Monday, 31 May 2010

Alien Breed Evolution: Episode 1 (2009-10) - Video Game Review (X-Box 360)

When I was a teen I briefly owned an Amiga, the games I had on that included Alien Breed 1, and 2.  These were overhead adventure games in which you were a soldier working your way through a base fighting what looked suspiciously like the creatures from the Alien. Each floor of the base was made up of lots of rooms and corridors that you had to work your way through. I remember it being really hard as the enemies were very numerous.

Alien Breed Evolution on X-Box Live Arcade is a remake, or rather a rebirth for the series. The ship you are a passenger on; The Leopald (I think) comes out of hyperspace only to crash into a gigantic derelict space hulk that hadn't shown on the scanners. Your ship is firmly wedged in the side of the hulk. To make matters worse it seems the hulk was home to millions of insectoid aliens. Now they have invaded the Leopald and are killing everyone in sight. To make matters e-v-e-n more worse both your ship, and the space hulk are on a collision course with a nearby planet. As veteran soldier Conrad you must follow the instructions of a robot to restore stability to the ship, and to extradite the ship from the hulk.

The game is an isometric 3D action adventure game. Each level is set on a different floor of the ship and involves you doing a shed load of menial tasks to restore power and systems to the rapidly collapsing ship, while fighting off hordes of aliens that burrow out of the ground and climb out of the walls. The game was made using the Unreal Engine, so it looks really good, again proving how versatile the Unreal Engine is. Lighting and shadows are fantastic, the explosions, electricity, and objects really bring a sense of reality to the ship, it feels like your on a real spacecraft (one with absolutely no toilets nonetheless)

There are quite a lot of aliens, but to be honest they all look pretty much identical. As well as facehugger type critters (complete with pods they crawl out of) there are human size enemies that mostly attack by charging you. You have an Aliens style scanner in the top right of the screen, you will spend a heck of a lot of time keeping one beady eye on this for the tell tale red bleep that indicates a incoming enemy. Instead of all their bizarre real time strategy, and first person shooters the holders of the Aliens licence should really make a game in this style, as this is one of the most Alien like games I have ever played.

You have access to quite a few weapons. As well as an infinite ammo pistol you also get a machine gun, rifle, shotgun, laser gun, and more. Frag grenades and stun grenades show up in your secondary items, as do sentry guns, and first aid kits. The aliens die in satisfying piles of goo.

The story is pretty weak during levels, though is some entertaining comic book style exposition during levels. There are logs hidden through the game, but rather than have story these disappointingly just provide information on the various enemy types. There are non player characters that appear in levels, but for the most part these are there only so that you can see them killed in various ways by the aliens with no chance to save them.

The game is two player, but as usual I don't have any friends to play this mode with. I can guess it would probably be quite fun in two player (update: I once tried this in two player but my friend had no idea what he was doing which led to frustration). The game can get a bit samey, only the last level really has a different look, and you spend most the game taking out the enemies in the exact same fashion.

Alien Breed Evolution was real fun though, it is just the first part of a trilogy so ends on a cliff-hanger with the story not complete. The game took around 5 hours to do, so for 800 Microsoft points it isn't bad (if it was 800, I can't recall). Sci-fi horror done well then, I look forward to episode 2.


Sunday, 30 May 2010

[REC] 2 - Zombie Film Review

Rec 2 is the sequel to the cult classic; the Spanish horror film Rec.  The film takes place literally straight after the end of the first film.  Again it uses the Blair Witch style of 'found footage' to bring you right into the action.

After a brief sequence showing the end of the first film the action goes to a SWAT van were a small SWAT team are on their way to the doomed building.  Once there they are tasked with protecting a Government Agent who needs to enter the building and assess the situation.  However once inside things quickly go South (my new fave phrase) which is to be expected with a place full of psychotic plague victims (zombies).  While this is all happening a group of dumb teens (also with camera) think it will be hilarious to sneak into the apartment building to see whats going on. 

The film is more fragmented than last time.  Each SWAT member has their own helmet mounted camera.  Their story goes on for perhaps a third of the film, then the film goes back to the start, this time showing events from the pesky teens perspective.  It's cool how it does this as sounds heard in the distance are now shown, so is clever how this was integrated.  Later yet another camera makes an appearance. WARNING; after the picture there will be spoilers, so if you have any interest in seeing this film then STOP READING!

