Thursday, 28 January 2010

Brain Dead (1990) - Horror Film Review


I really don't know where to begin with my thoughts on this film. It is one of the most confusing films I have seen in a long time, not a lot makes sense at all, I'm not convinced that the script writer had any idea either. 

A brain expert called Rex Martin is asked by a shady research agent for a company called Eunice to go and visit an alleged insane man suffering Paranoia at a mental home to see if he is faking it or not.  Before this man went loco and killed several people he had created an essential mathematical formula, in his madness he had destroyed half the equation. Eunice want either his sanity returned so that he can provide the formula, or for him to be stopped from ever being able to tell anyone else the formula.



From this straight forward intro the plot wildly collapses into many different tangents. Seemingly simultaneously Rex Martin is in a coma, a brain in a jar and a paranoid schizophrenic in a mad house. He is married, he is single, he has kids, has no kids, has many different names, nothing really makes sense. As an example at one point in the film he wakes up in a bed by a man who then goes and hides in a cupboard, looking for the man he finds him dead with his eyes removed. Then he wakes up in a bed by a man who then goes and hides in a cupboard, looking for the man he finds out that he himself has somehow turned into a ghost as he is also still laying in bed. Opening the cupboard he falls into it landing in a vast ocean. No sense at all!

The film stars Bill Pullman (Independence Day) who does a superb job of portraying someone totally confused and with no idea what is happening, though I guess not much acting is needed for that! The films plot was written by someone who used to write stories for the Twilight Zone. I did enjoy the film, it just made no sense, but it's cool applying your own thoughts on what the film was trying to achieve.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The House of the Dead 2 - Horror Videogame Review (Dreamcast)



House of the Dead 2 is my favourite zombie slaying game, and would probably say it would be on my Top 10 games of all time. It is an excellent on rails light gun game with multiple routes through its 6 or so levels.


The plot involves two AMS Agents who return to their HQ in an unnamed European Town to find zombies everywhere, and the place in utter chaos. Through lots of nonsensical ridiculous story the Agents discover a man called Goldman is responsible for the outbreak and head to his Skyscraper to defeat him.




I never had the pleasure of playing House of the Dead much. Once or twice I played it in arcades. The main character from that (Agent G) appears in a bit part here, as does the end of game boss from that game. Enemies mostly comprise of various types of zombies. As well as the token zombies you get ones armed with weapons such as chainsaws and clawed gloves, animal zombies such as Owls and Crocodiles, and insect ones such as giant leeches. The levels are littered with civilians, and many differing routes depend on you saving them or not. Later levels the zombies turn more technology based, and loose their ickiness which is a shame. The bosses are a highlight of the game. Each boss is fun to fight, and looks fantastic.


The levels are cool, and varied featuring streets, offices, sewers, and ruins, but as the game progresses the multiple routes reduce so that by the last level there are no multiple routes at all. As mentioned the voice acting is amazingly bad, and really funny as a result 'Suffer like G did?' 'My God' 'I don't want to die!' ' My friends went inside...but their not back yet!' all really memorable, heh.




I first played this in a sit down booth, it had curtains at the sides to make the cabinet dark, and had a magnified screen, it looked amazing. This game was one of the reasons I got a Dreamcast, I still play the game regularly. The Dreamcast additions include the option to have red blood rather than the default green, and adds bonus missions, as well as a RPG style mode where you can get exclusive little areas to collect different ammo types, and other bonuses that can be used for subsequent play throughs.


Lots of zombie violence, are able to shoot limbs and holes into the zombies, and blast chunks out of them, most fun. Well worth tracking down (Is now on the Wii along with the inferior House of the Dead 3, and also is a hidden game on the X-Box House of the Dead 3). A note of trivia - the scrolling 3D beat em up Zombie Revenge is a sister title to this, and features a level set in the Curian Mansion from the original House of the Dead.


SCORE:

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Persona 4 Review



My memory is not what it once was, so I am running out of things to review! With that thought in mind here is my review of the excellent PS2 RPG (Role Playing Game) Persona 4 which I am currently 24 hours into.


