Manhunt 2 and violent video games

April 28, 2008

Now that Grand Theft Auto IV is set to go on sale, no doubt the old debates and tiring diatriabes about violent content in video games is sure to resurface. I have been playing Manhunt 2 sporadically on my PS2 whenever I have free time and I have to say that I don’t feel any more agressive, but I am also old enough to tell the difference between cartoon and game violence and the real McCoy.

Truth be told, I had no idea what this game was about when I put it on my gamefly q, I just thought the premise sounded cool. It’s about a scientist who’s been manipulated by a secret organization called “the Project” which does some genetic manipulation on him and he becomes fused with another more violent personality and he has to break out of the asylum and recover his lost life.

I must admit that this game is pretty violent, but no more violent than say some of the stuff you can watch periodically on TV. Just the other night I watched an episode of “Law and Order” in which the leader of a gang of assasins has his female pupil strangle a man with his tie. This graphic scene is maybe on equal grounds with a lot of the content on Manhunt2.

As for the game itself, I enjoy the A.I. and I think there is a lot of attention to detail like the scenes in the rain or the abandoned house in the “ghosts” level, though I’ve grown weary of dying repeatedly in the higher levels. Sneaking up on “hunters” is part of the course, but I don’t like the fact that if two thugs discover you hiding in the shadows, they can beat the life out of you and you have to restart the level. I got stuck in the “Sexual Diviants” stage where the pervs run the sex club and your character along with Leo try to break in and look for clues.

Overall this is an OK game but I don’t see what the fuss was all about when it was released last halloween. The New Yorker last month had an interesting article detailing the congressional hearings denouncing comic book violence in the 50s so I guess there will always be watchgroups and people who want to find scapegoats to societal ills. Let’s not forget that anything taken out of context always seems twice as bad and that Manhunt 2 is rated M for mature so your kids shouldn’t be playing games like this anyway, so where are the parents when they do??

Happy birthday Bill!

April 23, 2008

Sorry I haven’t been blogging of late, it’s been a tumultous few days, I had to shop for a new car because my van was dying and I have also been swamped with work at school since they installed some new scheduling software and covering local events for the weekly as usual. informs me that today is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday. To say that he had a profound influence on my early life would be an understatement. Because of his command for the English language I almost became an English major before switching to communications with an emphasis on journalism.

I wrote many sonnets in the Shakesperean style when I was younger and some in the more traditional Italian style, that’s not to say that my words would ever equal the Bards. How well do you know the bard? Take this quiz! I scored 5/10 which isn’t great. Well, this is it for now, more later when I get more time and stuff settles down. 

weekend gaming update:ST Conquest

April 12, 2008

game graphics from ST Conquest for the PS2I joined gamefly a few weeks ago and have been playing some games on my spare time, especially on weekends which is when I seem to have the most time off, if I am not covering events for the paper. I decided I would review some games and give you updates on what I am playing.

I would feel guilty plunking down $400 or some outrageous price for a PS3, even if Sony does make the console cheaper at some point given the fact I can also play PC games for next to nothing. I did invest on a PS2 (why not? They are about $99 plus sales tax and they double as dvd players so I can watch movies on it) so I mostly play games that are already out for PS2.

I played Star trek Conquest for about a week and a half, on and off. It’s a neat little game for Star Trek fans as you can assume any race and defend the galaxy in a turn based system similar to online Risk. The game does have its flaws, while you can play on different modes, “Arcade” lets you battle other races in combat orbitting around a system or planet or “Sim” which simulates the battle. I found the Arcade mode clunky and hard to maneuver the ships, so I stuck to sim mode which stimulated further play as you win more and more systems.

While the graphics are decent, it’s nothing Earth shattering, and I could not figure out why the developers didn’t put more time into fleshing out the game, especially the sound system. If you play the federation, you hear similar sounds being repeated, at some point your cadet will shout out “For Earth!” while you blast away enemy ships, which another player correctly points out makes little sense considering Earth is but one planet in the Federation. This is outside of the logistical plot  problem that the Federation would not be conquering other races as this contradicts their manadate of exploration and peaceful co-existence, but hey, it’s a game…

The only problem is that even if you utilize all the resources available to you like the 3 super weapons and/or credits used to build up your fleet, a few tactical miscalculations and your opponents (especially the Klingons) will wipe you off the face of the galaxy.

I would have to give this one 3 out of four stars. It’s a good effort, but hardly perfect.

