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Sirk TV Photo Book Review: ROCK STARS AT HOME [Apollo]

The essence of people reflects in their domicile and how they function. of course if you are a rock star you tend to think of privacy but also creative textures. “Rock Stars At Home” [Chris Charlesworth/Apollo Publishers/176pgs] is a fascinating insight into people and how they live without being too intrusive. Complimented by interesting photos and very detailed descriptions at least of layout but also of design selections and landscapes within the houses, one gets a perspective of the people that lived in them, even for a short time. The most specific in the book that are detailed are The Rolling Stones and The Beatles for the most part. In watching how The Beatles struggled and then grew apart but also the balance really gives a perspective into what happened. Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon seemed to get along and even bought each other’s houses at times. Paul McCartney, even though some of his homes including a farm are discussed, really seems according to the book at times to be the odd man out which, as always, is a matter of perspective. The house where “Imagine” was filmed and which Ringo eventually bought gives a perspective into Lennon as does a lesser point The Dakota in NY. For The Stones, the infamous houses of Keith Richards and one of the early members that died before the advent of the 70s really give a perspective of how out-of-control those times were but never fully grotesque. Later in the book which is more in prose than visual form, the beginning lives of Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses and their almost scavenger techniques are described on Sunset Blvd. years and above all really shows the underbelly of rock n roll as compared to the British Invasion. The stories are told from a multitude of perspectives of people who were around. Some of the more interesting takes are those rockers who definitely had a sense of real estate tactic to them, most specifically Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Though he seemed a little disheveled in the early 80s after the breakup of Zeppelin (mostly it seems also because of the OD of Bonzo [drummer John Bonham], his specificity to detail seems undeniable and plays into his current methodical element of remastering (which is why one more Zeppelin show per se especially considering his penchant for detail would be great). Robert Plant’s motivations might be different but his home is not shown in this book. Their planes and the charters that were used for many in the early 70s tours were interesting but it seems as if the plane wasn’t ownedd in comparison to today where celebrities own smaller G5s which cost infinitely more. The interesting aspect is that the perspective can be show for the older crowd. Granted certain stories of Sonny Bono & Cher’s as well as Barry Gibb, Neil Young and Bob Dylan among others really paint an aspect of idyllic elements but also of isolation and connection. The unassuming shots of Young and Dylan and how these places (like Johnny Cash’s home) truly enhance the creative properties but almost the internal vision of “the voice of a generation” (when they themselves privately integrated and debated thoughts of who they were and the stories they would tell) is fascinating. “Rock Stars At Home” is a undeniable look without pretentiousness (despite a bit of detail) that gives an interesting look into who these people are and were. Even though they might not say anything, their choice of details and of lifestyle speaks in many sectors to their aspect of being.

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By Tim Wassberg

Playing The Game: E3 Expo 2009 – Part I

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Returning from a consumed exile in some part, E3 has returned in earnest to the perspective of the Los Angeles Convention Center with a renewed and specific spirit. The key in creating the aspect was a separation of hype and actual creative structuring which became much more apparent in closed door demos where the functioning creatives gave structure to the proceedings.

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Electronics Arts Entering into the South Hall, EA overwhelms with its general presentation. Upon entering Brutal Legend, the new Jack Black starring video game on a roadie who travels on the edge of darkness, fulfills some genre tiding changes but it was two in the demo rooms that seemed to liven up more particularly.

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“Dante’s Inferno” takes the elements of the Divine Comedy and places it into a neo revolting structure with lots of vices to be perceived. Reminiscent in terms of scale as a game like God Of War, the game play as well as cinematics shown (the game doesn’t come out until next year) highlight the literary references but also benefit from one of director Guillermo Del Toro’s leading “Hellboy” designers. The craftmanship distinctly shows through. Hankling through the first level of limbo, we see Dante facing off against Minos. The hatchet skythe and the generally fiery nature of the path seem to give good credence. However the next level set in the circle of Anger seems to give even more perception. Starting off by crossing the River Styx, the play quickly becomes massive as Dante can take control of the monsters changing scale at a certain point. The deluge of a certain female attacker also makes the proceedings decidedly more messy and available. At one point at vantage the circles can be seen as they descend which shows a dexterity of gameplay.

Mass Effect 2 is a different monster for sure. First being approached as a sequel in earnest but given a much darker tonal nature, the influence of Star Wars prevails albeit with a much more dynamic attitude. Assassinations abound the rich but slick color scheme and shadowing allows for much interest. One scene specifically showing the possible destruction of the Normandy shows the ability where life slows to function in perspective of space using air breathing foleys and forced perspective. Things can end badly or for the better but the sheer scale at times is what is amazing. Commander Shepard as a character has faults and can make wrong decisions but the worlds of exploration and battle modes show an increased propensity for story.