In Persona 4 you play as a student recently transferred from a school in the City to a Town in the countryside. You are staying with your Uncle (the Towns chief Detective) and his young Daughter. Soon after arriving a woman who had been in the news regarding an affair with a rich business man is found hanging from a Telegraph pole, her cause of death not apparent. A High School girl discovers the body. A week later her body is found in equally bizarre circumstances. Through a series of coincidences you discover you have the ability to enter TV's where you travel to a weird alternate reality. You along with your friends discover that someone is kidnapping people and throwing them into TV's where their true self manifests and kills them. You and your friends successfully face the personifications of your secret thoughts and unlock Personas (Basically Humanoid Pokemon)




The game is split up into days. Each day usually involves you going to school, and then having free time in the evening to investigate, and rescue people from the TV, as well as other stat building activities such as after school clubs, reading, studying, and spending time with family and friends. Usually once a month someone is kidnapped and placed in the TV world. You have until the weather turns misty (usually a few in game weeks) to fight through a dungeon and defeat the personification of the latest victim.


The game has kind of adult themes in places, like the relationship between a single Dad and his child, and suicide. This is reflected in the games dungeons. Such as a Steamy Sauna, and a Strip Club. The victims personifications are also more mature themed. One personification is of a characters hidden homosexual desires, another personification is of a timid shy characters secret desire to be basically a slut.




The game is very text heavy in places, it can sometimes get up to an hour without any fighting actually being done. The characters are all well done though, all are interesting, and have great voice actors. The music is J-Pop mostly (the game actually came with a separate Soundtrack CD) but good, and fits the Japanese feel of the game well. The plot is quite a cool mystery, I'm 25 hours in, and really intrigued to discover who is behind the murders. The graphics are not fantastic, the dungeons in particular are very basic looking, being randomised this is not a surprise, but even for a PS2 game the graphics are average.


Combat is turn based, you can attack with weapons, or use your Persona to attack with elemental magic. Each and every enemy has a particular elemental weakness, and a elemental strength, as do the characters which leads to slight tactics needing to be used. The enemies are interesting, and relevant to their dungeon (Hulk Hogan day-glo wrestlers in the camp Sauna, couples in evening wear with hearts floating above them in the Strip Club). The main bosses are excellent, and unique looking, also providing lines of dialogue taunting you at different points in the battles. The secret optional bosses however are poor and just stronger versions of existing enemies.




The game can get a bit repetitive, but it is nice to have some calm after the panic of the few weeks when you have to rescue a victim (the games days progress regardless, if you fail to rescue a victim before the next misty day it will be real Game Over so it's always stressful to rescue someone in time). The game does require a bit of grinding, but the fetch quest sub missions give you a reason to grind) Recommended if you enjoy RPG's with a difference!


An update for this....


I carried on playing, and playing, and playing and finally after 91 hours it was complete! A heck of a long game, and a very very good one at that.  The plot had brilliant twists and the music stayed fantastic and the gameplay and story ace.  Well recommended!


SCORE:

Monday, 25 January 2010

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (2009) - Horror Videogame Review (Nintendo DS)


I love the Metroidvania style of games, the GBA Castlevania trilogy were awesome, fantastic games. The DS ones have never really bottled that same magic, though are still good games. I think it's just the Manga style artwork which puts me off, I much prefer the Gothic artwork style of the older games, it just suits it better. 

Ecclesia starts with you (a female magician called Shanoa) about to participate in a rite that will seal Dracula away forever. However a jealous rival (Albus) interrupts the ceremony stealing the magical runes necessary for the banishment, and causing you to loose your memory in the process. It is your job to hunt down your rival and take back the runes he has stolen so that the rite can be completed.



Like Portrait of Ruin before it Order of Ecclesia is split into levels rather than just the one big castle. It's not till over halfway through the game that you actually get access to Castlevania itself. Portrait of Ruin levels were cool, featuring pyramids, circuses and towns. Unfortunately Ecclesia shows far less originality, locations being more mundane and realistic. You get mountains, forests, mansions, and caves. Some of which are cool (enjoyed the Skull Crypt) but others like the billion forest and mountain levels get boring and bland.

Rather than physical attacks you use magical runes which can be found in the levels, as well as taken from defeated enemies. These magical attacks can manifest themselves as weapons, as well as more traditional magic such as fireballs. Also some helpful runes give you powers such as flight, the ability to breath underwater and speed that help you to reach at first inaccessible places.



The enemies are nearly all the same as ones from previous games. This is not a bad thing though, as the continuity works really well in the Castlevania series. The bosses are mostly all new featuring such memorable terrors as a Giant Enemy Crab (TM) you fight in a lighthouse, a gigantic screen filling armoured fire breathing Bull type monstrosity, and a funny man who you defeat by stealing his rune that allows him to pass through walls whilst he is passing through a wall, funny.

