Sunday, 29 August 2010

Zombie T-Shirt No. 4

A brief post today, borne out of convenience.  Here is my last Zombie T-Shirt, technically Zombie T-Shirt No.5.


For those who are blind; first of all congratulations for being able to read this, secondly the T-Shirt is swamp green.  It features a giant zombie head, in the zombies mouth is the word 'zombie!'  A cool T-shirt, but don't wear it outside of the house often.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dante's Inferno (2010) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)


This game from Visceral Games has got quite a few mixed reviews.  Some people argue that it is a shameless carbon copy of God of War.  Some say it is a monstrosity being based of off the classic Poem Dante's Divine Comedies, ruining the subject matter.  Others still say the game is very well made, and very slick, as well as being a Hell of a lot of fun (actually no pun intended, honest!)

The game starts with Dante (the character you play as) returning to his home after being away fighting in the Crusades.  He discovers his father murdered, and his girlfriend Beatrice also slain.  As he laments this tragedy Satan appears.  Satan captures Beatrice's soul and flees with it.  Horrified at this chain of events Dante chases after Satan, who leads Dante to the very gates of Hell.  Dante driven by a need to rescue his beloved Beatrice plunges into Hell, determined to fight the legions of the damned, obsessed with rescuing Beatrice from a fate most terrible, of which he was ultimately responsible for.


In the Poem Inferno; book 1 of the Divine Comedies, Dante is given a tour of Hell by a spirit called Virgil.  He visits each level of Hell in turn (there being nine circles of Hell) looking upon the horrors of the place.  Obviously this wouldn't transfer well to a game, so instead Dante has been severely beefed up.  The start of the game sees Dante murdered.  The Grim Reaper shows up to claim Dante's soul, but Dante furious at being dead fights Death, ultimately stealing Deaths Scythe and using it to kill him.  The main weapon in the game is Deaths scythe.  It can extend, and has a vast reach.  Dante's other weapon is Beatrice's Crucifix.  The denizens of Hell are very vulnerable to this Holy icon, and really can get messed up by this projectile (Dante is able to fling out ghost images of the Crucifix at enemies).

Dante is dressed in his Crusader uniform.  He has stitched into his own skin a crucifix fabric which details the many sins of his life.  Dante is far from good, in fact the things he has done in his life are down right evil.  He deserves to be in Hell, having committed grave sins such as murder.  He really is not a nice person.  Beatrice on the other hand is a completely innocent soul.  She is being punished for Dante's actions.  She was the one good thing in his life.


The story is simple, but very well told.  In each circle of Hell there comes a time when a cartoon plays, it zooms in on a particular area of Dante's crucifix mural to show the relevant event in Dante's life where he committed the sin of the circle of Hell he is in.  Throughout the game the smoky form of Satan appears, with a captured Beatrice in tow.  Satan constantly taunts Dante, and brags about what he is going to do to Beatrice.

There being nine levels of Hell means the game is able to be split up easily into levels.  The 9 circles cover Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and finally Betrayal.  The levels each represent these sins.  Gluttony takes place in a very fleshy place, giant entrails, and pouring vats of excrement for instance. Meanwhile Lust takes place in a desert, with phallic looking structures, and winds of lust.  The only problem with these locations is apart from a few factors a lot of the levels all look pretty much the same.  Walls of trapped souls can be climbed in each of the levels, there are chambers where you must defeat enemies before preceding, but not a lot else.  The transition between realms is not done too well, it basically involves you climbing down shoots of bodies, there is no fan fare, just a small title that appears to inform you, you are in a different location.  Each level is not too big either which is a real shame.  The game took me about nine hours to complete, which is a decent time, but the urgent pace of the game sees you working your way through the circles by the fastest possible route.  This works in the context of the story, but really feels like you are never in a location long enough to really appreciate it.


The enemies in the game are quite a highlight, but towards the end start repeating themselves a lot with just palette changes.  Limbo sees you attacked by unbaptised babies with blades for arms, in Lust naked females with phallic projections attack you, letting out orgasmic moans when you hit them. Gluttony sees hideous naked females who grab you in a attempt to consume you, as well as vomit bile at you.  In Greed conjoined adult twins armed with giant maces fight you, each hit on them releasing bundles of golden coins.  Along with these are lost souls, basically cannon fodder, as well as demons who appear in various guises, and can be quite tough.  Bosses are very good for the most part.  Obviously Lucifer is the end of game boss.  Some bosses take on the form of people you once knew (such as your father, and your best friend) while others just look ace such as the gigantic naked Cleopatra (who attacks you via giving birth to babies out of her nipples!), and the unique spin on Cerberus (rather than the traditional three headed dog, is instead a giant jaw that has three very phallic looking tentacles with mouths attached to it).

