Tuesday, 29 June 2010

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse - The essential guide to surviving the inevitable zombie apocalypse!

'How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse' is a cult seminar series created by zombology guru Dr Dale Seslick.  The aims of the seminars are to educate both novices, and survival experts alike on the best methods to survive the coming zombie apocalypse.  Such a serious subject as Zombie Armageddon can be a little dry, and grim, luckily though Dr Dale and his crew inject lots of humour into their frequently bizarre discussions on the topic.

Each seminar while being mostly improv does feature a basic structure.  The seminars are led by Dr Dale, and include other members of the world renowned School of Survival such as Science expert Judy O'Dea, survival expert Donald Straite, and Tristen Granger.  The seminars cover all the essential zombie apocalypse topics you would naturally want to know.  These include topics as the safest places to go, and best weapons to use, to less generally discussed topics such as the secret to group defence, and zombie recognition techniques.

Audience question and answer sessions are a key part to the improvisation, and naturally with such things do rely on the audience to interact with the experts for the best and most comedic (yet knowledgeable) results. The Simulation section has the crew displaying their amazing acting skills as they role play possible situations that could come up during the apocalypse.

The show, or seminar as it should be titled started life back in June 2009, and over time became a cult event winning lots of praise from many different publications (including the fantastic Fortean Times!).  The show is mainly all improvisation, and as such no two seminars are the same.  I am sad to say I personally have never yet seen it.  I believe on their last Tour they had a show in Leicester, but I so hate leaving the safety of Northampton.  Currently they are on their 2010 UK Tour, so if they are ever in your area I highly recommend catching them.  Next time they are anywhere near Northampton I will defiantly be checking them out.

In addition to their show they also have a Podcast (available from i-Tunes).  This weekly Podcast is recorded from the School of Survival HQ, each episode roughly 30 minutes long, and mostly quite funny, and random.  The show has a simulation section (such as what to do if a zombie appears while your on a aeroplane; the answer in this case is to flood the plane with water!) as well as listener questions and general goings on at the School of Survival.

In August the esteemed Dr Dale is releasing a book 'Dr Dale's Zombie Dictionary; The A-Z Guide to Staying Alive' which promises to be the "ultimate alphabetical reference guide on how to survive when the zombies finally arrive and attempt to eat us all".  If I can afford to buy it, I shall do and give my thoughts. They will be doing a Tour later on this year to promote the book.

For further information on the show, and Tour Dates then head to http://www.howtosurviveazombieapocalypse.co.uk which will feed all your needs.  Dale Seslick can also be found on Facebook, as well as Twitter.  It is good that there are such people as him to provide illumination to the mostly unprepared masses!

Finally; Dr Dale and crew have a brand new seminar coming this August at Edinburgh, called 'How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse : RELOADED'.  It's going to be on from the 6th August to the 29th August at the Zoo Southside - Venue 82.  If your interested, and in the area tickets can be booked from the website.  "Brain Destruction is guaranteed"!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Avatars VS Zombies (2010) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

Avatars VS Zombies looked like it was going to be crap. I fully expected it to be, and for 80 Microsoft points I had reason to. The game is riding on the coat tails of the diminishing zombie popularity in pop culture currently. It looked like a very cheaply made game designed to sucker people in by bright colours and avatars, and yes; zombies.

The game casts you as the space marine from Doom...actually it doesn't, you play as your 'avatar'. Mine just happens to be wearing the space marine armour from Doom (unlocked by completing the Doom II bonus chapter). The game is an arena based twin stick shooter. As usual the left stick controls movement, while the right stick fires. Your avatar comes under attack from zombies, asteroids, and various bright coloured shapes as well as a bomb spitting giant fish. All are very basic having no frames of animation, and simply vanish when killed.

There are around four different stages which repeat to infinity. Starting off in a very colourful cartoony landscape you go to a table top, an American football pitch (complete with banners for the designers other Indie games), as well as a computer interface grid. After every four rounds you get a five second screen to relax, complete with sedate music. The music for the game is mostly generic action style, not at all memorable.

I got to round fourteen on my one and only playthrough. Each round isn't particularly long. The game didn't outstay its welcome, and was just as bad and cheap as I expected it to be. Only 80 Microsoft points, and is four player, the only problem being Avatars VS Zombies is just not very good, or interesting.


Sunday, 27 June 2010

Wolfenstein - X-Box 360 Videogame Review

Return to Castle Wolfenstein on X-Box was a game that I found so frustrating that I snapped the disc in half.  A year or so later I brought it again cheap, and again snapped the disc in half.  It was not a fantastic port of the PC version.  Utterly dreadful stealth sections ruined what could have been a fun game.  Would the latest installment of the series be any better?  It may seem silly buying a sequel to a game I hated, but the original Wolfenstein 3D I have recently gone through on X-Box Live Arcade; it was a fun game.

Wolfenstein casts you once again as B.J Blazkowicz.  The intro sequence sees him blowing up a Nazi U-Boat and discovering a strange magical amulet.  The amulet plays a key role in the game.  B.J travels to a small German (maybe?) Town called Isendat where the Nazi's have discovered some ruins belonging to an Ancient Race of people who harnessed the power of an alternate dimension known as Black Sun.  Soon after arriving at the Train Station his cover is blown, and is never retrieved again.  Thankfully this means there are no dreadful stealth sections!

