Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (2009) - Sci-fi Videogame Review (X-Box 360)


The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was released on the original X-Box, at the time it was a special game due to its level of immersion that saw your first person body reacting as if it was a real person. Re-released for the X-Box 360, PC, and PS3 it saw the inclusion of a new campaign; Assault on Dark Athena. Two separate games so I will treat them separately, so first...Escape from Butcher Bay.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

Bounty hunter Johns has captured dangerous criminal Riddick and has brought him to a harsh desert planet were the galaxies most harsh prison is situated. Johns hopes the bounty for capturing Riddick will settle the debt he owes the prison owner Hoxie. Riddick vows to escape (hence the title!). The rest of the game sees Riddick constantly escaping and constantly being recaptured and put into more and more secure prison areas.


Back in the X-Box days the sense of location was amazing, it helped that for the time it was a very good looking game. The prison is detailed and has a sense of believability with graffiti everywhere, grime, blood and a vast population of NPC's who are constantly talking between themselves giving a sense of place to the game. Half of the game sees you interacting with fellow inmates and guards, doing side missions for them that reward you with money, cigarettes (that unlock artwork) and a clearer goal to escaping. The other half of the game is a combination of stealth and action.

For the most part Riddick is weak, sure you can snap necks with the press of a button if catching a guard unaware but if they see you their guns quickly take you down. It is a process of sitting in shadows, timing your movements, waiting for guards to do their rounds. All very old school stealth that doesn't really hold up nowadays, it is boring a lot of the time. Even with guards down you can't (at least to start with) use their weapons as they are DNA locked.


The game is split into 3 acts; the hub area where the previously mentioned side quests are, the stealth escape sections, then the balls to the wall crazy sections where you are an unstoppable killing machine (usually thanks to a conveniently placed mech suit). The power sections may be easy, but that is the reward for all the weak stealth leading up to it.

As a remake it is ok, is just a shame the mechanics of it all feel so archaic, the later arrival of some terrible looking creatures do not help matters, it all feels so last gen and simple. The plot is not especially interesting and towards the end I was quite bored to be honest, and forever on the verge of death thanks to super tough mechs.


The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Assault on Dark Athena is a newer episode and so feels a lot fresher and modern in feel. It is roughly equal length to Escape, and features two distinct segments. Set after Escape your ship is captured by renegade mercenaries led by pirate Gale Revas. The ship you find yourself on is the Dark Athena; a ship with a jaunty aquatic look to it. The stealth is a lot more fun here, Riddick felt quite powerless in Escape's stealth sections but here he feels dangerous, helped by his often corny and cheesy one liners. NPC's are a lot more interesting here, especially young girl Lynn who gives Riddick a slightly more human side as he attempts to help her without losing his one dimensional 'I'm so tough and cool' side (that grates a lot). Side missions this time come from finding a room full of prisoners that also give some decent back story to the crew as well as some fun nods to Escape. Some quite dark themes emerge here of rape as well as some quite strong language!

Riddick gets access to two hand blades which makes combat a lot easier and again there are some over powered mech sections. Escape had guns that were unusable due to DNA locking, here the majority of enemies are mindless cyborg drones; former prisoners twisted into unwilling slaves. They have guns grafted onto their bodies which means you can only use the gun by dragging the corpse around!


The 2nd half of Assault falls down a bit, it all looks nice and is a dramatic change of scene from the Dark Athena but all becomes slightly overlong and unexciting though you get hold of a cool air gun that is super powerful. As a side note in these games Riddick is such an unlikable, horrible anti hero that it is hard to care about him at all, he is a meathead idiot!

Escape is dated, Assault is mostly good and together they give you something that is fun, quite cheap now (my copy cost £5), it is interesting just feels quite out of date as there are so many better shooters on the market. Also; such long loading times!

SCORE:

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Blighted by Archer Garrett - Zombie Horror E-Book News


The Blighted by Archer Garrett is a zombie novella e-book released back in January (I believe). Archer's website has a few preview chapters available to read and I must say I was impressed with what I read.

The prologue chapter had zombie apocalypse already well entrenched, A holdout in Fiji comes under attack and is swiftly over run. A young scientist hears the alarms and has to barricade herself into her small lab as the hordes of undead pound on the only door. With her is perhaps the cure to the infection; a animal that is seemingly immune to the virus.

