Cutscenery: Remembering Max Payne 3’s Opening Sequence

With technology advancing over the years, cutscenes have become an important part of the gaming landscape. Better graphics, voice acting, and motion capture technologies have allowed for a greater fidelity to express complex emotions and actions. Some video games are known for their incredible cutscene storytelling, and I plan to shine a spotlight on the ones that have impacted the medium more than others.

As opening cutscenes go, I can think of very few games that have established the overall tone better than Max Payne 3.

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To be fair, it’s really just the first of many brilliant cutscenes. But the opening clip offers a refresher course on poor Max’s gloomy, bloated history while also setting the stage for what will follow. This opening sequence has a lot of heavy lifting to do, but it does it without a hitch.

A washed-up cop turned pill-addled, booze-addicted, hard-boiled murder machine, Max has had it rough. This guy’s resume and family history read like a chapter out of Game of Thrones if the shops in Westeros sold semi-automatic pistols.

The opening scene sets the mood by reintroducing a chain-smoking Max Payne as he goes on a late-night booze run. The visual effects (screen distortion, color glitches, and jarring digital fuzziness) paint a vivid picture of Max’s mental state and how shaky, fragile, and nauseating it must be to inhabit that well-coifed head of his.

Max Payne 3

Max isn’t quite right in the head. He’s not seeing clearly or thinking straight, tormented by a past he can’t escape and probably doesn’t feel like he deserves to. It’s all there in the directorial style, camera movement, and shot choice.

Flashing back and forth through time, we see some of the tragedy that had left Max broken and some of the horrors that lie ahead. The shifts are made all the more jarring by the transitions, which are cued by a static shock-like flourish of lighting effects.

Max is a man careening off the edge, and he isn’t exactly wearing a seat belt.

Pretty grim stuff, but the motion capture and voice work tether the scene together, adding a level of lifelike believability. There is subtlety and nuance in every movement. Real pain and regret are on display, as we can see that Max wouldn’t be able to hang on without the narcotics and alcohol. He has a stubborn resilience, despite the circumstances.

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The swooning and booming orchestral theme ushers us along with Max on his sordid downward spiral. Its an incredible opening cutscene, video game cinematics at their best.

Very funny, ha-ha. Yes that is a fake laugh, you jerk.

Minecraft Story Mode: Telltale Games Teams Up With Mojang

Minecraft Telltale Games

Yesterday, the folks at Telltale Games announced that they would be teaming up with Mojang to deliver a Minecraft-themed narrative-driven game. I think we can all assume that it will follow the same episodic template as the Telltale titles. If you haven’t played one of the developer’s game, they rely on branching dialogue and decision-based narratives with each choice effecting certain future elements.

I have personally never been a huge fan of Telltale’s catalogue, with The Wolf Amongt Us being the only one that caught my attention. I have yet to play chapters 2-5 so that should give an indication of my level of interest. I also lost the desire to further craft mines over the past two years so I guess I’m not really at all excited by this development.

With that said, I’m sure there will be a ton of folks who are, so this is an important day for them. You can check out this interactive annonucement to get a better feel for what’s in store.

Internet Arcade Review: Paperboy

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I don’t think it’s an unreasonable statement to make when I say that Paperboy is one of the greatest games of all time.

A seminal classic that almost transcends even Super Mario Bros. for the NES. And although Tengen did an admirable job porting the arcade cabinet, it was Atari that unleashed this beast unto the unwitting populous of the world back in 1984. Down to the fucking bike handle bar controls on the arcade cabinet, this was a boy-delivering-newspapers simulator for the ages!

Nothing short of a goddamn revelation, Paperboy is incredibly simple, yet infuriatingly difficult. It looks fucking fantastic, and I could use similar expletives about the gameplay. And the music isn’t half bad either.

Paperboy

Tasked as a Pap… Shh.. Did you hear that?

Hmm.. Must have been my imagination. Anyway, you play as some regular Joe Shithead tasked with delivering newspapers. The dfficulty of said task is determined by which street you chose: easy, medium, or hard. Along the way you can pick up extra papers to restock your basket as they also serve as your arsenal against an array of obstacles and dangerous threats.