You gain experience during the game with which you can use to upgrade your stats such as health, as well as improve the powers of your scythe, and crucifix, as well as the four types of rather pointless magic you have access to.  You get experience from killing enemies, as well as by judging famous people from history (such as Attila the Hun, and Pontous Pilate).  You have the option to either damn enemies (earns you unholy experience), or absolve them (nets you holy experience)


The game looks very good, the budget must have been high as everything is very polished.  But like Silent Hill 5, this is actually detrimental to the game as everything looks so smooth and polished, it really needed grain, and grime. It is strange that the most faithful level of Hell is Fraud, this is because you don't actually see anything, it all takes place above pits where the damned are, with a voice over describing each of the unseen Hells these people are in.  Imagination is the most faithful tool to instill the horror of Hell. The damned souls of Hell are all naked, but have the traditional look of featureless mannequins, so it is hard to feel sorry for their pitiful existence.  The game is quite adult, there is lots of violence, you can tear enemies to pieces, and decapitate, and brutalise, also there is a lot of nudity, including Male nudity, but none of this feels included for shock value, or to titillate which is a good thing.

God of War comparisons are impossible to ignore.  The scythe controls like Kratos's arm chains, there are quick time events used to finish off enemies, and the whole structure is very similar (lots of fighting with platform sections, and simple puzzles).  Kratos even goes to the Greek version of Hell in his games.  My view of this though is that; yeah sure on the PS3 it may be a bit similar, but the 360 does not have a game of this type, so Dante's Inferno fills a nice hole.


I did enjoy this game, and I have a feeling I would get more enjoyment out of a second play through.  The game is set up for a sequel, I assume there will be both Purgatory, and Heaven in the next two games.  A fun game, a little too polished, but has a cool story, great enemies, and a great soundtrack.

SCORE:
                                             

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Avatar Zombie Massager Extreme (2010) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)


There are getting on for several billion zombie games on the X-Box Indie channel now.  Unfortunately most of them are very bad.  This one is no exception, but hey; at least it admits as much in its blurb.

For some explicable reason Massage games are quite popular.  These 'games' involve you changing the speed and power of the X-Box 360 Controllers rumble function.  You can then use this constant rumble to somehow massage yourself or someone else.  I have no idea why anyone would want to do that, and certainly have zero interest myself.


The blurb on the games description pretty much just takes the mick out of the potential buyers saying something like 'after minutes of studying whats popular on the Indie channel we decided to make a game with zombies, massaging, and avatars in, as that's what everyone loves, and so we will get rich'.  Least they were honest.

The game has a 'spooky' background of a silhouetted mansion at night.  On either side of the screen are test tubes.  With one you can change the speed of the rumble, while the other lets you change power.  A giant animated zombie head takes up most the screen.  As you increase the rumble and power his eye still in its socket spins around, while the eye hanging out the socket wobbles.  The zombie at least looks pretty decent.  You also have the option to have your Avatar head displayed here instead.  There is no sound, and nothing to do except make your controller rumble.

Totally pointless.  The application is 80 Microsoft points, but please do not buy this junk.  Even I refused to buy this app, and I get everything zombie based usually.  The most depressing thing about this game is that it is the 7th most purchased Indie game on the 360.  People are so thick.  Please, I implore you again, do not buy this crap!

SCORE:

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

My Ideal Zombie Apocalypse Safehouse

I was speaking to a cool friend of mine today, and we got onto the subject of Zombie Apocalypse (as you do).  I was both horrified, and enthralled to discover she had vastly different plans for a Zombie Apocalypse.  I will discuss that in a different post.  Basically there are two types of Zombie Apocalypse survivors. 

The first (and most foolhardy) is the battler, the person who wants to get out on the infected streets and kill, kill, kill.  The second (and very sensible) type is those who would rather 'hide' away from the zombie masses, ready for the day they can leave their safe house and reclaim the World.  I fall into the second type of Survivor.


