Good God. I cannot wait to see this movie. I’m pumped to see “Prometheus,” but the new “Dark Knight Trailer” gives me chills. Does anyone remember when Batman movies sucked? I sure do. Thank you, Christopher Nolan, for doing justice to the character. Now, I shouldn’t talk like I know the character all that well… I’ve read very few Batman comics. But I have read Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns,” and also Grant Morrison’s “Arkham Asylum,” so I’ve got a little bit of background. Nolan is one of those filmmakers who I’ll follow wherever they go. Like the Coen brothers, or Terry Gilliam. I don’t think Gilliam’s made a outright “good” movie in a long time, but I’m still very interested in anything he does. “Time Bandits” and “Brazil” are proof that the man was (and hopefully still is) capable of greatness.
Christopher Nolan pays such close attention to all the right details when making a movie that I feel like I can count on him to make something I’ll enjoy watching. “Inception” was dangerously close to being a gimmick, but the action and acting were so good that you don’t really care that it’s a bit convoluted. And I feel like there’s a very specific tongue-in-cheek tone to the movie, a sly commentary on the whole business of story-telling and movie-watching. It’s that old “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle” thing… the idea that the mere act of observing a thing affects its reality. Anyway… I like Nolan’s movies. “Dark Knight” was fantastic, and I’m really really looking forward to “Dark Knight Rises.” I wasn’t sure what to think about Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, but after seeing this most recent trailer, I think it was a great casting call. I’ve no doubt I’ll fall in love with her by the end of the film. And come ON… Batman saying “This isn’t a car,” in his Batman voice? How righteous is that? The answer is that it’s almost as righteous as this:
…But not quite.
And speaking of “Prometheus”…
Yup, we’ve got ourselves a full-fledged trailer now! I’ve written plenty about my expectations for this movie, so I won’t add much here, except to restate that I truly believe Ridley Scott is returning to form with this movie. It’s been so long since “Alien” (or “Blade Runner,” for that matter), and too many people know Scott as the man who made “Gladiator,” which does a disservice to Ridley Scott. I’ll take “Blackhawk Down” as an action movie any day over “Gladiator.”
Alright. Now I have to talk about “The Witcher 2.” Remember last week, when I said I’d just gotten it, and I was impressed that it had made all sorts of improvements to the first one? Well, I have to take some of that back, now, after playing it for a week or so. The shine has worn off, and I’m noticing many of the things that made me dislike the first “Witcher,” and I’m becoming very frustrated with the new one. I set it down last night after having a less-than-fun session with it, and I’m honestly not sure I’ll pick it up again.
The thing about “The Witcher,” and, I’ve come to realize, “The Witcher 2,” is that the combat downright sucks. It sounds harsh, but I’ve been thinking about a bit, and I can’t help but come to that conclusion. I wanted to like this game, I really did. The graphics are gorgeous, without a doubt. Geralt is compelling as a character, and I like the fact that your decisions within the game carry real weight later on. The quests are less broken this time around, for sure, and I love the idea that I need to make and use potions to survive an encounter. But I hate the combat. I can’t help it. I finally realized it last night, after playing for about an hour and a half. I’ve yet to finish a single combat encounter in that game that was actually enjoyable. For one thing, why can’t I drink potions during a battle? I know, I know… I’m supposed to be prepared for encounters and employ strategy before I go into battle. I get that. But here’s the thing… I don’t necessarily always know what kind of fight I’m getting into. So what do I do? I make and consume the same three potions before every battle, to prepare in the most general way for any given battle. That’s not strategy. Once I’ve encountered a particular enemy, sure, I know I’ll likely meet more of those, and I can proceed accordingly. But that doesn’t happen very often. Most of the time it’s more effective to take a health regen, vigor regen, and effect resistance potion, and use a whetstone for both weapons. Like I said, there’s not much strategy in that.
And then it’s time for the actual combat. Ugh. This game wants to be an action RPG, but it just isn’t. Not at all. “Kingdoms of Amalur” Reckoning” does this so much better. Control of Geralt is clunky and frustrating. It is a similar approach to that of “Reckoning,” but not nearly as refined as it is in “Reckoning.”
