Monday, 28 February 2011

Piranha 3D - Horror Film Review

I narrowly missed seeing this at the cinema but got to see it the other day.  It is the 2nd remake of the late 70's horror film of the same name.  This time around the film is done in 3D, while I never got to see it in 3D it looked to all intents and purposes like it would have been bad 3D; all things being thrown into the screen.

The film takes place in an American lake side Town during Spring Break (apparently a celebration where teens party and take their clothes off a lot).  Jake a boring kid is due to babysit his two young siblings while his mother (the Sheriff of the Town) does her thing.  Getting an offer by a sleazy Pornographer to guide his boat to the best looking locations on the lake Jake abandons his annoying charges and heads off for a day of sleaziness.  Unknown to the inhabitants of the Town a localised earthquake has opened up a fissure under the lake where prehistoric Piranhas have been living for over two million years, surviving by cannibalism.  Soon the deadly fish are sweeping the lake looking for food and it isn't long before the 20,000 partying students become fish food.  Jake, his mum and their friends must now find a way to stop the multitude of terror that is swarming the lake.

The film is very bad, it is full of violence and scantily clad females.  Apart from a few kills it is over half way through the films running time that anything starts to happen.  The first half is mostly taken up with partying students, lots of shots of topless women, and a few lesbian scenes courtesy of the sleazy Pornographer and his 'wild' girls (including for some reason Kelly Brook).  At about the half way point though the pay off is realised as the annoying as hell students start to get eaten quite rapidly and it isn't long before the lake is red with blood and partially consumed victims are flopping around left, right and centre.

The effects are quite good in places and terrible in others but the partially eaten look is gotten down quite well with many victims being skinned alive in rapid succession.  The best scene is the blood bath at the student party where panicking teens are butchered by the Piranhas while the Police try in vain to rescue them by shotgunning randomly at the little terrors.  Ving Rhames in a wasted role as a Cop sacrifices himself to save the worthless party goers by waving a boats propeller into the screen (a 3D effect wasted on me). During all this a crazed man gets in a small boat and kills legions of people while trying to escape, eventually getting foiled when a poor girls hair gets caught in his propeller leading to her face being pulled off and zombie like droves of people toppling his boat over.  Meanwhile on the boat of Porn the disgusting director gets his comeuppance when his Penis is bitten off and eaten in a grim scene.

The plot is very basic and just serves as a device for mayhem and nudity to occur.  I found this film quite fascinating in a car crash kind of way.  It is a terrible film but there's no doubt in my mind that anyone who went to see this would have expected what was provided.  It is brainless, sleazy and does what is expected of it, but does all this in a knowing way.  Christopher Lloyd has a bit part though he seems to be playing Doc from the Back to the Future films.  Not very good, but entertaining with the amount of tongue in cheek bloodshed in it.


Saturday, 26 February 2011

Dead Island (2011) - Official Announcement Trailer

Just got around to watching the excellent trailer for the zombie RPG Dead Island.  I first heard of Dead Island a few years back and assumed it was long dead but this gem was recently released...

The trailer is all CGI but gives a good indication of the type of game it is to be.  The game is supposed to be very melee weapon friendly as was shown in the trailer with the Dad with the axe.  Also seen in the trailer is different types of zombie, the bell-hop zombie being much faster than the other ones.

I love this trailer, it has made a game I was kinda looking forward to into a game I really want to see!  Also around on the web is a video that shows events in chronological order which plays out better I think...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dragon Age: Origins DLC - The Golems of Amgarrak - Horror DLC Review (X-Box 360)

The Golems of Amgarrak was one of the last DLC missions to be released for Dragon Age: Origins.  The DLC was advertised as being very hard, what wasn't advertised is the fact that the stand alone DLC feels very like a survival horror game if it were set in a fantasy world.

The DLC is set in the Deep Roads (massive underground Dwarven tunnels).  A Dwarf has hired you to find his brother whose team went missing when they left to find a laboratory where the secrets of Golem creation were being studied.  Upon finding the laboratory you become locked in and soon find mysterious levers that move you to different plains of existence as well as nightmarish creations after your blood.  Before the Golems had been created out of stone and metal but the experiments in Amgarrak were looking to create Golems out of stitched together flesh.

