Sunday, July 05, 2009

Nickel Tour: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Here's the nickel tour:

Man is born baby-sized, but as an old man. (Looks creepy.) As he moves forward in time, he grows appropriately mentally and size-wise, gets physically younger. Nobody seems to think this is worth mentioning to science. Eventually, he meets a girl or two, falls in love once or twice. Fathers a child around the time he "meets in the middle" he childhood sweetheart- both the same physical age at their point in time. Eventually, he's getting younger physically and starts to get smaller size-wise, as well as seemingly mentally senile. Finally, he dies as a baby-sized baby.

I know that it's meant to be a love tale, but I took it as a flawed an internally inconsistent sci-fi tale. Not easy to suspend disbelief due to Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's well-known countenances. I found myself wondering what was makeup and was was CG.

For the record, I caught part of the filming of this movie a few times. Many of the New Orleans shots were comfortingly, albeit jarringly familiar. The accents weren't awful overall.

I give it a "Not worth the big screen."

Thursday, July 02, 2009

War never changes

I am glad I did not pick up Fallout 3 while trying to finish painting the house.

I beat the game in a little under sixty hours of gameplay, but I suspect I could spend another ten to twenty hours or more seeking out the rest of the quests and extras, and simply exploring the world.

I have a special (no pun intended) place in my heart for the Fallout series. Not only do I eat up the post-apocalyptic genre like candy, but I believe the story and choices offered to the player really add a level of verisimilitude often missing in most computer games. I think the current development studio did a fine job in keeping with the original two games, unlike the disowned, non-canon garbage that was FOBOS. I really am quite happy at a new generation of gamers experiencing the Fallout world, with promise of more games to come. As of this writing, there's a Fallout: Vegas game in the works for 2010 and at least three downloadable content packs for the console games.

Most people expect me to play a lot of video games, but Fallout is the first video game that I've played to completion in quite a long while. I'm quite satisfied and pleased.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

New-to-me games June 2009

Hello, world.

I had a light game month, relatively speaking- I played less than 30 games and less than a dozen titles. I directly attribute these numbers to my playing Fallout 3 on the PS3. But I managed to play five (really four) new games this month, three of which I own.

Alphabetically first and arguably the heaviest is Martin Wallace's new economic game Automobile (BGG, BUY ME!). Research car factories, build cars, sell cars, use different characters for a twist. Most money wins. I am terrible at this game, but I like it. There's a lot of tension in what you ca do versus what you want to do. One must do a bit of number-crunching and some cost-benefit analysis to inform your decisions. A solid design; if this sounds interesting to you, give it a shot, but it's a wee dry and mathy.

Neuroshima Hex! (BGG, BUY ME!) is like a knife fight in a phone booth. This skirmish game is totally up my alley. Each player has a different army "deck" of hex tiles, playing onto a Catan-shaped battlefield. You can force battles (where the whole board resolves and ther is much carnage), and you can generally not move your troops once deployed. The game has at least two expansions and the source RPG is Polish, if you need more. I hope there are army play aids on BGG to help, otherwise players don't know their units strengths and weaknesses. Worth playing.

The cooperative Red November (BGG, BUY ME!) fell a little flat for me. Russian Gnomes on a steampunk sub disaster movie? Bring it! But in play with five, it drug on past when I was ready for it to be over. I am glad I played it before buying it, otherwise I fear I would have traded it away after one play. I might give it one more shot, but you'd need to love it or convince me.

Space Alert (BGG, BUY ME!) is another cooperative game from the same madmen who brought you Galaxy Trucker. The gimmick here uses a CD with audio tracks that govern when and where threats (alien ships, space pirates, meteors, etc.) appear on the ship. Players must quickly negotiate and coordinate their actions, which are programmed similarly to RoboRally. The game is fast fast- ten minutes for the audio track and actual play, maybe another ten or fifteen minutes to resolve. There's definitely the feeling of setting up dominoes to watch them fall down. I can't say that this is for everyone, though. It took me three plays before the game clicked and I liked it; not shocking when you remember that the play is absolutely driven forward by the audio track.

My cheat is Taktika (BGG, BUY ME!), a game I haven't played since leaving Austin (or maybe at last year's BGG Con?) and had a hand in playtesting. The game bills itself as "strategy meets dexterity" and is a two-player wargame of flicking discs about a table, much like Crokinole. I have two sets so we can play partnership battles, which add a lot of set-up-and-protect your partner decisions. A solid game that a bigger publisher needs to pick up. It's been a hit with my group, who have repeatedly asked me why I haven't brought it out sooner.