Laika’s Spout – Game Reviews and Objectionably Sardonic Ramblings.

Germans, Little Girls and Christians. A fun night out for sure.

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas… everybody loves Christmas! Well, not exactly. I spent my Christmas watching German movies and playing Bioshock, which I’ll get to later. And before you start, this isn’t going to be a ‘Christmas is shite! Burn Christmas!’ rant about nothingness.

I actually feel quite sorry for Christianity, sure Christmas is the most widely celebrated public holiday in the history of Western culture but it’s been bastardised beyhond all recognition. The clue is in the name, and Christmas should really be all about the birth of Jesus (although I’ve never really understood why, if that’s his birth, the Gregorian year starts six days later), a very, very religious celebration. I’m not sure about places like America, I understand their church-going population is much greater than on our miniscule island, but in the run-up to Christmas, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone allude to the religion at all and it’s sort of sad, in a way. 

By all means, we shouldn’t abolish Christmas, it’s a nice get-together time. But that’s just it, it’s not really anything more anymore, so we might as well turn around and just call it ‘Annual Family Time’, although this may see suicide rates in single, middle-aged men rise significantly. Leading me onto something else, the census. The most accurate gathering of information, as well as being reasonably feasible to carry out, but really is it that accurate? My point being, I was talking to my mother yesterday about it, joking how I will be putting ‘Jedi’ down in 2011, then asking her what she would put. Without a bat of an eyelid, she says Christianity… which struck me as odd as: for one, we’re not only not a practicing Christian family, but fairly avid atheists are people go . ‘Why?’ I ask, and my dad says ‘because we’re C of E’… Although I realise this isn’t necessarily reflective of the whole world, but I’d like to see my parents being, given my cotton-wooled distancing from reality, my best point of reference for the ‘general public’.

Leave Christmas to the Christians and stop ballsing up the statistics.

Anywho, on to my ‘Annual Family Time’ ‘celebrations’, which’d lead me to two solid conclusions: German Cinema is rather good and little girls with big red needle guns are absolutely fucking terrifying.

My examples of these brilliant pieces of cinema are as follows:

Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (English title – The Edukators): a movie about three anti-Capitalist activists in Berlin, two of which regulary undergo a fairly morally lucrative form of ‘Edukating’, breaking into the homes of rich people but not to steal or pillage, but to rearrange the furniture, giving those rich bastards an eerie feeling of privacy violation. I won’t go on anymore about the plot, else you might as well not watch the fucking thing, but it was my starting point, for foreign cinema, and it’s a very enjoyable and thought provoking film.

Goodbye Lenin!: coincidentally also starring one of the actors from the previous film, Daniel Bruhl again provides an entertaining performance as the son of an avid Socialist, around the time the Berlin wall is torn down, taking with it all of the ideals his mother holds dear. However, she suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma a couple of months before this happens, and upon awakening, her son is informed that any forms of excitement may kill her. From this stems an perpetually elaborate con to keep his mother believing that the Deutsche Demokratische Republik is still alive and kicking. Whilst it might not be a laugh-a-minute comedy, it’s certainly very watchable and fairly easily accessible, even for those (like me) who didn’t have any prior-knowledge surrounding the DDR.

Das leben der Anderen (English Title – The Lives of Others): coincidentally also set around the time the Berlin wall is taken down, following two parrelel, yet unwittingly interlinked regarding the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, more commonly know as the Stasi, and a man they are watching, under the ‘suspicion’ that he is against the state. It follows Hauptmann, one of the Stasi’s top interrogators and surveillence men, is ordered to keep tabs on a writer named GeorgThe film explores corruption at the highest level, within the Stasi. Unwittingly, Hauptmann develops a close relationship with the entirely unaware Georg and coming to realise a few home truths about the brutality and harshness of life within the DDR.

Last and certainly not least is Der Untergang (English title – Downfall): displaying Hitler’s, and the Nazi’s, final days during World War two and the events which eventually lead to his, along with many other high-ranking German officials and their families’ suicide. The first thing that struck me about this film was Hitler’s immediate portrayal as a fairly warm and inviting, yet frail and weak human, which was an excellent contrast to the usual ‘ABSOLUTE CUNTHOLE, HE EVEN RAPES HIS OWN PETS!’ image which is usually portrayed.

Verdict? Watch them all, don’t let subtitles put you off like I did, I guarantee you won’t even realise they’re on. If you do, I’ll… well, I won’t eat a shoe, you can just fuck off.