The first part of the DLC sees you en route to Amgarrak which sees you in typical Darkspawn fighting mode.  You have a team of 4 as usual, including a Golem and a Bronto (a large beast).  Arriving at Amgarrak sees the horror begin.  It seems the person in charge of recreating Golems was quite the mad scientist, dotted around the lab are various diary entries detailing the insane work the Scientist was doing and the many victims of that work.  At first sentry Golems are the main enemy but upon finding a strange switch you are transported to another dimension full of Skeletons and Zombies.  Eventually you find that to be able to leave the nightmare lab you will have to destroy a creature called The Harvester.  Keeping horror conventions going the DLC ends on a shock twist.

As with the rest of Dragon Age I played this DLC on Casual mode so it was not too hard, the end boss and a room full of Golems were the only hard parts I got to.  The DLC being horror based was a pleasant surprise so all in all a good standalone game full of corpses and mayhem.


Monday, 21 February 2011

The Zodiac (2005) - Horror Film Review

The Zodiac Killer has always fascinated me, mainly due to the fact that he was never caught.  For over 10 years he sent letters to the Police bragging about the murders he had committed, reckoning he had killed up to 37 people (though only 5 have been confirmed, with a further 4 murders possibly done). He is a mystery that will probably never be solved and also kinda lame to be honest.

The Zodiac is set in the late 1960's during the first of the Zodiac Killers murders, it follows Inspector Matt Parish (played by Justin Chambers) who has been put in charge of bringing the serial killer to justice.  The strain of the hunt starts to impact on his family life as his marriage falls apart whilst he is obsessed with catching the killer.

Not a lot happens in the film.  The problem with making a film about a serial killer who was never caught is that there is no exciting pay off.  Fact wise the film stays pretty rigidly to true events but I was hoping for a showdown with the serial killer, maybe with the Cop killed by him to explain how he was never identified.  Unfortunately this doesn't happen, Parish spends the whole film on a wild goose chase going after the wrong guy, the film ends with his career in ruins.  His son has better luck which is kinda funny as he is only 10 years old.  The kid (who acts like a 60 year old throughout) gets into the more bizarre aspect of the killer such as the relations between the murders and solar events but his junior detecting is not appreciated by anyone.  Perhaps if he didn't look so damn miserable for the films duration someone may have humoured him.

The Zodiac killer is played by Marty Lindsey though you wouldn't know this as he is never shown in full, just shadowy images, shots of his back and legs, and montages of him preparing weapons for his next murder.  He has zero presence in the film and just does not come across as anything good or bad, just a walking plot device.

I wanted this film to be good but it is bland at best.  It has a nice ending with a real life quote from the Zodiac letters saying how the killer had wanted a film made about his events, but looking this up I found that the letter saying this is widely regarded by experts to be a fake Zodiac letter so lessons that impact.  Not really recommended.


Friday, 18 February 2011

Alan Wake (2010) - Horror Videogame Review including DLC

I have wanted Alan Wake for the longest time, finally for my birthday I received it. Alan Wake is a psychological survival horror game set in a remote forest town.

Alan Wake is a famous horror writer who has gone on vacation to the forest town of Bright Falls with his wife Alice. For two years Alan has had crippling writers block and is starting to doubt his ability to write. His wife hopes that the beauty of Bright Falls will inspire Alan to start writing again. After an argument with her Alan leaves the lakeside cabin they are staying at, he has not got far when he hears a scream. Racing back to the cabin he finds it deserted, with the back door open. Thinking he sees his wife submerged under the water in the lake he dives in to rescue her. A week later he awakes in a crashed car up in the mountains with no recollection of the past seven days. He starts to find scattered manuscript pages wherever he goes, a manuscript that he has written but has no memory of, and which foretells the future with horrific results. Every horror written down on the manuscript pages seems to come true. With the Police, as well as a dark evil after him Alan must find a way to rescue his wife and piece together what has happened.

The game reminded me of the dreadful Alone in the Dark (the latest reboot).  Both games rely heavily on light and dark mechanics and both are split up into TV style episodes.  Luckily where AITD was awful this is a great game. The main enemy in the game is 'The Darkness' (not the band, or the comic book anti-hero). The Darkness possesses the towns people turning them into mindless puppets intent on murder. The people (known as the Taken) attack Alan with all manner of tools such as scythes, chainsaws, hammers and clubs appearing out of the darkness of the game world with little warning.  To defeat the enemies they must first be weakened by light.  Alan carries a torch around with him which when focused on enemies draws away their shadow making them susceptible to conventional weapons. Flares, flash bangs and strong lights have the power to totally obliterate the Taken. The other main enemy type are possessed objects that range from small things like barrels all the way to boats and diggers. The game is nearly bloodless, the Taken being made of shadow so dissolve when killed but there is still a sense of dread in the night sections that contrast well with the sections set during the daytime.

The locations in the game are mostly forest based but there is still a lot of variety. Saw mills, farms and plenty of abandoned buildings litter the levels and make the race through the woodlands more interesting. The game is split into six episodes, each usually giving you a location in the far distance to get to. These locations (such as a brightly lit petrol station or power station) often look deceptively close but take forever to get to, giving you a real sense of relief when you do arrive. The episodes vary based on the ever twisting plot, but constant is the darkness making your flights through the woods tense, nervous affairs always heading towards the next lit area while expecting to be ambushed at any point.

The plot is quite good if not amazing. You have a real desire to see the story to its conclusion and the voice acting is really good, especially the comic relief in the form of Alan's agent - Barry who is hilarious but never seems like he's detracting from the creeping horror. Each episode feels complete and always leaves a cliff-hanger for the next episode.  Each one is between one and two hours long, so the game is a decent length.

The game references many things. The town resembles Twin Peaks while the plot as a whole is similar to the John Carpenter horror flick In the Mouth of Madness. Hidden in the game are TV sets that when turned on play short parodies of Twilight Zone episodes that are ace to watch.  The swarms of birds that attack Alan reminded me a lot of Hitchcock's The Birds.

There were two essential DLC episodes released for this game. The first episode is called The Signal.  At first it seems the DLC was just going to reuse locations from the main game but it does cool things with these locations mixing them up and giving them totally different feelings due to the dream like tone of this. Taking place after the end of the main game it gives some more insight into what has happened as Alan is tormented by a crazed version of himself that inhabits TVs dotted around the DLC. The TVs look really good as the Alan on them is live action rather then graphics.

The second episode is called The Writer. This episode sees Alan go even further into his dream world with the locations becoming extremely surreal and crazy (floating rocks over a lake, a random set of locations from the main game all jumbled together and put on a giant spinning big wheel). The combat remains fun and the episode ties up nicely for Alan Wake 2 (please!).

A fantastic horror game made even better by competently and lovingly made DLC. Highly recommended for any fans of horror.


Update (10/09/2020):

I have recently replayed this game in preparation for the second expansion for Control. It is always a worry heading back to a cherished game that you may find it is no longer what it once was. For the first two chapters I was a bit concerned, I found the graphics were not as good as my memory told me, and I wasn't finding the game that interesting. Thankfully from the third chapter onwards this just got better and better, Alan Wake really is a classic game.
The two expansions were also pretty good still. The first, The Signal has a great antagonist in the form of a crazy live action Alan Wake who appears on TV screens, his rantings often bringing an ambush from enemies. This first chapter was quite action heavy. The second expansion, The Writer was more platform oriented, and surprisingly I was reminded a lot of The Evil Within. Both this chapter and that game are set in a nightmare, and both have you forever heading towards a distant lighthouse. All in all I had a lot of fun heading back through the game. 

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Dream of 16th February 2011 (May contain Apocalypse)

Had a weird dream last night and I want to commit it to text before it fades from my mind.  I got the feeling it took place during a zombie apocalypse but I did not actually see any zombies, maybe it just took place during some war or something.

I was a fugitive from the law and the general public.  I searched the streets for my bike which I had locked to a lamp post some years previously.  Eventually I found it but then Laura Roslin (the President from the TV series Battlestar Galactica) discovered me.  She let me go but stole the back light from my bike so that I could not use it.

I was at a militarised Travel Lodge.  One of the people staying there was hiding me.  We lived out on a hallway and ordered food, whenever an employee showed up I went and hid in a room.  There were quite a few of us by the time I left.

Next I was in some Army base on the top floor in a large hanger type place.  I was with some people who were hiding me.  They discovered secret tunnels running behind the walls and planned for me to hide there,  they then discovered an even more secret attic area which had bottled water, food, and 4 PCs though also a see through floor (I am scared of heights).  The Commander of the base would regularly come to this floor and beat up my hiders.  Eventually we got a Helicopter back to the Travel Lodge, we found it a smoking ruin with two of our people waving us down...then I awoke.

I didn't see any zombies but I got the impression they were somewhere in my dream world and that I was maybe the cause, or seen as the cause for the worlds ongoing Apocalypse.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Zombie Love Song by Your Favorite Martian - Zombie Music Video

There is a load of horror related music videos out there, I am usually too lazy to stick them up despite it being an easy blog post to do.  I saw this on Facebook the other day, it made me smile.  I know 'Favourite' is spelt wrong but that's what the band is called, maybe it's an American thing?

The song is done in an boyband style and tells of an internet relationship between two people on a chat room. The boy always told the girl he was a zombie but she thought he was joking until they met up...

It really is not the type of music I usually like but the lyrics made me smile and the whole video has a nice vibe and look to it, plus it has zombies in it!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Dragon Age: Origins - The Darkspawn Chronicles - RPG Videogame DLC Review

I know it is yet another Dragon Age review!  You may be pleased to hear that out of the remaining DLC I will only be reviewing this and The Golems of Amgarrak. Leliana's Song DLC centres around Humans, while Witch Hunt is Dragon Age by numbers and nothing special at all.

The Darkspawn Chronicles takes place in an alternate timeline to that of Dragon Age: Origins.  In this timeline the main character from Origins died and so it was down to the Grey Warden Alistair to unite the people against the Darkspawn threat.  The game takes place during the end of Origins at the assault on the City of Denerim. You play as a Darkspawn; a Hurlock Vanguard.  As you fight through the City you get new objectives given to you telepathically by an Arch Demon.

The game is far more combat based and plays more like an action brawler than a RPG.  You can't level up and there is no downtime, it is just one big fight from the start of the DLC to the end.  You are able to Enthrall up to 3 other Darkspawn to fight with you.  Ogres are able to smash barricades, Genlocks are basic fodder, while Shrieks are able to use stealth to creep past weapon emplacements.  Being a Darkspawn your missions mostly involve killing; whether it be butchering innocents, destroying enemy blockades or killing key characters from Origins.  By the end of the DLC I had killed all the main characters, quite satisfying, especially the more annoying ones (e.g: Alistair!)

The DLC lasts around an hour and uses no new locations at all.  Being mindless monsters the plot is kept to a bare minimum.  It is fun enough but really could have done with some new locations.  It was fun being the bad guys for once.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Awakening was the first and main stand alone expansion for Dragon Age: Origins.  It provides around 10 to 15 hours of game play and lets you import your character from Origins.

The game takes place 6 months after the conclusion of Origins.  Usually after a Blight has ended the Darkspawn retreat once more to the underground.  This time the Darkspawn have not gone away, they are still roaming the Country and worse they seem to be getting smarter.  The game starts with you arriving at the Wardens Keep where Darkspawn have launched a surprise attack.  Discovering Darkspawn now have the ability to formulate plans as well as talk you are tasked with investigating the land to discover just what is going on.  This leads to you discovering a Darkspawn civil war between two intelligent Darkspawns; one calling himself The Architect, the other calling herself The Mother.

The game is much more compact than Origins and sees you in a small corner of the Country.  All new locations are used for this expansion and the game as a whole has a more horror theme to it.  You have access to mostly new party members which include a disgraced Noble, a member of the Legion of the Dead and even a Spirit from the Fade that has found itself inhabiting a corpse (a zombie technically).

The main plot has you exploring four distinct locations.  Knothole Hill leads to the Dwarfen Long roads.  These were very epic areas in Origins and again a Lord of the Rings vibe is gotten here as you fight legions of Darkspawn in underground Cities.  The Wending Woods is a vast forest area where a mysterious being is slaughtering anyone passing through, while the last main quest location the Blackmarsh is a fantastic Gothic trip through a swamp to a deserted village whilst fending off mutant Werewolves and Demons from the Fade (the Ghost World)  The locations can be tackled in any order and are all fun to do though the Blackmarsh is the most fun of the locations.  When these are all done you get to descend into the Earth to battle an unholy terror in a mission reminiscent of the works of H.P Lovecraft.

The game really benefits from not being so open, it gives a more driven feeling to proceedings.  New enemies are plentiful and include several new Dragons and various new types of Golems as well as zombies, wolves, and creepy child faced worm monsters (spawned by the multi breasted Mother!).  The graphics are better than those of Origins and the voice acting stays at its high level.

If you liked Origins at all then I suggest you play this.  More of the same yet at the same time feels fresh and different and benefits by the infusion of horror.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Hot Fuzz - Horror Film Review

Caught Hot Fuzz on TV the other day.  Despite the film being brutally chopped up it was still a great watch and made me fall in love with it all over again.  Hot Fuzz I feel is a vastly under rated film being unfairly compared to the better Shaun of the Dead.  Like that film though it is a grower and requires repeated viewings to truly love it like it deserves.

Hot Fuzz is the tale of a super Cop from London; Nicholas Angel who is forcibly relocated to a sleepy countryside Town of Sandford due to making his work colleagues look bad with his amazing policing.  Angel is horrified to be working in such a peaceful Town but begins to discover a sinister side to the idyllic streets.  When a series of deaths are attributed to freak accidents Angel starts to be convinced that they are instead murders by a serial killer and sets out to prove this.  With the whole Town against him the only person he can trust is his dim witted partner Danny Butterman.  Is Angel a man going insane or is there really a grand conspiracy enveloping the whole community?

The film is a comedy that riffs off of buddy Cop films such as Bad Boys as well as is a cinematic take on crime shows such as Midsomer Murders.  The horror element comes into play with the creepy serial killer; a cloaked figure who resembles the Scream killer from the Scream films.  The killer is quite violent in his methods with beheadings, explosions, and even a pair of secateurs though the throat as murder types.  The film changes half way though into something else entirely.  With the lid blown off the whole conspiracy, Angels world turns into a place where absolutely everyone is after his blood, him against a Village of the damned.

The comedy is solid throughout and retains its humour on repeated viewings.  As always some does fall flat but it does a good job of balancing the fun with the action and boy is there a lot of action.  A wonderful film that shows that not everything that glitters is gold and that everyone has secrets.  The film looks fantastic and the acting is of a nearly universally high standard featuring many famous faces in the world of comedy (Bill Bailey, Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kevin Eldon and Jim Broadbent to name a few).  Definitely a film to have in your collection!


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Shock Horror Issue 3 - Review (Magazine)

I have just finished reading Issue 3 of the new British horror mag Shock Horror, another quality issue.  I was looking forward to this one due to an interview with one of my favourite all time directors Rob Zombie (his music is damn good also!)

The issue again was well written with nearly all the articles being quite interesting to read.  The issue was quite zombie heavy with the film reviews section having about half the reviews about zombie films, the comics review section was also full of zombies, and they even crawled onto the book review section.  Just the one videogame review this issue; Dead Rising 2, as always I don't really rank the game reviews but that is just be being a games snob I fear!

More Zombies turned up in the special effects column which focused on Zombie Diaries 2 this issue (Zombie Diaries was terrible so hope this one is better!)  After this came an interview with the amazing Rob Zombie which while quite interesting revealed nothing special other than the fact that Zombie is not going to make another Halloween film.

Zombies continued their dominance of the issue with an interview with ex The Walking Dead comic artist Tony Moore.  I love the style of his art, cartoony yet somehow realistic also.  There is an interview with the director of upcoming zombie flick Invasion of the Not Quite Dead which was sorta interesting but sadly lacking in any details whatsoever of what the film is going to be about.  Hopefully an interview closer to the films release will happen so that any information about the film can actually be revealed.

As always the Haunted Tattoo section made its appearance once again, this time focusing on...zombies! Definitely a theme running in this issue.  The last feature of the magazine was a retrospective on Hammer Horror's  The Plague of the Zombies, a film I have still sadly yet to see.

Slotted in around all this zombie madness was a look at the life of Bela Lugosi (once again a great part of the mag, very interesting), the as always boring Directors Chair segment (just does not appeal to me), the fun but random Scarlet's Sanctuary column (always full of nice photos) and the very brief comic strip (at this rate of 5 panels an issue it is going to take several years to finish up the basic cannibal storyline going on).

A whirlwind tour of the magazine I know, but another good issue, well worth buying!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Feast - Horror Fim Review

Feast is a film I have owned for a while now, I picked it up from a Supermarket bargain bin so excuse me for not taking time to watch this ace film earlier!

Feast takes place at a remote bar in the middle of the Texan desert.  The patrons are having a usual night of drunkenness and misery when a stranger bursts into the place.  He explains he is being chased by monsters and that everyone needs to lock down the bar.  Moments later a monster sticks its head through the window and ends his life.  It seems after one of their number was killed in a road accident a group of strange creatures have become determined to kill all humans they can find.  The people of the bar have to work together to barricade the building and survive the night whilst under constant attack by the strange, violent monsters and their offspring.

The film is set in the one location and apart from a few times the film never leaves the building the survivors are barricaded in.  It reminded me a bit of From Dusk Till Dawn. The film has a vein of black comedy running through it which is more hit than miss.  Each character has their own bio that pops up on screen to introduce them.  These bios are painfully unfunny. The rest of the humour actually works, it comes mostly from the interactions the various characters have, as well as the sordid way the monsters act.  For the most part the characters are not that likable; the corrupt owner of the bar, a travelling motivational speaker, the local looser, a single mother as well as other stereotypes.  It is funny how some conventions of the genre are played with though such as when one of the characters starts heavily quizzing the old lady of the group on whats happening 'your old, you must have heard some sort of tale or local legend in your lifetime! Tell us what you know!' (to paraphrase).  It sure seemed funnier within context of the film!  Also the way the main Hero is killed within minutes of arrival (and just after his hero speech) was fresh.

The monsters are quite cool looking.  For the most part you don't get to see them much and when you do they look fake.  There is a reason they look fake though as they are dressed in roadkill, and wear animal skulls over their heads, it is only late in the film you see their true form which is far more gooey and scary.  The monsters seem quite obsessed with sex.  Early on in the film a poor character gets slimed by one of them becoming covered in monster semen which leads to the character being covered in maggots (live maggots) for the films duration (I hate insects, they turn my stomach). The child monsters hump everything they come into contact with, and the male monster gets its member sliced off with a hatchet at one point.  The film has lots of gore, people getting utterly covered in projectile goo, blood and other bodily fluids.  Quite quite icky.  There is violence aplenty with people getting limbs lopped off, heads crushed, eyeballs puled out left right and centre, it is all over the top though and quite entertaining!

Sure the plot is nearly non existent but in a film like this a plot isn't really needed. The film was successful enough to get 2 sequels which I am quite interested in seeing as this was a well made, fun and exciting film.


Friday, 4 February 2011

Zombie Turkey Outbreak - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

Another day another Zombie Indie videogame review.  Ages ago back in the days of the Playstation and N64 a South Park FPS was released.  The game was quite terrible and unplayable but it did feature zombie Turkeys a lot.  This game also features zombie Turkeys but due to the games cheapness they don't outstay their welcome.