I was on the edge of my seat reading this, it was really gripping stuff. I have had many cool nightmares where I am trapped in a room with zombies beating at the door trying to get in, so maybe that tapped into those memories for me!

The Blighted can be purchased from Amazon for the cheap price of £2.02. To read some of his sample chapters head to Archer's website.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Sinister Visions - Horror Film News


Sinister Visions is a horror anthology, I am quite partial to horror anthologies it has to be said. This one is made up of five different tales which are as follows:

Succubus - A young archaeologist on a dig in Syria uncovers something that will change her life forever.

My Undead Girlfriend - Keith wakes up to discover his girlfriend has become one of the walking dead on the day he is due to meet her parents for the first time.

Mother Knows Best - Carl is preparing for a date with his childhood sweetheart but his dominating mother is not pleased about this.

A Woman Scorned - A woman has been captured by her boyfriends crazy ex wife.

Genital Genocide - A serial killer about to be executed tells the watching audience of his crimes.

These do have the potential to be interesting, the good thing about anthologies is that if you don't like a story then there is plenty more that could be good.

Sinister Visions is a collaboration between film-makers from the UK, America, Sweden, and Denmark, the process of many writers and directed by Henric Brandt, Doug Gehl, and Kim Sonderholm (who did the weird Little Big Boy: The Rise and Fall of Jimmy Duncan). Cinema showings are planned for Summer in the UK, Spain, and Italy, while a DVD release is planned for North America in Autumn. A trailer is currently in the works.

Monday, 25 March 2013

House Guest - Horror Film News


House Guest is directed by Jake Jalbert, produced by Brian Jalbert, and written by and starring Alex Vincent in his first starring role in 20 years (child star of the excellent Child's Play 1 and 2).

With a violent murderer on the loose in the city a group of friends decide to have a night of fun locked in at home. It just so happens one of the guests they invite in happens to be the killer the Police are hunting for.

Described as a tense thriller House Guest could potentially be interesting. It is always hard to judge by trailers as to the quality of the film, the trailer for Home Guest is no exception as it did seem a bit bland in all honesty. Still I make it a rule never to judge a film until I have actually seen it so will keep an eye out for this one.

House Guest is due out on DVD sometime in October/November this year, below is the 1st official trailer for the film...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Saw Misgivings (2012) - Short Horror Comedy Film Review


Saw Misgivings is a short horror comedy that is really a spoof of the Saw franchise (clues in the title).

A husband arrives home from work to find his wife Janey has managed to accidentally get a 'Saw' style head trap stuck on her. This is the least of her problems though as guests are soon to arrive and she hasn't finished preparing the dinner yet!

Saw Misgivings works as a comedy mostly through how little of an issue the head trap is seen by the couple, the husband barely reacting to the device, while the wife has tried to carry on her day as best as she could; going shopping, getting her make-up done, and even buying a belt to try and accessorise with the trap. Their are quite a few nods to Saw, best being where they silently consider how to get the head traps key out their  baby (who had swallowed it earlier). At times it does seem a bit too sure of how funny it is being but this didn't affect my enjoyment of it.


There is horror here for sure, mostly for joke purposes but still if pushed ever so slightly this could have had a real sense of menace behind it. I kept thinking if there had been distorted music, and weird lighting effects this would have been perfect as a Jam sketch (darkly surreal Chris Morris sketch show), not that this was needed.

For what this is it is ideal, it can't possibly outstay its welcome being under seven minutes in length, is fun and mostly succeeds. Saw Misgivings has been shown at a variety of film festivals and was even nominated for the 2012 Melies d'argent award. Be sure to check it out on Vimeo.

SCORE:

The Last Exorcism: Part II - Horror Film News


I quite enjoyed The Last Exorcism and was also one of the few people who actually loved the WTF ending. Surprised to see a sequel was in the works, can't say I even knew about it until I received an offer to maybe interview producer Eli Roth, director Ed Gass-Donnelly, and star Ashley Bell. Kind of missed the ball on that one, always so behind on my blog!

The first film focused on a Preacher of lapsed faith who gets caught up in what could be a real exorcism. The sequel focuses on the possessed girl Nell Sweetzer who awakes with no memories of the events she has gone through and has to survive the demon wanting her body again.

