Monday, 25 October 2010

Movie music magic!

Have you ever been watching a film, and a song kicks in that is so perfect for that moment in the story, that it sends a shiver down your spine? I was considering this phenomenon recently, and these were the three examples that instantly popped into my head, defining that special instant when what you hear and what you see couldn't be more faultlessly aligned.

"Omen" by Prodigy, featured in Kick-ass (2010)

As Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), dressed as his green-suited alter-ego 'Kick-ass', watches three gang members lay into an unlucky rival, the eerie synth loop starts to play. Lizewski tries to stop the fight but is pushed back. "It's none of your business," shouts one of the men. "Yes it is," replies the youth, loosing his iconic green batons from their holsters on his back. He joins the fray, the song's main electronic riff screaming into life, the bass-heavy drum track resounding as Kick-ass lashes out wildly, taking hit after hit. This Prodigy track works fantastically with this episode in the movie, drawing you into the action as the have-a-go hero tries to do something right.

"Sabotage" by Beastie Boys, featured in Star Trek (2009)

What band's music would best suit a young rebel without a cause, set adrift in the twenty-third century? A frustrated youth who doesn't play by the rules, but has the potential within him to save the citizens of entire planets - what song would define him best? The answer blasts out of the speakers as a young James Tiberius Kirk (Jimmy Bennett), joy-riding in his step-father's classic sportscar, thunders along an empty desert road. His adolencent roar mixes with the screaming vocal of the song's intro, the distorted guitars, pounding drum beat and dj-scratches spewing anarchy into the viewers ears; the only aural accompaniment fit for this scene.

"Extreme Ways" by Moby, featured in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)


Although this track features in each episode of the Bourne trilogy, it is definitely used most effectively in the last installment of the series. In the final minutes of the film a news reporter's voice reveals that the body of the story's possibly deceased hero has not yet been discovered. As a smile creeps over the face of Bourne's companion Nicky Parsons, played by Julia Stiles, the siren-like strings of the song pierce the tranquility. Cut to Bourne's body as it continues to sink under the water, the keys and electric guitar joining the fray. Suddenly he moves, still alive against all odds. As Bourne swims away into the darkness, disappearing from view, a snare-drum fill cracks like a machinegun, ushering in the song's verse as the credits roll. Absolute perfection.

These are only a few of many examples that I could have chosen, so let me know what movie music gets your spine tingling!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Another Square-Enix disappointment...

I was actually quite excited about the release of this game, but it seems that I got my hopes up for nothing. Seriously, the Final Fantasy series is turning into the debacle that Star Wars has become. I guess I'll just have to accept that they'll never achieve the greatness of VII again.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Top tips for video game widows

As a fairly avid gamer (I wouldn't call myself 'hardcore', but that's another debate entirely), I have witnessed the annoyance and anguish that my video game interest can generate in my other half. I know it can be hard for my wife to comprehend when I ask her to wait until this essential boss-battle is over before she can receive any hugs and kisses. I have therefore decided to compile some key hints and tips for the 'wives and girlfriends' of video game fanatics, so that the fairer sex can learn to deal with their partner's obsession a little more effectively.

DISCLAIMER: I completely and totally accept that gaming is not a strictly masculine activity. Maybe you're a guy reading this who has a gamer girlfriend, and you're the one in need of some coping mechanisms. If so, MAN UP! However, whilst I don't wish to be sexist, my experience has been that it is more often the woman moaning at the man to turn the flipping console off and pay them some attention.

1. Know how his game 'saves'

A common excuse for a guy to continue gaming after you've asked him to stop is that he just needs to save the game and then he'll be done. Find out how the save function on his current game of choice works. Can he save at any moment or does he need to reach a save point? If the former is the truth, then what your partner might mean is, 'I could save now, but I want to make sure I've equipped all my best items and organised my inventory before I do'. Ask him to clarify this with you, so as to receive a more accurate finishing time. If he needs to reach a certain point to save his progress, ask for regular updates as to the location of this point in the game. You don't want to miss a prime opportunity to drag his attention away. Finally, be aware of whether or not a game as an 'auto-saving' function. If it does, then your partner has no excuse in regards to ending his gaming abruptly, because little or no progress will be lost.

2. Beware of multiplayer, online and off

Multiplayer gaming can be the biggest time-sink for your gamer-man, and can be very detrimental to chances of you and him spending any 'quality' time together. You have to bear in mind that in most cases, once an online multiplayer game has begun it cannot be be paused or ended prematurely without the player incurring losses or being ejected from the game. You may have to wait patiently for a match to finish, but be prepared to jump into action as soon as it does. Otherwise he may start another game, thus prolonging your wait for affection and attention. Offline multiplayer is also a danger for which you should be ready. If your boyfriend/husband is surrounded by his friends, he is much less likely to heed to your demands for an activity that you can also enjoy, valuing his couple of hours of FIFA 11 as a worthy prize for enduring the wrath you plan to pour upon him as soon as his mates are out of the door. However, there is an upside to offline multiplayer - the opportunity to create a bartering system. If you allow him an evening of Halo death-matches one weekend, then you can trade this in for an evening of manicures and Sex and the City another weekend. If he protests, then entice him with the prospect of allowing more gaming in the future, but only if the barter system is fair and its laws are upheld by both parties.

3. The pros and cons of 'seemingly endless' games

Some might say that it is best for your man to be playing short games that he will complete within a week or so, as this provides less chance for serious obsession to set in. I disagree with this thinking, as short games mean more money spent on new products, and the constant use of the excuse, 'but I've only just bought it, I've hardly played it yet'. However, there are negative aspects to having games that either take a long time to complete or can continue infinitely. You should be very concerned if your partner is a fan of role-playing games, as these titles can have an all-consuming effect. If you hear the names, 'Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft or Fallout', alarm bells should start to ring, as these games will become your man's new adulterous lover if you aren't careful. However, there are positives to lengthy games. You can always use an uncompleted game as a reason for why a new game shouldn't be purchased. A key phrase to remember in this situation is, 'well if [insert game title] is too hard for you to complete, I guess you should buy an easier one'. Not many gamers will be able to shrug off this barbed comment.

4. Encourage him to play what is most enjoyable for you

Unless you are some kind of tyrant hag who has her partner firmly wedged under her thumb (if you are... please don't kill me), there will be times when you have to relent and allow your man some gaming time. However, this doesn't have to be a completely arduous process. Try to find out which of your partner's games are most enjoyable to watch him play. A good tip is to stay well clear of Football Manager, which is about as fun as watching someone make a spreadsheet on Excel. Cinematic games with a good story-line and high quality voice acting are ones to search for, which will hopefully alleviate your boredom a little bit. Some examples that have worked well in my experience are Uncharted 2 on the Playstation 3, and also Resident Evil 4 on the Wii. These games are exciting to watch, and will provide you with a marginally better backseat experience during your boyfriend/husband's gaming time.

Hopefully these tips will aid you in making life bearable with your video game-obsessed partner. Let me know if you have any tips of your own, or what your experiences are of putting these pieces of advice into action.