Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “gaming”

Gone Home – A Compelling Interactive Story

Gone HomeToday, I started and finished one of the shortest – and best – video games I’ve ever played: Gone Home. This game, developed by The Fullbright Company, is unlike most video games in that you won’t be leveling up, wielding a gun or jumping from platform to platform. Instead, you’ll find yourself wandering through a dimly lit house unraveling an emotionally stirring story about a young girl’s family. Set in 1995, the house is filled with VHS tapes, fanzines and records, as well as other vestiges of this time period.

In addition to the items strewn throughout the house, the story is told through answering machine messages, handwritten notes, photos, postcards, and countless other items you’d expect to find in a dwelling such as this. The bulk of the unpredictable story comes to life through the superb voice work of Sarah Grayson, who plays the role of Samantha Greenbriar. The smartly written script, along with Grayson’s excellent performance, make for a compelling narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what’s next.

Also worth noting is the wonderful score composed by Chris Remo. While a good portion of Gone Home includes records and cassettes featuring licensed music, Remo’s haunting score perfectly sets the tone for the game and enhances the dialogue at exactly the right moments. It’s the best video game soundtrack I’ve heard since Petri Alanko’s score for Alan Wake. I wholeheartedly suggest you pick up a copy of Remo’s original score here.

Gone HomeWhile it can be completed in two hours, Gone Home is an unconventional game that immerses the player in an unpredictable and thoroughly entertaining story that’s worth playing again. Even better, the game now features a commentary mode where, while playing the game, you can learn more about the creative process and all the hard work that went into constructing this masterpiece.

Gone Home is one of the best games of the year for two reasons: it tells a great story and it does so in a way that goes against the grain. If you’re a fan of video games, or great stories, I highly recommend you buy this game. It’s an unforgettable experience that shows how video games, when done right, can be unparalleled works of art.

My First Alienware

Alienware M14I’ve been playing video games my entire life. I have fond memories of blowing dust out of NES cartridges and spending countless hours trying to beat Resident Evil 3 on my Playstation. Lately, with work and school, it’s been hard to play games other than the casual ones on my phone and tablet. To get back into serious gaming, I just bought one of the newly announced Alienware laptops this week: Alienware 14.

Alienware M14The new Alienware laptops are beautiful and powerful, and I’m very excited to get mine in July. Keep an open eye out for my video review of Alienware 14 later this summer.

007: James Bond Turns 50

The name’s Bond, James Bond, and he turns 50 this year with the release of Skyfall in U.S. theaters on November 9. Daniel Craig, the sixth man to play James Bond, will reprise the role for what’s sure to be another edge-of-your-seat action film. To celebrate five decades of Bond, this fall will see the release of the entire film franchise on Blu-ray as well as the new video game 007 Legends. Furthermore, you can smell like Bond with the recently released fragrance James Bond 007, and starting September 28, Christie’s is having an online auction featuring Bond memorabilia.

The eternal debate among fans of the films is who was the best Bond? Many argue Sean Connery, but my favorites – because picking one is too hard – include Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Who’s your favorite Bond? Vote in the poll below and make your voice heard.

Below is an excellent, fan-made video compiling 50 of the greatest moments from the franchise. It’s a treat to watch, so enjoy.

I was glad to hear that Daniel Craig signed on to be Bond for at least two more films. Below is the trailer for the upcoming film, Skyfall.

Amazon Unveils Kindle Fire HD & Kindle Paperwhite

Jeff Bezos introduces Kindle HD (Associated Press)

Anyone that knows me is well aware of my love for Amazon. I think it’s the best retailer in the world, and I believe Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos when he says, “We offer premium products at non-premium prices.” Yes, I’ll admit it: I own an iPad, iPhone and MacBook. But I still prefer Amazon to Apple.

Today was the long-awaited press conference where Bezos unveiled the new line of Kindle Fire tablets and e-readers. There are four new Kindle Fire tablets, three of which are being billed as “Kindle Fire HD” because of their high-resolution displays. The fourth one is an updated version of last year’s Kindle Fire, with 40 percent faster performance, twice the memory and longer battery life. In addition to reducing the entry-level Kindle’s price to $69 (with special offers), Amazon has two new e-readers called “Kindle Paperwhite,” and they look fantastic. They have 62 percent more pixels and 25 percent better contrast than previous models, and they come with a built-in light for reading in the dark.

Kindle Paperwhite

I decided to buy two of the new Kindles: The 7″ Kindle HD and the Kindle Paperwhite 3G. The Kindle HD should arrive by next Friday, September 14, and the Kindle Paperwhite 3G ships on October 1. The other two Kindle HD tablets, which both feature an 8.9″ screen, ship November 20.

The prices for the new set of Kindles ranges from $69 for the entry level model to $599 for the 64 GB Kindle HD.

Kindle Fire HD

Are you planning to buy a Kindle for yourself or loved one this year? If so, which one?

Below are the new ads for Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite, as well as the full press conference.

Concert Review: The Legend Of Zelda – Symphony Of The Goddesses

The Legend of Zelda is just that: legendary. Since the original game came out for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987, the series has grown by leaps and bounds. Sequels have been released for nearly every system Nintendo has launched and millions of copies have been sold. More importantly, millions of lives have been changed as a result of this iconic franchise. Nintendo is well aware of the love fans have for the series, and to celebrate its 25th anniversary, a full symphony orchestra is traveling the world to bring the music to the fans; it’s called The Legend of Zelda – Symphony of the Goddesses.

A fan playing her ocarina for onlookers prior to the show.

This four movement symphony, a first for a video game-themed concert, just took place in Philadelphia, at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, and I was in attendance. It was a fantastic performance, conducted by Eímear Noone, that vividly brought to life the memorable music created by Nintendo composer and sound director Koji Kondo. The music was performed beautifully by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and also featured the Philadelphia Singers Chorale.

Similar to Video Games Live, which I’ve also seen and highly recommend, the music was accompanied by dazzling video packages. This cinematic video presentation synced gameplay from various games in the franchise to the live music. For example, if a song from the end of a particular Zelda game was being played by the orchestra, then footage of that scene also appeared on the large screen above the stage. It made for a nostalgic experience that pleased the senses.

While there was an intermission, the concert clocked in at nearly three hours and it featured three encores. Needless to say, it was an excellent performance, and I’m very glad I attended. As of right now, additional performances are scheduled through the end of the year. If one is in your area, I highly recommend you check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

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