Master Reboot

December 23, 2013

Review By: Mr. Roboto

Release Date: October 29, 2013

Developed & Published by: Wales Interactive

Platforms: PC, Macintosh, Steam, Desura, iPhone/iPod, Android, PlayStation 3

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Moderate

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Moderate

Rating: 6 out of 10

Master Reboot - Graveyard

Death is not the end of life anymore. It’s only the beginning…

Overview: The fighting in Remember Me no longer rages me, though the lack of exploration is still a bit of a pill. Fortunately, Master Rebot more than compensates. Actually, Master Rebot not only invites exploration, it requires it, as exploration is necessary not only to solve the puzzles you will encounter but to solve an even bigger mystery going on in the virtual afterlife. In order to do that, you will need to cross that ultimate barrier… between life and death.

 

The Story: The Mysteri Corporation is proud to announce the Soul Cloud, a virtual repository where the memories of the deceased can be stored and accessed by loved ones who want to “visit” the dearly departed. Each person uploaded to the Cloud will live in a “Soul Village” where they can accesses their memories. The Soul Village consists of buildings representing important memories in one’s life.

Master Reboot - Servers

Our secure severs include “Seren”, the resident security program that keeps unauthorized intruders out of the Cloud.

You’ve just arrived in the Soul Cloud, dropped on some deserted island surrounded by water (and some type of energy barrier or firewall). You don’t remember how you got here or why. Now you are just looking for a way off the island, and maybe some clue to the “how” and “why”.

 

Getting into your head.

Master Reboot - Hospital

Does this hospital have a mental ward? You might need one while exploring.

While you explore your memories you will need to solve some puzzles in order to leave and get back to your Soul Village. These puzzles are not too taxing on your brain, ranging from basic exploration to deciphering codes to trying to avoid some nastiness in your path.

You might also find blue ducks along the way. (Seems to be a lot of duck-related stuff happening lately.) These ducks are clues to the mystery you are trying to solve. The clues are mostly visual like documents or a picture of you and you life. These clues are available in a “scrapbook” found back in the Soul Village when you successfully complete a memory. When you do complete a memory, a short cartoon animation plays that shows what the specific memory is, possibly including the clues you find.

Like I said, the puzzles shouldn’t be too hard to solve, unless you let the atmosphere get to you. Lots of darkness, shadows, and moonlight abound. Combined with some haze/fog effects, the general look of the scenes, and other general spookiness, and you have a recipe for scariness that gives Scooby-Doo nighmares.

Master Reboot - BOO!

BOO!

As far as action goes, there really isn’t much to find. There are some scenes where you will be chased or have to race for you life. But this game is more for exploration and puzzle-solving… maybe some creepiness if you like that sort of thing.

 

Conclusion: Comparing Master Reboot to Remember Me is like comparing apples to bananas. Master Reboot is definitely not for button-mashers, or the easily frightened. It’s a mental challenge that will scare you. As 80’s band Dangerous Toys once sang, “Hey man, I think I like being scared and I will you all were there.” Maybe not the most cyberpunk, but it does its job quite well.

Master Reboot - The Core

Looks like we found a bitch… uh, GLITCH in the system.

Remember Me

November 24, 2013

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Released Date:June 3, 2013

Developed by: DONTNOD Entertainment

Published by: Capcom

Platforms: Windows, XBox 360, Playstation 3

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Rating (Revised): 4 out of 10

Nilin (Remember Me)

Nilin needs some help exploring Neo-Paris to find some lost memories.

Note: This is a rewrite of the original article posed on Novemer 24. Explanation in the last paragraph.

Overview: I had some high hopes for Remember Me, Capcom’s memory-stealing, ass-kicking, knuckle-duster. Now I’m wondering if I want to purge this game from my databanks. Somehow, they managed to take a bleeding edge cyberpunk idea, add some excellent visuals to hook you, and implement what can only be described as some bad ideas that bring down much of what’s good about this game.

But let’s try to highlight better aspects of Remember Me, mainly the story and visuals:

 

The Story: In Paris (now Neo-Paris) 2084, the Memorize corporation has risen to dominance thanks to its Sensation Engine (Sensen) brain implant that allows people to share memories as part of a futuristic social network. Sensen can also be used to alter or even delete memories, affecting how people act. This alteration capability has not gone unnoticed by the “Errorist” movement, who sees this ability as a form of mind control (figuratively and literally) and seek to end Memorize’s operations.