My plan for life is to win £13 million pounds.  With this money I would build the ultimate safe house, plans of which I would discuss here (I realise my plans would need far more than £13 million pounds).

My ideal place of safety would be a vast underground complex, a nuclear bunker, but with all the conveniences of modern life.  I would want around 100 people with me I think.  Firstly for company, but also for usefulness.  I would have a medical wing in which Doctors and Nurses would work.  These would be completely sterilised, and have to be white rooms with bright ever lit lights.


I would have my own replica mansion built underground, perhaps in a cavern.  The mansion would be for my own personal use, and friends.  It would be designed in a Victorian style, with its own generator, as well as private cinema, and gym.

The underground complex as a whole would have various generators to ensure we had power at all times.  I would have a military/science wing.  In this there would be ultra modern equipment, as well as a missile silo with which I could direct missiles to any point in England.


I would have a underground train service, linking my base to friends underground complexes, with very ample security measures..  I would employ a train driver, as well as competent miners to expand my base.

Part of the complex would be devoted to vast warehouse, stocked with billions of canned goods, medical supplies, and other essential items.  I would have warehouse workers and their families stationed here.

Out of my giant underground base would be an almighty Tower, as tall as a skyscraper, but only accessible from my base through heavy security doors.  On top of the Tower I would be able to get fresh air, as well as have vegetable patches, and a tennis court.


I admit I would have a throne room, and a cool throne for me to sit at, along with red carpet.  It would be cool down in my base.  We would be able to sustain ourselves for years.  This all seems as bit unlikely to anyone reading this, and yes, I admit it is, but survival by avoidance is the best way to avoid the zombie threat I feel!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Zombie Wars - Zombie Film Review


Had this film kicking around for a while, so thought I would give it a spin.  The film is a low budget zombie flick that uses CGI for a lot of it's effects.

The film takes place 50 years after an unknown factor caused the dead to rise from their graves in their millions.  Mankind has been beaten badly, small pockets of resistance operate from ever moving camps.  The film takes place out in some remote woods.  Two brothers rescue some Human slave girls from a roving band of zombies.  Later that night the zombies attack their camp, in the fighting one of the brothers; Brian is captured.  Brian finds himself on a bizarre farm where the zombies force the Human captives to toil the fields, as well as to procreate.  Sensing something amiss Brian starts to unravel the mystery of the Human farm.

As you may have guessed, the zombies in this film have some form of intelligence.  They carry out simple orders given to them by the head zombie of the farm.  While they mostly resist the temptation to eat Humans at times they are allowed to, and do so in vicious fashion.  For the most part the zombies are really dumb, and slow moving, seeming completely unaware of their surroundings, but can show initiative such as the survivor of a Human attack running off to get help.


The plot is all over the place and doesn't really make much sense if you stop to think about it for a few seconds.  Some things just make absolutely no sense whatsoever.  The film is very low budget, most the action confined to woodland; the home of cheap films.  The farm location is also mostly outdoors, but some aspects of it are ridiculous.  Prison cells blatantly have no lock on them, the characters don't even try to hide the fact, but just ignore it.  There is a Prison cell that consists of one waist high bar, yet the Humans are happy to remain behind it until 'rescued' ;quite humorous.

The characters for the most part play their roles seriously.  A awful Po-faced 'Terminator' style narration takes place over the film, and an unwise homage to 'Night of the Living Dead' takes place near the films end rather needlessly.  The characters are the usual assortment of tattooed, and pierced idiots, for the most part looking totally out of place.


The effects are mostly CGI, and are not terrible.  There are many many head shots, as well as a few decapitations, and the range of zombies is nice enough (even including a zombie with rollers in her hair) but gore is minimal, confined to brief scenes of people having their insides ripped out.

I did enjoy the film, but it is certainly not amazing.  It takes itself far too seriously, and feels at times like Part 1 of a trilogy rather than a stand alone film.  If cheap then I would say buy it, just don't expect anything ground breaking.

SCORE:
                                                        NOT BAD

Zombie Dream: Sunday 15th August 2010


No one is going to find this the least bit exciting, but I had another Zombie dream the other day, the first time in ages.  Upon being woken by my Sister I said 'zombie dream!' so she grabbed me a pen and paper to chronicle it before I forgot.

