RAGE Audio Interview

As part of our next magazine, we have a great interview and story coming on RAGE, a hot 3D Shoooter and driving game from ID Software. I am posting the audio from the full interview and you can hear Tim Willits of ID go into great detail about the game, the Id Tech 5 Engine, and even plans for it on the next generation of consoles. The Magazine will have a Summary interview, artwork, and more.

RAGE Audio Interview

Join us on Facebook at Skewed and Reviewed or Gareth Von Kallenbach
Twitter as sknrgareth

The Conduit 2 Interview and Weapons Trailer

Recently I got the chance to speak with Eric Nofsinger, Chief Creative Officer at Sega about their new game The Conduit 2. The interview is for the next issue of our magazine, but i wanted to share it with you now.

What is the background and setting for the game?

Conduit 2 takes place immediately after the first game. Players once again take control of Michael Ford as he pursues his nemesis, John Adams, around the world!

What are some of the locales and missions gamers will see in the game?

Players will battle Trust and Drudge foes in locales that span the globe. From an oil derrick off the coast of Florida, to missions across the globe in Europe and Asia.

What sort of new enemies players face and will there be boss battles?

Do we ever have boss battles! Early on, players are thrown into really intense boss battles with colossal foes and we never let up. Also, there are other new enemies though out the game too, like the heavily armored Advancer and the nearly unstoppable Jade Warriors!

How do NPC characters figure in the game?

We do have a bunch of NPCs that are placed throughout the game. We’re not ready to reveal them just yet, but without giving away too much, Ford will encounter a few Drudge along the way who are very grateful for his actions in the first game.

What sort of weapons will players be able to use and what new weapons will be included?

What would a first person shooter be without great weaponry? All of the weapons from the first Conduit are making their return in Conduit 2, some with a few adjustments that we think will please fans of the original as well as new players. We set a precedent in the first game with weapons such as the Deatomizer and Hive Cannon, so we created another batch of truly unique weapons in Conduit 2. For example, we have a really distinctive weapon that allows players to capture incoming bullets from enemies and fire them back all at once! Also by popular demand, we’ve created a new sniper rifle that allows player to find targets through solid walls!

What have been some of the biggest challenges and rewards in crafting the game?

The biggest challenge we’ve faced with the development of Conduit 2 was crafting a gameplay experience that would please long-time players of The Conduit, as well as attract new players to a franchise that we feel so passionately about.

Blending action with a detailed plot can always be tricky, how have you attempted to create this element, and will scripted events be a part of the game?

Scripted events will definitely be part of the game, but we don’t to ruin the players’ sense of immersion too much. We definitely have some ‘wow’ moments sprinkled throughout, and as for the plot, we’ve toiled endlessly on the story and script. We absolutely think the story aspect of Conduit 2 is much more engaging than it was in the first game.

What can you tell the readers about how Multiplay will work as I am sure it will be a popular part of the game?

Multiplayer has all the great action from the first game and more. Another item often requested by fans was the inclusion of split-screen multiplayer and our technical wizards really pushed the Wii to the limit to get this feature in there! This mode features all the same maps and modes for 2-4 players as does our online multiplayer. We’re extremely proud of our multiplayer modes and we believe we’ve created a robust experience that game players today expect. Players can customize the look of their character with literally millions of different model combinations and textures. We also have a suit upgrade system where players can unlock different buffs for their player character such as more armor or faster reloads. Players can also customize their weapon loadout that they want to bring into a match, specifically tailoring different profiles to fit their play style.

Overall, we feel that the multiplayer in Conduit 2 offers Wii owners the best online multiplayer experience on the system to date.

Do the graphical limitations of the Wii compared to other systems become frustrating when trying to reach the vision of the game or is it just part of the challenge?

I think this is part of the challenge and really gets our artists and programmers amped when they find a new trick to pull off on the Wii. Of course there are memory limitations that we are always fighting with as well and each discipline (design, art, programming, sound) has to work together to ensure each level fits within a certain budget; it definitely keeps us on our toes! Of course, this is the same with any game project, since there is always limitations to how much you can actually do, either graphically or design-wise. We love it though.

