Fast and Furious Impressions

Movies are always an odd thing, things are so subjective for taste that it really is impossible to call something a decent flick or a horrible wash. When I come into a film it’s with a certain mindset of what I’m getting into, as such with Fast and Furious I didn’t come into things expecting an epic literary work, I didn’t come in expecting the greatest story ever to touch film. Instead I wanted cheap thrills, fast cars and overly done action sequences.

Fast and Furious delivers directly to that expectation, the movie comes about with a much more refined story and aim, by that I mean the movie actually has a direct target following through instead of multiple situations that eventually lead to a final boss of sorts. For the timeline it seems as if the fourth installment falls just after the original movie allowing for existing problems in 2 and 3 to continue to be valid. The only odd gap they had to fill was the fact that they’re featuring cars from 2008 when they didn’t exist at the time of the other movies. No real big deal though if you’re just in it for the action.

The acting is pretty basic, with much of the focus on how intense one can come off when jumping through windows to tackle suspects, dangling people off buildings and more. The car sequences are of course always life and death moments with struggles continuing to the last possible moment. It’s not a bad thing, in many cases it can drag the audience to the edge of their seat to know what the result will be.

When I headed out Friday night for a movie, I was hoping for a pick-up to the weekend so I could have a fun night and not have to think about underlying plot and symbolic meanings throughout the film to establish all the considerations made during the film. I got that and then some with the movie and honestly I liked it better than the first because it was true to what it was, the movie wasn’t trying to redefine a genre or make us all reconsider our lives in the universe, it was a wham bam action film designed to take you out of life for a good few hours.

If you’re interested in cheap action and fast cars then give the movie a bit of your time I would say, just don’t come in expecting something more than it is, if you do then you’ll be sorely disappointed for having such high hopes of a film that isn’t aspiring to those expected levels.

Personally I might just see it again because it was a good entertainment piece, at least until the psycho compilation known as Crank High Voltage comes out. After a Fall of serious movies and hard topics it really is a relief to be able to let it all go with some movies that don’t demand much out of the audience.

Edmunds Fast and Furious Car Roundup

The Wheelman (PC) Review

Vin Diesel is a man of many interests, the guy steps into any field and invests himself in it quite a bit, with The Wheelman Vin brings this around again as moves straight out of box office hits are included right into his latest joint title with Midway (and Ubisoft).

The Wheelman as a result comes off as a bit of a fun title, there’s blind action that dominates the game, things like air-jacking and the focus attacks are entirely show driven and pay off well for the gamer since they’re often relied upon only when things get heavy, in the midst of a police chase or faction dispute these items are remarkably helpful and great to watch.

The game works to keep the player in some form of transportation the whole time though, without a proper ride the game is dull and a bit slow to say the least, things really were made to be passed at 100mph simply because the game world is so expansive and detailed.

Players wondering about the story need not look very far, the game pits players as an undercover mole playing wheelman to multiple crime cartels in Barcelona trying to uncover details of a greater heist rumored to be able to change the entire landscape of the city once it goes down. The fortunate part is that while this is a rather important event, it’s not all there is to things, players are also catered to with a list of other things to do in the city such as cab rides laying waste to the city to break records, escort missions and so on. In the end there is a main storyline waiting at home impatiently while you stumble in wreaking of burned cars and gun powder but it doesn’t urge you to indulge it, the game simply pokes the user to continue their path of pitting rival cartels against each other to establish a uniform breakdown.

In the PC version of the game players are treated to some impressive visuals, unfortunately they need the hardware to back it up, players that have gotten by on older Intel systems and AMD systems will note that the game might chug just a bit, this is more or less a porting issue, Ubi / Midway made no attempt to include a remotely helpful options menu to tune down the visual aspects of the game, given that it is a UE3 based engine the game should be able to scale quite well actually. The problem is that it seems they rushed it out of the door and hoped that the enthusiast market might carry it through. I would recommend a Core 2 / Phenom based system for CPU power, install the game on at least a SATA drive with 3.0Gbps capability and have a fairly recent video card to power it all since the video stream simply eats up system resources and goes into a slide show if players aren’t packing enough power.

Overall is this a game to get? If you have a fairly strong PC that you built recently it should work fine, if not skip the PC version and get the console edition instead, chances are the streaming issue isn’t really existent on the platform which would make it a lot easier to enjoy.