The music is good, not great, later on some classic tunes make a comeback when you get to Castlevania. I would argue that the only really good levels are those in Castlevania, all that come before just a bit plain.



Rather than the traditional merchant (soldier, priest etc) who sells you items you now have a whole village full of shops where you can get everything you desire, as well as complete a number of side quests. The side quests are not as numerous or as interesting as Winds side quests in Portrait of Ruin though.

Another good Castlevania game, may be a bit hard for Castlevania virgins (I had to do some mass grinding to be able to 100% the game) but recommended if your looking for a fun DS game.

SCORE:

Friday, 22 January 2010

Twin Blades (2009) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)


By all accounts there seems nothing special with this indie game. The title 'Twin Blades' conjours up images of fighting, and the ultra cartoony artwork shows nothing. But this is a Zombie fighting game! It has lots and lots and lots of Zombies in it!

The game is a 2d side scrolling beat em up. You play as a Nun in a medieval fantasy world armed with a giant Scythe and various hand guns. Each level (called Day) is set in 3 areas - a Marketplace, a Church, and Town outskirts. As the Nun you must fight your way through hordes of the living dead from left ot right. Each level the number, and toughness of the zombies increases, and after each level you are able to upgrade the nuns weapons, health, and buy additional weapons (such as Uzi's and Flame Throwers). You need to survive 30 days of the living dead to beat the game.

The zombies come in several different types. As well as normal zombies you get zombies armed with knives, zombies wearing armour, and Skeletons, all in a wild assortment of various colours. The cartoony graphics look great, with massive characters (with slightly South-Park-esque animation to them), the enemies split apart in showers of blood, decapitations, and slicings in half. It is really quite addictive. Also the game is able to play custom music from your hard drive while you slay if you so wish which is cool.

I really need to start reviewing the zombie based indie games, as there are a ever increasing number of them. I would definitely recommend this, I think it was only 80 Microsoft points also.

SCORE:

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Wolf Creek - Horror Film Review



The square jawed girl I lament you...Wolf Creek is another of those films that purports to be based on true events (like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and others) It is kinda grim, and gives you likable characters who don't encounter danger until around 40 minutes into the film, so their personalities are able to come through.


Three young tourists are driving across Western Australia on the way to a big party. They include 2 British female backpackers, and an Australian. Their journey is a long one, and is through the desolate outback. On the way they stop off at Wolf Creek National Reserve. It is an isolated nature park set in a gigantic crater from a meteorite that crashed there in Australia's past. They spend a lovely day there before heading back to their car...which won't start. With the onset of night they have no choice but to spend the night in the car. A lorry turns up, and a friendly Crocodile Dundee style man turns up and offers to tow the car to his place where he has the tools to fix it up. He turns out to be a psycho mad man as is the way.




The film is more realistic than many of it's ilk, the violence seems more real. I really wanted the characters to survive, I found myself checking the films length towards the end to try and work out in my mind what chance they have. The film plays with you by constantly changing the character the film is focused on, so tricking you into thinking they are the hero. The attractive square jawed girl I had assumed was the heroine of the film. She was strong willed, sensible, but when it gets down to it she was nothing but a 'head on a stick' (slang explained in the film). The film was shocking I would say, mostly because the victims are so likable which makes their suffering all the more unpleasant. The psycho is quite creepy, and insane, but acts with a plan, this is something he has done many many times before. There is one scene about halfway though the film where by if one little thing had happened differently the path would have been so different, but it's human to make mistakes, so the victims can be forgiven.


Allegedly based on true events, it actually kinda is. Mostly it is based on a real life Australian serial killer, who tortured his victims in a way similar to the mad man of this film, and in a area of tastelessness a mine in this film is actually an anagram of the real life killers name. A grim film, but well made, and unsettling.


SCORE:

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Book of Eli - Post Apocalyptic Film Review


This was quite a different film to what I expected. I was expecting a balls to the wall action film, but while there is quite a bit of action (cool action I might add) the film is more spiritual, and religious, and not meat-headed like I had assumed.