What can you tell the readers about the voice acting and music in the game?

We have a very talented cast of actors and actresses who have put their heart and soul into bringing our characters to life! We also have a great group of internal musicians who are composing the musical score for the game to give it a truly epic feel that is fully integrated and adaptive to the game experience.

The Switch

I had one thought when I entered the movie theater to see “The Switch”: what a hodge-podge cast. Leading lady, Jennifer Aniston (Kassie Larson), why she was once the face of 1990’s television! Jeff Goldblum (Leonard), I still think of him each time I encounter the subject of Dinosaurs. And Juliette Lewis (Debbie), she was in that Roller Derby flick, “Whip It” with the girl from Juno. How was a cast like this, enhanced by Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman, as male lead Wally Mars, going to make a film about a woman deciding to have a baby on her own?

None of the characters are perfect and the clothes are less than dazzling but the content and execution of “The Switch” is so honestly human that it manages to be subtly touching. Moreover, “The Switch” provides a new film perspective on love in New York City avoiding the overdone glitz and glamour of say “Sex and the City”.

But what is important to emphasize here is laughter. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did. Keep in mind there have been a number of comedic films that have attempted to touch on the subject of single women who choose to have and raise children on their own. I assumed films such as “The Back-Up Plan” and “Baby Mama” had completely covered the topic’s comedic angles, but l was wrong. This film is funny.

Still there were some scenes that could have been cut. The action could have moved at a quicker pace and it takes the first fifteen minutes of the film for the audience to connect with these imperfect characters.

However, “The Switch” is a very layered film; both human and well written while at the same time sharply funny. Moreover, this film is the much-anticipated proof that Jason Bateman does have what it takes to captivate as a lead on the big screen, so long as he has a strange son figure by his side.

4 out of 5 stars

Vampires Suck

Vampires suck – but does the movie? We open on the San Salvatore Festival with the angsty Becca watching her beau, Edward Sullen, disrobe and expose his sparkly secrets- he’s a vampire! Cue the “True Blood- 40oz” toting, Mono-fang vampire to take Edward out….wait, we have to get the rest of the story! What follows is a parody of the first two movies of the Twilight Saga. Most of the characters analogous to the spoof’s target are introduced in the first 30 minutes; few of them are actually seen again throughout the movie.

Becca (newcomer Jenn Proske) is forced to move to Sporks, Washington, with her deadbeat father and town sheriff, Frank Crane (Diedrich Bader of The Drew Carey Show). Frank’s best friend is the rough-and-tumble paraplegic Native American, Bobby. His contribution to the plot is his hunky teenage son, Jacob White (Chris Riggi of Gossip Girl). The town of Sporks seems to have vampires on the brain and its population is only growing smaller.

Our heroine is introduced to Edward Sullen (Matt Lanter of Disaster Movie) and what follows is the “classic” story of girl-meets-vampire, girl-loses-vampire, girl-gets-threatened-by-vampire-nemesis, etc. Writers/Directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer use their formulaic approach to spoof movies by making the plot a cliff-notes version of the Stephanie Meyer’s original material, with ample jokes thrown in-in an attempt to beef up their rendition.

In fact, there are so many visual jokes in the movie that it left me wondering what a sight-impaired person might conclude of the movie. “What are all these people laughing at?” I noticed a few of the dialogue driven jokes weren’t even played off by the actors. They seemed to have been missed by everyone, including the editors. Other jokes are pop-culture references that will get stale with time. They’re integrated well, but definitely dated. The movie is redolent with the classic American comedy tradition of slapstick, which occasionally comes off as funny.

The production value left something to be desired as several scenes were obviously one-takes. I counted several instances where Becca’s kiss left Edward’s mouth with a smudge of his own flesh-tone showing through. But hey- at least single takes have continuity, right? The contacts, no doubt purchased in bulk, gave the characters an occasional Marty Feldman goggly-look. The effect is hilarious, although I’m not always sure if it’s intentional.