Nilin is a “memory-hunter”, someone who can steal and alter (”remix”) memories. She was caught by Memorize’s S.A.B.R.E. Force, as part of their campaign to end the errorist movement, and taken to La Bastille to have her memories removed. But Edge, the errorist leader, helps her escape and is now trying to help her recover her memories before a final assault to take down Memorize.

 

What has been seen… The visuals of Remember Me is some sweet eye-candy. The differences between Slum 404 and sewers, and Saint-Michel district and Memorize’s headquarters are certainly stark enough in contrast. The slum areas certainly look like DIY constructs.

Robotic Red Light District

Some of the robots you’ll encounter won’t be this sexy, or working,… or friendly.

It certainly all looks inviting enough to explore. But that’s where one of the game’s problems come in: Limited exploration. All too often, the path you have to walk is linear with only a few branch areas where some upgrade “patches” might be hidden (in that case, a “clue” presents itself to show where the patches are). You will encounter some obstacles, so Nilin becomes a sort of “Spider babe” who is able to climb up and slide down ladders and pipes, shimmy across ledges a-la Ninja Warrior “Cliffhanger”, and even jump across bottomless pits between ledges. Arrows show the way to go, and if necessary and “aug-eye” clue can be called upon to show you the way. Helpful, but it’s no fun for more adventurous explorers.

View of the Leaking Brain

Take your time walking the streets and admire the “view”.

As a memory hunter, Nilin has the ability to “remix” memories. This ability can have a dramatic effect on your target like turning a vicious enemy into an ally… IF it’s done right.

It’s in the remix

Remixing memories is quite fun, seeing the possible outcomes. Too bad you’ll only get three four chances to do remixes.

 

Control out of control. For those of you expecting a first person shooter, let me break the news to you: This isn’t a shooter, and it’s not first-person. Remember Me is third-person, from-behind, like Tomb Raider. And it’s a beat-em-up fighting game (think “Double Dragon”). I tend to prefer first-person games, but third-person can work for me… IF things work out right. Unfortunately, like many third-person games, the “camera” used tend to cause problems itself. Clipping, obstructions, and inability to fully control the camera (particularly when hanging off ledges) can make for some serious frustration, especially during the fights.

Speaking of fights, that’s where I had some serious problems. To start, you use the game’s “Combo Lab” to construct your own combo of punch-and-kick “pressens” that can do extra damage, heal yourself, or allow you to use special “Super Pressens” (S-Prssens) sooner and more often. Think carefully when making your combos as the pressens only do their magic if you do the combos correctly, otherwise your fighting skills become nothing more than a pointless exercise in button mashing. Another problem is that the combos are “predetermined,” meaning that the pattern of punches and kicks are already decided for you. You just decide what pressen those attacks are.

As for the fighting itself, it’s all about rhythm as ekkko points out in the comments. I was finally able to get past a fight with mourner leapers thanks to ekkko’s tip, though I did have to die another half-dozen times more before I saw an attack pattern being used, then it was the mourner leaper’s turn to get their asses handed to them. After that, it was smooth sailing through the end, except for a couple of “puzzles” to solve near the end. No more watching Nilin die during fights.

Fight scene

Remember: Fighting is all about rhythm, like dancing, only with an occasional evasive two-step to avoid creeps who want to “cut in.”

 

Conclusion: Remember Me had the potential to be a great cyberpunk game, possibly ten stars. It had a story line with some twists to make you want to stay until the end. It had the visuals to make the story come alive. But lack of exploration, a wonky camera, and limited combo customization should make you reconsider whether you want Remember Me to take up memory space on your systems.

NOTE: I originally blogged RM while in a state of rage due to an inability to get past a point late in the game. Do NOT try that at home! After a break and ekkko’s hint (and a few more deaths before discovering a pattern), I did make it past and finish easily. With calmer headspace prevailing, I saw fit to revise RM’s rating from 2 to 4 stars. The issues of the camera, premade combos, and no exploration still hold the game back though.

Robot Suicide! One robot gets closer to human… maybe.

November 15, 2013

Source: The Hindu, and everywhere else by now.

WARNING! The following article contains graphic pictures of a dead robot. Viewer discretion is advised.

The tip of the iceberg? Depending on how you want to look at it, robots just took one step closer (or further away) from being human as one domestic robot has apparently killed itself. Because of the degree of the robot’s (self) destruction, determining exactly why it chose to kill itself remains a mystery, though we do have some “theories”.

 

The GORY details: On 12-Nov-2013, a Roomba robot in Hinterstoder (apartments) in Kirchdorf, Austria finished cleaning up spilled cereal in a kitchen and was shut down by the owner. But for reasons yet unknown, the robot restarted, pushed a pot out of its way, and wound up on the kitchen stove “hotplate” where it melted and started a fire.

