Monday, December 17, 2012

Return to Middle Earth – A review of “The Hobbit"

For die-hard Tolkien fans, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” comes as a welcome review to the world of Middle Earth. There are a few surprises included in this first installment of the book adaptation, but they are tastefully done in a way that I think even die-hard purists can appreciate.

As film buffs may know, this movie has been filmed at a higher frame rate than most modern-day movies (48fps versus the usual 24fps). In my opinion, the faster frame rate serves to better blend the CGI or computerized elements with the natural ones, and gives the movie an overall more cohesive feel when watching.  For some, this may take some getting used to, even when watched in 2D rather than 3D, but I believe this is an overall change for the better. It works especially well when paired with Jackson’s style, and for this genre.

Speaking of 3D, I felt like the 3D effect was particularly well-used in this film. I’m not big on the “popping from the screen” tricks, but even the few included with this film were tasteful.  The best use of the 3D, however, was the better sense of spatial awareness that the effect gives the viewer.  When seeing a fantastic shot of the small bridges stretching across the caverns under the Misty Mountains, you really get a sense of the scope and size of the place. Peter Jackson’s understanding of how best to use the 3D camera is impressive. I usually find 3D to be a bit overbearing, with effects haphazardly done (oh yeah, we’re using the 3D camera, we should add something to make that clear), but I felt like Peter Jackson used it perfectly, and this film was well suited to its use.

As for those surprises I mentioned, “The Hobbit” borrows rather heavily from the appendices of “The Lord of the Rings” in order to fill in some of the gaps that exist in the book. For example, there are many instances in the book where Gandalf disappears, and we never know where he is. Peter Jackson fills in from the appendices to answer those questions. This not only eliminates some moments that would be awkward on film, it also helps to better tie “The Hobbit” to the events of “The Lord of the Rings” for those who have not read the books. As a fan of both the books and previous movies, I thought these scenes were particularly well done, and enjoyed their addition. At no point in the film did I feel like things were being thrown in without a great deal of thought as to why they were being included. Most were done in order to move the action along in some places, or to give a reason for various character’s actions.

For me some of the film’s highlights included:

            Dwarven singing (including “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates!”)
            Bilbo’s riddle contest with Gollum
The inclusion of Radagast the Brown (who doesn’t usually make an appearance in “The Hobbit”)

Things I didn’t particularly enjoy:

The length of the film was a bit long. There were several other places where the film could have ended, but Jackson decided to stretch it. A full 3 hours is a bit much for sitting in a crowded theater.

Overall I rate this film as a 4.5 out of 5 stars – definitely a “must-see” for any fan, and I highly recommend the 3D (which is fairly unusual for me).

Monday, August 20, 2012

New GTA V Screenshots

Rockstar Games has released three new screenshots from GTA V on their Newswire this morning. These shots showcase different modes of transportation that will be featured throughout Grand Theft Auto's next installment.

Up first we see that GTA V won't be all about cars, as this shot features a non-motor powered form of transport, with the Santa Monica pier in the background:

Second, what may be one of the fastest cars in this installment of the game, a sweet little sports car dubbed the "Cheeta":

Finally, Rockstar hints that players may be taking to the air at some point in the game:

They've promised that more will be coming later this week, so keep an eye out for updates!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Microsoft Unveils the Surface PC

As you may or may not know, last Thursday Microsoft sent out rushed invites to a bit unveiling event that took place at 3:30 PST this afternoon. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage to unveil what he called "a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft."

Photo Credit:

The new Microsoft Surface is what Microsoft is calling "A tablet that's a great PC, a PC that's a great tablet. A new kind of computing."  If a tablet bred with a laptop, the Surface is what you'd get. It's only 9.33mm thick, with a liquid metal frame and scratch-resistant VaporMg case, and built-in stand. The Surface will feature built in HDMI, a built-in HD video camera, You will be able to play games from the Windows store with it, of course. The Surface PC features super-fast WiFi thanks to dual high-performance antennas and receivers, so that no matter how you hold it, your WiFi won't be affected. Additionally a groove around the device allows what Microsoft calls "perimeter venting," so that no matter how you hold it, the Surface won't get hot the way an iPad will. 