From rabinous dogs to drunk drivers to… There! There it is agan, did you hear it? Shh.. Be quiet.. I think they’re right above me now… Okay, sounds clear. That was a close one. Where was I? Oh right.

From rabinous dogs to drunk drivers to kids trying to crash their RC racers into you, you name it. I’m sure it’s in this game trying to kill your ass.

There is nothing quite like landing a rolled up news… Oh shit! They’ve found me! Listen, I don’t have much time. My previous review for that shit awful piss-poor game Gridlee landed me in some hot fucking water. Apparently Dale Luck’s estate didn’t take too kindly to my accurate, if also negative review of his game. They’ve sicced their fucking cronies on me.

I’ve been forced underground and I’m quite literally writing this from the basement of a Quiznos. But it appears that they have found me and are bringing the hammer down. So I must flee. As I type this they are riddling the building with a hail of gunfire. I can only imagine that all of the sad sacks dining upstairs and the sandwich slingers who are forced to slave over Quiznos’ toasters must all be dead by now. I only have a few seconds before they bring this whole motherfucker down.

Paperboy paperBut worry not, my chickadees, I have an escape route. I will be on the run for the time being but I vow to keep pumping out these IAR’s that we all so very much love. I must heal this nation.

I hear their boots, farewell my children, I love you all. Daddy will be home soon!

Internet Arcade Review: Out Run

Out Run

After my recent assassination attempt, it seems only fitting that my next game would be Out Run, Sega’s 1986 arcade racing title. In fact, at this very moment, I’m on the road trying to outrun the death-wielding storm troopers sent after my head by the Luck Estate after the Gridlee review I wrote a few weeks back.

After nearly losing my life in a basement, I reached out to “Rick” Moranis, seeking asylum. We don’t always see eye to eye, “Rick” and I, but as a fellow Canadian, he could not legally refuse my request. For a few nights, I found respite on his ranch outside of Boise. I didn’t want to put him or his family in more danger than was absolutely necessary, so once I’d had some time to recharge, I set back out on the road again.

Which brings me to Out Run, a game that in many ways mirrors my current stasis in life — and not just literally. Right now I’m tooling around the coast in a Ferrari I stole from “Rick” with a young, buxomy woman at my side. Metaphorically speaking, I am in constant pursuit of my very freedom while being chased by those trying to claim it from me.

It’s some pretty deep shit.

But such is the burden of an internet arcade reviewologist, and I make no bones about it. This life chose me, I did not choose it.

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Now then, the number one burning question that I’m sure everyone is clamoring to ask: Is Out Run a good game?

In a word: Yes.

In two words: Yes sir.

And just like this game, life itself is filled with treachery and danger. But such is the plight of both Out Run’s racer and your foolhardy Internet Arcade reviewologist. We are both forever destined to search for that unobtainable glory; just another bend in the road somewhere over the horizon. And just as we must face life’s grim, cruel stare and laugh back at the reflection beaming in those beady little eyes, so too must take we take life into our own hands (those of our own and of our blonde passengers) and roll the dice.

We are one, the racer and I.

We are devils chortling with vindictive delight as those around us pray that we seek redemption for our sins. And to those fools we can only sneer and shout at the tops of our lungs, “There is no redemption for a soul as wicked as mine.”

Nor is there a better arcade racer out on the circuit than that of Out Run. At least not one that was also released by Sega in 1986.

Grand Theft Auto 5 In Pictures: The Greater Coastal Region

Welcome back to Grand Theft Auto 5 In Pictures. We last left off with a breathtaking array of arial shots that really encapsulated the beauty of the area. Back on land, in this installment we will visit the Greater Coastal Region of Los Santos and its surrounding vistas. Prepare yourself for a breath of fresh air as we dive deep into this historically rich, sun and ocean drenched part of San Andreas.

Our first stop along the coast takes us to The Chumash Historic Family Pier:

A Home Away From Home

Bon Appetit

Home to The Barracuda Cafe, this is a must stop destination for a taste of the seafood the pier renowned for.

Pier-ing Off Into The Vast Blue Yonder

Our next stop takes us further up the road is a rustic patriotic house overlooking the ocean beyond the cliffs.

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Old Glory

Just below the rocky cliffs of the house in our last shot lies this area landmark.