The film is a cross between the game Fallout 3, and the film The Passion of Christ (haven't seen it, but it's the only religious film that came to mind). Denzel Washington stars as a middle aged man called Eli on a journey in post apocalyptic America (around 2030). He is on a mission to head west, woe betide anyone who gets in his way. He runs across a small town ship under the control of Carnegie; a middle aged man (expertly played by Gary Oldman). Carnegie is desperately searching for a special book. Having lived before Armageddon he is one of the only people left who has the ability to read, he recognises the power of the book he is seeking, and that it's power will allow him to expand his empire as the books words have the ability to touch peoples souls. He has not been too successful in his search so far, as the gangs he sends out into the wasteland to find the book are unable to read, and so don't know what they are looking for. It's not really a spoiler to reveal that the book he is searching for is the Bible. It just so happens Eli's most prized possession is a Bible, and so begins violence and bloodshed.



It seems in the films world Armageddon was caused by a World War that resulted in the ozone layer being completely obliterated and billions perishing by the suns glare, the planet itself slowly turning into one big desert. The survivors blamed the war on religion, so all Holy books were hunted down and destroyed. 30 years later and most the population know nothing but the arid wasteland, all technology vanished. This leads to some comedic moments, the best being when Oldman tells one of his Stooges to check behind a TV. The henchman looks confusingly at Oldman and says "what's a TV?" to which Oldman rolls his eyes. In this world knowledge is power, both Eli and Oldman being powerful due to things they have retained from pre Armageddon, the old rule the young.

Eli is not a violent person in nature, but he is able to defend himself when no other choice exists, an expert at close quarters combat, and an expert marksman. Guns are plentiful in the world, but bullets are rare, so most the gunners are poor at shooting. The most precious commodity is water, money no longer has any meaning, bartering is what matters. The film is really well shot. Reminded me of Fallout 3; all greys and browns, no colour anywhere. The action scenes are fantastic, a highlight being a gunfight out in the wasteland, lots of action, but always with the endlessness in the background given a real sense of insignificance to the characters, and just how lost they all are.



The plot is a simple, almost a Western style one, Denzel like a Client Eastward character, but is expertly done. The loneliness of the world is really reflected in the vast vistas, and the lack of hope the population have for anything other than survival. There is a fantastic plot twist that I never saw coming towards the films end, though I'm sure it creates a lot of plot holes with it's arrival, though a lot of stuff does stand up to the revelation.

Fantastic acting from Oldman and Washington, a damn attractive female lead, and beautifully shot. Well worth a watch.

SCORE:

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Dead Space (2008) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)


I have played through Dead Space nine frickin times now. With an average play through time of around 7 hours that is 63 hours. Most of that was cheevo mining (getting achievements). I am training myself up for one final push, to play through the game on...INSANE to get the last cheevo.

Dead Space is a very good Sci-fi survival horror set on the planet cracker class ship the Ishimura. You play as an engineer (Isaac Clarke) who responds to a distress call along with several others. The ship with its crew of 1000 is mysteriously deserted, but before long your group is attacked by a monster (called a necromorph). Your character is separated from the others and so begins your journey through hell. The ship is over-run with the deadly lethal necromorphs, from audio recordings you learn that they are in fact mutated crew members. Your mission is to find out what has happened to the ship, and to ultimately escape.


The game is split up into 12 different levels. The levels are logically placed, each being set in a different part of the ship. Nearly all the missions involve you needing to deal with an emergent disaster, from repelling a deadly meteorite shower, to stopping the spread of a poison gas through the ventilation system, one disaster after another is afflicted like the 12 plagues of Egypt. Being a engineer Isaac does not have access to guns, and instead in a unique move is equipped with engineering tools. He has effective weapons though, as the easiest way to kill the necromorphs is by dismemberment, and luckily he is mostly armed with tools fit for the job.

There are some RPG elements in the game. There are shops dotted around the ship where new weapons can be purchased, new engineering suits brought, as well as a place to resupply ammo and health. Also dotted around the ship are work benchs which enable you to upgrade various stats of your weapons and equipment.


The enemies are varied, but all have a similar style to them, all mutated variations of humans with tentacles, claws, and teeth. They are persistent also, even with their arms, legs, and heads removed they will keep on coming for you. There are a few bosses throughout the game, some of these are impressive to fight, none are annoying. The games location cant help but bring back images of Alien, but the setting feels like a realistic setting in that there is everything real people would need. There are also some fab sections featuring no gravity that are fun, and also maze like due to being able to walk on any surface.

