In 2010 Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Désilets left Ubisoft to form his own studio within THQ to work on a game called 1666: Amsterdam. Here’s our first look at how that game was shaping up before being sold back to Ubisoft and left in limbo for three years.
According to the description of the YouTube video below (via Reddit), the footage comes from a build from several years ago, aimed at the previous console generation. The theme of the game, set in the glory days of Amsterdam (I’m guessing that’s around 1666), was “be worse than the devil,” with the player taking control of various animals associated with black magic, such as crows and black cats.
We’ve all been there: a favored book is snapped up for adaptation, with a whole lot of potential behind it: solid cast, crew, production values, etc. When it hits theaters, you walk out wishing that they’d done everything differently.
It’s often said that there book is always better than the movie, and there’s a long history of that being true, because Hollywood simply didn’t get what the book was about, or did any number of other things wrong.
But, the movie version of a book isn’t always inferior: just look at Blade Runner, Minority Report, Children of Men or Jurassic Park, with films that rival or even exceed their source material. It’s possible to get the book right, or to get a good version of it.
For all the complaining that people make about Hollywood not greenlighting original projects, let’s face a reality: adaptations from books, reboots of old movies, and the general recycling of content will continue. With that in mind, here’s, a couple of films out there that we wish Hollywood would go back and do over again, hopefully better than before.
This film always falls into a love-it-or-hate-it category. It’s a film that latches on to a couple of elements from the novel in a somewhat faithful adaptation, but it’s been decried for being over the top and pulpish. Depending on who you talk to, that’s what the intent was.
Regardless of the intent, Starship Troopers is one of those novels that is just begging for a new take: one that gives us the power armor described in Robert Heinlein’s novel, while giving us the action and excitement of war in space.
A Wizard of Earthsea
Back in 2004, Lord of the Rings was in theaters and everyone was trying to jump on the epic fantasy bandwagon, including the SciFi channel. The result was an incredibly poor adaptation of A Wizard of Earthsea, something that author Ursula K. Le Guin has publicly slammed the adaptation:
A far cry from the Earthsea I envisioned. When I looked over the script, I realized the producers had no understanding of what the books are about and no interest in finding out. All they intended was to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence.
It’s a shame, because Earthsea is one of the really great works of epic fantasy fiction. It’s set in a fantastic world, and uses magic in a brilliant, philosophical way. If handled properly (ie, not Whitewashed), this could make for a great adaptation.
The Golden Compass
Along with the SciFi channel’s rush to get in on the Lord of the Rings rush, New Line Cinema tried to replicate Harry Potter’s success by adapting Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The result was a mixed one: the production cut down on some of the more weighty controversial material and went for straight up adventure. There was quite a bit to like here – such as the casting and visuals, but the film never quite lived up to the books.
Fortunately, a do-over is in sight, as the BBC is set to take on the novels as an eight-part miniseries. They’ve been doing some good things with books – just look at their work with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
Isaac Asimov’s novelette The Bicentennial Man is a great book – it earned the Hugo Award in 1976, and follows a robot, Andrew Martin, as he works to become a human being.
The movie follows the story, but only just, and I have some nostalgic love for it, because it’s a goofy, (but pretty terrible) movie. It’s a film that should have worked: Christopher Columbus directed it and it starred Robin Williams, Sam Neill and Oliver Platt. The film was turned into a comedy that basically amounts to a whole bunch of dad jokes strung together into, and it just doesn’t work.
We’ve seen some really incredible movies about robotics recently: Her, Robot and Frank, and Ex Machina both come to mind, and if someone went and redid the film in the same vein? It could be a really incredible movie.
Speaking of Robotics, another Asimov-derived work is I, Robot. There had been plans to turn Asimov’s collection of short stories into a film, written by none other than Harlan Ellison, but that never went anywhere. The title and concepts were attached onto another film, Hardwired.
I, Robot shares very little with the stories, each of which play with the idea of how Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics could be subverted. It’s hard to say exactly how a film could be adapted from such a diverse group of stories, but it would be interesting to see Ellison’s screenplay brought to life.
World War Z
When it comes to miserable movie adaptations, the most common thing to hear when Max Brooks’ World War Z is mentioned is “maybe they should have actually adapted the book.” Aside from the title, there’s not much crossover with the source material. The movie, follows one character through the zombie apocalypse, while the book follows a whole bunch of individual stories. Even Brooks noted that “it’s only World War Z in name only.”
There’s not likely to be any sort of do-over here – World War Z 2 is on its way. That’s kind of a shame, because apparently, the original script written by J. Michael Straczynski was a really great adaptation of the novel.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The movie that made Alan Moore swear off Hollywood forever: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Released in 2003, this movie is a trainwreck from beginning to end, the film changed much from the original source material, and production and cast conflicts didn’t help. The movie was critically panned, and it’s since become a bit of a laughingstock.