The game has a main open world hub level which is the Town.  You are free to wander the Town, investigating houses, collecting hidden items, and files, as well as choosing missions from either of the 2 factions, and also discovering side quests by talking to allies.  The Town has a Nazi presence, so you are free to either just shoot your way through everywhere, or be more cautious, using the sewers and rooftops to get around.  The Town is quite maze like and has passages, and tunnels all over the place.  The Town also has several shops where you are able to use your collected gold to buy upgrades for your weapons and powers.

There are around 12 main missions, or levels.  These range in size, but all involve mostly shooting everything that moves.  The game really is mindless, but in a good way.  The enemies for the most part are Nazi Soldiers, who are very weak, and so real fun to kill.  Their limbs, and heads can be blasted off, but it is not over the top, and was about a third of the way into the game until I even realised this could be done.  Other enemies include super soldiers who use experimental weaponry such as jet packs, and proton beams, as well as Wizard type characters who can throw energy balls at you, as well as create force fields for other enemies.  Lastly there are the weak mutants who attack via melee.

The levels are quite varied, and start off quite bland but later get really good.  2 levels in particular really stood out.  One sees you start on a route to a Farmhouse where a resistance member is being held captive.  It seemed like the mission was going to be quite small, but discovered in the Farmhouse was a secret elevator which led to a massive underground base that was really epic to fight through.  Another level is set in a Hospital.  You spend half the level with no combat, as you hunt down a mysterious invisible assassin who is systematically murdering all the staff and patients.  That level had a real F.E.A.R style feeling of horror to it, and was really slowed in pace to other more action packed levels.

The weapons are fun to use, and have real weight and impact to them.  Shooting an enemy will result at the least in them getting bloody.  As well as machine guns, and rifles you also get access to super weapons such as a Tesla Cannon, and some kind of disintegrating beam. In addition you get access to 4 magical powers.  One speeds up your movements, another slows down time allowing you to get under closing gates.  Your third power renders you able to shoot through force fields and armour which especially later in the game comes really useful.  My favourite is the shield ability.  This encases you in a bubble that is impervious to damage.  Better still bullets bounce off it causing funny moments when enemies accidentally kill themselves via reflecting projectiles.  Weapons and Magic can be upgraded with increased damage, silencers, and sniper scopes all attached to weapons.

The enemies have great death animations, from writhing around on fire, to holding their throats as blood jets out, to falling off balconies screaming, all our fun to watch.  The plot on the other hand is quite rubbish, really this was expected though.  The game seems to be a proper sequel to 'Return..' referencing events from that game, as well as having the main bad guy be the same.  The game frequently has short action cutscenes which are very bad looking, and look very last generation in their blocky unrealistic character movements.

The game is really lots of fun, but not the least bit intelligent.  Objectives usually just task you with getting from A to B, and there is not a lot of variety in what you do.  Just shoot, and shoot some more.  There is lots of replay with all the hidden files and gold through out the games levels.

The game features multiplayer modes such as deathmatch. I briefly tried this, but no surprise there was virtually no one playing it.  It is a real shame that over two thirds of the achievements are earned via multiplayer, and so I wont be getting them.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes - Videogame Review (Nintendo DS)

Is this game a RPG? Is it a puzzler? Actually it's both, bringing to mind memories of the ace Puzzle Quest (by the way; Puzzle Quest 2 out on X-Box Live Arcade next Wednesday!)  A friend of mine recommended I get this game as she loved it.  So I did.  Recently completed it, and recently discovered a HD version is coming out on X-Box Live Arcade.

The game starts with you a bunch of Humans and Elves meeting in some woods.  Demons unexpectedly turn up and kill everyone.  Everyone apart from a handful of young teens who mostly escape via a malfunctioning teleporter that teleports them to random locations in the world.  Each level sees you in the role of one of these teens.  Starting off with the female Elf you discover that the Demons have orchestrated the slaughter to create war between Humans and Elf's.  Each character has their own little storyline that fits into the overall one of Demons trying to take over the world.  The Knight for instance has been declared a rebel, and so must sneak into his City and convince the King otherwise, while the Knights sister finds herself not only teleported to the realm of the Necromancers, but also discovers she has died and is now a ghost!

The game for the most part is Fantasy, not Horror.  Well to be honest for the whole part the game is Fantasy.   It's going to be really hard for me to describe how this game works.  The top screen shows the enemies troops.  The bottom screen shows your troops.  The aim of most the battles is to use your troops to attack the enemies health bar.  To do this you must first defeat any enemy troops in the way.  Different units have different attack charge times, and powers.  line up 3 troops of 1 type together vertically and they will go into attack mode.  Line them up horizontally and they will turn into a defensive structure whether it be vines, or gold walls.  More special troops require either 2 normal troops to charge them up, or 4 for the really strong units such as Titans from the Persian Style troops, to Angels of the Knights troops.  All are in limited supply.

Each level sees you in a map with several things you can do.  Characters with a silver sword above them are optional fights.  Characters with a gold sword above them are quest related fights.  Characters with question marks above their heads either can be spoken to, or challenged to fight.  Each fight you win gives you experience points, as well as gold (that can be used to replenish troops).  Also in the levels are treasure chests that usually hold special items (1 special item can be equipped at a time, they give you battle stat boosts), and Hunters who provide much of the games optional bonus missions.  Lastly there are puzzle quests in which you have a chess style one move problem to solve.

