Swords and Soldiers II is a unique take on real-time strategy gameplay that permutes the established formulas equally as much as it simplifies them. The result is an accessible—yet satisfyingly challenging—game which feels just as frenzied as the typical RTS title, but which can be enjoyed in bite-sized portions.
7 hours 43 minutes ago
9 hours 51 minutes ago
Fandor.com: An Indie Film Lover’s Dream within a Stream
Mainstream cinema, much like mainstream gaming, is set in its particular ways. Stories are rarely off the beaten path and the rollercoaster ride stories that mainstream cinema put together rarely break form due to money making structures that have been set up. Again, it’s like mainstream gaming where a first-person shooter is defined by certain attributes and deviating from those attributes might turn off gamers, thus turning off money flow.
Why am I telling you this? Because sometimes the folks who shove off the mainstream way of doing things and wave goodbye to traditional methods of storytelling might just have the next big idea. In fact, the idea might be so fresh and new that we don’t know that it’s the next big thing because our heads are clogged full of patterns and structures that have been defined over and over again.
What I am getting at is independent films and independent games generally start the spark that erupts into something new and something big. I’ve been writing and reporting on movies and games for almost two decades now and I have seen these things play out before. I’ve seen the Blair Witch-type camera work and story forms bloom into big blockbusters like the Paranormal Activity series. It generally starts out unconventional and forms into normality.
Again, why am I yammering on about all of these things? Because all moviegoers and gamers should look for things off the beaten path. Should shun normality once in a while and try to find fresh content. One place has taken that strategy and built its entire structure around delivering new, fresh, and sometimes classic movies for the indie crowd.
It’s a website that blends the streaming capabilities of Netflix with a large database of information like IMDB.com. It’s a website that is dedicated to the independent filmmaker, and that brings a variety of films, shorts and documentaries from around the world to you in one nice portal. You get a blend of movies that are put together from people who don’t have to deal with the egos of the big named stars and that are solely and most likely telling a unique story in generally an unconventional manner. It’s the type of material that won’t make it to your local theater or be instantly considered for Netflix or Hulu streaming.
Fandor.com houses fresh material that gives you a large spectrum of entertainment choices. It’s pretty amazing having spent the last few weeks checking it out.
Features, Indies and Classics
The first thing I noticed upon logging in is that I had no idea about any of the films on the homepage. I had no idea what Danton (1983) was about, nor would I have gone searching for it prior to Fandor. I had no idea that a 2010 film called Coyote existed, which is about the inner demons of a heroin addict coming to life. From Asian cinema to animated films, most of what I witnessed was all new to me, mostly because it wasn’t mainstream and there was little to no marketing budget to make it close to being mainstream.
Guess what? That is completely okay.
Some of the best material that you have never seen resides on Fandor. This is like the Steam of streaming sites, where you can find independent material that is just waiting to bud into a giant amount of success, even the stuff that is past its prime. Again, lots of unfamiliar film faces on Fandor, which put me out of my movie comfort zone.
Having said all this, Fandor does also cater to classic films that have been on the radar for most movie goers. For example, the first film I streamed on the site was Buster Keaton’s The General, which looked superb in high-definition. As a youngster in college, this was a film that was consistently kept and repeated in multiple film classes. It’s a classic movie that displays the prowess of Buster Keaton and his amazing stunts. Another feature that was mainstream, at least by the casting, was Zulu Dawn (1979) featuring Burt Lancaster, Bob Hoskins, Peter O’Toole and Simon Ward. Certainly there is a star-studded cast there, but you may not have been searching for a film about The Battle of Isandlwana, but it’s there and you could probably learn a thing or two from it.
Anyway, the streaming films featured on Fandor are a wide variety that are mostly made up of the foreign and independent types. Some of them have been out before on various formats (Kino Lorber released The General on Blu-ray a few years back), but most are new to the world, the streaming world and schmoes like me. Finding hidden gems within a sea of creativity on Fandor is what makes the site interesting on one level.
What’s the other level of interest for this site outside of streaming? The info!
A wealth of information
Each film comes with a synopsis, as well as some detailed information about the production (nothing too in-depth). You also get a full cast listing, awards that the film has won and an opportunity to do a review for the film. It’s a neat concept, especially the last part, where people can chime in about their feelings towards the movie. This is like a mini-version of IMDB that is embedded directly onto the movie page. Information and opinions are certainly abundant.
