Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Road of the Dead - Zombie PC Flash Game Review


I must say that I do quite like Newgrounds, it never fails to provide a slice of quick entertainment.  Road of the Dead is one such game, a first person driving game. Road of the Dead can be found here.

Road of the Dead starts with a mechanic in his garage working on his car.  Over his radio he hears an emergency report saying that the City he lives in has come under martial law and that no one is to go outside.  Hearing groans and screams he decides to ignore the warning and instead escape the City.  Heading out onto the freeway the mechanic must brave zombies, crashed vehicles, as well as soldiers and military checkpoints.


The game has you behind the wheels of a super car, with your view from behind the wheel.  Your radio is tuned into the military band and so you hear the armies plans to stop you as you drive.  Ploughing into zombies sounds like a good thing but they can get stuck on your bonnet, crack your windscreen, and obscure your view with their blood.  Eventually your windscreen will shatter leaving you at the mercy of machine gun bullets and clinging on zombies.  Take too much damage and your car will ignite requiring water that can be found by driving into water buckets.

The game is controlled via the keyboard and features many buttons as well as the ones used for driving.  You have a horn that can be used to attract zombies, or scare off panicked pedestrians, window wipers help clear off the blood from your view while you are able to punch zombies (or your windscreen if you so wish).  Along the route there are many obstacles, mainly crashed cars and lorries but the army lay down spike traps that screw with your driving and later on military helicopters turn up to stop you.


Dying is not the end though, once dead you can start from a checkpoint (each military blockade you reach counts as a checkpoint) and between goes you have access to the mechanics garage where points earned can be used to soup up your car as well as yourself (like getting special vision that lets you more easily spot various items and people).

The game may be quite repetitive but the upgrade factor makes the game more fun, as does the exasperated orders given to the army to stop you.

SCORE:

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Alice is Dead: Episodes 1, 2, 3 (2009-10) - Adventure Videogame Review (PC)


Ok, it must seem like my blog is turning into one dedicated solely to strange Alice in Wonderland games (after my recent review of American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns), but that is not the case, it just so happens that I randomly stumbled across another Alice game while browsing Newgrounds (a flash based videogame site).  Here is the link if you are interested; Alice is Dead.

Alice is Dead takes place in a Wonderland that is again different from the Wonderland of the books.  The game is a point and click adventure that is spread over three episodes.  Episode 1 starts you down a pit next to a long dead Alice.  It is the most fantasy like of the three episodes and is quite creepy with a chirpy song played throughout.  Written all over the walls of the pit are Alice's desperate pleas for help and her horror at discovering she is trapped down the pit.  On her corpse is a piece of paper simply saying 'kill white rabbit'.


Episode 2 and 3 leave the fantasy setting and turn into something much less interesting with a gangster vibe going on.  In Episode 2 you are locked in Wonderland prison and must find a way to escape, getting the help of mob boss Mad Hatter along the way.  Episode 3 goes even further into gangster territory being set in a large city that has you infiltrating an exclusive night club in the search for the cross dressing Queen of Hearts.

The first episode was really good, atmospheric and genuinely creepy (as I guess being stuck in a pit with a corpse would be).  It is disappointing then that the additional two episodes ruin this with a boring, generic gangster style plot.  Episodes 2 and 3 fit together well but feel far separated from Episode 1 almost as if the designer decided to change the tone of the game on a whim.


Alice is Dead features quite a few puzzles such as discovering passwords and codes as well as opening locked doors but there is nothing too taxing.  A good start let down by two distinctly average sequels.  I would suggest playing Episode 1 but would leave it at that if I were you.

SCORE:

Monday, 27 June 2011

American McGee's Alice (2000) - Fantasy Videogame Review (X-Box 360)


Earlier this month Alice: Madness Returns was released, it is a sequel to an earlier game American McGee's Alice that is based on Alice in Wonderland. The game was PC and Mac only until now as it is included as a bonus with Madness Returns.  Not seeing the point of playing the new sequel first I dived into the heady delights of the original game.

American McGee's Alice starts with a young Alice surviving a devastating fire that kills her entire family and badly burns her.  Blaming herself for her family's death Alice slips into a comatose state and is sent to an insane asylum.  The game starts ten years later with Alice (still comatose) suddenly returning once again to Wonderland, but a strange, twisted, deformed Wonderland that is a reflection of her unhinged mind.  In this strange place her old friends and enemies are all changed, creepy reflections of their previous selves.  Her purpose she is told (by a zombified white rabbit) is to defeat the Queen of Hearts and restore Wonderland, in doing so also restoring her broken mind.