Sounds like it could be ok, maybe? I can't say I was taken with the trailer. Anyway it is due to be released in UK cinemas on the 7th June, I will be sure to check it out and stick up a review then!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Metroid: Other M (2010) - Sci-fi Horror Videogame Review (Nintendo Wii)


I have just this moment completed Metroid: Other M, I had picked it up dirt cheap last year (was under £4 new!) For some reason Metroid has always been a series I have found quite hard. I always liken it to Castlevania in space.

Metroid: Other M is a direct sequel to the Super Nintendo classic Super Metroid. Some months after the events of that game you are travelling when you receive a distress call coming from an empty section of space. Arriving you discover a gigantic space station in disarray that seems to be abandoned. Soon you stumble across a group of Galactic Soldiers, that include your former Commander Adam. He tells you to leave but not wanting to disappoint your idol you instead willingly disengage all your suit modifications and weapons hoping your desire to follow orders will allow you to stay. As you explore the desolate station you must discover what has happened to all the people, as well as discover why it is populated with aliens and monsters.


The story is kinda terrible, but it is more the characters that really gave me a weird feeling playing this.  In previous Metroid games there is some story reason why Samus must slowly recover her armour and weapons as she progresses. Metroid: Fusion on the GBA for instance had you attacked by an alien entity at the start that stole all your abilities. Here though it is the frankly bizarre Sub/Dom relationship Samus has with Adam that sees her purposely refusing to use weapons and abilities until Adam gives her permission to. Samus seems to enjoy getting hurt for the pleasure of Adam, seen most drastically in the lava fields section of the space ship where her energy is constantly getting sapped by the extreme heat. It is a very long time before Adam grants her permission to adjust her suit to allow for high temperatures. I can only imagine she must get off on the pain, knowing her Master has full control of her.

This game most reminded me of a 3D Metroid: Fusion. Both games took place on ruined space stations, both had you visiting different artificial themed areas (desert, ice, lava) and both actually feature similar bosses (the flying computer baby was just plain strange, especially it's cries as you hit it!). The biggest similarity though is the linear sense of progression you are given. The game may be huge but you are always herded from area to area in accordance to the story goals. You have some wriggle room but don't be surprised if you find areas locked off to your exploring self. I actually think I do prefer this exploration based hand holding. The reason I have yet to finish Metroid Prime is due to the fact it just straight up doesn't tell you where you should be heading!


I hate motion control and waggle in my games, one of the reasons the Wii so frequently gathers dust. Thankfully here the game for the most part is controlled by holding the wii-mote sideways like a controller. The lack of an analogue stick is helped by the camera dynamically moving to give you the best fixed views possible. Many times it will almost be 2D as you traverse across the screen. Open areas are not a hassle either and give some welcome room. If you point the wii-mote at the screen it goes into 1st person view. Here you are stationary but have full 360 movement to aim your gun reticule around. Not bad though unfortunately this view is the only way you can use missiles leaving you vulnerable to attack while attempting to shoot at targets.

The characters may be terrible (an incredibly sexist portrayal of Samus who is made here to seem like a weak, pathetic woman compared to the faceless identikit soldiers she teams up with) but the story did surprise me with its many twists that actually led me guessing as to what was going to happen next. The secret of what the project is that was happening on the space station, a mysterious rapidly mutating creature running riot, a traitorous figure referred to as 'The Deleter' who is killing off the soldiers one by one (and hilariously the game kinda forgets about this sub plot, I had to resort to message boards to work out who the traitor was). Under all the soppiness and long rambling monologues by Samus the plot was actually kinda cool. A pre game CGI recreation of the Super Metroid end of game boss fight was a nice treat.


For the most part enemies are ones that have all appeared in past Metroid games; Space Pirates, various insects, Metroids (of course) and iconic bosses such as Ridley all appear and are welcome for it for the most part.  The slow unlock of your abilities mean that re visiting areas to get new hidden items (mostly missile and health upgrades) is fun, especially as a handy mark is made on any room that has a hidden item. All the old abilities are gained such as the plasma gun, grapple beam, power bomb, super missiles, and spinning corkscrew jump. Always satisfying quickly taking out an enemy that took a long time at the games start.

