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DID YOU READ

“Dead Space 2” Traces an “Alien” Trajectory

“Dead Space 2” Traces an “Alien” Trajectory (photo)

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“Dead Space 2” has finally been unloaded into your local game shop, bringing to a close a preview tour for the nation’s most frightened and revolted mothers. Off the positive early reviews and the previous game’s success, hero Isaac Clarke and his gory enemies the Necropmorphs will surely be the talk of the game-o-sphere (and possibly parental watchdog groups) for the next couple weeks. And so it should be. The game is a step forward for the franchise in practically every capacity: more violent, more action packed and more human now that we see the Isaac Clarke’s face for more than couple minutes. But it is less scary, a strange regression for a franchise firmly tucked into the survival horror genre. Why’d developer Visceral Games relent on the spooks?

“Dead Space” was a slow survival horror game. Your gun was always a little too weak, your ammo low. Not a lot made sense — in a good way. The story required you to piece together what happened on a seemingly abandoned ship stranded in deep space. Why is this writing on the wall? Where are the people? What are those “things”?

“Dead Space 2” still has a handful of terrifying moments. Well-lit corridors have a tendency to lose power. The glass windows that separate oxygen rich rooms from the vacuum of space are curiously fragile. These tense environments, however, serve as passages between epic set pieces in cathedrals festooned with viscera and vulnerable walkways perforated by artillery from a 10-story tall gunship.

Call it the Scott-Cameron Effect. Ridley Scott’s “Alien” was a horror movie. The astronauts were ill equipped to deal with a foreign creature they couldn’t comprehend. The monster was alien, not just in the literal sense, but in its very being. How it reproduced, attacked, bled. As viewers, we learned alongside the character the perils of battling the beast. There is fear in the unknown and “Dead Space” and “Alien” share that fear.

For James Cameron’s sequel, “Aliens,” much of the mystery was gone. Cameron, the man who would later make “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Avatar” filled the void with neck pulled back action, putting the original movie on its head, and steering the franchise — for better and worse — in the direction of the summer spectacle. “Dead Space 2” does the same.

This won’t be the only blog post to note the similarity between the games; it’s noticeable within the first 15 minutes, as a lab of humans is relieved of their extremities by creatures with blades for arms. It’s interesting however that “Dead Space” isn’t the only property to follow this well-carved path. In fact, it’s just the latest of many.

Franchises like “Uncharted,” “Gears of War” and “Halo” — in varying degrees — have used sequels to inflate the grandiosity of their narratives. Budget’s increase typically for sequels, so it’s logical ambition follows.

But what if a game tightened the experience? What if the extra money was used to create a smaller, richer, more haunting world.

We saw a hint at this potential with “Halo: ODST.” The game weakened the protagonist, plopping him in a open, dark and dangerous world. Developer Bungie even rolled the dice on a jazzy soundtrack. But the game felt more like filler than an earnest attempt at something proudly, even defiantly small.

What big budget games would you like to see more contained and refined? Or is the future always bigger and better?

Fantastic “Dead Space”/”Alien” mash-up art by Victor Zago. Visit his DeviantArt page.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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