Now for Bioshock, which I’m not going to say much about bar than it is the only time that, during a game, i’ve had one of those ‘OHMYGODNO!’ moments in a game, I believe in Shakespeare it’s known a a ‘cathartic release’, don’t quote me on that. The main reason I’m not going to say anymore is that personally, I’m ashamed I’d not played it before now and quite frankly, if you haven’t by now you’re probably drowning kittens or injecting heroin into your Grandmother as we speak.

All in all? A good Christmas, but disappointing in the sense that I didn’t have any awful games to rant about, stupid Lovefilm, actually sending me games and films I like, I oughta sue.

Now for something completely different:

(Warning: Awfully banal and sordid video above.)


Irrational Hatred or How I learned to stop believing hype and realise that LittleBigPlanet is a bit crap.

Hoo-bloody-ray, another ill-informed misanthrope blabbing on about how awesome and divine LittleBigPlanet. Referring somewhere in either the header, or the body to the game as ‘LittleBig{Overused Adjective}’ Almost as if it were the second coming of Jesus ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ Christ.

I’m going to be bucking the trend here, somewhat, perhaps even ‘going out on a limb’ to say that the hype killed LittleBigPlanet. Well, for me at least. You know how hyped up about this game I was? Well, I was one of those idiots you probably heard about squandering their hard-earned cash on ebay for a chance to get LittleBigPlanet early, amidst the wave of sheer disbelief that censoring had yet again pushed back a completely harmless title. I’ll admit, I paid around £55 for my copy, so as you can imagine seeing it being on on Amazon for twenty-fucking-quid now really gets up my arse. (Although I suppose the fact I paid £55 for a game I thoroughly despise for being so cute and shiny, but deviously hard.) This meant I got a NTSC copy on around the 23rd of October, nearly a full two weeks before the rest of poor, poor PAL got their grubby mits on it. I was bored by the time it’d officially come out.

Anywho, back to this ‘review’. Given that this game appeals to both the hardcore gaming populous, and Wii owners, as the ‘E – Everyone’ logo states. What strikes me as odd is the sheer difficulty of later levels… I sure I won’t be alone in cursing at the existence of that hideous, hideous giant rotating thing on ‘The Bunker’ and how inexplicably difficult this part is compared to the rest of the fucking game. I for one wouldn’t exactly deem myself a hardcore gamer, but proficient enough to represent a fair portion of the console gaming demographic… Fun certainly did not overcome… the emotion was more a mix between hatred, frustration and sheer sadness on not being able to complete a game that appeals to my baby sister, of 13, whose idea of a good game is Pippa Funnel: Stud Farm Inheritance. 

‘Oh, but Laika! What about the creator tool and the online feature? Eh? Eh? As well as the sheer customizationability of Sackboy?’

I’m getting to that part. First of all, am I the only person who noticed how our politically-correct culture has managed to manifest itself in a game as harmless as this? I’m not talking about that awfully offensive Somalian lyric… oh no… something far worse. At what point did it become politically insensitive to call somebody a ‘Policeman’? Even though all one is doing is stating the person’s sex and job? Sackperson. Sack-PERSON. For one, Media Molecule, since when was a bundle of cotton and felt deemed to be a person? I’m also quite sure that Sackboy doesn’t have any genitalia… and even if it did, I don’t think cotton phalluses have much use to anybody.

Oh, and the creator tool… ah yes, praised for how simple and effortless it is to use, even for the most simple-minded gamers. 

Why?! It’s about as easy to use as rubbing your stomach, putting your head and reciting all of Shakespeare’s works… in cocking Swahili. Even (Sir) Steven Fry’s dulcet tones, guiding you though every inch of the tutorial process, don’t detract from the fact that the creation tool is not easy to use at all. At least, not easy to use in order to game the complexity of levels Media Molecule have achevied with, might I had, several years of development time. Online, you’re more likely to find ‘easy trophy’ levels which, I’ll admit, I did greatly appreciate the creators for creating.

Basically what I’m asking is… is the game fun? Yes. Yes to the extent that it suffers from what I call ‘Wii-Syndrome’. With friends, it’s perfectly fine and good to play, pissing about and just generally having a lovely, lovely time. However, playing it alone, why don’t we all just step back a little bit? Remember when you were four and played dress-up with your little dolls? Your little girly dolls? No? That’s because the majority of you are male. And if you did play with ickle dollys, are male, and are reading this right now… I suggest you can and enjoy this glorified dress-up platformer which is perfectly fine and good if you’re playing it with real people… but else, you’re sitting in a room… getting a pretty dolly to perform acts of onanism on yourself.

Maybe that’s just me.

I may well be the best platformer ever made, but I suppose that could be like giving Hitler the award for ‘Best Genocide’ and ‘Biggest Bastard’.