Monday, 31 May 2010

Rockstar and the Sforza horse

I have never been on horseback - riding around in games like Red Dead Redemption are no way a substitute, but I can appreciate the love that these animals give to people and how different the world can look from the saddle.

So it comes as no surprise when artists, like Leonardo da Vinci, spend a great proportion of their lives trying to replicate a larger-than-life impression of such an elegant beast. The ill-fated Sforza horse project, that Leonardo undertook to honour Ludovico's father, took many years of his life to realise and due to the restrictions in technology and the lack of resources, it was never completed in his lifetime but that never stopped him from dreaming his dream.

Thinking in more modern terms, where would fantasy movie-making or gaming be without the love of the horse? Riding horseback is an essential ingredient to the whole fantasy world experience without it we'd be stuck with fast-travel and waypoints - goodbye exploration!

It's also good to see Rockstar making the horse a seriously proposition with the open-world of Red Dead Redemption, as they developed the game. To a different degree than compared to Leonardo da Vinci, Rockstar have obsessed over the idea of the horse in an artistic form and it rightly shows. There maybe a few things that Rockstar could have added into the mix(i.e naming your horse, branding, stabling etc) but we don't know to what detriment to other areas of gameplay these would have caused. Let's not forget that Assassin's Creed also gave us a better feeling for horseback riding than any of the MMOs on the market at that time and I would still argue that it still does today.

I wonder what Leonardo would have made of these digital representations of his beloved beast? More importantly, will he be making me run errands to collect bronze for his Sforza horse project in Assassin's Creed II?!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Ezio and Leonardo

He(Leonardo da Vinci) maintained his repugnance for weapons used treacherously or for assassinations, such as poisoned arrows, but designed many ingenious and deadly devices himself, offering them to the warlords who were his patrons.(Vezzosi, 1997, p.63-66)

Currently, I am studying through the OU short course, A178 Perspectives on Leonardo da Vinci. It's a very well designed course that gives the student a fuller and more rounded appreciation of the works of Leonardo and the time that he lived in.

When I initially began playing Assassin's Creed II, I was dubious over the use of Leonardo da Vinci as an outlet for your character(Ezio) to procure weapons and assassination devices. I began to think that Ubisoft had created a darker side to Leonardo to suit the game's background and storyline. But as I have progressed through the said OU course, I can see that Ubisoft have been clever and utilised a side of da Vinci's character that many may not have realised he possessed.

I have yet to complete the main storyline in ACII but have acquired a few items for Leonardo, who has in turn helped Ezio with weaponry etc. Not sure if the following guide is correct, maybe you can confirm this if you've finished the game, but I'll be interested to see how other items are incorporated into the game world of Assassin's Creed II(especially the infamous flying machine):

Hidden BladeEnables Assassination TechniqueSequence 02, Memory 03
Hidden Blade Armor PlateDeflect weapons with the Weapon HandSequence 03, Memory 02
Double BladeHidden Blades in both hands – EnablesDouble Assassination TechniqueSequence 04, Memory 01
Poison BladeSecond blade for the Empty Hand – Enables Assassination by PoisonSequence 05, Memory 07
PistolFirearm added to the Empty HandSequence 09, Memory 01

A.Vezzosi (1997) Leonardo da Vinci - Renaissance Man, London, Thames & Hudson.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Honor to the Red, Dead and least, the Lost

In a light-hearted spin on how past and present game characters would fit into a future wild west game setting, on the back of the recent success of Red Dead Redemption, the Examiner has put together a collection of images. My favourite is Donkey Kong, looking good as a stereotypical bar piano player(see above).

The Examiner also have a nice send-up on the topic of 'what the cast of Lost can do now that they are out of work' - here's the link.

[wipes tear from eye]

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Waiting for a resolution

I'm more 'cowboy' than 'gangster', more 'western' than 'modern-day suburbs'.

The 'western' has been with me as my favourite great escape, just as long as the sci-fi adventure(which is more or less, a retelling of the western in the far reaches of space) has been. No surprises considering Star Wars was released in 1977 and A Fistful of Dollars released circa 1967. Both these films shaped my early pre-teen imagination and I believe I have yet to be shaken those strong initial archetypes. But then again why would I? I feel lucky to be a child of the '70s for that very reason.

So Rockstar have made me rather happy with the release of Red Dead Redemption. Not only for bringing back the western genre to video gaming again but by doing so trying to raise the profile of, what I consider, an under-appreciated genre that deserves better.

The movie Unforgiven(1992) and to a lesser extent, The Quick and the Dead(1995 - which has a town of Redemption, at its centre) did much to breath life back into the genre in the '90s. And I have yet to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Henry Ford(2007) but it could be that the genre is dying due to a lack of real interest within the movie industry. Sometimes it takes another medium to bring it around, so I'm thanking Rockstar for not giving up and also taking a gamble on a genre that should be held in higher regard.

Friday, 14 May 2010

...the UK sounds more and more foreign all the time.


There. I said it...pleugh...

Exit left, the chancellor that became the PM that didn't win a general election.

I once read that we 'get the leaders we deserve' which is a fair observation, as we are all products of our time. Is it the party or the image portrayed by a party leader, that floating voters(like me*) decided on?

An American friend of mine(see Aaron's comment - 3rd down) is perturbed by what he's read and seen regarding the recent general election. I can see why he would feel that the UK is a foreign land to him. The political system in the UK is very out of date and steeped in rhetoric and doesn't feel generic to the land or people.

Maybe this coalition government can, if nothing else, make politics in the UK relevant to the general populous and stir them from a coma-like existence.

*yes, I did vote.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

So long and thanks...for nothing

After my first trip to Anfield, to watch a preseason friendly against Spanish side Atletico Madrid, back in August 2009, I had an unnerving feeling that the forthcoming 09-10 season was going to be a poor one for Liverpool FC. Don't ask me why, as the previous season had been one of Liverpool's best placed finishes in the Premier League. I just felt Mr Alonso would be missed and surely enough, he was.

Normally at the end of another season, I'd have something positive to say about what I had seen in the last 10 months of football. This year I have nothing worth commenting on, as the woeful position of 7th in the PL speaks volumes.

These are the seasons that test your loyalty and reserve.

2010-2011 season can't get any worse?

Saturday, 1 May 2010

DAVID as a movie rating

I wish I had thought of it but am glad a fellow blogger, and movie/comic book buff, has had the imagination to spring forth such an excellent review rating system.

OK, so I'm a little biased. I'm a DAVID. And I do remember saying to a friend once, how weird it was that DVD was DAVID without the vowels. I got some odd looks but it suited my agenda...

David from Clandestine Critic is the blogger in question. His is an entertaining blog and I'd be more than happy to adopt his movie rating system if I had Badinage set out that way. As it is, I don't plan to review things in quite the same way but I'm still jealous that I hadn't thought of it!

If you like your movies and comic books then Clandestine Critic needs to be in your reader. With over 750 posts in its 5 year history, DAVID is nothing if not dedicated.