I was at the top of a large flight of stairs with a bunch of other people.  At the bottom of this vast stairway were a horde of zombies.  Behind us was a double door which was locked, while to the side was a electronically locked door which a man stood behind.  He gave us the combination to get through the double doors, but as we did so the zombies reached us.  We tried to shut the doors behind us, but the numbers were too great and they pushed through.  Those of us who survived ran down a hill into a large Town square.  I don't know how I knew this but in the square were 20,000 zombies.  I ran into a shop and hid under a counter hoping I would survive.

Near to where I started the dream was a secret room.  In the room a Warlock kept a bunch of teenagers captive.  Some tried to escape but he used magic to disintegrate them.  The room was like a library, and had lots of evil magical objects, as well as pictures hanging on the walls, each picture representing a different element.  One of the teenagers revealed he was a Earth elemental, and opened up a gateway in the Earth picture into which the teenagers all escaped.

I was in the room next to the secret room.  There were two slutty dressed female zombies who I sneaked past.  I climbed out onto a high ledge...then my sister woke me up.

So that was the dream.  I think the Warlock was there due to all the Conan books I had brought that day.  Reading the backs of the books, each one seemed to feature a evil Wizard.  As to the zombies; I have no idea why they were there.  Zombie dreams are the best though, so all good!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Rocket Riot - Arcade Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)


Once again, this is not specifically a Horror game, but does include Horror elements (including Zombies!)  The game was released on X-Box Live Arcade last year I believe.  It is a fun Arcady arena based shooter.

The games story involves the escape of a Pirate with no legs from a Prison.  The Pirate, angry at the jokes made at his expense whilst in Prison due to his disability gets his own back by removing the legs of everyone in the World!  Scientists soon develop a rocket pack that fixes to the body allowing everyone to fly around via rocket packs just like the crazed Pirate.


The game takes place over around 60 levels.  These take place over a variety of different locations including Science labs, the Internet, and a Haunted House among others.  Each set of levels have their own unlockable skins the player can wear.  For example in the Science levels you can unlock the skins of various Scientists.

Each character has a rocket that can be fired infinitely in any direction.  Either fired without aiming, or can be aimed for further accuracy.  Power-ups both positive and negative litter the arenas, coming out of destroyed walls.  The bad power ups are very annoying (such as the white flag that makes you unable to fire your weapon for an agonising 30 seconds).  The good power ups include giant rockets, homing missiles, and bouncing rockets.

Most levels give you a set number of enemies you must kill.  Each stage features a American Football style level with the aim to score goals, as well as a level where you must destroy a certain amount of objects.


For this horror review though I will talk mostly about the Haunted Mansion.  The levels take place in and around the house.  Outside there is a Graveyard, and full moon, inside there are cellars and attics.  Enemies in these levels include a variety of Werewolves, Vampires, Skeletons, as well as Zombies.  The Haunted House stage features a unique level in which you must survive against unlimited numbers of enemies until the sun rises and they all die.

As soon as I unlocked the Zombie skin I wore it for the rest of the game (of course)  The only other relevant level is one set in Space that features an assortment of Aliens of various types, as well as robots.  Other than look the enemies all behave the same way.

At the end of every stage there is a boss, usually a giant character with a health bar.  These are all easy apart from the very last boss.  This last boss is a total nightmare!  It took me well over 200 attempts before I was able to do it, very very frustrating, especially as it was so much more difficult than the rest of the game, so a very nasty surprise to end the game on. Stupid Pirate!

The game features multiplayer, but there was no one online when I looked.  A fun game, but let down by the very bad end boss.

SCORE:
  

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Now I have Ratings! (An explanation of The Rotting Zombie new review system)

I have decided to copy Joystiq and start having ratings on my reviews.  I am giving my site a general clean up at the moment anyway, now that I have discovered Spellcheck!

From now on (and eventually retroactively added) all reviews will have a mark out of Five. Here is my explanation of the ratings...


One Rotting Zombie head equates to a terrible terrible thing.  A film, videogame, book or otherwise that literally makes my eyes bleed like someone out of City of the Living Dead!


Two Rotting Zombie heads means the product is worse than average, something which may possibly had a few positives, but for the most part awful.  Much like eating an ice cream that you have had a nose bleed on.


Three Rotting Zombie heads will be awarded for a game, film etc that is neither good or bad, something that has just as many faults as it does good points, much like me!


Four Rotting Zombie heads is for something that I feel is above average, and was quite cool, but held back by a few niggly faults.  Think a Zombie Apocalypse; lots of good points, but some negative (such as loved ones turning into the undead).


