Shooty shooty bang bang

Bad Company 2

How does it work? There have been may different genres of gaming, some dead (like adventure games, which are are now resurrected, like Dracula, on the PC and the iphone as “indie” games, while they were the height of the money grabbing franchises way back when), some barely alive (I mean look at RTSes. There were 4, count ’em 4 releases in one month because no one wanted to compete in the same blog space even as Blizzard’s behemoth, so scared are they of losing their diminutive market. What happened, they used to epic, EPIC, I say!), and some morphed into their own uber genre (third person action adventure. Time was you saw your character on screen because it helped you sell the fantasy. Now it’s a behemoth that covers superhero fiction, RPG-lits, platformer, action, and the weird God of War/Ninja Gaiden hyper violent space that has no description, just QTE), but no one has been able to change the first person shooter fundamentally.

I mean, we have been playing as Shooty McPistolhands since forever now, no?. Now don’t get the wrong idea. We’ve been playing the same perspective, not the same genre. There have been straight up shooters, on rail shooters, RPGs, stealth and even brawlers in this perspective. But the perspective has not fundamentally changed. You are still an amorphous pair of hands, doing nasty things to (hopefully) evil people.

This isn’t to say that the perspective is broken, but truth be told it isn’t real. When I walk down a street, I don’t see my hands in front of me all the time, and my peripheral vision sure as shit is better than that. I also see the edges of any visor/helmet thing I wear, though why I would wear such a things is questionable.

Safety first?
Safety first?

And yet that perspective, that view of seeing the game world works, persists, and keeps on troubling me with random World War 2 or Afghanistan scenarios.

One argument is, of course that this makes me feel like I AM that guy. That is utter bollocks for everyone but marketing people, and marketing people are evil. I do not for a minute think I am Gordon Freeman or nameless muppet soldier. I am Serious Sam, with Mrs. Serious Sam (though with the way she treats gaming she’s Mrs. Very Serious Sam, which leads me to think of Lolcats. A man’s gotta have hobbies.) shouting at me to eat food, and I am killing these virtual beings because hahaha they ‘splode funny. Maybe 12 year old boys who trick their parents into buying them18 rated games think they are Shooty McPistolhands, but because some parents refuse to educate themselves about their child’s vicious doings is no reason for a genre or perspective to exist.

Marketing dude or a man who got his parents to buy him GTA when he was 5? The latter, but he now works as a former.

The other argument, of course is that it make you see the world better. I would actually tend to believe that if I was a one eyed pirate dwarf from Middle Earth who has not seen more his ship’s masthead and some rocks at any given point. I mean filmmaking 101, right? The more you pull the camera away, the more you see. It’s like magic!

So what remains? That it makes for entertaining gameplay? Sure, but have you played Modern Warfacre 2? How in the world is that entertaining. Clearly entertainment is a factor of well made games, and not a sole purview of how you see the virtual space.

I think the strongest argument that leaps at me is that seeing just the gun and the mark is like Zen shit, or like Arjun only seeing the eye of the bird. “All I see is my target, master”. Though of course, that theory has broken down after modern games choose to dress your target with all sorts of accoutrements like EXPLODING barrels.

I guess ultimately the perspective isn’t the question, what matters is what you do with it. It’s just a bone. Like Carl Weathers said, “There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. Now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you’ve got a stew going. ”

With modern First Person games, they have enough of a stew going, I guess, though one of these days I’d love to see a truly ballsy First Person game. And I don’t mean like Left 4 Dead, which was a ballsy move as a business, but like Zeno Clash, which has fucking balls of IRON.

Ultimately you might think I made a random post just so that I could quote Arrested Development, and that is true. Because, why not?

Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 in 3D

Where I review the immensely great value 3D double bill of one of the best films ever:

Toy Story 3D

Oh my God Woody was totally kidding but Buzz fell anyway and then they saved each other and then Woody was like you’re flying and Buzz was like no I’m falling with style and then Al stole Woody and Buzz had to save him but there was an evil emperor and an evil toy but then they save Jessie and everyone is so happy and also Mrs. Potato Head.


More at Fullhyd.