If it had just been bad characterisation then I could have stomached that but the game is let down by a very, very frustrating end of game boss that requires a un fun expectation of being able to quickly switch between first and third person viewpoints repeatedly whilst under constant barrage by energy leeching enemies. The boss then requires you with no hint to do a special move that you were only told once how to do around 10 hours previously in the games opening training section! Doesn't help the boss was totally underwhelming (didn't even realise it was the final boss until the ending kicked in) Would be forgivable but the game is usually quick to fling instructions at you that does actually bring me to another annoyance.  When your energy gets too low you can stand still, hold the wii-mote vertically and press a button to recharge half your health. This process takes ages and is no good in a boss fight usually but that doesn't stop a literally 1/3 of the screen message and diagram appearing every time you have the option to do it. If your already nearly dead and struggling to survive then a huge screen obscuring message is not welcome!


For all my moaning I did enjoy this game and got into the 'zone' where all I wanted to do was play Metroid: Other M. Once the game is completed there is a fun optional mission to do that sees you go to unexplored areas of the station and fight new enemies. Not a bad game and not the best looking game, but it does mostly stay faithful to the Metroid series.

SCORE:

Friday, 22 March 2013

CD Comics - Comic Trailers for Meadowhell, Spring-Heeled Jack, and Eyam: The Plague Village UFO Mystery

I am kind of a fan of the comics of Craig Daley, they look like they are drawn by a crazed serial killer and never fail to be anything but interesting and the ideas contained within very well researched. A few trailers for the web comics have been created, I will share the horror orientated ones with you here!

First up is Meadowhell; a murder mystery about a number of grisly murders that take place in the well known shopping centre.



Next up is the trailer for Spring-Heeled Jack that follows the exploits of a woman terrorising monster.



Lastly is the trailer for Eyam: The Plague Village UFO Mystery. This one has reminded me that I must review Eyam, must do that soon!



They are worth checking out if you want something that will keep you guessing right up to the end, not bad at all.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Out There (2012) - Short Horror Film Review


Out There is a short 16 minute horror film set in rural Ireland produced and directed by Randal Plunkett. Like many short horror films it concentrates on one character caught up in a nightmare situation.

Robert wakes up in woodland with a nasty gash on his head and no memory of how he got there. As he wanders the empty paths and roads looking for help he gets flashbacks of him and his girlfriend's deteriorating relationship. Just where has everyone gone?


First off I have to note the quality of this film was terrible, it was constantly skipping and freezing making it hard to hear dialogue, and sometimes hard to tell what was going on. I was warned of this though as Randal said that unfortunately his bad Internet connection meant a better version was not able to be uploaded. Due to that I am not going to mark it down for this.

For the most part the film follows Robert on his lonely journey to get help, the location brings a lot of unease, everywhere is just too empty and quiet. A noisy generator at an abandoned farm, a house covered with graffiti and disturbing photos, long silent roads; you get a real sense of a hidden menace here which gives Out There a lot of atmosphere.


What I love about short horror films is how they use the limited time to really make a solid little story (when done right). I was intrigued to find out what had happened. Connor Marren gives a solid performance as the confused, lost Robert, while his girlfriend (Emma Eliza Regen) appeared to also give a good performance though it was hard to tell due to the freezing and skipping usually when she went to say anything.

Interesting, fantastic locations and does not out stay its welcome being a perfect length for the type of story being told. A good twist for the end even if it is shown on the films poster!

SCORE:

Before Dawn (2012) - Zombie Horror Film News


Last month Before Dawn was released on DVD (22nd February I believe). Before Dawn is a British zombie film that stars Dominic Brunt; Paddy of Emmerdale fame.

Alex (Brunt) and his wife (both onscreen and off screen) go on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales to try and repair their failing marriage. Being a zombie film I can only assume the pesky undead get in their way. Teamwork to fend off the walking dead must surely be a sure fire way to repair relationship issues though?

Well there you go, that is all the information I currently have on the film other than that on the often dodgy ratings of IMDB where it has an average score of 4.8/10. The trailer is included below, it is not a good trailer but I would be very interesting to see Brunt in a horror role.

 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Axed (2010) - Short Zombie Horror Film Review


Axed is a short Australian made zombie film that doesn't even attempt to be nothing more than bleak, brutal and an exhausting experience in its 30 minute run time.

Bruce (surely a homage to the Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell?) is enjoying a family meal when the house is invaded by gas mask wearing soldiers who march him and his family out into the middle of the woods to execute them, saying they are infected. Before Bruce is killed the soldiers are ambushed by a group of screaming, growling figures, so he makes his escape. Chased by the howling ghouls and having to avoid the brutal militia Bruce seeks a way to escape the chaos he has become swept up in.


