This week’s Digression considers the controversial Pacquiao-Bradley split decision, a surprise reveal from Ubisoft Montreal at last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, and Max Payne 3‘s gameplay and presentation. Plus, don’t forget your weekly dose of music with today’s Mixtape.
By now you’ve probably heard of the controversial result of the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley bout that had Bradley winning by a patently ridiculous split-decision and the Internet buzzing with theories of fixed fights and corrupt boxing officials. I’m a fairly jaded fan of boxing and I’ve lost count of the bad decisions and botched referee calls I’ve seen in the two-and-a-half decades I’ve been following the professional combat sports, but this had me throwing up in my mouth a little. As far as recent robberies go, the Pacquiao-Bradley decision is on par with Rios-Abril and Lara-Williams in terms of the disparity between what most observers saw and what the judges put down on their scorecards, but it’s just so much worse overall because of the fight’s high profile. Here’s a rundown of columns and interviews (with links) across the ‘net talking about this latest black eye to the sport of boxing:
- Pacquiao deserved better than unjust ending against Bradley (Sports Illustrated): Bryan Armen Graham, in an emotional article posted a couple of hours after the fight, writes that boxing has “betrayed Pacquiao in the worst way.” But what really stuck with me after reading Graham’s piece was something Pacquiao said to reporters after the fight that gave me hope about the sport despite everything that is wrong with it right now: Whatever happens, don’t be discouraged about boxing.
- Pacquiao-Bradley: What Just Happened? (Grantland): Rafe Bartholomew’s ringside report for ESPN spin-off site Grantland looks at the conspiracy and corruption angles surrounding the fight and its indefensible result. A lot of money changed hands with the upset given that Pacquiao was an overwhelming odds-on favorite, but I’m not entirely convinced that this wasn’t just a case of terribly incompetent judging. Still, corruption or not, Bartholomew’s piece is an interesting read that brings up a number of good points.
- Teddy Atlas On Controversial Decision (ESPN Video): Legendary trainer Teddy Atlas, in a phone interview with ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, argues that an investigation should be conducted into the scoring of the fight. He also makes an angry, desperate plea to whoever will listen that the sport needs some form of federal oversight. Excellent stuff from one of my favorite boxing commentators.
- US Senate leader backs call for probe of title bout (Reuters via Yahoo.com): Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a one-time boxing judge and former amateur boxer, backed Atlas’ calls for a probe of Pacquiao-Bradley bout.
- Randall Bailey’s Knockout Of Mike Jones Was The One Good Thing From The Manny Pacquiao Vs. Timothy Bradley Card (Queensberry-Rules.com): Forgotten in all the controversy and outrage over the Pacquiao-Bradley decision (and the no-contest fiasco that was the co-main event pitting Jorge Arce against Jesus Rojas) was the undercard highlight of 37-year old journeyman Randall Bailey scoring a surprise knockout of young fringe contender Mike Jones. It was a terrible fight for the first nine rounds or so that had the audience raining down boos due to the lack of action. Bailey’s trainer even seemed like he had given up on his charge, letting the cutman dole out instructions in between rounds. Bailey has never been nimble or particularly ring-savvy, but many consider him to be one of the more powerful punchers in the fight game. In the 11th round, Bailey uncorked this beauty of an uppercut that I think should be on the short list for knockout of the year (Bailey’s emotional reaction to the win and post-fight, in-ring interview is also quite the heartwarming spectacle):
Of course, the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch is all but a certainty now, with the fight tentatively scheduled for November 10, although the venue will likely be somewhere else besides Nevada. It makes for an intriguing redemption/revenge storyline for Pacquiao, but I don’t know if it’s a fight people will want to pay to see. The conspiracy and corruption allegations will surely drive away fans and besides, Pacquiao so thoroughly dominated Bradley, even with his documented calf muscle problems, that a second fight will likely play out the same way in the ring. Yes, a rematch win would get him the WBO welterweight belt back, but it’s really a meaningless trinket at this point given how Bradley won it and how most of the established boxing media have generally chosen to ignore the result of the match in their ranking lists.
E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), the video game and consumer electronics trade show, was held in Los Angeles last week. Once the world’s biggest annual video game-themed event, E3′s importance began to fade in recent years once the major players in the hardware and software industries began to realize that they can get just as much exposure and good press by holding their own exclusive conventions and trade shows, all without having to compete with other companies’ booth babes for attention. The big story was Ubisoft Montreal’s surprise revelation of a heretofore unseen game-in-development called Watch Dogs. The extended trailer wowed media and industry insiders alike, not just because it was a new property in a medium that seems bent on recycling concepts with sequel after sequel based on established franchises, but also because it looked graphically impressive, hinting that it might also be an early look at the realtime-rendering capabilities of the next generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft
I started playing Max Payne 3 last week and I’m a little over halfway through the game. I would have probably finished it by now if I weren’t so obsessed with getting all the “Golden Gun” and “Clue” collectibles in my first play-through. It’s a very good third-person shooter dragged down a bit by camera hiccups, some unskippable cinematics, and uneven spikes in difficulty. I’m still not sold on the change in setting that has the game’s primary location moving to São Paulo from the New York of the first two Max Payne games, but it isn’t as big a distraction as I thought it would be.
Unfortunately, the game’s developers decided to get rid of the graphic novel-style cutscenes that were a hallmark of the franchise. Sequential art storytelling assets are still used in the game, but they’re in the form of stylized loading screens that use frames from the full-motion video cutscenes as comic book panels
It’s a fairly efficient way of recapping the action using sequential art, but I much prefer the old graphic novel-styled cutscenes with actual word balloons and text boxes.
As good as the game is, I think the pacing, in combination with the game’s difficulty level, is a bit too much. Part of the Max Payne games’ unique appeal is story. Yes, it’s over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek noir, but that’s what gives the franchise its personality. With Max Payne 3, there’s so much going on at once at any given moment that it oftentimes becomes hard to keep track of the story or the dialogue. I’m sure this was a deliberate design decision on the part of the game developers. There are a lot of features in the game that are obviously intended to keep the player off-balance and perpetually immersed in the “fog of war,” such as the lack of subtitles for the Portuguese dialogue spoken by non-player characters and the various visual effects that suggest the protagonist’s confusion and unfamiliarity with the locale but coupled with the occasionally temperamental camera, some gameplay sequences become repetitive exercises in frustration.
This week’s Mixtape (song titles link to corresponding audio/video, if available):
- Aim – Fall Break
- Moments of Soul – Love Is
- Plaid – Itsu
- Tosca – Rondo Acapricio
- Mercan Dede – Ab-i Tarab
- 45 Dip – Geisha Vampire
- Bullitnuts – Heavy Air
- Tricky (feat. Martina Topley-Bird) – Hell is Round the Corner
- Goldfrapp – Horse Tears
- Air – Alone in Kyoto