Sunday, 28 February 2010

Terminator: Salvation - Sci-fi Action Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

This game got pretty slated on it's release last year, mostly on the fact it is just too expensive for what it is. I brought the game for £5, that is why my review is going to be much more lenient on it.

Terminator: Salvation the game is a side story to the film of the same name. It is set before the events of the film. The plot involves John Conner who ignores a direct order from the Resistance to return to base after a botched operation and instead goes rogue, heading off into the depths of LA to rescue a friend of his called David on what is essentially a suicide mission. Along the way others join him, drawn to him by his determination that every human life is worth saving.

The game is a 3rd person shooter with on rail shooting sections mixed in. The enemies you fight include the iconic Terminator, and H-K, as well as new enemies made for the game (such as the main enemy type the Spider, and fast moving flying enemies called Wasps) Also the Harvester giant (featured in the film) makes a guest appearance. Each enemy type needs different tactics to take out, the Spiders for instance are impervious to damage from the front and must be flanked to attack from behind. The enemies in general are super tough with the exception of the Wasps, and for this reason there are not as many enemies as in other games of this type.

There is a cover system similar to Gears of War which is functional but not fantastic. The weapons sound fantastic, and have satisfying weight behind them. The on rail sections occur about 4 or 5 times, and are easy, but really fun, towards the end you get to pilot an enemy vehicle and get the iconic red screen with reams of text scrolling down the side; very cool. The music also is of note, the main Terminator theme tune is mixed into the games score and injects excitement into the levels, also the scary droning music appears when ever Terminators turn up which creates fear of them.

The game is only around 4 or 5 hours long (on hard mode), but it feels like a good length, unlike other short games such as Turning Point. The plot is nothing special, but is quite well done. It is a shame that the cut scenes are full of terrible screen tearing, and the John Conner character doesn't look like the Christian Bale version, but nevermind. Also the achievements are ultra easy to get, without trying I got 1000 points on my first playthrough (I finished the game in one sitting also!)

If you see it at £5 then there really is no reason not to get the game, it is fun, and exciting while it lasts.


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Right to Die - Masters of Horror Review

Another day, another Masters of Horror episode review. Right to Die is Rob Schimdts directed effort. He isn't exactly a Master of Horror having only made Wrong Turn previously.

A Dentist and his wife are travelling on a mountain road when a felled tree causes the car they are in to crash. The Dentist; Cliff Addison (played by Martin Donovan) is unhurt, his wife Abby however is torched, suffering over 90% burns to her body. Cliff is told that unless a total skin graft is done to his wife she will not survive. As it is she is in a coma, and burned to a crisp, covered head to toe in bandages. He decides he will let her die. While at home Cliff is visited by a ghost of his wife who rapidly burns up to become a charred husk. He soon realises that though his wife is in a coma she is able to leave her body. Not a good thing to have a powerful ghost as a wife when your not exactly a fantastic husband...

The effects in this episode are fantastic, especially the charred thing that is Abby, she is covered in red and black goo, and really does look like she is burnt up, every scene she is in is fantastic, she is a really repulsive grim monster. There is a scene in which a character is skinned alive, very gross, and very well done, fantastic insert shots, and really good special effects.

None of the characters in this short film are likable, all are deeply flawed. The husband Cliff has secrets which make him pathetic, his best friend a lawyer is money hungry, while his assistant at the Dentists is a slut. It does hinder the story a bit that there is no one to root for. The female characters of Abby and the Dentists Assistant are very attractive though, and yes there is quite a bit of nudity with them which is appreciated!

It seems if you boil a Masters of Horror episode down to its base components there will nearly always be lots of blood and violence, and lots of nudity. This is a good episode, would have been great if it had seen fit to insert a likable character into the plot.


Friday, 26 February 2010

Family - Masters of Horror Episode Review (DVD)

Family is the 3rd episode of Season 2 of Masters of Horror. It is directed by John Landis and is quite a fun episode.

