Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Check it. A vid from when we visited Ubisoft Montreal last October to check out Assassin's Creed II. It's a bit old now, but screw it. We like to share anyways.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Anyone with even a casual interest in news and world events will know that Africa is a troubled nation, rife with disease and famine. What you may not know is that absolutely everyone carries a gun, drive jeeps with rear-mounted machine gun turrets and follow you relentlessly in a bid to kill you dead for no apparent reason.
OK, so that might not be true – in fact we’re certain that it’s not – but it is the Africa portrayed in Far Cry 2, where there are virtually no innocent civilians and the world is the most hostile and unforgiving you’re ever likely to encounter. Even the wildlife is far friendlier then the people. You could say Far Cry 2 is the all-time worst advertisement for Africa. Play the game for an hour and it’ll put you off ever wanting to go there for a lifetime.
You play as a shady mercenary who finds himself infected with malaria and working for various factions for your own personal ends. Amidst the deception and playing factions off one another, your goal is to kill The Jackal, a despotic weapons dealer who’s responsible for most of the conflict erupting in the surrounding areas. As such it’s up to you to locate The Jackal and take him down by whatever means necessary. Your first port of call is with The Underground, where you’ll be given invaluable malaria tablets that stave off your horrible mind-altering malarial pangs. You’re later introduced to weapons depots where you can spend any of the 200-odd diamonds found scattered all over the gameworld on new and more reliable guns. You’ll also meet a couple of helpful buddies that will help you out of tough situations later on in the game or alternatively, get themselves kidnapped prompting either a rescue mission or a brief sigh of indifference as you abandon them in captivity while you continue on your journey.
First, more on Far Cry 2’s weapons, of which there are many. You have two primary options when acquiring weaponry. You can either scavenge rusty old guns from enemies and end up carrying an arsenal prone to jamming during heated battles, or you can buy your weapons brand new from the weapon merchant, which means hijacking weapon convoys to unlock more guns for sale. It’s the latter option that proves the most sensible as salvaged weapons can suffer from severe unreliability issues and there’s nothing more annoying than having your AK-47 jam while surrounded by a rag tag band of mercs all intent on turning you into Swiss cheese. Incidentally, it’s at this precise moment that you’ll usually be assaulted by hallucinogenic malarial spasms, obscuring your view and sending you into panic mode. A stab of the left bumper is all that’s required to administer a malaria pill, but during a heated firefight, this can be a royal pain in the arse.
And there’s certainly no shortage of fraught gunplay throughout the course of Far Cry 2’s campaign to take down the morally dubious antagonist of the game, The Jackal. Apparently, The Jackal has issued the entire population of Africa with your picture and orders to kill on site, as almost every NPC you encounter in the wilderness will open fire in your direction. Even the most innocuous looking situation can be read wrongly, like one instance where we found ourselves out on a deserted dirt track when a small car approached in the opposite direction. Just one man driving said car looked innocent enough, when all of a sudden he jumped out brandishing a machine gun. Still one well-aimed bullet to the head sent him on his way to hell. This kind of thing is a common occurence in FC2, as everyone hates you.
This is but one example of the kind of blind hostility you regularly encounter in Far Cry 2’s unforgiving, brutal world. It’s accepted that you’re a hunted man, but FC2 takes it from the sublime to the ridiculous, throwing constant waves of enemies your way in a seemingly random fashion. Yet, this is really the only major negative in a game that stands as a quite astonishing achievement. FC2’s game world is not only incredibly vast, but possesses a majestic visual fidelity that makes traversing its jungles and stretches of savannah a real pleasure. There may be a great deal of repetition inherent in the game’s missions (especially the side quests), but then the landscape is so stunningly realised, so beautiful to behold that these structural shortcomings can be easily forgiven. When you’re driving along a desert road to destroy yet another enemy compound, the God rays flickering through the trees, the desert rain falling as zebras gallop alongside your vehicle make it a pleasant ride despite the fact you’re repeating a similar mission to the one you finished mere minutes earlier.