Now, what’s particularly interesting about the movie pages is that they connect you to other films that are related to the film you just watched. For example, while I love Buster Keaton, I don’t have all his movie titles memorized (I can barely remember my kids names some days). On The General’s movie page, there is a category called ‘Related Films’, which details almost all of Fandor’s Buster Keaton movies — and it is an extensive list. You can jump from one Keaton film to the next pretty easily. I like that convenience and I’m sure fans of Keaton will as well. The metadata used by Fandor must be picked and pulled with a fine-tooth comb, so kudos to the site for having a nice searchable database.
Outside of related films, there is an option for Keyframe articles (Fandor runs an online magazine called Keyframe) related to the production. Keyframe contains articles, videos and podcasts in relation to productions, genres, filmmakers, influences and just a bevy of different types of topics. Honestly speaking, this is probably a film teacher’s dream when it comes to unique content and perspective. While I can’t say the metadata matches up perfectly with the movie you may have just watched, it still brings some great topics to the table.
All about the audience
One of the more unique aspects of Fandor, and something that might set the tone for future Netflix/Hulu services, is the community that it has built. The big part of it, at least the most easily accessible, is the review portion that the community can participate in. Having the ability to give your two-bits to the world is a big deal (ask Metacritic). If the reviewer is good enough, and apparently watches many films on Fandor, they might get the opportunity to have their words pushed out in a more open and prominent manner by being featured on a page called ‘Top Movie Reviews’. Taking those reviews, picking the best of the best and then openly advertising/publishing them to the world is just an easy invite to attract a talkative movie crowd — and we know how talkative movie goers can be (editor’s note: ask DC writers Brandon Parker and Frank Hummel).
Outside of reviewing, Fandor also offers up an open door policy for budding filmmakers to submit their work for streaming consideration. That is absolutely amazing and certainly a big draw to join the site. Hell, you may not even have to join the site for that luxury. Getting one’s name and potential moving making talents out there for the world to see is a great step towards a bigger horizon. I’m not sure how the selection committee works and how pieces are judged, but the fact that Fandor provides that option gives great incentive to be a part of the community it has built. I know a lot of students would probably drool at the opportunity to have their work shown on this type of audience scale.
On top of all this, Fandor also has community events and a presence at quite a few film festivals, so whoever is their branding directors, they do a great job with being where they need to be to get the name out.
Anyway, Fandor seems to really want to open up for its audience. The way it looks currently, it’s paving new ground for a community and indie filmmaker experiences. Mark it down, Netflix and Hulu will follow suit once this takes off — and it will take off.
A bit of a 'Fan' now
Like I stated previously, I didn’t know what to expect from this indie film site beyond that it streamed movies I may not have known existed. The brilliance of Fandor isn’t solely within the independent, international or classic films it brings to the table. Certainly that brings new perspective to people, like myself, who have been riding the mainstream movie wave for some time. The real underlying genius with Fandor.com is how it has been constructed to serve as a movie theater, a movie database and place where people can come together to discuss and dissect movies. Having the ability to stop one place for all your information and needs is what will make Fandor great, as it will set new standards for streaming sites everywhere.
More to come, good folks. Check this site out when you have time.
9 hours 55 minutes ago
Ultra Street Fighter IV is a wonderful appetizer for the impending Street Fighter V. SFIV is a proof-of-concept to how a Street Fighter game can turn out when built and utilized properly on big time hardware.
22 hours 10 minutes ago
Don't Starve: Giant Edition
Don’t Starve is a weird and wonderful jaunt through a purgatorial wilderness. With the Reign of Giants DLC, there’s enough content for even well-seasoned Don’t Starve players. The brutal and unforgiving permadeath mechanic heightens tension and emphasizes player prudence. The lack of stylus and touch controls feels like a real missed opportunity to advantage of the platform’s primary peripheral.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Beta Event Impressions
Gliding, mushroom bouncing, and lots of enemies converging on your location in the dead of night. Read on about how the Heart of Thorns Beta went.
Whether you found your way into Verdant Brink via the in-game Portal ticket drop, or were able to receive access through the newsletter updates, players of Guild Wars 2 yesterday found themselves up at all hours to experience a Beta Test for the upcoming expansion, Heart of Thorns. With three, 2-hour sessions happening through Tuesday afternoon and night, players franticly ran and flew across the new map to see what the expansion will be like. Unfortunately though, it was met with some mixed commentary.