The game has quite the Tim Burton feel about it with the bleak and odd look to the world, and the kooky cast.  Being a game from 2000 it does not look fantastic, even HD'd it resembles a X-Box or Playstation 2 game but being designed for PC there is lots of angles, and total lack of clipping which plagued those consoles.  Locations are what you would expect from a Wonderland game but all have fresh approaches to them.  The Wonderland wood is a vast forest of giant mushrooms and lethal drops, Beyond the Looking Glass takes place in an Insane Asylum ruled over by the insane Mad Hatter (who is also brutally torturing his former friends the Dormouse and Mad Hare) while the Queen of Hearts palace resembles a living heart with fleshy walls and rivers of blood.  The locations are all different feeling to play involving plenty of fights as well as the odd puzzle.

American McGee's Alice features plenty of enemies to battle, from lowly card guards to soldier ants, wailing banshees, demons, and robots.  Plenty of boss fights litter the game featuring the more well known characters of Wonderland such as the Jabberwocky (the personification of Alice's guilt), Tweedledum and Tweedledee and of course the Queen of Hearts (who represents Alice's broken mind).  To fight all these you get access to lots of weapons, though I found a lot of them pretty useless and stuck to just a few.  You get an ace ice wand that freezes enemies, the Vorpal blade (that is shown as a bloody kitchen knife), a deadly pack of cards, jack in the box bombs, cursed dice, and many other strange items.  Perhaps too many weapons as switching between them can be a hassle in the heat of battle.


Despite the antique feeling to the game it is fun to play, the option to save any where is quite welcome (a throw back to its PC days) as there are quite a few instant death drops (though rather confusingly sometimes falling off a platform teleports you back to stable ground) as well as some tough boss fights.  At around 6 hours the game is a decent length, while the plot is not that captivating it is interesting to see the unique take on the inhabitants of Wonderland, that isn't afraid to kill off characters left, right, and centre.

SCORE:

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Zombies appear in the medical drama House

I have recently become a fan of House; a medical drama set in America starring the ace Hugh Laurie (of Blackadder fame).  Watching an odd episode the other day I was quite surprised to see the inclusion of a dream sequence in which House is attacked by his former colleagues, now zombified!

The episode if anyone is interested is Episode 15 of Season 7, a weird episode in that there are lots of comedy dream sequences including a musical number, sitcom styled one, as well as the already mentioned zombie nightmare.  House is in an abandoned part of the Hospital he works in looking for his girlfriend.  Suddenly he becomes under attack by a zombie.  House presses a button that makes a blade appear on his walking stick and lops off the zombies head. Hearing more groans House attaches part of a gun to his walking stick turning it into a shotgun walking stick.  Holding it like a gun he takes out several zombie ex-work mates.  Hearing his girlfriend scream again he charges into a room to find his wife being eaten alive by zombies...then he wakes up.

Of course you could just watch the scene for yourselves, I have just located a clip of it from You Tube...



The episode was a strange one, but the inclusion of a random zombie nightmare made it just that little bit better.  House is cool, it is nice to see that he could hold his own in the event of a zombie apocalypse!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

General Update for June 2011 - Happy Birthday Edition


Hello, another month gone by, still unemployed! I would like to start off by saying happy birthday to my lovely girlfriend as well as give her credit for me finding out about the inability of Britain's government to combat the zombie threat.

I have quite a few posts in the works at the moment with reviews of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance and the zombie mode of Saints Row 2 ready to go.  Ok so I have two posts ready, but it is nice to have some ready for once rather than create on the spot.  So onto videogame news...

E3 saw the announcement of a few horror games, the most interesting sounding to me is the Kinect game Rise of Nightmares that sees you battling zombies and monsters via your fists!  Will probably be rubbish but it is the first game that has gotten me interested in Kinect.  Other horror games featured at E3 were Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS, XCom and a slew of Silent Hill games.  Silent Hill Collection for the PS3 brings together the fab Silent Hill 2 and 3 in HD while more was shown of the newest entry in the series; Silent Hill: Downpour as well as the announcement of Silent Hill: Book of Memories a multiplayer Playstation Vita game. Oh yeah, there was also more details of the Dead Rising 2 remake; Dead Rising 2: Off the Record.

I have a host of films still left to watch so reviews of those will follow.  I have been lazy recently when it comes to going Cinema so I need to get back into that to see any new horrors.

My new blog is now live and can be found at www.therottingzombie.co.uk but it is still in the design stage and so is quite incomplete at the mo, I will plug it more when it progresses, I'm just sick of Blogger so want my own place to control (and not have posts vanish!)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

BREAKING NEWS - UK not ready for zombie apocalypse


In a piece of shock news it has been reported that Leicester City Council do not have a contingency plan in event of a zombie outbreak.  A freedom of information request was made to see just how prepared our leaders are and the shocking and scandalous reply was that there is no plan.  The letter was as follows:


"Dear Leicester City Council,
Can you please let us know what provisions you have in place in the event of a zombie invasion? Having watched several films it is clear that preparation for such an event is poor and one that councils throughout the kingdom must prepare for.
Please provide any information you may have.
Yours faithfully,
Concerned Citizen"

The reply as reported by BBC news was:


"Ms Wyeth (Leicester Councils head of information governance) said she was unaware of any specific reference to a zombie attack in the council's emergency plan, however some elements of it could be applied if the situation arose."