Far Cry 2’s beauty lies not only in its breathtaking vistas, but also in the explosive destruction you can wreak upon your enemies. You’ll often find yourself infiltrating enemy compounds to off a certain target as part of a contract, and in these instances your initial instinct is to favour a stealthy approach. The instances in which sneaking works in your favour are few and far between however and more often than not you’ll be found out, subsequently alerting every single person in the area. We found that it’s far more effective and fun to drive into the middle of the compound, mount a turret and blast the crap out of any explosives you lay your eyes upon. Doing this normally starts a few fires, which will flush out any enemies who you can then pick off one by one. Chuck in a Molotov for good measure and you can watch the flames propagate across the grass, up trees and through buildings. In minutes you’ll have reduced the zone to a smouldering heap of debris that you can now explore at your leisure. Works every time.
Ubisoft Montreal has crafted a game that they hoped would deal with adult problems, topical, important issues about poverty in Africa and so on. On this front Far Cry 2 is only a partial success. The Africa depicted therein is nothing like the Africa you see on the news and we refuse to believe that it is anything like what we’ve seen in Far Cry 2. Nevertheless, as a game Far Cry 2 is more successful although it is unbelievably frustrating and seemingly insurmountable at times. Enemy AI is often pretty dubious, with some blowing themselves up or running around like headless chickens. The sheer scale of the environment can seem very intimidating too and the moment you unlock the second half of the map, your jaw will hit the floor.
Forget about Far Cry 2’s veneer of unflinching realism and political commentary to just focus on the outrageous game beneath that allows you to set fire to anything that burns and you'll have loads of fun. Throw a few Molotovs around, blow everything to smithereens, and torch everything to cinders. Only then will you truly appreciate what Far Cry 2 is all about.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Is Resident Evil 5 a return to the old ways of the series - riding a good thing into the fucking ground?
I'm disappointed, even angry with the designers.
Nasty Fuckin Splitscreen
I can't believe they would do something this amateur. It looks SHIT. Makes it almost unplayable, no joke. Aiming, finding items, avoiding enemies, reading text, navigating menus - all a nightmare. Thought it might be a demo specific thing but this shot makes me think otherwise. Sigh.
I'm a fan but this game highlights the need for some tweaks. More enemies, faster enemies, stronger enemies - bring em on, but don't make the shit UNBALANCED. Simple alterations would make a huge improvement.
Running with the analogue stick - shit is pressure sensitive, so fuckin use it. Running with a button held down feels a bit lame now - turning at speed is difficult, trapped on scenery, the usual problems. I'm not asking to be a gymnast, but come on...
Shooting and moving - damn this would improve things 50%. A slow walk wouldn't tip the scales in your favour but it would allow you to maneuver out of tight confines. Playing Dead Space I thought 'this is heavily influenced by Resi 4'. Playing Resi 5 I'm thinking 'this should have been influenced by Dead Space'. That game had the balance just right.
Personalised controller setup - should be able to assign that shit how I like it, not be given 4 different options, none of which are useful.
Again, I gotta look to Dead Space and tip my hat. If you're gonna do that real time menu shit, do it right. Allow me to move whilst I'm selecting items, allow me to select, use, give items quickly. Or alternatively...STICK WITH THE MOTHERFUCKIN ATTACHE CASE. I was a fan, now its gone forever. I liked having that calculated pause to sort my shit mid-battle. I liked spinning a first aid spray to stuff it in there. Granted it wouldn't work very well in co-op, one guy spinning herbs whilst the other guy combines ammo. Wait...maybe that would make a good little minigame. Fuck you Capcom.
About the ONLY thing I can say that's a definite improvement is using the D-pad to quick switch between guns. Nice.
What the fuck, my enthusiasm has dried the fuck up.
Maybe I won't be riding into town to buy this on release day anymore.
Landon Garrett for The Shed.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Monday, March 24, 2008
Way back in May 2007 Landon Garrett danced with Elder Scrolls IV:Oblivion and was unable to find his feet. He tripped and fell over and felt cheated by his ogre of a date. Yet there was light at the end of the mountain pass. To quote, he wrote: "Mass Effect...could be the RPG I've been waiting for. Maybe I'll be able to get my character drunk in some crazy spaceport nightclub. Maybe it'll be my entry ticket." Flash forward 10 months and Landon has been fulfilled and surprised by an RPG that welcomed him into an unfamiliar gaming fold, offering him food and shelter and sex with alien races.