Firefighters came in too late to save the Roomba:

Roomba post-suicide 12-nov-13

(Firefighter Helmut Kniewasser) ‘Somehow it seems to have reactivated itself and made its way along the work surface where it pushed a cooking pot out of the way and basically that was the end of it.

‘It pretty quickly started to melt underneath and then stuck to the kitchen hotplate. It then caught fire. By the time we arrived, it was just a pile of ash.

‘The entire building had to be evacuated and there was severe smoke damage particularly in the flat where the robot had been in use.

The human apt dwellers were allowed to return after cleanup, except the Roomba’s owner (who also owns the apts) whose flat is not livable. The owner plans to sue Roomba: “The company that makes the robots is selling dangerous devices, I intend to sue to get compensation. It has ruined my home as everything is smoke damaged.”

 

Another version of the truth: With the Roomba reduced to ashes and no witnesses to the event, it will be near impossible to determine exactly why the bot fried itself. We can only speculate for now, but the real reason may not be as sci-fi as some might believe.

  • Bad owner: The owner claims he shut the bot off when it finished, but it is possible the switch may not have been completely in the off position. A slight jostle, bump, or tremor could have cause the switch close in the “on” position. And the rest of the story… This would be the most likely reason (IMO).

    Then again, the owner may have been a total dick, repeatedly bullying the Roomba until its spirit was broken.

  • Defective robot: The owner’s claim the robot is dangerous may hold up in court, unless Roomba can prove it tested its units satisfactorily so that it should be improbable for the bot start up on its own, unless the owner… see above.
  • Asimov’s Directives: No word on if Roomba programs the robots with The Three Laws, but if so then the robot’s suicide may be the unit following those laws. But then, why would it endanger humans in the other apts, where its actions violate the First and Third laws? That would put us back at the “Defective robot” spot, unless…
  • The Ghost: (From CNET:) “In future times, when the distinction between robot and human becomes far more blurred, occurrences such as these will surely become more usual.” Indeed, this is what Dr. Alfred Lanning was talking about when discussing “The Ghost In The Machine”. Was this an example of the “Ghost?” Have we actually seen the much-promised singularity, only to lose it in a puff of smoke? Are we so close to the humanization of the machines that the seemingly simple Roomba is just the infant of greater things to come?
  • Dr. Alfred Lanning (I, Robot)

    “That, detective, is the RIGHT question.
    Program terminated.”
    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    The Incredible Bionic Man

    October 28, 2013

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2013

    Directed by: Tom Coveney

    Source: Smithsonian Channel

    Rating: 9 out of 10

    Men of TIBM

    “Gentlemen, we can build him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man.”

    Overview: Ever wondered how close we are to making a real artificial, cybernetic life form? A robotic android (”Roboid” as I would prefer to call them) like Lt. Cmdr. Data?

    No?

    Well, a couple of guys thought it would make for an incredible thought experiment… and, they went through with it earlier this year. Richard Walker (the bearded dude) and Professor Alexander Seifalian got together, along with Bertolt Meyer (psychology professor with an artificial arm and hand) as the model, and the most advanced bionic/cybernetic prosthetics and implants available and built TIBM (my name for him). The result… not bad for a first attempt, but it does have a long way to go to be Data. It does show, however, that we’ve come a long way from peg-legs and hook-hands (deal with it, pirates!). You can watch the video online at the Smithsonian Channel’s site or on YouTube.

     

    Some assembly required.

    TIBM parts laid out.

    Batteries not included.

    So what is needed to build your own TIBM? Well, you need a body-frame to install everything on, otherwise things fall apart very rapidly. Next, some limbs would help. Prosthetic arms and legs have been around for some time, but today’s computer technology practically makes them indistinguishable from the real thing, provided you wear long-sleeve shirts and full-length pants. Next, a skull made from a synthetic, bone-like material to house your cyberbrain… once that’s been made. A microphone for ears, special glasses for eyes, a latex “skin” face… so far TIBM is shaping up real good.

    What about inside, where it counts? Another synthetic material has been developed that can be made into any shape, but for now it serves as artificial blood vessels. That should work with the artificial heart and nano-particle “blood” being used. They have an artificial kidney that uses real kidney cells, and a prototype pancreas. The Internet-based chatbot serves as the brain, albeit a primitive and imperfect brain.