This film is still horror, but is no longer a zombie film! In a cool early twist it is revealed that rather than plague victims the virus being spread is actually Demonic possession!  The Government Agent reveals himself to be a Priest, and lots of Exorcist style praying, and possessions go on, making the film like a Blair Witch style Exorcist rather than a 28 Days Later style zombie flick.  The zombies are able to be stopped by exorcism rites.  This was a development I really hadn't expected.  While it was a bit disappointing to see the Zombies relegated to Demons this was well handled with the SWAT team at first thinking the Priest is mad, but coming to the realisation that what he is saying is real.

I had expected the film to be boring as it was set in the same location as the first, but it really wasn't.  There are lots and lots of references to Rec which was to be expected, but lots of zombies are still banging around from that, and some of the more bizarre later stuff is explained.  The fate of the reporter is also revealed, was cool to see her again!  The film is more violent, with obviously a much higher budget, and has some scenes that seem directly lifted from Quarantine (such as snipers shooting at survivors who go near the windows).

The film is the length of a normal film this time around, being near an hour and a half.  The film also has a much bigger dark humorous streak to it.  The fat zombie woman from Rec is still charging around, and the film seems to have a cheeky nod to how unkillable she was by again getting her repeatedly beaten only for her to comically reappear later on (while the other zombies for the most part die normally)  The teens have a lot of dark humour surrounding them also (such as a boy who finds a pistol, and then keeps accidentally firing it off every now and again).

The characters are cool, but never as likable as the lot in the first film.  The SWAT team are pretty faceless, though the way they react to the events that happen are believable.  The Priest on the other hand is annoying,  mostly for the fact that the SWAT team can only be evacuated by his signal, so he pretty much blackmails them into helping him complete his stupid mission.  The teens are really stupid and annoying, but it is pleasureable to see them collapse in panic as it is totally their fault they are in the situation.Unlike every other character who entered the building for noble reasons, or unknowingly, the teens purposely entered a building sealed off by the military as they somehow thought it would be funny to do so.

The film leaves a cliff hanger that totally sets up a sequel, though whether this actually happens or not who knows?  Well worth watching if you were a fan of the original.  Not as good, but then sequels generally aren't


Saturday, 29 May 2010

[REC] - Zombie Film Review

Rec is the film that the American made Quarantine was based on.  The film was made in Spain, and so is in Spanish with English subtitles.

The plot, and what happens is identical to Quarantine, so for more details look at that review.  Basically a reporter and her cameraman enter a apartment building on the trail of a Fire crew they are following.  Some sort of highly contagious virus is loose in the building, and as a result the building is sealed off by the military.

The whole film is shot Blair Witch style from the perspective of the cameraman.  The film is only 74 minutes long, so runs at a far quicker pace than the sometimes stretched out Quarantine.  Many times the camera cuts out and comes back at a different point, as such it does not feel as much real time as Quarantine which never cut out at all (as far as I can remember).  The effects are obviously not as good, being a film with a much smaller budget, but they are effective regardless.  The zombies (well, infected people) look great, especially the zombie child.

Quarantine is the more exciting film to watch due to quite a lot of stuff added.  There are no lifts full of dogs, or crazed rats in this film, or death via camera, but the films shortness really ramps up the horror.  It was interesting that the cause of the virus was different in this film which was cool.  The acting seemed good (hard to tell being in Spanish) and the main character of the reporter was again very effectively played.

I plan to go to Milton Keynes tomorrow to watch Rec 2 that has just come out.  Apparently that film starts 5 minutes after the end of this one.  No doubt the fate of the apartment dwellers will be revealed.  Cannot wait! (provided I can afford to drive to MK)


Ninja Blade - Action Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Ninja Blade is a action platformer brawler, much in the vein of Devil May Cry, and Ninja Gaiden.  Unlike those Ninja Blade is far more accessible, and dare I say it fun.

Basically Tokyo has become the centre of a biological attack.  Parasitic worms that are able to infect people and mutate them into monstrous beasts have invaded the area, and so downtown Tokyo has been evacuated.  You play as Ken Ogawa who along with a squad of highly trained Ninja Warriors has been air dropped into the area to destroy the parasites.  Things quickly turn sour as the squad leader Kanbe Ogawa (Kens father) and one of the squads most skilled warriors Kuroh Sakamoto turn rogue; butchering the entire squad before heading off into the night leaving Ken for dead.  Ken is rescued by the squads Director Michael Wilson, and now Ken is tasked with destroying the plague all by himself.  If he fails then Tokyo is to be obliterated to contain the breakout.