Sadly it's not possible to fall off your bar stool in Mass Effect, but you can enjoy erotic nightclub dancing. Developing games is all about making compromises, it seems. Thankfully, ME compromises little. Original ideas abound and characters are painted vividly - whatever else you get out of the game you'll definitely be left with some strong memories.
I, YOU, WE...are Mass Effect
Nowadays most games give you a choice of creating a 'unique' avatar - it's pretty much industry standard. A limited choice of stock heads with optional beards is a step in the right direction but it's easy not to be saddened by such shallow thought. Mass Effect's character creation tool is in-depth in the same way that Oblivion's was, except with a slightly more limited range to create hideous freaks. Male or female, you decide - it's worth taking the time to tweak your look before you begin; by the end of the game you'll have analysed your minor flaws from all angles. Hopefully though, these flaws will become a part of your character's identity in a way you never thought possible.
As well as creating a look for your Commander Shepard you also choose a backstory and a combat class for her/him, all of which resonate into the story in subtle ways throughout the game's run time of 20+ hours. Identifying with your character is also down to the choices you make in the moment. The basic principle asks you to travel one of two roads: Paragon or Renegade (or if you crave chaos, a schizophrenic blend of the two). Interaction in Mass Effect's universe is conducted with an intuitive 'conversation wheel' that gives you quick dialogue options at the touch of the analogue stick. The fresh touch here is that you direct the tone of the conversation. Diplomatic, hostile or neutral questions/responses open up branching dialogue, often in unexpected ways. It's a nice system and largely avoids blank repetition unless you call for it, mostly due to superb voice acting and a commendable lack of expositional writing. The characters that populate the planets, bases and walkways of the galaxy are always coloured by personal bias and opinion, something so rarely seen in games and so well handled here. Most conversations, no matter how trivial in terms of the plot, will tell you something about the world you're living in. The combination of all these elements create a rich and very personal protagonist for the plot to orbit around.
From the hub of The Citadel to the farthest outreach planets, most of the environments are unique and thoughtful in their design and dripping in craft and finish - a couple of levels in particular are mind-blowing. You'll work your way through these places in well-paced story missions but naturally you have the option to get lost in the abundance of side-quests on offer. It has to be said that most of these are an exercise in levelling up your Shepard with experience, new items and that all-important ca$h (much more than you can spend, it's a bit like Brewster's Millions). That said, a handful of these tributaries do flesh out your chosen character's story and those of your rag-tag crew, and give a taste of scale and vision. Standing on a planet's hilltop gazing into the stars at a distant asteroid storm is a beautiful sight, enough to bring a tear to any sci-fi lover's eye.
Some RPG veterans will be disgruntled that the combat in ME is real-time and not turn-based. Most humans (chiefly Landon) will celebrate this new hybrid of light-strategy and shooter skills, as it is more immediate and visceral. The Unreal 3 engine sets a now familiar tone - aim, shoot, take cover, flank. It's light on any real deep strategy but each chosen member of your crew has a talent to bring to the fight and before long you'll have mastered a playing style that works for you. The squad dynamics can be a lot of fun and the wide choice of combat styles on offer for Shepard mean repeat playthroughs will be distinct. Slick weapons and technology sit comfortably alongside physics abilities, or 'biotics' - ME's equivalent to magic and one of the most enjoyable additions to the action mix. Such powers are, as always with ME, incorporated into the story itself and the world around it with grace and fine dustings of detail.
Every silver cloud has a dark lining
ME swells and overflows with ideas and potential and so it's no great shock that not all of it is realised. Graphically the game is superb but too frequently suffers from slow texture loading. It seems to be a common occurrence in these early days of the current generation, but here it really takes you out of the moment and breaks the spell the game works so hard to weave. Many of the games planets are barren and bland in a fashion that makes exploration feel repetitive, different colours and textures stretched over the same peaks and valleys. The identikit human outposts and colonies you repeatedly encounter can be explained away (just about) in context as pre-fab contractor's work and when they're situated in some often stunning landscapes it's hard to complain big; but still, when you're hearing the same music underscoring a similar encounter it's a sour déjà vu. The item menus are confusingly designed and often mean you're left carrying far too much equipment, most of which will be multiples of the same items. Most of these negatives can be overlooked though, it's only in retrospect that we mention them - whilst playing they won't stand in the way of progress or enjoyment.