The game is not particularly scary, but is endless in the ways in which it sneaks enemies at you, so does make you jump and shoot at shadows a lot. The plot is nothing special, a few cool twists, but the main plot I already knew from watching the web comic prequel which lessened the intrigue a bit. A very good game though, and Dead Space 2 is in the works.

SCORE:

Monday, 18 January 2010

Why X-Box Live sucks

As of 11pm last night I have quit playing games online. I had such a bad experiance by utter retards that I refuse to ever go online with strangers again. As I have no friends who play online that means that no more online gaming for me.

It is unfortunate that X-Box Live is built to cater for scum. Immature little boys who see hurling abuse at strangers as the very height of humour. They are pathetic people, and would be doing the world a favour if they were to kill themselves and thier friends. It's a shame that the average X-Box Live gamer seems to belong to this class of chav, and they really do ruin the experiance for others.

If you belong to this class of person then you should be ashamed you fucktard, but I doubt anyone intelligent enough to be able to read falls into that catagory.

It is a real shame as I can almost taste the potential of online gaming, and am envious of all those who have friends and are able to play ganes online with them. Some people have issues and don't appreciated being mercilessly abused for no reason whatsoever by completly horrendous strangers.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Dead of Night (1945) - Horror Film Review


The purchase of this film was a happy accident. I had in fact intended to get the 1970's film of the same name. As it turns out this version is considered to be the better film. Dead of Night is a black and white portmanteau (compendium) horror film. There is one overarching story with several different tales told in between. In all there are about six short horror tales contained within the ninety minute film. 

An architect turns up at a country cottage he has never been to before, he is due to stay there for the weekend as a guest of the owner. He is took into the house where he is introduced to five other visitors. The architect is shaky and pale, he reveals that for several months he has been having reoccurring nightmares in which he goes to this very house and meets these very people, but that he can't recall exactly what happens in the nightmare. After making some scarily accurate predictions the house guests with the exception of a psychologist come to believe his tale. The guests in turn each tell a supernatural tale from their own pasts.



Despite only being a PG the film is creepy, some tales at least. The first two tales are quite similar, and neither one is that great. The third tale about a haunted mirror is effective, as is the tale about the ventriloquist's doll, and the main tale that links all the stories together is really intriguing and suspenseful.


I love this style of film, so if you enjoy the later day portmanteaus (such as Tales from the Crypt, and The League of Gentlemen Christmas special) then I recommend you check it out as it still stands up today sixty five years later!

SCORE:

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Waxwork - My Review

Waxwork is a cool film that I'm surprised took me this long to see. It's a horror with comedy elements to it about a evil Waxworks owner who lures people to his exhibit so that his horror themed Waxworks can kill.

2 teenage girls are invited to a private midnight reveal of the evil Waxwork owners exhibition, they go with a bunch of thier friends (including among them one of the actors from the excellant Twin Peaks series, and the beautiful Deborah Foreman). A midget and a giant usher them into the exhibit which features various scenes of horror from pop culture, such as Draculas Castle, an Egyptian Mummy's tomb, the Phantom of the Operas sewer among others. The group split up as they look around the exhibit. One by one they are lured onto the exhibits, each one has a gateway to a dream like dimension depicting what the scenario represented. For example, the first teenager steps onto the Wolfman exhibit which transports him to a woodland where he is attacked by a werewolf and then killed by a hunter with silver bullets. Some of the teenagers leave the exhibit looking for thier missing friends which leads to them via a series of coincidences discovering the secret of the waxworks.

The film is quite good, the alternate realities the teenagers are lured to all have thier distinct style. There is not a lot of explicit violence, but still is entertaining, the best being death via foot stomp (A Mummy crushes a prone mans head into the ground, nice) There is more to the plot than it first seems, and it rattles along nicely.

There is lots of great scenes in the film, the best featuring the beautiful Deborah Foreman. Sarah rejects her friends advances which leads to a tender scene between them and her producing the most dazzling smile I have ever seen. The Waxwork of the Marquais de Sade steals the film character wise. He has a real prescence about him, and draws attention. Not sure who he is (seems to be some bloke who gets off whipping virgin girls, and I guess that's where the term Sadism comes from) but in the film he is hypnotic to watch. The final large fight is just too big for the budget, which shows as a bunch of old men (including one in an armoured wheel chair!) attack the live Waxwork villains (who put up pathetic resistance!).