Buffy season 8 #13

April 6, 2008

I don’t suffer from triskaidekaphobia, but I would have to say that after 12 straight good issues, Buffy’s 13th is a bit of a swing and a miss. This isn’t to say it’s a complete failure, far from it, Drew Goddard’s script has a lot of story elements to it that make for mostly an enjoyable read, but the bar has been set so high for this book that a less than stellar copy almost feels like an average read. I think that is the case here. Yet one strike out doesn’t add up to an entire game, especially when the team has been consistently swinging for the fences.

        Yet, even the cover is a little arresting this time around, but in a bad way. It’s not particularly engaging and its choice of colors seems bland. Of course, this can be seen as purely subjective, but I think it falls flat in comparison to previous efforts and it marked the first time I wanted to buy the variant cover instead of the regular cover.

        The story starts to go wrong by establishing a relationship between Xander and Dracula which borders on the absurd. I know that most of you will want to retort that I am missing the point, that I am overlooking the comic relief inherent in Xander’s status as the count’s manservant, but I say thee nay. I realize that the whole point is to play off their interactions from the season five premiere episode, I get the funny, but as Dracula says towards the end of the comic, he could care less about Buffy’s cause and would actually like to see Buffy’s army eradicated. His sentiments make sense given the way he was treated by the Slayer, so it makes little sense that Xander is actually friends with him solely on the basis they “struck it off” when he was under Dracula’s thrall and continued a friendship “off screen” following Anya’s death as Andrew relays to the troops.

        That being said, I actually laughed out loud on several occasions, most notably during the tea interlude. There are some genuinely funny lines there and the whimsical nature of previous Buffy the Vampire Slayer baddies is in full display here. Unfortunately, things revert to the realm of inanity and the bit about Dracula losing his powers to the Asian vampires while gambling for a motorcycle comes across as not as humorous as the writer intended, a little too over the top. The Andrew bits and obscure references are less charming than on his previous appearances and training sessions with the girls.

        Fortunately, there’s a lot more to digest in this issue than a trip by chopper to Transylvania. For example, there’s a charming and astute discussion between Satsu and Willow over the logistics and difficulties involved with any possible relationship with Buffy which is intercut with solitary shots of a pensive Buffy preparing for battle. Willow reminds both Satsu and the reader that Buffy isn’t a lesbian, affirming what most of us already know: A one night stand does not equate to a budding relationship, no matter how beautiful and gentle the experience may have been, and that they still have a war to fight. Satsu understands the enormous weight and responsibility of the Slayer mission always falls on Buffy’s shoulders and it seems in this respect she will always be alone despite having an army to rally around her. The artist’s depiction of Buffy captures this aspect of her character perfectly. I suppose there’s also a follow up to Xander asking Renee out last issue, but this is mostly upstaged by his dealings with the count.

        The drama and tension created by Aiko tracking down the mysterious vamps is good, and the pacing of the comic is also handled well, as is a scene with Buffy communicating with Aiko after the latter has killed off a throng of demons. This is the scene which felt more in the spirit of the TV show for me, displaying Buffy’s great skill at commanding her troops while at the same time acknowledging the existence of a demon underworld on Earth. Unfortunately, Goddard telegraphs Aiko’s impending fate, as I could see the resolution to her surveillance not ending well without more reinforcements from Buffy’s camp.

        Georges Jeanty once again handles the penciling chores on the comic and this was great to see as he draws the best looking Buffy outside of Cliff Richards.  

        The resolution to this arc should be good with a pissed off Dracula and the Slayer troops hunting down the vamp gang in an effort to retrieve Buffy’s scythe. Like I said, this is not a bad comic, but it also feels light in content and it’s not as good as previous installments of this great series.



Celtic Pride

April 3, 2008

boston-celtics.jpgI would be remiss if I didn’t mention in my blog that the NBA playoffs are just around the corner and my favorite basketball team, the Boston Celtics are having their best season in years. Harkening back to the glory days of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, this year’s version of the Celtics are playing like an unbeatable force desitined to hoist another championship banner above the Parkay floor. I could not be more thrilled.

It took a really, really long time but management has finally upgraded the players and added Kevin Garnett and a few key players to the contributions of Paul Pierce to finally make the Celts relevant again. We have the Eastern conference virtually locked up with an amazing record which includes a mere 15 losses (as of this writing) on the season. Of course, the NBA is banking on an old school Celtics-Lakers final which would do wonders for its TV ratings as the FINALS have been pretty much devoid of any drama in recent years.

Personally, I say bring them on. I don’t think the Lakers are good enough to get out of the Western conference with all ther injuries and troubles, sorry Lakers fans, but it’s true. You’ll be lucky to get past Utah, San Antonio and the pesky Phoenix Suns, but if you do the Celts will be ready to mop up the floor with you like they did twice during the regular season. I can’t wait!