The best game I played in 2008 wasn’t on a console. It didn’t take a high-end processor to run it and the game was essentially an elaborate extension of the Tower Defense genre. The game was Immortal Defense. You are an ordinary person who has left their body to defend their home planet from invading aliens in hyper space. Using the ability to turn your emotions into weapons, you exist eternally as a spiritual demi-god. Yet as the years go by and you begin to realize that what once made you a hero has now made you a prisoner. Your relationship with the people on your planet and in the galaxy around you begins to change. It does not evolve into a state of understanding or new appreciation, it evolves into a state of alienation. The people you once murdered worship you as a heroic God, the people you once tried to save question your love constantly. The game draws on a wide variety of Hindu elements and philosophical beliefs to communicate these themes. All of this is told through static text sequences and extremely refined game design that lends itself to a superb experience. The average mission takes about five minutes to beat, the difficulty can be customized, and there are over 100 missions to work through. If there is a way to summarize this game into a single question, it would be to ask what if the only thing your existence consisted of was the standard activities you find in a video game? The answer is both profound personally but also questions the very nature of video games themselves.
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This cloth covered box set of Patricia Highsmith’s five Mr. Ripley’s titles is as handsome, dark and cool as the protagonist who strolls with such suave nonchalance through this collection’s pages. Nearly as sensual in their look as they are cerebral in their content, followers of Highsmith, fans of Hitchcock, devotees of the macabre will, much like the ‘Ripliad’ himself, quickly eliminate inferior titles on their bookshelves to make room for this set. Containing The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley’s Game, The Boy Who Followed Ripley and Ripley Under Water, this set will scratch that little bit of sociopathic itch in the one you love.
It’s finally happened. Last month, after nearly six years and 32 box sets, the entire run of Dan Curtis’ classic Gothic soap opera is now available on DVD. It’s all here - the original series format of standard “rich are different” Peyton Place-holding, the arrival of Josette’s ghost, the unearthing of Barnabas Collins, and the nonstop amalgamation of every famous monster myth into a daily dose of 30 minute drama. While the show lost its spark toward the end (The Leviathans? Please…) it still remains a quintessential example of broadcast boundary pushing at its campy, creative best. Costly, but well worth the money.
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of George Frideric Handel’s death, Harmonia Mundi has released five deluxe box sets covering the full range of the German composer’s repertoire. There are collections devoted to the maestro’s operas, arias and concertos, as well as one containing the Saul and Messiah oratorios. The Messiah is always a splendid gift at this time of the year and a particularly relevant one given the anniversary. Copious and informative liner notes fill in the historical context and sit alongside very fine new recordings.
Release: 5 December and 12 December (limited) and 25 December (wide)
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Toby Jones and Matthew Macfadyen.
Frost/Nixon is one of the films we’re most eagerly anticipating this holiday season. Ron Howard’s film is based on a play from Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland). Taking as its centerpiece the famous interview that David Frost conducted with Richard Nixon in the ‘70s, the film has a theatrical quality and is timed well given our current absorption with politics.
Here are stills of the upcoming film…