Harold appears to be a mild mannered middle class suburbanite. He lives in a nice friendly neighbourhood, and has a beautifully kept house. Harold is also insane, he kills people, then dissolves them in acid and ties their bones together to make new members for his 'family' a collection of skeletons in clothes who he converses with and spends most his time with. In his head these skeletons are human, and act like any other family. A young couple move in next door to him, and Harold rapidly falls for the young wife. He decides he would like her to 'join' his family...

This is a really lighthearted fun bright episode. Most the episode is filmed from Harold's perspective, so the reason everything is so bright and jaunty is because that is how he sees the world, all perfect. Sometimes his family are shown as what they are; skeletons in clothes, other times they are shown as real people, and you can hear the conversations Harold has with them. The episode pretty much centres on the 3 characters; Harold (played by George Wendt of Cheers fame), and his new neighbours (played by Meredith Monroe and Matt Keeslar). All 3 actors are fantastic and perfectly suited to their roles, especially Wendt who seems to have had real fun playing the friendly suburban serial killer.

There is not much violence or gore of any kind shown in the episode, most of the gore centres on already dead bodies. The writer for the script likens Family to his take on Psycho which in subject matter is kind of similar. The ending features a neat little twist which I kinda saw coming, but not completely. The twist sort of changes the nature of the whole episode, so watching it again would give me fresh perspective.
A nice fresh feeling episode, well worth a watch!


Thursday, 25 February 2010

Xtro 3 - Film Review

Xtro 3 is a sequel in name only to the previous 2 films in the series. It is a sci-fi horror set on a deserted jungle island.

A small squad of idiot soldiers are dispatched to an army owned island to do recon as part of a training excercise (or so they are led to believe). The island appears deserted, having been unoccupied since the 1950's. A laboratory the soldiers find is encased in concrete. Blowing it open they unwittingly unleash a couple of lethal insane Aliens who start to slaughter the soldiers one by one. The survivors must try to escape the island, though it seems the Army does not want that to happen...

I quite enjoyed this film, enjoyed it enough to track it down on DVD. The film takes place in the recent past, bookended at the start and end by a survivor of the incident who is relating the tale to a skeptical journalist. The plot is simple, yet effective, the motivations for the Aliens are quite interesting.

The Aliens resemble half spider half Grey (traditional 'real' Alien). They spin sticky, acidic webs. Thier victims are operated on in the same way the Aliens originally were (footage is discovered on the island which shows the Aliens backstory). They look good, and are genuinly creepy, as they just seem so unconcerned about the violence they inflict as if the humans mean absolutly nothing to them. The humans are mostly irritating, they are supposed to be, being the Armies rejects, and gradually some of the soldiers do develop into more likeable characters as the events unfold.

This is a neat little sci-fi horror, recommended viewing even if at times it does feel a little too cheaply made.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Resident Evil 2 - Zombie Videogame Review (Playstation)

Resident Evil 2 is still a fantastic game. One of the best game sequels, and with the exception of Silent Hill 2 one of the best Survival Horror sequels.

Leon Kennedy a rookie cop, and Claire Redfield both arrive in Raccoon City at the same time. They discover too late the City has been the centre of a zombie outbreak. Thinking the Police Station would be the most safe place they head there. The rest of the game sees them try to escape the City, learning on their journey the origin of the outbreak.

The game is novel in that the choice of character you play as determines the route through the game you take. Completing the game once opens up B mission which takes place the same time as the original playthough, but from the 2nd characters perspective. Items are in different places, there are new enemies, and the real ending is revealed.

A lot of the same enemies from the Resident Evil reappear as well as a lot more. Zombies obviously, as well as Zombie Dogs, and crows return while the fantastic Hunter enemy is sadly missing. In it's place is the iconic Licker enemy which was a brilliant addition to the series. Boss enemies are less numerous this time around, most centring around William Birkin; a scientist key to the plot of the game who had turned into a ever changing monster. Each encounter with him is different due to his morphing, both A and B missions feature him in various different forms. B mission sees you pursued by a giant trench coated humanoid at various points, the basis for the Nemesis character in Resident Evil 3. The humanoid 'Mr X' is truly scary, with him bursting through walls in his pursuit to get you, and has a suitably epic final encounter.