DLC and beyond
It came as sour news recently that downloadable expansion missions can only be played if you are midway through the game. Wouldn't it have been a better idea to let the completists get involved too? Having invested so much time crafting a character - in look and personality - naturally one might want to experience new missions with them and continue the saga. We guess this is what they call repeat-play value, but in this case it seems to have a hidden catch.
Landon loved his female Shepard so much, became so attached to her, that if not given the option to play a sequel with her in it, he would seriously think twice about doing so. A lot of the Shed's goodwill toward this game is because we connected emotionally with our characters and believed in the world they inhabited. The experience is so personal, it could almost make a gamer hesitant to play through a second time.
There is something so brilliant about seeing your character in game - talking, interacting and leading the focus of an interesting plot. Bioware have done an exemplary job of tailoring the experience. The Shed only hope that this personal touch can be continued into future instalments.
Bioware have created an engaging and unique game world that draws the player in and allows them an admirable level of choice with genuine consequences. For that alone the studio have earned their seat on the Citadel council. But the flipside of such an accomplishment is that the player almost expects too much and it is easy to pick apart the less than exemplary aspects of ME. However, we cannot measure a game by our own expectations. That ME raises our expectations to such heights is testament to Bioware's accomplishment. They have deftly avoided the pitfalls of the genre and crafted a worthy piece of art. This isn't Star Wars, this isn't Star Trek - this is Mass Effect.
Galactic Standard Points: 8/10
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Still, Condemned is a brutal, terrifying experience that will give you nightmares for weeks on end. Heartily recommended then.
Well worth suffering the cold sweats: 8/10
Friday, February 22, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Opening with a strangely voyeuristic sequence between main character Rob and girlfriend Beth, we’re immediately drawn into these people’s lives. This is further developed in the subsequent party where Rob and his too-beautiful friends are gathered to wish him a fond farewell as he leaves for Japan. It’s during this opening that you’ll probably make your mind up about Cloverfield’s approach. Reports have been circulating that punters have been walking out feeling sick because they couldn’t handle the motion of the camera as it whirls around the party from person to person as Hud (a name that is maybe a reference to the abbreviation for Heads Up Display, the on-screen furniture you use in First Person Shooters. Or maybe not) records the goodbye messages of Rob’s friends. Get through the movie's opening however and you’re on-track for a real treat. You inexplicably find yourself lulled into participating in the party; even if you’re not entirely convinced by the actor’s performances it’s unavoidable. You forget that disaster will inevitably strike and it’s at this point that it arrives with a bang. When Cloverfield gets started, it doesn’t let up. For the entire duration of the movie you’re placed into Hud’s shoes, wherever he goes, we go too, whether we like it or not.