Zombies feature in one of the scenarios set in a graveyard and black and white, so that's cool! There are pop culture references I noticed to Dirty Harry, Little Shop of Horrors among others. The end credits include thanks to a whole host of famous horror directors (Hooper, Romero, Carpenter et al) There is a sequel I am going to check out, hopefully it will be as entertaining as this film!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Zombie Undead - My Review

I have just got back from the World premiere of Zombie Undead; an indie zombie flick made, and set in Leicester. Indie zombie films can be very hit and miss. For every 'Colin' there is a million 'Zombie Diaries'. The premiere was sold out to an enthusiatic audience including many of the makers, and actors from the film. It was cool but odd seeing the same people on screen that you could see in the watching crowd!

Zombie Undead starts off with a terroist attack in the City centre of Leicester, then the film fast forwards to later in the day. A young woman called Sarah arrives at a Hospital with a paramedic (Steve) and her badly injured Father. Soon after entering the Hospital she blacks out. She awakes to find everything silent, but she soon discovers that while she was sleeping the world has changed. For the worse. Soon she teams up with the rest of the Hospital survivors. They must work together to locate thier missing loved ones, and escape the zombie filled quarantined Hospital.

I was actually surprised how well made this film was. The acting while in places average is never bad like most cheap zombie films, and the film is superbly edited with really effective jump shots, speed ups, and angles. The characters are good enough, the usual stereotypes show up (eg: the unreliable selfish man) but it seems destiny that when ever there's a zombie apocalypse these same stereotypes will end up lumped in with your group like Weevils in grain. The Hospital is quite a maze, and quite confusing also with everything looking the same. It is a real relief and a (literal) breath of fresh air when that location is finally escaped from, and makes the outdoors scenes the polar opposite of the cramped, claustaphobic indoors.

The zombie makeup while not amazing is very passable, the zombies actually look like zombies, and there is plenty of blood and intestines shown which is nice. The weapon sounds all sound chunky and brutal.

The actual plot is good enough for a zombie film, no exciting twists or turns (well ok, there were a few unexpected twists!) though at times the script was a bit stilted it seemed, and were some missed oppourtunities which I guess not having a budget made unavoidable. I saw homages to Shaun of the Dead, Resident Evil (the game, not the film), and many more which was cool.

The film overall though was entertaining, humourous, professinally shot, the main characters were likeable, and it had the legend Zombie Ed in it. Well worth watching! I really hope this is released on DVD, if it is I will definatly be picking it up!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Alien Hominid (2002-07) - Sci-fi Videogame Review (XBLA)


Alien Hominid is a great cartoony looking run and gun game that is very funny, but also quite difficult. In the tradition of the Contra and Metal Slug games it is one hit kills, and with bullets flying around, dense numbers of enemies and tough bosses this happens quite a lot. It was made by the same people who did the excellent Castle Crashers, with the distinct look being very similar. 

You play as a yellow crazed Alien, at the games start he crashes his UFO, before he can recover from his accident the F.B.I have captured the ship. The Alien must run and gun his way to get back his UFO. The game is split into 3 'worlds'. The first 5 levels see you in a City with the F.B.I, next you are in Russia fighting the Red Army, until finally you are at Area 51 fighting the USA Army. The Alien is armed with a laser which can be upgraded with limited power ups such as flame, ice, and laser rounds. Also the gun can be charged up to fire a powerful blast. Per life you also have 5 grenades to use.



The enemies are very varied, and each of the 15 levels features unique features, mini bosses, and humor. Cartoony violence is paramount, enemies reacting in a Tom and Jerry style to the violence you inflict on them. The mini bosses and level bosses are really great, all are unique and fun to fight, from the Hammer and Sickle wielding Red Robot in Russia to crazy giant robot monsters all are great, and a challenge. Cool controllable ‘vehicles such as Tanks, Robots, and even Yetis inject some variety in the levels, and are fun to ride.


The game is very hard, but continues help, and you will defiantly get to the end on easy, and probably normal mode. Feels a bit dated nowadays but is certainly inventive.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Daybreakers (2009) - Horror Film Review


First off; despite featuring lots and lots of vampires, this is not remotely a horror film, it is a thriller.
The film is set in 2019, the vast majority of the worlds population are now vampires after a plague ten years previous, Humans are facing extinction which is a major problem as without blood the vampires rapidly mutate into aggressive monsters who attack anyone. Ethan Hawke is a vampire scientist who is working on an alternate source of sustenance for vampires to drink. His boss, and owner of the company he works for (played by Sam Neill) estimates there is only enough blood to last till the end of the month. A chance encounter leads Ethan to a small band of humans, they say there is a cure to the vampire plague which could solve the problems of the world.

