Thursday, September 01, 2011

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:
This story is a loving homage to the culture of the 1980s, wrapped in a an intriguing setting of a dystopian future. In the year 2044, the Earth is in pretty bad shape, and most of the populace find escape in a free online game that's a cross between Second Life and World of Warcraft. The millionaire creator of the game has willed his fortunes to whichever gamer can solve his treasure hunt within the game, which requires an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from War Games to Voltron. The protagonist is pitted against a corporation who wants control of the game and isn't afraid to throw millions of dollars and "gold farmer" toons at the treasure hunt to make it happen. I didn't LOVE this book, as many reviewers did, but I did enjoy reading it and would recommend it. There are almost TOO many 80s references towards the beginning of the book, many of which I didn't catch because I was born in 1979 and barely learning to poop on my own when many of them were topical, but this should not get in the way of understanding the story.

Final Grade: B+

Burn Notice, Season Four:
Burn Notice is pretty much dialing it in now, and has lost the fun innovation of the first two seasons. It's still a breezy, enjoyable show with fun dialogue though. Product placement is very noticeable in this season, especially hilarious when you realize that one of Michael's voiceovers could easily be the narration for a car commercial.

Final Grade: C+

Limbo:
Limbo is a downloadable indie game that just oozes with character. The game is done in a film-like black-and-white style with no dialogue or text and very little in the way of sound beyond ambient noise. The first section of the game is very creepy and sets up some great expectations. The middle section loses that appeal and turns into a series of timing puzzles that require slightly better reflexes than I have (or maybe a more responsive control system). The ending is pure tripe. Never believe reviewers that say an ending is open-ended and thought-provoking. The only thing in life that should be open-ended is the deadline on the open bar at any given wedding.

Final Grade: D

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (PG-13):
Obviously I am not the target market for the Harry Potter movies, since one of the very first scenes throws over a dozen characters into a room without introduction and I could barely identify three of them. The movie was also so dark that I tried to take off my 3-D glasses and then realized I wasn't wearing any. However, I felt that the movie was well done overall, even though it was essentially a road trip "Harry and Hermione go to White Castle" story with a sense of suspense that moved in spurts and didn't add up to much on its own. I also wish Voldemort had only made three Horcuxes, because there are so many Named Artifacts by this point in the story that it feels like the trophy case in Zork I.

Final Grade: B-

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