From all accounts, there’s actually a reboot in the pipeline, one that already appears to be much closer to the source material. At this point, any reboot would likely be better than the original.
Horns was an interesting movie: it was one of the first major roles for Daniel Radcliffe when he finished Harry Potter, playing Ig, a man accused of killing his girlfriend. When he grows a pair of horns, people start telling him their darkest secrets.
The book does follow the story closely, but takes on more of a whodunit narrative, the result of which didn’t quite work. We thought that the film lacked the depth of the novel and was ultimately too light for its own good.
It would be hard to do this film over, because they got a lot of the atmosphere right, while the acting was pretty decent. Maybe a film with a stronger script that matched the intensity of the novel would overtake this one.
Ender’s Game, despite the controversy over Orson Scott Card’s political views, is one of the genre’s best-known novels, and it was a film that was stuck in development hell for decades. When the technology to film the complicated battle room scenes became practical, the result was an adaptation that was fairly faithful to the book, but which lacked all of its intensity.
After watching it, I felt like it was the best that we’d ever get, but after so many years of waiting, it felt deflated. We never quite feel the intensity of the training and how he was essentially broken down by the end of it.
If we could get another version of this? Stick with Ender’s Game as a characters story, rather than getting caught up in the CGI fest that the movie ultimately became.
Like Starship Troopers, this one falls under the love-it-or-hate-it category. There was David Lynch’s fantastic movie Dune, and the SciFi miniseries Frank Herbert’s Dune, that came out in 2000. Both are reasonably competent adaptations: They get the broad story right, but there’s something about Herbert’s novel that neither have really been able to capture.
Dune is a really tough book to adapt, because it’s such a dense and rich story. Still, given the trend for thick, dense novels to make their way onto television, it would be interesting to see if an HBO-style, 10 episode season series would work for this.
War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds has been adapted a whole bunch of times over the years, but I’m thinking of the 2005 Tom Cruise thriller. The movie shifted the story to the modern day and across the Atlantic to the American East coast. The film is a decent alien invasion movie, with some connections back to the source material.
What would be really interesting to see? The book has been adapted no less than 10 times, but there really hasn’t been a period take on the book, one that incorporates some of the deeper implications that Wells stuck into the novel, such as England’s Imperial heritage and colonization. Even a modern take with similar themes would be interesting to watch.
Finally, there’s the Hobbit (all three of them). If Lord of the Rings was a good lesson in adapting a trilogy of novels, The Hobbit is a good lesson in what not to do. From the get go, it was an over-stuffed CGIfest that stretched what should have been a single film into three, all while trying to connect the trilogy to its predecessor.
Fortunately, there doesn’t need to be any reboot to make this better. There’s a whole bunch of fan edits out there that cut out the excess and pare the three films down into one. If there has to be a new film? Focus on the goddamned title character.
Obviously, everyone will have a slightly different take on what movies should be redone, but what would you add (or take off) from this list?
When Quantum Break launched earlier this month the PC version had plenty of problems, including poor performance, forced upscaling and the lack of a button to exit the game. Today’s 27GB update goes some way towards making the port not as horrible.
First off, that’s a very large update. I’ve seen folks on various forums saying the update is actually much smaller than that, but my system spent a couple of hours going from 0 to 27GB before I could play again, so I’m sticking to that.
See at the bottom of the screen there? An option to exit the game, a feat previously only achievable via right-clicking on the game in the task bar and closing it there or in the task manager. And just look at these graphics options:
Optional upscaling and film grain! Fancy. Coupled with the frame timing now matching the refresh rate I am able to run the game natively at 1920 x 1080 and get 60 frames per second with my GeForce GTX 980, as long as I turn the graphics down to low.
Here’s a full list of the changes made it what feels like less of a patch and more of a downloading the entire game all over again.
General Windows 10 Fixes / Updates:
Fixed a few Unicode issues that prevented some users from launching the game
Fixed various keyboard input issues
Fixed aspect ratio and full screen scaling for non 16:9 resolutions
Enable Alt+Enter to switch between full screen and windowed mode
Fixed resolution selection when transitioning from windowed to fullscreen mode
Fixed frame timing not matching the refresh rate
Fixed options menu items being clickable even if they’re cropped
Fixed 1 px gaps sometimes visible in the PC keyboard key callout backgrounds
Unlock descriptions for Will Diary 1 and Will Diary 2 are no longer reversed
Fixed Jack’s subtitles not showing in some cinematics
Remedy logo fix
Fix for a rare bug that accidentally wiped progress after completing the game
Fixed rare instances of cloud saves failing and causing loss of progress
Fixes for making Xbox Live integration more fault-tolerant.