The cast has its standouts. Jenn Proske’s Becca comes dangerously close (like copyright-violating close) to the performance of Kristen Stewart’s Bella as the fidgety, twitchy, sullen and hormone-y heroine. And Ken Jeong (The Hangover) as Daro, while not appearing on screen much, definitely makes his comedic presence felt.

All in all, “Vampires Suck” didn’t really suck… it kind of chews, like gum. Gum out of the package is fresh, flavorful, but the longer you chew it, the tougher and more stale it becomes. This movie is fresh, funny, and quirky right now, but it won’t stand the test of time like more accomplished parodies.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Madden 11

Despite the very warm weather, it is almost Fall and if the preseason games were not enough of a clue, football is set to dominate a good part of Sundays and sports radio tale from now until February. Of course it would not be a true kickoff to the season with the release of EA Sports’ next release of the phenomenally popular Madden NFL game. Madden 11 is the latest release and I say it is the best of the recent releases by far. Players can select from all 32 NFL teams and are able to select variables such as stadium and weather conditions. I also liked the exhibition mode and the ability to play the old classic AFL games or simply fire up a rematch of the last Super Bowl right off the start.

Game play has been enhanced as Madden 11 offers greatly improved control and interaction which also features a greatly improved blocking system. Too many times in the past, I struggled with balancing quick decisions, play calling, and precise passing, but Madden 11 has a great Game Flow system which allows my plays to be selected and easily deployed. Should I decide not to pass on a third and short, I was easily able to audible and select a running play. In the past, I struggled to get effective yards on running plays as waiting for the blocks often resulted in my poor running back meeting a pile of linemen. In Madden 11 I was able to quickly hit the holes and pull off some nice jukes to get my back in the clear. Should the need to power up the middle arise, I easily hit the gap and moved the pile, thus moving the chains.

“Simpler, Quicker, Deeper” is the slogan on the back of the game box and being able to simplify play calling along with the ability to get more moves from fewer buttons has, in my opinion, greatly improved the game and allowed gamers to focus more on the flow of the game and strategy rather than button mashing.

Madden 11 also allows up to three players to play as a team which lets a live player control the QB, RB, and WR to truly add an explosive wrinkle to the game as your players can change up the routes mid play, alter the blocking style, and due a variety of things that the computer controlled players often do not.

Another aspect I loved was the kicking game. The simplified way I was able to set power and accuracy allowed me to quickly launch some massive kicks when the clock was winding down which eliminated a lot of frustration I had in the past when a drive stalled.

Since many Madden fans are all about the online play, I am happy to say that Madden 11 shines in this area. I was quickly able to match up with an opponent and even though on paper the 2010 Seahawks are overmatched against the 2011 Saints, I was able to put up a decent fight. I had been handled easily in past online matches but thanks to the improved play calling system I was able to back the opening drive up and get a nice interception on a long ball. Sadly my LB fumbled during the run back but the ability to stuff a long drive on three straight plays was a nice plus for me. I also enjoyed being able to quickly audible a few running plays in when my opponent dropped back to protect the pass. Thankfully, the addition of Golden Tate gave the Hawks a much needed deep threat that had to be respected which allowed plenty of plays underneath the coverage.

The fluidity of the game is what really makes it fun. Not only are the graphics and sound first rate, but the ability to play a full game in half the usual time was also a plus because sometimes you just do not have an hour plus free to play, but your team needs to be put through its paces.

I also liked a mode where I could control the course of my team over three years including free agency, the draft, and seasons. I look forward to playing this more in the weeks ahead. With the great graphics and sound, such as the detailed facial animations and movements to the play by play commentary, it truly makes you feel like you have stepped into the action on game day. I honestly could not find much fault in the game as not only was it fun, but it was far and away the best and most accessible football simulator I have ever played.

5 stars out of 5

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera, is a young man whose life is going nowhere fast. At 23, he describes himself as in between jobs and spends his free time playing bass in a struggling band. But Scott does have a girlfriend named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), never mind that she is still in high school and things are about as chaste as they can get. Undaunted, Scott keeps plugging away despite the supportive taunts of his gay roomie Wallace (Kieran Culkin), and the members of his band.