The game is very fun, and accessible.  Ken is a joy to control.  He is armed with three types of sword; a basic sword, a quick weak sword combo, and a heavy stone sword that can destroy armour.  The quick sword can also be used to grapple onto specific buildings, and the stone sword is able to destroy certain types of wall.  Ken also has magic in the form of elemental shurikens.  He has a lightning based one that can electrocute enemies, a fire based one that can set enemies on fire, as well as destroy obstructions, and finally a wind based one that can put out fires.  Ken also has access to Ninja Vision which is basically bullet time.

Levels are quite varied despite all taking place in Tokyo.  There are lots of levels set on the rooftops, but also levels on a motorway, sewers, office block, and subway.  The levels mostly consist of 3 main parts.  The platforming part sees Ken traversing the crumbling landscape, he is able to do classic Ninja wall runs, as well as swing on poles, and run up walls.  The next part of the levels are the enemy encounters.  For the most part you face various types of mutated zombie like humans.  Some have stone shields, others have sharp claws, and others still fire projectiles at you from a safe distance (though you are able to hit the projectiles back at them).  QTE's are the third main type of game.  Quick Time Events are littered heavily throughout the game.  The first thing you do in the game involves a QTE, as does the very last thing.  For the most part they are quite easy, and the buttons correspond to what you are doing on screen.  You do some crazy things during QTE's such as riding a motorbike up various vehicles, objects, and pavement thrown at you, and leaping from point to point on a collapsing tower.  There are also on rails sections where you take control of a gun either in an armoured van, or on a helicopter, these are quite fun.

For the most part bosses are what you spend most your time fighting.  Usually the boss will turn up at various points in the level causing havoc before retreating.  One level sees you chasing mutated Yakuza bosses along a highway, another sees a giant stone golem ripping apart a building you are in for instance.  The bosses are real fun to fight, usually gigantic.  Either monsters, or more human like mutated humans, all are defeated by initiating a final QTE attack.  There is a bit of blood during the game, but for the most part enemies evaporate in a rush of yellow orbs (orbs can be collected to upgrade your weapons, as well as get back health and magic).  A special shout out most go out to the fabulous giant armoured spider, that is killed by giant wrecking ball, and later in the game by a massive industrial fan, very cool!

The games plot is barmy, and completely stupid and over the top, yet the game takes itself very seriously that adds to the charm.  Weather you are fighting zombie helicopters (for real!) or gigantic worms the characters of the world act 100% seriously.

The game is really fun, and a much more enjoyable alternate to the brutally hard Ninja Gaiden.  With lots of items, and clothes hidden throughout the game world there is a lot of reasons to come back to the game.  It is also quite cheap now!


Thursday, 27 May 2010

Dark Remains (2005) - Horror Film Review

Dark Remains is an American ghost film, made in 2005.  It has somehow won two different awards for best horror film.  The film is cheaply made, but does look good.

It starts with a montage of two people committing suicide; a man shoots himself in the face, while a woman slits her wrists whilst in a bathtub.  Next we see a young couples child being brutally murdered.  The couple; Julie (Cheri Christian), and Allen Pyke (Greg Thompson) have moved to a cabin in the middle of nowhere at the top of a mountain. Allen hopes the change of location will help his severely depressed wife recover from the incident, while for him it is a chance to escape the city (various people think that he murdered the child, and his wife herself blames him as she reckons he accidentally left the front door to their apartment unlocked).  Soon after getting there a series of supernatural events happen.  Doors open and close on their own, and Julie is able to see the body of her dead child in photos she takes (she is a professional photographer).  As Julie becomes more obsessed with the mountain Allen starts to research the mountains past, and discovers a unusually high number of deaths and suicides in the area over the years.

This is very much a ghost film, and brings to mind the Japanese style of ghost films.  The ghosts are angry spirits, and seem to openly hate the living.  As such they look similar to the Japanese ghosts, especially the ghost of the lady who died falling down some stairs who crawls around crab like much like the woman from The Grudge.  There are quite a few different ghosts, all attracted to the mountain, most specifically the couples cabin, as well as a nearby abandoned prison.

The scary effects are for the most part quite lame.  Most the creeps coming from suddenly opening or shutting doors, and ghost wandering around in the background, or appearing in reflections from mirrors.  The ghosts who appear in Julies photos are the best, which leads to an ace part when Allen flicks through all the photos Julie has taken (which up to that point had been shown ghost-less).  Despite being scary looking the ghosts appear quite powerless, needing to possess people to get them to do anything.  It's a cool idea that only unhappy people can see the ghosts.

The acting is quite good, Julie in particular as the very depressed wife sleep walks through her role, but that's how her character is supposed to be.  The local rednecks are cool, if lacking in screen time, the character of Allen is probably the weakest, as he does come across as quite annoying.  The film is never really scary, a few goose bumps, but for the most part it fails.  The plot is basic, but has some interesting, if not particularly exciting twists to it.