This is one dark piece, it starts off bleak and just goes unrelenting in its horror and panic. The whole look of Axed is very saturated, colours are dim and washed out, this coupled with frantic camera work gives the look and feel of what I imagine a nightmare would look like if it were committed to film. Violence is not spared, from many many people being ripped apart by zombies to executions, decapitations and one case of a zombie eating it's own intestines this is a very bloody piece (bits of brain slithering off an axe head as a case in point!)

Plot is near non existent though this is in no way a bad thing, for the most part (excluding the first scene) you are with Bruce as he not only has to cope with the fact that everyone he loves are dead (his family, fiancee, best friend) but also that crazed '28 Days Later' style rage zombies are chasing him down. His descent into madness is completely understandable, often he starts laughing out loud, a man whose mind is cracking. The zombies look great for the most part, the camera work is so frenetic that there is not much time to look at the m but they come across as a real unstoppable threat swarming with numbers. The soldiers on the other hand all with their bio-suits and gas masks bring a real coldness and clinical look, you can't feel anything for this faceless monsters. Traditional living dead zombies also appear, these are not so well done, their faces just looking a bit strange with the effects on them.

A bloody, grim, action packed half hour treat that I recommend to any fans of zombie horror! The creators of Axed are hoping to make a feature film of this, I wish them luck with that. Check out Axed below.

SCORE:



Saturday, 9 March 2013

Bumbloods (2012) - Zombie Mini-Series Review


Back in October I heard word about a zombie mini series called Bumbloods which then promptly left my mind. The following month in November I happened to see two episodes of it at Zombiefest 2012. Now 3 months later I will finally stop being so damn lazy and do a blog post about the show!

Two room mates discover zombie apocalypse has happened in America. One is cool and calm, the other not so much. They team up determined to survive but is that possible?

Each episode is preceded by a minute long intro that is jarringly different in tone to the actual thing. The intro is serious and horror like but the actual episode itself is played for laughs such as the Afro haired guy shooting his house mates girlfriend dead and then telling him she had turned into a zombie, or the wimpy one rescuing what he thinks is a child to discover it is actually an angry midget. Not bad at all for how short it all is.

The background often shows cars driving around, and even normal people walking around which would be down to the low budget and doesn't really get in the way of things, while the zombies are effective without being overtly made up. The 4 episodes can be seen below, check them out! Would be interested to see if a 2nd series is made as would love to see more of these.

SCORE:












The Social Media Zombie Apocalypse - Zombie Themed Infograph

So with the second post in a row it may look like I am now owned by Confused.com but blame it on their marketing people who keep making zombie themed advertisements. This one is an infrograph of the types of people you find on social networking sites. Reading through it the zombie connection is quite loose but at least there are some cool pictures.

Social media zombie infographic

Home Sweet Zombie - Google Maps zombie invasion Advert


Confused.com seems to love zombies for some reason, last year I did a blog post about one such zombie themed advert (can't locate my post on it though!), now I have seen another one they have done which is actually real fun.

After entering your surname and your street address you get to watch a little mini movie of cartoon zombies advancing on your street via the use of images from Google Maps. It was quite cool seeing the undead descending on my house (though my house could not be seen they were congregating several doors down). They then explode with a message saying if you want home insurance then check out the site.

If you want something to smile at then head on over to Home Sweet Zombie at Confused.com and put in your address, is short and funny. I really don't mind adverts when they are this darn inventive!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Living with Mum - Zombie Horror Comedy Film News

Once again going through my inbox looking at all the stuff I need to someday get around to blogging about.  Today I found an email about a zombie comedy. Is hard to tell from the short trailer but looks like it could be quite different.

When Jake's mum dies he thinks he will never get a chance to repair their relationship...but then she comes back from the dead as a zombie and moves in with him. As they live together all the old tensions return in what I guess is a humorous way.

Back in October the VQ Films were trying to get investment from backers in order to make a full blown film. I don't think that has happened yet. Anyway check out the half minute teaser trailer below.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Z (2012) - Zombie Horror Film News


Now over here in the UK Amazon doesn't have an instant video service. It seems to be a place on the site where you are able to purchase films to watch online. I heard word that there is an indie film now available on Instant Video titled 'Z'. It actually came out last August so kind of behind with this one! I really know nothing about this one so I will leave it up to the blurb I received:

"This cool indie film features a group of strangers who flee an ominous storm and the undead creatures it unleashes to a deserted island...or is it a trap?

