatures that worked well, but many others that didn't. The sexuality of the nurses, for instance, is completely out of place. There was no overactive libido to explain their appearance. Supposedly, they represented Alessa's anger toward the people who worked at the hospital, but if she was so resentful of their burn-free bodies, wouldn't she have punished them by making their appearance more grotesque?

Of course the greatest offender is the beloved Pyramid Head. In Silent Hill 2, it was based on the uniform of the Valtiel sect, and in particular one executioner James saw in a painting. He used this appearance so that he could punish himself for his crimes, while simultaneously maintaining his delusional ignorance of any wrongdoing. The Pyramid Head reflects James' guilt and frustration, shown through its violence toward the other monsters, its repeated murder of Maria, and the fact that it is invincible until James comes to accept his guilt. By contrast, the Pyramid Head in the movie was created as an apparently arbitrary punisher, attacking members of the cult and innocent interlopers without distinction or apparent motive.

Without dragging this out too much longer, my point is that the film makers could have done better by converting Silent Hill 2 into film, and not bothered changing anything. The plot was already better than what they came up with for the film, the characters are better developed, the monsters would have been in their proper place (they would have even had an excuse for the scantily clad nurses) and it would even have been a hell of a lot scarier. Furthermore, it's not the long of a game to begin with, and it could easily be shortened even more for film. The backtracking and travel could be cut out, the park area could perhaps have been folded into the preceding apartment, and the prison/labyrinth area could have been significantly shortened. The movie would have been made for them, which means, in words of their language, less time between conception and money. Also don't give me this bullshit about having to change the Pyramid Head because the original helmet wasn't wearable. It's called CGI, geniuses. I somehow doubt they set children on fire for the Gray Children scene either. The point of the mask was that it was heavy, awkward and painful. Once again, an innocent change made less innocent by the fact that it utterly missed the point.


The other point is about Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It's directed at Sony:

Dear Sony,
Do you know why people don't buy your PS3? It's because it's a glorified bluray player with no good games, except those that can be had for less on the 360. (Okay, so there's inFamous. You want a fucking trophy?) Do you know why there are no good games? It's because when you're offered one (Silent Hill: SM) you release it on the PS2 instead of the PS3. Do you see Microsoft releasing Xbox games? Remind me which console is the preference of hardcore gamers the world over?
Don't even think about saying the graphics aren't up to the PS3's standards. What the fuck have you done with graphics anyway? The only game I've seen surpass the 360's capabilities was Killzone 2, an underwhelming, stock shooter whose graphics weren't even noticeable after the opening cutscene, since everything was gray and red anyway, and since I was trying too hard not to get killed to pay much attention to the light shining off my enemies' helmets. Come to think about it, I don't think the Helghast armor was reflective anyway.
Now there's a new Silent Hill game, that even looks half way decent, and my choices are to buy a PSP, glorified PDA that it is, buy a Wii, which suffice it to say is not at all my cup of tea, or pay too much money for a console that, while good, is a generation old. While we're on this topic, do you know why the PS2 still costs so much? It's because no one fucking wants the PS3.
I know that, being Sony, it won't break you if your console isn't the hit it should be, but if you're going to be in the market, at least pay some fucking attention.
I apologize what my be an excess of inappropriate language on my part. It's just that I find incompetence irritating.
Humbly yours,
20cc

Sunday, July 5, 2009

And Just When You Thought He Was Gone...

There's a message buried in that title. It only becomes evident if you look at what I just wrote on anyButton too. The message is that I erroneously believe that a title ending in an ellipsis is an appropriate substitute for humor. This is because I'm tired, and nothing has happened that would make a particularly funny title ("On the Merits of Wasting a Month and a Half Doing Nothing." Actually, that one's a little better.)

So you ask, "What the Hell do you want 20cc? Are you just trying to waste my time or do you have something meaningful to say?"

A brilliant question, my friend. The answer is of course, "A little of both."