Not a bad film, and reminded me of Cursed Mountain; a Wii Survival Horror game that I have yet to play, but hope it's like this film.  The film is an 18, but am not really sure why.  The film is also quite triggering with people cutting their wrists in bloody fashion.

The DVD has over 2 hours of extras, but I wasn't that interested in the film to watch any of these.


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Virgin Railways Zombie Ad

While I hate to advertise Virgin, their recent web-verts have been quite cool due to inclusion of zombies.  I have seen 2 of them so far.  In the first a motorway with cars full of zombies is shown before going to an advert for Virgin Railway.  The other advert I have seen is a car with a zombie couple in.  Dragging a bar across the ad reveals the same cxouple, but now Human and in a train.  See what you think...

The ace music is from the soundtrack to Persona 4, the track is called 'Pursuing my True Self' and is by Shoji Meguro.  It's nice that Virgin have jumped on the back end of the Zombie bandwagon I guess, getting the word out about the awesomeness of zombies!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Deadgirl (2008) - Zombie Film Review

Deadgirl is certainly an original zombie film, I will give it that.  It is also well made, it's just that it requires you to accept it's massive plot holes which if thought about could ruin the whole thing as they are very big holes indeed!  The film features such bad topics such as rape and necrophilia, or rather a collection of the two that I have termed Necro-rape.

In this yarn two 17 year old school kids are truanting from school.  Due to the hot weather they decide to go to an abandoned mental hospital where they get up to some hi jinks before being chased by a wild dog down some tunnels where they come across a well locked room.  Inside they find a girl covered in plastic and chained to a table.  One of the boys - Rickie (a dead ringer for a young Joaquin Phoenix, or maybe Gerald Way) is quite unsettled and wants to free the girl and escape as he thinks that whoever put the girl here may come back.  The other boy; JT instead decides that as the girl is naked (forgot to mention that) and locked up in a place no one knows about that they should take advantage of the situation and have their way with the attractive (well moderately pretty) prisoner.  A scuffle breaks out and Rickie storms off wanting nothing to do with JT's sick idea.  The rest of the film is centered around the room the girl is in, and the sordid acts JT and friends do to the girl, while Rickie wrestles with his conscience and has a sub plot involving a high school girl he has a crush on.  Memory like a goldfish! Sorry, the chained girl is also a zombie and cannot be killed, and she is able to infect others through biting.

Rape is a central theme of this film.  JT initially discovers the girl is dead after snapping her neck while trying to rape her.  After he finds out she is a brain dead ghoul he sees nothing wrong with treating her like a sex slave, and treats her as if she is an object to be used for his and his friends amusement.  Reasoning that they are not actually raping the creature as it is not alive he has no qualms in descending into sordidness (later in the film he has somehow acquired a smoking jacket, and arm chair which completes his disgusting sordid image).  The character of Rickie is very flawed.  Rickie having been best friends with JT most his life cannot bring himself to report the situation (not that I think he could as the town seems to have a non existent police force; more on that later).  He is sickened by his friends actions, and wants nothing to do with it, though keeps visiting the room in efforts to free the dead girl, and to convince JT to come to his senses.  Overall Rickie is just a coward, too scared to stop what he knows is wrong, and getting shades of stuffing knocked out of him by the high school jock whose girlfriend he coverts.  It's only when he is forced into action that he can actually act in a reasonable way, and then it is for just selfish reasons, as the ending reveals.

The zombie girl is different to other zombies in that she is not totally brain dead.  She cannot talk, but seems to understand some speech, and is visibly upset whenever she is abused, struggling at her bonds, and gnashing her teeth.  She also seems to recognise that Rickie is trying to help her.  Her wounds don't heal, but her skin isn't rotting, making her seem almost human if not for the blood red eyes, and sharp teeth.

The acting is really good for the most part, the two jocks coming across as quite stereotypical, but most the characters feel quite real.  The film does ask you to accept that someone finding a chained girl would decide to keep her rather than free her or alert the authorities.  The film builds up nicely and subtlety leading to a natural blood soaked and ultra violent ending.  The soundtrack throughout is perfect also, reminding me a bit of Donnie Darko with the style.