Weapons are more varied this time around, and can be upgraded, the upgraded Colt Magnum in particular is awesome, so powerful the recoil makes your character fly backwards. The files you find (which provide story) are probably the best in the series, especially the ones detailing the losing battle the Police have as their positions are gradually over run by the attacking hordes. The story as a whole is more interesting, and there are a lot more characters you meet, and even get to control for small portions of the game (such as the mysterious Ada Wong, and the little girl Cheyl Birkin). The locations are cool, and each one follows logically on from the last, giving a feel of accomplishment as you get nearer to your goal of fleeing the City.

The violence is at it's best in this game. Zombies can be blown in half both vertically and horizontally, the character you play as shows damage when injured, limping when nearer death, and the cutscenes are fantastic, and well worth repeated watching. The CGI cutscenes in Resident Evil were near non existent, while here there around 3 or 4 quite lengthy ones throughout the course of the 3 hour game. 3 hours may not seem a lot, but the game has to be completed twice to get the proper ending, and also there are lots of unlockables. These include costumes and weapons for the playable characters, as well as 2 mini games where you have a set time limit to escape the Police Station (one mode sees you play as Hunk; a special Umbrella Swat team member, while the other sees you play as a giant lump of Tofu armed with just a knife!).

This is one fantastic game, I really want to play it again to see if it is still as good as I remember it being!


Update 26/01/2019: I recently played through this again in anticipation of the Resident Evil 2 remake. The game still holds up today with it looking just as good as I remember. However nowadays I am spoilt, so things like the tank controls in particular quite grated on me. This is a damn good game though, while not as good as Resident Evil it is one of the better sequels in the series.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Pro-life by John Carpenter (Master of Horror Review)

Pro Life is John Carpenters 2nd Master of Horror episode. It is a siege style film with monster elements. It is not that great.

A God obsessed and anti-abortionist man (played by Ron Perlman) with his 3 sons lay siege to a Abortion Clinic where his heavily pregnant 15 year old daughter has seeked sanctuary. The man believes he is on a mission from God to protect his daughters unborn child, and so sees it fine to kill anyone who gets in his way. Meanwhile the daughter is trying to convince the Dr's in the clinic that she was raped by a Demon, and that her child is evil and needs to be killed. A silly story which doesn't get any better when she gives birth to a half human half crab thing.

The problem with this is that it all feels very cheap. Everything from the music and sound effects to the effects looks very budgety. Ron Perlman (most famous for playing Hellboy) looks lost in his role and admits as much on the extras when he says he didn't understand his character. He is about as scary as a wet blanket, and his sons are no better either, being skinny runts. It is hard to find anything about it suspenseful or thrilling when the bad guys are just not remotely threatening.

The plot is very basic, and has some big holes. At least 5 characters wander off screen never to be seen or referenced to again (including rather bizarrely Ron himself, supposedly the main bad guy) It feels like scenes are missing and incomplete. This a poor episode.

Some plus points then. The crab/baby looks kinda cool, though a bit too much like a face hugger. I guess Abortion is a touchy subject, and it doesn't preach either way on the subject. Sure Ron's character is wrong, but his pro-life views on abortion hold up. Likewise pro-choice is also not dismissed, with the Dr's not being portrayed as evil. Cigarette Burns; John Carpenters other Master of Horror episode is much better, this is silly, but still I wouldn't say dismiss it entirely, just don't expect anything amazing.


Monday, 22 February 2010

Pelts by Dario Argento - Master of Horror Episode

Pelts is the first episode of Season 2 of the excellent Master of Horror; the series where each episode is directed by a different Master of Horror (hence the title). Pelts is Dario Argento's 2nd episode he has done, the first being the great Jenifer in the 1st season. Pelts is very bloody, and disgusting! I nearly had to look away at some scenes!

