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No Country for Movie Games
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 22, 2008   |   Episode 46 (Show Archive)  

A few weeks ago GameSpot broke a news story that stunned just about everybody: Crave Entertainment was working on a Juno video game. While it certainly seemed hard to believe (after all, a story about a sixteen year old mother-to-be is hardly the stuff games are made of), part of me felt that it could be true. Let's face it; this is Crave Entertainment we're talking about, the company that managed to release Napoleon Dynamite on two different portable game systems. But Juno was never meant to be, after some digging reported that GameSpot had misquoted Crave and that there was no Juno game in the works.

While I didn't have high hopes for a Juno game, part of me was a little disappointed that Jason Reitman's movie wasn't going to become an incredibly successful Nintendo DS game. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some company in the future decides that maybe it's a good idea to release a Juno video game. That got me thinking about the four other nominees for Best Picture at the 80th annual Academy Awards. Would There Will Be Blood or Atonement make a good video game? What would a No Country for Old Men game look like? And would Michael Clayton work as an action game? Putting this to the test I decided to look at these four movies, dissect their plot and make a compelling case for why each of these games could make a solid video game. Below are the results of my experiment, complete with review quotes and a prediction of what the cover art would look like. Before you poo-poo the idea of a No Country for Old Men game I suggest you scroll down and see how each of these games fared.

There Will Be Blood (Wii)
Movie Synopsis: There Will Be Blood is the story of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a curmudgeonly oil man who convinces a small town that he and his company are the right men to drill for the valuable black gold. This experience tests his ability to deal with his family, his domineering attitude and a local minister who seems to have it out for Daniel and his entire operation. It is a story about greed, religion and everything bad that can from them.

Game Synopsis: In their upcoming adaptation of There Will Be Blood, Rockstar Games combines the fun of SimCity and mixes it with the oil business. Taking place at the turn of the century, There Will Be Blood for the Nintendo Wii has you drilling a large area of land for oil. Once you've struck gold it's up to you to assemble a team, deal with the townspeople and avoid major disasters (such as the entire drilling operation going up in flames). In this simulator you will need to micromanage your team, negotiate land deals, build a pipeline and eventually get the major oil companies interested in your small scale business. But beware, there's danger around every corner. Throughout the game you will need to resolve town disputes, deal with pressing family matters and try to buy up all of the property so that the valuable black liquid has a place to go and the money can be yours and only yours. Do you have what it takes to become an oil baron? Find out when you play Rockstar Games' upcoming adaptation of There Will Be Blood for the Wii.

Fake Review Quote: "While the gameplay is deep and the story is compelling, the problem with the There Will Be Blood game is that you can't beat it. Just when you're starting to get everything in order (oil is pumping, you own all of the land, you have a sturdy piping system and the big oil companies have voiced interest) the game abruptly end, leaving you with a lengthy ending sequence that doesn't wrap up the game very well."

Michael Clayton (PlayStation 3)
Movie Synopsis: Michael Clayton is a janitor. When something bad happens at his law firm, Michael (played by George Clooney) is sent to mop it up. Michael is tasked with dealing with a crazy employee who seems to be dead set on taking down one of the law firm's longtime clients, a company that has poisoned dozens of people with their weed killer. Unfortunately things get complicated when a third party steps in to deal with the crazy lawyer, the firm that employs him and Michael Clayton himself.

Game Synopsis: As Michael Clayton, it's up to you to right the wrongs of a number of your law firm's troubled clients. You don't do this as a lawyer, but rather by intimidating people, finding out your enemy's weakness and finding the right price to get whatever you want. You start simple, taking care of a simple hit and run accident, and eventually work your way up to dealing with Arthur Eden, Karen Crowder and the entire U/North company. Thanks to Snowblind Studio's newest software, gamers will be able to play this game multiple times with changing characters and scenarios. And if that wasn't enough, when you're not trying to fix everybody else's mess, you will be able to try your hand at some of the mini-games, including auctioning off the property in your small pub and gambling with shady characters. Michael Clayton is not your normal action game, this is one title that is going to force you to use your head to solve the cases and take down the evil U/North.