There are some problems with the film though.  One of which is the amount of quiet talking.  The character JT is really hard to hear a lot of the time as he damn near whispers all his lines.  The film has major plot holes.  There seems to be no police in the town, with a huge amount of missing people, the ending in particular just collapses if you think rationally about the events.  JT and his Jay-like friend concoct a ridiculous plan towards the films end that is just stupid, and goes so far past their necro-rape obsession, yet they don't even seem to consider their actions.  Lots of plot holes; eg: how did a wild dog get into a heavily boarded up mental asylum in the first place?

The whole film could be seen as an analogy for teenagers hormonal changes; how males just see females as lumps of meat, and their twisted ideas of what it is to be grown up.  No character comes out clean.  Even Rickie's love interest; a seemingly sweet girl is content to date an obviously awful, bullying jock, though it is nice to not see the usual love story angle, in that the girl is legitimately unattainable for the coverter no matter what he does, or wishes.

A good film, obviously a bit of a dodgy subject, but reflecting back, it was a unique ride.  Certainly not a cheerful film, but reminded me of specks of some of Shakespeare's flawed hero tales such as Hamlet.


Saturday, 22 May 2010

My other Zombie T-Shirt

This is my other zombie T-Shirt, it is plain black, and has a white box on the front that reads 'Future Survivor of the Zombie Apocalypse' and has a picture of a crowd of brain dead zombies.  Another quite cheeky short post, but it's too hot to write, the stench from the undead is too distracting!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Living Dead Girl - Music Video by Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie is my favourite director, the above is the music video for the amazing Living Dead Girl music video he made.  In the video a sideshow magician resurrects a dead woman for the crowds pleasure.  Wonderful song, and great video.  Also; Lazy Post!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Condemned: Criminal Origins (2005) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

I can honestly say that this is one of my favourite videogames ever.  I utterly love this game!  It was one of the launch titles for the 360, yet is still an amazing and terrifying game, and highly atmospheric.

You play as Ethan Thomas; an FBI Agent who is part of the Serial Crimes Unit. The game starts with you and some fellow officers investigating a crime scene involving a victim of a serial killer known as 'The Match Maker'. Things soon go south as your fellow officers are murdered and you are framed for their deaths. Now on the run from the police you are on an urgent mission to track down the real murderer and clear your name.

The game is played out in first person, but is not a first person shooter. Instead the game is a first person brawler. You must use the environment around you as weapons. For the most part iron bars, planks of wood, and fixtures will be your main weapon as you take on the degenerates of the grim city the game takes place in. Enemies for the most part consist of murderous druggies, and psychotic tramps. In their rage they wildly swing their weapons, and just as eagerly fight each other as fight you. The enemies have real urgency and madness to their attacks. They shout and taunt you from the shadows then rush out swinging wildly. They use feints to make you vulnerable, they run off and hide in ambush, they are really insane.

The locations are what makes the game so damn scary. As the title suggests the game takes place in purely run down, abandoned, and condemned buildings. Starting off in a quite bland apartment building locations soon get really good. A gutted library, a boarded up high school, a large department store kitted out in full creepy Christmas getup all ooze atmosphere. You are armed with a flashlight for the games duration. You really need it, as turning it off makes the levels pretty much legitimately pitch black. The game for the most part is silent, no background music at all. The subways give you the distant rumbling of trams, while the department store features distorted Christmas music pumping out the ruined speakers.

The story is utterly compelling. Your initial chase of the cop killer (who comes to be known as Serial Killer X) through the sewers is fantastic as you gradually track down clues to his identity, and hideout. You have help in the form of a suspicious old man called Van Horne who professed to know your parents, as well as Rosa; a fellow FBI Agent who helps you via mobile phone for the game. The story has intelligent and logical twists, yet never truly explains anything, leaving you confused, and wanting to know more. Cryptic snippets of seemingly unrelated info are provided during the level loading screens, and during the levels there are dead birds, and plaques of metal you can collect for achievements that also are somehow related to the main plot.

The game isn't all action though. Levels have some basic puzzles. Some doors cannot be opened unless you have the right tool. Some doors require a fire axe to smash through, others are padlocked and require a sledgehammer to destroy the lock, while other gates and doors require crowbars, and spades to get through. Every so often you will come across scenes of interest which sees you enter exploration mode. These only require you to get in the correct position and press X, but feature a variety of different things such as taking photos of clues, or using a UV light to trace blood stains and follow them to progress.

The game has a hell of a lot of weapons you can use. Everything from mannequin arms to paper cutters can be used as weapons. All connect with brutal sound effects, and get covered in blood, they really sound vicious. Guns also feature but in very limited amounts, and usually in the arms of enemies. For the main part guns consist of pistols and shotguns. They have very limited ammo, and there is not spare ammo laying around anywhere making them like gold dust. You are also armed with a taser that can be fired once before needing to recharge. Tasered enemies get stunned giving you a few seconds to snatch their weapons off of them.