It is the third and fourth levels that earn the game its place on The Rotting Zombie.  The third level sees you in the land of the Necromancers as a ghost.  Troops you recruit include Skeletons, as well as...Zombies! Heh, love the zombies.  The whole land of the dead is great, all cartoony gloom, and gravestones.  The fourth level is set in the Demon realm with a boy who finds he has the power to control Demons.  The Demons are portrayed as comedic and cartoon bad, the Demon Pub in particular is a very fun place due to the music, and comedy dialogue.

The game does have some faults.  Random encounters can be frustrating when you are being attacked by enemies stronger than yours.  Defeat holds no penalty which is good, but if you decide rather than waste 5 to 10 minutes in a fight you cannot win you instead escape the battle then you get heavily penalised, loosing lots of gold.  The level caps are quite low.  Troops can level up to level 5, while the main characters can level to 10 meaning towards the end of each level the random battles etc serve no purpose other than to irritate.

The review has been terrible, I apologise, but if you want a RPG/Puzzler of a decent length (around 30 hours) then get this! Or better still, buy it when it comes out in HD on the home consoles!


Zombie! T-Shirt

My two T-shirts I ordered from America turned up the other day.  Both cool even if one of them was different to what I ordered.

This T-shirt features a black and white zombie with blood round its mouth and chin.  The word ZOMBIE! is in bright green over the image, and has several bloody bites taken out of it.  There is a bright green full moon next to the zombie as well.  The T-shirt is far brighter than I am really comfortable in wearing, I don't like to draw attention to myself!  So despite being a cool T-shirt is one I will only wear when I am not going anywhere. 

I will no doubt be putting up my photo of the other zombie T-shirt soon.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood - Horror Film Review

God this is going to take some effort, real down, so don't feel like doing a post!  Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood is the sixth, and final entry in the Leprechaun series.  Is it a fitting end though? The film starts with a cool animated back story for the origins of the evil Leprechaun which finally lends some origins to the series, and ties up the completely unrelated films.  I had before thought each film concerned a different Leprechaun, but this explains that that isn't the case.

The Leprechaun 'won' Leprechaun 5 so the film starts with a showdown between the Leprechaun and his latest victim in the ghettos of Compton.  His latest victim; a Priest manages to dispatch the evil one with Holy Water mixed with 4 leaf clovers.  The Leprechaun is dragged to Hell as a result, but the Priest keels over dead of a heart attack.  A year later 4 poor teens stumble across the Leprechauns hidden chest of gold.  They immediately go on a spending spree, full of hope for their future after coming into wealth.  By getting hold of the gold though they have unwittingly resurrected the Leprechaun who goes on a rampage to get back what was 'stolen' from him.  After 1 of the 4 teens are killed they realise they are being hunted and must come up with a plan to stop the Leprechaun before they too end up dead.

The film is even more serious in tone than the last film, despite some kooky out of place scenes.  The Leprechaun is again hooked on drugs, this time addicted to Bongs thanks to a party guest who assumes the little fellow is a hallucination from his drugs.  He soon discovers this not to be the case once the Leprechaun has jammed the Bong through the mans chest.  The Leprechaun has different clothes for this film.  His clothes are dark green this time around, almost black in tone.  The Leprechaun shows himself to have immense strength in this film being able to rip off limbs.  His new special attack is leaping onto people from off screen, which he does several times.  He has no magical abilities this time around.  He cannot control people, cause illusions, or use Jedi style force powers.  This may be due to the fact that for the films duration he has no access to his gold (that is said to grant him his powers)  Warwick Davis is again in fine form, and again for a change he doesn't speak in rhyming couplets.

The main 4 characters are a likable but flawed bunch.  There is a drug dealing rude boy who wants to become a better person, a comedy character druggy, and 2 girls who dream of getting out of Compton and making a life for themselves.  Again the side cast include a bunch of nasty gangsters who are also after the teens for their own reasons.

It is good that the film gives an origin for the Leprechaun, and also kind of explains how he keeps coming back despite being totally killed off at the end of most of the Leprechaun films.  It is the first film that really feels like a sequel as opposed to a completely different tale.  I guess being set in the same location helps that.

There are a lot of deaths, the Leprechaun on fine murdering form, and he gets a lot of grief in this film, being beaten up, shot, and run over, though he seems for the most part impervious to pain.

The last film in the series, though chronologically Leprechaun 4: In Space is the real last film in the series.  Enjoyable, though it doesn't matter how series they make the films the Leprechaun just is not a scary character.


Monday, 21 June 2010

Decay: Part 1 - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

Decay: Part 1 was released on the  X-Box 360 Indie game channel a few months back.  It is quite a short, yet atmospheric Horror based point and click game that is 240 Microsoft points.

The short credit sequence focuses on a hanging body in a lonely bathroom.  After some blurred close up shots of the hanging persons eye the game starts.  You play as the hung person, no no longer hung.  The person has no memory of who they are, or even of hanging themselves.  The game takes place in a desolate derelict apartment building with boarded up doors, and graffiti strewn walls.  Their is no specific aim of the game.

The game is a first person fixed perspective point and click, much like games such as Myst.  You cannot move around, but instead can focus on different perspectives by clicking a button. To leave a room for instance you would click on the door.  You control a mouse pointer that you can use to click on objects in the environments, and pick up items, as well as read notes, and letters that are dotted around the apartment block.