Sherlock Holmes

Where I review the new Sherlock Holmes film.

Sherlock Holmes

I can find faults with the film all day, but I can equally find good things to say about Downey Jr.’s and Law’s amazing work. Sherlock Holmes is not a flawless film, but it is immensely enjoyable, and definite good times at the cinemas. It doesn’t require you to keep your brains at home, but neither does it necessarily stimulate it. It’s the Holmes-as-action-superhero conceit, and it works stunningly.

More at Fullhyd.

Top 5 “that guy”s in Bollywood

I do utterly love Bolly and all other woods that come from India especially the rambunctiousness about that cinema ( like there is an impishness about Korean cinema, or a quiet dignity about Iranian) that is definitive of my Indian-ness.

Coming to the point of the post however, there is something about the underdog that has always appealed to me. it’s the quintessential human interest story, is it not? The guys in the fringe who make an impact. The filler with teeth; the guys who put support in supporting.

Here then, is my selection of 5 of the most impactful “that guy” s from Bollywood masala filmdom. The rules are simple:
1. They must not be bonafide supporting actors (so no love for Aruna Irani or Paresh Rawal. too famous)
2. They must not have transcended from that guy ness to genuine recognition including awards or a mainstream fanbase. This is a underdog story after all, non? Also excluded are fallen character actors. (bye bye Rajpal Yadav)
3. This is the most important rule, I think: their presence in the film has to mean good times all around. They cannot be good actors who can’t pick a role. I see this guy lurking in a promo and I am lining up at the cinemas, or at least interested in the DVD, because of him. (This, sadly precludes all those faces you see all the time, but can’t name or care to name. I kind of don’t like that, but I have to limit the list to 5. so long, Sanjay Dutt’s trainer)
4. They have to be professional that guys. That guy in a less than 10 flicks won’t cut it.
5. Lastly, I am removing all cameos and item numbers ( good riddance, Robin Bhatt)

Too much preamble , too less filmy-ness! Onwards, I say:

5. Raja Bundela
This Guy:

Kaafi Bada Hai

He’s just likable. Affable charm, goofy persona, and a cool demeanor. They tried giving him mainstream roles, but he kept on falling down to being the smiling guy just to the right of the ‘hero’.
Why he’s awesome: There’s absolutely no character he cannot build sympathy for. He’s been slapped silly in stupid Govinda films (although he does get to dance in khaki shorts), offed in horrible ways by villains looking to score one up on the hero, and sometimes, just sometimes acted with dubious moral character that got him into way too much trouble than he bargained for. And yet you just look at that goofy smile, think of a cute pup, and go “Awww”
Shining Moment: Should have been Arjun. Or maybe even Ankush. But it wasn’t. He will forever be the guy in that lovely advertisement on Doordarshan that was way ahead of it’s time. Raja Bundela is taking a shower, stops mid soaping lathering session, looks down (yes, they go there, but wait for it…) and looks back at the camera and says: “Sachmuch, kaafi bada hai”. If there was a list of advertisements with thinly veiled innuendo that paved way for the pornography visited upon us on a daily basis (not that I’m complainin’), this ad would make that list. Beloved that guy, forever to be remembered for something that was not meant to be dirty (but let’s face it: it probably was).

4. Rana Jung Bahadur
This guy:
Photo Courtesy Beth Loves Bollywood
Photo courtesy Beth Loves Bollywood. Forgive, Beth. It is hard to find his face.

Better known to me and my friends as “Jaaju” (see below), this man has made it his business to play every bumbling idiot villain as well as every horror movie cliche. All that remains in his stalwart body of that guy work is to play the bikin clad girl in blood shower, I suppose.

Why he’s awesome: First of all, the name. That’s an awesome and classy name. To top it, there is nothing classy about this man.There is no depth to which he will not plumb in the service of horrible that guy acting. He’s extremely physical though. Using his huge eyes and body and a voice that cannot but remind us of the Punjabi Physics tuition teacher we all had to it’s utmost extent, his presence means at least 15 minutes of fun times of extremely questionable taste.