The game also has a supernatural angle to it. Frequently the game will change to black and white as Ethan gets premonitions, or visions of past events, and imaginary murders. It is never clear if this is real, or part of Ethan's mind. You are frequently tricked into attacking non existent enemies, and walls and doors changing places. Later levels the enemies get less and less human like, they skitter along on the ground like crabs, and have odd metal objects stuck in their flesh, perhaps reflecting the characters deteriorating mind.

I really really love this game, it is fantastic. The sequel Condemned 2 was a huge disappointment to me, but I will soon give it another try.  The problem I had with the sequel was it knowingly tried to be scary, and explained far too much of the plot, somewhat ruining the mystery of Condemned in the process with it's kooky X-Files style shenanigans. Condemned is a must buy, and is one of the scariest games I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Essential.


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Overlord - Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Overlord came out quite early in the 360's life, and so has a few technical issues that just wouldn't cut it today. Overlord is a humourous action/strategy fantasy game set in a very Fable-esque world.  It is also avaliable on the PS3, and on PC.

The game starts with you being resurrected by some faithful minions (gremlin type creatures).  You are an evil Overlord, sometime in the past a band of Heroes attacked your fortress, destroyed it and killed you.  As a newly resurrected Overlord your mission is to get revenge on the Heroes that killed you, as well as recruit minions to your cause.

As mentioned the game takes place in a fantasy setting.  Everything is bright and colourful, and humourous.  This is not a serious game.  The character you control is a blank slate; a walking suit of armour, armed with either a club, sword or mace.  The Overlord himself is quite weak.  The game is based around Minions.  You get 4 different types through the course of the game.  Initially you can only have a maximum of 5, but this increases.  Brown minions are the basic grunts, they are good at combat.  Green minions are immune to poison, they leap on enemies to attack.  Red minions are fire proof.  They can throw fire balls, as well as walk on fire, and put out flames.  Lastely are the blue minions.  Blue minions can go in water, and they can also resurrect fallen comrades.  The main part of the game is correctly directing these monsters to best effect.  There are many basic switch type puzzles through the game.

The game takes in many locations.  Starting off with a hobbit village, later levels see you wade through dark swamps in the Elf kingdom, fight through the quary and halls of the Dwarfs, and destroy a zombie apocalypse taking place in a large Human City.  The enemies are varied and include a variety of insects, humanoids, and monsters such as Ogres, Succubus's, and Giant floating eyeball creatures.  There are a variety of boss fights throughout the game, usually involving one of the Heroes responsible for your original demise.  The Heroes have all fallen to the dark side, and by killing them you are actually making the kingdom a better place.  The Dwarf Hero for example has become obsessed with gold.  He has made slaves of the Elfs to mine for more of the stuff.

The game has many RPG elements.  Finding items in the levels rewards you with more options at the hub level of the fortress.  At the fortress you can craft new armour, and weapons, as well as buy decorations for the place, and level up the power of your minions.  Every so often you will come across a moral choice that changes how characters react to you.  One early example sees you with the option to either take a food store for yourself, or give it to some villagers.  If you are worshipped you get more gold, yet if you instead choose to kill people then you get more life force that can be used to recruit more minions.

The game is fun but does suffer from some performance issues, most notably there are quite long load times between levels.  The whole stratergy element of the game is quite watered down, but still I got in situations where my minions were getting themselves killed much faster than I could manage the, leading to some frustrating moments.  I have the sequal which I will play one day.  Hopefully it fixes some of the issues I had with the game.

The game is quite long, taking me nearly 24 hours to finish, but is interesting throughout.  Just be aware that there is not a lot of fighting you actually do yourself.  You do get access to magic, but I found none of the offensive spells that useful.  It can also be a long process to visit previous areas to build up your minion reserves.  This becomes especially apparant towards the games end when I had to spend a good few hours basically grinding to build up my minion reserves.  Still; the game has lots and lots of zombies in it!


Monday, 17 May 2010

Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave - Zombie Horror Film Review

This was filmed at the same time as Return of the Living Dead 4, I was expecting perhaps a sequel or something as a heck of a lot of the same actors are in this.  Instead the film makers have gone for an 'alternate' reality take, much like Return of the Living Dead 2 did (featuring the same characters in different roles).  Where Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis was a traditional zombie tale this one has a different slant.

