We had Elvin DeGuzman on site and he was not only getting all the news on what gamers can expect but he got some great images of the event.
Albert Valenzuela and Ricardo Valencia were on hand to cover for us and have sent in the first round of inmages. Gen and I had planned to cover until I was laid up sick but Albert and Ricardo stepped in and did an amazing job. We will have audio and pictures from the panels up later but for now, enjoy the pictures.
Back in high school I clearly remember the ongoing battle between Coke and Pepsi in what eventually became known as the Cola Wars. Coke was the established veteran on the soda circuit that marketed tradition as their biggest selling point. Pepsi on the other hand was a brash and bold contender to the throne who relied on appealing to consumers as a hipper, fresher, and next-generation choice for consumers.
I always found this very amusing especially around the Super Bowl when both sides would unleash their multimillion dollar ad campaigns. Personal preferences aside, Coke was and has remained the best-selling soft drink company in the world, and to me the notion of spending billions of dollars to remain firmly entrenched at number two seemed crazy to me. Of course I understand it’s all about increasing market share, public opinion, and countless other factors but if you were a fan of one drink over another note amount of add campaigns are likely to make you override your personal preferences.
So here we are in the new millennium, and Microsoft and Sony have become a high-tech version of Coke versus Pepsi. You have two gigantic corporations with billions of dollars in assets who battle it out with one another for supremacy in the console market. Both sides have very passionate supporters who take even the most perceived slights against their beloved console is an all-out declaration of war and often let their hearts and passion’s dictate their actions. It used to be said never discuss religion or politics as a fight was sure to ensue. As anyone who has ever written an opinion piece can tell you, writing about the pros or cons of any console is sure to unleash a torrent of debate and venom that rivals anything from the 2012 Presidential campaign.
If you are a fan of the PlayStation, you have likely Artie made up your mind at the PlayStation 4 is the console that you’re going to be getting at launch and the millions of dollars that Microsoft will spend on ad campaigns will likely do little to change your opinion. The same is true for supporters of the Xbox who have their reasons for supporting the console and regardless of what Sony says or produces all passionately support the latest offering from Microsoft. This is consumerism 101. Both Microsoft and Sony have spent enormous amounts of money grooming consumers to their products. Phrases such as brand awareness, customer loyalty, and customer retention are key aspects of their marketing strategies. If you love the PlayStation 3, then Sony is confident that she will be a purchaser of their new system just as Microsoft anticipates Xbox 360 supporters to be the ones to eagerly embrace their new offering.
It is the folks that are in the middle, the so-called battleground customers that are essential to both companies. The consumers who pick one console over the other, the consumer who normally doesn’t buy new consoles at launch, the more casual consumers who are content with their current gaming options, and others who are undecided are where the real focus will come.
Both sides will tout features, exclusive titles, the hipness, fun, and excitement of their systems. Both sides will spend enormous amounts of money on advertising to convince you to come on over to their side, and that failing to do so will leave you on the outside looking in.
To me it’s a clear-cut case of loyalties and priorities. I will be getting both systems but I have been on record as saying that the PlayStation 4 is the one that we will be getting first simply due to years of positive experiences with Sony products and numerous issues with the Xbox 360 prior to the release of the slim unit.
Now Nintendo of course is still a factor in this but to me they’re kind of like the RC Cola in the mix as the disappointment of the Wii U to date, has made them an afterthought for many in the battle for console supremacy until they make strides forward with their pending titles.
So in the end like so many things in our great country, it comes down to choice. Personal preferences and loyalties versus Madison Avenue and the high-powered marketing machines of both companies. Regardless of who comes out the vector when the final bell rings, I think the next generation console wars is going to be one epic ride.
As our Deluxe Edition of the Wii U sits idle on our console shelf, I have to ask myself if the system today is not one of the biggest disappointments ever for new entertainment system. Things become so bad that previously announced titles such as Aliens: Colonial Marines may not even release for the system at all despite being touted as one of the launch titles. As we wait for the upcoming slate of releases which will hopefully reinvigorate the system I found myself asking if the Wii U is destined to replace the infamous GameCube is the biggest disappointment in Nintendo history.