Meatloaf plays a Boss of a fur factory, when not at work bullying his employees he is at the nearby strip club obsessing over one of the strippers. They know each other well enough due to him repeatedly buying private lap dances off her. She dislikes him and repeatedly lets him know that no matter how much money he throws at her, he has no chance (what with him being a sleazy, fat, unpleasant man). One of his contacts; a hillbilly trapper informs him that he has gotten hold of some absolutely beautiful Raccoon pelts which the Boss uses to create a wondrous fur coat in order to win the stripper he is obsessed with. Unfortunately the Raccoons were captured in the ruins of a creepy ancient civilisation. It seems the pelts are now cursed, as all who come into contact with them end up dead in the most bloody ways imaginable...

As with Dario's other episode this is full of violence and nudity. The violence is all self inflicted, the victims of the pelt possession are induced to kill themselves in gruesome ways. One person sticks his head in a bear trap, another sews there eyes, nose and mouth shut causing them to suffocate to death, then there is the fantastic final sequence in which madness takes place in an apartment block.

None of the characters are likable, all are shown as being shallow, greedy, and weak. I think this was intended for definite, everyone gets what they deserve. The plot is a classic one, but done in an interesting way. The music is fantastic, as are the special effects which are grim to watch.
I really want to see some of Dario's classic films, as going by the episodes I have seen he is a fantastic director. A shocking first episode of the 2nd season. Here's hoping the rest of the episodes are as memorable!


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Fantasy Film Review

Yay, my 200th post! I watched this on my Sisters recommendation. The trailers made it seem like a virtual clone of the Harry Potter story. I was expecting a copy, but this film is so much better than any of the Harry Potters!

Basically the God Zeus has had his Thunderbolt stolen. He blames it on Poseidon's Son and says unless he gets his Thunderbolt back by 10 days time then there will be a war between the Gods (basically Armageddon). Poseidon's Son however has no idea of any of this, as far as he's concerned he is just a High School Student. He soon gets dragged into events as a Fury attacks him, his best friend reveals himself to actually be a Satyr Protector, and himself to be a Demi-god. He heads off to a place of safety a special Camp for Half bloods. Along the way however his Mother is kidnapped by Hades. Teaming up with Grover his Satyr friend, and a girl Annabeth (the daughter of Goddess Athena) they must travel across America to get 3 magic Pearls, and then head to Hell to rescue Percy's mother using the Pearls to escape Hell.

The film is only a PG, but is full of Monsters, fantastic looking scary monsters at that! This is an action packed film. Monsters featured include a Minotaur, a Hydra, Medusa, Hell Hounds among others. The film has a slight feel of a road trip and takes in such locations as Hollywood, New York, and Las Vegas. The acting is of a high standard, something I was surprised at as had expected Harry Potter style dreadful acting. Quite a few famous actors also show up in the film. Zeus is played by Sean Bean, Percy's History teacher is played by Pierce Brosnan, Medusa is played by Uma Thurman, and Steve Coogan plays Hades.

The plot is exciting, and while slightly basic, does rollick along at a fast pace. The characters are well cast, at times Grover does become a comic relief which grated a bit, but least his character isn't completely useless like most comic relief characters. It is quite a dark film in places as well and doesn't shy away from death, I'm sure if I had seen this as a kid it would have frightened me! The special effects are ace, and the film as a whole looks really good. Let's hope they do a sequel!


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Watchmen: The End is Nigh Pt 1 (X-Box Live Arcade Review)

This is a damn boring game. It is of course based on the Watchman graphic novel and released to coincide with the film. The game is a scrolling beat em up where you can play as either Nite Owl or Rorshach.

The game starts with you investigating a riot at a prison. It seems that a criminal called Underboss escaped in the confusion. You spend the rest of the game tracking him down.

As mentioned this is uber boring. There are only a handful of different enemy types, and with the exception of the last level no boss fights to break things up. The levels are bland as anything. This can be demonstrated in where they are set - Prison, Streets, Docks, Sewers, Rooftops, and finally a construction site. Woop de doo.

The 2 characters play differently. Rorshach has very violent special moves, brutal, with blood and teeth shattering. He can also pick up enemies dropped weapons and cause more violence that way. Nite Owl on the other hand is bland. He can't pick up weapons, and his moves are boring. The game can be played in co-op but I never tried this.

