Friday, 1 January 2010

2009: The exclusive review

World exclusive, first hands on with 2009. Nothing draws ire from me more than seeing a wall of magazines, all featuring the same image on the cover, all proclaiming to be the only place in the entire galaxy where you can find the information contained within. If being a poorly written mess based on five seconds experience is what makes them unique, then maybe they can make that claim with a clear conscience. Something that doesn't grind my gears however is the yearly tradition of summarising the entire year in just a few bullet points. It's not been the most eventful of years, nowhere near as prolific entertainment-wise as 2008, but that's not to say it's been a bad year by any means. So Join me as we take a look at some of the ups and downs of 2009.

Worst Comic

Ghostbusters: The Otherside
IDW Publishing - Andrew Dabb, Steve Kurth
Back in 2005 Andrew Dabb and Steve Kurth bought us the Ghostbusters: Legion comic, it was never going to be as good as the films to which it owes it's name, but it was a pretty dern good take on the fiction. Four years later Tom Nguyen and Keith Champagne released their take on Ghostbusters, and boy they couldn't have been further from the mark as to what makes an
enjoyable story, and I don't just mean an enjoyable Ghostbusters Story. Somewhere during the design process it was decided that the best course of action would be to kill the Ghostbusters, and then spend the majority of the run with them trapped in purgatory. The attempts at humour fall completely flat, the plot spends several issues just wandering in circles and the artwork, while impressive, feels wasted on such an embarrassing plot. If you feel like some self harm Ghostbusters: The Otherside can be found here.

Best Comic

Marvel - Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato
The Secret Invasion is over, and despite not receiving the best reception the events that were kicked off in it's final pages are now in full swing in the Dark Reign story arc. This January we got to see exactly how Norman Osborn being in one of the most powerful government offices in the world would effect the entire marvel universe, starting with earth's mightiest heroes: the Avengers. So far Bendis hasn't disappointed, some of the greatest villains from the Marvel universe such as Venom and Bullseye are now members of the team, and are having to get used to living to their roles as the heroes they are disguised as. Not only that but Osborn has now set up his own team of Dark X-Men as well, further sending ripples through the Marvel Universe. The art is absolutely fantastic, the story is interesting with the fantastic idea of the former Green Goblin being in control of the country, it has a great pace to it and the dialogue has Bendis' usual touch of humour. The are so many books available in the Dark Reign series so far, you can get started with Dark Avengers here.

Worst Movie

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
Paramount - Michael Bay
According to Metacritic the first Transformers film received a mixed reception, falling on the side of generally favourable. The sequel unfortunately was nothing but a disappointment, and quite possibly a contender for worst film of the decade. Its often been claimed that Michael Bay can't see the difference between a good plot and special effects, and this films makes a very good case for that opinion. The other hot point of contention was the possibly racist undertones through the film, which regardless of it being intentional or not still generates bad publicity for the film. The misguided attempts at humour fall completely flat (farting robots, anyone?) and the motive of shifting as much merchandise as possible is brazenly kept on display. Adding a much expanded role for Megan Fox, quite possibly one of the worst actresses ever to be on film, into the mix was the final nail in the coffin.

Best Movie

District 9
Sony - Neill Blomkamp
District 9 was extremely well received by audiences at Comic-Con, and went on to be equally popular at the cinema. A sci-fi film and a political film, most people are able to find something that pleases them with this wonderful piece of art, be it the sheer brutality of some of the more violent scenes or the message of apartheid and race that (barely) hides beneath the surface.Visually the film is magnificent, with the effects taking a more understated approach, especially when in comparison to the aforementioned Transformers 2. This subtle and naturalistic approach makes the effects more believable, and greatly enhances the viewers immersion in the experience . From a nerdy media fan its also interesting to know that the writer/director was extremely briefly attached to the Halo film, suddenly it doesn't seem like such a bad idea does it?

Worst Game

Rogue Warrior
Bethesda - Xbox 360, PS3
It seemed only fair to exclude the Wii from this category, as the jury is still out deciding if shovelware really constitutes as games. Although the point is completely moot as Rogue Warrior was able to be so unashamedly bad that it makes shovelware titles like Cheggers party quiz look like a gift from the gods. For a large portion of the year I was confident that Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust was going to be the game I would be crowning worst game, but then out of the shadows game Rogue Warrior with a pocket full of foul language and a campaign that is shorter than some Disney films. While Larry is definitely the worse game in pretty much all areas, it never felt like it was aspiring for more. Rogue Warrior on the other hand was developed by Bethesda, let me repeat that; Beth-"Elderscrolls, Fallout 3"-esda. As consumers we have come to have very high expectations from the people who develop our games, however when they release enjoyable titles and then try and slip something awful out discreetly and charge full retail price for it, tolerance quickly dissipates. Please refer to my previous post for a more on the quality of the writing in the game.

Best Game

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Naughty Dog - Ps3
There is only one negative thing that can be said about Uncharted 2, it's a PS3 exclusive. Such a wonderful game should be available on as many formats as possible so that everyone regardless of their hardware of choice can enjoy it. Hell it should be available on DVD format too, so even non-gamers can participate in the exploits of Nathan Drake. Quite simply Uncharted 2 has the best graphics of any game to date, with the most expressive and emotive characters, best looking locations and absolutely beautiful animations. The plot is wonderfully well written, part Indian Jones, part early X-Files, with moments that genuinely cause laughter, an experience that is very unusual in the world of games, thanks in no small part to the amazing voice acting by all involved. Hollywood has struggled to capture this sort of magic for many years. I really cannot sing enough praise for this game. PLAY IT!

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