Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Shadows in the Underworld - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

The Shadows in the Underworld is heavily based on the works of H.P Lovecraft, the premise and everything about it is straight out of his terrifying tales of madness, of strange cults and ancient horrors.

It starts with you in Antarctica in a submarine, strange ruins have been discovered under the water so you head off to investigate.  Upon getting to the ruins an ancient door slams shut leaving you trapped in the madness of the almighty ancient City.  Coming under attack from deep sea horrors you must navigate the nightmare and find a way to escape before you are driven insane...

Each level has you exploring a maze looking for the exit and its key.  The key you usually stumble across literally right away.  There is a progress bar at the bottom of the screen to see if your heading the right way.  Each screen you go onto will usually lead to a sustained attack from the monsters of the deep. Your submarine has torpedoes, as well as a giant chainsaw, I virtually never used the missiles, chainsaw was king.  Items can be collected using your beam which level up your armour, chainsaw and missiles.

The game has a cartoony look which does detract from the premise a bit, samey backgrounds, and architecture are used with not much variation between levels.  Between levels you get the submarine captains diary entries, these are very Lovecraftian in their writings as the captain is slowly driven insane by the unending gigantic City he is trapped in.  The music is great as well despite a lack of variety, I guess being an indie game is the reason for this. I was really hooked on this, excitedly waiting for the next diary entry, it had a bit of a weak finish which was a shame, not quite the doom and gloom ending I expected but still again quite in vein with Lovecraft (by far the writer of the most scary stories ever told).

Had quite a bit of fun with this one, for 80 Microsoft points this is well worth picking up.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto - Horror Film Review

I have said before that Rob Zombie is my favourite director. Seeing an animated film based on his comic book series I quickly snapped it up.  Written and directed by Rob Zombie I expected another masterpiece.

The film takes place in a weird world in which monsters co exist with humans.  Beasto (a famous masked wrestler super hero) witnesses a stripper Velvet Von Black being kidnapped by a henchman (henchgorrila) of bad guy Dr Satan who will get demonic powers if he marries Black.  Beasto and his sister Suzi X (voiced by Sheri Moon Zombie) head off to foil Dr Satan's plan.

This is one terrible film! The jokes all fall flat, as in all of them, there are many references to horror films (Jack from the Shining, Michael Myers from Halloween, and the main trio from The Devil Rejects (the highlights) all make appearances as do many other horror villains.  Further nods can be seen on some scenes which are homages to classics, such as a recreation of the famous party scene from Carrie. The humour is really terrible, It is almost embarrassing how funny the film thinks it is being.

A sub plot involves a horde of biker Nazi Zombies who show up many times throughout the film, there are thousands of zombies but even these cannot save the film.  Plenty of violence, and lots of nudity (especially breasts which nearly all the female characters get out at one point or another).  Musical numbers break up the monotony which would be good if not for the fact that every single song in the film is utterly terrible.

I suffered watching this rubbish, and I was so glad when it finally ended.  The film is a waste of space really, one to avoid.  A sad day for Rob Zombie, his awesome record is broken with this giant miss.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Bloodforge and Dragon's Dogma - Fantasy Videogame Previews (X-Box 360)

Bloodforge is a grim and violent fantasy slash em up that takes place in a Conan the Barbarian style world.  Here are my thoughts on the demo.

An unskippable story tells of how the main character (a barbarian) has nightmares of his fighting days.  He awakes to find the world on fire. Then he is attacked by monsters. That's it really. The action took place in an arena which saw waves of enemies jumping down from the cliffs to fight you. You have light and heavy attacks and when enemies are stunned they can be finished off (usually by slicing them in half). The game has a 300 style look to it with sepia colours giving everyone a bronzed look.

The demo was quite short, I hope the whole game is not just fighting enemies in arenas as that would get tiring quickly. Still it is bloody, and apart from the camera controlled well. Bloodforge is an X-Box Live Arcade game that is available for 1200 Microsoft points, kinda steep.

Dragon's Dogma is a Japanese made fantasy RPG. You fight through a fantasy land battling mythical creatures. The demo has two levels to try. The first is set in a castle, you play as a Knight. Plenty of goblins are around to fight, and it ends with a fight against a chimera (half goat/half lion/half snake).  You have three A.I controlled people with you who seem kinda competent. A nice bit happened when one of my colleagues held a goblin so I could finish it off.

The second level takes place in an open field. A griffin attacks you and your team. Fire spells set the feathers of the giant bird on fire which was a cool touch. The game doesn't look fantastic but was fun enough, is on my wish list for when it goes cheap enough.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Crysis 2 (2011) - Sci-fi Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

The first Crysis game was only released on the X-Box 360 as a downloadable game. I would have liked it but stuck at £15 it is a bit too expensive for my unemployed state. The first game as far as I can tell was set on a tropical island and had you playing as a man in a special suit battling tentacle alien creatures.

Crysis 2 takes place several years later, New York has come under alien attack, an attempt to evacuate the city has gone very wrong.  You play as Alcatraz; an elite soldier sent in by submarine to rescue a scientist who might have a way to defeat the Ceph (the name of the alien force). Your team are ambushed and you are rescued by Prophet (the super soldier from Crysis) who gives you his suit before dying. The Ceph are out to stop you, as well as a private soldier company 'CELL' stationed to New York to keep the peace, but who seem to have gone rogue.

The plot is all over the place and quite confusing, needless to say you are a super soldier on a mission to hunt down blue objective markers all over the big apple.  Your suit lets you jump long distance, become heavily armoured, and also to turn invisible.  You start off quite weak but by buying upgrades you can get to the point where by the end of the game you can pretty much just walk from objective to objective unimpeded.

This is perhaps one of the best looking games on the 360, up there with Rage certainly.  The game looks fantastic and you are never a few steps away from the next set piece with earthquakes causing the ground to up heave, and buildings to collapse as you traverse them.  The game has a real sense of place, you start off on the outskirts where you travel through evacuation posts, and quarantine tents. Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and other iconic landmarks of New York all appear, heavily changed due to the place being one big graveyard of body bags and destruction.

Crysis 2 is action all the way, story plays into the action a lot when at least a billion times in cutscenes your suit gets terminally damaged resulting in you laying or crawling helplessly. Falling out a window, being swept away by a flood all look great in first person. Some vehicle sections break up the action but are not particularly special.

It is quite a long game, around 7 to 8 hours I would guess, and has a pulse quickening soundtrack but it is not all perfect.  Cutscenes feature a giant green 'A' button obscuring them, there are many weapons but they mostly feel the same to use, and the plot is one big mess. More variety would have been nice as well, and it is kinda funny that if you upgrade your stealth you can pretty much just walk past every single enemy without the need to engage. A lame excuse is made at the start of the game for why your character doesn't speak - he is hungover ok.

Looks great, sounds great but maybe a little too much style over substance. Crysis 3 has recently been announced, I will keep my eyes peeled.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Grubbins on Ice: Costume Quest - Horror Videogame DLC Review

Costume Quest was a real fun, simple RPG about some kids who fend off a monster invasion during Halloween.  Grubbins on Ice is the first (and so far only) downloadable content for it.

Some weeks after the events of the Costume Quest Lucy and Everett discover a strange artifact, they accidentally trigger it which creates a portal.  Lucy heads into the portal to see where it goes, Everett meanwhile gets the other 2 kids and together follow.  They discover it leads to the home world of the monsters who invaded Earth in Costume Quest.  A monster called Araxia has taken control of the Monster realm which has led to an uprising.  Working with the monster rebels you must find a way to the top of the mountain where Araxia rules and defeat him as well as rescue Lucy (who he kidnapped when she appeared in his world).

At just under 2 hours there is not a lot of game here, but it is bright and fun, and more Costume Quest is welcome.  It follows the same format as before: going from door to door to battle monsters, as well as solving simple fetch quests.  You get access to 3 new costumes (that affect how you fight in battles) which include a Skeleton Pirate, a Yeti, and a flying Eyeball.

The enemies you face this time around are skull faced ones, the baddies of the first game now on your side that made a nice twist.  Short and very sweet Grubbins on Ice is worth a play if you loved Costume Quest.


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Piggy (2012) - Horror Film Review

Piggy is a British horror film set in London written and directed by Kieron Hawkes. The film is more of a thriller than a straight up horror, no ghouls or ghosts here, just mean violent people.

Joe is a timid young man suffering social phobia living in London. His brother John is like a best friend to Joe and looks out for him. During an outing to a pub John gets in a scuffle with a local gang. Heading home alone John is set upon by the gang and murdered. One day a few months later Joe gets a knock at his door by a strange man, apparently a childhood friend of John who calls himself 'Piggy'. Piggy tells Joe that he can help bring his brothers killers to justice. A plan is set in motion to get revenge on the people who took away his brothers life so callously, but is Piggy really who he says he is?

At times this film reminded me of an English version of Fight Club with the confident, aggressive Piggy leading his young charge into more and more violent leanings as they go after the gang members one by one. The character of Joe has almost nothing to him, coming across like a empty vessel. Paul Anderson as Piggy more than makes up for this, his character larger than life, always moving around, almost insane in his mannerisms, he steals the show completely. The gang members themselves do not have much to them, coming across not so much as evil as just generic bad guys.

Piggy has a haunting score that gives atmosphere to the bleak, dreary landscape of London. Most the film is set at night, the few daylight scenes do nothing to ease the depressive atmosphere as they exude an almost dreamlike quality to them. Violence comes regularly, though a subtle pan away usually conceals the damage. One effective scene in particular had someone's head being kicked in, and the look of effort on the kickers face alone is enough to convey the effect.

At times the film did seem to drag, a few too many scenes of not much in particular, but for the most part this was an almost chilled out voyage into revenge that had a commentary behind it all. I watched the whole film expecting a twist that never came, instead a much more low key one happened that while interesting was also a tad confusing with some mild plot holes hastily paved over.

So a cross between Harry Brown and Fight Club with some Straw Dogs thrown in for good measure. A great soundtrack, interesting ideas, and at times original but sometimes Piggy was let down by a weak end and some needless padding.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Dark Shadows - Horror Film Review

Tim Burton certainly likes to stick to his style (that of over the top Gothic) and he certainly likes to stick to his stars with yet again another Johnny Depp fronted film, plus Helena Bonham Carter included for good mix.  All I had seen prior to this film was the poster for it, I had heard nothing good or bad about it.

In the 1800's a family is cursed when the son of a successful fishing business family; Barnabas Collins makes the mistake of breaking the heart of a Witch.  Furious she kills his family, bewitches his one true love to commit suicide and turns him into a Vampire.  For good measure she imprisons him in a coffin and buries him alive.  200 years later in the 1970's his coffin is discovered, after escaping it Barnabas heads to his home.  Discovering he is now in the future and that his future family are not doing well he vows to restore them to the Collins former glory.  It turns out however that the Witch who cursed him is also still alive and wants nothing more than to either finally have Barnabas for herself, or destroy his family once again...

The first hour of the film was ok, while not amazing it was certainly watchable with the usual Tim Burton trappings and gloomy, fairy tale look. It really did feel at times like the director was just going through the motions. The plot though is terrible, the Witch Angelique Bouchard just repeatedly mingling between trying to destroy Barnabas and trying to get him to join her.  Depp as the out of place Vampire does a good enough job, his old fashioned mannerisms and his interactions with 1970's technology amusing at times giving the fish out of water approach such as when he calls the first car he sees a Devil arriving to drag him to Hell.  His appearance is pure Burton, all black and greys.

Something happened about an hour in though, the film just lost its spark and turned into a monotonous dull affair, with nowhere to go the story just starts repeating itself until the over long, overly dramatic ending that far outstayed its welcome and kinda reminded me of the end of the Casper film from the mid nineties. You shouldn't find yourself praying for a film to end.  Most the characters are unlikeable, even Depp himself due to his random butcherings of the Townsfolk.

The acting is ok at times, though characters struggle to break out of their stereotypes, the usual Danny Elfman score, and of course the film looks really good. All in all one to avoid unfortunately, the sometimes bloody effects, and great direction can't save this film from mediocrity.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Dead War Series: Book 1 - Zombie Horror Book Mention

I was alerted to a new zombie book: The Dead War Series by George L. Cook III. Details are scarce but having read the prologue it seems to be a simple balls to the wall zombie tale. Each book is intended to tell a different tale that all tie into the 'Dead War' which has the US Army battling hordes of undead in 2053.

The book is available on Kindle and can be found at Amazon for cheap purchase.  I just do not get on with reading books on electronic devices, I am old fashioned but unless I have a physical paper book in my hands I just cant concentrate on a story.

Still it is good that zombie books are in abundance nowadays and should not be knocked (unless they are terrible of course!).

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Supernatural Tales - Danish Horror Compilation

Released on 6th May was Supernatural Tales; a DVD compilation of 16 short Danish horror films. These were all first shown at a Movie Battle competition in Denmark where the theme was 'Supernatural Horror'.  Previously there was a release based on the theme 'Wasteland Tales' which also sounds interesting.

Released by Another World Entertainment the double DVD  has over 280 minutes of horror. As I have been saying recently there is something about short horrors that really creep me out no matter what time of day and circumstances I see them in.

If your interested in getting a copy of this then head over to Laserdisken or MovieZoo. I myself am too poor to get a copy but it does sound like it has the possibility to be good.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Puzzle and The Sweet Hand of the Rose - Spanish short horror films

Davide Melini is an Italian filmmaker whose credits include being the assistant director on Dario Argento's 'Mother of Tears: The Third Mother'. He has also created a couple of short Spanish horror films, the first of these is 'The Puzzle'.

After an argument over the phone with her son a mother settles down to do a new jigsaw puzzle to take her mind off events. As the night draws on her home comes under attack and it is with horror that she discovers the puzzles true picture...

The acting was not great in this short 4 minute film but then it was filmed in one day with a budget of 300 Euro's.  The twist ending is worth the watch for, I had tears of fear streaming down my face at the end. (for what ever reason short horror films are my Kryptonite, they scare me so much usually!). With pretty much zero dialogue the film still manages to create an aura of vulnerability for this lone woman, and the soundtrack only adds to the experiance leading up to the shocking end.

Now for the main course: The Sweet Hand of the White Rose that clocks in at just over 16 minutes. I must say that both these short films have won awards. If you like these then feel free to check out Davide Melini's blog.

A man is driving home after having an argument with his girlfriend.  Also going home is a little girl on her bycycle. The enevitable happens and the man finds himself living a half life. Wracked with guilt over the girls death he goes to her crypt to pay his respects and beg forgiveness...

This film is much less horror orianted and more of a gentle ghost story, the ending in particular is surprisingly sad, if a bit cheesy. Not a bad soundtrack, but the voice overs of the main characters are badly acted, with it being a Spanish made film I am not surprised though.  A much bigger budget than The Puzzle, and with an important message to impart.

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Walking Dead - Episode 1: A New Day - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

Kinda excited I was when I heard that Telltale where creating a series of adventure games based on The Walking Dead. Telltale have been responsible for a bout of successful modern day adventures such as Sam and Max and Back to the Future (the less said about the Jurassic Park game the better).  Telltales games are less about action and more about dialogue, so this style fits the comic series perfectly.

Episode 1 takes place one week after the zombie outbreak begins, it is set before the comic book and features a few characters from that, but is a stand alone tale.  Lee Everett is a convict being transferred to state Prison when zombies cause the Police car he is travelling in to crash.  Escaping the wreck he is faced with a horde of zombies.  Fleeing he arrives at a suburb where he discovers a little girl; Clementine who has been surviving on her own after her baby sitter got turned.  Deciding to look after her Lee meets up with some other survivors and together they head off to find refuge from the walking dead.

The game has a different feel to it from previous Telltale games, you are usually confined to a small area where you have a set task to do, whether it being locating medicine for a sick man, or rescuing a survivor.  A lot of this involves you walking around talking to other survivors and picking up objects.  The dialogue is very good, and it has to be said the acting is awesome.  Lee in particular is a fleshed out character, with his murky past constantly haunting him.  Choosing dialogue options varies the story in that characters can come to trust or distrust you based on your actions and what you tell them. The plot is mature and interesting, you get a lot of dilemmas that vastly affect the future of the series, such as a key decision early on when you must choose a character to save from the zombies; both are good people but you must pick within a strict time limit.

There is quite a few bouts of zombie fighting which takes place via quick time events for the most part.  Sticking to The Walking Dead lore nearly all this combat takes place up close with house hold objects, guns would attract other zombies.  The game does not let up on the gore, there are some violent zombie deaths, and also gruesome deaths for Lee should you fail.  One such death saw him having his intestines ripped out!

At 400 MS points this is well worth the few hours it lasts for, and has replayability with the game altering decisions presented to you which will carry over to the other 4 episodes (due to be 1 released per month).  I had lots of fun with this, it looks great (like a comic book come to life), sounds great and really draws you into its world.


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Zombie Parkour - Zombie Short Film

I am going through the back log of posts I need to do and come across one requesting help to raise funds to finance Zombie Parkour 2.  The first zombie parkour film can be viewed below, basically it is that French created activity of free running through urban areas, but with added zombies.

In a City over run by the walking dead (well sprinting dead) 3 parkour enthusiasts are all that remains of humanity.  The film follows these 3 as they try and out run the hordes using their skills of jumping on objects and swinging.  Needless to say things don't really end well for any of the trio.

I like parkour when it is done well, and can be quite amusing when it goes badly, but all in all it is a bit of a show off activity and truth be told not that much use in a zombie outbreak.  There are plenty of swinging and jumping but sometimes seems to be a bit forced, such as running up a flight of stairs and jumping off a balcony when simply keeping on running would have been more efficient. Still there are some nice sequences, one where a guy swings over the head of a charging zombie was quite cool.

The producer Bo Katzakian is currently raising funds to create Zombie Parkour part 2, he is looking for people to donate as little as $1, but with only 8 days left, and just $805 raised out of a needed $25,000 it is not looking promising. By all means go to his indiegogo page and donate if you so wish, hell maybe one of you are rich and can stump up the mega bucks needed.

Meanwhile do check out Zombie Parkour below, it is not bad.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Creak (2012) - Horror Short Film

Way back in February I was given a link to a horror short titled Creak created by Luther Bhogal Jones. It was intended to be part of a series of horror shorts put together under the banner of 'Sincerely Psychopath'. Intended for later this year are two other horror shorts by Jones, I look forward to these. The Facebook page for his production company can be found here.

Creak is just over 5 minutes long and is a classic horror situation; that of an intruder in the house.  Ellen is woke up from sleep when she hears a strange creaking noise. Worried there may be an intruder in the house she wakes her partner Heather and together they go off to investigate to make sure all is right...

It is true to say the film does nothing new, but then that was not the intent of the director who wanted to just create a fun, short, disposable film. With that he has succeeded. I don't know what it is about short horrors but they send the chills right down my spine. I think it is due to there never being enough shown for anything to ever be totally explained or resolved, usually short horrors end on scary cliff hangers, here is no exception! Needless to say there is an intruder in the house, and one that looks very weird, only glimpsed in shadows and for split seconds the intruder is effective.

What more is there to say? The film is well shot, some of the sound was a little unbalanced but it creates a tension filled 5 minutes that is definitely worth seeing, check it out below. Now I'm just going to go check downstairs, I thought I heard a creak...

Friday, 18 May 2012

Honourable Horror Mentions - A General Update for the month of May 2012

A general update then along with some mentions of various horror and zombie type stuff. Having once again become unemployed I find myself with slightly more time to do my blog. I have been lacking lately, mostly due to a whole heap of other stuff going on in my real life. I am sat here in my cold house feeling like a modern day Lord of Winterhold with my big slippers, dressing gown and mug of milkless coffee.

There was a fair near my Girlfriends house recently, I took some time to go on a few horror rides. The Ghost Train (called the Roller Ghoster) was as terrible as I thought it would be, composed of a few lame fake body parts stuck to cardboard sheets and some loud noises.  The other horror attraction titled 'Fear' was a walk around a haunted house which was actually quite fun. It involved you walking around in the pitch black through various rooms.  One ace room had plenty of strobe lighting and featured a man on an electric chair being fried, other rooms had various animated exhibits from horror films such as The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street etc. It was so dark that I had to shuffle around, constantly fearing I would plummet down a hidden flight of stairs (health and safety was not a big factor at this fair) and did involve me walking into a wall at one point.  At night, and alone this would have been a scary trip, not bad for a pound.

Game of Thrones is an awesome show it must first be said. A fantasy based on George R.R Martins books 'A Song of Fire and Ice' that features lots of sex and violence, but also has zombies in it.  In the series they are known as the 'White Walkers', mysterious beings from beyond the wall who are unstoppable unless set on fire, even with limbs removed they keep on coming.

I heard tell of a cool zombie evacuation race that is taking place later this year at Bassingbourn Barracks on October 27th. It's a 5K race through zombie infested woods which has multiple routes as well as different challenges. The race is done with the constant threat of zombie attacks with both shamblers and runners hunting you and the other racers down! It must be said I have become a bit unfit lately, so what better motivation to get fit than the threat of a horde of brain hungry ghouls chasing you down? Details of how to enter can be found here.

Having a look through all the stuff I have been asked to do blog posts on I can see there is quite a lot, I should probably do proper posts on them. I will leave you with a few pictures of some of the random zombie things I have dotted around The Rotting Zombie HQ...

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Mass Effect 3 - Sci-fi Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Well I must say I had been waiting for this game for a long time. Mass Effect 2 was an amazing role playing/action game set in a fully realised Universe. The game was released with lots of fan fare from Bio-Ware proudly proclaiming it to be ideal for new fans to the series, and that with the addition of a totally un-needed multiplayer mode and early stirrings that the ending to the game was utterly terrible made alarm bells ring.  Gifted as a present from my wonderful Girlfriend I set out on my own quest to see for myself what meat the game was made from...

Set several months after the dramatic end of Mass Effect 2 it sees Shepherd confined to Alliance Military barracks on Earth facing trial for his/her part in events done to prevent the Universe wide invasion of an ancient enemy who are believed to be just a myth.  Soon into the start of the game the threat known as 'the Reapers' let their presence known once and for all by invading Earth and pretty much every other planet in the Universe simultaneously. From here Shepherd flees Earth to find a mean to eliminate the threat, and to unify the various races into one large battle fleet to retake Earth.

I played this before the patch was implemented to fix importing Shepherd from previous games.  As such my Shepherd had to be created from scratch and was very off putting for the first 15 odd hours of the game.  It is true to say it took me that long before I started enjoying the game.

There is a lot more focus on combat this time around, a few terrible missions pretty much just involve going to locations and fighting waves of enemies in arenas; not at all enjoyable, Mass Effect has always been about the story for me. Luckily the pure action missions are few and peter out quite early on leading to some awesome missions. The problem comes with the game trying to do large action set pieces, it just can't give the scope it needs meaning you are funnelled down small corridors which can feel quite artificial at times (the mission on the Turian Moon certainly feels this way.

Enemies are varied with the Reaper forces being surprisingly varied; each alien race has its own Reaper counterpart.  As well as Reapers the other major force you fight are Cerberus (now your enemy as the Illusive man has gone real evil) these offer various different soldier types that can be kinda frustrating when they attack in large numbers (the engineers who deploy gun turrets especially).  Mass Effect 3 took me just over 40 hours to complete, the longest yet, and has a heap of story. I would be very interested to see how some of the plot turns out if the characters involved never made it to the third game, I imagine totally new characters would take their place.

All in all a good game, be warned though, the last mission is never ending and feels really dull playing like a third person Call of Duty game.  The ending itself is a good ending for a normal game, but feels totally tacked on and doesn't fit for a Mass Effect ending. I was a tad disappointed, look forward to the additional ending being taped onto the game this Summer.

The side missions are quite terrible and are not much more than pointless fetch quests, it is quite comical how the whole fate of the Universe is put on hold while you scan random planets looking for lost trinkets.  I tried multiplayer once and that's enough, a horde mode style game not very interesting even if it does let you play as alien races.

The single player DLC features a new character and a small new mission.  For 800 MS points it is not worth the price but the new character is quite interesting and is fitted into the story well (not surprising seeing as how the content is already on the darn disc).


Monday, 7 May 2012

Zen Events - Zombie outbreak training camp at Reading, UK

What better place to have a zombie boot camp than in a condemned shopping centre? Currently you can sign up for 3 hours of zombie training by a Police firearms squad which includes a desperate battle through the shopping centre, battling its zombie occupants.  With the building due for demolition in the near future the boot camp has a terminal future, looks cool though.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Bastion (2011) - Post Apocalyptic Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

I completed this game a while ago, so my memory might be a little blurred. Bastion is a action RPG that was raved about for its lush cartoony visuals, and its defining feature: a narrator who comments on every action you do.

Bastion takes place post apocalypse (or post calamity as it is known here). The world has been shattered and destroyed, floating islands all that remains of the once vast city of Caelondia and its surrounding areas. You play as 'the Kid' who awakes on one of the small floating islands. Your immediate goal is to get to a safe area known as 'The Bastion' where people were told to go to in times of trouble. The remains of the city are deserted with most the population turned into ash. Monsters are everywhere, having came into the city now that there is no one to stop them. Upon arriving at the Bastion you meet up with a fellow survivor (the games narrator) who instructs you to collect magical crystals (called shards) from the world in order to make the Bastion reach its secret real potential.

The game is level based, with the Bastion serving as a hub world. Usually you get a choice of levels to travel to; various parts of the city and surrounding countryside that still exist. Levels see you walking around a location that builds itself as you traverse, platforms dropping into place in a neat effect. Upon getting the shard for the level you must then escape the level. The format is pretty much the same for all the levels though there are variations. Training levels set you challenges to complete for power ups and upgrades for the many weapons. The hub level can be used to buy new powers, as well as level up existing weapons.

Despite the colourful look of the game it is a bleak story told. Nearly the worlds entire population perished in the calamity, with levels being ruins of the once prosperous city. A few characters provide plot that while nothing special has some deepness to it with racism and religious beliefs all brought into question.

Combat is fun, you are able to have two weapons equipped at any one time which bring some interesting combinations. You have access to a variety of weapons that include a war machete, duel pistols, a hammer, crossbow, grenade launcher and more.

A bit of a muted review. I enjoyed Bastion when I was playing it but despite promises of a slightly different story I had no desire to ever want to play it again once it was done, maybe one day I will return. An awesome soundtrack by the way.