One thing it does have going for it is that it looks fantastic, one of the most graphically impressive games on X-Box Arcade. Wonderful weather effects, character models, and lighting. Between levels are cut scenes set out in the style of the graphic novel which look great.

This is part 1 of 2. I never bothered picking up part 2 based on my unimpressed impression of this one. If it ever drops in price it is worth it, but otherwise at 1200 Microsoft points it is just not worth it.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (2008) - Action Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

I realise I have been doing nothing but videogame reviews for a while now. I will be doing some more real horror reviews quite soon. Turning Point is a terrible terrible game! I have that out my system, so on with the review.

Turning Point takes place in a alternate reality where Winston Churchill died after a car accident in the 1930's. As a result of this the Germans conquered all of Europe and Russia, and the USA never entered the 2nd World War. The game starts with the Nazi invasion of America. You play as a construction site worker in New York who joins an underground resistance to fight off the German threat.

The games first level is fantastic. You start off on top of a huge skyscraper construction and get to see the attack by the Germans. Hundreds of planes fly overhead, along with Nazi Blimps. They lay waste to New York with explosions and collapsing buildings everywhere. Followed by parachuting Nazi's. It is a real spectacle, one thing the game has going for it is that it looks great, the graphics are really good I thought. The levels throughout the game are quite cool. Other locations include the White House, and London Bridge.
The enemies consist of Nazi soldiers. Some resemble the Helghast from Killzone, wearing gas masks with glowing orange eyes. These are all human enemies, and just vary in terms of weapons they carry. They do have an annoying habit of spamming grenades at you all the damn time.

The game is a joke, it is a last generation First Person Shooter (FPS) dressed up in its older brothers clothes. Everything about it is so old in feel. Stupid things like your character never changes his clothes from the construction ones he wears at the start of the game. The enemy A.I is bad, enemies standing in plain view rather than attempting to avoid your attacks. The game is also buggy as hell which caused a lot of unintentional humour. At one point I had a NPC whose walk animation had broken, so it looked like he was skating everywhere, really funny seeing him walk repeatedly side to side like a crab. Enemies sometimes float when killed, weapons they drop get stuck in objects, sometimes they forget to react to your presence. Enemies sometimes become bullet proof and can't be killed. Buggy. As. Hell. Also the game from start to finish on normal lasted just 3 hours, so short!

The game features online multiplayer which a lot of the achievements are tied into, but the servers have been turned off due to no one at all playing the online aspect I would guess. I got this for £5, It is a fun game, just hideously broken, and will mess up any achievement completest dreams.


Thursday, 18 February 2010

Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares - Zombie Horror Videogame DLC Review (X-Box 360)

Lost in Nightmares is the first of two planned extra missions for Resident Evil 5. It is set in an entirely new location, featuring new enemies and characters.

The mission involves the infiltration of a mansion where Oswald Spencer (The founder of Umbrella) is hiding out. During Resident Evil 5 this was shown in flashbacks, now as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield you get to play through it.

The mansion is a great location, it is similar in design to the mansion from Resident Evil 1, and so there is lots of nostalgia for the Resident Evil fan. Resident Evil has never looked better, this game looks, and sounds amazing. There are a few cheeky references to the original game as well which are much appreciated. The new enemies are cool, and fit into the location well, not feeling out of place, and include zombies! New Journals give more insight into the back story of the place.

The game is scary! Not since the original game has the series been properly horror based. It helps that for a significant part of the game you are weaponless, stuck in a maze like flooded basement being stalked. Take away the powerful weapons and Resident Evil can be a fearful place.

At 400 Microsoft points this is cheap, but bear in mind that it is only around a 30 minute experience, and if you are looking for lots of action you will be disappointed as this is more based around simple puzzles and atmosphere. The next downloadable bonus mission I would imagine is going to be a hell of a lot more action orientated. If you miss the days when Resident Evil was survival horror rather than pure action then this is for you.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

X-Men Origins - Wolverine = My Review of the Game

I havn't seen the film this was based on, I do wanna see it. As such I don't know if it is a copy of the film, or original. The problem with Wolverine in films is that he is a man with giant claws, and yet as the films are made to appeal to kids he never does anything interesting with them. Thank god it's different here.

