Monday, 30 December 2013

The Shopping Dead (2013) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

If there is one thing sure to send people running from The Rotting Zombie it is reviews of X-Box Indie games, the statistics prove it! Yet here I am once again, my masochistic urge to review the hundreds of zombie games on that cursed channel.

The Shopping Dead is a first person arena zombie slaying game. You are in a shopping centre and must survive waves of the undead. The undead and you are all Avatar based so I was wondering around with comedy over sized gloves on. The undead are basically Avatars with a slight horror tinge to their faces, not horror enough to actually resemble zombies mind. They groan when you shoot them, other than that they are spookily silent.

The zombies appear to warp into the arena via black doorways yet I never witnessed them doing this. Usually I would turn around to see a leering Avatombie standing there, silly really. When the zombies die they have no great death animation, they merely just instantly disappear. The gun I was armed with resembled a stapler, maybe it was a stapler, there was no information to the contrary that it was anything else.

The best thing I can say about The Shopping Dead is that it has a few different tunes. At around £2 it is not even the cheapest price it could be. Whoever made this needs a slap if they thought they were bringing anything new to the very over saturated zombie arena shooter genre.


Dragon Age II (2011) - Fantasy Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

I picked up Dragon Age II  a year or so back for under a tenner, yet due to both having a glut of RPG's to play, and remembering negative mumblings about the game at its release I put off playing it. While it is indeed a very fun game it near buckles under a wealth of near inexcusable flaws.

Dragon Age II takes place over around 7 years, split into 3 chapters, it starts with you as either a male or female rogue, warrior, or mage named Hawke escaping the Blight (a huge event from Dragon Age: Origins) with your family and heading to the far off city of Kirkwall. During your time in Kirkwall nothing overly massive seems to happen, there is no grand over arching plot about the end of the world, mainly it focuses on the growing division between the Circle of the Magi and their monitors; the Templar order led by over zealous Knight Commander Meredith. The whole game takes place via the recollection of a Dwarf named Varric who is being interrogated about Hawke in the present by a Seeker for reasons unknown.

I found Dragon Age II to be a fun, solid game. The amount of side quests is commendable, there are a heck of a lot over the games 40 plus hour run time. These side quests for the most part do not tie in much to the main storyline but some reoccurring ones (such as hunting a serial killer at large in Kirkwall) do have great repercussions. Each of the games 3 acts has its own swab of side quests with your actions in these coming back to haunt you in later acts. Now my first issue I will talk about is these quests. At the end of Act 1, and at the end of Act 2 before starting the final mission you get a warning to mop up any outstanding business as nothing carries over. Because of this I got into the last part of the game not realising it was the end as I had received no warning. As a result there were quite a few side quests I never got to finish as I was too far in by the time I realised to go and load up an old save that would have set me back an hour. I do not know why there was no warning.

As mentioned there is not too much dramatic plot going on, mostly Dragon Age II chronicles Hawkes rise from an immigrant no one to being a key player in Kirkwall. The end section of the game literally stuffs you into a big story out of nowhere, I was forced to choose between two different sides which I found unfair as both sides were heavily flawed so was not happy to have to do this. There were some cool twists in the story I did not see coming, this included key characters dying, and character turns.

The characters were the best thing about Dragon Age II. Some are worse than others but I just used the ones I liked the most. Hawke is able to be moulded to be as ruthless or as nice as you want, this doesn't really change much but you get to decide characters fates (such as deciding whether to kill a criminal, let them go, or get them arrested for instance). My companions (you can have 3 with you at once out of a pool of around 7 included nervous Dalish Elf Merril, no nonsense Guard Captain Aveline, and my favourite; roguish Pirate Captain Isabella. Characters talk amongst themselves as you wonder around with lots of unique conversations. Dragon Age: Origins included a War Hound as a playable character, this time around I was pleased that the Hound was again included but this time available as a special weapon being able to be summoned to help you fight (kinda bizarre having a teleporting dog though!). Much like Origins you can form romances with your party members with your character not restricted to being heterosexual.

