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Tag: Games (51-60 of 177)

'Inception,' 'The Walking Dead,' 'Scott Pilgrim' and more: Doc Jensen's Best Geek-Outs of 2010

lost-finaleImage Credit: Mario Perez/ABC‘Tis the season for picking favorites — for taking stock of the year that was and expressing ourselves with lists. Like every pop culture junkie, I have a list for everything — movies, TV, books, music, comics, videogames. But I’m also a big geek, with a fancy for what the industry and more sophisticated nerds call “genre entertainment” — superhero, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy stuff, worlds of wild and weird wonder marked by extraordinary creativity and mind-stretching ideas that can inspire intense engagement, deep discussion with friends, and in some instances, multiple 6,000 word essays each week exploring every nook and cranny, real and imagined, of an entertainment experience — especially ones that involve smoke monsters. Here were my favorite Geek-Outs of 2010, and beginning with (no surprise)…

1. Lost
Some people will love me for putting this Number 1; others will hate me. I love that Lost was capable of producing such polarizing responses. Everyone had his or her own intense, personal relationship to the show. I am not here to validate or critique your perspective, whatever end of the spectrum you occupy. That was your experience. This was mine: The most stimulating pop culture experience of my adult life came to a conclusion this past year with a season to savor for years to come. Yes, I do mean savor: The more I think about the Sideways world, the Man In Black, and the center of The Island, the more richness I find — to the point that I’ve recently been re-thinking many of my initial interpretations. (As much as I enjoyed producing those 6,000 word recaps, I really wish I had more time to process and crunch each episode before committing my thoughts to digital paper.) For example, in my write-ups on “The End,” I called the Sideways world “Purgatory” and deemed it a wholly spiritual construct. I am no longer convinced. I find myself tilting toward an idea, suggested by other critics and bloggers, that the Sideways realm should be thought of as a psychological construct; I think you can accept that without negating the spiritual message of the show. That said, in recent months, I’ve been reassessing “The End” through a more agnostic filter, and as I do, provocative and challenging new meanings emerge — about the Man In Black, about what it means to be The Island’s guardian, about the season’s strangest character. What do I mean by all this? And who was the season’s strangest character? I’ll tell you in my long-promised, long-delayed last Lost column, which will post before the end of the year. Oh, and one more thing? Still cry when I watch this. One of the most beautifully heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen on TV. READ FULL STORY

'TRON: Legacy': Hints of '2001' and Ziggy Stardust. What was your favorite homage?

Tron-Michael-SheenImage Credit: DisneyAs a sequel to a 28-year-old cult movie, it’s to be expected that TRON: Legacy would have a nod or two to that other film, and sure enough, a movie poster for the original shows up pretty much in the first scene. But there were a few other surprise tilts of the cap to pop culture phenomena that popped up as the film progressed. First, Flynn’s not-so-humble abode, with its floor of light panels and its future-baroque furnishings (did he hire an interior design program?), was a clear wink at the Jupiter room from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then, Michael Sheen’s batty performance as the albino backstabber Zuse channeled none other than Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, even so far as having that weird circle-y thing on his forehead. But easily my favorite homage of the movie, whether intentional or not, was Jeff Bridges’ occasional Dude-isms, like “You’re messing with my Zen thing,” or the ten or so zonked-sounding lines that ended with “man.” What about you guys? Any other little tributes you caught that you liked? Did the arrows that made the light-bikes speed up remind anyone else of the boost pads from Super Mario Kart?

TRON: Legacy opened on Dec. 17. For more December releases, check out our events calendar here.

EW's Big Shill qualifying round: Which McDonaldland character will devour the competition?

McDonaldlandImage Credit: McDonald's CorporationAs you now know, this January, EW will bring you Big Shill, our exciting bracket game that pits America’s favorite advertising icons against each other in an epic battle for marketing supremacy. And, so far, we hope (ba da ba da da) you’re lovin’ it, because we’re about to throw yet another qualifying round your way. For, you see, in attempting to choose the most well-loved and fiercest competitor from McDonaldland, we’ve hit an impasse.

