Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Tiktik - The Aswang Chronicles

First off I'd like to say I'm not a big fan of local movies. I just don't like the way they're shot, and their storylines. They are very, very formulaic and you can tell from the way they're shot that all the acting bits were probably done in about a week's time (minimum) or a month at most. It's just hard to see the effort when there's just one or two camera angles. The sound is usually the type produced by equipment from the sixties or seventies (and there's always the same distinctive footstep noise that they use in every movie! And we're in 2012 already, wow...)

I'm just glad those elements weren't in Tiktik.

I went in this movie with rock bottom expectations. Their marketing says it's comparable to Avatar / LOTR; I wish they didn't say that, though.

But if you do compare it to the local 'big effects' films, Tiktik is practically light years ahead of all of them. (example: try watching Enteng Kabisote, then try watching Tiktik; you'd think they were made in different countries....)

I guess if you're going to watch this, try to keep an open mind, especially if you're like me and you watch a lot of US-made, big budget movies. It wouldn't be fair to try and compare this to those movies.

In my case, what stood out for me was the way the film was shot. It wasn't really the CG effects which 'impressed' me. The CG was actually very obvious and for some reason whatever computer system they used had a bit of a hard time rendering things in 24 FPS at least. But the sharpness of their regular camera shots was really impressive. It made the lead star feel like a 'big' star in a major film for once. It really did make a difference to shoot this digitally.

Dingdong Dantes is commendable in this movie in the sense that he totally seems to be into his role. He's quite believable as this guy from Manila who ends up going to some place far away and still acts like he knows better than everyone else. He completely sells the picture.

The actors I didn't like in this movie were Joey Marquez and Janice De Belen. They were acting like they were still in an old movie from a by-gone era of movie making. Janice De Belen just throws out that oppressive 'mother-in-law' role that is typical in most previous Filipino films. It's a tired cliche that I wish wasn't in this movie; but maybe the producers were wary that the masses won't bite if it didn't have anything already familiar to them. Joey Marquez starts out strong, but later on when the onslaught of 'aswang' starts arriving he completely overacts, barely audible with his high pitched voice as he expresses his disdain or whatever emotion he was supposed to demonstrate. If the movie didn't have these guys then maybe it would have been a bit better; I just thought they didn't fit in a movie which is supposed to usher in a more 'modern' approach to local filmmaking. They felt like the insurance policy in case people couldn't relate with Dingdong Dantes' character.

Lovi Poe is just, kinda there. Well, her only role in the movie is really to get chased, and the movie wouldn't exist without her. So she isn't supposed to really do anything except scream, and fire a few rounds when cornered.

Oh, I forgot to mention the effects. They were GOOD when they focused on the "humanoid" Aswangs using just some makeup and a few digital enhancements. But when the aswangs turned into superpowered monster dogs, the flaws in their CG became very apparent. I wish they darkened up the shots with the monster dogs a lot more, so that they would be more scary and believable. In this case you can really see they're computer generated....a bit more effort analyzing the lighting in their scenes may have helped.

So to put it all simply, yes this film is worth watching if you want to see how much better Filipino films can be if more effort was put into the sound production and the visuals. This movie is still a whole lot better than what is released during the Manila Film Festival (which occurs yearly at Christmas). I do commend the ones that worked on this film in the sense that you can really tell they worked hard on it. There were some great scenes in there like when the Aswangs (not in dog form) were surrounding the house. They did those scenes pretty well and potentially if they make other movies they can draw from that scenario to make various other great moments in the future. Dingdong Dantes really sells the character he is playing extremely well and he's just really hampered by his costars in this one. I'm not calling for a completely serious, horrifying version of this movie; maybe the jokes were just really cheezy at times. They can keep the humor for the sequel; just get a better, younger set of actors to tell a new set of jokes.

Overall, watch it, if only to support better quality, more effort, and more creativity in local film. It's a great first step.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Final Thoughts on RE6 (Jake, Ada)

As usual, just so busy lately so haven't been able to blog about this. I already finished the game several days ago. Overall I thought it was a great effort from Capcom, and that's saying a lot considering what happened with Street Fighter X Tekken.

