Daily Archives: August 13, 2015

Until Dawn – A survival horror game for an evolving medium

Horror movies are an interesting concept. People pay money to be scared. But it doesn’t stop with just movies. Every Halloween, people flock to haunted houses they can walk through so that they can experience terrifying things jumping out at them and go home with their heart racing, hoping they don’t have nightmares when they go to sleep. People do this voluntarily.

I’ve always been curious about why people choose to put themselves into situations in which they know they’ll be frightened. After all, nobody really wants to be afraid. We certainly wouldn’t volunteer to let Freddy Kruger haunt our dreams in real life. At its core, horror is about death, and no one really wants to place themselves into a situation where they will likely die a most painful and violent death.

If Only Horror Movie Characters Listened to Us

And we always seem to want to control the horror movies we watch. We know the girl shouldn’t open that closet because opening that closet means she’s dead, so we yell at the movie or television screen, “Don’t do it!” But then she does it, and then she’s dead. She could’ve survived if she would’ve listened to our advice, right?

Until Dawn, a Unique Survival Horror Game

Enter Until Dawn, a new game from Supermassive Games that takes the desire we all have to control the characters in the horror movies we watch and grants it. Video games are an ever-evolving medium and one in which storytelling has become more and more prominent. But the storytelling in games has been primarily very linear because of the limitations created by the nature of video games. A player plays through a pre-designed narrative. Every player has the same experience and the end is always the same. But games have been focusing more and more on the player choice component of gameplay.

That’s why it makes sense for Supermassive to use a game like Until Dawn to try to pave the way for more nonlinear player choice-focused storytelling/gameplay experiences. It’s essentially a horror movie that you play. Instead of yelling at the screen, “Don’t go in there,” you control where the character goes.

Of course, even this is limited because you won’t be completely autonomous. There’s still a range of possibilities to follow. But Until Dawn looks to go in a direction few games have gone before.

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It Feels Like a Horror Movie We’ve Seen Before

Here’s the setup. Eight college students head to a secluded cabin in the woods to spend the summer when they’re suddenly hunted by a psychopathic killer. Not a very original storyline, but I think they’re trying to go for a familiar type of horror story with all the standard horror tropes. I imagine that what it will feel like for most players is getting control of a movie they’ve already seen, even though they haven’t actually seen it.

A Game in Which Player Choice Matters

What makes Until Dawn unique is that the choices you make as the player actually impact how the story plays out. Sure, the developers have planned out every possibility that you could choose, but they’ve definitely built some serious replay value into this game.

You get to play as each of the eight friends, and the choices you make as one character will impact what is possible when you play as the other characters. Death is permanent. In a world where games often give you a certain number of lives so that when you die, you’re taken back to an earlier spot in the game, Until Dawn is a movie about real irreversible death. In a horror movie, victims don’t come back to life to face the killer again, after all. Once your time is up, there’s no redo.

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Death is Permanent and Survival isn’t Guaranteed

Once you die as one character, you restart the game as another character, and once again you’re struggling for survival. Make one wrong move and you can get yourself killed. The story is shaped by the choices you make, and it’s only after you play as all eight characters that you find out who survives this horror story. And it is possible for all the characters to survive and for all of them to die.

Another interesting component of the nature of player choice in the game are the difficult choices you have to make. Not only are you faced with choices that determine whether you live or die, you’re forced to make difficult ethical choices as well. An example includes the choice whether or not to sacrifice one character in order to save another.

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A Sinister Killer

The killer in Until Dawn seems to enjoy taunting his victims before he kills them. In the E3 demo, you’re given the role of Sam, a character who is being watched by the killer, who is wearing a creepy clown mask, and she’s quickly alerted to the fact that she’s not alone. From here, you being to make choices as you walk through the cabin though your choice is limited. You eventually come upon a room where the killer reveals a video of Sam taking a bath. The killer’s voice comes over a speaker system, alluding to his intentions to kill her. If there’s one action in a horror movie that is most important, it is the action of running. And you’ll do a lot of that in Until Dawn.

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The Evolution of Video Games

Until Dawn certainly isn’t the first survival horror game and its storyline doesn’t appear to be that original, but the game’s approach is in line with the continuing evolution of the capabilities of video games. By giving players the opportunity to make real, though limited, choices in the midst of a horror movie, this game is sure to have players on the edge of their seats.

Until Dawn will be released exclusively for PlayStation 4 on August 25, 2015.