The game is very atmospheric.  It features unsettling Silent Hill style piano music as it's score, and in many ways the game does feel like Silent Hill despite the static nature of the game.  There are quite a few simple but fun puzzles in the experience, these include things such as O's and X's as well as Silent Hill style puzzles (one such requires you to arrange portraits in order of family members).  The game features no combat or death, but has unsettling sudden noises, as well as messages that appear on walls, and objects creepily vanishing and reappearing in odd places.

The notes, newspaper clippings, and letters you find are all interesting, and well written, and never feel like they exist purely to give you clues to the games puzzles.  The game only took me about 15 minutes to complete, but was interesting and would defiantly like to play further chapters.  It is certainly a unique Indie game.  For 240 Microsoft points it is a good buy, while 80 Microsoft points would have been better, it's hard to grumble at these cheap prices.  The music is good, the graphics almost photo realistic at times, and is well plotted.


Sunday, 20 June 2010

Dragon's Fury - Pinball Videogame Review (Megadrive)

Well, here in the UK it is Fathers Day today.  My Dad is off on holiday somewhere in Europe, so am doing a blog post in his honour.  Dragon's Fury is a pinball game released for the Megadrive back in 1992.  It features a unique Gothic style to it's Horror based table, and has excellent music, all heavy metal style instrumentals.

When I was younger there used to be a Video Rental Store that my parents would rent me games from.  If you liked the game you rented you were able to buy it.  I don't recall if it was my Dad who rented Dragon's Fury for me, or if it was one I chose.  At the time I was off School ill, as I was feeling sick playing Dragon's Fury made me feel ill, so it made a small impression on me.  My Dad took the game back to the store, but later that day he revealed to me that he had in fact brought the game for me (perhaps as a get well soon present?).  As such the game holds a special place in my heart, and is one game I would never part with.  Playing it recently for this review I noticed that it still has passwords written at the back of the manual by my Dad which was a cool discovery.

The game is probably my favourite pinball game.  The Gothic setting is cool.  It has H.R Giger levels of details on the table.  There is just the one table, but it is split into 3.  The top area of the table has Monks wandering about.  The middle of the table features as its centre point a ladies head.  By activating switches you can alter the appearance, each time the woman gets more and more monstrous looking until finally the head is a Dragons head, plus an entrance to a bonus round game.  The bottom table has a Dragon at one side of it, and a Skull at the other side.  Whenever you loose a ball the Skull laughs with a loud rumbling digitised laugh.  Skeletons, demons, and insects make up most the moving obstacles on the table which the ball can destroy.

There are 6 bonus rounds that are accessed by hitting various switches around the table.  The bonus tables are single screen and usually task you with destroying a monster.  In one you must defeat a 6 headed Dragon, another sees you tasked with destroying 6 possessed urns, while another one sees you assaulting a castle defended by fire Knights.  Each stage has its own fantastic music to accompany it.  The main table has a truly epic heavy metal track that plays for something silly like 8 minutes before it loops.  It is one of my favourite pieces of game music ever!

By getting a Billion points you get access to the end of game boss.  Pretty strange that a pinball game has a end boss in it!  I of course could never even get close to a billion points, but via a password my Dad helpfully wrote in the back of the manual I can get to experience the boss, and the ending.  It takes place on its own table in a Throne room.  Epic boss music plays as you aim your ball at a man sitting on a Throne while bodyguards deflect your balls from hitting him.  After his energy bar has gone down a bit he stands up and rips off his skin revealing a cool lithe Dragon.  Fantastic!

Annoyingly the game was quite censored from the original Japanese version (named Devil's Crush I believe).  Pentagrams have been changed into red stars, and one bonus stage that saw you battling 6 wooden coffins marked with Crucifixes was replaced with one where you instead fought 6 yellow urns.  It's stupid how in those days religious imagery was really not welcome in videogames, and pointlessly censored.

Dragon's Revenge was actually a sequel in itself, the first game not released on the Megadrive was named Alien Crush. There was a sequel to Dragon's Fury called Dragon's Revenge (that I brought from Game for £25) Unfortunately Dragon's Revenge was pretty terrible, it had naff music, and bizarrely looked really really rough, and ugly despite coming out years after Fury.  The game has also been remade and released on the Nintendo Wii Ware channel.  I have not played it, but it received average reviews.

I am forever grateful to my parents for getting me into videogames.  I just wish my Father had gotten into them more (as far as I can recall; this, and the point and click game The Dig are the only games he ever played).  Anyway, Happy Fathers Day Dad, you are a most excellent person!


Blacksite (2007) - Sci-fi Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

First of all it has to be said that Blacksite is a very generic shooter that feels gameplay wise at least like something from the last generation of consoles. I love first person shooters, so as soon as this game dropped to a reasonable price (under £5) I snapped it up.

The game starts three years in the past. You play as Pierce, a Soldier on a mission to uncover a biological weapons facility in Iraq. The facility is in an underground bunker, and it seems your orders were not correct as rather than chemical weapons you find what appears to be an alien artifact. Coming under attack from strange bug like creatures you escape the facility, leaving a team mate trapped behind in the process. Present day and you are in Nevada where the Army has been called to put down a uprising in the town of Rachael, that has been sealed off from the outside world. Heading there you start to encounter creatures and events that share a spooky similarity to what happened in Iraq. Someone is withholding information from you it seems.

