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“Halo” makers Bungie mark 20th anniversary with all-new documentary

“Halo” makers Bungie mark 20th anniversary with all-new documentary  (photo)

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2011’s a year of milestones for Bungie. The “Halo” series–the Seattle-based dev studio’s most famous creation–celebrates its tenth anniversary with “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,” a remastered edition of the title that introduced cyborg supersoldier Master Chief to the world. Not only did “Halo” delivered the armored space marine to ecstatic players everywhere, it also ensured that Microsoft would find success with the Xbox, the tech giant’s first foray in to game consoles. Bungie’s original “Halo” codework can be seen in Classic Mode, a feature that lets you see the game as it look

But, Bungie’s not building that game. Last year’s “Halo: Reach” marked their last work on that franchise, whose future is in Microsoft’s hands. But, Bungie’s done more than Halo during its existence. This year also clocks in as the 20th that Bungie’s been in business and they’ve just released a documentary to celebrate their longevity.

“O Brave New World” sports guest appearances by various and sundry Bungie fans, including Nathan Fillion, Adam Sessler of G4’s “XPlay” review show and “Penny Arcade” creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. It also gives rare glimpses of Bungie’s games being made with commentary from key staffers like creative director Jason Jones, audio director Martin O’Donnell and senior engineering lead Chris Butcher. Bungie’s always beneftted from a passionate and engaged community of fans, and those who’ve made the studio a success get featured prominently, too. With the guys at Rooster Teeth owing their success to machinima made from “Halo,” Bungie’s legacy extends beyond just hardcore gamers, too.

While the studio’s top-secret next effort–part of a ten-year deal with Activision inked last year–doesn’t really get teased here, the doc’s still worth watching. More than anything, “O Brave New World” comes off as a present to Bungie’s faithful, a thank-you to the people supporting their vision and creativity. Here’s hoping they’ve got more brilliance up their sleeves for their next act.

What’s your favorite Bungie accomplishment? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or 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.

Art show augments the future shock of “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”

Art show augments the future shock of “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”  (photo)

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Last week, a window into the future opened up in downtown Manhattan’s trendy SoHo district. Peering inside of the Wooster Street Social Club’s storefront window, passers-by could see digital grafitti screens along with getting a look at the robot arm they’ll be wearing in the future. Well, the future of “Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” anyway.

08032011_DXHR_art_show4.jpgThe upcoming cyberpunk action RPG takes place in a future where cyborg augmentation is turning human bodies into much more than nature intended. Publisher Square Enix mounted an art show where artists illustrated pieces that spoke to the pro- and anti-augmentation sides of the debate. Giant pixellated blow-ups of lead character Adam Jensen stared out from the walls of the Social Club, providing a backdrop to painted and photographed work from artists like Estevan Oriol, Sam Flores, N8 Van Dyke and two-man collective 3rassiere.

Speculating that scientific meddling would find a home below the belt line, 3rassiere’s Alexander Tarrant and Justin Metros relished the chance to deface a pro-augmentation advertisement. It was an ad they made, representing the next era of male enhancement. Tarrant says, “We got the smug boner smile from the guy in the picture that says, ‘Yeah, I’m still railing my old lady.'” That poster then gets defaced with jokes that deride the older gentleman as something less than human. Using a two-stroke engine gag for an erectile dysfunction ad got giggles out of a few attendees.

08032011_DXHR_art_show3.jpgOn the other side of the debate, Van Dyke’s piece portays Rodin’s famous “The Thinker” sculpture in a drawing that gives the figure a bionic right arm. The artist offered that he drew from the idea of human augmentation ushering in a new renaissance, with a neo-Thinker who’s pondering the future. Van Dyke spoke about his contribution, saying that the scribbles on the background were inspired by the design notes that DaVinci would write all over the sketches of his forward-looking innovations.

DaVinci, of course, worked during the Italian Renaissance and that time period actually figures prominently in the art direction of “Deus Ex: Human Revolution.” The Eidos Montreal dev studio working on the game is seeding vaulting archways in the gameworld’s architecture and scarves and frilly sleeves to be found on various characters. Despite the callbacks to the medieval past, the future of “DXHR” isn’t all that far away, thanks to cutting-edge biomedical advances being made at an alarming rate. The Wooster Street art show brings the moral quandaries into the present in grand style and Square Enix’s just announced fans can actually get prints of the commissioned works via an auction at the CharityBuzz website. If you’re in New York City, the exhibition runs until Sunday, August 7th. “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” comes out on August 23rd.

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Which piece of “DXHR”-inspired art would you want hanging on your wall? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Insert Credit: “From Dust”

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Insert Credit endeavors to suss out where you should be allotting your video game allowance, sifting out a single title from many and crowning it as The One Game You Need to Get This Week. Don’t consider these reviews, gentle reader. Rather, think of Insert Credit as a mix of hands-on time, informed opinion and intuition.

For the week of July 25, 2011, you should insert credit into: “From Dust.”

The newest downloadable Xbox 360 release in Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade promotion is, in a nutshell, SimCity as filtered through an aboriginal lens. This visionary game comes from Eric Chahi, the pioneering indie developer who made the classic “Another World.”

In “From Dust,” players get to embody a Higher Power known as the Breath, summoned by a wandering tribe of brown folk to shepherd them on a journey to reconnect with the legacy of the Ancients. The Breath earns the ability to manipulate the elements, with knowledge of such transmitted through music. So, you have to unlock songs to create various feats of wonder like creating a force field that shields villages from giant tsunami waves.

From Dust box art.jpg You’re essentially creating a series of homelands for the people in “From Dust” and you do that by gaining and wielding power over the elements. So, you’ll move massive mounds of earth to bridge chasms, redirect the flow of water for irrigation or control the spread of fire to raze hostile vegetation. It’s heady being this virtually powerful but you never feel omnipotent. Whether it’s creating seawalls out of molten lava or evaporating all the water on a huge map, there’s too much to do in any given level.

The controls can feel sketchy, and “From Dust” is practically screaming out for the precision of a mouse-&-keyboard set-up. God games made their marl in the earlier waves of PC gaming and “From Dust” feels like it still wants that style of control. But the game’s puzzle-like structure will keep you playing despite the idiosyncrasies of input.

Despite being made with and playable on cutting-edge technology, Chahi’s latest work still manages to feel folkloric in tone. There’s touchy-feely, New Age-isms all over the place but, those aside, “From Dust” feels both fun and profound in totally unique ways.

If you’re playing or played “From Dust,” what do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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