Lots of young, sexy actors and actresses, and fun thrills in an action-filled plot with old school zombies who hunt by sound and scent."

The film is by Tempest Entertainment clocking in at 1 hour 23 minutes. It currently has an average rating of 2/5 on Amazon so may well be one to avoid but having seen nothing of it myself who knows? Still it is just $1.99 to rent for 7 days so if you are after another zombie film to watch check it out.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ (2008) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (DSiWare)


I never got a Nintendo DSi but luckily the DSiWare shop is also available on the Nintendo 3DS which I did get (and embarrassingly enough can afford no games for). Thanks to the DSi shop I was able to get this game that I had had my eye on since I first saw it announced.  Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ is an on rails shooter set in the land of fairy tales.

Zombie apocalypse has came to the world that Little Red Riding Hood lives in. After discovering her grandmother has become a zombie in this land of the undead she sets out with Momotaro (a Japanese hero) to try and find out what the cause of the uprising is and to stop it.


Marvel Zombies was a fantastic book that took the superheroes and villains and changed them all into zombies. Zombie BBQ does the same but with fairy tale characters. Each of the 6 levels take place in a different location (each level is made up of two stages and a boss fight). Fighting through Hansel and Gretel's village, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Santa's workshop and more, all warped and mutated by the zombie plague. As you progress up the screen zombies rise up out of the ground and head towards you, they are quite chunky looking and are satisfying to fight as they loose arms and eventually their heads to your machine gun fire. Little Red Riding Hood is an expert of firearms in this world. For the most part you use the machine gun but you can also get power ups that give you limited access to a shotgun, laser, and a flame thrower, as well as grenades. Many of the enemies shoot projectiles at you (such as fireballs and vomit) which you must avoid by tapping the screen with the stylus. The game is mostly controlled with the stylus, the face buttons just used to move your chosen character left or right.

There are a large variety of enemy types, as well as the vast assortment of normal zombies you get ones that swell up as you shoot them, eventually exploding, ones that can only be killed by shooting their exposed heart or brain, skeletons that throw bones at you, Japanese spooky girl ghosts (think The Ring), robots and a load more. Special mention goes to the bosses; a zombie Gretel attacking you with her brothers severed leg, zombie Santa on his sleigh throwing exploding presents at you, and my favourite a giant screen filling zombified, cyborg Pinocchio. All the bosses are old school in that you must analyse their attack patterns, can be challenging to fight.


The problem with the game comes down to it's sometimes dodgy controls. Switching to your alternate weapons is never easy, often getting hit while messing around trying to select them. Grenades were one hundred percent accidentally used by me, I just never knew just what caused them to work. The alt weapons are mostly short range, more long range super weapons would have been welcome as the machine gun is a very weak gun to have to use for most the game. To get the true ending you are told to play on Hard once Normal is completed...I was not impressed, thank God for YouTube!

Not a bad little game, just let down by a few unfair control issues that really should have been sorted out. Inventive and makes you want to see what comes up next, just a bit boring at times. A good use of the duel screen though, really gives you a far view of what is upcoming as you scroll towards the levels end.

SCORE:

Monday, 4 March 2013

Resident Evil 6 (2012) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)


Being a long time fan of the Resident Evil series I wanted 6 despite hearing from many different sources what an unholy mess the game is. It features 4 different story campaigns, and again is designed with co-op play in mind even going into 4 player at very specific points. After my paragraph about the story I shall be doing something different by looking at each campaign in turn.

Leon is in Tall Oaks, America with the president when there is a deadly bio attack on the city which turns the population into mindless zombies. Meanwhile Chris is called back to duty in the BSAA after a terrorist group calling themselves Neo-Umbrella and apparently led by Ada Wong attack a Chinese city with a new bio weapon called the C-Virus. Neo-Umbrellas goal is to unleash the C-Virus upon the entire world. To counter this Sherry Birkin has been tasked with tracking down Weskers son; Jake who holds within him a cure to the C-Virus.

Leon and Helana's Campaign


Leon's campaign is designed as an old school survival horror according to Capcom. I would say it works kinda like Resident Evil 4 crossed with Call of Duty. The main enemies are zombies, not intelligent ones, or ones using guns, but plain, cool zombies. They stumble, they sometimes run, sometimes they are armed with basic weapons such as iron pipes and shovels. I was quick to notice how less of a hassle the A.I controlled partner is this time around. They are unable to be killed, no longer steal ammo and herbs, and whenever you are downed they are quite quick to come to your aid, all good stuff!