A Shining Light In An Ocean Of Fury

A Shining Light In An Ocean Of Fury

Our next stop along the coastal rim of Los Santos brings us to this dreamy little spot. I happened upon it while answering the call of nature.

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Nature Calls

An idyllic little spot perfect for a picnic and a surprise engagement proposal, my time here was unfortunately marred by a vicious animal attack that nearly left me less the man. If it had not been for my trusty Luger, I would surely have been dinner for that coyote.

Our last stop along the coastline, this picture-perfect haven was just what I needed to reflect on my journey.

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A Moment Of Reflection

And thus concludes this week’s examination of Los Santos in pictures. Join me next week and as always: Stay in the frame.

 

 

Top 3: Grand Theft Auto 5’s Best Mods

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Grand Theft Auto mods can be hit or miss. Some offer cosmetic upgrades like skins costumes or color scheme variants to avatars vehicles or weapons. Others take things a few steps further and drastically alter the game itself. These are the Mods I tend to favor.

I’ve been going over GTA 5’s current stable of mods, but since it is still only available on the consoles, most of them aren’t anywhere near as impressive as those offered for games like GTA 4 or Skyrim. With that said, however, I have come across three that I think are pretty cool. They’re definitely worth checking out as they all change the gameplay in interesting or even helpful ways without over powering the player or breaking the experience.

I’ve attempted to do my homework and attribute each Mod to the Modder, but that’s often difficult. So, if you see some mistakes, be sure to let us know.

With out further ado, here are the best GTA 5 Mods:

3. Having Chop Online/Playing As An Animal Mod created by RSH.

This is a really cool Mod. Rolling with a fury body guard is a nice addition to the online game and the real meat of this Mod for me. Being able to play as an animal and attack people is a nice caveat, but by virtue of novelty alone.

2. No Water Mod created by Sky Pilot.

This Mod is great. It gives players the opportunity to explore the ocean floor. There is so much stuff littered under the waves of GTA 5. It’s a shame that we don’t typically get to see it. I have spent a great deal of time, as have many others, scouring the depth of the waters in GTA 5 and still haven’t seen close to all of it. But I felt somewhat hampered by that slow sub. This is a nice way to explore the area and get up close and personal with the artifacts and objects below. Plus, you can hit some killer jumps.

1. The Tsunami Mod created by Bushigan.

Ok, this one definitely makes getting around Los Santos a pain in the ass, but it also allows me to play out my fantasy of surviving an epic disaster while wearing a monkey mask. This Mod takes the cake for me as it reshapes the terrain of gameplay but also just looks so friggin’ cool.

Like I stated above, these are just my top 3, there a plenty more out there. It will interesting to see what modding community comes up with once the title lands on PCs. For more on GTA 5 make sure to check out my series Seeing The Sites: Grand Theft Auto V In Pictures.

Internet Arcade Review: Bio-Attack

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Every week, GeekParty’s editor asks Julian Watkins to review a few retro titles from the Internet Arcade. But instead of cooperating, Julian makes things up. We don’t even know if he’s playing these games.

Deep within the bowels of Frederick “Rick” Moranis, Bio-Attack takes us on a journey to fight his inoperable colon cancer and rid him of this awful, deadly malady. In fact, rumor has it that Mr. Moranis had cancer inserted into his body to get into character for this role. Though, there ended up being no actual mention of his involvement in this game upon release.

Mr. Moranis filed a lawsuit against Taito, Bio-Attack’s developer, after the game became internationally successful. The company used his likeness but refused compensation. He was denied  13% of the game’s net profit, a deal he had struck with Taito after it had become clear just how successful this game would become. Taito only agreed because they were sure they had a real dud on their hands and just wanted to get the damn thing out so they could be done with it.

Bio-Attack 1

Little did they know that Mr. Moranis, a then unknown choreographer, would skyrocket to fame. His career would go on to span 20+ years, garnering him 3 Oscars and a cavalcade of accolades from the Hollywood elite.

In fact, rumor has it that Mr. Moranis even tried to option off the rights to make a Bio-Attack movie, but these efforts would prove unsuccessful in light of the bad blood that would forever remain between Mr. Moranis and Taito. When the dust had settled, Moranis was the victim of several costly lawsuits, and he was passed over for the role of John McClane in the original Die Hard movie. The role would eventually land in Bruce Willis’s hands, only receive direct-to-video release dooming all hopes of kickstarting a lucrative film franchise.

