Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Overwatch Cinematics

There's this game called Overwatch.

You might remember it. I've mentioned it before.

I haven't played it, and honestly, I probably won't, but from what I can gather, the gist of the game is that you, and a bunch of other players, all run around an area and shoot at each other a whole bunch. Depending on which character you choose to play as, you fight in slightly differently stylized, powered, and paced ways.

It looks like this...

Bright, colorful, loud, confusing, and really pretty run-of-the-mill...

Some people will disagree with this. They'll talk about frame-rates maybe, whatever that means. They might mention the game's A.I. or how smooth the controls are, or who knows. It doesn't really matter to me, because I just see a differently painted version of Halo.

Whatever. Maybe I'll try it someday. Maybe not.

Honestly, probably not. I'm way behind on my video game playing, not to mention my other interests like writing and reading and rambling on about random short films, movies, and sometimes comic books on this blog, but like I said: whatever... that's not why we're here today. We're here today, because during the lead-up to the game's release, Blizzard Entertainment, the people behind Overwatch, released a handful of animated trailers to hype the game. I've posted about things like this before now, and aside from the obvious differences in animation, the Overwatch trailers are a lot like the ones Star Wars and DC comics released awhile back. I'm a big fan of things like this. No big reason why, I just like them. When they're done well, they're pretty fun, and these are pretty well done, so I've gathered them all here for our shared enjoyment.

Let's watch.

This was a lot of fun.

One of the links above will lead you to where I posted this trailer before, and that's where I talk about what I liked about this trailer. In a nutshell, though: It was fun. This was the first of the Cinematic Trailers released, and it's easy to see why. Not only is it quick and cool, and introduces the basic idea of the game, but the four characters it features are also kind of their main ones.

     Tracer                                        Widowmaker

I have a theory that these were chosen as the game's main characters because they best represent/speak to the four most prevalent personality types of your average Gamers... But it's not really a completely considered theory, so I won't bother going into it. Anyway, after the initial cinematic was released, a series of character vignettes soon followed. Some of the shorts revisit the main characters from the first cinematic, which isn't that surprising, really, they're invested in those designs. The last two shorts feature some of the more reliably popular archetypes. In short, while the character choices aren't THAT interesting, what does interest me, is the possibility a larger story running through all of these vignettes. I like that kind of stuff.

First up, we have Winston, in a short called RECALL.

Here's the synopsis: "Recall" tells the story of Winston—a genetically engineered gorilla and brilliant scientist who longs for the days of heroism to return. In this episode, we explore Winston's thoughts and memories as he wrestles with the decision to recall the agents of Overwatch, all while the forces of Talon stage an attack on his laboratory in the abandoned Watchpoint: Gibraltar.

Winston is pretty much just a knock-off of the X-Men character Beast--you see a lot of Anime and X-Men nods in this game--he's your basic genius and savage mash-up. Reaper, meanwhile, is pretty much the pure essence of the on-line person of every sweaty and powerless teenage boy, muttering angrily to himself because the pretty girl at school likes the popular guy.

But it's a video game, what're you gonna do?

Other than that, this short did a good job of finishing off the world-building stuff from the first Cinematic. It's like this... Overwatch is a disparate team of heavily anime/X-men influenced archetypes who once saved the world from some kind of war. It's hard to tell if this was due to a ruthless terrorist organization along the lines of Cobra, or if it was a coalition of rogue nations, or maybe alien invaders. Who knows. Doesn't matter. The long and the short of it is: Once upon a time, big trouble was beaten back by Overwatch. Then, in the aftermath, an ungrateful world turned on their heroes, outlawing their activities, and disbanding the team, forcing them all into an early retirement. Surprise, surprise, this was premature, short-sighted, and stupid, because Bad Shit is on its way back. The world needs Overwatch again!

So, Winston makes the call.

Next up is an interesting one. It's called ALIVE.


Not only does this next short give us our first glimpse of a new character--the Robot Lama Zenyatta--but this is also the video that basically launched a thousand fanfic ships by maybe insinuating that Tracer and Widowmaker have some sort of history, a history that could maybe be inferred to possibly have been romantic in nature, maybe, a history that then somehow went bad. Exciting, right? Tumblr certainly thinks so. See...