Sure, it’s easy to assume Ronald McDonald would take the McGriddle cake when it comes to our game, but America’s history with clowns has been complicated. And while the Hamburglar is a front-runner — thanks to his highly coveted, recession-proof career choice of hamburger-stealing — it’s tough to imagine he’d top Mayor McCheese, who clearly has picked up the popular vote for decades now. (How ’bout those term limits, Michael Bloomberg?) Birdie the Early Bird is the first choice amongst progressive thinkers — she was McDonaldland’s first female creature — but the Fry Kids are the first choice amongst cuddly things that are about 25 percent eyes, like Zooey Deschanel. Then there’s also Filet-o-Fish thief Captain Crook, keeper-of-all-hamburger-peace Officer Big Mac, the Professor (who’s still trying to figure out what chemical substance oozes out of the McGriddle), the Hamburger Patch, and BFFs the McNugget Buddies. And who, of course, can forget about Grimace, the amorphous blob who was an evil shake-stealer before he saw Dr. Drew and reformed himself into… whatever the hell he is? (Seriously, what is Grimace?)

So it’s time to make yourself heard, PopWatchers. Which McDonaldland character should compete in our Big Shill bracket game? READ FULL STORY

EW's Big Shill bracket game qualifying round: Frogs, dalmatians, or Wassssup!

Spuds-McKenzieIt’s a sad fact that Joe Camel has frequently polled higher with American five-year-olds than Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. Sad, yes, but can I say that it’s also kind of awesome, without endorsing cigarette smoking? Awesome in its power, awesome in the subliminal influence that a glasses-wearing, phallic-nosed camel can persuade a kid to pick up a cancer stick that will immediately make him or her cough like an 86-year-old asthmatic. Advertising is a science, and great advertising always works with a smile. Or a laugh. Or perhaps some skin. So Joe shouldn’t take all the blame; he was only doing his job. Looking cool. Confident. Classy. He was selling. Just like Ronald McDonald and Mr. Clean and those adorable Coca-Cola polar bears. They’ve bored a tunnel into our brains, where they pop up from time to time with a jingle or a quip, especially when we’re pushing that shopping cart down Aisle 6.

Many of these marketing icons are beloved characters, and at EW, we’ve decided to celebrate the best of the best with our first Big Shill bracket game. Starting in January, 64 of your favorite corporate mascots, characters, and whatchamacallits will compete head-to-head in a tournament to see who (or what) we adore the most, no matter what they’re selling. (Please keep your five-year-old off the computer so Joe Camel doesn’t win. That would be a PR fiasco.)

The competition to make the field of 64 is intense, and rather than give an entire branch of our bracket to the multitude of memorable Budweiser and Bud Lite sales mascots over the years, we need a qualifying round to see who will represent all of Anheuser-Busch in this spirited contest. Do you miss Louis the Lizard, the surly swamp thing who despised those mouth-breathing frogs? Or do you feel nostalgic for Spuds MacKenzie, that ridiculously cool dog who, rumor has it, was fired after one too many forced skateboard rides drove him to a habit of overindulging in the product he endorsed. Actually, all these commercial figures have a fascinating backstory, and in January, when the Big Shill game officially begins, we’ll examine them all closely. Until then, I ask that you Real Men of Genius nominate your favorite best Bud. And drink responsibly.

READ FULL STORY

It's man vs. machine in new 'Jeopardy!' battle!

Ken-JenningsImage Credit: Jeopardy/Getty ImagesWhat is totally awesome, Alex? The headline wouldn’t lie, PopWatchers. Jeopardy! will take two of its most popular former contestants — Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — and pit them against Watson, a computer program developed by IBM’s artificial intelligence team.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson and not this guy, has already been tested in about 50 matches against former Jeopardy! contestants. Unfortunately, no one’s sharing the results. How rude! Jennings and Rutter will play two games against Watson with a $1 million prize at stake. (IBM says they’ll donate the prize money to charity, and Jennings and Rutter plan to give away half of the winnings.) The matches will air Feb. 14-16.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Will you tune in to see another man versus IBM machine competition? Who do you think will walk away with the million dollar prize? And should they battle to the death next? Let me know in the comments below.