The game is very generic. It uses the Halo method of only being able to have two weapons at a time. The locations are not too bad, no bland warehouses which is a relief. Instead you get Army bases, government buildings, and several gas stations as well as the obligatory final location of a well defended bunker (similar to F.E.A.R, and Black's last levels) The enemies remind me of Half Life's soldiers; faceless people with no regard for their lives. Later on into the game Gears of War/Lost Planet style giant monsters make an appearance that of course can only be killed by a rocket launcher that is coincidentally in the area. It is the sort of game where if you man a lone gun emplacement enemies will suddenly materialise from nowhere to swarm towards you, just like what the early Medal of Honor games did all the time.

The game is quite glitchy, weapons float in the air, and at one point I even managed to drive a jeep along the sky.  The games load times are really long also which is another annoyance I found. It seems the developers were aware of these issues and it has been suggested the game went straight from Alpha to final release without any of the outstanding issues being fixed.

Talking of weapons; this game hardly has any. There are five weapons in total, no joke! You get the choice of a pistol, machinegun, sniper rifle, shotgun, and rocket launcher. Wow, so much choice. Enemies mainly consist of faceless mutant soldiers, also small creatures that blow up when shot are a plenty, as well as insects that look identical to the ones from Half Life 2. There are also tall cyborgs that look quite cool. Other than these the aforementioned Lost Planet monstrous blobs and tentacles make an appearance, complete with glowing weak spots.

The plot is not really anything to shout about. The first level, and the drive to Rachael is well done as snippets of twists are revealed to you, rather than explained via cutscene. Talking of cutscenes; there are not any, the game uses Call of Duty/Half Life scenes in which characters talk, but your silent protagonist is free to wander around and get bored.

The game features slightly more than just first person shooting. At fixed points you get to man a gun from a vehicle which are amusing diversions. You also get to drive a jeep at several points in the game, notable the route to Rachael, fun enough.

There is multiplayer, and I did actually attempt to play it, but to be honest absolutely no one in the Universe is playing Blacksite's multiplayer anymore (if they even ever did). Blandness is the ultimate killer of this game, there just are no new ideas at all. It looks pretty enough (shame about the totally forgettable musical score), but gets boring far too quickly.


Saturday, 19 June 2010

E3 2010 - News from the show

So E3 has been and gone.  Some cool announcements!  The most exciting for me was the hinted at new Silent Hill game has been officially announced.  Tentatively titled Silent Hill 8 it is due to be released on the X-Box 360, and Playstation 3.  You play as an escaped convict named Murphy Pendleton whose escape leads him to the doomed Town of Silent Hill.  Quite unfortunate that! Apparently the game is supposed to feel more like the early Silent Hills.  My only concern (other than Silent Hill 5 the previous game wasn't that good) is that the genius Akira Yamaoka is not doing the soundtrack.  His music is a defining feature of the Silent Hill Universe, so am worried what the replacement music is going to be like.

Also announced at E3 was a new Castlevania game for X-Box Live Arcade.  It looks to be level based, but keeping the open level structure of the Metroid-vania style games.  A multitude of characters from the previous games are playable, but it seems to unfortunately be relying on co-op. with up to 4 players.  I hate Co-op due to having no X-Box friends.  There was also a new trailer for Castlevania: Lord of Shadows.  The game looks fantastic, full of stirring music, a big cast including Patrick Stewart, and Robert Carlyle, and gigantic monsters and demons.  It just doesn't look anything like a Castlevania game though.

A new Red Faction game was shown.  It looks to be more horror based.  It seems you play as one of the bad guys from Red Faction: Guerrilla.  Your faction have retreated to beneath the surface of Mars after your defeat in that game...but it seems your not alone down there.

A Resident Evil game was revealed for the PSP, but I know no details about that game. More details were shown of the Zombie-tastic Dead Rising 2  There were most likely a lot more horror game reveals at the show, but in all honesty I did not follow it much this year.

Leprechaun 5: In the Hood - A Horror Film Review

Leprechaun 5 is the last in the Leprechaun box set, but not the last of the Leprechaun films.  This film returns to Earth, and is set on the mean streets of Compton with a tale involving a group of desperate rappers who get into trouble with the local Gangster.  The films tone is much more serious than the previous films, and this is reflected by the more realistic death scenes as opposed to ridiculous over the top ones.

The film starts in the 1970's.  2 crooks discover a statue of a Leprechaun next to a pot of gold.  One of the crooks unwisely decides to remove the necklace from around the statue bringing it to life.  A fortunate event leads to the necklace soon being put on the Leprechaun.  20 years later and a group of rappers desperate to win a music contest and get out of Compton rob a local Gangsters house to get money to fund their dreams.  It just so happens this Gangster is the crook from 20 years back.  One of the stolen items is unluckily a necklace that was on the neck of a statue at the former crooks house.  With the aid of a magical golden flute the rappers are on there way to stardom, but both the Gangster, and the Leprechaun are hot on their heels with murder and vengeance in mind!