Five Rotting Zombie heads is for the best of the best.  Amazing things that bring joy, wonder, amazement, and will shape the World and influence it for Centuries to come. (Hence the smiles)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Crazy Ride with Zombies (2010) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)


Oh my God, this game is awful!  I fully expected it to be as it's Indie shovel ware crap.  The game is 80 Microsoft points.  It sees your Avatar on a booby trapped roller coaster.

Waking up, you groggily look around.  You discover that you have been strapped to a small roller coaster kart.  Even as you look around the cart begins to move. A tool for rich men's sport; you are on a booby trapped roller coaster on a remote snow capped mountain.  Can you survive the horror and get your revenge?

Ok, so I made up the story, basically the game consists of your Avatar going round a roller coaster with all the usual loops, and spins.  Randomly there will be zombies hanging by their feet on lamp posts over the track. Also boulders, and snowballs will fall onto the track, depleting your energy if hit.  Parts of the track also collapse, so you must jump over gaps.


There are two buttons.  One is punch which needs to be used to destroy zombies, boulders, and snowballs.  The other button is jump that is used to jump over gaps in the track.  There is just the one level, about 5 minutes in length.  You can also play the track at night, or with a fog effect.  The title screen has music, but the game itself is silent save for the noise your punch makes, a wind effect, and the laugh of the zombie if you fail to punch it in time.

The game looks like a Net Yaroze game, the digitised backdrop of the mountains reminded me of the backgrounds in arcade classic Super Pang.  I put on some Send More Paramedics music while playing.  The music fitted the movement of the roller coaster, and made the game a billion times better (so it became merely complete junk, rather than utterly utterly soul destroyingly bad).

This game is terrible, do not buy it what ever you feel!  It is boring, atrocious looking, and just complete junk!

SCORE:
        

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Banjo-Kazooie (1998, 2008) - Adventure Videogame Review (XBLA)


Yeah, I realise Banjo-Kazooie is not a 100% horror game per se, but I am going to try something different, just talk about the horror elements of the game. Bare with me... Banjo-Kazooie was first released on the ugly N64.  It is a 3D platformer, the same style as Mario 64.  Unlike Mario 64 though I really enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie.  It is funny, has great music, and interesting levels.  The X-Box Live Arcade version of Banjo-Kazooie has been tarted up somewhat, the graphics while still really angular are much sharper and cleaner than before, so it looks fantastic for a port of a N64 game.

You play as a bear called Banjo, and a bird called Kazooie.  Kazooie rides around in Banjos backpack and is only directly controlled when special moves are being used.  The game starts with a evil Witch named Gruntilda kidnapping Banjos kid sister Tooty.  She takes the bear away to her mountain lair where she plans to transfer Tootys beauty to herself.  Banjo and Kazooie head off in pursuit.  The game takes place in Gruntildas mountain base.


The levels are accessed by a main hub area.  Within Gruntys lair there are many locked doors that require musical notes to open.  These are gained within levels that are locked.  To unlock levels you need to collect jigsaw pieces from within levels.  There are around 10 levels in all. The levels are large arena style areas.  In each level there are hidden 100 musical notes, and 10 jigsaw pieces.

Levels are varied, among them there are around 3 or 4 horror themed ones, though only one is directly 100% horror influenced.  The desert level 'Gobi's Valley' is set to a Egyptian motif.  Pyramids in the level lead to battles with Mummies, while quick sand hides giant mummified hands.


'Clanker's Cavern' is a underground level based around a giant cave in which a gigantic metal fish named Clanker lives (the lairs garbage disposal unit).  Part of the level actually takes place inside Clanker, while crabs mutated by chemical waste are the main enemy type outside of him.

'Rusty Bucket Bay' is a real life inspired horror level, concerning for the most part pollution.  The main part of the level is a giant oil tanker that sits in a oil polluted bay.

Popular horror is covered in 'Mad Monster Mansion'.  This level takes place in, and around a haunted mansion.  There are hedge mazes, possessed gravestones, bats, and gremlins outside, while inside the mansion sees you battle a Ouija board, as well as help out a church organ playing ghost, and a talking toilet.


Lastly the main hub area itself is horror based, being a witch's lair.  The end battle takes place at night on the ramparts of her lair, with lightning flashing in the background, and Gruntilda riding around on a flying broomstick.