The GameCube is cited by many that we have spoken to as the one Nintendo console that people did not bother to purchase. When asked for reasons, they cited better performance on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox systems as well as a lack of any real must own titles for the system. Even hard-core Nintendo fans were hard-pressed to show a lot of love for the system and its disappointment led the way to the innovations of then Wii that jumpstarted Nintendo solidly back into the home entertainment picture.
The new system has been met with lower-than-expected sales as well as a less than enthusiastic response from those early purchasers of the system. I myself was not overly impressed with the system when I first saw it at E3 in 2011, but repeated exposure to the system as well as hands-on time with it prior to launch, convince me that perhaps this is a good system for entertaining guests and Nintendo exclusives.
My disappointment with ZombiU aside, the only game that I found myself really enjoying is the new super Mario Brothers, and that quickly became stale after about 10 hours of gameplay. My wife and I found Little Big Planet 2, and Little Big Planet Karting to give us better gameplay experience than what we’ve seen to date from the Wii U. I am anxiously awaiting their upcoming games including new entries into the Zelda, Mario Kart, and hopefully Starfox franchises, but with both Microsoft and Sony preparing to launch their new consoles, I worry that Nintendo could find themselves being overlooked very quickly by gamers who might already have abandoned the Nintendo ship for good.
While it is still early in the life of the console, Nintendo needs to step up fast and ensure that this holiday season will offer a greater range of options further new system or I fear that the WIII U will be making a rapid slide into obscurity in 2014 from gamers who eagerly embrace the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
Aside from new games that gamers actually want to play, Nintendo can take advantage of a competitive price point that needs to be lower to attract gamers. If the rumors are true that the next Call of Duty title is being designed only for PCs and next-generation consoles, Nintendo needs to ensure that the Wii U is part of those plans. Gamers are not going to accept watered-down versions of games that graphically cannot compete with the other systems, and do not offer the same online or in game experience that they can get elsewhere. Exclusive titles can only go so far but they are the drawing points for any system.
While there is still time for Nintendo to turn it around, I believe the upcoming holiday season will be the make or break time frame for Nintendo as they cannot afford to become an afterthought in the next generation discussion which I believe they are rapidly in danger of becoming.
By Joseph Saulnier
Everybody’s a critic these days. It seems like no one can just enjoy a movie these days. Everyone has these ridiculously high standards and thoughts in their mind of what a movie should be. Whatever happened to just enjoying a film because it is entertaining. Instead, you take movies that are meant to be just that (entertaining) and essentially shun them because there was too many references to “this”, and not enough mention of “that”.
Armchair Directors is what I call them. These people who have no jobs, no ambitions, no lives… but they think they can critique a movie and call it bad when they have no idea what it took to make what they put out there. Now… don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that every movies is good. I know there are some bad (sometimes very bad) movies out there, and nothing can justify why it was made and released. But it’s these self-proclaimed Buddhist, naturalist, commie bastards who think just because they have a large blu-ray collection it makes them the end all, be all, final say in what the official opinion of a film should be. Hey buddy, why don’t you take that some of that focus and effort and put it towards your own life so that you can better yourself, instead of trying to pull every one down with you. Now, I know this is a broad generalization, but I am only dishing out the same sort of criticism that they give about everything and everyone on a daily basis.
Also, I know this sounds kind of pointless and hypocritical coming from me. I am a professional critic. I get paid (in a sense) to watch movies and give my opinion about it on a world-wide level. I am supposed to be objective, and I am. It’s just frustrating to see movies held to such a high standard these days. Because let’s be honest, there are many hits from yesteryear that would not stand the test of the film Nazis (it’s about time someone called a spade a garden tool) of today. Do you honestly think films like Clerks, Month Python and the Holy Grail, Spaceballs, Masters of the Universe, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, or Army of Darkness would survive the armchair directors of today?