Read more:
‘Jeopardy!’ contestant breaks Ken Jennings’ one-day winnings record
‘Jeopardy!’ celebrates its 6,000th episode

Spike Video Game Awards: 'Red Dead Redemption,' Neil Patrick Harris earn high scores

Neil-Patrick-HarrisImage Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty ImagesRed Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2 and God of War 3 were big winners at Saturday’s Spike Video Game Awards. Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted the ceremony, won Best Human Performance (Male) for his vocal work as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Red Dead Redemption–an open world Western from Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto) prickly with provocative themes that evoke Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven–won Game of the Year and three other awards. Mass Effect 2–a role playing game with a deep, rich sci-fi world–bagged three awards including Studio of the Year for BioWare. God of War 3–the latest chapter in Kratos’ war of vengeance against the Greek gods–won in the Best PlayStation 3 Game and Best Graphics categories.

Other notable winners included actress Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), who won Best Human Performance (Female) for her vocal work in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, which also won for Best PC Game. Super Mario Galaxy 2 won for Best Wii Game; Call of Duty: Black Ops won two awards including Best Character (Sgt. Frank Woods); and Halo: Reach won for Best Multi-Player Game. [Full disclosure: I served as a judge for this year's Spike Video Game Awards. My responsibilities included voting for candidates and then casting a vote in each category once the finalists were determined. A full list of winners--which I did not know in advance--can be found at Spike's site.]

The show itself reminded me of some videogames I’ve played: visually spectacular (thanks to a Tron-meets-Soul Train production design, enhanced by 3-D virtual set extensions that only TV viewers could see), emotionally empty, and occasionally marked by bad taste, most of which Neil Patrick Harris was forced to facilitate. The opener was a fake-out that played to Harris’ awards show-hosting rep. You expected him to come out and sing a kudosfest-spoofing tune. Instead, he took the stage looking Barry Stinson debonaire and radiating macho cool… and packing heat, which he used to fake-slaughter a troupe of dancers, their white tuxes blooming with fake red blood. It was an obvious joke that fell totally flat, and worse, it played to another image–a cultural view of videogames as a genre of entertainment largely defined by those games that are gratuitously violent. I’m surprised that something designed to celebrate the “art” of the medium would promote that cliche.

I would have killed to have been a fly on the wall of Harris’ brain as he gamely (and regretfully?) soldiered through the show. One of the ceremony’s edgier moments came when the host accepted his award with mock-surprise and bantered with a giant Spider-Man head projected on a screen. In the span of a minute, the bit went from really amusing to wrong by making its wall-crawler work lewd, crude and blue. (Although the moment where Spidey blasted Julie Taymor’s troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark musical as “sh—y” took some admirable chutzpah.) Harris ended the bit, as designed, by asking the producers to “cut the feed.” I felt the same way–many times during the show. Harris (and Spider-Man) deserved better. But at least the actor finally got an award out of it. Memo to NPH: Don’t feel obligated to host every awards show that asks you to do so.

The show served not only to congratulate the videogame industry, but serve as a marketing platform to preview and promote a number of 2011 games that could afford the product placement showcases within the telecast. Naughty Dog, the studio behind the Uncharted franchise, aired a promo during the telecast to announce that the third installment in the series, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, will be released on November 1, 2011–or 11/1/11. If you missed our scoop on the game, and you want more info on the plot and the kind of gameplay to expect, click here. The promo for Batman: Arkham City was riveting, and the tease for Mass Effect 3 gave me sci-fi-destructporn goosebumps. Monolithic robotic Reapers laying waste to London like War of the Worlds tripods on steroids? I’m in. But does that mean the game will be set on Earth? Or was the promo merely intended to be a capture-the-imagination vignette designed to dramatize what’s at stake in the game? Can’t wait until next year to find out. There were promos for other games, too, including Resistance 3 and Elder Scroll: Skyrim. Gamers, were you pleased by the winners? And what promos looked most promising to you?

More from EW:
Neil Patrick Harris on hosting the Video Game Awards

'Uncharted' exclusive: Your first look at 2011's must-play videogame 'Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception'

Uncharted-3-game-artImage Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment AmericaIf Indiana Jones or Robert Langdon is your definition of treasure-hunting action-adventure, then either you watch too many movies or read too many books — or you haven’t met Nathan Drake, the hero at the center the blockbuster videogame franchise Uncharted, exclusive to the PlayStation 3 platform. Last year, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves garnered widespread critical acclaim, bagged bunches of major videogame industry awards, and sold over 3.8 million copies worldwide. Hollywood’s a fan: A feature film from Columbia Pictures — adapted by helmer David O. Russell (Three Kings), produced by former Marvel Studios honcho Avi Arad and rumored to be starring Mark Wahlberg, the headliner of Russell’s forthcoming Oscar-baiting drama flick The Fighter – should be shooting just as the next game in the series, entitled Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, hits stores late next year. EW recently visited the Santa Monica, California offices of Uncharted’s developer, Naughty Dog, for a sneak peek at the sequel, and we returned wishing “late next year” was right damn now.

