Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ghost Recon Future Soldier : Video Game

Tom Clancy’s is not an unfamiliar name within the gaming arena. Ever since he co-founded Red Storm Entertainment, we have been gifted with some series of gripping strategic shooter games. Some of the illustrious titles like Ghost Recon, Rainbow 6 are living testament to endorse credibility.

Even though Ghost Recon & Rainbow Six falls under the same genre of tactical shooters, Ghosts usually takes place in the realm of larger open-air environments. Unlike other widely trendy first person shooters like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor series, playing ghost recon requires some serious meticulous planning for carrying out missions.

Ghost Recon first made its score in the year 2001; after winning worldwide accolade & devoted fan cohorts, last decade has been quite exciting for the series. Over the years substantial change has been seen within the series, starting from design leading to gaming mechanism. For those who are alien to this long-running military tactical combat franchise, the player has to takes charge of a fictional squad of U.S. Special Mission Unit whose operators were earlier members of the 5th Special Forces Group, D Company. The unit at your helm will have unique authorization & ability to be deployed at any parts of the world within short notice for neutralizing threats which could pose hindrance to U.S. & other allies’ interests.

So, what’s the mystery behind the name ‘Ghosts’?

The units’ repute to take up tasks which cannot overtly be acknowledged by the government & for getting the job done without trace has earned them with the widely popular nickname ‘The Ghosts’.

Some years back I had the opportunity to try out Advanced Warfighter; even though it offered some taxing campaign, I still had some serious issues with the PC version when it came to integrated squad based AI. Significant disparity was noted in the overall gaming experience when you played the same in Xbox 360. Squad mechanics were far too lucid, tangible AI made the overall experience enthralling rather than her PC counterpart. Xbox even gave you the freedom to switch between first & third person views which were never seen in any titles until Future Soldier became a reality. 
What makes Ghost Recon Future Soldier so singular?

It seems that developers have listened closely to all we had to say on issues we experienced in previous titles. However as the game’s visual looked more refined couple of options which were earlier accessible was taken out entirely. Some of the noteworthy features which players enjoyed over the years, like choosing ghosts from the squad pool before launching into the campaign mode have been scrapped; player will always be resuming the role of one central character within the ghost squad of four. You will be having limited authority on issuing orders & controlling rest of the squad’s maneuvers. Die hard fans might feel cynical; however the squad AI has undergone substantial enhancement which should justify the exclusion of some of the key features which made the original title so prominent. Some of the lucrative features Future Soldier has to offer are the Gunsmith interface where players always have the opportunity to customize weapons with various attachments. This serves as an additional benefit for shaping the overall experience in the campaign as well as enhancing your play style. Inclusion of cover system & frequent checkpoint saves made the campaign less annoying, especially when you are planning to play at highest difficulty.

Since my preference always centers single player, I prefer to evaluate the satisfaction barometer received from its campaign. Future soldier has been specifically designed to represent a tactical shooter where your squad is equipped with technology of tomorrow. With a laudable narrative the blend with tactics & advanced military hardware is quite remarkable. The dependency on squad members have been emphasized, lone glory is not sufficient to clear the objectives. Synchronized shot for taking down multiple targets is the best exemplar to validate the usage of squad tactics. Single player offers thirteen detailed missions where lots of globe trotting is involved. Player will always assume the role of ghost operative named John Kozak, a first generation Russian-American staff sergeant. So if you had issues with operating multiple characters in-game you will not have to bother on that any more. 
In addition to single-player campaign, multi-player modes allows player to select from three available classes such as rifleman, engineer & scout. You are provided with the option either to be the ghosts or be one of the Bodark combatants. It’s the guerrilla mode which is quite appealing. In this mode four players can take the opportunity to shield against wave of enemy attacks, however before you get ready for defensive operations you need to break into & capture the enemy HQ. Guerrilla mode is very demanding as you need to endure almost fifty waves of enemy counterattacks. How you do so, depends entirely on your proficiency in tactical shooters.