Pedants will hate Cloverfield. They’ll ask how the sound can be so good on a handheld camera? Why does Hud suddenly become able to hold the camera nice and steady in the heat of an attack when he was struggling to hold the camera straight at the party minutes earlier? How come the group are the only ones in the whole of New York City to think the subway would be a good place to hide? You could go on and end up ultimately missing the point entirely. Cloverfield is essentially a Hollywood action movie and none of these pedantic questions matter when it manages to be such an entertaining one. What makes Cloverfield special is the same thing that made The Blair Witch Project unique almost ten years earlier: the visceral experience of being centre stage of incredibly frightening and ostensibly real events. The documentary style works well here, even if the fictional document involves a bizarre creature tearing a city apart, decapitating treasured national monuments and being an all-round nasty blighter. What’s important is that it feels real and never staged, you believe in the characters; believe that they were subjected to these terrifying proceedings and the images of NYC being destroyed, covering the population in dust and debris are still incredibly powerful even six years on from September 11th. The shock and awe of rumbling explosions erupting in enormous plumes of orange flame also recall the harrowing footage of the attacks on Iraq. But then perhaps we’re reading too much into Cloverfield, which at its core is a good action movie that has some truly great moments and few bad ones. There are flaws that may irritate some, but they’re easily ignored. Cloverfield is best enjoyed at the biggest cinema you can find: it looks stunning and sounds exceptional. Well worth watching.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Half Life 2, Episode 1 and Episode 2
Half Life 2 is the Godfather Part II of videogame sequels. Epic in scope and narrative heft, the game follows on from the original incident at the Black Mesa facility. Silent hero Gordon Freeman returns, ready to beat zombies and marauding head crabs into pate with his trusty crowbar. The first thing you need to know about HL 2 is that it is an unparalleled masterpiece - the perfect marriage of relentless action and story that is perfectly paced and balanced. Visually, HL 2 may showing its age a tad - the game is over 3 years old now, but still looks sprightly thanks to the superlative Source game engine. Gaming pedants may baulk at the relatively low-res textures in the first two games, but there's no faulting the quality of Episode 2's graphical finesse - it looks stunningly silky smooth, especially compared to its predecessors.
There are some well-drawn characters in HL 2 too; strongest of these is love interest Alyx who is thankfully quite handy with a gun. You’ll need her in Episode 1 if you want to attain the One Free Bullet achievement on the 360 version of the game (we did – it’s not that difficult) and her AI is advanced enough to be helpful in a tough situation. She’s not much good when you’re trying to squeeze through a doorway though, but then she does apologise for getting in your way – bless. Barney and Dr. Kleiner return from the previous game to lend a helping hand and are welcome familiar faces. Most surprising of all though is the connection you feel to Freeman himself as he interacts with NPCs, you’re given a real sense of importance and purpose. By keeping Freeman mute, you’re able to soak up the words of those around you, listening and simultaneously gaining a real sense that your role is of major significance. Everywhere you go the city’s survivors will recognise you reinforcing Freeman's status as an almost mythical saviour of mankind. It’s incredible how Valve have achieved this – think of another FPS where you can remember experiencing an actual connection to the protagonist. Exactly.
Let’s get physic-al
Interaction is the watchword for Half Life 2. Boasting some stimulating physics-based puzzles aided by the indispensable Gravity Gun, the game really comes into its own. Every object can be manipulated in some way and each item reacts in exactly the way you'd expect them to in the real world. Break a wooden strut supporting a platform of oil drums for instance and the barrels will come crashing to the ground and roll all over the shop - exactly like they're supposed to - demostrating the exceptional Havok physics engine at work. It sounds like a minor feature but it isn't, it elevates the game to levels lesser shooters can only dream of. Lifting objects with the Grav Gun means everything can be treated as a potential weapon as you can hurl lifted objects with a stab of the right trigger. A well-aimed paint-can will blind a zombie or a high velocity breezeblock ricocheted off an enemy's bonce will kill it instantly. Brilliantly, there are some levels that give you circular-saw blades to play with. You don't have to be a genius to know that sending jagged frisbees of death towards enemies and cleaving them in two bloody lumps of offal is massive fun. Half Life 2 also rewards players for lateral thinking and there are plenty of opportunities to flex your grey matter as there are some fairly involving conundrums peppered throughout the game. We won't go into any of these as it'll ruin the fun, suffice to say, there are some satisfying head scratchers to overcome along the way.
These tasks are counter-balanced by a glut of incredible action-packed set pieces where you'll get to give the games weapons a good workout. Freeman's armoury consists of the usual pistols, machine guns, rocket launchers and so on, but each feels spot-on. The sub-machine gun sprays hot lead and kicks like a mule and toppling (frightening) Striders with the rocket launcher is every bit as thrilling as you'd expect. Every set piece also outlasts the game's end living on in the memory. You'll never forget the first time you bring down a Combine ship, your first encounter with a Strider or thrashing around in your buggy sending soldiers flying over your front bumper. It's all gaming gold.
In conclusion, HL 2 and the accompanying Episode 1 and 2 are peerless chunks of cerebral first-person action gaming and despite HL 2’s age, that it still puts the majority of its genre stablemates to shame is testament to the inherent depth and longevity you'll find. Everything about Half Life 2 is fully realised, wholly imagined, flawlessly executed – there isn’t a single bum note in the game. In a word: pure genius.
As an expansion of the Narbacular Drop concept dreamt up by the DigiPen Institute of Technology, Portal is the simplest of concepts, but makes for the most intriguing puzzle game you’ll ever play. The idea is so straightforward that you’ll be amazed no one ever thought to make a game out of it until now. An explanation then for the uninitiated – Portal casts you in the role of a test subject put through a series of situations that make use of the Aperture Science portal gun. The function of the gun is to create two portals one entrance, one an exit. Launching a pair of portals, one orange, one blue, to avoid confusion, allows you to enter one and exit the other. From this central premise there’s a range of possibilities and ways to solve Portal’s brainteasers. Further possibilities are unlocked when you learn that falling through a portal builds up velocity meaning that you can shoot out the other side at speed to clear gaps and make high jumps. Add to the mix, energy balls that you can manipulate to open doors, gun turrets that will hamper your progress and the sure to become iconic companion cubes that prove crucial at certain junctures and you’ve a recipe for a varied first-person puzzler.
Between them, the brains at DigiPen- employed to build on their original idea - and Valve have crafted a refreshingly unique and novel game with a dark, deadpan humour all of its own (what’s all this stuff about cake?) It may be short, but it’s incredibly sweet and the most rewarding game you’ll have played in a long time. In fact it's better than the majority of shooters masquerading as full games at full price.
The Orange Box’s online component arrives in the form of long, long, long awaited shoot-em’-up sequel Team Fortress 2. Boasting a quirky cartoon style, Team Fortress 2 looks stunning and thankfully plays as good as it looks. Choosing from nine different classes the aim is to blast the crap out of your opposition. No surprises there then. Each class is what gives TF 2 its edge. You’ll quickly develop a favourite, as each possesses a unique set of abilities.
Sadly, at time of writing we’ve yet to play TF 2 extensively so expect a thorough play-test when we’ve bought ourselves a wireless adapter bridge for our 360. (How much?!)
Overall, The Orange Box represents fantastic value for money. It also happens to be one of the finest FPS experiences you’re ever likely to come across. To ignore it is to do Valve and yourself a massive disservice. Buy. It. Now.
Friday, January 11, 2008
The strongest element of BioShock is its uniquely bold visual design. Utilising Epic’s much vaunted Unreal Engine 3, 2K Boston have crafted a solid and believable, intricate art deco styled nightmare filled with incidental details like 30’s styled propaganda posters, neon store fronts with twee slogans and haunting melodies of old, familiar songs. There are scenes of corrosion and desolation almost everywhere you go – exposed pipes spike out through cracked, rotting tiles, corpses lie against walls covered in thick, congealed blood. The devil here is most definitely in the details. With every surface of Rapture encrusted in filth or rust, the textures are so rich and tangible that you can almost taste the decay. BioShock is a visual tour de force and candidate for best-looking game on 360.
Central to BioShock’s premise is the acquisition of special abilities courtesy of power-ups called plasmids. Dual wielding plasmids alongside your conventional weapons quickly becomes second nature and makes you feel incredibly powerful. There’s a wealth of different abilities to discover, which you can upgrade later in the game to devastating effect. The best ones we found were the electro shock, incinerate and telekinesis, which are pretty self-explanatory from their names. Head and shoulders above the others though is the insect swarm which gives you the ability to cast armies of killer bees from your hand. Nasty. There are also downloadable plasmids available on Xbox LIVE meaning that there’ll always be scope for replaying the game, even if it’s just to see what new havoc you can wreak.