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Until Dawn – A survival horror game for an evolving medium

Former WWE Star Chyna Is Entering The Celebrity Big Brother House

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Former WWE starJoanie Chyna Laurer who has long been rumoured to be entering the British Celebrity version of Big Brother has reportedly just confirmed her addition to the line-up.She has just started following some of the other rumoured housemates on Twitter, as seen in the following screenshot, revealed by Daily Star in the United Kingdom.While she may know some of the U.S names she has followed, reality TV star Vicky Pattison is not widely known outside the UK.The theme for this edition of the show has been confirmed asUK vs US with Chyna linked to Team USA.
#wwe #chyna #bigbrother #cbb

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Former WWE Star Chyna Is Entering The Celebrity Big Brother House

Sharknado: A storming cult success.

Almost a month removed from the *ahem* successful third installment of the Sharknado series, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! In the last few years, I’ve begun to watch many movies in the category of “so bad, it’s good”, particularly monster movies. They are plenty of shark movies out there like Avalanche Sharks and Sand Sharks as well as Sharktopus, all of which I have seen. These are the movies that are great to watch with others either to laugh at the acting, the effects or the ridiculousness of what these monsters are able to achieve. They are all good for a laugh but, for some reason, Sharknado is different. When I saw the first film, I considered it to be the most watchable, intentionally bad movie I had ever seen but why does it stand out?

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Well, let’s look at the title. It’s called Sharknado, how can that not draw your attention? The other titles of shark films are all ridiculous but ultimately, they consist of sharks swimming in a place they shouldn’t be able to swim or they are some kind of hybrid between a shark and another animal. Whereas Sharknado combines the awesome killing power of sharks with the natural, destructive force of tornadoes. Sharknado at least makes sense….well, kind of. There’s nothing supernatural about the sharks unlike some other bad shark movies.

The first Sharknado film followed a lot of the cliches associated with bad monster movies with deaths to minor characters occurring at the most obvious point perhaps where a character dismisses the idea of a shark falling from the sky only to suffer that fate seconds later. The animations are basic, the camera shots and transitions are clunky and the acting leaves a lot to be desired. All these add up to enjoyable viewing in terms of mocking these traits but Sharknado actually managed to keep my interest throughout.

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Usually, in these kinds of films, there’s plenty of drivel as part of the dialogue and while you will see a few attacks from the monster, it usually occurs in secluded incidents. Sharknado establishes a group of people early on and while some get lost along the way, the movie actually follows the journey of the group and they actually have a reason to be on the move. In other films, it’s usually a bunch of teenagers just ripping on each other for an hour while a few strangers get killed off until the final showdown. That’s the advantage of a Sharknado, it can follow the main group around and usually means you’re not waiting too long for more airborne shark action. Most of these movies revolve around people on holiday getting caught up in a problem where they must stay put.

As I said, the characters in Sharknado make it a much more watchable movie. The main character Fin (get it?), played by Ian Ziering, is caught up in the storm with his girlfriend Nova along with a couple of other acquaintances. Upon learning about the Sharknado, he decides he needs to help his estranged wife and his daughter to escape. Now, we have the group on a journey and a clear motivation for them to travel. It’s hardly an Oscar-winning plot but at least the actions of the characters make sense. While some films will have fifty minutes of dull dialogue from horny teenagers on holiday only to be killed by some kind of unnatural monster, Sharknado gives the group a clear objective rather than just sitting around and hoping not to die.

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That’s not to say that Sharknado is anywhere near a logical film. There’s plenty of ‘bad monster movie physics’ in the film. One piece of physics that immediately comes to mind is the law that states that if you throw a bomb into a tornado, it will dissipate. Another gem is that you can survive being swallowed whole by a shark.

The appeal of the Sharknado sequels has a lot to do with Ian Ziering. The second Sharknado, aptly named The Second One, followed his character from the end of the first film. In terms of building a Sharknado franchise, it helps that the entire first film didn’t consist of throw-away characters. The continuation of Fin’s story shows that there is actually some thought being put into building him as the main character. The chainsaw has become the iconic weapon of Fin and of the Sharknado series of films. The second and third film are mainly a case of ‘same problem, different city,’ they don’t do much to build on anything from the first film. Instead, the only thing that does build throughout the two films revolve around Fin and his life of dealing with a Sharknado so now we have a cult hero as well as a cult film.

Sharknado stands out from the rest of the monster movies. While people are happy to watch bad monster movies, Sharknado and its sequels created a huge buzz that was incomparable to many other straight-to-television movies. Many celebrities wanted to appear in a cameo role for the Sharknado films because they wanted to be a part of the cult series, not because they were actors desperate for work. The end setting for Sharknado 3 raised the bar in terms of ridiculousness but it was the kind of ridiculous giant leap needed to give us something new and entertaining for the cult following to collectively laugh and enjoy its ludicrous nature. I would say it’s hard to know how to top it but nothing has to make sense. The sky is certainly not the limit.

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Sharknado: A storming cult success.