Wheelman (PC) 8.0 / 10

Tutti Frutti

I don’t like to think of myself as a yogurt fiend, but I really can’t help but dive into a good cup when it comes around, this past month I got a local taste of the franchise Tutti Frutti and I have to say it was quite a refreshing trip.

The yogurt bar features a huge assortment of flavors to self serve, on top of that they have fresh fruit toppings and a variety of candies or cereals to throw on as well. Unfortunately I have no idea when I’ll find my favorite flavor as they’re pushing well over 10 unique selections all with their own great taste, right now I’ve worked through their orange cream, french vanilla, strawberry shortcake, death by chocolate, banana pudding, blueberry, strawberry banana and original and have yet to find something I didn’t like.

The flavors are impressive, the yogurt is sweet and rich when it needs to be, the result is that you get exactly what you’re aiming for and that’s absolutely amazing to have when you mix up some chocolate, banana and vanilla all in a nice bowl during a nice hot day and top it with some mochi. The better part so far is that the yogurt is consistent, it doesn’t come out watery or under-chilled, some places struggle to keep on top of that and instead deliver soup instead of an cool treat.

The company seems to have locations all over the place, the one that sprung up for us took over a doomed Carvel and Cinnabon franchise and hopefully it sticks around a lot longer because the other options aren’t nearly as impressive or close.

Also lots of thanks to the neighborhood store in Corona for their great discount coupons 😀 makes it even moreawesome to be able to go up and get about 16oz of yogurt for about $5.

Check out their website and see if one is near you, it would be great to find out all the potential flavors around given that they don’t have all of them on their website.


Defying the line

The gaming world is one that evolves at such a rapid pace that everything needs to constantly fight and writhe to be able to stand a chance, as a result it’s always amazing when games come about that don’t attempt to even meet the bar in gameplay when everything else stacks up so well.

The question then becomes quite simple, how does one go about mastering a visual engine, great supporting art and control and then completely abandon the gameplay, the first thing that should come to mind in a new title is variety or the sense of choice even though in reality no game offers total choice, just a fair illusion to make people comfortable, a perfect example is GTA where players can fool around all they want but in the end the only way to complete the game is to go through the steps in linear fashion.

The latest victim of this is Wanted, a movie license and comic license by Warner Bros., the game has many things that sell it as a worthwhile title but choice isn’t one of those items. Instead Wanted plays like a badly scripted action sequence with the same idea of “the player will jump behind the box, crawl around the corner, kill a knife wielding assassin, then shoot the guy with a curved bullet behind the head to get past the start of the section, lets then have a series of a duck and cover points pre-scripted and then have them go through while maintaining a very open looking area but with fences so that no one gets the idea to go outside of the pre-arranged trail.” The game could have offered something more, they could have opened up the levels, maybe made a variety of enemies and on top of that offered the chance to team up online and make use of the obvious development time invested into the special attacks.

Stagnant, forced direction.
I'm just as linear but I own my environment
I'm just as linear but I own my environment

It’s easy to pick apart the game when it’s all said and done though, the team did a decent effort to make things happen but the voice that was in this project pushing so much control and linear play killed the game. Why not let players jump over any car, over any box, why not let them climb and shoot out from a balcony, why not let them hide behind non-standard pillars or give them the chance to quickly dash to other locations other than just a,b and c. players like to make a fire fight interesting, they don’t want to be able to see straight through the challenge and pick off everyone in a basic manner or be able to avert other challenges such as the snipers, they’re paying $60 for a thrill and a memorable experience, not to see how well someone scripted a mediocre set of repeating challenges.

Linear gameplay is extremely dated, it doesn’t even work for movie ports because no one wants to follow the same path they did in the film, the Spider-Man titles fought against this issue after the original and have been doing decent improvements over time although they’re not perfect at all. The idea that you can do other things on this path of destruction while living in the story, instead of watching cut-scenes why not make it possible to dive more into the control of how things pan out. People only like driving in a straight line for so long before it gets frustrating to no end. At this point in gaming the players are getting sick of this car ride and want out now, hopefully producers pay attention to that and let their devs roam free with how to re-approach play mechanics.