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Old 03-25-2012, 04:36 AM   #181
eastx
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I liked it all too. Very concise and informative.
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:51 PM   #182
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I’ve been doing a lot of driving recently, which has given me time to listen to a lot of books on CD. All of them, but one, based off Bioware games! After buying them, and all their DLC, installing the new pages and the like, I can finally give you my opinion on some of them.
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:00 AM   #183
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Released October 2007
Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Publisher: Del Ray Books
323 Pages


Overall Score:
B


Mass Effect: Revelation provides backstory to the first game. The story introduces characters Jon Grissom, scientist Kahlee Sanders, and expands upon turian Saren Arterius and a young David Anderson.

Story Overview
Recent Alliance graduate, Donald Anderson, is sent to investigate a raid on the Alliance base on Sidon. When things quickly turn sour, Anderson is launched into an investigation to uncover the truth behind the base’s purpose. Anderson soon meets up with Kahlee Sanders, a young scientist who used to work at Sidon and, much to his chagrin, the turian Specter Saren Arterius. All the while, a sadistic krogan, Skar, is sent to make sure that they won’t succeed.

If you’re a fan of the first game’s story, you’ll greatly enjoy this one. You’ll get to see how Saren operated as a Specter before he was indoctrinated by Soverign. Saren holds onto a hatred for humanity, whom he blames for the death of his brother. The turian also believes that, ultimately, the ends justify the means which goes directly against Anderson’s ‘by the book when possible’ mentality. Karpyshyn really understands these two characters and the book really hit its strides when these two characters are in the spotlight.

Kahlee Sanders is the main protagonist through most (if not all…donno since I’m still going through them) of the Mass Effect books. Her characterization is alright, but Karpyshyn doesn’t really find her voice until the second book, in my opinion. What Karpyshyn does well is mend in the many alien races together well. Karpyshyn does well in bringing all the history between the races together, letting the relationships between races tell a story all in its own. Some complain that Karpshyn writes all the aliens as if they were humans, but I don’t think this detracts much, if at all, from the overall experience. Yes, it’s a little odd that most of the aliens all speak English, but the overall history of the races makes up for this slight detraction.

All in all, this was a very entertaining book that compliments the first game’s story really well. Saren was one of my favorite characters in the entire Mass Effect series and it’s great to get some more backstory with the notorious turian. The book has some great peaks and excellent pacing, but really lacks in the ending. I felt that the book kind of jogged through the end, not really finishing as strongly as I’d like it. However, like I said earlier, the book is perfect for fans of the first game.
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:10 AM   #184
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A book cannot be a prequel to a videogame. It's simply "backstory".
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:20 AM   #185
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Derp! You're right. Fixing!
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:01 PM   #186
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Derp! You're right. Fixing!
Are you going to change the blurb on the cover too?
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:05 PM   #187
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Oh hey, Mass Effect books. Nice review DS, I might look into snapping some of those up. The Mass Effect storyline isn't so great but the world and characters is what makes it awesome so I'd love to read some books set in that Universe. I'd love to see some more Saren stuff, was a great character, I agree with that. Thankyor
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:30 PM   #188
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Salo presents possibly some of the most horrifying images ever displayed on a cinema screen. A film by infamous Italian auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini, easily describable as one of, if not the most, macabre films in cinematic history. 'Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom' is based on the morally repugnant novel 'The 120 Days of Sodom' by the notorious 18th-century French philosopher and writer Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade. It is perhaps no surprise then that a film adapted from one of the most scandalous writers in French history was banned for decades in many countries, including the UK. Salo remained banned in Australia until 2010.

Since the film's release in 1975 it attracted the scorn of not only censors and the general public, but also of the critics. In 1977, Vincent Canby of The New York Times attacked the very raison d'être of the film; he refused to accept the justifications for the movie's lurid scenes, harshly scolding Pasolini in an ad hominem attack:

"For all of Mr. Pasolini's desire to make "Salo" an abstract statement, one cannot look at images of people being scalped, whipped, gouged, slashed, covered with excrement and sometimes eating it and react abstractedly unless one shares the director's obsessions."

Even when Salo received a rerelease in Britain, in 2000, BBC Film critic Michael Thomson described the film and its director in an equally unflattering light:

"Clearly Pasolini (who could either be exceptionally inspired or - as here - absolutely dire) had hit the creative buffers, and so - in his tale of four power-mad, sexually-warped members of the ruling elite - seems to relish serving up endless examples of the most gruesome conduct, which include the forced consumption of food spiked with nails, nipples being branded, and - most ghastly of all - the consumption of excrement. Needless to say, the young men and women horrifically abused by the four condescending establishment tyrants are treated like so much available meat.

Grim and pointless in equal measure."

And it is true. Salo is a grim film, impossibly difficult to watch. Even writing about the film is enough to fill me with that same sense of disgust and dread that it provoked when I first viewed it- and let me say, for a movie to have had that great of an effect on someone as desensitised as me is testament to its truly harrowing nature. I've seen films that reach every extreme, films even more explicitly graphic than this, but it is Salo that still lurks in my subconscious, that still haunts my mind with the grieving, hopeless cries of the victims trapped in it. Of every film I've ever seen, it is only Salo that has proved so difficult to ever watch again.

