Gorilla gamers anticipate ‘Bioshock’ among other hot titles
Nevin Jones | reporter
The spring gaming season is on the horizon and with it comes a batch of new releases that should excite all gamers worth their achievement points.
Throughout the rest of the semester, there are several noticeable contenders that gamers should keep their eyes on. With big releases coming so soon, some PSU students sounded off on what they look for in a good game.
“I’m very interested in games as a storytelling device,” said Jeff Linville, senior in international business. “A video game should always tell a good story. Almost like a book, but better.”
Similar feelings were shared by junior in psychology Chandra Morris, who said, “I look for a good storyline behind my games. I don’t just want fighting the whole time.”
Well, as luck would have it, many of this season’s titles offer a lot in substance as well as style.
Kicking off the season is Crystal Dynamics’ “Tomb Raider,” which explores the origin of the titular adventurer Lara Croft, on March 5. The game focuses heavily on Croft’s ascent from a frightened young woman to a hardened survivor. While Crystal Dynamics is placing major focus on the story, another important detail is that “Tomb Raider” is the franchise’s first installment to be rated M for mature.
Next up is PlayStation exclusive “God of War: Ascension,” which hits stores on March 12. Set 10 months before the original game, “Ascension” tells the story of Kratos as he tries to break free from the bonds of Ares, the Greek god of war. Players will be introduced to a more human Kratos, so fans can relate to him better and understand some of the trials he went through before he became the blood-hungry conqueror of Mt. Olympus we all know. If that isn’t enough to warrant a purchase, the game will also feature a new multiplayer component that gives eight players the chance to decimate each other.
Following the prequel thought process is “Gears of War: Judgment,” which abandons series protagonist Marcus Fenix for one with more comedic timing, Damon Baird. “Judgment” takes place 15 years before the first Gears of War when the fight with the Locust first begins. The story will be told via flashbacks and narration, while players get the chance to fight more Locust than ever before. The multiplayer aspect is even being shaken up by incorporating a class-based multiplayer mode. Level your own judgment against
the game when it hits shelves March 19.
Undoubtedly, the biggest release of spring is Irrational Games’ “Bioshock Infinite.” The game built a considerable amount of hype during E3 2011 when it won “Best of Show,” and expectations have only grown since then.
“The first ‘Bioshock’ was iconic, so now I want to see how they are trying to top that,” said John Kolarik, junior in history. “The underwater setting of the original was really creepy and now, with this being set in the sky, they are as far away from the water as possible.”
Linville shares this excitement and says that he’s looking forward to the storyline, interesting game mechanics and “Elizabeth,” the title’s in-game companion character.
“I love Irrational Games,” said Linville. “They’ve been one of my favorite studios ever since early 360. The whole concept of ‘Bioshock Infinite’ being American exceptionalism is crazy exciting for me.”
Set in 1912, players take control of Booker DeWitt, a former detective tasked with rescuing Elizabeth, who has been held captive in the floating city of Columbia since 1900. What DeWitt finds upon his arrival in Columbia is a warring city divided into factions with Elizabeth right in the middle. Gamers can discover the secrets of Columbia when “Bioshock Infinite” lands March 26.
One story, two very different shows
Carl J. Bachus
Let’s set the scene: Two estranged brothers, who haven’t seen each other in five years, house-sitting for their mother. That’s pretty much it – that’s “True West,” PSU Theater’s newest production directed by instructor of communication Gil Cooper. With a cast of five, the play utilizes each of its actors in this slow burn of a show.
Written by Tony Award-nominated playwright Sam Shepard, “West” tells the story of Austin (senior Robert Wilson and junior Rashid Fielder-Bey) and Lee (Austin Curtright), two brothers who, until recently, hadn’t spoken to each other in years. Austin is a screenwriter, using this time away from his wife and kids to gather his thoughts and work on a new film project. Lee is a drifter, making his way through his mother’s neighbor stealing electronics to sell for cash.