The actor who played Cody in the last film again resumes his role.  This time his creepy Uncle is killed off in the first five minutes of the film.  Investigating his house Cody and his Girlfriend come across a secret room where the final few ill fated canisters (the cause of the zombie outbreaks in the previous 4 films) are stored.  They decide to get their Science student friend (another character from 4) to find out what is in the canisters.  He discovers there is a liquid which has Ecstasy type qualities.  Assuring Cody he will look after the canister he instead uses it to make hundreds of hallucinogenic drugs he calls 'Z'.  Pretty soon zombies are popping up all over the College Campus, it seems who ever tries 'Z' eventually turns into a brain hungry zombie.  Two trigger happy Interpol Agents are on the case, together with Cody and company they head to a Rave where all Hell breaks loose.

The film has a different style to that of 4, but it is easy to see that they are related.  For one, as mentioned a lot of characters from Necropolis turn up here.  It's fun to see the evil Uncle get his comeuppance even if he is in a different reality.  Also one of the survivors from Necropolis is killed quite early on in the film.

The film actually has a message this time; the evil of drugs.  I don't do drugs, but I'm far less likely to after seeing the effects they can have on people!  The zombies get lots and lots of brains, while the ravers mostly don't even realise they are being attacked until it's too late. The whole last third of the film takes place at this very crowded outside rave during Halloween.  Party goers are completely mixed in with the zombies, along with the loud music and flashing lights leads to complete chaos.  There is one excellent sequence shot in a pitch black room, illuminated just by strobe lighting, very classy!

The film has a lot of humour running through it, more so than Necropolis.  The two Interpol Agents play off each other very well, posing for photos with the canister they discover, and using extreme over kill on the zombies they encounter (for instance using a rocket launcher to take out a car full of zombies).  There is a lot of humour directed towards the zombies, such as numerous characters misunderstanding what the ghouls mean when they shout brains.

There are literally hundreds of cast in this film, far more than Necropolis, yet it seems that even less actors are able to speak English.  There are around seven or eight characters maximum out of a cast of hundreds who don't have thick foreign accents! Impressive.

The zombies do not look anywhere near as good as Necropolis.  Most the zombie makeup is just that; make up, a few have very poor looking latex effects.  I guess it can be explained in that all the zombies are made so by the 'Z' drug rather than other infection type, but still.  There is far more nudity this time around.  Seeing as the last film had none this is not surprising, but by the end of the film around ten different females have seen the need to whip their tops off at various points (including at least one female zombie, or zom-babe I guess!)  On the violence side of things there are numerous head chomps, a few decapitations, and a few inventive deaths (such as pens through both ears, drum sticks through the eyes!

A enjoyable film, but I couldn't help but feel a bit let down after the greatness of Necropolis.  Still, a cool flick, a great rock soundtrack, and plenty of action.  Warning though; this film has the stupidest ending ever!


Sunday, 16 May 2010

Avatars, Ghosts'n Zombies (2010) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

How I must suffer for my blog.  Avatars, Ghost'n Zombies is an XBox Indie game, costs 80 Microsoft points, and is as boring as Hell itself.

The game has a brief opening story of an alien invasion consisting of ectoplasmic ghosts. You are represented by your 'avatar' (which is cool) and your mission is to 'capture' all the ghosts, while killing the zombies. There are fifty seven levels set over seven different areas. The game is very easy, though I didn't see the end as a game killing bug bizarrely made the graphics disappear, but left movement and sound intact, rendering the game even more unplayable.

You have a variety of guns, each suited for different enemies. The red ectoplasm must be carried to an incinerator, the blue ones must be expanded till they explode, the green ectoplasm must be shrunk and then squashed, the brown and purple ones beaten up via fists, and the yellow kamikaze ones just avoided. Each gun has limited ammo, but there is an energy gun that can explode any colour. Zombies must be incinerated via your flame thrower.

The games seven different areas are different in graphics only. Whether you are fighting the ectoplasm on the beach, or in frozen wastes it is identical, and the layout of the level is identical. There are several different types of level in each set of rounds. In some you must survive until the time limit passes, in others you must capture all the ghosts, in others you must defeat a boss (a flying saucer).

The game is played from an overhead perspective on a square map. Annoyingly the edges of the map are invisible, so you often find yourself bouncing off of nothing. The collision detection is truly dreadful, you rebound off objects as if there is a force field there. The game is really boring, and does not have enough ideas for its endless levels.

Avatars, Ghosts 'n Zombies is only single player which is a shame, as I could see the game being a small bit of fun if there was more than one player. The zombies only play a very small role in this game, the main enemy by far being the ectoplasmic ghosts. Very boring, not recommended!


