DID YOU READ

Clip Analysis: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”

Clip Analysis: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” (photo)

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Video game teasers tend to stick to a certain formula: dazzle the viewer with awesome graphics, show off some of the games’ abilities and maybe dribble a little story out to tantalize would-be players. But every so often, one piece of video-centric marketing will float above the rest or sink to join the sludge.

In Clip Analysis, I’ll be looking at trailers, teasers and just about any game-related video in an effort to call out what works and what doesn’t in terms of communicating a particular game’s coolness.

This time, I’ll be taking a look at the trailer for “Deus Ex – Human Revolution.”

For the bulk of video games’ first two decades as popular entertainment, the heroes you controlled were, in the main, square-jawed and sure-footed. You never had the chance to think about how Mario felt about all that jumping or being told over and over again that his princess was in another castle. Of course, as the technology used to deliver gaming experiences improved, the personas you controlled and met got more expressive, as did the worlds you played in. Characters got to smirking and grousing but they still generally saved the day in morally upstanding and strictly proscribed ways.

Designed by Warren Spector and Harvey Smith, the 2000 title “Deus Ex” changed all of that. Controlling UN anti-terrorist agent JC Denton, players uncovered a vast and centuries-old conspiracy. In the 2052 of “Deus Ex,” a global health crisis causes riots when only the elites have access to a vaccine. The player’s conversations and decisions at key points would affect the way your story unfolded. The third-person action also integrated RPG elements to let players craft a playstyle that could be stealthy or more weapons-focused, while providing a multiplicity of routes to meet an objective. In the decade since it came out, fans and critics have elevated “Deus Ex” to a hallowed status for the flexibility it allowed and its dystopian futureshock vision. A sequel-“Deus Ex: Invisible War” came out in 2003 but didn’t earn as a similar spot in gamers’ hearts as the first game.

Now, ten years after resetting expectations about video game experiences, the series returns to PCs and consoles with a prequel to show how the world became the fractious mess that JC Denton inherited.

  • “Deus Ex” is a series known for multi-path progression and moral ambiguity. Unfortunately, for the directors of this video, those attributes are really hard to put across in a non-interactive way. There are hints, though. The angst in main character Adam Jensen’s voice as he opines about the current state of the world suggests that he may go to extremes
  • “Human Revolution” appears to suffer from the Technologically Advanced Prequel Problem, where the milieus in earlier chapters look more high-tech than the one that are chronologically further along in the canon. (“Halo: Reach” suffered a bit from this, too, with its swappable Armor Abilities that never show up in Master Chief’s adventures.) Still, the Blade Runner-style aesthetic on display in the trailer does make you want to jump right into the playground the game promises to you.
  • GIGW Alert! (That’s Guilt-Inducing Ghost Wife, for those of you who haven’t read Alison Willmore’s trope-defining piece of excellence.) Adam joins the countless ranks of protagonists who’ve suffered the Heart-Breaking Loss of a Loved One as a catalyst on the heroic journey. Now it’s a safe bet that this HBLLO will be the reason that Adam comes to an existential crossroads. Hopefully, the gameplay will make the most of this well-worn
  • The new thematic wrinkle “DE:HR” adds is the blurring between man and machine. Adam’s experienced a near-death and a cyborg resurrection. JC Denton had augmented abilities, too, but those came from nanomachines that still let him look human. Adam’s enemies seem similarly cybernetic but more robotic than he does. An educated guess says that Adam’s struggle to hold on to his humanity will inform the moral greyness of the game.

“Deus Ex: Human Revolution” comes out from Square Enix next year.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.