Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gurren Lagann

I just finished watching the complete series of Gurren Lagann and want to just give my fresh impressions. First off, I watched it all in one sitting. From episode one through episode twenty-seven, for a total of about 10 and a half hours (virtually no comercials and skipping the intro and outro each time). So, yes, I am a little tired, and the amazingness of Gurren Lagann might just be exaggerated because of the tiredness I feel. Anyway...

Gurren Lagann. Where to start. Okay, so basically it starts with some kids who live in an underground town, and who dream of seeing the surface. But, the surface is forbidden to them and they are stuck beneath the ground. When they get up to the surface, though, they find the surface under constant attack from Gunmen, which are giant mechs with faces in the middle, where you get into them through the mouth. Aside from Lagann, Simon's mech, the mechs are all massive. The mechs are the work of the beastmen, who try to eliminate humans that make their way to the surface. After Kamina decides to steal a mech he liked, the road is set for a full revolution and overthrow of those who would keep humans underground. Beyond that, I'd have to spoil a fair amount.

Okay, without spoiling anything, it makes me, basically, feel like the work Michael Bay has tried to do. I've heard people criticize Bay for the amount of explosions in his movies and some gratuitous scenes, well, Gurren Lagann blows anything he's done away. Not just in terms of sheer numbers of explosions, but also in scale of the explosions. Now, yes, this is a mech show, but he did Transformers, which is a mech movie (okay, giant robots, but close enough). Plus, one of the main characters wears pretty much only a bikini top and short shorts all the time, so, um, yeah. Just in terms of the sheer explosions, though, well, let's just say that Gurren Lagann, straight up Gurren Lagann, is absolutely miniature in comparison to some of the things that explode. In other words, a normal giant mech is tiny in comparison to other things. Just how tiny I won't spoil, but, just believe me when I say tiny.

The main thing that makes Gurren Lagann awesome though, is that it does not take itself seriously in the least and almost every single episode has at least one person making a ridiculously overdramatic speech, with the phrase, "Just who the hell do you think I am?!!" appearing in one form or another in, again, almost every single episode. Plus, there is a lot of talk about Simon's drill being "the drill that will pierce the heavens!"It would be corny if it were done once or twice, but the amount that the overdramatizations take place makes it absolutely silly and ridiculous. Which in turn makes it amazing. Especially since there is also ridiculous amounts of damage and explosions and fighting. The amazing combo of humor, action, explosions and drama make Gurren Lagann truly a brilliantly done anime.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Borderlands is an interesting blend of genres. As a FPS, you control a mercenary who shoots his way through the bandits that infest the planet, the animals from the planet and a corporation's army that is trying to take over the planet for its own nefarious scheme. As an RPG, you have an adventurer who goes forth, looking for the mysterious Vault, trying to get riches and power beyond your wildest dreams, gaining levels and completing missions to get more powerful to get to the end. Now, I was confused when I heard the premise, in that it is an FPSRPG (a First Person Shooter Role Playing Game), but it truly lives up to that premise and does it, I think at least, fairly well. Now, sure, in RPGs one of the things that always bothered me was people who are weak bosses at the beginning and then people who would be their subordinates later being more powerful or just random guys being more powerful, simply because it's later on in the game. For instance, some of the bandits at the Dahl Headlands are said to be pissed and crazy specifically because of Sledge's death, but they are equal level to him or higher. Also, attacks that should kill or horribly injure are weaker as you are a lesser level. Now, in FPSs, that has often been the case, where you aren't going to die just because you've been shot, but this takes it to extremes in that you can take your three high-powered sniper rifles and shoot a guy in the head with a bullet that sets him on fire, a bullet that secretes powerful acid and a bullet that shocks and paralyzes him and you still haven't killed the guy. I'm not even specifically referring to a boss, but Bruisers (Brutes on the second playthrough) can take ridiculous amounts of damage without dying. And while I thought RPG stat systems wouldn't apply well to an FPS, they actually did it really well, in the guns. Plus, the damage system actually works well, once you get over the things that should have been kills, but only injure the guy.

The story, I think, is not the deepest, but is executed fairly well and I actually like it. Now, people who have played the game have bitched a lot about the ending, but I think it made sense and worked well. Spoilers ahead for those who are actually interested in the story of the game. So, you've been sent to find the Vault for money, fame, power, etc. Along the way, you're guided by certain people and things to get there and you eventually do get there. Basically, you made the key, but then Commandant Steele steals the key and you chase her to the Vault where she opens it and is immediately killed by the Destroyer, a being from another dimension sent here to destroy everyone. Once you kill the Destroyer, then the guardian angel that guided you to the Vault explains she knew that the Destroyer was in the Vault and is sorry she couldn't tell you earlier. It is also revealed she is a satellite up above Pandora, the planet you are on. See, I think it is cool and does explain things well enough. Sure, there is a lot you can speculate about her origins and how she knew, etc, etc, but I don't think that it is necessary or important. I never really cared about who or what she was originally, so finding out she was a satellite isn't that big a deal for me.

Otherwise, the game was pretty darn cool. I mean, basically, you have a post-apocalyptic-type world, with tons of crazy characters that are cool and interesting, with cel-shaded graphics that make the game look interesting. The game is fun, and I think I probably could beat the game without dying, although dying isnt' that bad. Basically, if you die, then the enemies you didn't kill are all back at full health and shields, just like you are, and you lose some money. The only place it is incredibly annoying is against the final boss, where you have a tiny room and you respawn right against it. It is incredibly awkward. Still, the respawning is explained, and works well with the premise. The second playthrough is basically just more, tougher enemies that are ridiculously difficult to kill and is incredibly difficult, even with your enhanced weapons and stats. Still, there is enough to do that you can play through the game with each character and it would be different each time and interesting each time. It is a really fun FPS especially if you like RPGs and an interesting RPG that you can like if you like FPSs.
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