- Jake - interesting character with a lot of what seemed to me were experimental ideas on gameplay. Those were generally ok but the experimental stuff may be off-putting for many, particularly the snow area and the motorcycle chase. He's a great character with a great resolution, but one thing i didn't like was all the repeated boss battles, which are recycled from Leon/Chris.

- Ada - Shorter campaign, again feels recycled through most of the other three....but in terms of story it goes somewhere (though admittedly, not very far, and nothing too risky). I like her explosive crossbow. Quick shot for easy kills with no need to aim.

What's unfortunate about Ada is they could have put more impact in her final cutscene. She just blows up a lab; nothing much there. I guess Capcom ran out of gas at that point.

I enjoyed the journey for what it was. Capcom put in a great effort. I'd raise the score to an 8.0/10 and that's the final score for it; just for the sheer volume of content this is a true sequel to the RE series. RE5 felt more like a side story---this actually goes places and involves a lot of the cast, which is nice. One twist I didn't like was SPOILER when they killed off Piers. That was wasted potential. In an interview with IGN, Capcom actually considered killing Chris. In retrospect, that may have had more impact but I suppose the board of directors at Capcom did not relish losing a key character, which is why they killed off the plucky sidekick.

He was a good guy. He'll be missed. There would have been some potential in having a character all virus-ed up and still play on the side of the BSAA...that would have made for a really cool sequel, but it seems to me that Piers is completely dead by the end of this.

*sigh* Game storylines are so frustrating at times. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Resident Evil 6: Thoughts on Chris Campaign

Finished the Chris campaign, here's more impressions of RE6 from my experience so far:

- The game design of having four different campaigns with different characters seems like a great idea at this point. The game just feels BIG. Nobody can complain that they finished this in 10 hours. And even if they do finish it that quickly, it just won't feel that long with the different campaigns and cutscenes to enjoy.

- A major event happens in Chris's campaign which I wish didn't happen. Let's just say that it would have been better to keep some characters alive for future iterations of the series, but hey, it's Capcom's decision in the end.

- I think the philosophy of Capcom when they make games these days is to focus on gameplay. While there's a lot of cutscenes in RE6, story-wise, the franchise literally goes nowhere. It's basically, here's your guns, now kill some monsters and enjoy. There's no focus on telling a story anymore...well i suppose this is true for a LOT of games in this generation of consoles and not just Capcom's games. Writing good story is not a strong suit for game developers even with the added tech that they have at their disposal.

- Chris's campaign feels like Capcom's answer to Gears of War; it has this military feel to it which never goes away from start to finish. If you're sick of those kinds of games you probably won't enjoy it. But for me it was nice to just kill monsters for fun.

- This game really works episodically, where you tackle one or two chapters per day...it makes it feel like it was really worth buying. If you grind through everything I can imagine it will get tedious because there's nothing to it other than shooting and killing zombies/BOWs. But in moderate doses RE6 is a great game.


- Using the controls I mentioned in 'the missing manual', my earlier post, made the game more fun....when i got to the later levels i thought these controls made the game too easy but then I was proven wrong in one part of the game....so i guess this simply means that all those controls in the 'missing manual' are base requirements to enjoy the game, they don't cheapen it at all.

This game is actually worth it if you like:
- non-stop action
- game length is important to you
- challenge

You won't enjoy this game if:
- you want more exploration in your horror games
- you want more story/deeper, more engaging storyline (Arguably, the characters become more interesting thanks to this game, even if nothing really happens to them! I don't know...subjective opinion on that one)
- you want RE to stay as a slow horror game with jump scares--if you have been waiting for Capcom to go back to this style of play, I don't think it's ever going to happen in the future. Just look at the direction of the movies and these recent REs; they're never going back.

Harder boss fight? Leon or Chris? --- I say Leon.

Better scenarios/levels? --- It's a tie so far. Leon's is slower but it doesn't make it better or worse. Just different, which makes the game more enjoyable.

Now on to Jake's campaign....


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Resident Evil 6: The Missing Tutorial

Apparently, we're all playing Resident Evil 6 wrong....the game is missing a badly needed tutorial that would make the experience less frustrating. Also, it isn't set up by default to optimal settings. See below:

(note: all button references are for the Xbox version)

- For your laser sight, pick 'Classic' which would revert to a tracing-style laser instead of a red dot. Much easier to aim.

