Friday, March 24, 2006

Younger generation sadly unfamiliar with Cecil B. DeMille's epics

This week I trekked down to Circuit City to get a very inexpensive ($14.99) copy of the 3-disc 50th anniversary edition of Cecil B. DeMille's classic "The Ten Commandments". As I was signing the credit card receipt I thought about the movie and started to chuckle. I handed the signed receipt back to the store clerk and said "So let it be written, so let it be done!"

He looked at me with an expression that told me he thought dementia was just around the corner.

I called and told my son what happened (even though he is in his early thirties, he came to appreciate the historic epics from a young age - thanks to his mother) and he said he couldn't believe how many people from the bible belt (he lives in the Chicago area now) have never even seen "Ben Hur"! He was totally aghast!

Anyway, the new edition, much like the anniversary edition of Ben Hur, contains
  • Cecil B. DeMille's original 1923 silent version
  • Hand-tinted footage of the Exodus and Parting of the Red Sea Sequence from the 1923 version
  • Commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of "Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille's Epic, The Ten Commandments," on both the 1956 and 1923 versions
  • 6-part, 37-minute "making of" documentary, featuring interviews with Charlton Heston and composer Elmer Bernstein, among others
  • Newsreel footage of the New York premiere
  • 3 theatrical trailers: 1956 "Making of" trailer, 1966 re-release trailer, 1989 re-release trailer
Personally, I liked the first part of the movie best. Moses became irritatingly self-righteous after his encounter with the burning bush. Overall, however, a spectacle worthy of its place in cinematic history.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sony Partners with Perpetual to co-publish "Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising"

WarCry? Network: "Sony Online Entertainment's Platform Publishing?, a cross-platform publishing, distribution and marketing label, today announced an agreement with San Francisco, CA-based online games developer Perpetual Entertainment to co-publish its online action role-playing game, Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising.?

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising features an innovative style of combat not seen in other online multiplayer games, courtesy of Perpetual Entertainment Lead Designer Stieg Hedlund, lead designer of the best-selling RPG Diablo II. Reminiscent of an Action/RPG, combat moves can be linked together and even include 'finishing' moves to provide a more dynamic, dramatic and visceral feel to battles. Squad-based combat is another unique aspect of Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising; players will earn and command Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in a variety of strategic groupings to form individual squads, create unique formations and implement combat tactics for these squads to execute on command, maximizing their power in combat.

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising brings the bold and dramatic world of ancient Rome online. As Rome grows into its role as a Republic, enemies from Carthage, Gaul and other nations seek their share of the treasures of this new empire. Furthermore, monstrous creatures of myth, such as Gorgons, Minotaurs and Furies roam the land and threaten the safety of Rome. As heroes of the republic, players will embark on epic quests to defend the empire, protect its interests and people, and serve one of the ancient Gods of Roman myth. This alliance with the gods will provide the player with incredible "god powers" that can be wielded in battle against monsters as well as against other players in Player vs. Player (PvP) combat.

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising? is a subscription-based massively multiplayer game developed and operated by Perpetual using its proprietary Perpetual Entertainment Platform (PEP) technologies. Under the co-publishing partnership, Perpetual will host and operate the game, while SOE's Platform Publishing will be responsible for retail marketing and distribution of the game in North America."

Cult of Mithras adds fantasy elements to Legion Arena

I see Slitherine, producers of Legion and Legion Arena, are preparing to release an add-on that introduces such fantasy elements as demons and shadow warriors to their Roman strategy title Legion Arena. Although I am usually not that interested in fantasy titles, Cult of Mithras may contain enough ancient mythology to be worth taking a look at it.

From the official website:

"In this glorious year of 27 BC, Octavian has been crowned Emperor Augustus of Rome. His enemies lie defeated, his Empire basks in victory. Yet in one corner of the Empire, Spain still resists and troops are dispatched to subdue the region once and for all. You are picked to lead the men. This is your chance to prove yourself - this is your destiny.

But fate is a fickle master. On route to Spain, your men are ambushed. A tribe still loyal to Pompey's perhaps? There is no time to think, only fight! The enemy are many, you are unprepared. It is all you can do to fend them off as you yell orders to your men. A soldier is shouting at you "General! General, are you alright!"

Blood stains your clothing. By the Gods, I am wounded! And then there is only darkness...

Where am I? You are in the saddle. There are shouts. There is confusion... Men are preparing for battle. Another foe, so soon? What's happening? A soldier awaits your instructions "Sir, the Gauls are attacking. We are ready to fight."

Timendi causa est nescire - Ignorance is the cause of fear

The battle is over. You have defeated the enemy, but not your confusion. You summon two of your most loyal officers. Centurion Pollius reports "Sir, the men have been experiencing strange... very strange things. They arrived here by... they do not know how they arrived here. They cannot remember..."

You reply "Is this experience shared by all the men?"

Pollius confirms "Yes sir. All of us, sir."

"What are your thoughts on the matter my friends?"

Centurion Asivius offers "Sir, some of the men believe it is a curse."

"They are nervous, sir. And scared." Pollius agrees

"There is no curse! The Gods favour our venture. Tell them that." you say fiercely, as if to convince yourself

"Yes Sir!" they both shout as they salute.

...But do they? The Gods have never been predictable allies. You examine the eyes of your men. They do not look convinced, but they will do as you command.

"Is there anything else Asivius?"

"Yes sir, there is something. Groups of soldiers have been appearing from the wilderness. They are also... confused.."

"Feed them and employ them. Dismissed."

...Mystery and War do not make good bed-fellows, this much I know. But there is no time to think on it further. Scouts report more Celts approaching?"

Cura ut valeas - Take care