The game takes place in 2 different time periods. One is set in Africa, Wolverine and his mutant Commando buddies are fighting bad men in Jungle ruins. The other is set 30 years in modern day. In this one Wolverine is being hunted by the Army, and must escape and infiltrate thier bases. The story went a bit over my head to be honest, I got confused with characters etc.

The game is a 3d brawler with slight platform sections, reminded me a bit of God of War. It is a very violent game, a very very violent game, lol. This is due to Wolverines amazing Adamantium claws. With these you can slice off enemies limbs, heads, as well as just stick em through the enemies. You have a real cool lunge ability that lets you spring across the stage onto any enemy in sight, very cool and empowering. The enemies are kinda varied. As well as soldiers you get to fight other mutants, robots, and Guerilla fighters. There is a reucurring boss fight with a stone golem, these are too numourous and become boring as Hell, other boss battles are ace though.

Famous Marvel characters do make an appearance, such as Sabretooth, Gambit and Deadeye. Also an iconic sentinal makies an appearance as a very exciting boss fight (what with the Sentinal being 100 feet tall). Other memorable scenes include a fight with 3 Helicopters that takes place in free fall, and a pursuit though a casino under attack by the military.

The locations are ok, but drag on far too long in places. The first military base is almost obscenly large and takes forever to get though. The Africa mission all takes place in the same Jungle ruins so gets samey. The levels and characters do look fantastic though.

The game is very violent, quite monotonous in places, but well made. Prehaps a good companion piece to the films?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard - Action Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Eat Lead is a comedy action game which derives most of it's humour from games, and the conventions around them. Some of the humour is spot on, but can also not be as humorous as it would like to think.

You play as Matt Hazard. In the game Matt is a videogame star starring in countless games since the 1980's. After a run of ill advised spin offs (such as Matt Hazard Kart Racing) he has been given another shot at an action game. All is going well until he discovers to his horror that he is due to be killed off at the levels end in a 'shock' change for the game. A hacker intervenes to save him. For the rest of Eat Lead you have to traverse various levels as enemies from all Matt's previous games are spawned in and pitted against him in a effort to kill him off on the fictional game company's Managing Directors orders.

The game is a 3rd person action one. It has a cover mechanic similar to Gears of War, but not as well done. There are many different weapon types, as well as special ammo you can use when you have built up your hazard meter. The ammo comes in flame and ice types.

Humour in games is hard to do well, this game is no different and mostly does fail, but despite this the game is fun, and exciting. The locations are on the most part purposely bland, to demonstrate how so many games are set in bland locations such as warehouse, docks, and Factories, but by purposely having bland levels it makes the game worse than the joke was worth. Where the humour is better is when it references other games. There are digs at Duke Nukem Forever, Final Fantasy among others. Enemy characters include female robots who are the spitting image of Lara Croft (from Tomb Raider), Joanna Dark (from Perfect Dark), and some friendly characters include a Mario lookalike, and a Master Chief (called Master Chef).

The enemies are varied, being taken from Matt Hazards 'other' games. There are normal humans such as Cowboys and Triads, but also Halo Spartan enemies, 2D Nazi's from Wolfenstein, robots, and even Zombies (can only take them out by a shot to the head!). Quite a few boss battles take place, though some truly dreadful QTE's (quick time events) are used for these.

The game is very free with its achievements. Some of the easier ones include one for starting the game, one for doing the games very short tutorial, one for pausing the game, and a few more 'comedy' achievements awarded for things that were 'left' out the game such as one for non existent multiplayer mode.

The game is competent, and has some great music, the humour feels a bit poor, and the levels are quite bland. It only cost me £5, I would say if you see it for that price then it is worth picking up, but I wouldn't recommend paying much more for it.


