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Nerdgasm 2012: Games and Movies

Perhaps 2012 really will usher in the end of the world.

OK, that might be pushing things a little far, but it is going to be one hell of year for movies and video games! Yes, many of them are sequels or part of a larger canon--but that really isn't all bad.

Diablo III

May 15

Take, for instance, the article posted to my main page a couple of weeks ago: Diablo III Lives May 15, 2012. To say that this installment is long awaited is quite the understatement; fans have been clamouring for a sequel since Diablo II arrived on computers everywhere in 2000. This fervor only increased when Blizzard announced in 2008 that a sequel was imminent--though it soon became clear that it would appear in "Blizzard time."

It seems that our waiting is finally over, and the shadows of Tristram past will again darken our doors this spring.


Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

2012?

Starcraft

While it may be premature to expect this game in 2012, particularly with Blizzard's timelines, the next installment of Starcraft II should grace our PCs either this year or the next, providing ample fodder for rabid fans the world around.

For those that may be unfamiliar with the franchise, Starcraft is the sci-fi brother of the Warcraft fantasy RTS series, offering a similar (and arguably more refined--but that depends who you ask) set of units and available tactics. The first Starcraft debuted in 1998, with its "Brood War" expansion following shortly after. Like Diablo II & III, that equals about 12 years between the first game and the release of its sequel.

While this kind of waiting may be frustrating to fans, it is some salve that Blizzard rarely releases a game (in my experience, at least--though I was never into WoW) with major deficiencies; the massive lag time between releases appears to be time they spend perfecting their product. Wings of Liberty, the first Starcraft II installment, stayed true to this--it was well crafted and polished until it shone. We can only hope that the same can be said of Heart of the Swarm .


Borderlands 2

September 18

The first Borderlands actually brought back the warm and fuzzy feelings I got from Diablo II. There's something about a game that gives you items with a seemingly endless supply of prefixes and suffixes, and a minute possibility of a truly rare item, that makes me want to give up everything else to spend time with it.

Borderlands 2 promises to be more of the same--only with new items to enjoy and new areas to explore. If it's not broken, don't fix it.


Assassin's Creed III

October 31

Assassin's Creed III is another boon for gamers everywhere. The series has continually evolved, improving gameplay and graphics, refining controls, and adding more gadgets than the bat-utility belt--all while telling the story of Desmond, a clueless man of the present caught in a web of the past.

As the story unfolds, the player is told that Desmond is the Assassin decendant, one of a league of assassins sworn to protect the delicate balance of the world and keep the Templars from ruling it all. Through modern technology, Desmond relives the experiences of his past to perfect his own skills and learn the whereabouts of eldritch objects that have the power to tip the balance in favour of whichever faction discovers it first.

The first four AC games, Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, and Assassin's Creed: Revelations (not including those games developed solely for handheld devices), take place in European and middle-eastern cities during historical times that stretch from the Crusades (1191 A.D.)until the rise of the Ottoman Empire in Constantiople (around 1510 A.D.) and feature stunning displays of the cities of those times. The character Desmond is experiencing the world through (Altair in AC, and Ezio Auditore in the following games) climbs any available building to help stalk his prey, giving the player incredible views of places they may never visit--and many that has ceased to exist entirely.

Assassin's Creed III breaks with the tradition of beautiful European cityscapes by moving the action to the new world--specifically during the American Revolutionary War--and I can't help feeling a little apprehensive about the change. Where in the new world is my Colosseum to stand on (and jump from) and my massive cityscape to explore?

Quibbles aside, I am certainly excited enough to see the conclusion of Desmond's story (though I was also a bigger fan of Ezio than Desmond himself), and finally learn what the other pieces of Eden are and what powers they possess--even if that means learning to love a new main character (after 3 games with Ezio) and dealing with a fairly striking change in setting.


The Avengers

May 4

The first of a number of promising superhero movies this year (yes, I'm ignoring Ghost Rider 2, and for the same reason I pretend Daredevil doesn't exist--I said promising movies) is The Avengers.

Building on the monumental success of rebuilt superhero franchises surrounding Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man, The Avengers tackles the same question the original comic series did: what happens when all those big personalities get shoved into one team?

The results look spectacular--even with Hawkeye (sorry Hawkeye fans).

Prometheus

June 8

Originally conceived as an Alien prequel, Prometheus focuses on a Weyland Company search for humanity's origins, which are apparently located somewhere in space--at least according to a starmap common to a number of Earth's ancient civilizations.

OK, OK. This does not exactly sound like something new--in fact it sounds almost ridiculously like Alien Versus Predator, but the trailer looks badass enough for me to give it a chance.



Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

June 22

As previously mentioned on my main page, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was originally a novel seeking to combine a reasonably accurate biography of Lincoln with a overarching motivation of slaughtering undead for the former president.

I can only assume that the movie will follow the same general progression of Lincoln's life from the death of his mother at the hands of a fanged corpse posing as a human moneylender to his death at Ford's Theatre at the hands of the vampire John Wilkes Booth.

Unfortunately, it looks like the typical Hollywood focus on action will dominate the movie, but we can only hope that it's not as terrible a translation as The Vampire Lestat...it couldn't REALLY be THAT bad...could it?

The Amazing Spiderman

July 3

The Spiderman reboots were among the worst recent comic book adaptations, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, they weren't as bad as say, Ghostrider, Daredevil, or Electra, but they certainly didn't stand up to Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America either...By the time they hit the third, I don't know that they even really challenged the X-Men sequels...and that's saying something.

Rather than going for a FOURTH terrible movie where we get to watch Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst cry at each other until we feel like vomiting, the powers that be have decided to reboot the series...and it looks pretty damn decent, IMO. Highlights include: taking Peter back to high school, dropping MJ in favour of Gwen Stacy, and going back to webshooters. Not too shabby, and worth a look, I think.

The Dark Knight Rises

July 20

Speaking of good reboots after a terrible fall, Christopher Nolan's reboot of the Batman franchise was nothing short of miraculous--despite the dark, disturbing, and engaging beginning of the Batman movie franchise in the 1980s, a continual drive to fit more stars and less plot into each movie had eventually hit the bottom of the downward spiral with a truly vomit-worthy film: Batman and Robin; clearly, the franchise was doomed.

In swooped a talented new director, a compelling origin-style storyline, and much darker, grittier Batman, played by Christian Bale. The second film built on the now strong foundation of the franchise, introducing the most terrifying version of the Joker ever to see the screen, and continuing to build the legend of the dark knight.

Nolan claims that the third film, The Dark Knight Rises, will be the final Batman film he directs and, if the trailer can be trusted, it will be a Dark Knight to remember.



The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

December 14

And finally, the 2012 movie that I may actually be the most excited about: the first live-action version of The Hobbit, directed by Peter Jackson. I was so glad to hear that Jackson would also be directing the Hobbit; it seemed to me that he had a clear understanding of Tolkien's work at the outset of the LOTR, and he relentlessly pursued the perfection that the iconic series demanded.

Naturally, after the kind of success LOTR enjoyed, it was only fitting that The Hobbit, Tolkien's second best-known work (and a prequel to the events of the LOTR trilogy), be brought to life on the big screen, as well. I, for one, can't wait to see it.



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