Things change for Scott when he meets a girl named Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), at a party. Ramona shows no interest in Scott but he’s inexplicably drawn to her and eventually gets the roller blading delivery girl to go out with him, despite the strong protests of his sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick), and his drummer/ex-girlfriend Kim (Allison Pine). The upswing Scott’s life takes at meeting the girl of his dreams and his band’s shot at a recording deal is tempered by the complications of choosing between Knives, who is becoming more clingy, and Ramona, who brings with her a lot of angry baggage.

This baggage actually comes in the form of seven evil exes whom Scott must battle and defeat if he wishes to continue dating her. Scott accepts the challenge and finds himself in a life and death battle with some true psychos, all of whom have strange powers and appear out of nowhere to pummel Scott. I will not spoil the surprises but suffice it to say that the exes are played by some great names, and each one brings plenty of humor to go with the action.

Action and music blend well with comedy and romance and the video game-inspired fight sequences complete with numerous inside jokes for gamers are truly a delight. The frantic sequences mix music, and over the top action with cartoonish gags and humor in a winning formula. Seeing Scott take flying leaps across a room to battle for Ramona and rebounding from one pummeling after another is great fun. Scott give as good as he gets, learning at times that brains will win out over brawn.

The film has a frantic pacing that Director Edgar Wright never lets get out of control. Like his great work in Shaun of the Dead, Wright keeps the characters and their relationships at the center of the film, making them not only relatable but easy to root for despite the bizarre scenario the characters find themselves in.

The film is based on a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley and delivers a fun adventure that should delight fans of the novel as well as video gamers everywhere. The film knows who its audience is and plays the zany plot with a wink and smile and does not get caught up with intricate plotlines and overly complex characters. Instead the movie keeps the attention on the action and the great cast of characters. Cera does his best work yet in the title role and Culkin nearly steals every scene he is in as does Wong. Jason Schwartzman shines as the uber villain Gideon and rounds out the effective cast in this pleasant surprise of the summer.

4 stars out of 5.

The Expendables

The latest from Sylvester Stallone since 2008’s Rambo, The Expendables is a movie where the testosterone flows like enemy blood. Both movies have similar themes of redemption, regret, and courage, and also thankfully similar is that the moments of awesomeness are plentiful. The Expendables put up a lot of hype, and it had a lot to live up to with it’s cast of action star greats, but it doesn’t let the audience down. It’s not the cerebral meta-violence of Inglorious Basterds, but a simpler, old-school, fun action movie kind of violence. You can root for your favorite action hero, watch them kick a little bad-guy ass, and sit back and enjoy the show.

The characters, despite the star-studded name dropping on the film’s advertising hype, follow Barney Ross (Stallone) for the most part, and his right-hand-man Lee Christmas (Statham) a close second, with most of the other actors merely rounding out the team. Despite what would seem to be a ripoff from what they advertised on their posters, each character still gets a crowning moment of glory, albeit with less screen time than expected. In addition, these “major” side characters share frequent snide remarks that truly give each person on the team their own humorous depth of character. If you’re a fan of Jet Li or Terry Crews for example, rest assured that they all get their shining moment in the sun.

The plot, while not so simple as to be boring, surrounds an attempt by the team to overthrow a dictator in a small South American country. Complications arise, interpersonal conflicts come up, and from there, the plot takes off. Mercenary soldiers do a lot of bad things, and Stallone and co-screenwriter Dave Callaham give a good shot at prying open the inner world of some of these men as they go about their jobs, and the consequences that their actions (and often inactions) have on the way they see themselves. Granted, this is a fairly emotional touchy-feely way to describe the heart of the film, but don’t worry, these discussions are done with the stoicism and deflective humor you would expect from large men with bulging muscles and raging testosterone. The Expendables isn’t just another mindless action movie; it’s got enough going on beneath the surface to be worth watching again.

For an action blockbuster, it succeeds on most of the metrics we measure such films by, and surprisingly didn’t have many negatives. Do I care about the characters? Yes. Were there long periods without action sequences? No. Was the use of action cliche, or was it clever and original? Hilariously original at times. Was it fun? That’s an explosive yes.

Four out of five stars.