Keep in mind, Beta testing events for games are supposed to be times that developers open the gates of their projects and allow the gamers to help them in identifying potential exploits, bugs, and assist in fixing outright broken systems. While people report that the most recent Beta was a lot smoother than ArenaNet's previous Beta, there were definitely still bugs abundant. Between event chains that anyone could disrupt all progress forward,Bouncing Mushrooms that flung you across the map, or killing enemies by spamming your glider just by jumping, there is no doubt ArenaNet got good quality testing and reports in that will help the final product advance further.
But in the present day, Beta Tests have also become a public spectacle for people to get an idea of what they will experience later upon release (ideally minus the bugs). And it is because of this that people left the Beta disheartened with the lack of content and the lack of new information.
So what did we get to see?
Players got to experience the day/night cycle ANet has been talking about for a while. Spend the daytime in Verdant Brink advancing your forces and to take outposts. Come night however, the minions of the jungle dragon, Mordrem, will appear in droves to destroy the rally points. Advancing the battle lines with successful event completion is something I've always loved about regions such as Orr, and partially with the Silverwastes. To add tactical reasons for specific events to trigger only improves this further. It's smart for the Mordrem to attack in the cover of darkness, and terrifying to see how many enemies there are. While the night events felt very chaotic and scattered, I think that's part of the feel Anet was trying to go for. The unpredictable nature and chaos of a war at night as the enemy advances, but you cannot see them.
We also got to see some improved animations for the gliding mechanic.The first time I got to pop open my glider after jumping off a cliff above a bottomless chasm was amazing. Coupled with gliding, we got to experience the new mastery system again with a revamped UI. Being the first time I got to experience the mastery system, and despite following the updates about the expansion very closely, I found myself having to take awhile to figure out what needed to be done in terms of masteries.
Essentially, once you reach max level in Guild Wars 2, you select a mastery to train up. Every time you receive experience used for leveling in the game, you now progress the mastery track. Once you have enough experience, you can spend a mastery point (essentially intractable skill points like we know now) to unlock a new perk of the mastery. Setup to feel like a Metroid or Zelda experience, you will find items and people in the HoT zones that you will be able to interact with after you trained up a mastery. It gives you a feeling of "I don't have the necessary equipment yet to do this, but if I adventure elsewhere, I will be able to come back later".
The worry I have in terms of masteries in the Beta, I feel more hampered and gated to those intractable. An example would do better to explain: I need experience to progress in the mastery. There is an event happening on another floor of the ruins above me. I could use the bouncing mushroom to get there quickly if I had the mastery. Instead, I have to find the very obscure and tough to see staircase tucked away that leads me up 4 flights of stairs to reach the event, only to find the event done by the time I get there. No experience, no progress. Not only will it take a bit of a grind to get the appropriate experience needed to traverse the jungle, but also a lot of exploring to unlock the additional mastery points once the expansion ships.
Finally getting to play the new Revenant profession, the class felt very slow and clunky, unlike all the other professions in the game. Do note however, the stats and build we were assigned with for all characters were not optimal and resulted in some low damage overall against the mobs of enemies. Additionally, the class has not fully been fleshed out just yet, but that is part of the main problem.
Players got to experience the new day/night cycle, a slightly expanded map, and a few more dynamic events. Nothing much was really learned. While having to rush through with the limited 2 hour window, and while being slowed down by the jungle itself, the result is what we see from ArenaNet for their marketing; a very slow, drawn out process. I feel bad for the people that spent days/weeks for a RNG ticket drop for this Beta event and to at the very most play 6 hours of content that will be deleted from their account.
There is a lot still that ANet needs to cover in terms of what is coming with the expansion, but with the initial announcement being long past, players are disappointed, anxious, and excited all at the same time. There are many mixed feelings, but it is all because we want to see Heart of Thorns in its final, complete form as soon as possible. I am are truly excited to see what it brings. While I may be critical of the Beta, it is because I want and expect the best from a fantastic company like ArenaNet, and I know that they will deliver.
"Splatoon" is everything you could want out of a new Nintendo IP. It somehow manages to be both cute and cool. It freshens a well-traveled genre with a neat game mechanic. The only thing holding it back could be Nintendo: the Wii U Gamepad's battery life is weak, the online battle modes are presently limited by a rotation system that takes choice away from players and the overall amount of content is lacking outside of the weapons and gear customization. If the company supports “Splatoon” as they say they will, though, we could very well be talking about these Inklings for a long, long time.
Bandai Namco Entertainment bringing Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment and Lost Song to America in 2015
Good news for 'Merica. Check out the details below.
SAN JOSE, Calif., (May 27, 2015) – BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. today announces that Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment will be coming to the Americas exclusively through PSN for the PlayStation®4 in summer 2015. The company is also pleased to announce that Sword Art Online: Lost Song is scheduled to launch at retail stores in the Americas for the PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®Vita in fall 2015.
“Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment and Sword Art Online: Lost Song are both poised to bring the action and rich story of the highly popular Sword Art Online anime to life on the PlayStation family of consoles,” said Chris Gilbert, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. “The popularity of the light novel and anime have been growing at an astonishing rate and we’re excited to add the Sword Art Online franchise to our company’s illustrious roster of popular anime games.”
Both Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment and Sword Art Online: Lost Song feature original stories based on the light novel and anime Sword Art Online. Both games follow the simulated Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (VRMMORPG) gameplay from the Sword Art Online storyline. In Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment, players will play as the main character, Kirito, and fight through all the levels of Aincrad to break free from being locked within the virtual game world. Players with save data from the PlayStation®Vita version of the game on will be pleased to learn that some items from that game will be transferrable to the PlayStation®4; additionally DLC from the PlayStation®Vita title will be unlockable on the PlayStation®4 at a later date. Sword Art Online: Lost Song is the third Sword Art Online console game adaption featuring a completely original storyline within the succeeding VRMMORPG called ALfheim Online.
Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment is scheduled to release digitally in the Americas for the PlayStation®4 in summer 2015. Sword Art Online: Lost Song is slated for a retail release on the PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®Vita in fall 2015.
Obsidian and My.com's Armored Warfare hits one million during early access
Check out the goods for Armored Warfare below.
Obsidian Entertainment and My.com are pleased to announce that more than 1 million gamers have signed up to be part of the Early Access Tests for Armored Warfare, the upcoming tank multiplayer action game, which officially commences today. To celebrate, a brand new trailer has been released! The First Early access test will be taking place from May 27th, 2015 to June 3rd, 2015 from 8pm – 11pm ET on weekdays and 7pm – midnight ET on weekends. The first round of the Early Access testing contains following features:
- 38 vehicles from multiple countries of tiers 1 to 6 (including 11 MBT’s, 4 light tanks, 5 tank destroyers, 13 AFV’s and 5 SPG’s) - 4 PvP maps (Cold Strike, Port Storm, River Point and Ghost Field) - Updated artillery system (including new point of view, counter-battery indicator and incoming artillery warning) - Commander and crew skills - Multiple tank upgrades (including smoke grenades and ERA) - Two tank dealers (Sofie Wolfli and Marat Shishkin) - Wide range of shells to use against your opponents - A clan (“battalion”) system and a platoon system - Achievement system (for excellent performance in combat)
Players who register at www.armoredwarfare.com will have a chance to be selected to join the Early Access Tests or they can follow the Armored Warfare social channels to discover how else to join. Gamers can join the Early Access battle today by purchasing one of the Founder’s Packs at http://aw.my.com/us/founders-packs.
The first Armored Warfare Early Access test kickstarts a series of tests that will eventually lead to the upcoming Open Beta. The Early Access is a part of the Armored Warfare gameplay testing process and is not representative of the finished product. The game is still in development and Obsidian Entertainment will be continuing to make the gameplay experience better, optimizing performance and balance and adding more vehicles, maps and features.
"Splatoon" is everything you could want out of a new Nintendo IP. It somehow manages to be both cute and cool. It freshens a well-traveled genre with a neat game mechanic. The only thing holding it back could be Nintendo: the Wii U Gamepad's battery life is weak, the online battle modes are presently limited by a rotation system that takes choice away from players and
2 days ago
Ultra Street Fighter IV is a wonderful appetizer for the impending Street Fighter V. SFIV is a proof-of-concept to how a Street Fighter game can turn out when built and utilized properly on big time hardware.
2 days ago
2 days ago
Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle heading to DVD
Who doesn't love a curious monkey? Check out the details for the third film below.
Launch into the adventure of a lifetime with everyone’s favorite monkey in this all-new movie, Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle! When Curious George is asked to take part in a very important space mission, a little monkeying around forces him to crash-land in Africa. While a worried Man with the Yellow Hat searches for him, Curious George bravely explores the jungle and makes new animal friends along the way. Reunited at last, the two best pals have an unforgettable adventure shared with their new friends! Featuring the voice talents of Angela Bassett & John Goodman, with music by the Plain White T’s, join Curious George on his fun-filled journey that the whole family will enjoy!
The soundtrack will be available June 23, 2015 on Back Lot Music, featuring the new original song “Welcome to Paradise” performed by Plain White T’s and score by composer Heitor Pereira (DESPICABLE ME, MINIONS).