The story is displayed via a loading screen which features a newspaper telling a story of a farmer who went insane and bio engineered his Turkeys (with a combination of drugs, steroids and energy drinks) to attack the local populace.  You play as a Soldier sent to the farmers farm to stop the zombie Turkeys before they leave the place.  The initial loading times are kinda long so you get plenty of time to read the newspaper story explaining things.

You start the game armed with a pistol with infinite ammo.  Every few levels you clear unlocks a new weapon such as machine gun, shotgun, Uzi, sniper rifle etc.  After level 11 there are no new weapons to unlock.  Each level takes place in the same location; around a barn, each level features more and more Turkeys.  The Turkeys come in 3 types, there are the basic zombie Turkeys, smaller zombie Hens, and big Turkeys who vomit bile at you.  The zombies attack mostly by pecking away at you.

The game really doesn't look too bad, and the zombies die messily with brains and intestines splattered about (slightly ruined by the way the enemies vanish once killed).  Apart from a few clipping issues it controls well, though once while playing the game crashed which was kinda annoying.  The soundtrack during the game is ok, made better by Turkey noises included.  The title screen music is really good, very catchy.

At 80 Microsoft points the game is cheap and worth purchasing despite the rather brief experience on offer.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

General Update for February 2011 - Skint Edition

Another month and I am still penniless and jobless but luckily I still have a house full of things to review in the name of Horror.  My birthday this month, so I will be another year closer to my eventual demise!

I am playing through Final Fantasy XIII, Dragon Age: Awakening, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on the RPG front, all are fantasy based RPG's but all feature monsters at some point.  Burn Zombie Burn is still taking up some of my time on PSN, while over in the world of XBLA I am still battling through the quite boring fantasy based puzzler Puzzle Quest 2.  On the PC I am playing Beneath a Steel Sky (a Sci-fi point and click adventure) and the FMV horror cheese fest Phantasmagoria.

I saw the trailer for Scream 4 recently, it looks to be as bad as the previous 3 films (the only good Scream film was the original in my opinion).  I don't really know what horrors are coming out at the cinema this year but I still have a legion of horror VHS and DVDs to watch.  I am half way though the final season of the fab Battlestar Galactica so a review of the show will follow watching that.

There really is not more to add this month, though there was one thing...I found a mysterious sinister email in my inbox welcoming me as a member to a bizarre club named Fright Club.  Horror and fright awaited me at the site, I am not even sure if I should be mentioning the site as the first and second rule of Fright Club is 'Do not mention Fright Club' (now where have I heard that before?)  Still I am now a member of the elusive Club as can be seen by my badge proudly displayed at the top of my site!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Dragon Age: Origins - RPG Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

I finally completed Dragon Age: Origins the other day, it took me around 50 hours to do.  It took me a long time to get into this game and at first I was worried that I had been too quick to purchase all the games DLC before seeing if I actually liked the game.  It was only after I changed the games difficulty to Casual after struggling on Normal for 15 hours that I fell in love with the game.

Dragon Age: Origins is a fantasy based role playing game set in the Kingdom of Ferelden.  The game features Elves, Dwarfs, Dragon, Magic and the other usual fantasy traits.  You start the game with one of six possible origin stories whether it be a Castless Dwarf in the underground City of Orzammar, an Elf in an Alienage in the capital City of Denerim or another starting story.  Each origin story ends with your character being recruited into the Grey Wardens.  The world is about to enter it's 5th Blight.  The Blight is an event when the legions of Dark Spawn rise up from under the ground at the command of a Arch Demon (said to be one of the old Gods).  Blights can only be ended when the Arch Demon is slain and the Grey Wardens are the only people able to slay them.  Political intrigue leads to the King of Denerim being slain and the land torn asunder by a power hungry lord called Loghain who seizes control.  Your aim in the game is to visit the lands and recruit each main race to join your army so that you can oust the tyrannical Loghain and lead the people of the land into war against the Darkspawn.

The game is very fantasy based but it is done really well and feels quite fresh despite being so familiar to a hundred and one fantasy books.  It is quite a dark story with heaps of Demons, Monsters and Ghosts between you and victory.  Much like the Elder Scroll games you get a main storyline to follow but also lots and lots of side missions that involve anything from rescuing people from dank prisons to informing soldiers wives of thier new found widowhood.  The main missions seeing you travel to the various lands of the world to get the support of the various races.

