Monday, 29 November 2010

Guitar Hero II - Random Zombie Appearance (X-Box 360)

Yeah, Guitar Hero should have no relevance in this blog.  Many different songs, many different genres (though favours 80's rock).  However at the end of the Vans Warped Tour stage the encore song was the boring Jane's Addiction 'Stop'.  So far so boring.  However what came next shocked and surprised me.

For each stage there is a final encore song.  For each stage something happens to make the last song just that little bit more special.  For the Vans Warped Tour stage there was a giant gravestone in the background.  Before the last song starts this gravestone splits apart.  Out of the gravestone a gigantic paper machie zombie appears!  He has a giant head, 2 arms on wires, and he has a throbbing brain exposed.

That is it, there is a zombie in Guitar Hero II, end of story, but still cool how often zombies pop up in things!  I know the picture is terrible, but there were no existing pictures on the entire Internet so I had to make one myself with my lame web camera.

The stage after Warped Tour (Harmonix Arena) features a giant Grim Reaper in the background who for the last song battles a giant Octopus!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (2010) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

This game was originally unrelated to Castlevania, part way through development the game had Castlevania shoe horned into it.  It is hard to argue the game is not very good, but as a Castlevania game it is abysmal having virtually no recognisable features.

You play as Gabriel Belmont.  The world has been plunged into darkness, the people think that God has abandoned them as evil rules the lands. After the murder of his wife Gabriel sets out on a quest for the Brotherhood of Light to defeat the Lords of Shadows and to find a magical mask said to have the power to bring the dead back to life.  Along the way he learns a lot about the world, and his role in it.

There are a lot of famous voices in the game.  Gabriel is voiced by Robert Carlyle, while Zobek his friend, and the games narrator is voiced by the legend Patrick Stewart. Voices on the whole are good, there are quite a few cut scenes throughout the game, perhaps due to Kojimas help on the game (the creator of the Metal Gear games infamous for their long cut scenes). There are three Lords of Shadow. One is the ruler of the Werewolves, one is the leader of the Vampires, while the third is the Lord of the Dead. The story is kinda basic but well done, and had me welling up by the end of the game. One complaint is that each level begins with a narration by Picard on how messed up Gabriel is getting, and how mean and angry and violent yet this is not reflected in the in game Gabriel who seems his usual gruff self but not a man living on the edge at all.

There are lots of monsters in the game. The first third of the game mostly sees you fighting werewolves in jungle ruins and swamps of a long lost civilisation. The middle section of the game sees you pitted against mainly monster like vampires around a vast castle in snowy mountains, while the last part sees you fighting zombies, and spectres in the wastelands of the dead. As well as these are variety of other monster types make appearances such as trolls, wargs, goblins, ghosts, and even chubacarbras put in an appearance.

Bosses are quite frequent, and also quite varied. A few are even Shadow of the Colossus style; huge beings who you must climb to find their weak spots and destroy them. Nearly all the bosses require some skill to defeat, and encompass everything from machines to knights, and of course the Lords of Shadow themselves.

Gabriel uses a crucifix on a chain as his main weapon.  A weapon very similar to Kratos chains (from the God of War series). The game is very similar to God of War in style, such as quick time events and button mashing, but unlike Dante's Inferno this game feels more separate from that, and stands well on its own.  Gabriel gains experience from killing enemies and solving puzzles that can be used to purchase new attacks, and moves. He has access to both dark and light magic as well as to secondary weapons like vials of holy water and throwing daggers that can be upgraded. The game is level based, and as you unlock new abilities you can replay old levels to get items you may have missed such as health and magic power ups.