I do actually have news, for instance:

anyButton is actually getting a real website. I won't post the official URL until it's really working, but honestly I think I may have posted it a long time ago on aB anyway, so it hardly matters. We also have a Twitter now, for whatever reason, and have been bouncing around ideas for new formats. Maybe something, you know, actually funny.

In other news:

I'm currently listening to CUBErt. That is, the song by System of a Down, in case it's also like some obscure band of which I haven't heard.

In other news:

Posting very short tidbits separated by double returns is a great way to artificially bulk up your blog post.

Good stuff, right?

Oh and by the way:


He's coming to get you.







If any of you were wondering, that dude is Henrik Klingenberg,
the Finnish keyboardist best known as a member of the
power/(arguably)progressive metal band Sonata Arctica.
If any of you haven't heard of them, I happily invite you to
find something heavy to hit yourself with right now.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Say, Bloody Hell.

I've tried to avoid posting videos of my guitar playing, because I'm so abysmal at it. I thought this was pretty funny though, so what the hell.

This is me trying to play the intro to All That Remains' Chiron. When I get to the high G#, I hit one of the most perfect pinch harmonics I've ever played, completely accidentally. The shock of it made me mess up the rest of the intro. Dammit. Also, yes, I know it's synchronized poorly. It's Blogger's fault.
video

And this is the same intro, without the sucking. This one isn't funny, I'm just putting it here because I was trying to show my friend, but the video is too big to email.
video

In other guitar news, I now see why my friend (not the one mentioned above) complained when I tried to do pickslides on his guitar, as I just tore the shit out of my pick.

Anyway, now that I've done this, I'll probably ignore the blog for another few weeks or so. À Bientôt!

EDIT:

Apparently it's not Blogger's fault. I tried uploading the video to Youtube and embedding from there, but had the same problem. I'll mess around with my video settings some time when I don't have so much homework.

Also, here's the (also poorly synchronized) music video for the above song, so you can hear how much better ATR is at it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Somewhere on Maine Street

I'm on the road for the week, so reasonably I won't have a review. Unfortunately, from the state of my school work, it's starting to look like I won't have time to review a game for next week either. My tentative plan is to review Prince of Persia (which I played through last weekend) so that I have something to show, but I don't have to find time to play through another game. This is unless anyone feels like writing my LTP for me.

Anyone?

Damn.

Moving on then. I do actually have something to write for this week. On a whim, I decided I would try my hand at reviewing a restaurant, just to keep you guessing on what this blog is actually about. I recognize that this is going to be written for a rather more limited audience, and that I have absolutely experience reviewing food, but I felt it would be a disservice not to try and spread the word to my followers (all four of you).

So if any of you happen to be driving through the Hudson River Valley area for any reason, you might find your way to the town of Rhinebeck, where there is a restaurant called Tarrapin. Twice my tireless college search has led me there, and both times I was impressed. The terra cotta colored building suggests a tendency toward Spanish or Mexican  cuisine, and while that's true to a degree, it by no means encompasses the entirety of the menu. There's a wide selection of gourmet food available from specialty salads to a variety of sandwiches to pasta to some of the most interesting quesadillas you can find. In addition, there are a number of interesting tapas items, and some well portioned, delicious deserts. Not only is the food delicious, but the portions are small enough that you won't feel overwhelmed at the end of the meal. Throw in a friendly staff and a quaint, small town setting, and you've got a really remarkable place to relax for an hour or so with some friends and some food. Even if you're not in the mood for a meal, you can have a seat on the patio and grab an iced tea and some great tapas, like duck liver quesadillas, goat cheese wantons, mini burgers, and small pieces of lamb chop with chimichurri.

And that's my first restaurant review. Another item of note is that I've discovered that the buildings in Manhattan are tall enough that they apparently interfere with my GPS. Yet another reason the city is best observed from a distance.

I'll throw in my latest musical obssession for good measure. I insist on continuing to embed videos, even if they sometimes don't fit into the blog's format, because it looks better than a hyperlink.

