Australia 2008 plus LE Review

I have returned

-Douglas MacArthur

Well, I got back from Australia last Thursday and I go back to work tomorrow and work through the weekend and school starts up right after that. I can’t say I’m really looking forward to having school work again, but the semester looks to be interesting enough.

As for Australia it was a very fun and enlightening trip. The trip was arranged by one of the film professors at school and the group consisted of students and a few former students of the department.

We met with various people in the Australian film industry including music video director Gregory Stern, George Mannix who was the location manager on the third Mad Max movie and has done some producing since then, the writer/director/producer of a short film called Inja, which was nominated for an academy award, the producer for Ten Canoes, a feature filmed in Aboriginal language and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Mark Lazarus who developed and produced the film Australian Rules, and Nikki Gooley who was nominated for an Academy Award for makeup in Revenge of the Sith, whose credits also include The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Superman Returns, Queen of the Damned, The Matrix, and the upcoming Wolverine movie.

Aside from that we also visited Fox Studios where Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Mission Impossible II, The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, and Superman Returns were all shot. The Wolverine movie had just finished filming and pick-up shots for the new film Australia where taking place while we were there. We also visited Spectrum Films, one of Australia’s premiere post-production facilities where movies like Queen of the Damned, Ghost Ship, The Matrix, Truman Show, Mission Impossible 2, and most recently, Wolverine were edited.

We also got a pre-release screening of the film Acolytes and met the director, Jon Hewitt. I’m not sure what I can and can’t say about Acolytes, but man, that film is intense. I’m not sure what I can or can’t say but its something along the lines of Wolf Creek, the general consensus among the trip-goers is that its way better. I enjoyed the film, myself, the characters were on the wrong side of likeable, I think, but the story is told in an interesting manner and as I said, its incredibly intense and makes no apologies for it. It has some great cinematography and some incredibly unsettling moments. I think jaws literally dropped in the room.

Anyways, we saw and did a lot, meaning the schedule was pretty demanding. Fortunately we did have plenty of time for fun. You could always find someone at the hotel bar and many of the guys took late night trips to King’s Cross, sort of the red light district in Sydney. The second night, after several (I won’t say too many) beers and shots of tequila, my friend and I neglected to go to sleep. Honestly the following day wasn’t terrible, but exhaustion set in a little earlier that night. There are stories of some of the guys getting drunk at King’s Cross and singing folk songs on the street, and others where one of the guys shows up at the others’ room carrying his hotel fridge filled with beer. Lol, after one night, my friend and I already had a regular order at the bar.

I skipped out on a few of the meetings and dinners to go out and do some stuff on my own. I finally saw the Dark Knight while I was down there and I loved it. I liken it a lot to Metal Gear Solid 4, not content-wise but in my opinion of it. Like MGS4, its recieved an immense amount of incredibly positive reviews and I personally think they are both worthy of the praise its given. That said, neither one of those, the movie or the game, are really my favorites in their respective series’. As awsome as Dark Knight was, I still have to say that Batman Returns is my favorite Batman film, followed by the first Tim Burton film. Its not anything against the movie really, its just that Burton’s style just appeals to me much more than Nolan’s. Burton’s Gotham is so heavily stylized that one look at any shot in those films and you know you’re somewhere special. Nolan’s the exact opposite really, he’s going for a much more realistic take on the character and the universe, which works extremely well, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t find it as interesting. While Burton’s Gotham is unique, Nolan’s Gotham is ubiquitous, it really could be any big city, which was probably his intention.

Moving along, I went to see Don Giovanni at the Sydney Opera house. The Don Giovanni scene in the film Amadeus is probably my favorite scene in the movie which got me excited to see the opera. The Sydney production departed from the original in several ways. The style was updated to something like the 1940s which didn’t change the story too much. The sets were all very abstract with some walls painted to look something like television static. The largest change I noticed was probably the final, famous Comendatore scene where the death statue of the commander Giovannis slew early in the opera comes to his door and orders him to repent and upon his refusal carries him off to hell, has been changed to omit the living statue and making the commander an omnipotent voice that seems to drive Giovanni to madness. It was incredibly well done, and while I would’ve loved to see Giovanni face to face with the statue, the new interpretation was interesting and visually exciting with the scene highlighted by some illuminated shape in the background that reminded me of the armageddon clock from Watchmen.

Overall, it was an incredible trip and I hope to be able to go again next year. It’ll be a little tougher to do so, but I think it’ll be well worth it.