If you are into tactical shooters you should give this a try, old fans to this franchise might feel let down with some missing features however with new perspective & vision this game is still worth the try.

Available Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Himalayan Blunder ~ Book - Military History

‘The fame of this Division will surely go down as one of the greatest fighting formations in military history, to be spoken of with such as The Tenth Legion, The Light Division of the Peninsular War & Napoleon's Old Guard’ - Field Marshal Lord Wavell

20th October 2012 has been the 50th Anniversary of Sino-India War; conceivably a dark moment in the Indian History. After a long time I was able to read one of the most controversial memoir on 1962’s conflict with China. ‘Himalayan Blunder’ by Brigadier John P Dalvi provides us first hand account on the exploits of the Indian 7th Infantry & its destiny that would be sealed during the battle of Namka Chu Valley during Chinese offense.

‘This kindergarten homily was, & remains, the most humiliating moment of my seven month captivity & indeed of my life. That night I experienced a wave of bitter shame for my country.’ - Brig. J. P. Dalvi

Military history enthusiast will find this book engaging as well as riveting. Regrettably present Indian cohort hardly takes interest on armed conflicts which have been accountable for building our nation as we see it today. There has been lots of conjecture post war on the reason for the crushing defeat of the Indian Army but you would need to read this book to understand the reason for the unforeseen disaster which has been ignored by politicians, analyst as well as military generals who were handpicked based on nepotism rather than sheer combat experience. History hates void, this is perhaps the reason every one needs to understand the fundamental factors which would seal the fate of the Indian Army to catastrophic end thus planting yet another tree in the foreseeable forest of Indian humiliation.

‘We deplaned & were greeted with correct military protocol, tinged with chill reserve. It was only later that I found out that we had to clear ourselves of the charge of having been brainwashed - a strange charge from a government which had itself been brainwashed into championing China’s cause for more than a decade.’ - Brig. J. P. Dalvi

While going though the anecdote you will realize why this book was banned in India almost immediately after its first publication in 1969. Through out the book Dalvi has pointed out how the government has failed to react to all the premonition specified by combat officers on the imminent invasion as well as the pitiable bureaucracy which just worked as a deterrent to alliance between the ministry & the defense personnel who were having actual cause data on the groundwork which China had been doing for years before the fateful invasion in 1962.

‘In Italy, they brought an almost arrogant conviction of invincibility born of their great victories in the western desert.
The matchless, professional excellence of this formation was greatly admired by the Germans - no mean professionals themselves. It is said that General Von Arnim, Commander of the German forces in Tunis in 1943, insisted on surrendering to the 4th. No wonder Chinese were aghast at the poor performance of the famous formation. It is ironic that the fame of this formation is more widely known & respected by the foreigners than by the Indian people. Perhaps this is the price of segregating the Army from the public’ - Excerpt - The Trap Is Baited - Himalayan Blunder

India was expressively ill-equipped for the war of this grandeur; the book gives explicit details on the negligence of the then ruling government under the headship of Jawaharlal Nehru, whose myopic vision on domestic security policy was disastrous resulting to annihilation of legendary 4th Indian Division. History should not be repeated which is why this book should become a mandate for generations to understand who were really answerable, instead of just putting the blame on the armed forces that deserved much more gratitude than they received from Indians.

Final Verdict: Must Read

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) ~ Epic Finale

It’s tricky to have a thriving trilogy yet Nolan has effectively fulfilled the Batman legend with style.

No one has ever taken super-hero based movies seriously until we got introduced to Batman Begins. Staying true to the origin of the cape crusader Christopher Nolan has taken us deep into the world of Bruce Wayne’s fractured life & his reason to fight injustice under the hood of shadowy vigilante. With a fitting foundation we were offered with the next installment which will always remain as the Holy Grail to all batman fans & movie fanatics alike. Even today, The Dark Knight not only stands out as the best graphic novel adaptation but also as a dark intricate notable crime chronicle. It’s regrettable to miss prodigy like Heath Ledger whose feat as the Joker has immortalized one of the best screen play villain in recent times.