There are minor, but inoffensive puzzles to solve at times, and generally a more relaxed approach to your horror. Zombies come in heavy numbers, an early sign of this was when an elevator door opened to reveal a horde of zombies swarming in (just like what happened in the CGI trailer for Resident Evil 3!) Quick trigger finger was enough to sort them out but bits like this kept it all feeling fresh. I likened it to Call of Duty earlier, and that is because you are flung from one epic set piece to another without pause. One moment you are under siege in a gun shop, next you are being dragged through an underground river by a giant mutant shark, chasing a zombie dog through a graveyard while corpses burst out the ground all around, crashing a variety of vehicles and generally having a hell of a journey!


There is no end to the inventiveness on offer here, the best bits though are when you are let loose on the zombie filled streets. Early on you enter a street to find humans running around being attacked left, right and centre, a car crashes into a post right near you, further on a man is trapped under a burning car, being in the scene, just slowly working your way through methodically, makes you feel like such a bad ass. My favourite scene by far came when I was running up a hill to escape this rising zombie gas. I entered a shop and barricaded the door, thinking I was safe...then a zombie smashed open the shop window and the gas entered leading to a very frantic, and unexpected retreat up the staircase of the shop, so neat!

It took me a while to get into it but I really ended up enjoying Leon's campaign, very silly, but also very fun and exciting.

Chris and Pier's Campaign


It is sometime later now and I have just completed Chris's story. The reviews all stated that Chris and Jake's missions were terrible, true it did use up some of the good will I had stored but despite it's issues it was still fun. Nearly all the enemies you face are zombie types who are armed with guns, the game is pretty much a third person shooter for the most part, a cover based one at that. It got kinda frustrating in parts due to the sheer amount of soldiers gunning for you, nothing more irritating than getting knocked over by a shot from a zombie sniper several blocks away.

Levels are much more open than before, the open sections are the worst. Some big stand-out moments also appear here though. A fantastic sequence saw you and your squad pursuing a giant invisible snake through an old building. As you progressed your squad got picked off one by one, true survival horror there! To split up the endless shooting there are a few vehicles sections, neither of which are that great. The bosses are quite cool though, and despite some frustration the end of game bad guy was as epic as the one Leon faced.


If the whole game had been like this I would not have been pleased, but with 6 hours of traditional zombie fighting to then have around 8 hours of third person shooting was not bad even if it went far too non horror at times (battling helicopters, really?). I was pleased to see there were hardly any identical locations used, even if the ones here were quite bland (all grey corridors, not much to look at). It was also cool to see how the separate stories tie in together.

One thing I have to mention is the at times frustrating lack of ammo, many occasions I was facing ridiculous odds armed only with my combat knife, desperately breaking open random crates for spare ammo.

Jake and Sherry's Campaign


This was another of the four campaigns which was supposed to not be very good. I found Jake to be a very interesting and cool character having been 'bad' for most of his life working as a gun for hire. He even starts the game working for the bad guys but due to being immune to the C-Virus his fellow soldiers turn on him after mutating.  This is the shortest of the missions so far, several of the 5 chapters coming in at around 45 minutes. Again hardly any of the same locations are used, some trekking through a blizzard, escaping a research facility and a fun bike chase occur, so more random crazy moments.

Like Chris the game turns into a third person shooter for the most part, enemies all armed with weapons, and for a lot of it they don't even mutate when defeated. Jake also has access to some melee special moves including a cool lock on where he charges across a level to an enemy. Taking cues from Resident Evil 2's Mr X, and Resident Evil 3's Nemesis there is an invincible monster who turns up at random places to chase you, a hulking cyborg that is fun to fight, not very scary though as he only appears at pre-set places. For the third game in a row now a enemy armed with a chainsaw is introduced which was really quite a weak boss, though again a lot of fun to fight.


Not much bad to say about Jake's levels. I had fun, and would say I preferred it to Chris's as I was not constantly running out of ammo like I was there.

Ada's Campaign


Up to this point the story really was not making a lot of sense, I was hoping that Ada's section would clear up some of the confusion as to what the heck was going on, it kinda did, maybe. Ada's missions are the shortest of the bunch with the last level coming in at just over half an hour. Her missions are a combination of stealth and traditional zombie battling and while there are a lot of original sections she also has the biggest cross over of other characters segments.