[WATCH] Paul Heyman Presents A Special Preview For Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker

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Live from New York City, The Advocate brings you a special preview for Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker at WWE SummerSlam. Special appearances by Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dean Ambrose.
#wwe #paulheyman #brocklesnar

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[WATCH] Paul Heyman Presents A Special Preview For Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker

NXT Recap: August 12th 2015

With just over a week before NXT invades Brooklyn for their latest Takeover event, the roster make some final preparations filling the card for that special show. This was especially the case in this week’s main event, as Bayley battled Becky Lynch for the right to become number one contender for Sasha Banks’ NXT Women’s Championship. With Bayley on the run of her career and the title in her sights, she has one final hurdle to overcome, but Lynch is a difficult force on any night, and would be desperate to go one better than her contest with Banks at the previous Takeover.

NXT Champion Finn Balor is also in action in a tune-up match against the monstrous Marcus Louis. The Irishman has Kevin Owens to contend with in a ladder match in Brooklyn, but certainly couldn’t afford to take his eyes off his deranged opponent on this show. Solomon Crowe and Tye Dillinger square off in the night’s opening bout, and somebody finally stands up to the dominant dreariness of Baron Corbin.

Quick Results

  • Tye Dillinger defeats Solomon Crowe
  • Baron Corbin defeats Axel Tischer
  • Finn Balor defeats Marcus Louis
  • Bayley defeats Becky Lynch

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Tye Dillinger vs Solomon Crowe

The show was opened with a clash of forgotten men in NXT, as Tye Dillinger and Solomon Crowe stepped into the ring. Both of these men have struggled to make a noticeable impact, which has been particularly difficult for Crowe as he only debuted a few months ago. His character has struggled to connect with the audience, but Dillinger had a gimmick change of his own to broadcast, as he is now referring to himself as “The Perfect 10″. Would his performance against Crowe back-up that lofty claim?

Highlights

Off an Irish whip, Dillinger grabs the rope, does a cartwheel and makes a 10 gesture

A nice headscissors hold by Crowe that he uses to kick Dillinger in the face

Running high knee by Crowe to the face of Dillinger leaning against the turnbuckle

Crowd Reaction

The crowd really took to Dillinger’s 10 gimmick immediately, which is nice to see

Low Points

I think both athletes looked good, but crowd were a little subdued and disinterested beyond the 10 shtick

Finish

Dillinger kicks Crowe outside the ring, and as he reenters Dillinger pulls him headfirst onto his exposed knee to earn the victory

I have to say when I saw this match was set to take place, this wasn’t the result I was expecting. But it is very promising to see Tye Dillinger finally get a character after over a year in NXT without much development in that area. The early signs are promising, so hopefully the Perfect 10 will get some fire behind it and not simply become a one-dimensional mistake. As for Solomon Crowe, there are some serious issues. His gimmick seems non-existent right now, and it seems he’s already become enhancement talent on the roster.

Rating – 2.5/5

Baron Corbin

DVD Review: WWE Monday Night War Vol.1 – Shots Fired

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Certificate: 15
Running Time: 626mins (10hrs 26mins)
Discs: 4

Disc 1 – Chapters

  • The War Begins
    – WWE’s Evolution
    – NWA to WCW
    – Raw Entertainment
    – Eric Bischoff’s Impact
    – Monday Nitro
    – Dirty Tactics

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

  • The Rise of The nWo
    – Scott Hall & Kevin Nash
    – Outsiders Invade WCW
    – The Third Man
    – Fake Razor & Diesel
    – Popularity of the nWo
    – Overexpansion
    – Making Their Mark

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

Disc 2 – Chapters

  • Embracing Attitude
    – A Declaration of Change
    – Sex Sells
    – Violence Rules
    – Audience Participation
    – nWo Getting Stale
    – Austin v McMahon
    – Raising the Stakes
    – New Heights

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

  • A New D-Generation X
    – Are You Ready?
    – Going Too Far
    – Reigns Come Off
    – A New D-Generation X
    – DX Invades WCW
    – Bischoff Calls Out Mr. McMahon
    – DX v Nation of Domination
    – DX Army

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

Disc 3 – Chapters

  • Have A Nice Day
    – Cactus Jack
    – Mankind
    – Three Faces of Foley
    – Foley Goes Through Hell
    – Mr. Socko
    – Champion
    – Rock ‘n’ Sock
    – Stepping Away

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

  • The Hart Of War
    – Dependable Champion
    – Hit Man v HBK
    – Weighing the Options
    – Fallout with WWE
    – Arrival in WCW
    – Return to WWE

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

  • Foundations Of War
    – Captivating the Audience
    – Changing the Landscape
    – Rising to the Top
    – Evolving
    – Leaders