There's seems to be a theme here, but I can't seem to put my finger on it...

Anyway, here's the synopsis: "Alive" weaves a tale of Widowmaker, the peerless Talon assassin who stalks her prey with deadly efficiency. In this episode, we spend a fateful night in London’s King’s Row—where you’ll discover how one death can change everything.

Let's watch...

This is maybe the best one, I think.

This short is fast and simple and the action is great, and both Widowmaker and Tracer are pretty great in conflict. They have distinct personalities, their abilities are cool, and their designs look good together. I don't know how much you would say there was an implied history--let alone a romantic one--if you weren't told to look for it beforehand, but (heh... butt) it's cool either way. Zenyatta doesn't do much, however, and since he's a playable character, I can only assume he's not dead.

However, while the immediate story-line of an assassin trying to take out her target, and a hero trying to stop the assassin, really works, the biggest failing of this short is that the larger story gets a little murky. Yes, it kind of showcases the idea that evil is making a push back into the war, and that maybe the heroes can't face it all alone, but there other questions. Is this before or after Winston recalls Overwatch? What was the point with assassinating Zenyatta, other than just general bad guy reasons? Personally, I would've liked a clearer "larger narrative" arc here, something to tie it more to the previous shorts.

Either way, it's still a pretty good Short Film.

The third Cinematic breaks the mold. It's called DRAGONS.

This is the first one to avoid using any of the big four. This one is a more personal story, one in which we meet Hanzo and Genji, your basic samurai guy and techno-ninja type, as they appear in a classic tale of broken family honor. You basically know what to expect here, right? I mean, shit, if you're going to go for Asian archetypes, why not go full out, right?

Hanzo                                                 Genji

Here's the synopsis: "Dragons" explores the history of conflict between the scions of the Shimada clan: Hanzo and Genji. In this episode, we follow Hanzo as he returns to the siblings' family home in Hanamura once again to seek redemption... only this time, he finds himself confronted by the ghosts of the past.

Are you interested? Do you feel like you've seen it before?

Only one way to find out...

Interesting. Sure. Good action. Looked great. This was pretty all right. It definitely looked good. I liked those dragon attacks, they had a really great, bright color, and the various arrows were pretty cool. The story itself was maybe a little too "cherry blossoms on the wind" for me, but that's what happens when you brush so hard up against anime influences, I guess. As for the larger story, this one seems to take place before Winston recalls Overwatch... maybe. It was hard to tell. Besides the thematic idea that you can't run from the mistakes of your past forever, it really doesn't seem to connect up to the larger story at all, at least not as far as I can tell.

Still, it was fast and fun, so no big deal.

Finally, we have the fourth and finally Cinematic, called HERO.

This short features a character known as Soldier 76, who is basically a mix of "mysterious masked anime guy, and a whole heaping handful of the Marvel character Cable. Look at him... so mysterious, right? Not to mention bad ass too, huh? Hopefully, because that's certainly what they're going for, like the character was designed by an Internet Bad Ass Generator.


And here's the synopsis: "Hero" follows the masked vigilante Soldier: 76 on a personal mission to Dorado where he's set to investigate the illegal activities of the Los Muertos gang—but an unexpected complication threatens to compromise his objective.

Man, there was a lot of irresponsible shooting going on there...

That was all right. I think I had the least connection to this one over all. Good action. I liked the design of the gang when they were in low light. That was cool. Other than that, it was pretty generic. This was your basic "why the heroes are needed" story, but the amount of street destruction kind of undermines that whole thing, so... meh. I think this cinematic, more than anything else, illustrates the what is most likely the over-riding reality of this game: It's kind of generic.

But still, I enjoy these types of things, so... still fun, too.

And that was it.

The game came out, and the shorts dried up. Will there be more? Does the story go on? Who knows. So, what was the larger story? Was there one at all? At first there seemed to be a thread, but that quickly fell by the way side. Were there Cinematics trying to say anything at all? There's a whole theme of being true to yourself, and accepting your Destiny, but it was pretty fast and loose. That disappoints me a little. However, the execution was so well done, so fun, that it's hard to be too upset. I hope the people behind these Cinematics are trying to do something on their own...

Because these are all pretty good.

Game on,

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