So why is then that films like G.I. Joe: Retaliation or It’s A Good Day to Die Hard are getting such flack in this day and age? In the case of G.I. Joe I have heard that it doesn’t follow the source material close enough. So what? Why should it? It’s a different medium. Why regurgitate the same story line from a comic book or cartoon, when you can introduce something new and different. Something that will surprise every viewer. “It killed my childhood.” “It ruined the fond memories I had of growing up watching the cartoon.” These are just two statements I have heard about G.I. Joe retaliation. First, I am sorry to hear that your life can be affected so much by a movie. It seems like you might have some more serious, deeper rooted issues you need to work out if a 90 minute film can “kill your childhood.”
Second, why are you expecting anything more from an action movie than just that… action? I didn’t go into either G.I. Joe or Die Hard expecting anything but implausible action scenes where I have to put my grasp of “can this really happen” aside, and just appreciate that the damn movie was entertaining. It’s a Good Day to Die Hard followed the same formula that the original did. It put an ordinary man in an impossible situation and he reacted as 99% of the rest of us wouldn’t. People revere the first Die Hard as this great film and the new one should be ashamed to be part of the franchise. Again, I ask why? While some of the action may have gotten away from that every man aspect of the first one, it still is doing just what an action movie is supposed to do. Put a bunch of explosions, some fight scenes and some gun fire in a jar… mix it all up and voila, entertaining movie.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has arguably made some of the greatest action films of the last 30 years or so. Conan, Terminator, Commando, True Lies… All movies that are considered to be great (by most). But have you actually watched them recently. Many people quote lines from them, but have they actually sat and watched them all the way through. Try it. Try watching the movie as if it were something coming out today. Put aside the whole technology and special effects things, because obviously that’s not on par. But really ask yourself if this great movie that you love so much is something that you would enjoy if it was modern release.
Now again, don’t get me wrong. I am not dissing these movies. I truly enjoyed all of the movies that I have listed… old and new. But why do so much of the population hold different standards to the movies of old and the movies of now. Next time you watch a movie, try going in with no expectations. If it’s based on a comic book, or a cartoon, or a (real) book… leave it at the door. Watch the movie and see if you are entertained. Don’t worry about whether it gets every little last detail about Duke, Roadblock, John McClane, Riddick, He-Man, Batman, Xerxes, Ron Burgandy, Luke Skywalker, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Han Solo, Captain Kirk, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Oz, Iron Man, Spiderman, Thor or Deadpool absolutely correct when compared to the (supposed) source material. Instead, go in with an open mind. Don’t set a movie up with a bar that it can never expect to reach. Ask yourself, did I laugh, was it suspenseful, was the action great (whether it was plausible or not).
Not every movie needs to be an award winner. Not all movies are great, but I kind of feel that a lot of movies of today are getting unfair reviews because of people’s wild expectations of what it should be. Or am I wrong. Will all of these movies become cult classics because that’s simply what happens to bad movies over time? In 10 or 20 years, will people finally come to appreciate movies like Warm Bodies? Why wait that long, though? I will continue to write my reviews, and I will talk about what worked and didn’t work for the movie. But can you do something for me? Can you, when watching a movie, think about what genre it is? Once you’ve done that, don’t expect anything more than it being what it is. If it’s a comedy, do not expect it to be Inception. If it’s an action movie, do not expect Citizen Kane. I think you get the point.
Now it’s not to say that a movie can’t be ruined by horrible acting. But I think that’s what started me to think about this in the first place. If you expect award winning acting, screens or scripting from a film like G.I. Joe, then you need to get your head checked because that’s not what the movie is meant to be. Blow stuff up. Fight in an impossible scenario. Have surreal technology. That what’s the film is about. Don’t gripe about it ruining your childhood. They can’t make the movie that will match the cartoon/comic that you remember from your childhood. You know why? Because they sucked too, you are misremembering. But also because we live in a different time now. The limited scope from back then of what was out there in the world in terms of technology and threats is no longer relevant. If we didn’t update the movie to the times, then you’d be griping about that.