I admire this band for Craig Mabbit's ability to sing and scream with equal intensity and skill. Also who can help but love his creepy antics?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Like WoW, but Free.

How many of you out there play MMORPGs?

How many of you are resentful that companies charge you a monthly fee for a game you've already paid for?

How many of you are angry that Blizzard is spending all of its energy on World of Warcraft, instead of advancing the plot through a game that doesn't require an internet connection and monthly subscription?

I'm afraid I can't do anything about that last problem. However, if you're looking for the MMO experience without the cost, I may have a suggestion. Elliot of the Woods, who has written for anyButton under the name Bolt Action, has a new blog called Real Live Events. RLE is a sort of alternate reality game inspired by the MMO's live event. Elliot's plan is to release live events for real life. He comes up with quests, arranges objectives and rewards, and asks participants to leave comments with their success (or, presumably, failure) stories.

The first event was posted yesterday, and it looks like the site may be shaping up to be an interesting experience for those who partake. I encourage you to check it out, especially any D&D players, LARPers or jaded MMO-players.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Resident Evil 5

Review of Resident Evil 5 on anyButton.

Foresight

It's been a while since I posted anything here, so I decided it was time for some filler. Since I doubt any of you care much about my school work, I suppose I'll talk about my plans for the near future.

I still have a plan for something interesting on Abnormality, but my schedule allows little free time, and what time there is I tend to spend playing guitar, and playing the games I have to review every week. Some time in the near future, however, I plan to release something thought provoking. I also still have another piece planned for aB that's waiting for a week without a review. I'm not sure when that will be, since there actually seems to be a lot coming out soon. I have a Resident Evil 5 review finished that just needs some proofreading, and I should have that up later today, once I decide whether or not I want to include a video. Next week I was hoping to play the Wanted game, (I hated the movie, but it does lend itself to some cool gameplay) but I doubt Gamefly will get it to me by this weekend. Frankly, I'm not sure what I have to play this weekend. I suppose I might give the H.A.W.X. demo a try, and maybe finally finish Saints Row 2, or put some more time into Silent Hill 2. (I actually just checked, and Gamefly can't get Wanted right now, so they're sending the newest Prince of Persia. Maybe I'll just review it, depending on how much a care about it.)

After Wanted, I've got The Godfather 2 and Velvet Assassin on my list for the next of the week, and then for May I'm looking at the Wolverine game, Damnation, and the Terminator game. Frankly, I've rather looking forward to the new Terminator movie too. Unfortunately, I'm not terribly interested in any of those games. June, however, brings the new Batman game, (eh, I'll give it a shot) Infamous, Prototype, and Overlord II, most of which I'm pretty pumped for, especially Infamous.

I've assuaged my guilt for ignoring Abnormality for so long, so I'll stop ranting about games that aren't out yet. Here, have some music:

I don't know why there are three minutes of silence at the end of this, but whatever.

The video isn't synced here, but it's the best song I could find, and they do some crazy improvisation at the beginning.


Friday, March 6, 2009

The Cat Is ______

The current state of life compels me to escape by wasting a half hour writing something. This is of course in place of doing anything productive, like studying. Unfortunately, nothing truly remarkable has happened in the last few days, so I'll use this space for a list a smaller, not quite as remarkable happenings.

The first is in response to my last post, regarding the Xbox Live Arcade Awards. It turns out that the process isn't quite as simple as advertised. The application won't necessarily be in the Spotlight, so you'll have to look it up in the Game Marketplace. For some reason, it counts as a demo, so if you're like me and that wasn't the first thing you thought of, now you know.

Also, as I'm sure you know, Watchmen is out today. Unfortunately, this creature called high school is holding me captive until three this afternoon, but after that I'll probably see it. There's a possibility I might just play video games tonight and see it tomorrow. As much as I love Watchmen, I have never been much of an “opening night” kind of guy for anything. I will not feel threatened as a fan if I don't see the movie on the first night and frankly, no matter how good it is, it is at its essence only an imitation of Alan Moore's genius. This was the case with V for Vendetta. The movie was amazing, but still can't hold a candle to the original (though I know Biscuits will disagree with me here).