Fixed in-game TV screen images which were sometimes grainy
Fixed circular progress bar alpha in the junction stats screen
Fixed rendering issues in the menus
Fixed issue in renderer when initializing participating media
Fixed video playback not always ending if the video was synced to audio
That’s a lot of fixed issues. Mind you it’s not all of the issues fixed. Folks in the official game forum are still having various issues. Plus running the game at native resolution rather than upscaling results in a massive performance hit. If I turn on all the bells and whistles I’m sub 30 on my system. Plus the game will no longer fill my ultra widescreen monitor, though that’s something I’ve learned to live with.
Are you playing Quantum Break on PC? If so, is it any better for you today after downloading all the things?
The fan remake of Star Wars Battlefront III, the controversial, ill-fated Star Wars shooter that was in development at Free Radical before being canceled, continues to move forward. The team of Star Wars fans behind the unlicensed game, Frontwire Studios, today hosted a new livestream where they talked more about their attempts to revive and remake the game as part of a PC project called “Galaxy in Turmoil.”
During the stream, the developers shared new work-in-progress images and cleared up a few points of potential confusion. First, they stressed that Galaxy in Turmoil will be a free game when it is eventually released. This is because the team feels like fans deserved to get Star Wars Battlefront III years ago before it was canceled. Additionally, from a business perspective, this may keep it off Disney legal team’s radar, for now at least.
The game is of course inspired by Battlefront III, but its assets were built from the ground up, the developers said. However, they also explained they plan to use John Williams’ score, which could lead to some legal issues, we’d imagine.
During the stream, the developers said if Disney sends them a cease and desist order, they will shut down the project right away. They said they would be “shocked” if Disney was not aware of the project. Additionally, they said they would contact Disney in the future to talk about how they can go about ensuring the project does not get shut down.
It was also announced during the event that Frontwire, as of Friday morning, is now an official, registered company.
Check out the bullet point list below for some other takeaways from the stream, while you can click through the images in the gallery above to see some shots that were revealed today.
Game runs on Unreal Engine 4
Undecided about split-screen.
Don’t expect it on Steam, since it’s an unlicensed game.
Game is in pre-alpha currently; all plans are subject to change.
All classic Battlefront game modes will be available, while Frontwire is creating a new mode designed around competitive play.
Matches will be 32v32 players; AI will fill in for players who drop out mid-match.
Will include original Battlefront III maps and some new ones.
Support for Battlefield II maps it to be determined; could be added as DLC.
Development won’t end at 1.0 release; more content will be added later.
Will include multiplayer because “it’s not Battlefront without multiplayer.”
Mod support could come after launch.
Developers are looking at all eras of Star Wars; fans can add their own content with mods.
No Star Cards like DICE’s new Battlefront.
There will be pickups for things like health packs and ammo drops.
No health generation.
Aims to be faithful to the original Battlefront games.
Some maps have a day/night cycle.
Frontwire hopes to make a new IP after releasing Galaxy in Turmoil.
A video will be released on May 4, Stars War Day, to hype the Battlefront III remake.
The remake’s developers include TheDarkSithLord, ColeT2014, CoolJedy, Corra_Ashu, and Dinozavr. Frontwire is also inviting people with development experience to help out.
In January this year, gameplay footage stemming from what appeared to be a leaked prototype version of Battlefront III emerged online.
“After a lot of work I managed to get my hands on Star Wars Battlefront III and wanted to share the infamous canceled game that I’m sure many of you wanted to play,” the person who leaked the footage said at the time. “I know not everyone will get the chance to play this immediately, but over time I expect the modding community to be able to change that.”
Sony is again driving a 16-wheeler across the country to promote the PlayStation brand. The company announced this week that the “Road to Greatness” tour is coming back for 2016, making stops at festivals and conventions across the United States. The tour stop at a different city every week now through November.
This year, the focus appears to be on PlayStation VR, Sony’s upcoming virtual reality headset. In a PlayStation Blog post, Sony said it will have “a number” of different PlayStation VR games available in the truck, though a list of these was not provided. Only a “few dozen” people will be able to check out PlayStation VR on any given day. However, people who send a tweet to @HeyPlayStation saying they want to try it, and then show that tweet to a staffer on the truck, will receive priority access.
PlayStation VR launches this October, priced at $400.
The Road to Greatness truck will also host “King of the Couch” local multiplayer competitions, with winners taking home things like PlayStation 4 games and PlayStation swag.
People who stop by the Road to Greatness truck can also get PlayStation shirts, hats, sunglasses, and other items that aren’t available anywhere else. Additionally, people can pick up a Road to Greatness Collectible Card (pictured below).
The Road to Greatness truck, which shape-shifts like a Transformer of sorts, will also let attendees check out Sony’s cloud-based TV streaming service PlayStation Vue.