Warwick Davis is again the Leprechaun.  In this guise he joins in the spirit of Compton, forever smoking Weed, and recruits a lot of women who he names his zombie Ho's and who do his bidding.  The Leprechaun is back to his rhyming, and it is probably the best it's been (though still awful!).  The Gangster is played by Ice T, he doesn't have much screen time, and plays the stereotypical angry Gangster.  The 3 rapper 'good' guys are quite interesting.  There is Butch the fat, stupid one, Stray Bullet the aggressive one, and their leader Postmaster P.  They have several rap gigs during the film, all are awful, but they are shot like music videos (though shot like very low budget music videos).

The films tone is far more serious.  There are lots of deaths, but for the most part people are killed either by guns, or by the Leprechaun strangling people.  There are no crazy deaths this time around.  The Leprechaun this time has Jedi type powers, able to control peoples minds, and move objects with the power of his mind.  The films style is all American Gangster, so the mainly black cast F, and blind there way through there lines, with plenty of use of the N word.  The ending credit sequence is kinda dreadful though as for some reason the end credits play over Warwick Davis and his Ho's doing a terrible terrible rap!

The film wasn't too bad though, again it had nothing to do with the previous films, other than the similarity in the necklace, and a redone scene from Leprechaun 2.  Have ordered Leprechaun 6, so will review that as soon as it comes here!


Call of Duty World at War: Zombies (2009) - Zombie Videogame Review (i-Phone)

I don't have an i-phone, I do know a man who does though.  I have finally managed to bully him into writing me some reviews of zombie tastic i-phone games.  So without further ado, I give you the Ancient Red Indian Zombie by the name of Spirit Walker.

Hello there.  Call of Duty: World at War Zombies is a first person shooter that takes the wildly popular zombie survival maps off the console versions of Call of Duty: World at War and transports them to the i-phone.  There are 2 World at War i-phone games.  One sees you surviving against waves of Nazi Zombies, while the recently released game sees you fighting off Japanese Zombies.  The games are £5.99 each, and are up to 4 player.

The games are playable with well implemented touch screen controls, and more than anything remind you how much fun the original versions are.  Of course touch controls cannot make up for a control pad, but they do their job well enough.  Zombie 1 features the maps 'Nacht der Untoten', and 'Zombie Verruct' while Zombie 2 features 'Shi No Numa'.

All maps are a like for likeness with the console counterparts, but of course don't feature the same level of graphics. It features multiple control formats.  The accelerometer whilst a good idea doesn't really enhance gameplay enough to make it a viable option.

Conclusion: A good game and a nice reminder of the awesomeness in the console version but will never be the same as playing the real thing and is undoubtedly more frustrating

Friday, 18 June 2010

Leprechaun 4: In Space - A Horror Film Review

My god.  You can always tell when slasher films have collapsed into ridiculousness when they start being set in space.  Friday 13th managed 9 films before it did that, for the Leprechaun series though 4 films in and they have gone to space!  This film is so terrible it is actually good.

On a Alien Planet somewhere a Leprechaun (again played by Warwick Davis) has kidnapped a Princess with the aim of marrying her and becoming King of her Planet.  A squad of Space Marines tracking the wee Demon launch an assault, where they rescue the Princess and seemingly destroy the Leprechaun.  One of the Marines urinates on its severed foot which somehow results in the feller hitching a ride in the Marines privates.  Back on the space ship the Leprechaun emerges from his disgusting hidey hole, and starts launching chaos as only he knows.  He wants to get his bride to be back (who is being experimented on by a insane Dr), and get his gold back (that has been shrunk via shrink ray).

The film must have a really bad budget judging from the look of the sets.  Sci-Fi is always a cheap way to make a film.  Exterior shots of the space ship are obvious CGI made, while the paper maiche caverns from Leprechaun 2 are resurrected along with a few really obvious bad effects.  In one scene Warwick leaps across a room, he has a highly visible cable towing him along.  In another scene some Marines are wearing bio suits, yet one has a embarrassingly obvious massive hole in the back of the suit.  In yet another scene a Marine is crushed to death by a massive block of metal, yet the metal block kinda bounces, and looks very hollow.

Also of note is the script.  Thank the heavens that the Leprechaun no longer speaks in rhyming couplets, it makes a big difference on him.  The Leprechaun is cool, but the deaths he cause are no longer too inventive.  He has a little light saber he chops someone up with, and he turns someone into a giant Spider/Scorpion/Human mutant, but other than that he kills people off in more traditional ways.  There is quite a high body count.  The script truly is terrible though, some memorable lines such as a female Marine saying 'Do you think I caused this by giving him (the Marine whose privates the Leprechaun was hiding in) a boner?' Awful.  Also the film unashamedly flaunts the females.  It's custom for the Princess to announce a persons death sentence by showing them her chest, and a female first has a bucket of water thrown over her (due to acid) and later has her trousers ripped off during an attack.

The characters are all extremely hateful.  The Marines all seem to be utter retards, with their metal headed captain just as bad.  The Scientists are annoyingly toady, and superior acting, and the head Scientist makes his role very very camp via his vastly over acting and his crazily over the top facial expressions.

The film does get exciting though.  One part of the film sees two action scenes happening concurrently.  Some Marines are battling the mutant creature in its lair, while another Marine (bare chested and muscly) is fighting a gigantic Leprechaun in a cargo bay.

The film is extremely silly, but really fun.  It obviously has no budget, but its badness makes it very watchable!