- For your camera, set it to speed 2.

- For your aiming speed, set it to 7. These two camera/aiming settings should reduce the clunkiness of the movement.

- So you don't run out of bullets too fast, press LT + RT for a quickshot, which hits enemies that are very near you very quickly without aiming! It can also be a stylish animation depending on your character and equipped weapon.

- Quickshot uses your stamina bar which is that thing below your life bar. If you use all those up, you won't be able to do effective melee attacks.

- Melee also uses your stamina bar. That explains the "sissy kick" you keep on doing inexplicably....

- To refill your stamina, take cover (LT near a wall).

- To take down monsters easily, shoot them once with any weapon, run towards them (with your choice of move [shoulder tackle/slide], then kill them with a physical attack. This saves you ammunition.

- Equipping the skill "Firepower Lv.1" saves you even more ammunition.

- When you're out of bullets, run towards your enemy by pressing and holding A, then press RT to execute a shoulder tackle. Or you can do the slide animation which is already explained in some parts of the game (A + LT).

- You can switch directions while on the ground after a slide by pressing DOWN. Or you can turn by pressing left/right.

- To quick rise (an ukemi, yeah, like a fighting game), press A+Down as soon as you hit the ground!

- Huge tip: When you get those QTEs with the thumbstick, use BOTH thumbsticks to fill the bar faster!

The Quickshot and the camera / aiming improvements were the most useful changes to my gameplay; oddly enough, all these extra controls make the game EASIER! Not sure if it's a bad thing but I did find myself less frustrated.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Resident Evil 6: To Capcom -- comments from an actual gamer

I'll keep it short and sweet because I have a day job and I don't have much time. That said, I think Capcom needs to know what they did RIGHT and what they did WRONG in this game.

First off, Capcom, this game is not as horrible as the review sites say. I'm playing this at the same pace as every normal human being is, and I'm not rushing through it like a reviewer does. I'm not getting annoyed at little things though some things are worth mentioning for your next project to be better.

So listen to me, and ignore Gamespot, if you want to make more money.

- The camera. Guys, this really needs work. It's just too close. Compare it to Gears of Wars's camera....that one is just perfect. Some things i found odd is when you turn your character you can end up looking at your character's face/front. I think this is the problem. The camera should work in such a way that if you turn left to right, you should still be looking at your characters' back. That way, it's less confusing for the players.

Yeah yeah, I know you want people to see your ZOMG awesome 3D models. But we have the CUTSCENES for those. Don't bother with that during gameplay. Focus on making the game actually PLAYABLE or at least make the game easier for players to enjoy.

- the gunplay. I don't know why my headshots are missing! There is a certain degree of 'lag' where your shots dont land where you expect them to. I'm getting this on the Xbox 360 version, which is clearly superior to the PS3 version in terms of graphics. And given all the specs of the 360 this console should be able to handle the speed of the action better.

Yeah i suppose this was made to force players to equip 'lock on' skills but seriously....when you play it the first time it feels like a BUG and not a feature.

Both those points are the only complaints I have...oh wait, last thing

- Leon's story - you guys did not do a good job explaining the point of Helena's character, at least in this campaign. When it ends she feels like just some extra partner that Leon stumbled upon, her character is practically non-existent. Which is a waste, with all the stuff that was set up with her sister. There was just no good explanation for it.

I think this advice goes for every other game and not just RE6:

HIRE A TEAM OF WRITERS PLEASE.

But other than that, I like your game. I don't think your game deserves to be bashed so much by other players or reviewers. I can see the effort and I did have a great time with it, throughout Leon's campaign so far, anyway.

- The action was incredible, and really epic.
- The cutscenes were enjoyable to watch
- The setpieces were good, some of the boss fights were really good in terms of mechanics/what you had to do
- The locations were OK
- What happens in the game like China getting hit with a bioweapon was really spectacular in terms of the timing of it.

So yeah, it's a good game. So far I'd score your game 7.6 / 10. It would have had 2 more points if the camera and the gunplay was fixed.