Shining Moment: He’s played umpteen horror Ramsey bros. cliche characters, but I remember most for his portrayal of Bajaj, aka Jaaju, the quivering idiot of an assistant in Mahaul Theek Hai.

It’s not the terrible acting, it’s the howlarious lines he spews including “Ouno Inni Chamm Jhaado” with a straight face that has cemented him in my head. Check out his full range of constipated facial expressions in this clip here. Make no mistake – he is terrible, but he deserves a spot on this list.
I wish I could have included Vivek Shauq in this list – but he’s done fairly drab roles in nondescript films that Jaaju trumps him.

3. Razak Khan
This Guy:
Ninja Uncle
He has done nothing but bad roles. Weak ass gangster who thinks he is pimp is his forte.

Why he’s awesome: But what forte it is! He owns the weak gangster waiting for a bitch slap to go all crumbling weasel howling kitten on us. And he’ll take one from anyone – when Farooq Sheikh can call your bluff, you’re really asking for it. But don’t take my word for it. Hit his imdb page and gape at the awesomeness of the names of his characters. Usman Kujli. Babu Karela. Rajjo Tabela. He’s even played a character called Qutub Minar.

Shining Moment:

It probably would be a tie between his Ninja Chacha (watch above video straight at the point where he unleashes his awesome here) or the straight up cynic Keshav in Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raaja.
I don’t have a video, but bad movie aficionados will remember the part where Anil “Black Forest Cake” Kapoor meets Jugraj for the first time. AK smarms his way into Kher’s trust, but Keshav the smart one (!) is having nothing of that. He quickly retorts: “Isko kuch nahin maloom hai, iske kandhe per to kabootar hai” (The man knows nothing; he has a pigeon on his shoulder). Oh Razak Khan, you teach us all. You teach us so much.
AK and Kabootar
Men with Pigeons on shoulder clearly know nothing.

2. Sudhir
This Guy:
Sudhir beefcake for breakfast, girls.
If there was someone perfect to dub Christian Bale’s ridiculous Batman voice in the Batman and Terminator films, Sudhir is it. His gravelly voice and almost always surly demeanour has lent themselves to a certain niche that only he filled, and that remains empty even now.

Why he’s awesome: Contrary to what you may think Sudhir was never rape king. Heck, he wasn’t even minor rape fiend. However! He was almost always lecherous. This distinction is important, because you cannot love rapists. (Bollywood doesn’t know that yet, but hopefully you’ll tell them.) Sorry losers whoslip on their own drool over a woman, with no obvious hope in hell – that’s a hard task too, but when it’s Sudhir, you can’t help but guffaw. There is no question what’s on his mind, but he’s not gonna get there. is he?
Despite the above stereotype, he has played enough loud angry Hulk Smash characters that make his list of roles quite multifaceted. Actually, I prefer him in his angry hulk mode more, because it’s always good times.

Shining Moment: Would have to be Satte Pe Satta. Of the brothers playing each day of the week, he is the surly, angry, shrieking and bellicose Monday. Not only does he completely symbolise Mondays, his pining for a girl this time around has an innocence to it that will never again be captured on film.

1. Sharat Saxena

This Guy:
The 'stache
He’s no Anil Kapoor or Raja Sen, but what a ‘stache, non?
This guy is the Stephen Lang of Bollywood. Not because he is a Shakespearean thespian, but because when you need a strong willed man with enough charisma to fill a frame to come and chew entire mountains of scenery and yet remain authentic, you call this man.

Why he’s awesome: Even when he was just a dude up against Mithun in a boxing ring, he was a formidable physical presence and a world weary ire that simmered on the surface. The go-to guy to play suave 2nd ring villains (never a henchman, but a deputy in his own right) called Daga or Doga or some such, his physicality was a menace and his presence a welcome relief over the minus-personality heroes of the time. That he always held his own against the likes of Mithun, Anil Kapoor, and Rajnikanth makes him THE that guy.
Champion, they say. Truth.
Guess who is Champion RaghuRaj?
In the aforementioned film about boxing with Mithun, he basically played Apollo Creed. And when a man out Apollo Creeds Apollo Creed, that there’s a truck full of awesome.
If memory serves correctly, he also has the distinction of being one of the few people who offed Rajnikanth in a film. How many people can boast of being awesome-er than Rajni, if only for dodgy script requirements? Using his powers for good and not evil, he also did some not so memorable character roles, but always, always with the enjoyable screen presence and the promise of a fun half hour.