Now for the Castlevania references. The music is very epic in a Lord of the Rings style, and is certainly empowering, but nothing like the Castlevania soundtracks of any of the previous games.  The only time you hear proper Castlevania music is from an old music box in one of the later levels. The monsters are mostly completely separate from previous ones. They may share some similarities but look and act totally different. Names of old series staples seem to have been shoe horned onto the game, such as Brauner who appears as a lieutenant for the Vampire Lord, Gabriel being a Belmont, and the hideous inclusion of Dracula. Lament of Innocence on the PS2 gave Dracula's origin story, and was quite well done.  The tacked on Dracula origin story is completely different, and is really lame. That's about it for Castlevania references in this game.  Of course the chain whip is called the Vampire Killer. There is a very subtle funny nod to Metal Gear Solid in one level, while another provides a completely out of place Portal reference that makes utterly no sense whatsoever.

The game is very long, took me around ten to fifteen hours I think, for an adventure brawler that is a long game. Plenty of replay value. It looks and sounds amazing, and is lots of fun. It just really sucks that it is such a terrible Castlevania game. Ignoring that fact it is still a damn fine horror based game, and well worth playing.


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Wario Land 4 - A Zombie Appearance (GBA)

I'm not going to do a review of Wario Land 4.  It has a lot of horror elements interspersed within its levels, but is far more a traditional Nintendo cutesy platformer than a scary horror.  The cool thing about the Wario Land games is that Wario is kinda invincible.  If he gets squashed by a heavy block he can carry on in a flattened guise.  If he is set on fire or frozen then he gains specific abilities.  He can be stung which inflates his head, or he can be hammered which turns him into a spring.

The basic plot of the game is that a Pyramid has been discovered in a jungle.  Wario loving gold and wealth heads off to explore the Pyramid.  There are warps all through the Pyramid which takes Wario to a variety of different locations.  In each location he must find 4 parts of a giant gem as well as find a key to get further into the Pyramid. Level wise there are a few kinda relevant to horror.  One is set in a Town at night, while another is set in a place called 'The Haunted Hotel'.

If bitten by a Bat Wario turns into a Vampire Bat, he is able to fly but if he comes into contact with light he turns back into normal Wario.  In some levels there is a floating monster ghost.  It spits green balls of goo, which if they hit Wario transform him into a Zombie!  Zombie Wario moves very slowly, and melts through platforms.  This is a curse rather than a blessing as it has no advantages to Wario whatsoever.

So Zombies get everywhere! Apart from that the game has no place in this blog.  Special mention must go to the grotesque looking bosses though.  They include a giant man eating plant, several giant ghosts, and hideous monster children.

If I were to score this game it would get a 3/5 I think.  Quite fun, but quite easy also, though the bosses are challenging to fight.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

My Nightmare Dream thing of 24th November

I had quite a weird dream last night (well sometime early this morning).  Despite thinking at the time it was all normal it does sound kinda freaky describing it.

In my dream I had a foetus of a human girl.  It was alive and well despite being only half formed.  It had not all it's skin so its ribcage was showing, and its little internal organs were visible behind the ribcage working away, like titchy little paper bag lungs and stuff.  I knew it was a female despite it being sexless.  All its flesh looked like the meat you get on gnawed chicken bones, but reddish.

I was keeping the foetus in a plastic house in my Hamsters cage.  My Hamster was also in the cage in its own house, but kept going into the foetus's house and cuddling up with it.  I was worried it might try and eat the foetus or attack it, but it didn't at all.

Despite the condition of the foetus it was healthy, and was slowly being formed, spending its whole time asleep.  I felt a lot of love for the foetus, but thought of it as more of a pet than a human.

The dream sounds really messed up and icky, but it was a nice dream, not at all scary or creepy.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 - Horror Film Review (Cinema)

Last year I saw the terrifying Paranormal Activity at the cinema.  A year later and the sequel is out.  The trailer was kinda lame, and thinking I knew what to expect I went to see this fully expecting a lame, boring, unscary film.

The film is a prequel, taking place in the months leading up to the events of Paranormal Activity.  This time around the film takes place in the household of Katie's sister Kristi, and her husband Daniel (Katie is the woman from Paranormal Activity) With the arrival of Hunter; Daniel and Kristi's newborn baby to their household things start going weird.  It starts off by their house getting trashed, which they attribute to burglars.  However after setting up surveillance cameras around the house they start to discover the far more terrifying truth that everything may be the result of paranormal activity (2).  It seems whatever evil is in the house wants the new born baby for itself, and will stop at nothing to get it...

Like the first film this one falls into the horror genre of 'found footage'. The film is supposedly pieced together by footage both from a handheld camera the occupants use, as well as 6 security cameras set up around the house.  I didn't realise the film was a prequel, but this is very soon made apparent when Myka and Katie show up.  The film pauses and text appears on screen saying that Myka was found dead 60 days from the time of the footage.  Their inclusion in the film is clever in that it never feels like they were shoe horned in.  Their inclusion feels natural, and believable as they are not around enough to witness any freaky stuff.  It even includes a scene taken from the start of Paranormal Activity when Myka shows Katie his new camera which is very well inserted into the film.

Thankfully the film does not implicitly state the cause of the Paranormal Activity (2).  Most the possible causes are discussed by Ali; the couples daughter who is researching what is happening to them on the Internet.  The reason that Myka and Katie also get Paranormal Activity is revealed in a slight twist much like that at the end of Ringu.  The characters are quite interesting.  Ali the daughter is fascinated by the goings on and at first loves the idea her house is haunted.  The father Daniel is very skeptical and gets quite angry at suggestions the house could be haunted; even going as far as to sack Hunters Nanny for her religious beliefs.  Kristi's mainly is just a doting mother, but discussions with her sister Katie about things they experienced as children brings out some welcome back story.  A special mention must go to the family Dog Abby, probably my favourite character just in the way it acts so protectively of the family and seems to know its job is to protect the baby Hunter.

So is the film actually scary?  With the first film I was waiting the whole film to be really scared, the whole film I was tense, and it was only really the last few minutes of the film when I got to the crying with fear phase.  With this film again there is a natural build up, again with the day and night cycles bringing to mind Silent Hills dark and light worlds.  I would actually say this film is even scarier than the first one!  I went with a dear friend who got very very scared by this film.  I wont embarrass her by revealing her name, but needless to say at one point I really thought we would have to leave as genuinely thought she might die of terror! She had nightmares about this afterwards. I cried twice with fear during this film, and leaped out of my skin once.  It is kinda all the same stuff as the first film; slamming doors, moving objects, and people being dragged around, but it just still all looks so realistic due to the security cameras and hand cams.

If you liked the first film then this really is a must see.  I wouldn't be surprised if there is a Paranormal Activity 3 as it is definitely set up for one.  Proper terror in the cinema at least, worthwhile if you want to experience real fear!


Monday, 22 November 2010

Outbreak on Uranus - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

Outbreak on Uranus is yet another mediocre zombie videogame on the dubious X-Box Indie game channel.  It is by Silver Dollar games who have released some utter trash in the past, as well as the fun Head Shot series.

Outbreak on Uranus sees you play as a young businessman wearing a motorbike helmet who must endure a zombie outbreak on the Planet Uranus.Each level takes place in a different part of a station.  Waves of zombies swarm towards you, with the end of each level leading to a boss fight with a giant zombie.

Everything is really big in this game, the enemies and characters taking up over half of the height of the screen.  Everything is real when it comes to the zombies.  The zombies are photos of various people, think the real people who appear in South Park.  They don't look at all like zombies.  Not remotely.  They are various men and woman with stupid fixed expressions on their faces.  When you shoot them they get covered in blood, and really look quite disturbing due to being real people.  That said though the zombies heads are comically out of proportion to their bodies.

The game is a side scrolling shooter.  Nothing exciting happens.  Zombies shoot projectiles at you whether it be balls of spit, or lumps of sick.  If you get near them then they claw at you (indicated by a claw symbol on screen).  Though your avatar is massive it is only the head that takes damage.  You have a pistol but can pick up shotguns, flame throwers; all the usual stuff.

The music is actiony and really not bad.  Your avatar shouts out 'hilarious' puns as he progresses.  I just thought the game was not very good.  Puppets and things like that freak me out anyway.  The human looking zombies are quite creepy, not in a good way, and it was a bit disturbing gunning down human looking people (god I am turning into my parents!).

The game is only 80 microsoft points, but is very boring, and felt a bit wrong.  Get it if you want, but it's not to everyones tastes. You may have noticed by the quality that the screenshots were taken by my cruddy webcam.  That's what you get when you are such a quick reviewer!


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

When Zombie meet Avatars - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

From the makers of the average Avatars, Ghosts 'n' Zombies comes a new game featuring everyones favourite things - Avatars and Zombies!  This is yet another arena based game, though this time is in 3D rather than overhead (just for a change).

You play as your Avatar in a field of overgrown grass that is surrounded by houses, as well as billboards advertising the other crappy games the creator has done.  You play with up to 3 other players, or bots.  The first part of each game sees you fighting off waves of zombies, the main part sees you hunting the other players while zombies become just irritants.

The game is not very good.  There are about a billion identical games of this type on X-Box Indie games.  It's in 3D for once, but still is very boring.  An inoffensive ditty plays, the zombies growl and moan, and your Avatar looks as silly as ever.  You can collect different limited power ups such as rockets and a shotgun.  The zombies are quite good looking, and have humorous things such as kick me signs on their backs.

It is only 80 Microsoft points, but it is also very bad, bland, and lazy.  Do not buy this piece of junk!


Monday, 15 November 2010

High Stakes Zombie Monkeys - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

This is a X-Box Indie game that has been out for quite a while.  Despite its apparent quality the game is in fact not very good, and totally boring.

The game sees you placing bets on yourself as you battle zombie monkeys in an arena surrounded by spectators.  The character you control is your Avatar.  My Avatar is wearing a Sonic the Hedgehog body suit with a Frankenstein mask hat on.  It looks quite stupid so fits in with this game.

There seems no reason for the monkeys to be zombie monkeys.  They either throw poop at you, or climb on your back.  The monkeys are green, and explode in a shower of bananas when killed.  I think the only reason they are called zombie monkeys is a) Zombies are popular, and so has been lazily tacked onto this game idea, and b)  People might object to a game in which you beat to death normal monkeys.  Everyone knows monkeys are so cheeky though!

Before each short round starts you can bet how much of your current earnings you want on the outcome.  The outcome will be you beating to death all the monkeys with your polo stick.  Money earned can be used to upgrade your polo stick to a mace, sword, or even a light saber.

The game features an inoffensive little ditty that is not too bad to listen to, and the presentation of the game is not bad, I love the logo for the game which comprises a red poker chip featuring the face of a monkey with half its brains showing.  The game is only 80 Microsoft points, so as cheap as (poker) chips. Shame there just is not much to it.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel without a Pulse - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box)

I love this game, I really consider it to be a classic.  It came out towards the end of the X-Box's life.  It is a third person action game that sees you as a playing as a zombie rampaging through a futuristic looking new City called Punchbowl in the late 1950's.  The game features a soundtrack of classic tracks covered by current (at the time) bands.

The game starts with a corpse rising from the ground in a newly opened City of Punchbowl.  Being a zombie the corpse (Stubbs) goes on a rampage, eating the brains of all who get in his way.  The plot kind of happens around Stubbs.  Just by chance he stumbles into relevant plot places and through the course of the game learns of his past, discovers a love interest, and gets his revenge on his murderer.

Stubbs the zombie is a very fun game.  The story is very goofy, sometimes too goofy, but underneath all that is a classic revenge tale. Despite it's silly nature the game is actually quite violent.  Each human Stubbs kills via brain munching is resurrected as a zombie that you are able to give some basic instructions to.  Via whistling and pushing you can get the zombies to go where you want, and kill who you want.  Very useful when there is someone with a gun you need to take out.  Simply send a wave of zombies to soak up bullets while you walk behind.  All humans with the exception of helmet wearing ones can come back as your undead allies.  The helmeted enemies are not too much of a threat either as you can rip thier arm off and use it to beat them to death with!

Though Stubbs is a zombie he is not immortal.  In fact he can be surprisingly weak.  Luckily you get access to a host of special abilities.  Stubbs can remove his own head that can then be bowled at humans.  Stubbs can remove a hand that then turns into a Thing style monster.  Any human can then be controlled by clamping the hand onto their head.  They can be made to attack other humans, or even to press switches and open doors for you.  The third ability you have is to throw an exploding spleen at enemies.  Your last ability acts like an area bomb.  You let off a load of toxic gas that stuns all nearby enemies.

This is one of the rare games that I completed on my very first play through. I was addicted, and as a result of playing it was late for a Friday night out of drinking.  It took me about 6 hours to do, the game never gets boring.  Starting off in the City of Punchbowl the game progresses to the Country where redneck militia fight you, leading to some of the games most atmospheric sections as you and your zombie pals charge through cornfields to pick off lone gunmen, attack sheds, and eventually assault an old mansion.  The middle part of the game is a bit patchy, various locations stuck together using the vehicle of a Sheep to get from one disparate place to another.  The later part of the game sees you return to a now war torn, zombie infested Punchbowl to complete your accidental revenge odyssey.

The game is very addictive, and features some fun set pieces.  The first boss of the game is the Police Chief.  Rather than fight him though he engages you in a surreal dance-off.  A later boss challenge sees you urinating into Punchbowls water supply while respawning enemies swarm your position to try and stop you.  The end of the game unfortunately sees quite a generic boss encounter that is more frustrating than challenging.

A cult classic built using the Halo engine (the vehicle sections control identical to Halos Warthogs).  Looks great, has a wonderful soundtrack, and is still as fun to play now as it was then.  The game is also 2 player split screen, but as usual never tried that.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

General update for November 2010

Another month full of changes.  Am now officially unemployed, so need to find a new job, and keep on updating my blog regularly.  I went to the Vampire Ball at Northampton Roadmender for Halloween (I am the one in the mask in the above photo).  It was a good night despite only one of the 3 rooms being open.  I admit my memory of my time there is kinda missing(!), but had cool company.

I have recently purchased the survival horror game 'Deadly Premonition' which is supposed to be so terrible that it is good.  Will get around to playing that sometime.  Brought a promotional copy of Castlevania: Lord of Shadows.  Really looking forward to playing that one, as the demo where you fight Werewolf's and Wargs in the rain was epic feeling.  I have gotten Fallout: New Vegas.  It looks, and feels very similar to Fallout 3 so far, I am only 5 hours into it, so I am sure that in time I will get ultra addicted to it.

At the cinema currently is Saw 3D (which I have already reviewed) as well as Paranormal Activity 2 which I want to see, but am hoping to see with friends rather than alone.  Burke and Hare is also out.  This is a comedy involving two murderers starring Simon Pegg.  The trailer looked terrible, so I am not exactly dying to see it, though may well do if I get the motivation.  Let me In is also out.  It is an American remake of the foreign Let the Right One In.  It is a Vampire film about a boy who befriends a child vampire.  Was ok, but not amazing (the original anyway).

This Saturday (13th November) is Day of the Undead at Phoenix Square in Leicester.  Tickets are £25 for an all day pass.  Films being shown include the classic  zombie flicks Dellamorte Dellamore, and Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, as well as newer ones such as Zombies of Mass Destruction, and Reel Zombies.  Dean Boor of Shock Horror magazine is going to be there as a special guest (and has offered me a lift should I decide to go).  Should be a good day!