Plot : It has been eight years since Batman vanished from Gotham City after taking blame for crimes committed by late Two Face/Harvey Dent. When a mystifying cat burglar going with the name Selina Kyle forces herself into Wayne Manor, Bruce senses sinister plot however arrival of a masked radical named Bane & his rebellious army compels Bruce to put on the cape for one last time in order to shield the very city which once branded him an enemy, based on lies engineered by Commissioner Gordon for greater good as we know from last chapter.

It is recommended to be well versed with Batman Begins as lots of reference takes queue to conclude the story arc. Stakes were higher for making this film as the anticipation had built up from past few years hoping for a great grandiose finale. Nolan has accomplished to bring this story to yet another level which very few have tried to gamble. Unlike the 2nd installment The Dark Knight Rises plays heavy on script with various twists & the last half an hour is nothing short of spectacular. It is unreasonable to compare Bane’s character next to Joker. Tom Hardy succeeded to flesh out Bane as shear brute where physical intimidation plays a key role. The fight between Bane & Batman is one of the most imposing moments in Rises where it taunts us by showing that even heroes can be bested. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle grounded the character not just as grifter but also as a classic movie femme fatale. Keeping true to the rational world of Nolan she delivers a striking show. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Officer Blake is one of the new additions to this saga & plays an integral part. Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne pulls off yet another marvelous act & does justice to cape crusader’s tale. Apart from brilliant performance from other supporting casts the soundtrack set by Hans Zimmer is beyond doubt, epic.

This is a story which showcase us how Batman has affected the society & how Bruce has to deal with new threat & decide whether he shall return to save Gotham. The Dark Knight Rises is a multi layered story with massive amount of action, something which we have experienced in Nolan’s other chartbusters. It’s really amazing to see how the movie brings everything to full circle. Let’s just say, the final installment proves to be a fitting conclusion to one of the greatest trilogy in modern times.

My Rating : 9/10

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man does not tell us an entirely new story but fairly refines the origin story with a darker note. It’s expected to be compared with Sam Raimi’s 2002 work. The question that would linger in the mind of those who are yet to see it is how does this fair? Why the reboot was indispensable for the Marvel to establish an already successful franchise would still remain a mystery; yet one thing can be assured this movie does deliver some of the goodies which was promised yet unforeseen.

            AndrewGarfield as Peter Parker was the right choice & his take on the affable neighbor-hood spider-man is quite revitalizing. What makes the story so different from its forerunner is the tone how Marc Webb wanted to depict the chain of events in Peter Parker’s life that would put him into the shoes of mask vigilante. Unlike precedent stories we are introduced to the past of Peter, very similar to Bruce Wayne’s early days even though their tragic past is relatively poles apart.

I prefer not to give away the plot but Parker’s adversary proved quite menacing; once the action starts it grabs you by the nose & doesn’t let it go. Choreography is top notch & action sequences are well done; perhaps ever growing technology played much bigger role in this.

Frequent trailers & TV commercials asserted a different approach in the origin of spider-man yet first half of the story does fall into similar track of Raimi’s creation. Fresh faces do bring life to the story especially Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben however Peter’s metamorphosis to super hero gets dragged little bit. Die hard fans will enjoy none the less. One major change within the story is to see Gwen Stacy Emma Stone as Peter’s love interest, how their chemistry appeals to the generic viewers is entirely of personal savor.

2012 proved to be the year of super-heroes; Garfield’s charm would certainly draw viewers however Marvel will have to depend on a sequel to make this reboot memorable.

My Rating : 7/10

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Finally after three decades Ridley Scott revives the Alien franchise. Prometheus can be considered as a direct prequel to Alien which even today stands out as an epic Science Fiction Horror cult noir.

Plot : Year 2089, two archeologists Elizabeth & Charlie during their routine survey stumble on certain star map paintings which happens to be the work of some ancient society. However after finding similar paintings of different unconnected civilizations they construe them to be an invitation from mankind’s creator whom they referred to as Engineers.  Their quest for the mysterious creators gets answered when aged Peter, CEO of Weyland Corporation invests trillions for the construction of scientific vessel Prometheus which would embark on a journey to a distant moon named LV-223 believed to be the home world of the Engineers. Elizabeth & Charlie fills up the rank of other handful scientists & geologist handpicked for the expedition. Just like the old series here too we come across an android named David who apart from keeping an eye on the exploration seems to have his own hidden agenda. On reaching the destination the explorers would soon find out that their pursuit for the origin of humanity is going to be jeopardized by an impending threat which could cause the extinction of human race. 

Just like the predecessors, Prometheus too has female as the lead protagonist. Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw offered a credible role yet we cannot expect another Ellen Ripley. Sigourney Weaver was born to play the role of Ripley which eventually brought her to limelight. However Michael Fassbender as android David is the one to get noted for his fantastic performance & I liked him even more than Alien’s android Ash by Ian Holm. Presence of other heavy weight actors like Guy Pierce & Charlize Theron did not add much to the plot as their role was quite limited. Quite a few questions have been kept unanswered; whether it’s a deliberate attempt for building up a possible sequel, I will not be able tell for sure. Prometheus however works pretty well as a stand alone movie but gives due credit to her forerunners without overdoing.

My Rating : 8/10

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

Marvel Studios has outdone itself once again. Years of endeavor of introducing various Super Hero characters to the world have finally paid off.  Instead of relying solely on effects Joss Whedon has deftly presented us with solid script which endorses this movie’s true potential. Those who are unfamiliar with ‘The Avenger’ animated series this is the movie to get on with. This is indeed Marvel’s finest movie till date.

Taking reference from past releases like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor & Captain America: The First Avenger Whedon effectively unites each & every character to make this venture a true game-changer for the superhero movie genre. Every person likes watching superhero movies but its real bonanza to have most of them in one forum. The story begins with Nick Fury’s espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D’s attempt to control the power of Tesseract recovered from Nazi officer Johann Schmidt & his HYDRA organization earlier seen in Captain America. However Tesseract’s sudden activation leads to opening up a portal which allows Asgardian Loki to reach Earth. With Tesseract controlled, Loki schemes to bring his fearsome alien army to cause mayhem & enslave everyone on Earth. Desperate situation calls for desperate measures thus Nick Fury anticipating the real danger Earth faced assembles his team of superheroes to thwart the assault of Loki & his formidable army. Fans would be truly delighted to see how each hero has been given adequate time to shine. With loads of action & memorable characters The Avengers is by far spectacular.

The Avengers lives up to its hype & raises the bar of comics based movies to yet next level.  Perhaps it’s time for us to see our costume vigilantes in faction.
So far ‘The Avengers’ box office proved quite impressive. Till date it has made worldwide staggering $ 654 million. Following trend does give an impression of a quick billion. Only movies which I expect to pose real challenge to Marvel’s new baby would be Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises & Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man.
Marvel has already taken the lead with her maiden Avengers Initiative; will DC Comics face up with her very own Justice League of America? Only time can tell.

Take my word, don't miss this at theaters !!

My Rating : 8.5/10

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises ~ New Trailer Revelation - 2012

Approximately 78 days left for the most anticipated movie of 2012. Will this be the decisive Batman trilogy finale we have been craving for? Only time will show. I have full conviction on Christopher Nolan’s ability to deliver yet another magnum opus.

Latest trailer does provide an insight about the forthcoming plot. I think Bane’s voice is much more coherent than what we have seen so far in preceding trailers & prologue. So far we already know that ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ takes place eight years after Bruce Wayne/Batman taking accountability for crimes committed by late Two Face/Harvey Dent. However Bane’s vicious havoc in Gotham will compel Batman to emerge & shield the very city which has branded him an enemy. Nolan has previously said that this story will bring closure to the legacy in a very plausible way. Let’s just hope for the best!! Keeping my fingers crossed.