Now my main bone of contention is how lazy and rushed Dragon Age II is. I believe the game was rushed out by EA in just over a year and if this is true it would explain the shocking lack of variety in locations you visit. It mostly takes place in the city of Kirkwall with only a few areas being outside the city but the key crime comes with the reuse of dungeon templates. There are only around 7 or 8 different dungeon designs and they pop up over and other again. Sewers, caverns, warehouse, houses all have just the one design meaning each new place you get to you have already seen. They have the exact same layout, the exact same scenic furniture, and while some areas get blocked off to create the illusion of a new place the map itself is still whole;  this is a very big issue and is great at completely destroying immersion. It is pathetic, lazy, and frequently had me laughing out loud at the disbelief that anyone thought this would be a good idea. All I can imagine is that there was not enough time to make varied locations so the level designers just thought to themselves "f**k it, no one will notice".

People complained about the simplified more action based combat system, but for me (someone who had to play Origins on easy) I welcomed this more streamlined system. Special attacks are linked to the face buttons and I had no problem using potions and switching between characters in the heat of battle. You are only able to change Hawkes armour, other characters have special armour that unlocks at key points in the story. For the most part all you are fighting are humanoid enemies (Elves, Humans, and Dwarfs mostly), the other main enemies being demons. I enjoyed the combat but more variety would have been welcome in what you fight. I found the many boss fights to be interesting and not unfairly hard.

Dragon Age II is a fun game, the world seems believable enough with lots of great back story provided, and it features plenty of shout outs to Origins. I really wish the level design had been more inspired and that there was a tonne more variety in the locations as this really was a big hurdle in my falling completely in love with it. If not for that issue I certainly could have seen myself giving this an 8, or even a 9 out of 10 but it is just so ever present that it could not but help get in the way of my enjoyment.


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Jack Frost (1997) - Christmas Horror Film Review

Happy Christmas from The Rotting Zombie to everyone. Now after doing a spoof review of Home Alone the other day I felt I just had to watch an actual Christmas horror. Films such as Black Christmas and Gremlins are ones I considered but went with the fun Jack Frost. Not to be confused with the Michael Keaton family film of the same name that came out a year after this.

Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) is a serial killer who is being transported by prison van to his place of execution a week before Christmas when a blizzard causes the van to accidentally crash into a lorry carrying an experimental genetic formula. Jack becomes exposed to the acidic formula causing his DNA to somehow meld with the snow near his melting body turning him into a living snowman; a living psychotic snowman who can freeze and unfreeze his body at will. Jack sets out to slay the local populace of the small mountain town he finds himself at.

There is no way that a film about a killer snowman could go down the straight and serious route and thankfully Jack Frost doesn't attempt that. The snowman in the best tradition of comedian slashers (later Freddy Kruger, the Leprechaun etc) is always causing his deaths in inventive ways with a wise crack never far from his icy lips, and as with those films it is the kills that keep you glued to the screen. Frost is the classic snowman shape; 3 balls of snow one on top of the other, coal for eyes, and a carrot for his nose.

The formula is as you would expect, the first half of the film no one even knows he is there, the small town Sheriff; Sam (Christopher Allport) knows there is a killer no the loose but has no idea what he is dealing with. F.B.I Agent Manners knows exactly what is going on but will not say. Halfway through Frost begins his rampage for real, no longer hiding in the shadows. There is quite a high body count and some iconic death scenes contained. A woman who gets her face smashed into a box of Christmas baubles before being wrapped around a Christmas tree with lights, a man who gets an axe shoved down his throat handle first, and the girl who is having a bath when the bath water forms into Frost, all great scenes.

The script is funny and doesn't take itself seriously, though sometimes the story goes a bit haywire with ridiculous plot devices that don't make sense. Frost is afraid of hot things so at one point the survivors decide to flood a hallway with hair and bug sprays to...warm up the air or something? And then the only exit out the corridor is locked so they all start to choke on the spray? All leads to a senselessly dramatic sequence that felt really dumb, Some of the acting also is not great, the Sheriff's child in particular did my head in, could not stand any scenes that awful kid was in.

The special effects are not the best, Frost does not look like he is made of snow, and anytime he moves it is shown only from the waist up, and the melting and reforming sequences happen just off camera, still despite a couple of false ends the film doesn't outstay it's welcome. A fun, very silly horror that is well worth a watch as a solid Christmas horror. Followed by a sequel that I recall as being truly abysmal.


Monday, 23 December 2013

The $1.00 Zombie Game (2012) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

With a title like that I fully expected this game to be terrible, also I don't know if it is a unwritten rule or something but why is the cover art for nearly every single X-Box Indie game so abysmal? I couldn't actually find an image of the cover so I have saved you that pain!

Set in Britain during zombie apocalypse you play as a balaclava wearing man who each day is armed with a different weapon with which to take out the hordes of dead shuffling around in the square your based at. Each day has it's own little intro card and a set number of zombies to kill to survive the day.

In the demo I was able to play through 8 days, and I had a lot of fun. The $1.00 Zombie Game is a third person arena shooter but controls not badly and looks better than most Indie third person games on the channel (still hardly great graphics though). Rather than earning points from killing the undead to buy new weapons the idea of instead using a different weapon for every day feels somehow novel.

The undead look really strange and angular, but they are varied and they make cool groaning noises. Each level though all the zombies tend to bunch up, so you end up with a small horde after you rather than randomly placed bodies, this made it quite easy, but for each 7 days you survive the zombies strength and speed increases. The music is also not bad, such as one track that was a riff on the classic Funeral March tune.

For 65p you cannot complain about not getting value for money, is on the list of games I want to one day buy as I enjoyed the demo, just not sure how tough the game will ever get.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Home Alone (1990) - Christmas Horror Film Review

Upon release in 1990 this was dubbed a family comedy due to an error at the production company. It instead was supposed to be the main charge in a resurgence of home invasion films along the lines of The Last House on the Left, The Purge, and The Strangers but with a 90's twist. Heavily edited from its original 18 certificate to appeal to a broader audience it is still nonetheless a gruelling ride.

Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister; a young eight year old boy who is accidentally left home alone when his neglectful family go on holiday without him. This coincidentally coincides with the arrival of two hardened criminals who are in the area to rob the neighbourhood, though their obsession with the McCallister's house is actually due to being hired by Kevin's parents to assassinate him (a subplot cut out entirely for the PG rated cinema release). When the home invasion starts the twist happens; rather than an hour of the criminals brutally terrorising and torturing the young boy as expected you instead discover that Kevin is a sick, psychotic deviant who relishes in the game of pain he unleashes on the unsuspecting duo.

To begin with Home Alone may not seem like horror, yet the final third is the jewel in the crown and really unleashes the violence, leading me to vomit once or twice with fear I am not afraid to admit. Long before the likes of Saw and Hostel came around John Hughes (the writer) managed to blend elements of the so called 'torture porn' horror sub-genre with home invasion to sickening effect. Nails inserted into the skin, heavy blunt object trauma, gunshots (fun fact the BB gun used by Kevin in the PG version was originally supposed to be a 12 Gauge Shotgun) and all ends (spoiler alert) with the burglars actually biting off all of Kevin's fingers in a protracted ten minutes slow-mo sequence set to the music of Kate Moss, before they are bludgeoned to death by the local serial killer; Old Man Marley (The South Bend Shovel Slayer) and their remains mummified in his salt bin.

Out of interest the sequel Home Alone 2 is based on the ending to the PG version, and not the R Rated version. Now some of this may be a bit of lies but in reality Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the 'bad' guys were known to swear quite a lot during their scenes, and also Pesci did bite Culkin's finger hard enough to scar it, so there is some evidence to suggest that the 18 rated version still exists out there somewhere still to this day, a closely guarded secret by all involved.


There Will Be Brains (2011) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

There Will Be Brains is a 2D side on view wave based zombie survival game, yet it beats the norm by having some interesting graphics, as well as plenty of fun story telling in-between levels.

Starting off in your home City in America during zombie apocalypse you get a message from your best friend in San Fransisco asking you to come rescue her. You decide you will, but first you have to get enough petrol to be able to make the journey. From behind your barricades you must take out the zombies, each day you survive you get more petrol. By the end of my time in the first city I had found a newspaper that spoke of a cure so when I left I was given a choice of where I wanted to go.

Starting off with a basic pistol you must stop the zombies from getting to your barricade and pulling it down. Some shuffle, some run, all can be killed via 6 shots to the head. After each round you visit a merchant (a parody of the merchant from Resident Evil 4) with which you can buy new melee weapons and guns to quicker take out the undead threat, or even save up to buy some petrol quickening up your departure.

There Will Be Brains is a fun game, the story after each round is incentive to continue, and the mellow chilled out music gives it the feel of a puzzle game almost. The graphics are charming and look different to anything I have seen before. I only played the demo (which was the first City) but have added it onto my list of games I want to buy, and so recommend it for anyone looking for a decent X-Box Indie game.


Saturday, 21 December 2013

ZOMBIECRAFTT!!1 SAMPLER (2011) - Zombie Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

From the obnoxious title and art work that looks like it was done on MS Paint I knew right away this was going to be a bad game. ZOMBIECRAFTT!!1 is a 2D Minecraft clone that has you digging and building around a horizontally huge level.

You play as Skyfish; a goldfish with a miners hat. You can build squares of land, or dig away blocks of land. The zombies of the game look like a backward 'C' with an eyeball on top...not exactly zombies. You can kill these things by flinging pickaxes at them.

I have never gotten into Minecraft, is too complicated for me, this is the opposite, simple to the point of boredom. The graphics are terrible, no music, virtually no sound effects. Apparently the goal is to mine for minerals. The 'sampler' in the title is an indication that the full game would have more stuff in it, but I was not compelled to find out.


GET TO THA CHOPPA TWOOO!!2 (2011) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

From So So Dev comes the sequel to the endless runner game GET TO THA CHOPPA!!1. I wasn't sure what they could do to make it feel any different, and basically they don't. Maybe more refined.

This time around you play as a woman running for her life from thousands of zombies instead of a man. Much like before you have a Uzi to fire at zombies ahead of you, and you must jump over land mines and duck under missiles a following helicopter fires at the horde chasing you. What's new is that sometimes presents are given to you from the helicopter which makes you invincible for a short while.

Not much to say really, the same game as before with added power ups. A great hand drawn visual style, a catchy tune playing, but kinda pointless if like me you own the first game. I like that the obstacles all have giant button prompts next to them. Is just an endless runner, a competent one but to be honest when you've played one you have played them all. At 65p it is very cheap though.


Thursday, 19 December 2013

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (2012) - Horror Videogame Review (XBLA)

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is a game published by Sega, full of bright colours, and solid cartoon graphics. At it's core it is a mild platformer punctuated by many boss fights.

Ash the Dead Rabbit has recently inherited his fathers role as the Ruler of Hell, however not long after this happens some revealing pictures of Ash in his bath playing with a rubber duck get leaked onto Hell's version of the internet. Before he is able to get the pictures removed 100 inhabitants of Hell have managed to view the pictures. Not wanting his evil image to be ruined he sets out to find and kill everyone who has seen him with his duck.

Hell Yeah! is a bizarre game in that you are placed in huge open levels, yet there is not a lot of enemies in them at all, the game is more a series of boss battles, hunting through the levels to locate the demons marked on your map. When I was a child I designed in a notepad a platform game that was just boss battles, so am glad a game such as one I thought of has finally been made! Most the game you are riding a strange contraption that consists of a motorised spiked wheel armed with various weapons such as rocket launchers, lasers, and miniguns. This vehicle can be used to grill through rock in the levels and upgraded to return to earlier areas to drill through rock that used to be impenetrable in a mild Metroidvania way. Certain sections have you heading off on foot which make you defenceless and so must change your tactics to kill your foes (eg: pushing a block to crush a target, or luring one to stand under a switch activated acid shower.

There are quite a few areas of Hell to go through, all have fantastic music. The traditional Hell appears as a lava filled level, but space, night club, museum, post apocalyptic and others all appear, full of bright colours and looking great. The best would either be the psychedelic level, or the super cute one in which a super irritating upbeat song is sung in the background.

With a hundred bosses I expected to be bored quickly but each is wonderfully brought to life, not only in the game world, but also appearing in a bestiary with a short description when they are defeated. It is really quite interesting with a lot of variety given, even if you do get the occasional block of identical looking characters (3 different astronauts in a row spring to mind). The bosses are relative to the areas they appear in, so the factory level has lots of robot demons, while the night club area has party themed demons for instance. Towards the games end you find from one description that the demons appearances are based on the last thoughts and images they saw before they died on Earth which made me look at them all in a different light..

The actual battles are for the most part very brief, none of them have large energy bars, all are defeated via an over the top finisher that is usually very gory, albeit in a cartoon way. These finishers include a horde of rats that appear to eat the victim, a huge buzz saw slicing up the victim, even being booted across the world into a football goal and then sliced up when hitting the back of the net. While these finishers are a lot of fun and require some simple QTE presses they do on occasion repeat which was a slight shame. There are also a few larger fights that feel like more traditional boss fights, these usually end with a slice of story.

The plot is quite bare bones, I was excited to get to the end to find out just who was behind the photos but when I found out I was very disappointed, not a good reveal at all and made me end on a bit of a downer. Also Hell Yeah! is a very easy game, this did not bother me though as it mostly such a joy to go through.

Really my main complaint is just how poorly the whole thing finished, and that maybe the main boss battles could have been more inventive and tougher. There are plenty of hats to buy in the shops you encounter, challenges to complete, as well as a bizarre mini game in which you set the killed demons to work on your resort island which provides some excuses to revisit but overall there is not too much reason to be dragged back. A fun game while it lasted with a great style.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) - Horror Film Review

I was in need of a film to watch last night, I finally settled on Bubba Ho-Tep, having seen it once many years ago and remembering it as not being bad. The biggest draw for me for this film is the legend Bruce Campbell starring, that and it being directed by Don Coscarelli of Phantasm and Army of Darkness fame.

Campbell stars as Sebastian Haff; an elderly resident of The Shady Rest Retirement Home who may or may not be the real Elvis Presley (his story being that in the 1970's he got sick of all the drugs, women, and fame and swapped his identity with an Elvis impersonator). The residents of the home are dying regularly, the staff put this down to old age but Haff and his friend; the senile Jack (who himself believes he is JFK despite being black) discover that the abnormal amount of deaths is in fact due to a cowboy mummy who turns up at night to feast on the helpless souls of the old and sick. With no one to believe them it is up to the two old men to defeat the monster.

Campbell is fantastic as Sebastian/Elvis, he gives a real believability and vulnerability to the character, getting around via a zimmer frame, slow and laborious movements. His character narrates the film giving insight into his character and really make you as the viewer feel for him with his life time of regrets and his perspective on the young staff and visitors. The flashbacks to him in the prime of his life are very well done. Being the narrator it is never quite clear if he in fact was the real King or if he just thinks he is which was a nice touch. Ossie Davis as Jack is also a great side kick, his senile moments making his actions sweet.

Bubba Ho-Tep starts off bad, and does have some aspects that I thought were a bit off. Sebastian/Elvis talks about his privates far too much via narration, that and some toilet humour really fell flat for me, thankfully when the film gets going this fades into the background. It is a slow paced film and this is perfect as being set in a retirement home the whole atmosphere is one of slowness. Early action scenes feature a huge scarab beetle which looks quite fake but it is the arrival of Ho-Tep itself where the film becomes interesting.

Bubba Ho-Tep's appearance as a mummy wearing cowboy clothes gives him a strange visual style, he has the ability to phase in and out of existence and gives no heed to the heroes due to their age. Ho-Tep is a lame bad guy in general terms as he is really not very powerful. The whole reason he is feeding off old people is due to being too weak to take on younger ones, so when the showdown finally commences it feels quite poignant in a way, a battle between the elderly  that no one else seems to care about. The mummy is quite immature and childish, an early bizarre clue to him being the cause of the dying old folks is some Egyptian graffiti scrawled on the wall of the visitors toilets, and when the mummy does talk his speech is translated as a slew of insults.

The soundtrack is mournful, and some genuine heart breaking moments occur with the frustrated old men powerless to stop the villain. This all leads up to a showdown that while light on action brings the film to a bittersweet end. Not the best review I have done, but there you go!


Monday, 16 December 2013

Monster Zombie Claymation (2013) - Short Zombie Claymation

Ever since the underrated Skull Monkeys videogame I have loved claymation (and of course the original Evil Dead claymation sequence). Monster Zombie Claymation then was something I immediately had to watch.

Inspired by grind house flicks and the old video nasties of the 1980's Monster Zombie Claymation doesn't have much plot to speak of. Someone channel surfing goes through a lot of different horror films before settling on a zombie flick. In the film a lone survivor does his best to survive a zombie outbreak via his trusty shotgun, retreating to his tool shed to stock up on weapons before a trip back to his family home where he finds the arrival of demons.

I loved this, it is amazingly well done, the camera shots are fantastic, The buildings are made up of lollipop sticks, the zombies and monsters grotesque with lots of blood pumping out of their wounds and losing flesh and body parts, and the music is really screwed up giving such an atmosphere. It feels like a bad acid trip, a plasticine nightmare, a claymation catastrophe. The creator; Trent Shy is very good at what he does. Check it out below and see what you think...

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013) - Horror Video Game Review (X-Box 360)

I entered Aliens: Colonial Marines fully expecting to hate it, a bad way to start a game, yet this one has received so much venom from reviewers for being an unfinished mess that I could not help but be biased. Having now played through it I find myself a traitor to my own kind. Simply put Aliens: Colonial Marines is a hell of a lot of fun.

Several weeks after the end of Aliens a platoon of marines head to the remains of the space ship U.S.S Sulaco responding to a distress call from Hicks (the only surviving marine from Aliens). While investigating the ship they encounter not only the deadly Xenomorphs, but also a group of private military contractors working for the Weyland-Yutani corporation who launch an attack on them, destroying both the Sulaco as well as the marines own ship in the progress. Crash landing on planet LV-426 the remaining marines work to reunite their scattered squad mates and find a way to escape the planet.

I really enjoyed the game, I thought the atmosphere was fantastic and the locations realistic in feel. I am not remotely the biggest Aliens fan out there so maybe that is why I had no problem with the game. Xenomorphs are in large numbers and tend to swarm towards you, mercenaries tend to hold their ground and try and pick you off from cover. I would say around half the game is you (as Corporal Winter) battling just aliens, while the other half is either you fighting mercs, or later on having a three way battle between both the mercs and aliens. There is no arrow on screen telling you where to go next, or what you need to do to proceed yet I barely ever got lost, always naturally finding the next location or switch to pull, something the Call of Duty series could learn from!

For the majority of the game you have A.I squad mates with you, they are competent at attacking enemies even if their weapons appear to be weaker than yours, and on occasion they irritate (such as when you have to remove a petrol pump from a ship, they seem to be doing nothing as you come under continuous assault). They cannot be killed though which is ace and provide some decent dialogue between each other and you. I had heard the script was awful; full of stereotypical hoo-rah! type meat heads but the marines actually have respect for each other, as well as females, with a third of the cast females (including Ashley Burch in a lead female role) I expected sexism but no, marines do on occasion shout at each other, but in a twist actually apologise and don't just berate each other to the point of unlike-ability. Plus there is some genuine humour injected into things such as the running joke of one of the marines being referred to as 'nugget' by his squad mates.

Combat against the enemies is pretty fun, I only really used the one weapon (plasma rifle) as swapping between weapons is super fiddly and annoying to do in the heat of combat. You have the iconic motion tracker which was cool to see, even if a bit pointless. There is a light RPG element in that you level up and get skill points to unlock new features for your weapons. To split up the action of roaming dark corridors and landscapes there are several sections where you have to lay down automated turrets and hold out against a barrage of alien attacks, tense and makes a good change. Another section turned the game into pure horror. Weaponless, alone and in sewers you must sneak past your blind foes using the scenery to cause distractions. I never got bored of firing the iconic weapons from Aliens. Lending replay value there are audio logs and dog tags hidden in levels, as well as 'legendary' weapons.

Death scenes are annoying, a bad effect used that irritates and is hard to describe, also check points on occasion can be very mean, forcing you back quite a way. Enemies have a tendency to ignore the A.I and head straight to you which I did find to be a pain, especially during the previously mentioned petrol pump sequence. Back on the subject of A.I they routinely get teleported ahead of you, I lost count of the times I would open a new door to see a group of people and immediately fire on them, not realising it was my pals bizarrely teleported by the game, takes you out of it a bit, this goes for ammo and armour that also has a tendency to be warped in, suddenly showing up next to you. Boss battles are infrequent and apart from a buggy fight against a giant alien in a mech suit thing (you know, the yellow machine Ripley uses to fight the Alien Queen in Aliens) are not too bad.

The game does feel like it needed some more polish, enemies clip through obstacles, I sometimes got stuck on scenery and at one point the weapon select option flat out refused to work leading me to check to make sure my controller was working properly. Regardless of all the bugs though I had a stupidly fun time with Aliens: Colonial Marines, maybe as it only cost me a fiver I was more able to see past all the flaws. I feel like I'm missing something that everyone noticed, but I cannot say this is a bad game, far better than the very average Aliens vs Predator. Well worth playing, only just missed out on getting an 8/10 from me, and with my new harsher marking system that is saying something.


Red Eye (2005) - Horror Film Review

Red Eye is a thriller through and through, by the end my heart was pumping due to all the thrills: real talk. I think Cillian Murphy is a fantastic actor so finding out he plays the main bad guy in this I just had to check it out.

After attending her Grandmothers funeral Hotel manager Lisa (Rachel McAdams) is heading back to her job via a red eye flight across America. At the terminal she befriends an intense young man; Jaskson Rippner (Murphy). Upon finding out her seat is next to his on the plane she thinks at first it is just coincidence, however once the plane is in the sky he reveals a terrifying secret to her. A prominent government official is staying at her hotel, if she doesn't call the hotel and get the officials room transferred to one of Jackson's choosing (in order for the official to be assassinated) then her father is going to be murdered.

The biggest problem I had with Red Eye was the suspension of disbelief you as the viewer are expected to have. Jackson threatens Lisa, he tells her his plans to kill her father, and he even assaults her at one point yet no one at all bats an eyelid, sure they are speaking in hushed tones, but that sort of privacy is just impossible to get in the normal seating area of a plane. All throughout Red Eye everyone but the main actors act like automatons, just walking, talking shapes that are oblivious to anything and everything. This suspension is again required later on, this time with a mobile phone which first has no signal, then later on runs out of battery (literal eye rolling from me at that point).

Yet Red Eye is not a complete disaster, thanks mostly to Murphy who is expertly cast as bad guy Jackson, quietly menacing with the hint of madness dancing in those eyes of his. The character itself is well written, flawed, and tenacious with a human element thanks to clumsiness and under estimating his foe. McAdams is not so good, sure she does a fine role with decent acting but her character is just kind of lame, too peppy and happy to help. Less said about the side characters the better, Brian Cox as the father has about 2 minutes screen time and pretty much does nothing, while hotel assistant Jayma Mays as hotel assistant Cynthia is extremely irritating.

