January 7, 2011

Ben Affleck Is Finally Watchable

I've been hating Ben Affleck for a very long time.

Since Matt Damon and Ben Affleck made a loud breakthrough with Good Will Hunting, I started following both their careers with great interest. Matt soon became one of my favorite actors in Hollywood, I love most of his work (his Tom Ripley is one of the best acting performances I've ever seen) and always glad to see his movies.

Ben was a different matter. I wanted to like him but couldn't. I've seen about twenty of his movies, no less. He just walked through them with almost the same performance. It didn't really matter what movie genre it was or what his character was supposed to be, he couldn't property act out anything at all. To me he appeared a robot incapable of displaying any complex emotions.

I kid you not when I say that for a very long time already, while watching another movie with Mr. Affleck and realizing he is not doing anything new, I was trying to find something else to look at when camera was focused on him. My eyes could easily spot something more interesting to look at than his lifeless face.

The Town changed it all. I knew that movie is good before actually seeing it, but I was afraid that Ben Affleck is going to ruin it for me again, seeing as he was the lead actor. To my biggest surprise, Affleck actually acts in this movie. This is the first time I enjoyed his performance in about fourteen years, and I enjoyed it to great extent. It's really cool to start a new year with such a pleasant surprise. As a director though he is not very special (The Town was directed by Ben Affleck). The movie is filled with very tight close-ups, I was a bit annoyed with everyone having the top of the head almost always cut off.

I'll be sure to check Ben in the nearest future, hoping he will not return to his robot ways.

January 6, 2011

TellTales at Its Worst

I was a big fan of everything TellTale Games and praised the company. All that changed after I played CSI: Hard Evidence on Xbox 360 (yeah, it's not new, but I got it on sale just a week ago). Not only the game itself is much worse than the first two titles in the series (made by 369 Interactive, the developer who managed to capture the essence of the show, in my opinion, unlike TellTale), but, after glancing at the possible achievements, you can realize how little effort the developers put into it.

There is a total of five achievements in Hard Evidence for Xbox 360, and it's exactly the amount of chapters/cases in the game. You complete a chapter, you get the corresponding achievement. This could have been OK if the game offered a completely "on rails" experience. It doesn't as there are a few things you can do different on your playthrough.

First of all, after solving each case you get an evaluation which can differ depending on what evidence you collected and analyzed. There is a grading involved and it's the ideal possibility to put in several achievements, one for each grade for a specific case. Not only that, you also get to collect bugs for Grissom's collection, this is totally unrelated to the case, but could have been, like, a ground for the most common achievement  type in the history of Xbox 360 - collectibles. Finally, there are thoroughness points, these are given for being subtle and examining everything around the locations you visit, even if it's not directly related to the case.

I am really surprised and enraged at TellTales now. I would have understood the poor achievements situation if the Xbox 360 version was a port made by a different company, but it isn't the case. The only thing redeeming TellTale in my eyes is that the problem got fixed in the following CSI games (I have yet to play those, but I checked the achievement lists).

Still, achievements or not, those CSI games developed by TellTale (and I have only played 3 Dimensions of Murder and Hard Evidence) are the worst games in their vast catalogue. Everything else they produced is so much more fun, witty and original (even if it's based on someone else's property), even the tiny little thing called Poker Night at the Inventory. TellTales' CSI products are not only completely simple and dull, they also don't have the soul of the TV series in them. For instance, the final chapter/case resembles more an episode of some long-winded Mexican soap opera than anything shown on the CSI show. All this unlike the games by 369 Interactive. Sadly, that company, or more precise a division of Radical Entertainment, seized to exist after the Vivendi acquisition.