The world is ultra modern, all computer systems, and steel sky scrapers, but it is a world at it's end, as city after city around the world are self combusting as the blood supplies run out. Many of the vampires in the world were voluntary created, willing participants to get immortality, others such as Ethan were turned against there will so share pro human views. As Ethan and his human survivors get closer to the cure they are hunted by America's vampire army determined to capture all humans in their desperate mission to get blood for the state.



I hated the trailer for this film, damn Placebo song just made the film look pompous and po faced, but it is quite a good thriller. The vampires act like humans, apart from the fact they need blood to survive, and sunlight, stakes all the usual stuff kills them. The world is interesting in how normal vampirism all is. Billboards advertise vampire goods, cafes sell coffee mixed with blood, and cars have been adapted to have anti sunshine screens, the humans look like the outcasts in a world no longer made for them.



The film is very very gory, there is lots of blood, decapitations and violence, but it's never visceral or stand out, so not a highlight of the film which is odd I found. A good enough thriller, with decent enough acting, but not really an amazing film.

SCORE:

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Boy from Hell - Horror Film Review

The Boy from Hell is a misleading title in that the boy of the piece - Daniel is not from Hell. The blurb on the back of the box is also incorrect as it talks about events that were due to happen plot wise in the film as if they happened when they don't, but it is 80's horror, so that can be forgiven! By the way, no image exists online of this film so I had to make my own dramatic piece of artwork.

Daniel is taken to a college evaluation dorm house by his mother near his 18th Birthday as she is terrified that Daniel's Dad who left them when he was a child is to return and kidnap Daniel. She hopes with Daniel being there his father will not be able to locate him. Unfortunately for her, her plan fails as she keeps the letter of introduction with the dorms address on, so within minutes of the Father turning up at hers he is able to locate Daniel. When he meets his son he immediately possesses him. Soon anyone who treats Daniel bad ends up injured, or worse...

All the residents of the psychological evaluation dorm house are mentally disturbed, leading to lots of over acting, especially by the main male lead who has hilarious anger management issues. Not a lot really happens in the film, a few deaths which are entertaining, and some close ups of evil Daniel's eyes. There is a fantastic scene with a head Dr discovering Daniels possession though.

There are many faults and plot holes in the film also. During the films climax the most capable person to deal with possessed Daniel is inexplicably wandering around a house when all the action is happening in the basement with the other characters. At the films end the line "it's ok, Daniel's good now" is enough to satisfy everyones fears despite having no evidence at all to back that up.

What can I say? It's a cruddy 80's horror, but an entertaining one, worth a watch, just don't expect a good film.

SCORE:

Monday, 11 January 2010

Velvet Assassin

Velvet Assassin is one downbeat moody game. There is nothing light about the game at all. You are a Spy, and your job needs to be done regardless of casulties, that is it.

The game is an old style stealth game that brought to mind echoes of the Splinter Cell series. You play as Violette Summer a British Spy during the later years of World War 2. Violette is shown to be in a coma in the present day, each level is a different memory of hers she is dreaming about from the past. You travel to various locations such as Paris, Hamburg, and Poland to do such missions as assassinating Nazi leaders, blowing up Submarines, and stopping the Gestapo from getting information from captured informents.

The game is quite dark as a necessity, many levels taking place either at night time, or in dark locations such as bunkers, and warehouses. It is similer to Manhunt in that you must hide in shadows, taking the oppourtune moment to sneak up on Nazi Soldiers and execute them via one of about 50 different ways (nearly all involve stabbing). There are not many weapons in the game. You always have a knife on hand, and can get access to handguns and flare guns, with shotguns, sniper rifles and machine guns being limited to just a few levels. There is a mode called 'Morphine Mode' activating this turns the game world into a trippy brighter place, Violette wearing a nightie rather than her sneaking clothes, the enemies all are paused in time while this is activated meaning you can run right up to them and kil them easily. This is supposed to allude to the fact that during Morphine Mode present day Violette in her coma is being given morphine.

There are not many different enemy types in the game, many look different but all act the same, and with the same weapons. Later levels see soldiers armed with flame throwers, and snipers which brings some variety.

