I Finally Gave In

I couldn’t keep trying to put it down anymore. They had a great E3 and I got a good deal that was enough to justify the cost.

The Three Amigos

It’s a US machine with no games yet, apart from Tekken and some demos downloaded from the PSN. It has me wishing that I had a 360 with an HDMI connection because things look lovely and sharp through that connection, and I’m blown away by how massive it looks on the desk. My account name is (shockingly) NekoFever if anyone wants to add me to what passes for a friends list in Sonyland.

See? I got a dig in to balance it out. I’m still me.

Transformers Movie Review

Optimus Prime

As a card-carrying Transformers fanboy I went into this not knowing what to think. On one hand if there was anyone who could do big fighting robots justice it was Michael Bay, and on the other hand…Michael Bay. I liked The Rock and everything but his is hardly the most glowing filmography.

Transformers has all the trapping of a Bay film – kissing against a sunset as a rock ballad plays in the background, sweeping shots of pilots manning their jets, and knowing nods at his previous work (at one point someone shouts “this is even better than Armageddon!”, a statement that most will find impossible to disagree with) – and although the dialogue has its share of clangers and misplaced humour, not to mention a story that anyone who isn’t used to the cartoon will find baffling, it’s something that most fans will love. Thankfully he gives the scenes that need it room to breathe, so moments like the arrival of the Autobots are almost majestic thanks to the great choice of music.

Shia LeBeouf is remarkably bearable in a role that could easily have been outright annoying and carries the film, while the performances behind the robots themselves are stellar. Peter Cullen reprises his role as Optimus Prime and gives the character the appropriate amount of gravitas, getting far more screen time than any other speaking Transformer and even pinching a few crowd-pleasing lines from the animated film, while Hugo Weaving’s Megatron is effective when he eventually makes an appearance. No need to be annoyed that Frank Welker wasn’t brought back for that part. I’d have liked more conniving Starscream (who wouldn’t?) but there’s always the sequel in 2009, something for which he is set up perfectly.

What really steals the show, though, are the incredible effects. The Transformers are full of detail and moving parts, and never really look like CG, with the transformations themselves deserving all kinds of awards next year. I couldn’t spot where the big CG robot ended and the real car began, especially when they pull off moves like transforming in mid-stride, flipping between modes in mid-air, and wreaking some stunning-looking havoc on themselves and others at the end.

This summer’s blockbusters have almost all disappointed, but this one actually lived up to my expectations. Bay has done a great job of providing what his fans like and also giving those who would go to the showing in a Transformers t-shirt (not me, you understand) plenty to be happy with. Bring on the sequel.

Transformers Binge

The movie could be wank, despite how great the latest trailer looks (remember The Phantom Menace?), but I’m sure even those Transformers fans who have fallen farthest from the tree can’t fail to be excited by the potential for big screen spectacle and a new generation of toys. I won’t mention the Bay if you don’t.

Like any good fanboy I’ve been buying the new stuff, encouraged by the current BOGOHP deal on Transformers in Toys R Us. And this isn’t counting the three versions of the original movie that I now own (original DVD, 20th anniversary DVD, ultimate tin), my old toy collection, Dreamwave G1 comics, and the splendid 20th anniversary Optimus Prime that I nabbed from eBay.

Movie Leader Optimus Prime

Movie Leader Optimus Prime

I think this guy looks better than the actual movie iteration, even if he’s no G1 Prime. Similar size to my 20th anniversary Prime and with flashing lights and sounds so that you know that he’s from the 21st century.

Continue reading Transformers Binge

E3 Conference Review

Microsoft – Only showing games to be released this year was an interesting gimmick, but ultimately I felt that it was a mistake. It did a great job of showing off the 2007 release list for the 360 which is, in my opinion, by far the best of the three consoles, only to leave 2008 and beyond as something of a vacuum that left the door open for the other two to take the plaudits. The likes of MGS4 aren’t coming out this year but they still carry a lot of weight as franchises.

And why did Microsoft choose to show only their 2007 titles and then show Resi 5 anyway? Why not just show other future titles and plug the strength of the 2007 lineup? They could easily have had their cake and eaten it.

The show itself fairly poor until it was saved by some excellent gameplay footage of big games like Call of Duty 4 (plus online beta!) and Assassin’s Creed. I’m still as hot for Halo 3 as I ever was after that trailer, as well, although it was admittedly not a brilliant trailer. It’s just that they played it safe, had their aforementioned high points, a couple of low points (the Madden thing was…ugh), and came out just affirming what we already knew: that the Xbox 360 has a strong 2007 lineup. They need a huge X07 or TGS now.

Overall: C+

Nintendo – I don’t doubt that every mainstream outlet on the planet is writing glowing features on Wii Fit as we speak and it’s going to make ridiculous amounts of money, but that show was a lesson in how to alienate your hardcore fans. I’m admittedly a lapsed Nintendo fan and a Mario game doesn’t do it for me like it used to (I’ll still buy Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 for sure, though), but nothing there did it for me. What was there except Wii Fitness and half a dozen new Wii peripherals? Vision Training? Not even any big DS announcements!

Mario Kart? It looks the same as Double Dash and they already did it online on the DS. No Animal Crossing. Little new on Smash Bros except a release date met with dead silence. The focus on Wii Fit meant that it ended up coming off like an infomercial for a step machine like you get on Five US when CSI isn’t on, and just affirmed for me that Nintendo and the Wii is no longer going with what I, as a gamer, want.

Overall: D

Sony – Mainly given the advantage of following Nintendo’s show and having only to be better than last year, Sony only really had to show some games that weren’t coming out this year in order to ‘win’, and they did. It started badly with some cringe-worthy Home skits and a painful appearance by Chewbacca, as well as so many plugs that it felt like I was watching Casino Royale again (“Spider-Man 2, now available on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and UMD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment”; “connect your PSP to your Sony Bravia flatscreen TV”; “Home on my Sony-Ericsson mobile phone”), but then it was uphill.

The new PSP is a good improvement even if it didn’t have internal memory (I’ll buy one when it gets hacked), Echochrome looks cool, and MGS4, Uncharted, and Killzone all look superb. For the first time since E3 2005 I’m seriously considering when I plan to buy a PS3 and which game is going to do it.

Overall: B+

Overall, though, I think we can all agree that the new E3 is a disappointment for those of us who like to sit back and enjoy the show. Bring back the old one, I say!