Here’s what we can tell you: READ FULL STORY

Neil Patrick Harris to host Video Game Awards

neil-patrick-harrisImage Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty ImagesSpike TV has scored Neil Patrick Harris, former emcee of the Emmys, the Tonys, the TV Land Awards, and the World Magic Awards, to host its 8th Annual Video Game Awards live on Dec. 11. Some of you may be thinking Neil shouldn’t say “yes” to every hosting gig he’s offered, but I’m always a fan of entertainers championing the things they’re passionate about — even if it takes them to cable. (And with Spike TV’s Scream Awards becoming so star-studded, the network is doing something right.)

The show will feature 13 world premieres of games from 2011 and beyond. Confirmed so far: Batman: Arkham City, Resistance 3, and Thor: God of Thunder, as well as the next game from Studio of the Year nominee BioWare, the debut of Guillermo del Toro’s video game, and a special Gears of War announcement. Among the presenters, attendees, and nominees: Del Toro, Thor: God of Thunder video game star Chris Hemsworth, Halo: Reach star and VGA 2010 nominee Nathan Fillion (fingers crossed he and Harris plan a bit), It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson, and Rob McElhenney, Olivia Munn, 90210‘s Annalynne McCord, Dane Cook, Nick Swardson, Tony Hawk, and… Denise Richards. My Chemical Romance will perform.

Will you tune in, or will you Google Harris’ opening and closing bits the morning after?

Alex Trebek to cameo on 'How I Met Your Mother' (Cue: Sean Connery mom jokes now)

When it comes to the greatest cameo performances ever made by a game show host, the argument inevitably comes down to two men: Bob Barker and Alex Trebek. The two TV titans are the Ali-Frazier of their field. The Jeopardy! host set the bar high with his 1990 appearance on Cheers, in which Cliff Clavin lost “22,000 big ones” with the Final Jeopardy answer, “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?” But Barker rallied in 1996, treating Adam Sandler like a hyper SPCA puppy in Happy Gilmore. The price was most definitely right, Bob. (Watch both clips after the jump.)

Just before he retired from The Price is Right in 2007, Barker appeared as himself on How I Met Your Mother when Barney was certain that the Plinko-playing silver fox was his biological father. It’s taken three years, but Trebek is finally prepared to answer his rival. TV Guide has reported that Trebek will guest on the Dec. 13 episode of HIMYM that has A Christmas Carol-type storyline.

This is huge! So much is at stake! I expect nothing but perfection from Trebek, who has never not known the answer to a question in the past 26 years. I know I’ll be watching. And I suspect Battlin’ Bob Barker will be watching, too.

READ FULL STORY

Microsoft could sell 5 million Kinects by the end of the year

Xbox360S_KinectMicrosoft has officially sold over 1 million Kinects since the device’s release 10 days ago, and the company says that it’s on track to sell 5 million worldwide by the end of the year. For a little perspective, Sony Move sold about 2.5 million units in the U.S. and Europe in 30 days; Apple sold 1 million iPads in the U.S. within a month of its launch. There are around 70 million Wiis out there in the world, but that’s been on shelves (flying off shelves?) for almost four years.

What’s fueling early adoption here? Well, most importantly, Kinect is pretty damn fun. Who doesn’t like to pretend to whitewater raft in his or her own living room? I defy you to find such a stone-souled person. Secondly, though, is that Kinect appeals to and is geared towards the same nontraditional gamers that Wii so effectively targeted. Have you noticed how many kids and women are in the ads for Kinect? That’s not a coincidence. Kinect comes bundled with Kinect Adventures, a family-friendly jump-around game that’s a total blast. That’s also not a coincidence. Giveaways on both Oprah and Ellen? Gee, I wonder who watches those shows! READ FULL STORY

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