Throughout the game there are many characters who both help and hinder you.  Mumbo Jumbo is a Witch Doctor with a skull for a head.  By collecting silver skulls for him he can transform you in various levels into different creatures such as a crocodile, a fat bumble bee, and giant ant among other things.  In the hub level there is Gruntildas sister who resembles a Fairy Godmother.  She gives you hints to use in the board game finale (a highlight of the game) Also hidden in the hub area is a floating spell book that provides you with cheats.


The game is fun to play, but at times the camera does get stuck behind objects leading to frustration.  Also one of the enemies; a evil snowman is hyper annoying as he is near impossible to kill and lobs snowballs at you with un nerving accuracy while laughing at you.  The game is very big, I have completed about 98% of the game and am on 13 hours.  Finishing the game, and owning Banjo-Tooie, and Banjo: Nuts & Bolts opens up more secrets hidden within the levels.  The music is of a highly hummable standard, the hub area in particular has a version of 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' that mutates depending on what area of the lair you are in (eg; the tune takes on a Egyptian flair when in that area of the lair)

The game is about 800 Microsoft points.  If you can look past the dated graphics then defiantly give it a try. There are no zombies though (sad face!)

SCORE:
        

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Dr Dale's Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying Alive - Horror Book Review


I was sent an advance copy by Dr Dale of his Zombie Dictionary.  Being the ultra lazy person I am, I somehow managed to not get around to reviewing it until now when the book has been out in shops for a week or so.  I will even admit I STILL have not finished reading it.  I blame this on my really uncomfortable wooden chair I sit at my PC with.

Years ago Max Brooks released his Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide.  The book was a serious discussion on how best to survive a zombie apocalypse.  The book suffered in places as it was aimed at Americans, so much of his recommended tips didn't, or couldn't apply to us here in Blighty.  Dr Dale's survival A-Z is a much more universal guide.  The book is not at all serious, following the style of his Podcasts, and Shows, yet underneath all the humour there is some damn good tips included which if/when the zombie apocalypse does happen I will be following.

The book is an A-Z, each split appropriately into sections. There are plenty of illustrations (by Jack Knight) dotted throughout the book, bare line pen drawings, but effective, and cool.  The book is very funny, and had me legitimately laughing my head off at several points.  It covers a wide range of subjects under it's alphabetical headings such as how to fight naked zombies, and the best animal to train to help out (Dr Dale recommends the training of sheep!)  Many of the subjects covered are totally bizarre, and weird, the very first subject under 'A' for instance is 'Aardvark' (can be used as a charm to pass through walls, or can be frozen and used as a bludgeoning weapon, heh).  This silliness repeats itself throughout the book, but sometimes there is method to the madness.  Dr Dale's logical assessment of the usage of Giraffes during the apocalypse is both hilarious, and pure genius.


The book is very easy reading, and it's small topics make bite size reading really easy here.  Due to the bullet point style of the dictionary it gets very addictive to read, I found on several occasions I lost an hour at work reading entry after entry of the book, unable to stop.

The book is well worth buying, it is both useful, and funny, and is different enough to the other 'serious' survival guides that is defiantly one to pick up.  Recommended!

SCORE:
                                              

Friday, 6 August 2010

DeathSpank (2010) - Fantasy RPG Video Game Review (X-Box 360)


DeathSpank is a comedy role playing game that was created by Ron Gilbert (who along with Tim Schafer created the fantastic Monkey Island series).  The game is a fantasy RPG which casts you as a hero named DeathSpank.

DeathSpank was told long ago that it was his destiny to get a special artifact known only as 'The Artifact'.  Due to this knowledge DeathSpank dedicated his life to becoming the best hero possible.  The game starts with DeathSpank finally near the end of his quest to locate this fabled item. Along the way you incur the wrath of Lord Von Prong, a man who commands an Orque army (Orques are basically Orcs).


The game has been described as a cross between Monkey Island and Diablo.  I agree with this.  DeathSpank can be equipped with up to four different weapons, each mapped to a different button.  Combining weapons leads to combos that increase the damage you do. Combat is real time with you hacking and slashing your way through the various monsters of the fantasy land you find yourself in.  You have a power meter which charges with each hit you land, when it is charged you can do a powerful one off attack. The best way to get the move charged is by clever use of the block button.