The game is very bleak, Violette gets no real satisfaction from her missions, she just seems hell bent on killing as many Nazis as possible. Levels such as the Warshaw Gettos have corpses of men, women and children scattered about, and conversations between guards reveal unseen violence and brutality. As the game nears its end the stealth kills get more frenzied, and the tone even bleaker untill the game is finished on a complete bummer.

Violette Summer is heavily based on the real life British Spy Violette Szabo who did several missions during the war helping lead resistance fighters in occupied terrortories. She met a rather grizzly end though, captured by the Nazis she was brutally tortured before being executed. In this sense I guess it is correct that they didn't make her into a light character.

I liked the game, but it certainly wasn't a enjoyable game in any sense, an unsettling, depressing game, but quite interesting. A few too many generic locations (warehouse, and sewers), and some bad voice acting let the game down a bit, but inclusion of real life locations, and real life Nazi squads (such as the real life Nazi squad made up of brutal convicts you face later in the game) make the game mostly a good endeaver.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Idle Hands - Horror Film Review


This is quite a funny film, also a bit disgusting though, like Braindead-lite in places. It features a young cast, including the annoying Seth Green who isn't as irritating as he usually is.

There's a saying 'Idle hands are the Devils playground' which becomes true in this film as one of the laziest people in the entire world - a stoner called Anton has his hand possessed by the Devil. At first he doesn't realise, but after murdering his two best friends he does become aware. The hand is very murderous and acts independently of Anton which makes for some really really funny moments. Anton finally in desperation lops his hand off with a meat cleaver, but this turns out to be the very worst thing he could have possibly done...


The film is very funny. It is nearly a day later before lazy Anton notices his parents corpses in plain view in his house as he was too busy listening to music and watching TV. His murdered friends come back to life as Zombies due to them thinking Heaven looked kinda boring, despite being dead they are the same as they always were, and being set around Halloween everyone assumes their undead look is just a costume. Anton gets into hilarious situations as he tries to hunt down his evil severed hand, while being chased by a demon slayer, and his metal head friend who think he's possessed, and trying to woo the girl of his dreams (played by the beautiful Jessica Alba) at the most inconvenient of times.

The film has lots of punk rock music as it's soundtrack, and even has the band The Offspring with a guest appearance (the lead singer comes to a grizzly end!) Most the jokes are quite disgusting, but really funny. A cool film, and has zombies in it! I think there may be a sequel so if there is I will check that out.

SCORE:

Saturday, 9 January 2010

300 - Fantasy Film Review


THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!!

This film was ace. It passed under the radar for me when it was first out, so picking it up cheap on Play.com I wasn't sure what to expect.

300 is the film adaption of the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name (Frank Miller also wrote Sin City). I was expecting a unique look to the film, and it didn't dissapoint. The world of 300 is set in mythical ancient times. Part real history and part fantasy. The Spartans (led by Gerard Butler) discover that the biggest army the world has ever known is advancing on thier Kingdom. The mantra of the Spartans is 'No retreat, no surrender, no mercy' so Gerard (I really can't recall his characters name as it's a really long Greek name) refuses to plead for peace, and instead decides to go to war. The law states that the Spartans can only go to war if the Gods grant thier blessing. The corrupt oracles fix it so that permission to go to war is denied. With his hands tied, and not wanting to let his Kingdom just lay down and die he gathers 300 of his top Spartan Warriors and heads off to fight the unstoppable army on his own.

The Spartans are really really badass. I mean they are so amazingly powerful, most the action comes from them defeating wave after wave of the enemies forces. Being part fantasy it is not just normal humans they fight, but also giant mutant humans, mutant animals, and magic casters. While the Spartans fight there is a sub plot back at the City with the Kings wifes plan to speak to the City's version of parliament to get them to agree to send the Army to confront the invading Army and save the 300 Spartans.

The film has a lot in common in feel to Gladiator. Obviously it's a similer time period which is a big part of that, but also in the corruptness of those in power. The film is tinted to make everything seem kind of golden and unreal which complements the comic book roots well. The film is kind of Gay in that all the Spartans wear nothing but loinclothes and capes, and being all buddy buddy with each other. I don't mean that in a homophobic way, just as a statement.

I really enjoyed the film, though in places was a bit too predictable. The way the action is shot (lots of 360 degree camera sweeps and slo mo) is real cool, and there is plenty of dismemberment and blood spillage.