So next time you want to bash a movie, ask yourself this: Do you think you could do a better job? For those that answer “yes”, congratulations on not even being able to be honest with yourself. Because 99.99% of the time the answer to this question is undoubtedly “No.” You know how I know that? Because if the answer was “Yes”, you wouldn’t be reading this article. You’d be out there doing it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this long winded rant, though. I encourage you to respond to it, wherever it may be posted. I am not like some that I know where I claim to be an intelligent man who is open to all views and opinions, but then go and delete comments made by those who don’t agree with mine, or even challenge mine. Just don’t be a troll. Remember everything I have said here is a personal opinion, and as such I am entitled to it. I like to hear what others have to say, and will without a doubt be the first to admit when I am wrong about something. But remember, an opinion about something can never be wrong because that’s the way I feel. And even though it seems like I have attacked the personal opinion of others with this article, all I was really trying to do was to open people’s eyes to the fact that we have set a high standard that may not need to be there, and that we can all be hypocrites considering what some of the movies we considered to be the greatest of all time.
Anyway, thank you again for taking the time to read this (if you’ve hung in for this long anyway). I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, you stay classy internet.
By Daniel Ballard
I’ll be the first to admit that back in October when I heard Disney was buying the rights to the Star Wars franchise and making the final three episodes of the epic nine-part saga, I was really skeptical. Sure, Disney has done some excellent films whether animated or not, but my beloved galaxy far, far away? I openly stated that I thought Disney would kill the franchise. Then to my surprise a friend of mine came to the mouse’s defense. Amazingly it was a friend who’s a bit of a movie buff and someone who has never been a huge Disney fan, until recently. He pointed out that the entertainment giant was responsible for “The Avengers”, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the phase-by-phase plan to successfully bring it to the masses in a way that both the average moviegoer and geeks alike could enjoy.
At that point my faith in Disney to bring me the last three installments started to turn. As the next four months came and went, rumors flew. The biggest one was of course, what director would have what it takes to tackle such a huge project? Nolan, Whedon, Spielberg, I even heard someone suggest M. Night Shyamalan. Apparently Disney had the same idea I did though and opted for the man who was already in charge of the other massive sci-fi franchise, J.J. Abrams. Honestly I’m not sure who at Disney decided J.J. was the man for the job, but as soon as I heard Episode VII was going to production and they would hit the ground running in putting it together as quickly as possible. Why? Simple. J.J. is an avid Star Wars fan and he made Star Trek tolerable to the typical Wars fan. If you’re like me and you don’t pirate your movies, break out the Star Trek DVD or BluRay and pop in the special features disk. Watch Abrams’ interview on how he approached the reboot. He states he wanted to give Trek a Star Wars feel. Nailed it sir. I have complete faith in J.J. Once they had their director, Disney set out to get star power. Thankfully in this case Channing Tatum and Vin Diesel were passed up in favor of the big three from the original trilogy. Thus far Hamill, Fisher and Ford have confirmed they will return to reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa(-Solo) and Han Solo. Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker play the only two characters that appear in all of the nine stories and will most likely be present as C-3PO and R2-D2 respectively. Whether anyone else will return remains to be seen, but I hope to see Billy D. Williams return as suave Rebel Alliance general, Lando Calrissian. So where else do we go from here? What new characters can we expect? What new worlds will we visit? I have a few theories.