Anyways, I said I’d do it so here it is:

SoulCalibur IV Premium Edition

SoulCalibur IV

 

First off, I’d just like to say that this is covering the XBox 360 version of the special edition, but the differences between this one and the PS3 version are minor. Different t-shirt would probably be the only difference. Anyways, moving on to what you get:

  • SoulCalibur IV
  • Comic/Art Book
  • Poster/Tournament Bracket
  • T-Shirt
  • Character Creation Download
  • A small pen
  • Tin Case/Sleeve

SoulCalibur IV: The game, of course. Nothing special, pull the regular edition off the shelf and throw it in the box.

Comic/Art Book: This is somewhat unique, but that hardly makes it satisfying. The book is roughly 50 pages split evenly between a short comic book following Mitsurugi and a collection of concept art. Hilde, Siegfried, and Ivy all get two page spreads, eleven more characters get single pages, and the rest are down to two per page.

Poster/Tournament Bracket:[i] On one side you have a poster featuring Hilde, Yoda, Vader, and a few other characters. On the other side you have an eight-player tournament bracket with images of Yoda and Vader at the top (hmmm, I wonder who’s getting top billing here?), and Nightmare and Siegfried underneath them.

T-Shirt: An XL-sized shirt featuring Yoda and Siegfried for the 360 version and Vader and Nightmare on the PS3 version. The case actually calls this the prize for the tournament bracket above.

Character Creation Download: On a little card you get a redemption code for additional character creation components. I didn’t really check beforehand and compare what was added, but whatever it was, it wasn’t special enough to stand out from what was already included.

Small Pen: Its not even mentioned on the box. Its just a small generic pen, almost like a sharpie, I’m guessing to fill out your tournament bracket with. Mine was dead on arrival.

Tin Case/Sleeve: I figured I’d go ahead and mention the case that holds all this stuff together. The tin case is just that, a case with Soul Calibur artwork on it and the sleeve is a transparent piece of plastic that goes over it that includes all the information you’d normally find on the back of a video game box.

Well, what can I say? This set is really insultingly bad. For $80, $20 more than the game alone, you’re basically just getting the T-shirt. I suppose you can argue that a gaming shirt can cost anywhere from $20-$30 at retail so you’re getting your money’s worth and you may be right. That said, as far as limited editions go, this one is not doing you any favors.

The comic book is decent and the artowrk portion is only decent. Some characters get multiple sketches but plenty of character just get a single image. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled when it comes to these things. The Devil May Cry 4 artbook was roughly the same length but was smaller, hardcover, and free and the Assassin’s Creed artbook preview was roughly the same thing. Maybe the SCIV artbook just feels so unsatisfying because there is so little variety in the content. It focuses on the characters and that’s it. The Soul Calibur II artbook covered characters, stages, and weapons, was the size of a standard strategy guide, and free to boot.

The Tournament Bracket is pretty much laughable. I don’t know many people that gather around and hold tournaments among friends. If a tournament ever does come about it usually has more than eight people. If they really wanted you to play tournaments you’d figure they’d just add in a tournament mode in-game. I guess if you had the right kind of marker you may be able to wipe your writing off and use it multiple times but I didn’t try it, not even with the pen they threw in specifically for filling out the bracket, it was dead when I opened the box. Also, the T-shirt in the box is supposed to be the prize for the tournament. Yeah, I didn’t just pay $80 for this set and am ready to risk probably the most valuable item in the box in a tournament.

As for the last item in the box, the downloadable content, I didn’t check what was already in the game before I downloaded this so I don’t know specifically what was added but I will say that nothing that was labelled New after the download was really all that special. Maybe if they had thrown in notable parts from previous Soul Caliburs, I’d be satisfied, but it seems to just boil down to random create a character stuff that’s pretty much indistinguishable from what’s already in the game.

At full price, this is a tough sell to even hardcore fans of the series. Hell, my friend, completely in love with the series, turned down this edition. Speaking of price however, a glance at ebay makes me shake my head. There are several auctions currently in the under $50 range, which might be a good price if you can get it for the retail price of the game give or take a few dollars, but most of the Buy-it-Now prices are completely off base. The least expensive Buy-it-Now starts at $75 and they go up to $115 (with $13 shipping). If you can find it really cheap then go for it, but at full price or higher, I wouldn’t even recommend to fans of the series.

As usual, comments are encouraged as well as suggestions for future reviews. I’m thinking of waiting on getting the Fable II LE but I currently have Gears of War 2 (along with the Amazon-exclusive Lancer) and Fallout 3 Limited Editions reserved. Thanks for reading, see you next time.