So yes, Salo is indeed filled with horrors that will no doubt scar the mind of anyone brave enough to watch it, but is this, as the reviewers suggest, merely pointless, or worse still, the work of a fetishist? Is this laborious endurance, which some suggest cost its director his life (although this is unlikely), really the equivalent to modern-day films like 'Hostel' and 'The Human Centipede'? Is the legacy of Salo simply the advent of torture porn?

Well, there are others that believe, as I do, that Pasolini wasn't a mere provocateur, but an observer of the human condition. An artist with a point to make, even if that required corroding away the ability we all possess to detach from the screen *by using gruesome and vile imagery.*

Salo is a modern adaptation of de Sade's chronicle of tortures which is transposed from 18th-century France to the backdrop of Mussolini's fascist Italy, in 1944- more specifically the Republic of Salo. The film takes only the premise of the book; merely using de Sade's grimly perverse imagination as a foundation for what Pasolini really wants to explore: Fascism, Capitalism, sexuality, and the human nature.

The story picks up in a small town, with what appears to be the army rounding up a group of young teenagers. The children are taken to a sealed off castle, inhabited by four of the corrupt elite: The Duke, The Magistrate, The Bishop, and The President. Soon it becomes clear that these four are sadistic libertines, who intend to use the children as sexual objects, on which they can unleash any and every desire they possess. In order to inspire their libidos, the four also invited some seasoned and experienced prostitutes, each with her own speciality.

The film is split into four distinct sections: The 'Ante-inferno', the 'Circle of Manias', the 'Circle of Shit', and the 'Circle of Blood'; these stages seem to be loosely inspired by the narrative set in the 13th-century epic poem 'Dante's inferno'. In the Ante-Inferno, the children are put through a rigorous selection process based solely on how sexually attractive the four men find each of the them, and the rules to which they will be made comply are made clear. In the 'Circle of Manias' the violence begins to escalate, leading to the 'Circle of Shit'- which contains the film's most stomach-turning scenes, then finally, 'The Circle of Blood'- the blackest point of the film.

It seems fairly clear, without much analysis, that Salo is showing the horrors of Fascism: the unbridled ruling class using their power to commit unspeakable atrocities, discarding every moral law that gives us any sense of being human. Even the harshest critics of the film seem to accept this. The problem tends to be that such horrific imagery isn't necessary to tell such a simplistic message; that 'fascism is bad' is indeed a redundant message, which needs no explanation because the world has already witnessed its horrors. And that may be so. We have all seen the documentaries and read the textbooks, but documentaries and textbooks show the events in a cold and educational context. Pasolini lived under Mussolini's fascist regime; he experienced Fascism first hand. This isn't to say Pasolini experienced anything like the events depicted in Salo, but surely someone with his milieu is entitled to portray that sense of despair and powerlessness as he felt it. As Salo does; the film reeks despair throughout. Perhaps that is what makes Salo so hard to watch. The constant, impending doom. The viewer never expects the cavalry to arrive, or a white knight to ride in and save the day. As is with Fascism, 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here'.*

It is established as soon as the libertines have their way that the children are no more than objects. Possessions. In the 'Ante-inferno', the children are reduced to how attractive they are and treated like animals. They are no longer allowed individuality or personality. They are being broken. Pasolini sees this as the dehumanising effect of Capitalism. As a staunch communist, Pasolini believed Capitalism strips us of our essence. That sexuality has become a commodity. That we are objectified. Some believe that the film's portrayal of sexuality as painful, debauched and degrading signifies how Pasolini sees Capitalism's effect on the person; that the commercialisation of sex has, in effect, killed it. This is made particularly clear when the libertines examine the children for any physical flaws, willing to dispose of those they find unappealing. This almost anti-erotic, clinical portrayal of sex, I believe, defies the critics views that the film is somehow a cathartic, sexual release for Pasolini. The film is void of any sort of arousing build up. There is perhaps only one instance of consensual sex, and that takes place between one of the captors and an abettor. Any other instance of consensual sex is punished by death.

Then, in the final act, the 'Circle of Blood', the film reaches its startling, but expected, conclusion. The children are tortured to death. They have passed their sell-by dates. They no longer hold any value, they're worthless. The libertines revel in destroying them. Any ember of hope that may have flickered in the mind of the viewer is now extinguished. Again, the torture scenes are shown in a dissociated way. Shown through the binoculars of one of the torturers, as he watches his comrade cut the tongue out of one of the young boy's mouth (a scene that became iconic, and is cited as effectively ending the young actor's [Franco Merli] career). The final scene of the film shows two guards perform a slow waltz, carelessly joking; the scene perfectly captures the essence of the film: detachment.*

