Battlefield 3: GDC 11 “Fault Line” Gameplay Trailer


This week has been quite the busy couple days over here in San Francisco. The Games Developers Conference (GDC for short) for 2011 is in town and being held over at the Moscone Convention Center. This conference is one of the biggest for industry insiders and games developers. While most of the stuff talked about in the conference are stuff that really only developers and publishers would understand and find interesting, the conference has also become a sort of launching point for announcing future titles for the different gaming platforms.

One such game which just had it’s first gameplay trailer introduced to much acclaim is the first-person shooter title from EA and DICE: Battlefield 3. This series has been one of the more popular games on the PC and has made major in-roads into console gaming. 2010’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2 received universal acclaim and some had even seen it as a title that could possibly dethrone Activision’s juggernaut franchise: Call of Duty. While said dethroning didn’t happen gamers and pundits still saw the Battlefield franchise as the one to finally take on that Activision jugger and actually win. It just may take the next title, Battlefield 3, to do it.

This trailer is all gameplay and has no prerendered scenes. What people see in the trailer is exactly how the game will look (at least for the PC. Whether the 360 or the PS3 will look just as good only this summer’s E3 can answer). The game will be using DICE’s latest graphics engine, the Frostbite 2.0 which will allow for a more realistic and fluid motion for all the people in the game. This title will also be the first one to utilize Frostbite 2.0.

As much as I enjoy playing the Call of Duty titles I do see how some have started to see how stale it’s starting to get. Activision hasn’t been challenged in so long that they really haven’t improved much on how the franchise plays. Maybe EA and DICE releasing Battlefield 3 and delivering on all they’ve promised will give Activision the kick in the ass it needs to keep the Call of Duty from becoming the Guitar Hero of military first-person shooters.

Captain America: Red Skull Revealed


Just a little under a month ago Marvel Studios released the first official picture of Steve Rogers as Captain America. Ths was just days before the first teaser trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger made its debut during the Super Bowl telecast. With talk of the first official full trailer for this film just around the bend Marvel Studios has continued to tease fans by releasing through Entertainment Weekly the first official picture of Captain’s nemesis: Johann Schmidt as the Red Skull (played by the always very good Hugo Weaving).

To say that Joe Johnstone and his crew of skilled artisans got Red Skull down correctly would be an understatement. The first time I saw the image late this morning any doubt I had about this film was just blown away. They got the look and attitude of the Red Skull down exactly as I had pictured him in my head. The make-up effects to make Hugo Weaving look like the Red Skull doesn’t look fake from that picture and seeing it in motion would only enhance it.

The film is still set for a July 22, 2011 release and the wait until then will be difficult as Marvel and Paramount continues to release more and more tidbits to whet the appetites of fans.

Also, I want that coat he’s wearing. That’s a badass attire.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Review: Turisas – Stand Up and Fight


Turisas’s last release, The Varangian Way, got my vote for album of the year in 2007. It was a concept album, as so many monumental releases have been, telling the story of a band of viking soldiers of fortune traveling through Kievan Rus, intent on joining Byzantium’s Varangian Guard. Through sweeping symphonics, gritty folk, and a small but significant dose of progressive rock, the travelers encounter new lands, pass through Veliky Novgorod, party hard in king Yaroslav’s court, long for home while daring Dnieper rapids, and eventually arrive at the most majestic city in the world. (The back cover of the album is a map of Russia with each track title placed in its relevant location.) The lyrics might be shallow at times, and the English of questionable quality, but Turisas harness the power of names in a way I’ve never encountered before. When the central character raises “a toast to our generous host . . . ruler of Rus from coast to coast”, it’s the chanting of the Norse rendering of his name–Jarisleif! Jarisleif!–that really drills home the ruler’s greatness. The final, triumphal ending never mentions “Constantinople”. Nygård shouts “Tsargrad!” The chorus responds with “Konstantinopolis!” “The Golden Horn lives up to its name.” And the final resounding proclamation: “Great walls! Great halls! Greatest of all, Miklagard!”

I think it is the historic allusions, and the intensity with which they are employed, that really tip the scales from mere greatness to a masterpiece. If you have any fascination with history, you can’t help but be sucked in.

Stand Up and Fight is not nearly so consistant. At face value it certainly appears to be a continuation of the concept album. Hagia Sophia graces the cover. The opening track is called “The March of the Varangian Guard”, and the final track “The Bosphorus Freezes Over”. After a few listens, I caught on that, these three references aside, the album really has nothing to do with The Varangian Way. If you dig into the lyrics though, there are a few other Easter eggs.

The track most musically reminiscent of The Varangian Way is Venetoi! Prasinoi!

(Due to some bs copywrite issue you’ll have to click the link to hear this one.)

It’s a song about a chariot race, something I tend to associate with earlier Roman culture. If you plug “Venetoi” into wikipedia though, it redirects you specifically to the “Byzantine era” subsection of chariot racing. The use of lesser known names though isn’t at all emphasized like it is in The Varangian Way. The allusions are more subtle, meant I think to give a feeling of continuity without forcing the band to focus exclusively on one general topic. Track title aside, this song could take place in Rome proper.

Of course, The Varangian Way’s lyrics were dubious at times–(What the hell does the Nile river have to do with traveling through Rus to Constantinople?)–and their English was, if usually grammatically sound, not always quite on the mark. In the absence of allusions and grand proclamations, this is much more apparent on Stand Up and Fight. Consider Fear the Fear.

It opens with the lines “Bravery, as we’ve seen on TV: Explosions and swords, hot girls in reward.” How awkward is that? The song continues on with more words than most, and I’m pretty sure they’re attempting to convey some sort of message, but I don’t have a clue what it is. Yet the awkwardness isn’t always a bad thing. Skip to the last minute, and you’ll hear Nygård screaming “Die! Die you sucker! Let me go! Let me free motherfucker!” The way he does it, it’s just as cool as it is corny. It reminds me of Devin Townsend and Mikael Akerfeldt’s epic duet at the end of Ayreon’s “Loser”. … Well, that’s really a stretch, but that song is fucking awesome in ways I can barely comprehend, and I’ll take any excuse to link it:

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Corny lyrics also play a hand in my favorite song on the album, Hunting Pirates.

(Due to some bs copywrite issue you’ll have to click the link to hear this one.)

Ok, first of all, it’s called Hunting Pirates. What the hell? The stuff Nygård babbles is ridiculous. “Kill them all! Let them die! Scum they are! Foe of mankind!” The music though, and his vocal style, are so fun that the cheese is almost a good thing. Besides, when he shouts “It is you who are the bad guys!” he’s not necessarily out to save the world. Plenty of folk metal bands are equally ridiculous, Turisas just take the less popular side. If if was a song about being a pirate, I’d laugh at the lines and not think twice about them.

My verdict on Stand Up and Fight: It’s catchy. It’s corny. It’s not The Varangian Way, but it’s miles beyond Battle Metal. Bare with the lyrics; they definitely overextend themselves in contemplation a few times, but for the most part it might only be their cultivation of a “good guy” persona that makes them appear any worse for wear than Alestorm’s demands for “more wenches and mead.” I mean, when I saw them live Nygård was chugging a bottle of vodka throughout the set.

Oh, while I was looking around youtube for functional links (without much success) I did find this: