Top Ten Blog (Part 2)

This took a little longer than expected. I'm back to talk about a bunch of games based on/with links to my top ten favourite movies of all time. This has been a pretty good excuse to re-watch, replay and spend some time with a bunch of games I'd never have any reason to play or return to. So far it has strengthened my love of the movies, but left me with some pretty traumatic experiences on the game side of things. I was probably a little unrealistic about putting the second part of this up within one or two weeks, but I got there in the end... almost a month later. Obviously there continues to be a little stretching here and there, but I try to get as close as is realistically possible.

Here is Part 1 if you missed/ignored it. It is pretty awesome.

It was probably a huge mistake to start this a week before the release of three of the years biggest games. I don't think I have all that much to say about Metal Gear or Infamous beyond a couple of thoughts on the forums, but I'm seriously considering writing up my lengthy experience with the PC version of Titanfall. I have fallen head over heels in love with a multiplayer shooter, something I thought I'd completely lost interest in.

The good news is that I have continued to do the digital equivalent of stabbing myself repeatedly in the eyes, because I felt the need to play a bunch of games of varying quality and questionable worth in between exhilarating rounds of punching pilots out of mechs and questioning why I'm still watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D at 5.30 in the morning.

I have the best taste in everything.

This week I have a lot of brawleryness. There's a bunch of fists, feet and headbutting. First up I have played the long ignored, but always curious about Warriors game. Have I turned into a wimp? Am I packed? Can I dig it? Next up I have been searching for fortune and glory in a couple of games to go with Raiders of the Lost Ark. The best choice would have been to play the Indiana Jones game on the SNES, a game I remember finding incredibly tough as a child. Due to not wanting to use emulators I have played the weird leftovers of that next(last) gen game they advertised with the euphoria engine that came out for the Wii - Indiana Jones And the Staff of Kings. Also, I have replayed through the six Raiders levels in Lego Indy as a bonus. The last game I have played is a real gem. I got into the mood to play the only Crow video game that exists by listening to old Cure CD's and crying myself to sleep. Unfortunately, the only game in this franchise is tied to the utterly abysmal second movie and not the wonderful Brandon Lee original. Is the game better than the movie or did I start cutting myself to relieve the pain?

Movie: The Warriors (1979) Game: The Warriors (2005 PS2)

clink clink clink

I probably spend far too much of my time on the internet watching videos of other people list video games they have bought for their collection. I could probably spend that time playing more games, watching more movies or even starting my own cartoonish gang. Hell, even just learning how to embroider fancy emblems onto jackets would probably be a better use of my time.

The one thing a lot of these videos I watch have in common is that whenever someone says they picked up The Warriors game it is always followed by a passionate recommendation. I love The Warriors, its neon soaked streets, stylistic fights and comic book-70's future stylings always bring a smile to my face. If there was one movie on this list that I'm always in the mood for, this is it. A lot of my hesitation to play this supposedly incredible game was that it was made by Rockstar. Years ago I never even knew they had different teams working on different games, so I just assumed this would be an open world with poor controls ( I never got on with the PS2 GTA's) where you got to roam around the streets and punch people in the face.

It turns out that I was right about one thing. The Warriors is a beautiful love letter to the movie, but the controls are at times almost intolerably bad. I almost feel bad about being unkind about this game as its heart and its fists are clearly in the right place. The music, the setting, the gang members, even the activities all seem appropriate. The biggest problem with this semi-open brawler is that whenever the game demands more than stomping on a cops face it falls apart... And this game loves to make you mess about with poorly designed spray painting mini games, idiotic stealth or chase sequences with a miserably placed camera.

I did this using my left hand using a mouse (I'm right handed.) It is still far neater than anything I managed to do in the game.

I have no shame in the four or five times I used cheats to progress though sections that I can't imagine a single person finding fun. Early on the game puts you in the shoes of youngest member, Rembrandt. You have to win a spray painting mini game against three rival gangs. It requires you to climb up on the scenery and collect paint cans, all while dealing with awkward climbing controls, people jump kicking you from offscreen and seven or eight people all trying to grab the cans that spawn randomly one at a time. Even if you predict correctly and grab a can you still have to run over to your wall and tag it with your Warriors logo. The painting requires you to trace over the shape shown on screen using the left stick. This would be fine if it wasn't so hard to make an error forcing a pause and a violent rumble of the controller. It wouldn't be so bad if one can was useful for a whole shape, but I found myself continuously messing up, creating what barely looks like the letter "W" drawn with my left hand while I was being cattle prodded and threatened at knife point. After close to an hour with no sign of progression I put in a cheat for nine cans of paint at the start of the mission. I'd love to say I obliterated the competition, but I still barely won.

Luckily the game gets back to punching people in the face soon after that. The one thing the game does really well is making you feel like you're in charge of a gang. Every so often you have four or five members with you and you can issue commands like "Wreck em all" and "Scatter", but like the gang of tough criminals they are they're pretty good about whacking rival gangs in the head with sticks and bricks without you muttering a word. I was constantly amused by a huge mess of gang members throwing each other around and stomping on faces. It sometimes gets so crazy that it's hard to make out what is actually going on, but It definitely does a good job of feeling like your dudes are all doing their best. The Warriors seem to be having a blast judging by their incredibly colourful commentary.

Occasionally you get to break into shops and steal a certain amount of items or you can optionally mug passers by or steal car radios. The game has this awful habit of giving you sub missions that require spray painting a certain amount of walls in enemy territory... Thanks for the offer video game, but I'm good. The way the game is structured is that you get a time and a date before the mission starts. It will tell you how many days there are before the meeting between the gangs at the beginning of the movie. The biggest part of this game is actually pre-movie and gives you a chance to play as Cleon, the leader that unfortunately gets taken out for falsely killing Cyrus. Cleon is voiced by the same actor as the movie and is easily one of the strongest parts of the game. He's a likable character with a no nonsense attitude and excels at integrating the word "motherfucker" into most of his sentences.

The game has you doing a pretty varied selection of things like protecting shop owners in Coney or avoiding cops during a riot. It possibly tries to do a little too much. There were some sections of the game that required platforming or jumping from rooftop to rooftop while being chased, but the delay on the jump and the weirdly angled camera made these setpiece-like moments turn into frustrating experiences. Even when the game pops up the triangle icon and you hit it there is still a chance for you to fall to your death or go flying off at an angle because The Warriors only have two speeds - Run and Sprint. It seems like the developers didn't even do any special animations for falling off of buildings. If you jump too early you will just drop to your death like a stone in the standing upright position. After every single one of these missions I had my fingers crossed that the next mission would have me beating up people, and more often than not it was. Unfortunately every so often you have to fight a gimmicky boss that requires you to throw shit at them, avoid being stun-locked by getting kicked in the junk or avoiding gunfire. There's a boss that rolls around in his wheelchair that involves inaccurately throwing things off a balcony and ordering your gang to attack or scatter while you attack him from behind. This requires you to run up and down some stairs while contending with a camera that finds it hard keeping up with the speed and slipperiness of your character. You only need to mess it up once and he's off snorting some drugs to regain his health. Oh yeah, did I mention recovering health or reviving downed Warriors requires you to buy or find "Flash"? It's a pretty juvenile, Rockstar-ish thing, but it fits the cartoony and violent, criminal universe the movie sets up.

I ended up getting so, so, so stuck here I used the level skip cheat.

Waste that motherfucker.

The game eventually gets to a point where it is just recreating the movie. These missions are possibly the least interesting and mostly involve running away from things or hitting people. Quite a lot of the movie is recreated with both actors from the movie that range from sounding spot on, like James Remar's Ajax or sounding far too old like Michael Beck's Swan. There's something a little offputting about hearing a lot of the movie dialogue recreated. It's not that it is bad, because the acting in the movie can best be described as "spirited" although after watching Walter Hill's later movie Streets of Fire (1984) and it having the same kind of line reading I can't help feeling it was an intentional decision. The decision to recreate a lot of that dialogue with both better actors and better line reads just feels wrong, but that's probably just a side effect of seeing the film so often. Not better or worse, just slightly off. One of the biggest complaints about the voice acting would have to be the actor they got to recreate Luther ( The "Warrrrr-i-ors come out to play-ayay" dude from The Rogues.) He is far too whiney and instead of having the same unsettling tone as David Patrick Kelly he just comes off as annoying... like the horrifically bad final boss where you have to dodge his gunfire and then throw a knife into his hand. This boss is such a downer that it makes the end credits with the song In the city feel like relief instead of accomplishment.

There's a ton of things to love about The Warriors, but most of it isn't due to any of the poorly aged gameplay. The music, the title screen with the Ferris Wheel and even the nice little touches like being able to wander around the Warriors home turf and punch bags for stamina upgrades or just strut around with a ghetto blaster/boombox on your shoulder listening to the games incredible licensed music. There's even some back story missions about how various members joined the gang and an arcade machine that lets you play Armies of the Night. A Double Dragon referencing, side scrolling beat em up that unlocks after beating all the flashback levels. I'm definitely glad I played it despite a lot of the praise for it possibly coming from nostalgic memories more than anything else. The Warriors is a hugely flawed love letter that not only faithfully recreates the best of the movie, but greatly expands on it.

Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Game: Indiana Jones And the Staff of Kings. (2009 Wii)

Cheer up dude, you'll get to marry her one day. Fuck! Gimme those dates monkey.

There's a game coming up in the final part of this series that is so in love with recreating the best parts of the movie that I can't just help feeling that they should have made the movie in video game form. The Warriors, which I talked about above seems to get the balance spot on. Indiana Jones And the Staff of Kings is so intent on giving you the highest level of fanservice possible that I just end up rolling my eyes and sighing, which I'm going to assume was not the developers intended effect.

I find myself almost immediately excited by John Williams musical score. The inclusion of various pieces of music from the trilogy (Yeah, you heard me.) makes me sit up and take notice, something I should already be doing, but I'll get to that later. It's easier to look past the blurry visuals, stilted animation and a strange haze over the top of everything. The fake Harrison Ford they have gotten can at times be pretty authentic, at worst passable and the characters face is well modeled despite the aging hardware and the creepy puppet eyes.

We start our story with Indy standing on a cliff in Sudan, obviously in the middle of an adventure watching tanks go by. He quips about it being the Germans, like he knows they're up to something evil. Indiana Jones just straight up hates the Germans in this game. I'd assume they felt weird about mentioning the Nazis in a game for the Wii, Y'know a baby system for little babies. It just comes off as a little weird, but anyways... You get to move Indy around using the Nunchuck stick immediately noticing a weird stiffness to everything. Indy only really moves at one speed and everything seems to happen about a second after you have pressed the button. I see a hat, which I assume is a collectible (It is.) and run him over to it, stand there for a second and then watch him awkwardly climb up. Maybe more modern games like Uncharted have spoiled me, but when Indiana Jones finds it hard clambering up a wall even original, PS1 era Lara Croft would find easy, I start to make whining noises and question what on earth I am doing with my time.

It's funny going back to old Wii games. I have played very few of them, and most of the ones that I have funnily either use minimal or zero use of the remote. So, when I come across some poor looking vines that need clearing or a gap needs swinging over with my whip by holding a button and shaking the remote forward I'm mildly amused. The same goes for flicking the remote and the Nunchuk together like I'm using a flint to create fire.

Yeah, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean either.

Video games are a funny thing. One minute you can be having the best time and then something happens where that positive attitude is near-instantly drained from your body. For the very first time in my life I got to experience excessive waggle. Waggling the Wii remote is possibly one of the top five worst things about video games. Right behind underwater levels and escort missions. We get our first big "oh, this is like that other bit." moment where I have to grab the idol and then run away from things that are going to crush me, this time it's pillars, but it might as well be a giant stone ball. How does our heroic archaeologist do this? By waggling the two controllers as hard as possible. Don't worry! He does grab his hat right at the last second before something crushes it. Obviously this wasn't cause for me to throw down the controllers and give up, but this was probably the beginning of hours of frustration with what could have been a pretty good game.

We get a cutscene where... SURPRISE! There's a rival archaeologist waiting to claim the idol you went through the trouble of collecting. He's an evil German (shhh Nazi.) and you outsmart him by throwing the artifact at him and escape. This is where we are taught how to punch. The screen pauses and fake Harrison Ford drawls some stuff about using your fists to overcome all obstacles. We are treated to a Na...German rushing towards me and being told to waggle forwards, then the screen pauses and I'm told to waggle the other stick, and then it pauses and I'm told how to do a right hook, and it pauses and I have to waggle, waggle to uppercut, waggle to whip, waggle to waggle, waggle to pause, pause waggle pause wagglewagglewaggle... "Oh, one more thing..." *phew* I'm told about doing super moves by grabbing people and hitting a button, you mean I don't have to waggle to do a super takedown move? Nope, just hit a button.

