andy serkis


V.23 No.29 | 7/17/2014
This is what we call the money shot.

Film Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Apes + machine guns = awesome

Smart, surprising Dawn of the Planet of the Apes proves the old axiom that apes + machine guns = awesome.
V.19 No.41 |

Video Games

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

So, I managed to break away from pick-axing one meter square digital blocks in Minecraft and get myself a copy of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. It has turned out to be very solid, and I haven't found myself this engrossed by a platformer since 2003's standout Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. In fact, it may be the similarities between that two that drew me to Enslaved in the first place. It has that same spooky, empty world feeling that I loved so much in Sands of Time, which was sadly abandoned by later entries in that series. And like The Prince and Farah, the interaction and eventual rapport between Monkey and Trip is a breath of fresh air in games. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong) lending his voice, face, and mo-capped body to fill out Monkey's persona. Trip is voiced by relative newcomer Lindsey Shaw, but the chemistry between the two is spot-on, which lends gravitas to the savory, post-apocalypse (robot apocalypse!) story from writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine). I have heard complaints that the platforming and combat are too simple and repetitive for some people's tastes, but for me the writing and characterization mortar those cracks just fine. And in a time when many big game titles are followed by 2's and 3's, Enslaved provides a top notch balm to relieve that franchise fatigue.

How about yourselves? Are people coming down from the Halo: Reach high, or is it still all multiplayer, all the time?

V.19 No.40 |

Here's what I want to play: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. It's by Ninja Theory, the same team who made that gorgeous mixed-bag of a PS3 launch title, Heavenly Sword. This game also looks absolutely beautiful, but the word on the street is it's actually quite good. Hooray for the benefits of hindsight! The action is set some 150 years from now among Earth's crumbling urban ruins, which are overrun with colorful plant life, and lumbering robot sentinels. Our hero, Monkey (voiced by Andy Serkis of Gollum fame, no less), has been (ahem) Enslaved by a woman named Trip who needs a guide through the wasteland. Hijinks of a satisfying gameplay variety ensue, or so I hear. Want.

Here's what I probably will play: Minecraft. Because it's what I've been playing during every spare moment since last weekend. It's a "game" where you Mine. And Craft. Over and over, in a way that's disturbingly similar to addiction. You have nothing when you start a new game, but the land, rocks, trees, and even water are made out of pixelly blocks that can be broken down and added to your inventory. Day 1 goes a little like this: Gather some lumber (by punching trees!), convert it into refined wood via your 2x2 crafting menu, and build a workbench that has a 3x3 crafting menu. Build an axe and a pick-axe. Gather more lumber, and then, before the sun goes down, dig into the nearest hill for shelter. Use the blocks you gathered while digging to wall yourself in for the night, because if you don't, zombies, spiders, skeletons and exploding greenies will wipe you out fast. While you're there, you might as well start digging. Down. If you find coal, you can build torches to light your way. If you find iron, you can build a better pick-axe, and dig ever deeper. When you come up for air, build a tower (or the Enterprise D), surround it with a moat of water (or lava), and on, and on. Days 2 through 100 (more?) go pretty much the same.