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

Disc 4 – Chapters

  • The Austin Era
    – “Stunning” Steve Austin
    – ECW
    – Ringmaster
    – Austin 3:16
    – Injury to Opportunity
    – The Face of WWE
    – Trailblazer

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

  • Who’s Next?
    – A Need for New Stars
    – The Look and Presence
    – The Streak
    – Champion
    – 173-1
    – WCW’s Biggest Creation

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

  • Flight Of The Cruiserweights
    – A Need to Stand Out
    – Cruiserweight Division
    – Top Talent
    – Light Heavyweight Division
    – Being Ignored
    – Land of the Athlete

Past Episode Analysis with Renee Young, Triple H and Sting

For a lot of you reading this, The Monday Night War was the pinnacle of professional wrestling. To borrow a parlance from the world of comics, if the 80s and the Hulkamania era were the Golden Age of Wrestling, 1995-2001 would be considered the Silver Age of Wrestling, peaking with The Attitude Era itself.

This four-disc set is the first volume in the WWE Network-exclusive series, covering the first ten episodes, and it is genuinely a rivetting show.

Kicking off with the lead up to the launch of Nitro, a series of talking heads (who were either a part of the War or are current stars who were fans at the time) discuss the various aspects of both shows, including where both were going wrong, what was done right and, surprisingly, how piss-poor WWE was until Austin and DX ignited the scene.

What you get for your money is the episodes themselves as they aired on the Network, followed by a 5-6min discussion as Renee Young poses questions relevant to the topic to both Triple H and Sting, who give a unique insight into the machinations of the War from their respective trenches.

A lot of the talking heads are taken from older releases (especially Eric Bischoff and Daniel Bryan, whose hair / beard change length virtually every time he’s on-screen… even when it’s the same topic), but there are also a good number of comments that were actually recorded for the show. Tony Schiavone (who has morphed into Arn Anderson) is one such luminary who gets to give his side of things, especially as it relates to the “HUH; that’ll put the butts in the seats” dig at Mankind winning the WWF Championship from The Rock.

Discussions include the beginnings of the War, DX, the nWo, Cruiserweights, Goldberg, Steve Austin’s rise, Bret Hart’s feud with Shawn Michaels and his jumping ship, Mick Foley, the Attitude Era and Vince McMahon becoming an on-screen character.

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Overview

With almost 10.5hrs of content and never-seen-before comments from Triple H and Sting, this should be amazing value, especially with enough time having passed (crazily, it’s 20yrs since Nitro aired and 19yrs since the formation of the nWo) to look at things reflectively and honestly.

Of course, with history always being written by the winners, there is “a smattering, and sometimes more than a smattering” of glad-handing on the part of WWE. That being said, the promotions failings during the tail-end of the New Generation era are critiqued honestly and WCW’s successes are equally honoured.

For his part, Sting seems to just want to get out of there and does not seem comfortable at all. He does talk, but for a lot of the segments, he doesn’t actually say a lot. Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, Triple H is overflowing with pertinent dialogue and is a joy to listen to.

Renne Young, for her part, does a great job of introducing the episodes and posing the questions to the two semi-retired wrestlers.

There’s lots of little memories you may not remember, like Terry Funk piledriving someone in a stable then getting kicked by a horse, that put a smile on your face, but having the actual show opening (including the “serious monologue” voiceover) for every episode on the set is damn annoying.

Daniel Bryan’s hair and beard changing length from scene to scene also becomes a little game you can play by trying to place when it was filmed and kudos to who decided the Sting / Triple H recaps would be conducted without a table (and yes, that is in reference to Renee Young’s legs being on show).

The big question when it comes to rating the release is whether it’s value for money. With virtually everything the promotion releases also being on the Network, reviews are going to need a two-tier rating system; one for those with Network subscriptions and one for those without.

The former have probably watched all of these already (as I said, it’s a great show), so the selling point for them is the Sting / Triple H sections that chronicle what has just aired. The latter most likely haven’t seen it, so to them this is easily a must-buy title… if they have no intention of subscribing to the Network.

No extras are featured on the DVD release, but Blu-Ray customers also get -:

  • Hulk Hogan v Big Bubba Rogers – Nitro September 4, 1995
  • No Disqualification Match for the WWE Championship: The Rock v Mankind – RAW January 4, 1999
  • Goldberg v Hugh Morrus – Nitro September 22, 1997
  • WCW Press Conference August 14, 1995 – The Announcement of Monday Nitro
  • Nitro Announcement Promos
  • A Montreal Conspiracy?
  • DX Invasion – “Raw Footage”

Network subscribers: 3/10

Non-subscribers: 10/10

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DVD Review: WWE Monday Night War Vol.1 – Shots Fired