Thursday, 17 June 2010

Leprechaun 3 - Horror Film Review

So as part of my Leprechaun marathon I saw Leprechaun 3 the other night.  Again, this film was completely unrelated to the previous 2.  I like to think that the Leprechaun species all look identical, with each film about a different Leprechaun.

The film is set in Las Vegas, and around a Casino called 'The Lucky Shamrock' or something.  A Pawn shop across the street receives a ugly statue of a Leprechaun which has a necklace around it which the store owner is warned never to remove.  Ignoring the warning the necklace is promptly removed which leads to the statue coming to life. It is another evil Leprechaun!  A naive teen on his way to college visiting the Pawn shop comes across one of the Leprechauns lucky gold coins; able to grant a single wish to anyone who owns the coin.  The film involves the Leprechaun causing chaos and evil as he attempts to track down his missing coin.

For this third film Warwick Davis yet Again reprises his role as the little troublemaker.  Yet again only one thing is able to kill him, and yet again it is a completely different method to what has come before. His script is terrible this time though.  Before he had rhymes for most of his talk, but here the rhyming couplets are utterly terrible, and painful to hear as they are so stodgy, and ill thought out.  He still looks the part which is one good thing, and the deaths are the most inventive so far.

Most the deaths are very entertaining to watch.  From people whose backsides literally explode to magicians whose tricks go spectacularly wrong, the kills are fun, with Warwick seeming to relish these.  The 2 main characters are more likable, though the boy is very irritating at times, especially later on in the film (it now seems that a Leprechauns bite causing the victim to turn into a Leprechaun him/her self!  The female lead is very attractive, it helps that shes wearing a revealing outfit for the most part (she is a magicians assistant).

The plot is as silly as ever, this time featuring Gangsters, crooks, and gamblers.  There is more of a honorable streak throughout the film this time.  For the most part it is only the bad people who end up dead due to their own greed and stupidity.  The film certainly preaches the evils of Las Vegas, but also inject an essence of life into the glitter, and neon signs, making the Town seem a magical place.

Enjoyed the film, the inventive deaths made it fun, and the setting was a breath of fresh air.  The script is pretty dreadful, but as a third film in a slasher series what do you honestly expect?


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Prototype - X-Box 360 Videogame Review

Prototype was released on both X-Box 360, and Playstation 3.  It was released at the same time as Infamous, a very similar looking game, so was much confusion at the time as to which was which!  Both games see you as an ordinary guy who suddenly finds that they have super powers, and both are open world games set in large Cities.  I own Infamous, but don't own a PS3 so cannot play it! (all part of a bizarre master plan of mine)

The events of the game mostly take place during 18 days in which a zombie outbreak occurs in New York City.  You play as Alex Mercer; a man who wakes up in a morgue and discovers he has monstrous powers, and no memory of his past.  Having partial memories he manages to track down his sister, as well as an ex girlfriend.  With their help he begins to unravel the mystery of how he got like he is, and also how the zombie outbreak has occurred (it seems to be linked to his condition).

The game is very frustrating I would first point out.  It gets harder as you progress, the later missions just are not fun at all due to vast enemy numbers.  The game is open world, set in a recreation of New York.  I don't know how accurate it is, but it has a central park style area, as well as Times Square.  Unlike most City based open world games you mostly cannot use vehicles.  Instead you use parkaur techniques to race around the City.  Alex can run really fast, and is able to run up the sides of buildings, and jump vast distances.  Later you can unlock a glide ability that really lets you traverse the City quickly.  The only vehicles you can use are Tanks, and Helicopters, and these are not really that useful for getting about in.

Alex has many many abilities.  By completing missions, and killing enemies you get experience points that can be used to buy new powers.  Alex is able to turn his arm into a knife, a sword, a whip, and turn his arms into stone.  Each of these powers has lots and lots of unlockable abilities to them.  You can also unlock abilities that increase your health, regen powers, and grant you shields, and armour.  For the most part you really do not need all these powers, I only used a fraction of them.

Alex is able to absorb any person in the game.  Doing so gives him the ability to morph into their likeness.  This is mostly used to sneak into Military bases by being disguised as a Soldier.  There are around 130 special characters in the game.  Absorbing these characters give you a small snippet of their memories which is shown to you via a small conversation, and various still images, and real life photographs.  These are really cool, and despite their amount are very addictive to see.  They reveal a lot more of the story than is actually shown during the games brief cut scenes.

There are lots of missions, but even more side quests.  Side Quests take on the form of several different activities.  There are agility ones where you must get to a series of checkpoints for instance, as well as lots of different combat missions.  In some you are given a certain weapon or power to use, in others you are assigned to either the Military side or Infected side and must help them win a small battle.  Also hidden around the City are about 250 orbs, so lots of collectibles.

The main enemies you face are Infected and the Army.  The Army consists of soldiers with machine guns, and rocket launchers, as well as shed loads of tanks and helicopters.  The Infected consists of lots of very weak zombies, as well as larger monster type creatures that are able to leap giant distances, and give you grief if your not careful.  The game takes place during an increasingly bad zombie Armageddon, so the City becomes more and more destroyed as the game progresses.  Infected areas are full of burning buildings, crashed cars, and civilians running around screaming, while non infected areas are far more calm, and bright looking.