The game takes place over a moderately large world encompassing locations such as towns, swamps, caves, lakes, and woodland. The locations are diverse, but never feel totally separate from each other.  To help you get around the world there are outhouses that can be used to warp around. The world looks beautiful, and cartoony, from the saccharine pink fields of the enchanted forest to the dark, gloomy sea of bones in the haunted forest it all looks great. Structures such as buildings and trees are all displayed as 2-D and flat which is a method that gives the world a unique feeling.


The game is mission based, people with exclamation marks over their heads give you missions that range from killing a certain amount of enemies to collecting a specific object from the game world.  There are over a hundred quests to do, and each has a lengthy dialogue sequence to start it. The dialogue in this game is funny.  DeathSpank comes across as quite an idiot, albeit a powerful heroic idiot. A lot of the comedy comes from his stupidity as he misunderstands what people are saying.  The characters for the most part are not that exciting, being nothing special, but the lengthy multiple choice Monkey Island style dialogue scenes are many, and help break up the game. I frequently laughed out loud at these.

The main enemy type for the main part are Orques. Later on in the game there are zombie Orques, but I really did not notice much difference in these. Various monsters and animals make up the rest of the enemies. There are unicorns, demons, as well as spliced up mishmashes of animals such as a kangaroo crossed with a cow.  The horror themed haunted woods sees the arrival of flying flaming skulls, as well as plenty of skeletons, and ghouls that haunt the graveyard level.  There are a few bosses in the game, but none that are memorable.


I have done a sterling job yet again of making a fun game sound really boring! It is really really addictive, the mission structure reminded me of Borderlands.  There are many many items with which to equip your character, and these visibly alter DeathSpanks appearance.  The game took me over ten hours to do, a decent length for its 1200 Microsoft points cost.  Give it a try and you will be sucked in, highly addictive, and quite funny.

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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Twilight (2008) - Horror Film Review


I quite enjoyed Twilight: Eclipse, so borrowed the previous two films off my friends daughter.  I was one of the many who derided the Twilight series, and while I find some parts of it unintentionally laugh out loud I do really like the films!

Twilight is the first of the Twilight films.  A beautiful pale skinned girl; Bella moves to a sleepy forest Town called Forks to live with her Dad.  At first she hates it there, but upon attending the local School she becomes curious about a odd boy named Edward.  Edward and his family are very close and keep themselves separated from the rest of the School.  After saving Bella's life in a impossible way Bella comes to realise that Edward isn't a normal person.  As their romance blossoms she comes to realise that Edward is a Vampire.  Everything is going well until a group of 'bad' Vampires turn up (Edwards family only drink the blood of animals).  One of the bad Vampires becomes obsessed with killing Bella.  It is up to Edward and his family to protect Bella, and stop the obsessed Vampire.


The film looks fantastic, the setting of a dank dreary forest Town is well realised, and contrasts with the bright location of later on in the film.  The characters are cool, specially the attractive leads of Bella and Edward.  Having seen the third film in the series first, it is surprising how much the actors have grown up.  Jacob in particular looks titchy here compared to his muscular later appearances in Eclipse.  Here he has very much a bit part with his Werewolfness not directly revealed.

Vampires in Twilight have super strength, super speed, and super senses.  They glow in direct sunlight.  Saying that the part of the film where Edward reveals his Vampire nature in a bid to scare off Bella is hilarious due to the silly fast motion effects, and his pitiful 'angry' voice.  That ruined an otherwise good scene.  My favourite scene of the film is the Cullen's baseball game, it is just so surreal, and ends in a really tense, brilliant way.

The film is not horror, it is only the last 1/3 of the film which has action in it, and very good action at that, with thriller moments, and poor Bella being beaten about a bit.  Some plot holes are apparent (such as the psycho Vampires seemingly teleportation techniques) but the characters are all interesting, and the romance is lovely.  I love a good love story, one with Vampires is always better.  I have never been a big fan of the romantic notion of Vampires, but I do readily admit that it is harder to do a romantic Zombie film (ones I can think of are 'Return of the Living Dead Part 3', and the unique 'Zombie Honeymoon', and perhaps the utterly dreadful soft porn film 'Zombie Lake').


Overall, a great film, I enjoyed it far more than I did Eclipse, but then Werewolves are one thing I like even less than Vampires.  I am ashamed to say that I am kinda a closet Twilight fan! Oh yeah; a fab soundtrack, includes Muse, and Radiohead and other bands of which I cannot recall.

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