Not a bad series of missions though I can see why it was originally a hidden extra once the other modes were done, it's boss fights are really quite easy, one I defeated in around 10 seconds, while another is hinted at but then aborted as a joke to the player I believe. The crossbow is a fantastic weapon though, and Ada is the only character who gets to use it.


Now this game got a lot of flak when it was released, pretty much everyone turned against it saying it was overlong, a mess of different genres, and just lost. I was all too ready to join the band waggon but then I played it...I love this game! Seriously had so much fun playing it. Sure jamming in driving sections was a weird move but they are still fun even if quite basic. There are plenty of normal zombies to fight and zombies with guns is sadly expected in a Resident Evil game nowadays.

Hidden in each level are 4 files which give background to the game. Unlike previous games these files are actually really quite interesting and bizarrely for a hidden object actually give plot that is not explained very well at all in the game! If anything brings me back to Resident Evil 6 it will be tracking down the missing files I could not find, that and trying co-op to see if that is better than the confusing mess that was Resident Evil 5. There are a host of multiplayer modes stuck onto the game after release. I tried one of these where I entered someones game as a zombie, had some fun with that though the poor zombies really do move painfully slow!


I am at peace with the fact that the Resident Evil I fell in love with has died, but overall it may lack polish but I actually found this game to be a lot more fun than the previous one. It is at times frustrating, bland, and badly designed but it cannot be accused of being samey, there is so much variety split through the 20 hours plus play time that you really can't complain.

SCORE:

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Song of the Dead (2005) Zombie Horror Musical Film Review


For whatever reason the title on the DVD case says 'Day of the Zombie', no ideas why as everywhere else says 'Song of the Dead'. Song of the Dead is a zombie themed musical that tries to be a homage to the George Romero classic 'Night of the Living Dead'.

While visiting her mothers grave a girl and her boyfriend Brad are attacked by zombies. Fleeing the scene they head to the girls fathers cabin out in the wilderness where they meet up with him, his son Harold, and a serial killer who had been passing by. Thinking it safer to stay at the house rather than try to go elsewhere they barricade the place. Their estimation of how many zombies are in the area is misjudged though, and the zombies seem to know exactly where they are so when the horde finally appears the surviving humans must try to survive the night.


Song of the Dead is a budget film but despite that is still really not bad to watch, it never got boring. The actors/singers are for the most part terrible, some can sing, some cannot, some can act, most cannot but the soft rock tunes are inoffensive, there is never anything bad enough to make your ears bleed (apart from the stale dancing). Cult actor Reggie Bannister of Phantasm fame makes an appearance as the President of the United States but it has to be said he looks uncomfortable, and wooden in his role, especially for his song he has to try and sing.

The zombies look the part, I often say low budget make-up can look a lot better than some of Romero's later excesses, they are coated in blood, all looks good enough, is just a shame that the attacking scenes are let down by bad special effects so when people get killed it rarely looks good. The zombies have their own songs as well, the anthem for the zombies is a number called 'Flesh and Blood' which crops up a few times, is just unfortunate they decide to place a topless woman at the front of the zombie line up each time. I don't know what it is with budget films and feeling the urge to put some female flesh on show. Here, like others before it the nudity feels totally pointless, not needed in the least. The zombies sing in human voices, and dance as well in some choreographed scenes. One in which a bitten survivor says a sad farewell song is helped by the arms of zombies poking through boarded up windows swaying in time to the music, a nice touch.


The plot is quite stupid with a lot of anti government/military/anti Taliban talk going on. Characters often squeeze in random facts about government spending on the military for no good reason, and the virus itself is named the Jihad Resurrection Virus. Zombies are portrayed as terrorists, most the characters refer to them as such, with discussion of if they deserve any rights, and the fact that as they are terrorists then there is no reason to feel bad about killing them. In Romero's original the survivors really knew how to hold up in a building. Here the survivors keep on leaving to scout around, not wise, and the film reflects this as most the characters are killed during these ridiculous outings.

So a lot of the older characters look identical, there is unneeded nudity that fails to give itself a reason to exist, the acting and singing is patchy at best, and the songs are as cheesy as hell but it still does something different. There have been musical horrors before (Repo! The Genetic Opera) and even zombie musicals before (the terrible Dead and Breakfast) but this is the first one that manages to keep a light hearted (albeit awkward direction. Very slightly better than average.

SCORE: