Sunday, 30 September 2012

Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) - Zombie Mode

Zombies first appeared in Call of Duty: World at War and returned for Black Ops. While the main game was a balls to the wall action FPS zombies gave a more frenzied survival spin to things. Included with the game are three different zombie based missions in which you must hold out against swarms of ghouls.

I had only tried this mode once until recently when a friend of mine suggested we play it. Expecting to be good at it I was instead shocked to find out I was no good at it, my friend at first patient reduced to screaming and shouting at me as I repeatedly got eaten by zombies, shot at thin air, and ran around screaming.  Team work is integral to the Zombies mode, you must work together to keep your barricades built, and watch each others backs. Single player makes this harder but also provides you with the opportunity to get medicine which will revive you should you die.

The first of the 3 levels is titled 'Kino der toten' (translates to Theatre of the Dead) the silly intro has you time travelling back to the second World War to a theatre under siege from the undead. In multiplayer we could only last to around the fourth round (I was a bit rusty!), on my own I got to round six where hell hounds made short work of me.  The second zombie level is set in the Pentagon, called 'Five'. Even sillier than Kino this has you playing as one of 4 real life historical figures (including JFK, and Fidel Castro).

The last of the zombie modes is set up like a retro style shooter. The action takes place with a birds eye view as you go from area to area fighting waves of zombies. Quite a similar feel to Smash TV, is fun but not as good or as tense as the FPS survivals.

These modes work at making you feel very vulnerable, limited weapons, limited health, and ever increasing odds create a feeling of panic. People were sceptical when the modes where first announced with World at War but have proved to be a fan favourite with a variety of DLC offering new levels (including one set on the Moon I believe!)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Resident Evil 6: My thoughts on the Demo - Zombie Horror Videogame Preview (X-Box 360)

Well, I had been looking forward to this game despite not overlay positive previews. The demo was released earlier this week on the 360 so I gave it a gander. It is quite a large demo, giving you segments of a level from each of the three characters missions.  The first demo I tried was Leon Kennedy's which is supposed to be old school Resident Evil in style...

I actually quite enjoyed the Leon demo. You are teamed up with some C.I.A woman on a campus that has been over run with zombies. The old fashioned, stumbling zombies! A nice return to form there. Some of the zombies carry basic weapons which a quick Q.T.E can see you snatch, to dispatch them with. Shooting zombies results in holes being punched through them, you can even shoot part of their heads off, nice! The demo sees you exploring the campus looking for a key card to open an exit. This felt more like Resident Evil 4 than anything earlier but it was entertaining enough.

The next demo is Chris 'Meathead' Redfield's one. It sees you in some foreign Town with a bunch of soldiers fighting infected who are armed with lots and lots of guns.  This felt like an even more action packed Resident Evil 5, and also like a third person Call of Duty but with monsters.  These are different enemies than Leon's in that firstly they have weapons of course, but also that they can mutate when destroyed. Some turned into weird moth type creatures while others grew meaty shields. The story in this demo was terrible, all po faced hoo-rah nonsense.

Lastly was the demo for Weskers son.  By far the worst of the three this one had you in Hong Kong (maybe) fighting enemies armed with machetes and guns. This time when enemies died they turned to stone, and a lot of them grew giant long tendrils which they could attack you from anywhere in the level with. Dead enemies spawned giant lizards whose speciality is knocking you over. A terrible segment was had here once again due to insanely incompetent A.I.  I was unable to open a door, my A.I partner had to, but she was so busy running around trying to kill everything (and failing I might add) that in the end I was forced to back track through the level to kill anything I came across so that she would do what she needed to do.

The usual problems occur with some new ones also rearing their ugly heads. Firstly the game treats you as if you are playing online, so you are not allowed to pause the game, not even during cut scenes. The A.I while ok for the first two demo's was truly awful for the third one leaving me fears that the misery of dealing with a retarded A.I are back to haunt the series. The camera gets stuck on scenery sometimes, and especially if you are knocked over just seems to panic and starts flipping around. Falling over in itself is a huge chore as it takes an age to get back on your feet.

Resident Evil 6 could well prove to be a fun game, but judging by this demo it seems to be even more of an action game than even 5.  I hated the Resident Evil 5 demo but the game turned out to be ok, though saying that I only felt the need to play through it once, and didn't even bother playing the D.L.C I purchased for it. Capcom just seem lost, Resident Evil has really gone off the rails. I hope the proper game is good, but 2/3's of this demo were just pretty terrible.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Spec Ops: The Line - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360, PS3, PC)

I had been waiting for this to go cheap enough, I loved the premise, and also really enjoyed the demo. Spec Ops: The Line is based on Joseph Conrad's famous book 'Heart of Darkness' and also partly based on 'Apocalypse Now' (also inspired by 'Heart of Darkness').

The worst sandstorm in recorded history hits the City of Dubai. An American Battalion; the 33rd, and led by war hero Colonel John Konrad go to the City to help with the evacuation. The 33rd go rogue after Konrad ignores orders to abandon his mission and leave the doomed place. The last message from him is that he is going to try to lead a caravan of 1000 survivors out of Dubai.  6 months later and a lone recorded message escapes from the sand storm surrounding the ruins, a looped message from Konrad. Three soldiers; Walker (the character you play as), Adams and Lugo are sent on a reconnaissance mission to see if the place does in fact still hold any survivors. Discovering Walker's idol Konrad is still alive he decides to change the mission into a rescue one. They are to head into the destroyed City and rescue John Konrad and any other survivors if in fact they even want rescuing...

I loved this game, it is very grim, and bleak but makes you think about just what it is your doing. The City of Dubai is in a state of war, the C.I.A have provided the civilian population with weapons to fight back against the tyrannical 33rd who kept order with extreme measures. Your arrival leads to both sides attacking you. Dubai is full of corpses, bodies hanging from lamp posts, scenes of executions, torture, and crimes against humanity, a messy past it hints at. As you progress through the game though the actions you commit to achieve you goals make you question just how different you are from the brutal acts you have witnessed.

At first you and your squad act like generic soldier meat heads, barking out generic orders as you engage enemy forces. By the games end you and your squad have vastly changed. All 3 of you shouting and swearing your heads off. Also adding to this is the physical damage the 3 of you take, hell even the loading screens change. Where before you got information such as what different types of weapons do by the games end the information that pops up on loading screens changes to gems such as 'Do you feel like a hero yet?'. The game succeeds at questioning you the player for your actions, like Walker you are blindly carrying on, butchering everyone you encounter in order to reach your mystical goal.

A few key events in particular shape you as you play, for me it wasn't the hokey 'shock factor' one (let down for me by average graphics) but a later one when you encounter an angry mob of unarmed civilians. By that point I just didn't think twice about gunning them down, the bleak nature of the game had gotten to me. The rescue mission turned completely on its head as I was now killing the people I had ventured into the doomed paradise to save. A few binary choices are given as you fight through the game but that was by far the most affecting.

How does it play though? In general it is a solid, yet unimaginative third person cover based shooter. Enemies are not too varied, you have the usual grunts, large heavily armoured troops, and the assortment of rocket launcher toting enemies, and snipers. The game is very linear, almost no multiple routes which other cover based shooters like Gears of War benefited from. There are some turret sections, a few optional stealth sections, and not too much else. Dubai comes across as a character though, sand can be used to drown enemies, but is also a hindrance, such as during one of the many sand storms that brings visibility down to a minimum. You are able to give very basic commands to your troops but I mostly ignored this. Locations are not too varied, many of the interior locations in particular are very samey large hotels and aquariums not feeling too different.

All in all this is a game that must be played for the story. The locations are full of incidental details, the hidden audio logs are very good, and the transition from good old American soldier to cold blooded maniac is a gradual, subtle shift, helped by liberal use of hallucinations and a grey moral compass. I would really recommend this game for an unsettling but thoughtful experience.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Dead Island: Riptide (2013) - Zombie Horror Videogame Trailer

I really enjoyed the original Dead Island, it provided a real feeling of surviving a zombie apocalypse and thankfully was still fun playing alone. The next game in the series is a direct continuation of the first game, sounds like it is set on a different island.

The trailer tries to evoke the feelings of the acclaimed trailer for Dead Island but I think fails. Still, not bad and least has zombies in it. Originally Riptide was planned as a stand alone expansion rather than a new game in its own right.

Monday, 17 September 2012

State of Decay (X-Box Live Arcade) and ZombieU (Wii U) - Zombie Horror Videogame Previews

First off I do not know how I failed to spot ZombieU in the announced games at this years E3 (even did a post about it: here), no excuse as it has zombie in the freaking title! State of Decay though is a game that slipped under everyone's radar (maybe because it might not be the best game). I seem to over use brackets nowadays it seems?

So as the support band/game we first have State of Decay; an X-Box Live Arcade game. The trailer was recently released and the game seems to be a more sedate Left 4 Dead. It looks like it takes place in the American country. As a survivor it seems you must search locations for supplies? Ok, not very professional, I will look into this further...

I am back, and I was right, you do have to search locations for supplies! State of Decay is a third person open world zombie survival game that lets you use stealth as much as violence. You have a safe house that you must leave to get essentials each day. A variety of weapons and tools can be used to take out the running zombies including a variety of vehicles. Am interested in this, though it doesn't seem to have a gigantic budget if the trailer is anything to go by.

ZombieU is to be released for the new Nintendo console; the Wii U. This game is another one where you must search locations for supplies. Entirely set in London you can use CCTV to monitor the different levels to see which has the least zombies which you then explore on the directions of one of the 3 quest givers at your safe house. You use the Wii U's controller (that has a large screen built into it) as a backpack, and also to solve puzzles such as combination locks etc. What is cool is that nothing pauses why you do this, so it is possible for a zombie to sneak up on you on the TV screen while you are fiddling about on the little screen.

Zombies are quite deadly here and it doesn't take much to kill your character.  When you die you respawn as a new survivor but to get your items back you must hunt and kill your previous character who is now a super zombie. The game is a first person one, and looks quite cool, featuring levels in such iconic places as Buckingham Palace and unique zombie types such as ones dressed as Beefeaters. Could maybe be the title that forces me to get a Wii U.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Castlevania: The Adventure (1990) - Horror Videogame Review (Gameboy)

I always love Castlevania games (with the exception of Castlevania 2 that I struggle to get into) so when I saw on the Nintendo e-Shop a version I had not played I had to get it!

Much like pretty much all the other games in the series this one sees you as a Belmont (family of vampire hunters) who must infiltrate to the heart of Dracula's castle and kill him once again. To do this you battle through stages fighting monsters and avoiding traps as you go.

There is a far greater reliance on traps here than pretty much any other Castlevania game I have played. Spikes in particular are your greatest hazard, spike pits, moving spike walls, collapsing platforms all attempt to take your life. Enemies are kind of sparse, you get plenty of rolling eyeballs, and fireball spitting snakes but other than that there is not much more after you. A gargoyle first appears as a boss and later a common enemy, while boomerang throwing enemies can cause strife.

The game looks crisp and clean on the 3DS, though back on the original Gameboy it would have been less smooth. It is also really quite hard (though difficulty is removed when you are able to save anywhere). Your character moves agonisingly slow, and the speed reduces even more when too many objects on screen cause terrible slow down. The simplest of jumps are made a nightmare as it is so easy to over estimate how far Belmont can jump, he can jump forward about a millimetre, not fun to control.  He attacks with a whip which can be upgraded to double strength, and is able to take damage to walk through irritating enemies.

At just four levels the game is quite short, I did expect this though as the Gameboy is not exactly the most powerful handheld. Backgrounds are for the most part sparse but thankfully the music is quite ace. If your a fan of Castlevania games this is worth a try, but if your not then there is little to recommend here.


Friday, 14 September 2012

After... (2006) - Horror Film Review

I knew when I picked up a load of cheap horrors the decision might come back to bite me, but hey, it was three films for £5, a bargain I thought. You can always tell how popular a film is by the number of images on Google...this one, After... had just the one.

After... sounded kind of interesting, though a tad similar to The Tunnel. Three thrill seekers who are into 'urban exploration' decided to head to Moscow to explore Stalin's mythical Metro-2 subway system. After getting into it they soon become hunted by soldiers in biohazard suits, mingle with hordes of radiation infused homeless people, and take part in their very own music video, while 'artsy' flashbacks give insight into the main characters past.

Nate is most definitely the main protagonist, his wife Adrian, and her brother Jay are nearly background characters, is kind of a shame as Nate is such a miserable person. This film is like one huge music video, or a bad acid trip put on camera. The soundtrack is by The Crystal Method and it has to be said is very good. What is not so good is how the film seems to be cut and spliced to fit in with the music. Lots and lots of strobe lighting, extreme close ups and shaky camera work. I very nearly stopped watching after just a few minutes as the shaky extreme close ups were giving me motion sickness. Unfortunately the crew does not seem able to resist inserting handheld camera shots every couple of seconds, irritating and unneeded.

The Metro setting is cool in theory but in practice like The Tunnel it just seems to be a variety of boring looking underground corridors. A Jacob's Ladder style influence is apparent though in this film. Everywhere Nate goes in the underground he sees glimpses of an eyeless man in a baseball cap, who (spoiler!) it turns out had some dark link to his past. Slowly going crazy Nate seems aimless, the two with him don't really comment on anything of note. The flashbacks at least take away from the darkness.

Later on the film just goes crazy in a strange way, not a particularly interesting way. When people die they seem to disintegrate, Nate starts literally warping around to different places, and there is only so many times the film can force the obvious twist down your throat before you just say 'enough already, I get it!' After all that the film just ends, no resolution.

Someone on the internet (I cannot recall who) said that if After... had been a four minute music video it would have worked, but as a near 80 minute film it runs out of steam far far too soon, I totally agree with that statement.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Pet Sematary Two - Zombie Horror Film Review

I have seen the first Pet Sematary and did like it, but I'm blowed if I could tell you what happened in it. It does have zombies of a sort in it, and so does it's bizarre sequel.

After his movie star Mum dies Jeff and his Dad move to a new Town. Jeff's new friend; fat boy Drew has his dog killed by his abusive step Dad. Remembering tales of an old Indian burial ground that legend says can bring dead things back to life he and Jeff decide to bury the dog there.  Soon the dog has returned, but it has changed, it is evil. The dead dog ends up killing Gus; Drew's step Dad and again not knowing what to do they bury him too. Gus returns, but has changed for the worst. Soon everyone is getting killed, killing, or bringing bodies back to life while Jeff walks around in a suit practising creepy smiles and thousand yard stares.

This is a real weird film. The first half is quite slow paced, it builds up characters, tries to slowly inch you into the horror but then half way through it is like someone wandered along, saw the film and thought to themselves that they quite fancied finishing it but had not the time to bother seeing what had already happened. The last half is just bizarre, Jeff turns creepy and evil with no explanation, then just as suddenly turns back into the hero. His dad wanders around the Town seemingly aimlessly; a zombie magnet, a completely unsuspecting hero with his nerdy looks. The main zombie Gus laughs sinisterly, doing random acts of violence while an awesome soundtrack plays.

To sum it up, the plot for this film just collapses on itself, no one really seems sure of exactly what it is they are supposed to be doing. An early highlight was a fist fight between John Conner of Terminator 2 fame (Edward Furlong plays Jeff) and one of the kids from Honey I Shrunk the Kids (Jared Rushton playing local bully Clyde) quite surreal to see these two people fighting.

I did enjoy this film but it is quite the piece of rubbish! From nightmares about a woman with a dogs head, to the attacks from a blatantly puppet controlled pretend zombie dog this film has a lot to make you laugh, and I think it is unintentional which makes it all the better. It is not a great review, but I really don't know what to say, this is one strange, lost film! And for the record Clancy Brown as Gus wins the creepy smile-off between him and Furlong (only just though!)


An Elegant Solution to a Zombie Outbreak - Zombie Picture

Now I don't know who created this pro zombie message but it just displays everything wrong with society! Zombies should be killed, not fed, sure the carrot on a stick routine will stop them going after humans for a while but what if they fall over? Or what if two zombies bump into each other and eat each others brains? The biggest and most sinister question is this; where are they getting the brains from for the contraption? Everyone knows zombies crave fresh human brains so are people being forced to give up their lives to sate the zombie threat? A nightmare vision of a place I do not want to exist in!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Final Destination 3 - Horror Film Review

Goodness gracious great balls of fire, despite not thinking this film was fantastic it still had me legitimately crying with fear at the end, one thing these films always get right is the really obvious, yet really sinister twist endings. Many people moan about the Final Destination films saying they are nothing more than torture porn, but I have always enjoyed them, they are different (from other films, not from each other!).

Wendy (played greatly by pretty Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a premonition that the roller coaster ride her and her friends are about to get on crashes and kills all the passengers, in her panic an altercation occurs and many of the passengers end up getting kicked off by security. The coaster does crash killing the remaining teens, including Wendy's boyfriend, and best friend. Along with the assistance of her friend of a friend Kevin she comes to realise that something like this has happened before (the events of Final Destination specifically talked about). She discovers that all the survivors are going to die in the order they were supposed to if they had been on the ride. She has clues in the many photo's she had taken before the ride as each of the survivors is shown in a picture in a situation which has clues to their death, including herself and Kevin. Soon the survivors are being killed in accidents one by one and Wendy must find a way to cheat deaths revenge.

The deaths are again the big draw and they don't disappoint. The initial roller coaster disaster is muted in that you don't really see how anyone is killed but the revenge deaths make up for this, sunbeds roasting people alive, weights crushing someones skull, and a nail gun doing nasty stuff to someones face; all are nasty to see, and darn entertaining. The plot even for a Final Destination seems a bit weak, really a rehash of ones which has gone before. I would love it if one day there is a satisfying resolution rather than death truly being inescapable.  Winstead is very good as the slowly going insane Wendy and is forever crying but not in an annoying way. Other characters are the usual teen idiots, jocks, losers, and nobodies so you never really care about them making their deaths more enjoyable.

As I said, I did cry with fear at the end, just knowing what is likely to happen, as well as the creepy as hell photos that hide clues until they are re seen. The Final Destination films are fun. The DVD includes an alternate version of the film where you get to choose key choices which influence how the film plays out. There is even an option you can choose that ends the film 15 minutes in with a humorous epilogue telling you what happened to the survivors. An awesome idea, and one planned well in advance.

You know what to expect coming into this film, if you like these films then is worth watching, if you don't then  this is really not going to change your mind.


Resistance 3 - Horror Videogame Review (Playstation 3)

Originally touted as a killer exclusive title for the PS3 the first Resistance game proved to be really not very good or fun at all. Resistance 2 was a vast improvement, gone were the frustrating battles and instead Call of Duty style set pieces were the order of the day. Because of the big improvement I was expecting Resistance 3 to be more of the same really, and I was not disappointed, this really is the Call of Duty of Sci-fi horrors.

As Nathan Hale was (spoiler!) killed at the end of the second game this time you play as a different protagonist, and thankfully a more likable one.  This time around you are Joe Capelli; the man who killed Hale. Set 4 years after the last game you are in a small community of people hiding out against the Chimeran threat. The arrival of an invasion force leads to your settlement being destroyed, you discover that Hale rather than made things better accidentally created a worm hole above New York that links to the Chimeran home world. A scientist seeks you out convinced you are the man to escort him to New York so the worm hole can be destroyed.

The story is again pretty terrible, your whole motivation for going on this stupid suicide mission is that your wife made you, very selfish of her! Again the levels are full of set pieces and various American locations such as Oklahoma, Missouri, Pennsylvania and of course New York. Each of the locations is vastly different in look and have their own self contained stories. You descend into the mines of a religious mining town to battle a monster the locals call 'Satan', you get incarcerated in a prison complex run by a horde of cannibal former inmates, you ride a boat through flooded St Louis pursued by giant monsters; all very different. The prison complex level was the biggest highlight, the games first inclusion of human enemies with things turning slightly into a Condemned style experience as you fight prisoners up close with a sledge hammer.

The weapons are better than ever, and level up with repeated use, my favourite by far was the shotgun which set enemies on fire, also a cool weapon was a bio gun that turned enemies into piles of bubbling gloop. The freeze ray was kinda fun but not very practical while favourites such as the gun that can fire through walls, and the gun that can lock onto enemies return.

There are not really a lot of new enemy types, but there are already so many this was not a problem. The cannon fodder Chimerans, hulking beasts, shield protected robots, and the grims (the games version of zombies) all appear in huge numbers. Again health packs are the order of the day, and are usually enough of them that it doesn't distract from the fun. One annoyance I did have was that you click the right thumb stick to melee attack but often my character would mid firing do a melee attack as if I had pressed in the thumb stick when I had not. Also, the last levels set in New York are kind of bland it has to be said and brought to mind the worst levels of Resistance 1 and 2. There are not the crazy huge set pieces such as the amazingly tall monster of 2 but some such as the train attack and mine beast journey are still a lot of fun.

Resistance 3 tries to make you care more about the humans, at a few points you are free to wander small settlements but the interaction is minimal and I usually ended up skipping through these pretty quickly, also the notes you can collect are really boring to read, Bio-shock has proved that collectible things can be interesting.

All in all another fun game that is worth a play.  The story is awful but the pacing is good, and apart from the last few levels shows a lot of variety.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Walking Dead - Episode 3: Long Road Ahead - Zombie Horror Videogame Review

I am always excited when a new episode of The Walking Dead appears but after the last episode I could not see how this one could be better, surely there were no more tricks it could use to put me in tough situations. How wrong I was...

Long Road Ahead starts with the group still holed out at the Motel. Pretty soon though something happens which forces them to flee. The rest of the episode is a road trip as the gang set out on their way to Savannah where they hope to find a boat to freedom.

Wow is all I can say, this is a real downer of an episode. Where episode 1 set up the premise, and episode 2 was a self contained grisly thriller this episode is bleak as all hell with the opportunity for many of your group to die. As I have said before no one is safe no matter how key you think they may be to the game. The main part of Long Road Ahead involves a train, simple puzzles revolve around working out how to get it to start. Story wise a lot of exposition is given, while the arrival of a few new characters keeps things interesting. Your group are not innocents, all (with the exception of the kids) have shades of grey to them. Your relationship with Clementine is really still one of the best things in the series, it makes you genuinely want to protect the little kid.

Despite it still being an awesome game it is not as good as the previous episode, the puzzle bits are a tad annoying due to lots of back tracking while there is certainly a lot of action, and some real tough decisions (an early one saw you given the chance of shooting a bitten survivor, or leaving her as she is distracting the zombies with her screaming). One thing which did annoy me was that there were a few time sensitive actions you had to do when it just was not obvious where about on screen you should be clicking, one particular frustrating times was a fight with someone, I got beaten to pieces as I just could not work out how to defend myself until it was too late (apparently rather than punching the guys face I was supposed to have clicked on his fist).

I am looking forward yet again to the next episode, a late plot update made sure of that. Plenty of action, plenty of zombies, and lots of sorrow creates yet another great The Walking Dead tale.


Death Note/Death Note: The Last Name (2006) - Horror Film Reviews

Having recently watched the Death Note anime I thought it was high time I watched the film adaptation again. The story was split into two separate films and even with a running time of around four and a half hours a lot has had to be missed out.

As mentioned in my poor review of the anime (here) Death Note is about a bright young student who discovers a note book with the power to kill people just by writing their name in it. The student; Light Yagami decides to use it to make the world a better place but in doing so leads the worlds greatest detective; a shadowy figure known only as 'L' to hunt him down. The events in the film are quite different to the show, it seems it is far more based on the manga (which I have only partly read).

Playing Light is Tatsuya Fujiwara (of Battle Royale and Battle Royale II: Requiem fame), he fits the role well, but much like other portrayals of Light he comes across as evil, leading me again to question why no one apart from L really believes he is Kira. Ken'ichi Matsuyama plays L and actually looks very similar to the character. I don't really like the forced kookiness of L so again was not keen on him, but is well acted. It is a shame that the members of the police squad tasked to capture Kira are pushed to the sidelines a lot here with the exception of Light's father, and rookie detective Matsuda who like the anime and manga is virtually a pure comedy character.

While it can feel a bit rushed this is still a decent adaptation which looks like it had a high budget. The Gods of Death look kinda awful being computer generated but is a small price to pay, and far from the worst CGI I have seen (think that was the giant snake in Python). I learned from this film that it is really quite hard to make a heart attack victim look any good. A lot of people die of heart attacks in this film with a variety of over acting, and lack of spectacle. Of course it was easier in the anime to make these deaths look good (such as the one where a guy falls off a building and through a skylight) as is far cheaper to make.

The film is different enough that it really is worth watching, I really enjoyed it, the length allows it to build up characters and though quite lacking on action entertains throughout never getting boring. Key events from the anime appear but awesome new scenes such as the first film's finale in an art gallery (probably taken from the manga) bring some great surprises. Being Japanese there are subtitles which for the most part are good, especially given the amount of text that also needed translating. Some lines are poorly translated though and made me want to marker pen my TV to correct them!

If you are too lazy to watch the fantastic anime, too poor to afford the billion manga's or just want to see what the fuss is all about these are the perfect films to watch.


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Suda 51 is one of my favourite game developers, he has a string of cult classics to his name including Killer 7, No More Heroes, Flower, Sun and Rain as well as Shadows of the Damned. His teams latest game Lollipop Chainsaw is all about zombies so I just had to pick it up!

High School cheerleader Juliet Starling arrives at School (San Romero High) on her 18th Birthday to discover the place is over run with the walking dead. Rather than panic though she gets out a chainsaw from a duffel bag she is carrying. It turns out her and her family are a secret gang of zombie killers (quite convenient!).  Heading into the mass of zombies she searches for her boyfriend but comes across him just as he is bitten. Rather than have him become a zombie she lops his head off and using magic saves his life (well saves his heads life). Wearing her boyfriend's head on a key chain around her waist she heads further into the school to find out what has caused the outbreak.

Lollipop Chainsaw reminded me a lot of the Onechanbara games, except where they got boring due to constant repetition this one always mixes things up so your not constantly just fighting. Suda 51's sense of humour is in abundance, Nick (Juliet's bodiless boyfriend) in particular is a highlight, struggling to cope with not only being just a head, but also having no control over where he goes due to being attached to his girlfriend. The zombies can talk and often throw vulgar insults and threats at Juliet, one line in particular that stuck with me due to it's unexpectedness was when a random zombies shouts "I want to f**k your Dad!". The game is full of swearing and innuendo, one boss even uses swear words as a weapon, when ever he swears his words physically materialise and hurtle towards you (doing a Q.T.E while avoiding 'C**ksucker!' also stuck in the mind).

Talking of bosses they really influence a lot of the game. Main antagonist (the cause of the zombie outbreak) has summoned 5 super zombies to the Town, each in a different area, and each based on a different musical genre (punk, viking metal, psychedelia, disco boogie, and rock and roll). Not only does this affect the background music of the stage, but also how the levels play out. The Viking Metal level for instance has plenty of rain and lightning, as well as a Viking long ship, the psychedelia level has magic mushrooms that make you hallucinate, and whose boss is a stoner hippy zombie.

Starting off with only a limited move set you can earn coins which can be used at online shops to purchase new combos, costumes, stat increases, art work and music. The zombies are varied and involve a number of different types, you have American football zombies, geek zombies, ones loaded with explosives, teacher zombies, as well as farmers, punks, and even giant chicken ones!

As mentioned there are a variety of different activities to break up the action. There is zombie basketball where you have to score by lopping zombies heads off into the net, zombie baseball where you have to protect Nick as he scores runs. Other activities include zombie combine harvesting, videogames (that you are part of) and students to rescue (needed if your to get the good ending). They are only ever fun once though, so when some reappear later on in the game they are not welcome due to increased difficulty. One big complaint also is the last level which just feels rushed compared to the solid feel of the rest of the game, a shame the level was not polished more as it leaves a bad impression. During the game you get phone calls from your (unlikable) family, these are all pretty rubbish to be truthful and I could have done without.

While more mainstream than his previous games Lollipop Chainsaw is a simple, fun, fun game that still keeps his style of weirdness, along with ultra violence, and plenty of random swearing and sexual references, and as always, it has zombies in it!