Feb. 26, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.

Review: ‘Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze’ springs ape to action

For the last three decades, one of the video game world’s greatest antiheroes has been a barrel-throwing ape. He’s arrogant, ornery and not nearly as dexterous as he thinks he is. A kidnapper whose jungles were construction sites, he’d steal your girlfriend and trap her atop a skeletal steel structure. But as males-behaving-badly became a pop-culture norm — and an unfortunate requirement of most video games — Donkey Kong softened up. The once attention-desperate gorilla shed his hostage-taking ways and settled into a more healthful lifestyle with the launch of “Donkey Kong Country” in 1994. Now five iterations of the game later, he’s morphed into a rather lovable grump who just wants to enjoy a slice of cake with a frosted banana on top in peace. “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” released last weekend for Nintendo’s home console the Wii […]
Nov. 20, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.

Review: Microsoft’s Xbox One wants to speak to more than gamers

“Go ahead,” the screen on Microsoft’s Xbox One will tell you, “say ‘Xbox.’” “No,” you may very well think, “I am an adult, and I will not talk to my video-game console.” Oh, but you will. That’s because Microsoft’s $500 all-in-one entertainment system is the first video-game console ever made that can utilize your voice to go from zero to playing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video in 47 seconds. One simple command, “Xbox on,” brings your hardware and television to life; three more commands and you’re on YouTube watching her get fierce with a sledgehammer — all without pressing a button. The Xbox One terms such ability “automagical,” and while that’s a marketing buzzword that probably shouldn’t be attached to anything that doesn’t involve Tinker Bell, it’s admittedly pretty neat. But what does it have to do with games? Well, […]
Sept. 20, 2013 | 4:01 p.m.

‘Grand Theft Auto V’ review: Stubborn sexism, violence ruin game play

In 2001, the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise landed on the radar of mainstream culture by offending most everyone who wasn’t a gamer. Its carjacking, prostitutes and murder scenarios were defended as a satire of violent and misogynistic video game culture. Watchdog groups and politicians didn’t see the irony. But beyond the controversy, its appeal was in its danger — a place where the kill-at-will, hypersexualized fantasy worlds of interactive entertainment were let loose in cities based on grown-up, real-world places (New York, Miami and now, once again, Los Angeles). Today, the series has become a well-honed formula, a place guaranteed to deliver top-of-the line game mechanics in the most fully-realized digital worlds. Culturally, however, the franchise has hardly grown since 2001. The first rape joke is delivered by a college-age boy who’s playing a violent video game. “I don’t care […]
Feb. 01, 2013 | 1:10 p.m.

‘Warm Bodies’ gets warm reception from critics

“Warm Bodies” is getting a warm reception from critics with its head-turning girl-meets-boy-zombie premise. It remains to be seen whether moviegoers will agree. Also unclear: Whether Super Bowl Sunday will hurt or help “Warm Bodies’ ” box office. (Hard to believe, but not everyone looks forward to a weekend dominated by beer, chicken wings and football.) But early reviews by some of the nation’s top media critics suggest audiences will be taken with “Warm Bodies’ ” surprisingly sentimental mash-up. Photos: Monster love Los Angeles Times critic Betsy Sharkey says writer-director Jonathan Levine strikes the right tone in the horror-meets-romance film starring Nicholas Hoult as a slacker undead and Teresa Palmer as a human who somehow warms his cold soul: “… in doing a little genre bending of romantic schmaltz and horror cheese — some fundamental zombie mythology is turned on its head — […]
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