Monday, 15 February 2010

The Wolfman (2010) - Horror Film Review

First of all, the cinema I saw this in was the hottest cinema ever, the heating was on full blast, and it was packed with people, there were literally people bursting into flames. As a result I could not wait for the film to end, so that might be reflected in my thoughts of it.

The Wolfman is a Werewolf film *shock*. It stars Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot. He has returned to his family home after many many years after hearing via his brother Ben's fiancee (played by the beautiful Emily Blunt) that his brother has gone missing. Upon arriving he discovers from his weird distant father (Antony Hopkins) that Ben was found dead, seemingly due to a wild animal attack. Lawrence decides to stay and discover just what really happened. Before long he has been attacked by the animal, and discovers to his horror that he is now a Werewolf.

The film is quite average to be honest. It is set in oldie style England, and looks the part, but the plot is very obvious with no real surprises. Del Toro brings nothing to his character, neither likeable, or dislikeable, which makes it hard to understand why a love story develops between him and his brothers fiancĂ©e. Hopkins is ok as the distant Dad, the rest of the cast are quite bland also. Hugo Weaving is the exception though, he is great as Inspector Abberline, and brings a cool factor to the character, remaining calm when everything goes to Hell, and also being flawed in his narrow views.

There is lots of cool violence. Heads are severed, limbs are torn off people, intestines spilt. Despite this though there is a lack of blood which reduces any sense of realism. Corpses look fantastic, but not so much fresh violence. Some inventive ways of killing people.
The Werewolf is great until you actually see it. It reminded me of Teenwolf, the Werewolf still being mostly clothed, the transformation effects are impressive though. I know it's based on the look of the Werewolf in the classic Universal original, but meh anyway; Cool teeth though! The Werewolf action scenes are the highlight of the film though, especially the exciting running battle between the Werewolf, Abberline and his Officers in London.

An ok film, but nothing special, I will admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the Werewolf as a monster.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bioshock 2 (2010) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Have not done a post in quite a bit, so apologies I guess. As I have said in my last post, I love Bioshock. Bioshock 2 is the sequel that no one asked for. The first game was such a complete experience that it was generally accepted that any further games would dilute the fresh feel and even potentially destroy the feeling of Rapture.

The game is set ten years after the events of Bioshock. You play as a recently awakened prototype Big Daddy (huge lumbering monsters in giant armoured diving suits), named Delta. A decade earlier you had seemingly died at the hands of Bioshock 2's main antagonist; a British psychologist called Lamb, whose daughter (turned into a Little Sister; another monstrous being) was under your protection. Now you are awake for reasons unknown and on a mission to get to Lamb and rescue 'your' Little Sister.

The story is not as good as that of the first game. Lamb is a compelling character with her dreams of unity, the Splicers are under her control and with them she is trying to establish a basically communist family where everyone is equal. The reasons she wasn't around in the first game are fine, but being such a big rival of Andrew Ryan's she does feel a bit shoehorned in as she was not mentioned at all by him in that one, and it just seemed it was him VS Fontaine.

There are many more audio diaries this time around, around one hundred and fifteen of the things. They are interesting though, and do give insight into the world of Rapture, but are mostly centered around Rapture after its fall. Characters from the first game turn up in the audio diaries, Andrew Ryan being the best return.

Quite a few references to the first game make an appearance. As well as audio diaries there are also posters and such that reference characters, as well as locations. The best being (light spoiler) a religion a priest has created that revolves around the hero of Bioshock.

The locations are not as good this time around. The levels revolve around Raptures older areas, and poorer areas accessed by a train. The locations are very decrepit, and rough. The worst location for me in Bioshock was the housing area due to the darkened ruins, and Bioshock 2 has nothing but these locations. There is nothing that comes close to rivalling Fort Frolic. It does make sense as it is over ten years since the Rapture civilisation collapsed, but disappointing nonetheless.

A lot of the old weapons make comebacks, and are as good as they ever were, some new as well (such as the fantastic harpoon gun, and drill arm). The plasmids are mostly the same, though have been altered to balance them out a bit (for instance frozen enemies now drop items). The new plasmids are cool, but do nothing really exciting.

