Grief attention span

Grief attention span

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | 01:12 AM | by

I'm still plugging away at Far Cry 3. The game is a bit of a completionist's nightmare. There is so much to do on that island, you can play for hours and do absolutely nothing to puch the story forward. And it's far too easy to get sidetracked by cool shit on your way to you intended objective.

I do find that the more gorgeous and immersive a game is, like Far Cry 3, the more noticeable when it butts up against the edges of technology and artificial intelligence. I can snipe a guy from my hiding spot in the trees, absolutely drop him in one headshot, and the buddy he was standing with will, appropriately, begin to freak out and look for me. But when he can't find me, or I move out of range, he resets. Often with a comment like "Must just be the rebels, fucking with us."

Oh yes, those mischievious rebels and their tricksy pranks that involve popping your pal's head clean off from five-hundred feet. They sure gotcha.

It's necessary from a gameplay mechanics standpoint, I guess, but as I said, the more immersed you are into the game, the more odd it feels. In MMOs you regularly cleave your way through groups of enemies, and none of them so much as bat an eyelash at the sight of their friends getting chopped to bits all around them, but I guess I don't think it's weird because I don't get all that immersed in MMOs. Not the way Far Cry sucks you in with it's total first-person view.

I saw the Hobbit last week. I'd been hearing a lot of fairly negative reviews about it beforehand, so I went in with absolutely zero expectations, prepared for the worst. And on the other side of that three hour journey, I could see all the points people had made about the length, the pacing, the lack of any real accomplishment in their quest... but you know what, I enjoyed it anyway.

The complaints aren't wrong. It's a very long movie, and at the end of it you sort of look back and think "Wow... they... they really didn't do anything." I mean, you're an hour into the movie before you even leave Bilbo's house in Hobbiton to get started on the adventure, during which you watch a lot of Dwarven antics, try desperately to figure out which one is which, and sit through not one but two musical numbers.

The rest of the film follow's Thorin's band as they fumble out of one bad situation and into another one, all of which are pretty interesting, but none of which feel all that important. They feel like inconveniences, padding. And at the end you look back and realized you just watched what amounts to a three hour prologue to an adventure.

And once again, the giant fucking birds couldn't just take them the whole way to their objective. Why the eagles dropped them off a good two weeks from The Lonely Mountain when it was a twenty minute flight, I can't fathom (apart from the fact that if they had, it would be a much shorter journey). I thought the same thing at the end of Lord of the Rings. If Gandalf had just called those damned owls earlier, they could have flown Frodo right to Mount Doom and he could have hurled the ring on from above. Done and Done. But whatever.

Still, though I could recognize the legitimacy of most complaints leveled against the movie... I still had fun watching it. The actors were great... Martin Freeman as Bilbo was wonderful. The scene between Bilbo and Gollum was worth the price of admission alone, I thought. So fuck it, it wasn't perfect, but I enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to the next two.

We did go see it in HFR (High Frame Rate) 3D. Now first of all, we have relatively new LED LCD TV with motion interpolation on. We chose not to turn it off when we got the TV, and while it was weird for a little while, that was a year ago. We're now so totally used to it, we don't even notice the "soap opera" effect anymore.

So that said, the 48 fps look was not a huge step apart for us. I do certainly remember how odd movies and television looked the first time we saw an HD TV with motion interpolation, so I can imagine it would feel the same watching 48fps if you're not used to it. But it really didn't bother us... I liked it, and my wife didn't even notice there was anything different about the movie.

I will say that, in a number of scenes, the extra clear look of 48fps called a lot of attention to some of the CGI in the film. The fight with the trolls was a big offender in this department. The CGI has a much harder time blending in when all of the details are so crisp and visible.

The HFR did, in my opinion, enhance the 3D though. I find that often 3D in movie detracts as much as it adds, especially in frantic action sequences when there is a lot of fast moving stuff on the screen. There's a lot of blur, and your eyes have some trouble focusing on things. The 48fps alleviated some of this I felt. Everything was so clear and vivid, that the 3D just became a natural, subtle part of the movie.