Combat can be quite frustrating, the ability to pick up anything from cars to helicopters and hurl them at enemies is a very welcome touch, as is the ability to scale absolutely anything you can see, but the amount of rockets and bullets heading your way just leads to frustration as your blasted all over the shop.  I'm sure the games difficulty could have been handled better, as it is the game is only fun until just over half way through, and then the missions just become a total slog against constantly respawning enemies.  Least there are lots of check points for in case you die.

I like the game, it is very good looking, very gory, and was a surprise that it featured zombie Armageddon so prominently (something that Crackdown 2 seems to be copying).  If you do get this be aware it gets super hard, and not a lot of fun later on.


Monday, 14 June 2010

Dead Meat (2010) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

Dead Meat is a Indie game on X-Box Live.  It is 80 Microsoft points, and came out roughly the same time as the superior I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 a game with zombies in it.  Like that game and many other indie zombie games it is played in the overhead perspective.  Nearly a twin stick shooter; The left analogue moves your little man around, while the right analogue aims your pistol, the shoulder button fires your gun.

The game has no plot to speak off, but in my mind the man you play as is evil, he got his just desserts by being abandoned when the good guys made off in his helicopter.  Luckily for him he has infinite supplies of ammo, but can he survive the thousands of incoming (though very slow) flesh hungry zombies?

The game starts off really easy, and it takes a fair bit of time for the game to heat up.  Your pistol holds around eight bullets and then needs reloading.  Pick ups include a hunk of meat (dead meat?) that increases the number of zombies arriving on screen, a stealth suit that reduces the number of enemies arriving, as well as an unlimited gun clip, and a clip that fires three bullets at once.  It is quite cool that the characters aim isn't perfect, some shots go wide giving more of a sense of realism to proceedings.  Pick ups can be combined, for instance if you have the three way shot and you collect the unlimited ammo clip then you now have the perfect weapon of a three way shot gun that doesn't need reloading.

Your main guy has a bright green top.  He is identical to the zombies except that they have dull coloured tops on, and they have legs (For some reason your character doesn't appear to have any!)  The zombies all walk silently towards you, some are faster than others.  The only sound is the gun firing (a nice echoy sound to it) and the splat and squelch as enemies vanish in a blood splat.

The area you are in is grey, and boring, but killed enemies leave a red smear behind on the ground.  The title screen has ace music, so it's a shame that the actual game has no music.  The game is up to four players, though as usual I only got to play this single player.

The game is ok, but is a bit boring to be honest. Later on the number of zombies increases dramatically.  Below is the video of my final moments playing the game!


Saturday, 12 June 2010

Zombie Panic in Wonderland - Wii-Ware Videogame Review

A friend commented that she was interested in the sound of this game, but was worried it was a bit expensive.  I have had it brought from day 1, just sitting on a SD card, so thought that I would give it a shot to see if it was worth her buying it or not.

In Story mode you play as a Japanese Anime boy.  He has gone to the shop to buy some stuff when he notices the Town he is in is under zombie invasion.  Eventually he comes across a Gnome who tells him the source of the outbreak is up North.  Heading North he comes across various characters such as Snow White, the Tin Man, Dorothy and others.  Eventually he gets to the Castle of Prince Charming.  It seems that he may well be behind the outbreak!

The game is pretty much a shooting gallery.  Your character can move left or right, but cannot move into the screen.  Basically each stage involves you moving a crosshair to take out enemies while avoiding their attacks, and projectiles they throw your way.

Your main weapon is a machine gun that is quite effective.  Power Ups let you also use a flame thrower, and a stronger machine gun, as well as shoot rockets.  There is a percentage bar at the bottom of the screen.  The more enemies you kill the higher it goes, when it gets to 100% the stage is done.  The stages look beautiful.  Each one has lots and lots of scenery that is all destructible, by the end of each stage you are pretty much standing in a barren field, while the start sees you in such wonderful locations as the yellow brick road, Prince Charmings Castle, and a Graveyard.  The scenery collapses like it is stage design, walls, trees, and fences all fall over sideways.  The levels are very varied.  Starting off in a Japanese setting complete with a Wario Ware style song you progress into more classic fairytale settings.

There are lots and lots and lots of enemies in this game!  The main enemy type are zombies.  Zombies die a lot easier if you shoot their heads off.  There are also fat zombies, as well as a multitude of dressed up zombies.  You get Sumo Zombies, Ninja Zombies, Jester Zombies, Knight Zombies, and even a Santa Claus Zombie!  Other enemies are also abundant, these include animals such as frogs, and crows, and more monster type creatures such as Ogres, Dryads (tree monsters), and skeletons.  There are 3 boss encounters during the game.  Each of the bosses are fun to fight, and have various attack patterns.

The game is quite arcadey, and as such is quite short.  There are 9 stages that include 3 boss stages, so only really 6 proper levels (though there is an extra stage in Arcade mode).  As well as Story mode, there is also Arcade mode that lets you choose any level, and a survival mode can be unlocked.  Other unlocks include a variety of characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White, but these just appear to be all the same apart from the visuals.  The game is 2 player, and I imagine it would be really really fun in 2 player.  I only got to play the game in single player, and it was fun.

The game world is bright and colourful, and the music is really good.  I would say that it is quite an easy game though.  The game costs 1000 Wii Points which is quite expensive for what it is, but if your after a fun arcade zombie shooting experience then I would recommend this!