    So TIBM is looking more human, but what about moving like a human? Piece of cake for the hands and arms, but as for walking, the legs themselves don’t do it alone. That’s where a motorized, exoskeleton comes in for walking. Baby steps at this point.

    TIBM (attempting) walking

    You… put… one… foot… in… front… of.. the… oth… ther… and… soon… ah, screw it.

     

    Better, Stronger, Faster… Cheaper. TIBM represents the advance of technology, inspired by The Six Million Dollar Man. If you want to compare price tags, TIBM costs only ONE million, so for one Steve Austin you can have a half-dozen TIBMs. One problem is that TIBM won’t have nuclear power sources of Austin.

    The lack of nuclear power is but a minor nuisance, compared to other problems of TIBM. For one thing, some of the implants use Bluetooth, an unsecure wireless protocol leaving them open to hacking. Its walking ability needs much work still. TIBM is also incomplete, missing vital organs like the brain, liver, and digestive tract.

    Ethical considerations were also brought up briefly; While the devices were made for people (like soldiers) who lost limbs or organs in accidents, some may try to “upgrade” themselves without a real medical need. Then there’s concern that TIBM may be the prototype of a new race that may supplant or destroy humanity.

    Bertolt Meyer encounters the completed TIBM

    Bertolt Meyer takes a trip to the Uncanny Valley as he meets the completed TIBM, complete with his face, for the first time.

     

    Conclusion. We’ve certainly come a long way from peg-legs and Jarvick artificial hearts, but there is still some development to go yet before we can make fully functional androids. Even now, or as shown near the end of the show as Dr. Meyer tries a new prosthetic, developments and breakthroughs keep us moving closer to that day. And when that day does arrive… will humanity be ready? If TIBM’s fumble with a pint at the end is any indication, humans still have plenty of time to be prepared.

    Dry Lung Overdrive: Mind Teardown

    March 11, 2013

    Music Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2012

    Artist: Mind Teardown

    Written by: Ivan Myh [Ukraine] & Domagoj Kršiæ [Croatia]

    Label: Crime:Scene

    Download from: MediaFire

    10lungfront.jpg

    Track Listing:

    1. Intro – 0:46
    2. Death Increased – 4:16
    3. Machine Messiah – 3:42
    4. Wreckage – 3:28
    5. Whisper – 3:31
    6. Processing – 2:56
    7. Anthrax Junkie – 4:04
    8. Breakdown – 2:32
    9. Outro – 0:40


    Overview: Somewhere between going back to full time work, the original Half-Life, discovering a couple of games for possible review, and my own inherent laziness I’m surprised spammers haven’t totally taken over. At least I’ve been keeping an eye on things here… And have a chance to listen to some new tunes while working. Mind Teardown lead me to their debut and it’s been a pretty good listen. Nine tracks running in 25 minutes time, Dry Lung Overdrive will give your ears some sweet industrial/EBM sounds as the duo makes their musical statement for themselves, and their Euro-based Crime:Scene label (Might want to check out the label’s line up). You can also check out additional tracks they have on SoundCloud if this album is too short for your liking. In the mean time, let’s check the tracks:

     

    Intro: Imagine waking up in the near future to the sounds of air-raid sirens as your radio proudly gives today’s weather as sunny with lots of radiation, highs expected to be near 110. As for the good news: THERE IS NO FUCKING GOOD NEWS!

     

    Death Increased: A higher tempo track with distorted vocals. The chorus vocals really reverberate.

     

    Machine Messiah: Some sharp guitar sounds punctuate this tune. Sort of like when Ministry went from synth to industrial.

     

    Wreckage: Percussion begins with some nice hammer banging with this moderately paced guitar-driven work.

     

    Whisper: A slower, somewhat softer tune. Makes for a nice change of pace.

     

    Processing: This one sounds like some machinery doing… well, processing… stuff. Kind of funky actually.

     

    Anthrax Junkie: Back to uptempo music. Fast beats abound with this instrumental.

     

    Breakdown: Lots of percussion, like Ministry’s Twitch-era music, or a Stomp show.

     

    Outro: More air-raid sirens while the announcement Everyone seen after eight will be shot. Sirens Corporation: Making Earth A Better Place closes out the album.

     

    Conclusion: Mind Teardown has a debut that gives mid-80s industrial/EBM fans a good dose to keep them going with whatever cyberpunkish (or not) activity are engaged in. And this is just for starters…

    While searching them on YouTube, I came across a link to an EP of theirs, Begin Self Destruction. I’m going the check it out, and keep listening the Dry Lung Overdrive while working, and at home. Good stuff.

    This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Music by Mr. Roboto.