It’s been thirty years since Return of the Jedi. The timeline as it’s known in the extended universe is slightly off given that the main three characters are older than they should be. However, sources are saying the extended universe as it is known will be thrown out the window. Just about any fan with above average knowledge on the universe is aware of Han and Leia’s twins Jacen and Jaina, but given that Abrams has said this film will be all original material, the likelihood of seeing the twins is pretty slim. I do believe we will see a settled down Han and Leia though, and they will have children, most likely in the neighborhood of their late teens to early twenties. It would be smart to give hardcore fans some level of comfort and keep the J&J duo of names. Aside from the twins and those seen in episodes IV-VI, there will be an all-new lineup of characters. Luckily with Lucas only working as a consultant, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief at the fact that there won’t be any Jar-Jar-esque nuisances this time around. I’m personally looking forward to a new Jedi High Council and Academy. Look for Luke to be a combination of Yoda and Mace Windu and be the final word in all of the new order dealings. His niece and nephew (assuming the twins survive the final cut to get in the movie) will most likely be council members themselves or senior knights in the new temple. Han will probably a military officer of sorts but in a time of post-Empire peace he and Lando will probably be in business in some form. Between Lando’s experience on Cloud City running a mining operation and Han’s expertise in piloting and smuggling I see the rebirth of the trade federation, but this time in a less corrupt fashion. Han and Lando’s success will go a long way when one of the heads of the corporation is married to the new supreme chancellor of the senate. Rebuilding the senate will actually be easier than one would think since it wasn’t disband until early in “A New Hope” and Leia is sure to have enough pull within the rebellion to get the majority of star systems to recommit. But what system does Leia represent in the senate with her home world of Alderaan gone? Does she still represent the remaining citizens of the lost planet? Does she represent her mother’s home world of Naboo? Her new found position may be the answer to the next question in what to expect.
What new worlds will we see? There hasn’t been a new Star Wars film in which the audience was not treated to a new exotic planet. Based on Leia and Han settling down and having children of their own and helping to rebuild the Republic, the two will most likely call Corellia home. The capital planet of the Corellian system is the birth place of Han, Wedge Antilles and many other characters. The Antilles family is already very prominent in the system and on the planet. Based on prior exposure to the planet in video games and in the comic series, it has a very earth-like appearance in the same way Naboo and Kashyyyk did. The Corellian system is one of the largest in the Star Wars universe and will be key to rebuilding both the senate and the republic. One of the coolest things about this to me as a fan of the supporting roles is the fact that this gives us a higher probability of seeing what Rogue Squadron pilot and Rebellion officer Wedge Antilles is doing post-Battle of Endor. Corellian is one of the few key systems that fans have not seen depicted outside the realm of video games and it would draw great interest in the new film and because of its limited exposure can be brought to life how Abrams sees fit. The interesting thing throughout the films is we only see a handful of planetary systems and even within them only one or two planets. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of planets to use as settings through episodes VII-IX, so predicting where the new trilogy will go is as difficult as finding a fan who likes Jar-Jar Binks, but at this point is pretty much a given and personally I’m most excited about the idea of seeing Coruscant-post Empire and finally seeing Han’s home world for the first time on film.
One thing is certain, speculation is one of the keys to success in building media hype, and when one of the biggest film companies in the world tells you the next installment of such a storied franchise is on the way, the rumors are bound to fly. Right now the internet and movie fans are providing more fuel to the fire of possibility than Disney could have ever hoped for. Recently J.J. Abrams told media outlets everywhere there are more questions than answers and even he is unsure of the direction in which they will take the franchise, but he is excited and he, Kathleen Kennedy (the film’s producer and head of Lucasfilm) and Steven Spielberg are all very engaged in making sure the film is a success and more importantly that it is a beloved, instant classic for the fans.
From executive producer Eli Roth and based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, Hemlock Grove is a riveting one-hour murder mystery that revolves around the residents of a former Pennsylvania steel town. When 17-year-old Brooke Bluebell is brutally murdered, any of Hemlock’s peculiar inhabitants – or killer creatures – could be suspects. Through the investigation, the town’s seamier side is exposed, revealing nothing is what it seems. Beautiful, terrifying and graphic, Hemlock Grove is unlike anything else in its genre.
New Trailer Update
All 13 episodes of Season 1 will be available exclusively on Netflix
beginning April 19, 2013