Saturday, 15 May 2010

Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis - Zombie Horror Film Review

Just watched Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis which is the fourth film in the Return series.  I had heard that this, and five were both truly dreadful films, but I really enjoyed this!

Set at least ten years after part three, the film starts with a dodgy American buying the last remaining zombie canisters (the cause of the outbreaks in the previous films). The American is a head scientist at a mega corporation which makes everything from weapons to food stuffs.  A group of teenagers discover their injured friend was secretly taken to the corporation HQ rather than being dead like the Hospital told them.  They decide to get their friend back by sneaking into the facility.  Due to the crappy security they easily get in, where they discover from the shady scientist (the main characters uncle) that many many test subjects have been experimented on, turned into brain hungry zombies.  If that wasn't bad enough; the security system has failed releasing the hundreds of zombies.

The film is really fun, and is a classic story that doesn't attempt anything new.  There are nods to the previous films in the form of the canisters themselves, as well as zombie cyborgs that Part 3 introduced.  This time however the zombies are no longer immune to head shots, and are easily killed by that method.  This is a good thing due to the amount of the ghouls.  The zombies are mostly a lot less intelligent than before.  There are still a few that can talk, and act with intelligence, but for the most part these are slow walking, brain dead creatures.

The film was filmed in East Europe somewhere, which can be seen in many characters that have foreign accents (despite the film allegedly taking place in America) but despite this the acting is quite good, and a lot better than I expected.  The zombies look fantastic, and there is lots of brain munching, as well as action, and heads being crushed.  The ending is a bit traditional, but was cool.  The main characters were a likable bunch which made a nice change.  The soundtrack was ace, lots of late 90's rock and metal such as Godsmack, and Alice Cooper.

I really enjoyed this.  It is definitely not an intelligent film, but is well made, and a good escape from rubbish real life.


Top 10 weapons to use during a zombie apocalypse

So the worst has happened; the dead walk the Earth.  How are you going to defend yourself? Oh, it's easy to say Chainsaw! Shotgun! Baseball Bat! but seriously, how many people actually have access to those kinds of tools? I for one certainly don't.  So here, along with dodgy photos is my top 10 list of realistic weapons I would use in the event of zombie Hell (to cover myself, I would only recommend using these in the event of zombie attack, not ever, ever, ever for any other reason!)

10. Plastic Bags

You might think thats a silly weapon, but I don't think that zombies have the sense to defend against these.  Simply throw a bag over a zombies head, and tie the handles up, and voila, they are now blind! If they have the sense to rip it off, just use 3 or 4 instead of just 1!

9. Mirror

The zombies upon seeing themselves will collapse to the ground in a fit of hidden memories, horrified at what they have become. If that fails, then simply smash the mirror over their head.  Also any glass shards can be used as last resort close range zombie stabbings.

8. Step Ladder

A bit impractical, but being made of light weight metal, is not a hassle to use as a weapon, and gives good reach to hit undead, as well as a useful climbing tool.

7. Knife

Boring weapon, and not too useful against the undead.  If they are close enough to feel a knife through the eye, then you are probably already doomed.  Best not to use a serrated blade, as you don't want the zombie dispatcher to get stuck.

6. Walking Stick

Sturdy weapon with good reach, but unlikely to kill any zombies, still should knock them over no trouble!

Looking around my house, and not wanting to leave it to look in the garage I realised with horror, that, that is the extent of the tools I have at hand in the event of a zombie invasion, so my next 5 tools are ones that I may not actually have access to at the moment!

5. Automated Turret

Used to fantastic effect in Aliens the automated turrets would save me the hassle of having to worry about zombie attacks.  The only problem is thier need for ammunition, and the noise they are bound to make.

4.  Ash from Evil Deads chainsaw hand

Chainsaws are heavy weapons, but Ash from the Evil Dead films seems to have no problem with his Chainsaw attachment for his arm.  Also his seems to have unlimited fuel, a wonderful weapon!

3. The BFG

The iconic gun from Doom, this gun obliterates everything in its path.  Not sure if they exist on Earth, or just on Mars Bases, and they eat through ammo quite quickly.  Still, a stellar weapon.

2.  Armoured Van

Quite a boring choice, but despite their misuse in many films (such as Dawn of the Dead Remake) I reckon it would be damn hard to infiltrate, or tip over one of these.

1. Death Star

If all else fails, and it looks like the Planet is unsavable, then merely hop off the planet, and use the deadly Death Star to destroy the root of the problem.

So there you have it, 10 weapons to use for best results in a zombie apocalypse.  I didn't want to do this post, it was suggested to me!