The siblings clash often but are secretly envious of each other’s lives. Despite the occasional brotherly attempt to bond, the combative brothers are always able to find a new argument. “West” explores the temperamental nature of their relationship and whether the grass is always greener on the other side.
The most notable part about Cooper’s production of “True West” is his choice to cast two actors to play Austin. There is a clear distinction between the performances of Wilson and Fielder-Bey, which in turn, gives the two versions of the onstage relationship between the two brothers a different tone (depending on the performance that you attend).
Wilson plays a very subdued version of Austin, very sympathetic and completely submissive to his more irritable brother. There isn’t much build in his performance, making the first half of the play a bit dull and the climax of Austin’s character development seem a bit schizophrenic. Fielder-Bey, on the other hand, plays a much sharper version of Austin. He delivers his lines in a quippy, more matter-of-fact manner.
Curtright was a solid casting choice for Lee. His portrayal of the more domineering brother changes ever so slightly between the two versions of the play, depending on his rapport with Wilson and Fielder-Bey.
With Wilson, his performance feels more antagonistic, yet with Fielder-Bey, the banter is a lot more playful. The first half of the play belongs to Fielder-Bey, whose Austin is more charismatic in demeanor, and the last half is best with Wilson, who plays intense and volatile as well as he plays timid and submissive.
Doug Bennett’s set is naturally plain, due to the use of the siblings’ mother’s house as the play’s setting. It’s completely functional and noticeably immaculate (at least at the beginning of the show). The lighting is well done and even feels cinematic at certain points. The sound effects, including chirping crickets and howling coyotes, are effective as well.
Cooper’s production of “True West” rests wholly on performances of the three lead actors. Both of the Austin performances are equally admirable, albeit imperfect, and students would benefit from seeing both versions of the show. Not only for performance comparisons, but also to witness two tonally distinct, but equally matched, versions of the same story.
‘Skies’ is suspensful if unoriginal
Logan Qualls | writer
our fear of the unknown since the genre was created. Since the dawn of time, even, humans have always feared what might be lurking in the dark. “Dark Skies” tries to capitalize on this fear but falls short.
A family living in the suburbs begins noticing increasingly strange events, especially at night. Seemingly harmless pranks soon turn into inexplicable injuries, behavior and even temporary blackouts for the Barret family. As the disturbing events escalate in severity, the family struggles to stay united.
Ignored by their neighbors and local law enforcement, the family increases its efforts to deter the unwanted visitors. Despite adding a security system and even many in-house cameras, the mysterious intruders continue to find a way to disrupt their normal lives.
Once the family accepts something unearthly is taking place, Lacy (Keri Russell, FX’s “The Americans”) and Daniel Barret (Josh Hamilton) decide to seek the help of Edwin Pollard (J.K. Simmons, “Spider Man;” “Juno”), a self-proclaimed alien expert, who reveals the true nature and purpose of the Baretts’ mysterious stalkers.
“Skies” makes excellent use of both music and silence to elevate the suspense. Using a breadth of varying sounds to manipulate the tension, the filmmakers have the audience cringing at every sound long before the action ever takes place. The film’s greatest success comes when audiences are white-knuckling their seats with rapt anticipation, both dreading and eagerly awaiting what happens next.
The writers went to great efforts to provide the audience with believable, multidimensional characters, an attribute often forgotten in the horror genre. By fully developing the characters, audiences are more able to connect to the story.
Russell delivers a great performance as the mother slowly succumbing to the effects of marital stress and paranormal anxiety. Her character devolves into a frantically worried mess as her family’s safety is continuously threatened.
The big problem is the movie’s ending: an anticlimactic conclusion that will leave audiences unsatisfied. The blatantly transparent plot “twist” only further exacerbates the problem.
In spite of great success developing the terrifying suspense, “Dark Skies” does little to stand apart from other horror movies. The “been there, done that” plot, coupled with the disappointing ending, contribute to a final product that leaves much to be desired. Even with its shortcomings, “Dark Skies” proves to be a chillingly suspenseful story that leaves the audience with more questions than answers.