Shining Moment:
Would be when he punches the living shit out of a whiny Aamir Khan:

Ostensibly, the film had him as the lead bad guy, but the real villain of the ill-conceived copy of On the Waterfront was Aamir’s past. Sharat still steps up to the plate and delivers a physical performance like no other. And look at him. That man’s huge.
Of course this would have made him a known guy over a “that guy”, but this film, apart from making Rani Mukherjea popular, did nothing. And poor Sharat was yet again left playing the old sullen guy with only half an idea what people are up to; twirling his moustache at them, going “Bah! Humbug!”

So there we are. These are my favourite underdogs of Hindi cinema. Some are camp, some are genuinely awesome. Some I just enjoy watching on screen. But all of them are faces you have seen and possibly ignored all your lives. Anyone I left out criminally?

Disappointments of 2009 part I – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2

I am a very shooty kind of guy, I used to think. I like being plonked in the first person view, seeing my burly forearms and wrists, and shoot things that move.
If it looks angry, shoot it. Heck if it moves, shoot it. You know the sort? I always thought that is what I am. I prided myself in knowing exactly why mastery of control and craft lies in the hands on Valve and Infinity Ward, and no one else.

Nothing I knew about myself has been proven wrong, exactly. But I AM thoroughly surprised by why so few people have not mentioned this: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is rubbish.

RPS’s analysis of the No Russian level is bang on as far an analysis of a controversial level goes, but really, they didn’t come out and say this. Or maybe I missed this. In any case, the truth is that I really, really feel that the game is rubbish.

Of course I am only talking about the Single Player campaign here. The multiplayer is a thing of beauty. glitches aside, the crack of shooting things that move to get better and unlock better things to shoot people with is as addictive as ever, and works phenomenally. I could berate it for being too small (9v9? in 2009?), or lack of features other modern shooters have (no cover system, really? Are they still living in 2002?), but that would be unfair. They didn’t set out to make that game that eclipses all features. They knew what they could do well, and delivered a polished experience. It’s insanely fun, this multiplayer game, honestly.

But really, what were they thinking when they set out to make that single player game? First off, it completely robs the entire series of gravitas by going all James Bond on us. It was the same issue that could have been leveled at MW the First, but that game still kept intact the sense of being part of a bigger whole. Modern Warfare 2? That is not a nasty war business. It is jumping off a ski slope on a snowmobile shooting people in the face. It is infiltrating a Russian prison, killing all the guards, and escaping on a zip line while rockets fire all around you. It’s not war in it’s emotional gravity – it’s a Michael Bay movie with no consequences.

Which would probably have been fine by itself. But they wanted to bring that emotional depth despite not having the backbone to support it. So they created the cipher of a level that is No Russian. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said about it – it’s vacuous, and has no heft to it as a storytelling device.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Not that the storytelling has anything to it that would need clever devices. It’s downright stupid. Insulting, even. One entire mission has you take command of an SAS team trying to infiltrate a prison to rescue a “guy” who the arch villain apparently hates. Really? That’s your incentive? The enemy of my enemy is my best bud? The last act twist is so asinine that it actually, honestly makes no sense.

The gameplay is sweet, admittedly, but purely on a controls-mechanics-events level. The craft is solid. The design is barely there. At 5 hours of play on Normal mode, I would have expected more from the game experience itself. It’s nothing, it’s faff. The worst part? No one’s called IW’s or Activision’s bluff, though, and I am doing it now. For 74 Dollars, it literally is a rip-off, and a sub par game. There is no doubting the production quality, but the game just isn’t up to snuff. The multiplayer redeems the price point, but it does not redeem the single player experience.

Consider your self finger wagged at and chagrined, Infinity Ward! My not-read blog has chastised you.

(Bah. Humbug.)