It may seem a bit drastic to get in a panic over one councils lack of plans but it can be assumed by this news that most if not all councils throughout England have no plans whatsoever to cope with a zombie apocalypse.  It just proves that our government is useless with regards to a possible epidemic and that when the time comes we should not rely on their help.

Heavenly Sword - Fantasy Videogame Review (Playstation 3)


I picked this up on the cheap as it was one of the first PS3 games so quite old.  The game at the time was praised for its wonderful cutscenes but criticised for its actual gameplay.

Heavenly Sword takes place in a fantasy land where a powerful and ruthless warlord; King Bohan is rampaging across the land with his gigantic army conquering everyone he meets.  You play as Nariko a member of a warrior clan who find King Bohan's next step is to destroy them.  Nariko's clan has long protected a holy sword known as the Heavenly sword, it is said to grant almighty power but at the cost of the wielders life.  In desperation Nariko uses the sword and sets in motion a chain of events that has her as the only person capable of stopping the onslaught of the evil army sweeping the lands.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Dead Nation (2010. 2014) - Zombie Videogame Review (Playstation 3)


Dead Nation is a downloadable PSN game and was offered free as part of the Sony Welcome Back package.  As I am poor this gave me a good opportunity to finally play the game.

Dead Nation is a top down shooter that bears many similarities to Left 4 Dead. In the game you play as either a man or woman who has survived the zombie apocalypse by being immune to the disease which has claimed the lives of pretty much everyone.  After your hideout starts to run low on supplies you head out onto the infested streets in search of something new, soon after you locate a radio that gives you hope of salvation, but first you must locate patient zero; the origin of the zombie condition.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Roost - Zombie Film Review


This is again another of the hallowed horror DVDs I got for Christmas.  The Roost I initially thought was a late 70's/ early 80's film, I must say when I discovered it was made as recent as 2005 I was surprised!

The Roost has four youngsters on their way to a friends wedding, having taken a wrong turn they are lost in the American countryside, as it gets later and later they get more and more tired and impatient.  After a bat flies into their windscreen the car they are in crashes into a ditch, unable to get the car moving they head off to look for help.  Coming across a farm house their hopes are dashed when they find the place to be deserted but a chance encounter with a friendly Cop gives them hope.  As they gather up their group they chance upon the farms gigantic barn, a barn that hides a swarm of flesh eating vampire bats...

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead - Zombie Book Review


Quite an original title for a collection of short tales about zombies?  It has been a while since I last read a zombie anthology, they can be a bit hit and miss.  This tome collects together 19 short stories from both new comers to horror fiction as well as masters such as David Wellington (of the Monster Nation trilogy of zombie apocalypse) and Max Brooks most known for his Zombie Survival Guide book.

The foreword stated that it wanted something different for it's zombie tales, not the usual zombie story,  for the most part it is successful with a variety of different takes on zombies.  It starts off well with a story that follows what happens to Lazarus after Jesus resurrected him (a tale from the Bible) and pretty much carries on well.  There is a classic apocalypse tale reduced down to a small village that has been cordoned off by the military, stories about a zombie stuck on a church spire, a zombie found chained to the bottom of the sea, all of which are entertaining, and interesting.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Burn, Zombie Burn! (2009) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (Playstation 3)


One of the reasons I wanted a PS3 was due to the amount of exclusive downloadable zombie games.  Rather than the crap of the X-Box Indie channel the PS3 exclusive zombie games are of quite a high quality. Burn, Zombie Burn! is an arena based shooter influenced by B-movies.

You play as a Bruce Campbell looking fella who has to kill legions of zombies swarming towards him in one of six different arenas.  Each arena is based on a different location such as an Army base, suburban neighbourhood, and an outdoor cinema.  Disappointingly despite the whole cartoony style, and retro themed levels there is no story whatsoever.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Wickeds (2005) - Zombie Film Review


The Wickeds is a film on the Hard Core film label, a film label that is known for having many many terrible low budget pieces of trash on it.  The Wickeds is a low budget film, but rises above others of its kind by its good editing that means it never outstays its welcome.

A group of obnoxious teens travel to the middle of nowhere to an alleged haunted house to have a Halloween party.  Next door to the house in a giant cemetery two grave robbers (with ugly pornstar Ron Jeremy as Gus) loot a cursed pendant from a grave.  The curse does its thing and the dead rise from their graves, as well as the owner of the pendant who is a Vampire.  Taking refuge in the house the teens and the grave robbers must hold out against the hordes of zombies trying to get in.