Case in point; last night I got into a boss battle. There were quite a few dialogue cutscenes before this boss battle, and then it gets to the battle itself. It gives me a chance, through dialogue options, to prepare before my battle, to take my requisite three all-purpose potions. So what? I have no idea what I’m preparing for. So I get to the battle and, surprise, I’m not prepared right for the battle. Too bad I couldn’t take something during the battle that would apply to this particular situation. No dice. The time for that was a while ago, before five minutes of cutscenes, and way before I had any clue what I’d be up against.
So that’s it for me and “The Witcher 2,” I’m afraid. Pretty graphics, gritty and dark and I feel like I’m playing “Game of Thrones,” what with all the boobs and blood and etc., but the combat is the same crap that turned me away from the first “Witcher” game. I’m going back to “Reckoning,” which has goofy character models but is way more fun to play.
One question that crosses my mind is, “Why do these things bother me in ‘the Witcher,’ but not ‘Skyrim’?” Good question, Luke. “Skyrim” has clunky combat, too. “Skyrim” has stupid broken quests, too. Yes, but it’s still more fun than “The Witcher 2.” Why? Probably because you can approach any given “Skyrim” situation in so many different ways. I’ve got this quest in “Skyrim” that involves sneaking into someone’s house and finding damaging information to use against them (Yes, over 200 hours and I’m still on my first playthrough). My character is not a sneaky character, but I’ve got options. I’m good at enchanting stuff, so maybe I’ll enchant myself some duds that make me silent, and some other duds that make me invisible. Or, I’m also good at potion-making, so maybe I’ll whip up some potions that’ll do the trick. Or, if I’m feeling rich and lazy, maybe I’ll buy something that does those those things for me. Or I could barge in and kill everyone, and take what I need. Options, see? That’s what makes “Skyrim” more fun.
That’s enough about the “Witcher 2.” I may turn the difficulty all the way down and button-mash my way through the combat, just so I can finish the story. But I’m disappointed. Am I just not getting it? Anyone out there playing “Witcher” who thinks I’m full of crap? If you have thoughts about it, I’d like to hear them. I wanted to like this game, I really did.
Let’s see… what else? Oh, yeah. Taylor Clark sorta kinda almost apologizes in Kotaku for saying that most video games are “dumb” a few weeks ago in a profile of Jonathan Blow he wrote for the Atlantic. I don’t want to get too far into this right now, because to be honest, I haven’t read the article in the Atlantic yet. But I did read his piece over at Kotaku. I get his point. Jonathan Blow wants to elevate the medium, and he is right to do so. And yes, there are a lot of dumb games out there. But I also think there are a lot of “smart” games out there, and there are all kinds of dev teams hard at work creating some really interesting games. Taylor Clark’s statement is the kind of vague assessment one can make about any given artistic medium. In music, movies, games, books, photographs, etc., the crap will always always outweigh the good stuff. Our job as discerning customers is to do our research and find the good stuff. And there’s plenty of good stuff out there. As a gamer, I feel like I have plenty to choose from when I’m looking for the good stuff. And I think it’s arrogant of Clark to insinuate that I’m adolescent because I like to play a game where I get to shoot some chump in the face, or laugh like a maniac as some poor stupid bandit comes at me, shouting “WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO? HUH?! WHAT’RE YOU GONNA DO?,” right before I chop his fool head off. It’s fun, Clark. Get over yourself. If you think art that revels in gratuitous gore and violence can’t be considered art, then I have three words for you: “Evil Dead 2.” ‘Nuff said. Or I guess that’s two words and a number. Whatever. You catch my drift, right?
Are you still reading? You’re nuts. Thanks, if you are, and here’s one last tidbit before I go: “Skyrim” DLC arrives this summer. It’s called “Dawnguard,” and it’ll have crossbows and Snow Elves. Wait, did I just say “crossbows?” Yes, I believe I did.