On a related note, I got the trial of the Watchmen game on the Xbox Arcade. I didn't bother to hope for much from it, since Deadline has never made anything else I gave a crap about, but the screenshots showed me that it actually has relatively good graphics, and might indeed be enjoyable. After playing it, I'm a little disappointed, though not as much as I originally expected to be. It's really just a fighting game, with simple controls and linear gameplay. The graphics are pretty enough to look at, and sometimes the combat looks very cool, but at other times it looks rather awkward. I'll wait until I play co-op with Biscuits to decide whether or not it's worth the 1,600 points it costs.

In other game news, I'm trying to make my way simultaneously through Saints Row 2, Braid and F.E.A.R. 2, with an emphasis on the latter, because it's a rental, and because I'm supposed to be reviewing it this week. The review most likely won't be out until late tomorrow, so that I can squeeze out as much gameplay as possible, and hopefully beat it. I have several good points to make about the game both mechanically and stylistically, and I probably should be writing them down, but I prefer to rely on my memory. Looking at my GameQ on Gamefly, I'm realizing that there simply aren't enough weeks in between all of the games that are coming out soon. There isn't much that I'm actually interested in, but I feel I should play and review all of those new games (like Killzone 2 and Resident Evil 5) just because they're new and because I feel like it's been a while since I gave something a bad review. I'll review Watchmen for next week, and if I have time perhaps throw in Braid at the same time, because otherwise I don't know when I'll do it. Then next will be Killzone 2, and by then Resident Evil 5 will be out. Then comes Damnation, inFamous, and Prototype. After that, I may have time to play some older (comparatively) games like Prince of Persia, Fable 2 and Little Big Planet, none of which I'm particularly excited for, but I may as well try them.

That's about all I have to say now. I've effectively wasted my Physics class, which really isn't Physics, because half of the students are missing, so it's actually a free block. I'll go now, and perhaps do something productive. Probably not though.

Also, if you're feeling bored (like I am), look at the last word in each sentence of this post and use it to fill the blank in the title, adding articles as necessary. Try to find something funny.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Don't We All Like to Be Heard?

23 just pointed out that this week is the 2008 Xbox Live Arcade Awards. I'm sure you all have your own video game news source, but I thought I would provide for those who don't. These awards are for the [mostly indie] games for download on the XBL Arcade, so if you're the kind of person that spends all of his points on arcade games (I'm not, but whatever), you should add your two cents. I will probably check it out at some point and place my vote for Braid, the only indie game that has kept me captivated for more than a day. Yes, you must own an Xbox 360 in order to vote. You'll have to download an application that will apparently show up in the Spotlight, and then run it to select your top choice. The polls will be open until March 10. That is, incidently, the day my next History project is due. For more information (about the voting, not the project), check out the article on Xbox.com.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And on the Third Day, He Rested.

So I stayed home today. Strangely, I would have much preferred to go to school, but I've been developing a rather irritating sore throat over the past week or so, and I thought it prudent not to expose my friends to infection. [Insert 28 Days Later/Left 4 Dead/generic zombie joke here.]

Of course Biscuits is spending the night here anyway, so I don't suppose I've accomplished much by avoiding school.

At this point, the expectation would be either that I did something fascinating and revolutionary today that I feel I have to share with you, or that I did absolutely nothing, and am just assuming you people out there care about my rather mundane day. I assure you it's the latter.

In short, I slept late, played guitar, and I'm only writing this because I'm bored out of my wits. I just thought I should share that with the public at large. The sensible thing to do would be to see if my French teacher has posted the homework on his blog yet, but then I'm not often very sensible.

And that's my terribly interesting report for the day. Congratulations, you've just wasted two to five minutes of your life, and you'll never get them back.