De Sade had strong political views, but of which are being shown in his novel is a highly contentious subject amongst scholars: notably feminist scholars. Some Feminists, like Simone de Beauvoir, argue in his favour, whilst others are vehemently opposed. *Anyway, I argue this, because this is what Pasolini and de Sade's work truly have in common. More than the torture. More than the paedophillia. More than the infamy. They parallel in misinterpretation. There are loads of different interpretations of Salo and 120 Days..., many of them driven by ignorance, or stilted by repulsion, or just mistaken. But even the analyses that aren't wrong, the few analysts that retain a logical and coherent line of argument, they can still differ to extremes in what they believe the primary message is. This is, of course, because we all perceive words and meaning differently, and we can never truly trust that the other person is even expressing the message they wish to convey as is intended, not to mention the difference in ideological perspectives we're all tainted by. All art is forever contentious, as it should be. And this is my preemptive defence of Salo. The fact that it can be so hotly debated by scholars, whom can maintain logical arguments but still disagree vehemently isn't a weakness of the film, but a strength. All art has an observation of the human condition to make, and Salo is no different. And maybe this is why the film is now respected as a work of art, with avid supporters such as German director Michael Haneke and even film critic Roger Ebert.

Perhaps the one controversy that can't be wholly defended is Pasolini's decision to cast the part of the children to actors who were probably under the age of consent. Why Pasolini chose to do this, I don't know. Perhaps it could be argued that showing actual children in these scenarios solidifies the horror and despondence of it all...
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:17 PM   #189
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Are you going to change the blurb on the cover too?
I can't trust anyone!!1
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:08 PM   #190
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I'm shocked you put Salo up here lolololo. Time for Cannibal Holocaust!
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:20 PM   #191
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Salo is just such an important piece. It is unjust to mention it in the same sentence as other so-called 'video nasties'!
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:26 AM   #192
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Do I see nipples or are those Madonna's nipple covers? How can we as a user-fan base be respected when we show full fledged nipples?
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:51 AM   #193
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Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday

Being a fan of the original Parasite Eve games for the Playstation 1, I was fairly enthused when I discovered The Third Birthday available as a rental. This enthusiasm swiftly transmogrified into absolute disappointment.

The story of the Parasite Eve universe that has been established thus far in the series was decidedly abandoned in this iteration, and with zeal. Okay, so never has Parasite Eve been known for it's gritty realism, or how it meditated on the deep philosophical issues of life, but it did have in it a working internal logic, and an enjoyable mythos which struck an interesting tone- somewhere between chilling and action-packed; never so much action that it'd be mistaken for Resident Evil, and not scary enough to be in the league of Silent Hill, instead it had it's own nice little niche in which it was able to scare, entertain, and provide in essence, an interesting story.

That's no longer the case. Enix has abandoned the established format entirely, and apparently have decided that horror is a bit dated, and instead came to the weird conclusion that it would be best to magnify the sci-fi undertones of the previous games. Using science fiction as the focus of the story was a terrible mistake, it makes for an absurd game, and one I assume will alienate the fan base (if it still exists).

So that's it for my take on the story. I'm not going to bother with a synopsis, 'cause it's pretty pointless, to be honest. Instead, let's just hastily move on to the gameplay. The gameplay actually isn't terrible. I preferred the original, but they like to change things up for the PSP, don't they? So with that in mind, I appreciated the system they created. Basically, you get to customise a fairly wide array of guns, which you will then use to stave off hordes of enemies as you work your way through various areas of the mission you're in. However, there's more! Aya's new found sci-fi self has discovered she has the ability to 'overdive', that is the ability to travel back into the past, and take possession of someone from that time's body.

This makes the core of the gameplay: you must constantly jump from person to person in order to stay alive, and take out the enemies. The enemies are fairly sturdy, and take a lot of shots, so using Aya's 'liberation' technique in order to make it easy to possess an enemy and do a lot of damage is essential. To achieve this special move, it often helps to cross shoot, which is focusing your computer-controlled allies' attention on the same target and unleashing a volley of fire. Aya can also buff up with a system which levels up her 'DNA', basically your typical way of improving the character's skill set. It's a bit annoying, and all quite random, no real skill involved and also has an absurd premise.

One thing about the game that's fairly undeniable is the great graphics (for a PSP title). The cutscenes in particular wouldn't look too bad on a Playstation 3 or X Box 360, which really is quite a feat for such a dated system. The in-game graphics of course don't compete, but they are some of the best the PSP has to offer- although, saying that, I still couldn't enjoy them as although they are indeed good for the PSP, they are dated and rough compared to console games, which are the games I usually play.

IN conclusion, the story is ridiculous, the characters are cardboard cut-outs, the graphics are pleasing, the soundtrack is suitable, and the battle system has some depth but in the end is merely repetitive, frustrating, and not worth your while. All in all, this makes The Third Birthday nothing more than a Parasite on the franchise' selling power. (See what I did there?)

2.0/5.0
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:40 AM   #194
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Loved the first two but I ignored this one.
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:14 PM   #195
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Wow, I thought I was the only one who liked PE2.

It's been a really long time since I played it, but I do remember the exploding babies.
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