Wes Craven is the director of this, and there are certainly some great shots, yet the whole plane sequence is badly done, I don't know why the atmosphere of planes is always identical in films but is like no journey I have ever been on, maybe it's an American thing. I mean the location feels fake, what actually occurs is always interesting, and never boring. In terms of thrills Red Eye certainly delivers, the last third of the film was quite fun to watch, and it is for thrills that Red Eye gets a pass as a (slightly) better than average film.


Zombie Racers (2011) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review

Wow, after expecting more utter trash I actually found a fun X-Box Indie game. Zombie Racers doesn't actually have you racing against zombies, it is more a race against time to mow down the undead beasts. Saying that though in the main game there are also races against other cars as well as the time attack mode.

No story to speak of, you are in a yellow car and must drive around the arenas running over zombies. You can get limited time power ups for your vehicle such as spinning blades (that stack up if you collect more than one of them) and a powerful zombie magnet that pulls all the ghouls towards your vehicle of death.

What I loved about Zombie Racers is the extreme over head view, your car is minuscule on screen, the zombies too very small. Every now and again a severed head, or limb will fly up towards the screen in a cool 3D effect, Played the demo as is the case but was a bunch of fun. The first arena was at an airport, while the second was on a beach. In between levels was a bonus one in which you are meant to avoid zombies. The car controls really loosely but works.

While Zombie Racers is an average game it still just shows that all you need to do is make something slightly different. Sure it has terrible rock music, barely any sound effects and looks quite basic but I had fun in the brief time I spent with it and that's the key thing.


Heroes vs. Zombies (2011) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (XBI)

First off the usual stuff. This is an X-Box Indie game and as such I am reviewing this based on the demo. Sometimes I will hold  back on reviewing until I have played the full game but Heroes vs. Zombies is one game I am sure does not get any better.

You and up to 3 friends are in charge of a grave-less graveyard. It is your job to ensure no zombies escape from the graveyard to the outside world. That is it for the story, I could have come up with a better one. You seem to have magical powers as you fire balls of energy from your hands.

The title screen was enough to put me off, it has a drawing of a zombie that looks like it was done on MS Paint, this terrible artwork carries on over into the game. Heroes vs. Zombies is an overhead arena based zombie survival game that is very lazy. You kill waves of zombies (and turtles for some reason) getting points with which to get better weapons. There are no sound effects other than the dull thud your energy ball things make and the soundtrack consists of one eternally looping rock dross thing. A very basic, dull game that was zero fun to play.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Contact (2009) - Short Horror Film Review

Once upon a time Jeremiah Kipp contacted me to tell me about his 3 short films; Drool, Crestfallen, and Contact. As is often the way I was heading back through my list of things to do and noticed Contact had yet to be seen. Off my day job due to a flu thing I decided to check it out. Clocking in at 11 minutes Contact is a journey down the rabbit hole of drug use.

Book ended between scenes of an elderly couple anxiously awaiting the arrival of someone is the tale of a young couple who purchase some strange medication from a surreal drug dealer. As the trip starts all seems well but soon the woman falls into the realm of nightmares.

Shot in black and white it looks great, especially the special effects (mouth tunnel!) which I reckon would not look as good if in colour. The black and white also creates a sense of a dream world. The main female lead (Zoe Daelman Chlanda) is well cast and believable as someone experiencing the dark side of which ever drug she has taken, the descent into madness she finds herself in encapsulates you the viewer as well, really like I was a fly on the wall in the characters mind.

Contact has a lot of style to it that is perfectly supplemented by the locations chosen. The drug den is plain surreal, while the pictures and paintings of the room the couple take the drugs in seem to amplify the effects with some decent camera work, meanwhile the house of the elderly couple is immaculate and manages to seem the most other worldly due to its jarring appearance after the roller-coaster of madness has been done with.

Another well made decent short, found myself liking this far more than I felt I would, arty, but not too arty. Contact can be seen here if you so wish.