No other game in recent memory possesses the same brand of slow-burn psychological horror permeating every room, every passageway and every hall. BioShock doesn’t scare in the traditional sense; it quietly crawls under your skin and confronts you with unsettling scenes such as a couple lying in a lifeless embrace on their bed or a conventional family surrounding their TV set as static illuminates their grotesque, decomposing bodies. A game like Resident Evil would have you jump out of your skin as they spring at you, but BioShock doesn’t do cheap scares. It aims for something higher - it messes with your head. There are even moments that are scarily surreal, seemingly lifted from The Shining. A pair of Splicers gracefully dancing the foxtrot while a gramophone plays a crackling old record being one such instance. Setting them alight with your flamethrower just makes things worse though, which is where BioShock’s combat options come to the fore. You can play through BioShock in any way you like due to it’s flexible and varied system which allows you to upgrade almost every aspect of your character. It’s surprisingly in-depth; offering almost RPG levels of self-improvement such as quieter footsteps for stealthy wrench assaults, better hacking skills, stronger plasmids, better weapons, extra resilience and so on. Theoretically, you could play through without firing a single bullet; so plentiful are your options. You can set traps, enrage your enemies so that they fight one another, hack security bots to fight alongside you or even hypnotise Big Daddies to protect you instead of the Little Sisters. You don’t always have to torch your foes or shoot them in the face. The possibilities are vast and another reason why BioShock stands up as such an accomplished work of genius.
BioShock is an incredibly ambitious title, which more than delivers on its initial promise, managing to entertain and enthral from start to finish. Consistently surprising, shocking and eminently, compulsively playable, BioShock stands head and shoulders above any 360 title you’ll play this year. And even though the majority may argue that Halo 3 was 2007’s definitive 360 title, we enjoyed BioShock more. Even though it has far less features than Halo 3 (the lack of multi-player being a minor blow), BioShock possesses such scope and abundant imagination that for our money, it’s the finest game of 2007 and a bona-fide masterpiece.
I choose…Rapture! - 10/10
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Review: Guitar Hero III Legends Of Rock (Xbox 360 (version played), PlayStation 3, PC. Neversoft, Activision)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
<-- Melissa was disgusted by Josh's big farts
Barrow, Alaska is a friendly little place inhabited by hard working locals and tourists: the perfect location to be pillaged and torn apart by bloodthirsty
monsters then. Especially since the town experiences a month of perpetual darkness, spurring most people to leave, so tear the town apart they do in what proves to be an explosive, edge-of-the-seat movie.
Beginning with a relatively slow-paced exposition, the film’s opening establishes the minutiae of everyday life for Barrow’s residents as a whole chunk of them flee before the arduous month of pitch black ensues. And it’s not long before the action gets going because when the fanged menaces arrive, all hell breaks loose. Quick and brutal, the action is bloody, yet largely off-camera, probably to keep its audience-friendly 15 certificate. Don’t let that certificate fool you though because 30 Days is still pretty graphic in parts. Efficient and butal 30 Days vamps quickly wreak havoc, nicely captured using a sweeping overhead crane shot, the chaos they bring is unexpected. David Slade's assured direction means 30 Days is beautifully shot, the Hard Candy director executing Hollywood horror duties impeccably. The landscape is relentlessly bleak and oppressive amplifying the atmosphere as well as the innate feeling of helplessness and pessimism.
Recalling the claustrophobia and desperation of John Carpenter’s The Thing, 30 Days has moments of genuine tension that owe a debt to the 1982 classic. On the whole the performances are good, Danny Huston oozing a snarling, shark-like menace as lead bad guy Marlow although his band of followers are annoyingly resilient, popping up again when you think they’ve been offed. We thought we saw one particular bald vamp die about three times. Perhaps this was wishful thinking as his agonising, high-pitched screeching slowly drove us potty.
Strong too is Josh Hartnett’s performance as the squinty sheriff, delivering his squintiest and best performance to date. His journey from clean-cut lawman to beardy, worn-down, dead-eyed vampire slayer is seamless and convincing.
At its core, 30 Days Of Night is a fantastic popcorn movie, entertaining and relentlessly intense for the most part, boasting some explosive set pieces and interesting – if lightweight – human drama. Just don’t go in expecting traditional vampires in the Bela Lugosi mould, you’ll just feel incredibly disappointed. Vampire purists are better off thinking of 30 Days as a monster movie rather than a vampire one.
An accomplished horror-cum-action fest that justifies its exceptional US box-office performance by delivering terse atmospherics and good, solid performances. And it doesn’t skimp on the claret either. Well worth a watch.