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The Saboteur, hidden away in the upstairs meeting rooms, had a differing strategy of production judging by its open world mentality. Using a veritable color scheme accented by stark black and white that is buoyed into color once the arena becomes free is a novel idea and one that requires an intrepid programming system. Set in Paris in 1943 as the Nazi Occupation rages on, the story follows a race car driver turn vigilante hunting high ranking Nazi officials on the dangerous streets. The perspective of Paris specifically at night is quite stark, the only colors being that of blood and the essence of the Reich symbol as our hero battles to satisfy his revenge.

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MTV/Harmonix One of the biggest revelations in terms of endorsement happened when Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr came by before the opening of the show to add a publicity kick to “The Beatles: Rock Band”. The game itself uses the details to enhance what might be the first big multi generational incarnation of the game. Even though different genres have been integrated before, this is the first brand iconic melding. The booth reimagined the Abbey Road 2 Studios as a demo structure to highlight the essence of a couple songs and their situation within the game. The first one was “Get Back” which is recreated on the rooftop where they held their last live performance per se. The different looks, costumes, drum kits and the like as well as the pre-play banter is all integrated. One of the major integrations is the aspect of being able to segment the game interaction of multi-part harmonies which was a staple of the band. It measures the pitch along with the other instruments in an overlaying structure. Pretty ingenious but it depends on how one wants to be heard. One of the other songs played by some of the engineering staff at Harmonix was for the song “I Am The Walrus” which they wanted to integrate some dreamscapes. Instead of promoting purely trippy angles of the songs they instead went for a literal intepretation in what they described as a “Donnie Darko” motif where at various times both Lennon and Ringo are wearing would-be outfits of a walrus. This seems antithetical to the actual music and actually was a comparative letdown. Hopefully others aspects are better. At the small reception area afterwards, it was interesting to see younger video game fans playing to the music that most of them were consistently unaware of since it was decidedly before they were born (before I was too actually). It will be interesting to judge the reaction to the game when it is released later this year.

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Activision Although buoyed by a Jay Z appearance for DJ Hero, one of the highlights on release next week is Prototype about a man who is a human weapon. Using basic mythology reminiscent of “Resident Evil”, the difference is relegated into the show structure of Manhattan overcome by zombies and various underworld demon scum. The different moves including a massive elbow slam let you interact with objects with aplomb like throwing a taxi at a tank. Also in a way not available before, effects that were attempted in “Ultraviolet”, like running up walls in vertical perspective with the street racing by at alternate angles, give a new physics in this world to gameplay. Granted the killing continues unabated but the photo real elements that infect the enture game give a level of realism within an otherwise surreal setting.

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Blur, by comparison, works within the basis as a comparison to¬† “Midnight Club”, using high end cars and a nitro impact system to thrust you through different worlds from Japan to Los Angeles. The game play on all ends looks familiar but still sleek. One new addition mentioned that was not necessarily emphasized upon is that there will be a social networking feature inside the game that will make it more interactive. Other aspects that seem to jump out in the in demo included random AI interpreted weaponry that changes upon game play. The game is not upon Alpha yet so integration might change by its introduction in 2010.

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Warner Brothers Interactive Always known as a great licensing interconnective opportunity, alot of what was seen at the booth was in effect structured. The “Watchmen” game add-on as the package with the Blu Ray is an inspired but two sided choice. “Arkham Asylum” is propelled with essence of all things Batman but with a diversified edge. The jump out point purely new to the point of wet paint was the first gameplay of the “Where The Wild Things Are” game set to launch on multi consoles when the film opens in theaters this fall. The world, at least in the level that was shown, seems vast using various inherent principles, one of which being that the boy scares one of the creatures into shedding his feathers. The boy then uses it as wings to fly between pillars on the side of the ocean. There is an excess of honey and pollen pods which can requisitely be blown up and used to annoy the creatures in any given spot. The boy also seems to have a number of special behaviorial settings which trigger events including roaring and dancing like a banshee in a circle. The extent of the game’s completion was not apparent as screenshots were not available extending to the fact that the demo was very recently rendered yet the graphics of the would be RPG seem quite effective.

Part II continues the journey.

First Look: The Beatles Rock Band – Multi Console – MTV/Harmonix @ E3 09

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The Fab Four continues their domination of new media possibilities with this new game optimizing a private E3 demo with this specific song “Get Back” which features the final performance of The Beatles on an abandoned rooftop.

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