There are more variety of enemies now. Along with the Splicers there are now bulky Splicers who are immensely powerful. There are more Big Daddies around now, as well as their lithe female equivalent Big Sisters. As you yourself are a Big Daddy they are no longer the scary threat they once were, and can be taken down quite easily. They have lost the fear factor, but are still fantastic enemies.

The morality of whether to harvest or save Little Sisters returns with an added mini game of protecting them while they harvest Adam from bodies. Also more interesting morality choices turn up that are not as black and white. These choices result in one of four endings which gives replay value.

Bioshock 2 features multiplayer. The multiplayer is the usual deathmatch things, and is ok, but nothing special. What is interesting is that there is story around it. Getting your characters levelled up opens up audio diaries, so if I do play the multiplayer it will be for that reason only.

Bioshock 2 is technically a better game than Bioshock, but it is a worse experience, as the wonderful world of Rapture fades away a bit in place of more combat and gameplay. Still a great game when compared to others of its genre.


Update 09/01/22: I never did play any multiplayer!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bioshock (2007) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Someone I work with who is more into games than the average person, but still quite casual was recently faced with the prospect of getting either Bioshock or Fracture. He chose Fracture, I was astounded. Speaking to him about his decision he said it was because he thought Bioshock was a kids game based on the fact that the 'Little Sisters' are children. Needless to say I executed him for crimes against reason. 

I have recently been playing back through Bioshock in readiness for Bioshock 2. It is still a fantastic game, just as good as it always was. What still amazes me is what a real location Rapture feels like. The places you visit are jammed with small details, and the voice recordings really create a sense of what pre madness life was like. With water everywhere it is impossible to forget that Rapture is an underwater City, wondrous.

In the game you play as a survivor of a plane that has crashed into the sea. You head towards a mysterious Tower you spot. Inside you discover a Bathysphere. Climbing inside it starts to descend, an automatic message from a man called Andrew Ryan plays informing you that you are heading to Rapture; a secret underwater city where he and others headed to escape the confines of world society. Arriving in Rapture you see that the whole place has gone to ruins, roving 'Splicers' (people turned psychotically violent due to messing with their genetic code) lurk everywhere. A man called Atlas contacts you by radio and tells you if you help him and his family escape Rapture then you can also go with him. The ruler of Rapture - Andrew Ryan on the other hand is convinced you are a CIA or Russian agent sent to infiltrate the city and take its secrets, and so unleashes his Splicer army after you.

The game of course is a first person shooter (FPS) with RPG elements. Your weapons are split into two types - conventional guns, and plasmids. Conventional guns such as shotguns and machine guns can hold many different ammo types (such as anti-personnel and armour piercing). Plasmids are the games 'magic' these are genetic changing perks that give you a variety of abilities, everything from firing fire, electricity and ice out of your hand to gaining telekinesis and controlling enemies. The plasmids in particular give you a variety of ways to defeat the mutant enemies. For instance you can set an enemy on fire causing him to leap into the nearest pool of water to extinguish the flames, then electrocute the water frying him, or turn an enemy into a block of ice, and then smash him to pieces with your wrench.

The enemies are well realised, they are the former citizens of Rapture, now insane, they constantly speak babble, revealing hints of who they used to be and what they have lost as they do so. The best enemies and the most iconic are the 'Big Daddy's'. These are huge monster type giants in bulky diving suits, armed with a giant drill, or grenade launcher. They protect the 'Little Sisters' (possessed girls who harvest ADAM from corpses; ADAM being the highly addictive drug used for splicing). Until you actually bother them they are neutral, but as soon as you disturb them they go insane. Incredibly powerful and damage resistant each one is a real challenge to defeat.

The game looks fantastic, there is a 1950's steam punk look to the whole game, and the music fits the period well also with lots of orchestral ambiance. The plot is amazing, so much all comes together to make Rapture seem like such a realistic place, a fantastic achievement. Twists galore, mostly known now, but I won't ruin them here. If you have not played Bioshock you need to, it is an essential purchase!