The game is semi real time in that you issue commands to your party but do not have direct control of their actions.  Your team of 4 can have commands programmed to them such as healing any team mate who falls under 50% health.  There are a lot of members you can recruit including a Golem, a War Hound, as well as more traditional characters such as rogues and mages.  Your behaviour in missions grants you good or bad points with your team mates which can result in them leaving your party or even deciding to attack you.  By the games end I had killed a possible team mate before I had the option to recruit her, and I had sent one of my more annoying team mates off to be executed (he was quite irritating, he deserved it!).  The games difficulty comes from the fact that you need to keep a close eye on the health of all your characters and quickly be able to flip between them to ensure they are performing well.  Casual mode took a lot of the stress off of this area of the game while still being fun to play.

The main enemy you face are Dark Spawn.  These are Goblin type monsters that really reminded me of the Lord of the Ring Goblins.  Zombies make an appearance in a mission where the Town of Redcliffe comes under attack each night by hordes of undead which was quite ace.  The Elves of the forest are in a feud with a roving band of Werewolves which was another more horror based mission.  The Circle of Magi's Castle mission sees you battling through a tower in which the veils of reality have been ripped open and Demons have invaded, another cool horror mission.  A lot of the game is pure fantasy but horror does make itself known in places, as well as real life horror like rape, torture, madness and cannibalism.

There is a lot of DLC for this game that I had on my play though but there is also a lot of stand alone DLC which I shall no doubt review at a later date.  A very fun, exciting fantasy RPG that is quite hard if you are not prepared (prepared to put the game on easy that is!)  Dragon Age 2 is out later this year, I am quite interested in getting that based on the fun I had with this.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Hereafter - Film Review

I blame Cineworld entirely for me watching this bland film.  They described it as a 'supernatural thriller' but there is nothing thrilling whatsoever about this film, it is a slow paced drama at best, so is very misleading of Cineworld to say that.  Hereafter is directed by Clint Eastwood which was another factor in me deciding to see it.

Hereafter features 3 separate stories that eventually link up.  A famous French reporter Marie DeLay is on holiday in Thailand when she has a near death experience and after heading back to Paris decides to quit her well respected job to write a book about the afterlife.  Over in London 12 year old Marcus's twin brother Jason gets killed in a car accident.  Marcus becomes obsessed with discovering a way to get in contact with his deceased sibling.  Finally over in San Francisco a middle aged man; George (played by Matt Damon) struggles to hide his past as a genuine psychic.

The film starts off very well, the opening ten minutes feature a tsunami washing over a coastal town, this is very well done and quite frightening.  At this point I was thinking that the film was going to be good.  Unfortunately that it is for highlights, the rest of the film is a two hour march towards oblivion.  My girlfriend was asleep for about the last hour of the film, I envied her as I certainly wish I had been knocked out rather than watch it.

One of my main problems for this film is the utterly terrible acting.  This usually just occurs in the London scenes which take up a third of the film.  No one seems able to act at all in these scenes, every single character sounding painfully like they are reading directly off a script held in front of them.  The biggest culprits are the twin boys played by Frankie and George McLaren.  It is not enough to let them off for being children, there are plenty of good child actors, these are not even actors.  At one point one of the twins was holding a sheet of paper (supposedly a programme for a talk he was going to) I swear to god it looked like he was reading his lines off of it!

The soundtrack is irritating as hell, it is a mellow European score that reminds me of bad sitcom holiday specials where the cast all go to Spain.  The plot is boring and just seemed to be preaching, begging the audience to join in and be amazed at the notion of an afterlife.  No sir, not for me!  It tries to tie in real life events such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 and the London bombings of 2005 and these are its most effective areas but is not enough to engage my attention to the dull lifeless characters.  Matt Damon is the best thing about this film, but he should be ashamed for agreeing to co star in such a boring production. I don't recommend this film at all, it is very dull even the supernatural elements, avoid.