Mr. Moranis would later succumb to his battle with colon cancer. It was impossible to remove an inoperable cancer from his body, unlike inBio-Attack, where you can simply blast the cancer cells with your tiny doctor ship.

He is survived by his two sons Armando and Riviera Moranis.

A YouTube Documentary Made Me Miss G4 TV

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I’m not ashamed to admit I loved G4 TV. And I’m not talking about Attack of the Show and X-Play. No, I’m talking about the post-Tech-TV  G4 years. The days of yore, if you will. I’m talking about Cinematech, Underground Playground, G4 tv.com and Screensavers. None of this Cops, Cheaters, Ninja Warrior bullshit.

Like thousands of others, I always felt a little betrayed as the station gravitated towards Geek culture while moving away from what made it special and, in my mind, at least marginally successful: video games.

Growing up in a household where an internet connection was non-existent, my major sources for gaming news and information were magazines. But when G4 TV hit the air, I finally had a constant stream of gaming news. I would just sit and absorb all things gaming.

So when I stumbled upon this video by GoodBadFlicks, I took a heavy-hearted trip down memory lane.

This is a solid, well-made introspective video that covers all the bases while drumming up some fond memories. I got to check out some of my favorite shows as a teenager and throughout my 20’s. Like a good reunion, it was nice to see some old faces and reflect on the good times. But it was a little bittersweet, realizing that the whole enterprise was destined to fail. Not because the audience wasn’t there, but primarily due to a lack of coherent, devoted leadership.

With the doors finally shut and the lights turned off, G4 TV, now and forever, will be remembered as a short-lived experiment that had the legs, but couldn’t stand the test of time.

What Remains Of Edith Finch Is Confusing

What Remains Of Edith Finch

“A lot of this isn’t going to make sense, and I’m sorry about that.”

-No shit Sherlock.

So, I’m fairly certain that this game includes some kind of first-person bird flying, but that’s all I can really tell you.

This teaser trailer for What Remains Of Edith Finch is all atmosphere and heebie-jeebies with no real concrete information. Billed as “a collection of short stories about a cursed family in Washington state,” it’s difficult to draw many conclusions about what kind of game this will actually be.

That said, however, I’m anxious to find out more. As a Twin Peaks/Alan Wake/Primer fanboy, this tickles my fancy, and I’m holding out hope that What Remains Of Edith Finch will prove to be right up my alley. Sony is on a roll right now, so I have every reason to believe that this one will be another stand-out addition to the PlayStation roster.

Plus with a name like What Remains Of Edith Finch, I’m already hooked.

Internet Arcade Review: King Birdie 2

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If you are reading this, then I must already be dead. In the event of my demise, I sent this review to a few of my trusted sources in the mainstream press, namely my colleagues at GeekParty.com. The truth MUST be heard!

While searching through the Internet Arcade archives, I unwittingly stumbled upon a massive cover up and a conspiracy in the making. It shook me to my very core. I couldn’t believe what I was becoming a party to, an unintentional participant in this web of lies and deceit.

I was struck by the title Birdie King 2 and thought that game sounded like a pleasant way to spend some time while I should be doing actual work. I made my selection and got ready to game when it had happened.

This message awaited me through the looking glass of the rabbit hole I had carelessly fallen into:

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A cold sweat had begun to form as the grim reality of what I was witnessing began to settle in. I was witnessing the erasing of history before my very eyes. Not only that, but I was now tasked with the option of forgetting what I had seen, and thus allowing this atrocity to take place, or I could put my life in jeopardy and start my crusade to expose the sinister nature of this heinous act.

Needless to say I chose the former, but I was already doomed to be hunted and erased, which kind of sucks. I was more than willing to keep my mouth shut and ignore the dirty truth. But since I was destined to be a martyr either way, I decided to pen the review you are reading now. Not a game review, because it isn’t one. It’s a manifesto of my crazy rightwing socialist ideals and tenets.

I don’t really have any rightwing socialist ideals. I never was much into politics. Just make sure someone wipes my hard drive before my mother learns the grim reality of my true identity and all of my unspeakable sexual perversions.