As compensation, here are the songs I'm currently trying to learn on guitar.





And the song I'm currently listening to, which I don't believe I'll be able to play any time soon.



As a closing note, if anyone out there thinks the title of this post likens me to God, and thinks that I'll burn in Hell for it, I appologize for your narrowmindedness and poor sense of humor. I'm sure he would get the joke.

Also if anyone out there is offended that I didn't capitalize "he" when referring to God, get a life.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Saints Row 2

Review of Saints Row 2 on anyButton.

We're Fucked

Okay, I'm aware that this has nothing to do with anything, and if any of you keep up with Internet trends, you've probably already seen this, but 23 brought it to my attention today and... I mean seriously. I had very little faith in our good human race to begin with, and I think all that was left is gone now.

I really have trouble believing this isn't staged. It's funny for about the first minute, but by the end of it I just wanted to beat myself with something to make it stop.

Seriously people.

What
the
fuck?


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Abnormality's Namesake

I thought I should answer this, since you've been asking. If you specifically haven't asked, then I assure you that someone else has, even if it's only the little man in my head that starts to scream and throw things when I go too long without thinking about something.

I suppose the real reason for this post is that I'm bored and I thought of some clever lines I could use.

So, you've asked, "20cc, how is it that you came up with such an original name for your blog?" Or alternately, "20cc, how is it that you can live with yourself after coming up with such a terrible name?" My answer to both questions is, I was bored, and the entire creative process took me about fifteen minutes, so I honestly didn't put a whole lot of thought into it. I considered a few similar terms, like chaos or nonsense, but I thought that Abnormality would be the least silly. Also, I humbly admit that I did consider referencing anyButton by type setting my title as aBnormality, but I promise it was only for a moment, and only because I was listening to a very dull presentation at the time.

So no, my title is not a reference to the death metal band. I've only heard one of their songs, and as much as I love metal, it struck me as noisy and unorganized. It is neither a reference to chromosome abnormality, nor the epidemic in that fantasy novel (I'm not sure such a thing exists, but it seems like the kind of thing an unoriginal novelist like myself would do).

So yes, I admit that Abnormality is not a terribly original title. In my defense, however, I did create anyButton, and one can only have so many strokes of genius at a time. I may not be good with names, but I'm still a better writer than a lot of folks out there. Christopher Paolini, if you're reading this, I'm talking to you.

P.S. If Christopher Paolini is actually reading this, let me just say that I'm honored to have been noticed by a celebrity so early in my career, even if you're only a celebrity because you started writing your book at fifteen (I started mine at fourteen, and have been throwing away and rewriting the draft every three months), and because the lemming-like American public will rush to swallow any drivel that has a pretty cover and includes dragons, vampires, or breasts.

Oopsie

Okay, so I was just over at bluGrey, and noticed that I totally used the same blog format. I swear it was completely unintentional. Curse you, blogspot, for your limited formatting choices, and for the fact that 23 and I have similar taste in [emo] colors.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Beginning of the End

For those who know me, glad you could make it. For those who don't, I'm called 20cc, and this is my domain. You can find more about me on anyButton, my main project. The link is on the right side of the page. It recently occurred to me that by starting a side project like this, I would have a little more freedom to talk about things that aren't related to my area of work on aB. I considered referencing it in my title, (20cc of aBnormality. Haha.) but then I realized that that would be stupid.

Abnormality is pretty much here for me to rant about things that don't deserve the space on aB, like games that are no longer new, old movies that I just got around to seeing, and my mood in general. You might then ask, "If you don't think this is worth the space on the other site, why would I want to read it here?" Because I'm funny, of course. Also, the public loves a pretty face, which is of course why I put the skull up on the side of the page.

I should have some cute time waster up here in the near future. I will of course be continuing my duties at aB, when someone releases a game that's worth my time. On another note, I may as well mention my associate 23's private blog, with it's very aB-like title.

Until next time.