DID YOU READ

Meet the 1D First-Person Shooter

Meet the 1D First-Person Shooter (photo)

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In 1992, Apogee Software released the archetypal first-person shooter, “Wolfenstein 3D”. in 2011, the FPS is the most popular video game genre, but the younger fans of “Call of Duty” and “Halo” might not appreciate the forefather’s rigid controls and fuzzy graphics. The player’s view cannot turn on the vertical-axis let alone look down a weapon’s iron sights and enemies are 2D pixel art, a far cry from the 3D models that respond to grenade’s blasts with human-like physics. So much has changed between 1992 and 2011. The genre has moved relentlessly forward, but today a new “Wolfenstein” dares to yank it backwards.

“Wolfenstein 1D” reduces its 3D inspiration to a single dimension – a line about 600 pixels long and 1 pixel high. Blocks that move or sit on this plane represent characters and objects. A white block (the hero) can move forward or back, open aqua blocks (doors), fire yellow dots (bullets) at orange and blue dots (enemies), and collect green and purple dots (health and ammo).

Is “Wolfenstein 1D” a subtle jab at the choking linearity of modern first-person shooters? Games like “Call of Duty” provide a controlled path, like an amusement park ride, that create the illusion of danger, when in reality every enemy is placed before your muzzle and every loss of life can be remedied by the nearest health pack.

Are 3D first-person shooters no different than 1D first-person shooters? Or is “Wolfenstein 1D” the latest goof from the geniuses behind “Who’s Pooping on Twitter?”

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

The “Inglorious Basterds” of Video Games?

The “Inglorious Basterds” of Video Games? (photo)

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The year’s not over yet. That means that there’s still time for one more nominee in the 2010 Controversial Game Awards and Kotaku finds a game that fills that slot. Developed of the engine of 1992 classic “Wolfenstein 3D,” “Sonderkommando Revolt” fictionalizes the actual Auschwitz insurrection of October 1944 into interactive form. Players can shoot the game’s Nazis in levels based on the real-world geography of Auschwitz. Kotaku’s Michael McWhertor broke the story and, in a follow-up, quotes the lead developer as saying the dev team’s only goal was “blast the Nazis fun.”

In another post on the game, Stephen Totilo writes:

Freed from the laws of reality, revenge fantasy like that of Sonderkommando Revolt can be hard to distinguish from exploitation. The revenge fantasy portrays glee amid suffering. It encourages the nodding of heads “yes” during its recreation of the ugliest events in human history — a nod that, yes, revenge is happening; a nod that, yes, vicious, vile good is being done to bad, bad people. This video game’s creator, though he says he has no political message intended for this game has decided that it takes an image of a Jewish prisoner hanging bloody from a hook to properly decorate a scene where many Nazis will now be killed. He and his team must have concluded there was a necessary sequence of experience: we will be shown the most garish signs of Jewish death before we will create scenes of Nazi death.

Revenge fantasy does not encourage the headshake of the visitor to the Holocaust museum or the viewer of the Trail of Tears documentary who wishes this portion of the past did not exist. It assumes a more aggressive posture as we prepare to perform a punishment that did not happen in real life.

There’s a cliché in superhero comics when the battles between hero and villain reach the point of life and death. Whether it’s Batman, Spider-Man or some other persona standing over the form of their beaten arch-nemesis, they’ll usually utter some line about letting them live because killing them would drag them down to the level of villainy. Totilo’s remarks about “Sonderkommando Revolt” remind me of that. And, as wary as I am of declaring any subject matter as a no-fly zone for games (or any other medium), this “Wolfenstein 3D” mod will likely miss the mark of ‘fun.’

Jack McBrayer Conan Weiners Circle

All Smiles

5 Funny Jack McBrayer Videos That’ll Have You Grinning

Catch Jack McBrayer in the final three episodes of Todd Margaret season three tonight at 10/9C on IFC.

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Bright, shining, and with a smile from here to his native Georgia, Todd Margaret star Jack McBrayer is the perfect actor to play any role that calls for serious pep. Best known for his work on 30 Rock and his various appearances on Conan O’Brien’s late night programs, Jack has amassed a slew of classic scenes and hilarious performances.

To get you ready for the final three episodes of Todd Margaret season three (airing tonight at 10/9c on IFC), here are five hilarious Jack McBrayer clips that’ll have you smiling from ear to ear.

1. Jack and Triumph Visit Chicago’s Weiner’s Circle, Conan

Nicest guy in the world Jack McBrayer is put through the ringer when Conan sends him to the brutally honest Weiner’s Circle in Chicago, an establishment that earns much of its business by insulting the customers. But Jack exacts his revenge — and gets to don a vendor hat as well — when he enlists Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to unleash a barrage of killer put-downs.


2. Sherlock Doug, Todd Margaret

With the unexpected third season of Todd Margaret, Jack takes over the role of Doug from actor-director Spike Jonze and puts his usual jubilant spin on the character. But when he consigns to investigate the disappearance of another Todd Margaret character, he becomes a cold-hearted flatfoot in search of his perp. (Of course, he’s still pretty chipper.)


3. Jack Struggles to Talk Over Triumph’s Quiet Reading, The Tonight Show

The rapport between Jack and Triumph proved to be too valuable to abandon, so the duo kept the act going when they visited Jimmy Fallon on the set of The Tonight Show. But like the classic “straight man/comic relief” acts from the Vaudeville era, Jack can’t seem to get in a word in edgewise as he keeps getting upstaged by the canine answer to Don Rickles.


4. New Breaking Bad Drug Lord, Conan

Few television series reached the dramatic tension of Breaking Bad largely due to the phenomenal actors. But Conan discovers that one pivotal scene from the show was woefully miscast. Take a look at who was hired to play Walter White’s latest rival. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


5. Backwards Day, 30 Rock

30 Rock had one of the greatest ensemble casts in a television comedy, and Jack played a huge role in that. (His Kenneth the Page character ending up being immortal was just a bonus.) But if you happened to miss the series when it aired, check out this easter egg of Jack McBrayer’s dedication to learning how to phonetically say a phrase backwards. When the scene plays in reverse, you’ll see he nailed it.

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