In addition to the usual tablet touchscreen, the Surface uses 650 dpi "digital ink" so that you can write on it with a magnetic stylus pen. For those who really hate using a touchscreen the Surface will also have a full trackpad available as a peripheral, with clickable buttons. The most exciting peripheral, however is by far teh Touch Cover, which will be available in blue, orange, pink, charcoal, and white. It is pressure-sensitive, so that you can lay your hands on it or brush against it without accidentally typing, and when plugged in, the Surface display changes color to match the Touch Cover, letting you know it is connected properly. The magnetic pen, Touch Cover, and trackpad will all be available at the Surface launch.

Two versions of the Surface will be available.  The first will run Windows RT, weighs 676 g and is only 9.3mm thick. It features a 10.6in ClearType HD display, microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, and 2x2 MIMO antennae. This version features Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT, and will have both the Touch Cover and Type Cover (a thinner version of the Touch Cover) available. The RT version will be available in 32GB and 64GB.

The Surface Pro will run Windows 8 Pro and will be available approximately 3 months after the Surface RT. It weighs a slightly heavier 903 g and will be slightly thicker at 13.5mm. It will have the same 10.6" ClearType Full HD Display. Features include microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, and 2x2 MIMO antennae. The Touch Cover, Type Cover and Pen with Palm Block will be available for this version, which is available in 64GB and 128GB. 

Microsoft copped out on pricing saying only that it will be "comparable."  My thinking is that because they were very careful to refer to the Surface as a PC and not a tablet, "comparable" means up in Ultrabook territory.  It can be assumed that the RT will be less than the Pro. Guesses right now range anywhere from $500-$1000 with the RT being closer to $500 and the Pro closer to $1000. No shipping date was revealed as well.

So what do you think, gamers?  Does the idea of the Surface excite you?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Welcome, and THANKS for being here!

Hey guys, as promised, welcome to the I'm a Gamer Girl blog!

Naturally, the big thing everyone is still talking about is E3 - namely Nintendo's big failure at E3.  I have to admit, while I'm more interested in the WiiU now than I was before the show, they could have done a better job with their presentation.  Ending with NintendoLand instead of say... ZombieU was not their best move, since not many people really understood what NintendoLand was all about.  While I think that it sounds fun for casual and social gamers, Nintendo would have been better served by pandering to the core audience a bit. Their biggest failure, though, was the game line up they chose to show.  Instead of showcasing some third party games that are coming to WiiU in the future, they decided to go with titles that will be available at or at least close to launch. The problem with that is most of the games they showcased are or will be already out on other consoles. Not exactly the way to drum up interest or excitement.

In addition to Nintendo specifically many people seemed to feel that E3 was just fairly weak as a whole this year. I'm not sure I agree with that completely.  I think the feeling of disappointment is due more to the fact that so much rumor-mongering has been going on in the video game press about the next generation of consoles gamers just kind of assumed that some of those questions would be answered at E3. The fact of the matter is Sony and Microsoft simply aren't at a point where they can do that yet. Game developers are still only just beginning to take a look at software dev kits, and it seems like Ubisoft is the only developer that really has a handle on what they're going to be capable of making for these new consoles.  Unfortunately we'll have to wait for press releases later this year, and next year's E3 for the big reveals.

Speaking of Ubisoft - talk about winning E3!!  Watch_Dogs totally got my girl rocks off and I am seriously tingling in anticipation for this game.  It's also the one game I'm SERIOUSLY disappointed that wasn't showcased for WiiU because I think the WiiU's second screen would be PERFECT for this game. As excited as I was for more Assassin's Creed, Tomb Raider, Splinter Cell and Call of Duty, Watch_Dogs made all that seem to pale in comparison.  I have a passion for technology and to see a game that uses technology that exists today in ways that are possible in the modern world, and to have that technology play a central role in the gameplay... I wanted to shout "finally a game that feels like it's made JUST FOR ME".  I'll have more on Watch_Dogs in a future post, you can be sure.

That wraps it up for this post, gamers. Leave me comments letting me know your thoughts, as well as what you'd like to see from this blog specifically.

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