The first Road to Greatness stop is at the Beale Street music festival in Memphis, Tennessee this weekend until May 1. Other stops include Summefest, the Utah Air Show, Musikfest, and the GameStop Expo.
What works as a series of video game cutscenes doesn’t necessarily work as a feature film. The Ratchet & Clank movie is living proof.
“The movie is going to be amazing,” I thought to myself as I played through the excellent film-based Ratchet & Clank game earlier this month. Snippets from the movie sprinkled between the rock-solid platforming and shooting action the series is known for gave me hope that the feature film, released this weekend in theaters nationwide, would be just as exciting as the game that spawned it.
Those hopes have been thoroughly dashed.
Yesterday I sat in a theater for an hour and a half, and I wasn’t excited at all. I didn’t smile much. I laughed out loud once at a stupid joke aimed at film buffs that the movie’s target audience likely wouldn’t understand. The sole child in the theater (there were only four people including myself at the 12:45 PM showing I attended) seemed to enjoy himself well enough, which is great. I mostly focused on keeping my hands from twitching, craving the elements that separate a great game from a mediocre movie.
The Ratchet & Clank movie closely follows the plot of the recently-released game, which is a real problem for fans of the franchise that ran out and picked up the PlayStation 4 exclusive on day one. They already know the plot. They’ve already experienced a superior version of the events that play out. There is no surprise here.
Setting the game aside for a moment, the Ratchet & Clank movie is a well-executed if relatively unoriginal piece of entertainment. We have a hapless character that dreams of being a hero. He becomes a hero, but his haplessness gets him into trouble and he experiences doubt. Ultimately he overcomes his doubts and becomes the hero he is destined to be. Roll credits.
It’s the same story that’s played out in animated films for ages, only this time the hero is a furry alien accompanied by a defective robot attempting to foil the plans of an evil corporation that’s tearing apart planets in order to build a perfect planet from the parts.
For parents looking to distract their children for a couple of hours, Ratchet & Clank is fine. It’s got slapstick humor, a by-the-numbers animated film script and plenty of bright colors to keep tiny human brains occupied. As Io9’s Charlie Jane Anders put it, it will keep your kids distracted and you won’t claw your face off.
For fans of Insomniac’s video game series, the clawing off of faces isn’t off the table.
Mild Movie Spoilers Follow
In the original Ratchet & Clank game, the titular Lombax lived alone on the planet Veldin, making a living as a mechanic while dreaming of one day exploring the galaxy. When Ratchet rescues a defective warbot that crash lands on Veldin the two embark on a mission to save the galaxy from the machinations of the evil Chairman Drek.
In the Ratchet & Clank movie, Ratchet is an idiot mechanic living with a crotchety mentor (John Goodman). In his first major scene Ratchet’s gatuitous and uneccessary souping up of an elderly customer’s ship nearly gets the both of them killed. He’s a bit of a moron.
Instead of exploring the stars, Ratchet dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers, a crack unit of intergalactic police. Tryouts for a newly-opened spot on the team are held on Veldin but the Lombax is turned away, told he doesn’t have what it takes.
As someone who has played through the most recent game, this is where the movie lost me. In the game Ratchet goes through an extended obstacle course (which also serves as a tutorial). By the time he’s jumped every jump and defeated every opponent it feels like he’s supremely qualified for the position. When Captain Qwark, the Galactic Rangers’ most popular (and most pompous) member turns him away, it feels completely unfair.
In the movie there is no obstacle course. We see Ratchet arrive at the tryouts. Then we see him turned away. It’s still cruel, but it’s nowhere near as potent and telling a moment.
It’s a problem that repeats itself throughout the film. An obstacle is put in the heroes’ way, and instead of spending a half-hour working through a level with bits of exposition along the way, the movie skips right to the resolution. A pivotal encounter in an enemy stronghold is reduced to a self-aware montage. A moment that was a major boss fight in the game is barely a blip in the movie.
This compressed experience neatly demonstrates one of the problems with video game movies. There’s no video game. Cutscenes can add depth and scope to a video game’s characters and setting, but it’s the controlling of those characters in those settings that endear them to us.
Take the relationship between the titular characters, Ratchet and Clank. In games the intergalactic odd couple spend countless hours exploring new worlds, battling countless enemies side by side (or in this case back to back). That a strong friendship forms between the two makes perfect sense.
The movie attempts to form that same bond over the course of 90 minutes, and it falls completely flat. They’re friends because the movie title is Ratchet & Clank.
Maybe I would have enjoyed the Ratchet & Clank movie had I played through the entire plot three weeks prior, but I doubt it. When it comes to filling the space between cutscenes, I’ll take hours of excellent gameplay over recycled jokes and predictable humor any day.