Oct. 25, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER Walt Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia” opens with a series of bold, inventive proclamations. Audiences are welcomed to a “new form of entertainment,” one in which the animation isn’t afraid to veer toward the abstract and the music isn’t concerned with what’s on the charts. But as the British narrator early in the new “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” says, “Let’s see how you handle something a little more contemporary.” Words that sent a shiver down the spine of this stubborn “Fantasia” loyalist. Indeed, the first voice we hear in “Fantasia: Music Evolved,” a just-released interactive interpretation of the experimental but venerable brand, is that of Lady Gaga. This is dangerous territory. Beethoven is timeless, but “Applause” is already dated, its glittery melodic tendrils firmly gripping 2013. Of course, those who own the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One are […]
Oct. 04, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER Though she’s long considered one of the great cinematic heroes, Ellen Ripley has generally been a forgettable one when it comes to video games. Steely in her beliefs yet unafraid to show emotion and a friend to felines, the character made famous by Sigourney Weaver in the “Alien” films possesses as much thoughtfulness as action-star bullheadedness. It’s a combustible cocktail of very human emotional traits that until recently were not easily translated into action video games. But is it any wonder the video game industry has struggled to turn “Alien,” especially the 1979 sci-fi horror film of the same name from Ridley Scott, into a notable game? After all, it’s a story in which firing a gun at the enemy, one that bleeds corrosive acid, is essentially suicide. So guns, the favored weapon for nearly all interactive heroes, […]
Sept. 13, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
THE PLAYER The opening moments of “Destiny” are mesmerizing. It’s a Mars landing, complete with sparkling views of our galaxy and crystallized red space dust. It’s a vision that looks lifted straight from photographs sent in by NASA’s Curiosity rover. It’s immediately inviting — optimistic, even. This is “present day” Mars, the game tells us, and considering that manned spaceflight isn’t a top legislative priority anymore, watching an astronaut leave a footprint on the surface of Mars is a reminder that a venture into the unknown can be downright inspiring. Then out come the rifles. What’s the fun, apparently, in looking for life on Mars if we can’t kill it? For all the innovation and sci-fi-meets-fantasy overtures here, “Destiny” ultimately doesn’t feel all that futuristic. It’s a refinement, rather than a reinvention, of the dominant video game genre on home […]
June 12, 2014 | 12:06 p.m.
After spending the better part of four years working on the pensive fairy tale “Ori and the Blind Forest,” Thomas Mahler was relieved to reveal it at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Now he just hopes people don’t think it’s “artsy-fartsy.” The “Ori” trailer makes a play for gamers’ hearts. A mystical, spritely little creature falls from the heavens, landing near a furry and plump bear-like animal with a softly glowing face. This is Ori’s mother, and we watch as the little guy, Ori, is raised in a fantasy forest straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki film. All seems idyllic until a monster of an owl enters the picture. Lightning flashes, the owl takes thunderous steps toward Ori and we catch glimpses of Ori bounding around the forest with light-footed quickness. What happens next in the teaser could bring on the tears. […]
June 11, 2014 | 11:36 a.m.
Electronic Arts studio DICE is best known for its “Battlefield” games, titles that have sought to hone the video game art of humans destroying other humans. Today, however, the Stockholm-based studio is deep into the development of some of its most ambitious projects in its decade-plus existence, including a new “Star Wars” game, and studio principal Karl Magnus Troedsson says the company is starting to grapple with bigger topics. In working on a sequel to its 2008 game “Mirror’s Edge,” a futuristic thriller in which its female protagonist Faith is always on the run, DICE is using the time away from its multiplayer-focused “Battlefield” to create a more character-driven-story. “DICE is perhaps not that well known for games with a strong character. In ‘Battlefield,’ it’s usually a bunch of guys. Multiplayer has very little focus on character,” says Troedsson, DICE’s VP and group general manager. “We are very intrigued with […]
June 10, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
The Los Angeles Kings may have vacated Staples Center for New York’s Madison Square Garden this week, but the blocks surrounding the arena have been replaced with a level of testosterone that not even the NHL can muster. Cloaked assassins, military tough guys and a fantasy knight have taken control of the neighboring Los Angeles Convention Center and beyond. All that aggressive advertising can herald only one thing: The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has once again landed in Los Angeles. North America’s largest video game trade show, one that pumps $45 million into the local economy, never makes a modest entrance. “The future begins,” is E3’s slogan for 2014, and the 45,000 registrants will ensure at least that the future is hyped. Less than eight months after Sony and Microsoft each released new consoles, this year’s E3 will step away […]
June 09, 2014 | 10:44 a.m.
The world’s largest annual video game trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, kicks off in downtown Los Angeles this week, with more than 45,000 people expected to converge on the L.A. Convention Center for the event. Now in its 19th year, E3 has become a mecca for video game developers, retailers, industry professionals and journalists. The trade show, which is to run Tuesday through Thursday and is not open to the public, often serves as the pulpit for the industry’s biggest announcements, such as last year’s reveal of two next-generation video game consoles — Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Buzz on the show floor often revolves around the rivalry between the major consoles, and though the wars between the systems couldn’t be more contemporary or contentious, the modern-day brawl has been more than three decades in the making. […]
June 09, 2014 | 10:30 a.m.
A brand new “Halo” video game won’t be released until late 2015, but the game’s titular hero, Master Chief, won’t exactly be missing in action in 2014. Microsoft’s 343 Industries confirmed on Monday the release of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” a long-rumored compilation of “Halo’s” first four core video games. The games will receive a next-gen makeover for the recently released Xbox One since all date to prior console generations. The release of the anthology on Nov. 11 will also coincide with the premiere of a live-action series to be executive produced by Ridley Scott, “Halo: Nightfall.” Microsoft unveiled the “Halo” details at a press event on the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, which runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Still in the works: “Halo 5: Guardians,” which is tabled for a 2015 release, and another […]
May 16, 2014 | 7:00 a.m.
Master Chief is returning, and he’s more conflicted than ever. “Halo 5: Guardians” will be coming to Microsoft’s Xbox One in fall 2015, 343 Industries — the tech company’s in-house studio for all things “Halo” — confirmed Friday morning. The game will be set after the events of “Halo 4,” the first-person sci-fi shooter that was the No. 3-selling video game of 2012, according to the NPD Group. “Halo 4″ served as one of the final major titles to be released for the Xbox 360 console before Microsoft introduced the Xbox One late last year. The studio is revealing little in the way of specifics, but “Halo 5″ will find its technologically enhanced super soldier Master Chief at a crossroads. “Halo 4″ ended with the franchise’s hero mourning the lose of Cortana, a nearly sentient artificially intelligent computer program who would appear in holographic […]
March 07, 2014 | 2:37 p.m.
It was Valentine’s Day, and I was afraid someone was watching me die. On a night when most are finding ways to celebrate (or curse) romance, I had opted to spend the evening curled up on the couch with a game, a first-person shooter. At least I wasn’t alone. I was one of many worldwide who were playing “Titanfall,” a game in beta testing that Microsoft has declared the showcase title for its recently released home console, the Xbox One. Connecting to strangers via Microsoft’s servers, many of whom were engaged in midgame conversations, I was outgunned, anxious and nervous about letting down my new teammates. In eight minutes, I would be killed 11 times by people I will never speak to. Once, a giant robot stepped on me. Moments later, a giant robot fired a rocket into my chest. […]