It’s a well-timed coincidence that a group of thieves made off with tens of thousands of dollars from a Justin Bieber concert in Johannesburg just days after the release of Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine on Xbox Live Arcade. Apparently, they rappelled and chiseled their way into a vault room at the stadium while the concert was happening. I’m not usually one to root for the bad guy, but these heist-type crimes are undeniably cool (especially when they happen in real-life), and Monaco lets you step into the shoes of shady players who pull off big scores.
Unlike the Johannesburg criminals, though, there’s nothing realistic about Monaco’s band of crooks. They play to the classic heist movie archetypes–such as the Locksmith, the Hacker, the beautifully distracting Redhead, and the wily Cleaner, who uses chloroform to knock out guards. Though the characters may be slightly cliched, the game design itself is anything but. Monaco is a top-down action game that mixes elements of stealth, twin-stick shooting, and well-timed strategy. Your goal on each level is simple: get to your goal (typically money, or a person or object of value), and then escape. Sounds easy, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that.
It’s Episode #154 for Man of Steel (2013), in which our protagonist finds himself fighting the very thing that gives Superman his powers (what else is new?), is amazed he can believe that somebody besides Christopher Reeve can fly and, amazingly, gets tired of watching cities get punched in the face.
It’s Episode #153 for After Earth, in which our protagonist finds himself not despising M. Night the director but wishing the director had fired M. Night the co-writer. He also is even more confused than usual about science and wonders about attacking beasts with a giant morphing cocktail stirrer.
It’s Episode #151 for Fast & Furious 6, in which our protagonist marvels at the tenacity and testicular fortitude of this particular franchise, is happy to see more going on than cars and writhing women at street races, and apologies to Ludacris for getting his name wrong. To be fair, I was punished for doing so by gravity’s karma.
Written by Warren Ellis
Performed by Reg E. Cathey
Published by Hachette Audio
NYPD detective John Tallow has just seen his partner of twenty years shot by a crazy naked man with a shotgun. Of course, Tallow responses in kind by shooting the crazy man dead. This would have been the incident where Tallow, burdened with years of the violence and brutality of New York, finally shuts down.
However, the naked madman with a shotgun blew a hole into an apartment. When checking to see if anyone is hurt, Tallow discovers an apartment covered in guns. All sorts of guns from flintlocks to Saturday Night Specials, all arranged like pixels in a digital picture. They seem to convey some sort of meaning or purpose but it may be beyond sanity. Even weirder, when a sampling of the guns is tested, all of them are connected to cold cases of unsolved homicides. In other words, Tallow has just reopened over 400 unsolved murder cases and the department is not happy. His “reward” for this discovery is to investigate who did all this. And why would be nice too. So Tallow has to deal with two rather odd CSUs, a department that wouldn’t mind this whole mess sinking into the Hudson, and the killer who is very smart, very talented, and very pissed that someone fucked with his guns.
Special thanks to all our supporters! It’s Episode #150 for Star Trek Into Darkness, in which our protagonist applauds trailers that obfuscate for the good of mankind, is pleased that the franchise still knows what genre it’s in, and imagines that the world is going Wicked Batch Crazy.
Written by: Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof & Roberto Orci, based on the series created by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Alice Eve
All you know about Into Darkness is just a smoke screen.
Where to begin? How about some rules. A contract if you will, between you, the reader, and me, the reviewer. I ask you to stay away from any and all spoilers. I ask you not to speculate with others about this movie before you see it. In return, I will write a review that will sail around those spoilers and still serve you enough information to make a decision whether or not you want to see it.
With the second Star Trek by J. J. Abrams though, this spoiler-or-no-spoiler problem is key. How so? You have to consider that the marketing campaign–including every interview and every word that Abrams himself has said–are part of the game and the experience. After watching the movie I can summarize the effect the campaign had in one, simple formula: The more you know about the (old) universe of Star Trek and the less (i.e. spoilers) you know about this movie, the bigger the fun will be for you.
Once in a while, a video game will toss a pop culture reference or two into its script for an easy joke. But what if the game itself is one big joke? What if it’s one giant reference to a very specific time period filled with so-bad-they’re-good one-liners and cheeseball visions of the future? That, my friends, is when you get games like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
In case the title wasn’t clear enough, this is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously. It has an aesthetic obsession with every great/awful 80s sci-fi and fantasy flick you’ve ever seen. Imagine a smart-assed version of The Terminator trapped in a neon nightmare (see: Tron and Hobo With a Shotgun) with a soundtrack that has bits of The Running Man, Predator, Big Trouble in Little China, and Escape from New York blended together…and you’ll have a great idea of what you’re getting into. If none of that sounds appealing, or you’re too young to understand the references, then you may not “get” what Blood Dragon is trying to do. However, for anyone who grew up watching those films (or if you just love a good synth-groove), it’s a gut-bustingly hilarious little trip down Nostalgia Lane.