Aug. 06, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.
Last month, filmmaker and J.R.R. Tolkien ambassador Peter Jackson made his final appearance at San Diego’s Comic-Con International to promote one of his feature film adaptations of the literary master’s work. But December’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” wasn’t the only project inspired by the imagined geography of Tolkien’s universe to make news at the pop culture expo. During the “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” panel, it was revealed that the Wraith, a character in the newest “Lord of the Rings” franchise video game, was actually Celebrimbor, the greatest Elven smith of the Second Age. He was deceived by Sauron into working with him to forge the Rings of Power, then murdered along with his family. His spirit was residing in Mordor, awaiting vengeance against the Dark Lord, when Talion, who was also murdered at the hands of […]
Aug. 02, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER Whether we like it or not, when it comes to Kim Kardashian, we’re all, in a sense, amateur Kardiologists. We know about the reality show, the sex tape, the quickie marriage to an NBA star, Kanye West and the Kimya wedding. We’re told she’s a fashion designer, model, actress, socialite and blogger. We see she’s a wearer of bikinis. Still, why Kim Kardashian is famous is a mystery. “I do not know what she does,” Stephen Colbert joked on his Comedy Central show this week, echoing the thoughts of many of us. When someone’s primary expertise is omnipresence, the more we know, the less we actually learn. But we’re getting more insight from Kim’s latest and more unlikely role as a rather convincing video game character. “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” a free-to-play mobile game by the reality star, is […]
July 27, 2014 | 10:29 p.m.
The “Lego Batman” games have always put a lighter spin on a character that’s traditionally as grim and gritty as they come, but the upcoming third game in the series, “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham” will add a bit of retro fun. Holy nostalgia, Batman! Players of the game, which will be available later this year for all systems, will get to play a level of the 1960s “Batman” series, with Adam West himself providing the voice of Batman. Additionally, gamers will also be able to play as the entire ’60s cast, including Robin, the Boy Wonder. They’re just a few of the 150 playable characters in the new game. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Lego Batman will dance the Batusi. Other playable characters include familiar faces from the Justice League and the Legion of Doom. “Lego Batman 3″ […]
July 26, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER “Hey,” the kid said. “I can get you out of jail.” I politely said no. Standing in lockup, after all, was a rare photo opportunity. The kid shrugged and walked off, and there I stood alone in my cell, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in front of me, the Mark Twain Riverboat docked to my left. Welcome to the Legends of Frontierland, Disneyland’s wacky new live-action role-playing game running daily inside the theme park. Legends of Frontierland pits guest against guest in a battle for control of a fictional town — in this instance one that’s set inside Disneyland’s vision of the Old West. Or something sort of like that. Even for a resort with wench-auctioning pirates and hitchhiking ghosts, the recently launched Legends of Frontierland is often absurdly nonsensical. To play Legends of Frontierland is to partake in […]
July 25, 2014 | 1:27 p.m.
With “The Last of Us,” Naughty Dog craftsman Neil Druckmann helped create one of the most emotionally affecting survival games ever released. Now, as he writes the script for Screen Gems’ upcoming big screen adaptation of “The Last of Us,” he’s endeavoring to make the first truly great video game movie. Druckmann and filmmaker Sam Raimi, who will produce the film through his Ghost House Pictures banner, surprised the Hall H crowd at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Friday morning with a presentation devoted to the project, which is still in its nascent stages, hoping to stoke fan excitement for its upcoming adaptation of the apocalyptic survival game. “The Last of Us” was one of the most widely lauded games of 2013. The story tracks Joel, who is hired to smuggle a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, out of a quarantine […]
July 19, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER About a year ago, hip-hop’s enduring crank Eminem rapped what many interpreted as a jab at the increasing complexity of video games. “All these buttons,” Eminem scolded modern tech kingpins. “You expect me to sit here and learn that?” The man had a point. For those not yet converted to video games, the controller remains a potential barrier to entry, this even as the medium more regularly explores relatable topics. One may have been intrigued by the paternal existentialism at the core of last year’s survival horror game “The Last of Us” or curious about this year’s Chicago-set techno-thriller “Watch Dogs,” which explored the concept of hacking as a weapon, but the idea of learning a rules system before exploring a virtual world can be something of a language barrier. What a godsend then has been mobile and […]
July 17, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
When Disney Interactive wanted to make sure Star-Lord and the gang seemed like themselves in “Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon,” it got Dan Abnett. Few, if any, know more about the truly out there outer-space superteam: The prolific Englishman co-wrote the 2008-2010 comic book series that inspired the lineup found in the mobile game, out Thursday, and the upcoming Marvel cosmic adventure film, out Aug. 1 — as well as this spring’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude” comics that tie in to the movie, and penned, on his own, the just-released novel “Rocket Raccoon and Groot: Steal the Universe.” Abnett worked with art director Yehudi Mercado on the game’s story line, advising on characters’ behavior and distinct voices. So how consistent are the roguish Star-Lord, assassin Gamora, rampaging Drax, well-armed critter Rocket and tree-like tough guy Groot across […]
July 12, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER I had only known Eline Muijres for a few minutes before our first dance, and it wasn’t long before I became scared our movements were going to lead to more physical contact than is likely appropriate for near-strangers. So I let go of her iPhone. Muijres is a producer on “Bounden,” a mobile game that aims to teach players ballet — or maybe just inspire them to get closer, awkwardly. Either result is a win. Most dance games, such as the popular “Dance Central” or “Just Dance” franchises, have players moving in front of the TV, working off a sweat solo or goofing off at a party. “Bounden” is far more intimate. And potentially more revealing. Developed by Netherlands-based three-person studio Game Oven in conjunction with the Dutch National Ballet, “Bounden’s” challenge — the difficulty of being in […]
July 08, 2014 | 1:40 p.m.
The man who redefined Batman is coming to Comic-Con. Frank Miller, who wrote and penciled 1986’s game-changing Batman miniseries “The Dark Knight Returns” (along with “Sin City” and “300,” among many others), will be appearing at a panel chock-full of Bat-artists and scribes, including Grant Morrison, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, the current “Batman” creative team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. Warner Bros. announced the panel “Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight,” which will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, as part of DC Entertainment’s Comic-Con plans to celebrate the Caped Crusader’s diamond jubilee. In “The Dark Knight Returns,” Miller re-introduced Bruce Wayne as an aging, gritty and embittered hero sparring with Superman and taking on the Joker in a climactic battle for the soul of […]
July 07, 2014 | 2:17 p.m.
“Bayonetta” is well known among gamers and those who attended this past weekend’s Anime Expo, but the Japanese franchise doesn’t enjoy much mainstream popularity in the U.S. The action game-cum-movie could get a boost with the stateside release of the animated adaptation “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate,” due in October on Blu-ray/DVD. A mix of magic and gunplay, the feature-length film is based on the video game’s original story about a witch who awakens after a centuries-long sleep. Outfitted with magical hair and gun-boots, she tries to piece together her history while battling creatures of light and dark. The film originally debuted in Japan theaters in November 2013 and a few months later on Blu-ray/DVD. Fuminori Kizaki, director of “Bayonetta”and other anime favorites like “Afro Samurai: Resurrection” starring Samuel L. Jackson, was happy to lend his vision to the film. “Originally, I was […]