Fake Review Quote: "It's a shame that Snowblind Studios decided to go ahead with this Michael Clayton adaptation without the involvement of George Clooney. While I can't argue with the casting choice of Ron Pearlman, the real heart and soul of this character is lost without Clooney's voice. Thankfully Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson were available for this PlayStation 3 game, but it's just not the same without George Clooney."

No Country for Old Men (Xbox 360)
Movie Synopsis: This is the story of a simple man who accidently stumbles upon a grizzly drug deal gone wrong and discovers a briefcase full of money. Unbeknownst to Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), there is a man who is also looking for the money and will stop at nothing to get it back. This is a dangerous man, an evil character who has no remorse for killing you with one of his specialty air guns. The movie plays out like a cat and mouse chase between a simple man and death himself ... all over a briefcase full of money.

Game Synopsis: In this upcoming Xbox 360 game you play two different characters, Llewelyn Moss and Anton Chigurh. Alternating characters between levels, No Country for Old Men plays out with one man trying to escape and another man killing whoever gets in his way. In the Llewelyn Moss stages the game feels more like a standard stealth action game, the object is to stay out of sight and not to get caught by all of the people after him. On the flipside of that, Anton Chigurh feels more like a third-person shooter, where you use your various weapons to take out police officers, private investigators and maybe even a few of Llewelyn's family members. Not only will this game feature a robust single-player mode, but you will also be able to play against a friend online to see who comes out on top - the hunter or the hunted. This hardcore action game will definitely prove who the best players are and that there indeed is no country for old men.

Fake Review Quote: "I know I should love this game, but there's something about the lack of a conclusion that just leaves me empty inside. The game is at its best when the Anton Chigurh character is on the screen, since the shooter elements feel different from other similar games. But the game just falls apart when you have to stumble around with a briefcase of money trying to avoid some sociopath that doesn't even know your name. What's more, the Xbox Live support could have used a few extra players, a one on one game feels a bit lacking when games like Battlefield and Resistance 2 support 60 players at once."

Atonement (Nintendo DS)
Movie Synopsis: After being wrongly accused of assualt, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) is shipped off to fight in World War II. Meanwhile the accuser, a precocious thirteen year old girl, is haunted by her mischievous actions. Atonement is the sweeping story of all of these characters and how their lives are forever changed by this one simple action.

Game Synopsis: Activision knew they would have a hard time translating Atonement to the Nintendo DS. Not only is the movie full of long stretches of emotion, but it's based off of a book that was said to be un-filmable. But Activision was up to the challenge, and that's why we're talking about Atonement, their upcoming action game for the Nintendo DS. In this game you take control of Robbie Turner and his squad as they walk around Europe fighting World War II. That's right; this is nothing more than another World War II first-person shooter, a genre we've seen more than our fair share of in the last ten years. But Activision feels they have something different in this game, thanks to a strong narrative and a downer ending. From what we've been able to see so far, the best part of Atonement is the cinemas, which feature beautifully rendered cel-shaded characters prancing around in uniquely 1930s attire. Sadly it appears as if those segments are far too brief, because the bulk of this game involves you fighting the same ware we've been waging in at least three dozen other popular franchises.

Fake Review Quote: "Despite what the box says, I never once felt that any of the characters feel like they've atoned for their sins. Worse yet, the game's heavy use of World War II sequences makes the whole project feel like so many other shooters I've played recently. I like that this Nintendo DS game is relatively short (I beat it in less than three hours) and has relatively good graphics (for a Nintendo DS game), but it's hard to sympathize with any of the characters in the game and I kept getting the nagging sensation that I've seen this all before. If you're looking for a World War II based shooter for the Nintendo DS, then you're better off sticking with Brothers In Arms DS."


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