Obviously this first stage is there to teach me how to play a game that would be much better with a standard controller (I should have probably bought the PS2 version.) Unfortunately this halts any momentum the game was going for. The game does have the same snappy pace of the movies elsewhere, but this is possibly one of the poorest tutorials I have ever come across in an action game. It's good that I have a lot of patience because I decided to progress on to the second level in San Francisco after a brief plane sequence where I had to hold the remote upright like a joystick. I end up running around some backstreet fighting evil Chinese dudes, because they have kidnapped a young assistant that's like Short Round, but Not Short Round and is a girl. Every single thing I have to interact with results in me thrusting my fists at the screen, swiping or waggling when a single button press would be a far more natural. I end up in a bar which somehow catches fire, which is like that other bit in that movie where Indy is fighting people in a burning bar and beat them all up. They introduce heavies which just require me to hit two buttons when the enemy does their tell and then waggle like a lunatic a handful of times. In fact all of the fist-y waggle combat is like this and it takes up a huge part of the game.

Then MORE tutorial nonsense. The game tells me I have to do some gun combat, it's a nice change of pace and fits well with the style of the movies. It's like a cover shooter where I can move around a predetermined bit of cover and pop out and aim at the bad guys. The game needs to tell you every single step in the process by pausing and teaching you one thing at a time again. Obviously you aim the cursor at the bad guys and shoot them. I spend maybe ten minutes trying to shoot at the bad guy popping out of cover, dying over and over again. The game tells me if the cursor goes from red to green I can shoot it (Little bit backwards.) Not content with me suffering through the tutorial once, every single time I fail I have to sit through this animation of Indy's hat rolling around on the floor AND go through the painfully slow, simplistic steps on how to shoot people and reload my gun. Quick quiz for you. Q: How does Indiana Jones reload his revolver? A: DUH! Waggle. It turns out I had to shoot the scenery and not the dude despite him turning green when I put the cursor over his face.

Germans. I hate those guys.

The level from that point mostly alternates between slight platforming, wrist destroying waggle combat, some really light puzzles, usually involving waggling or whipping at something and brief shooting sequences. I honestly thought at one point I wasn't going to be able to progress beyond the second level. There is a sequence where you have to fight a boss that can't be shot in the face, but you have to shoot at both his friends and things in the environment to drop on him to make him move. When you corner him you have to shoot out some fireworks that explode resulting in him being horrifically electrocuted. This is all fine and takes about five minutes, but after going through all of that you have to use your whip to help Not-Short Round-Short Round over the deadly electricity. At first I thought showing me the controller icon on screen meant I had to hold it steady, but nope. Poor Indy falls flat on his face into the electric water. I sit through the hat rolling animation and it puts me right back at the start of the gunfight. I get to end of this section over and over and over and over with the waggle motion popping up on screen for about two seconds. I continuously failed this so many times I ended up looking up how to do it online. It turns out I'm not the only one that had problems with it. The problem with these motion controlled quick time events is that it doesn't give you enough time to react, and even if you do pull off the correct motion there is nothing to signify that you have done it right. Your controls have to be perfect to pull off this stuff, but Staff of Kings does a consistently poor job of giving you any feedback. If you need to know how to punch or shoot something it will happily explain it to you all week long. This game is packed with QTE's suddenly out of nowhere without any real warning. It ruins what could have been a well paced action sequence, turning it into boring trial and error that may or may not work.

The rest of the game has me going from one country to another alternating between waggle-punching and shooting at people that slowly pop out of cover and hesitate for a couple of seconds before attempting to kill you. Sometimes it throws something that's on rails at you, and every time I failed one of these sections it was because I needed to know what was coming up beforehand, like the billion QTE's previously mentioned. The game does try to get a little more puzzley in places, and despite their simplicity they fit well and work far better than combat. The game goes pretty crazy in one level with the rolling balls though. Not content with the statues at the beginning they have two puzzle rooms with giant balls trying to crush you as well as couple of passage ways you have to run away from them. Maybe this is Lucasarts taking their referencing to the extreme or maybe the start of Raiders is like any other day to Indiana Jones.

I'm going to imagine his diary looks something like this.

  • Monday - Avoid students hopelessly in love with me.
  • Tuesday - Avoid ball trying to crush me.
  • Wednesday - Avoid ball trying to crush me.
  • Thursday - Avoid ball trying to crush me.
  • Friday - Beat up some Nazis Germans.

Actually, I take that back. The whole end sequence where all the mystical nonsense happens (Which is a big part of Indy obviously.) Involving The staff of Moses (Instead of the Ark of the Covenant.) is you driving around in a motorbike and sidecar. But that's a different movie, and like any sequence in this game involving moving vehicles it is a pretty bad time. I guess this is one of those strange things where Indiana Jones should have an incredible game, it has the perfect combination of Ingredients, maybe they need someone like Rocksteady to distill all of those elements into the perfect game like they did with Batman, or maybe the crown has already been stolen by the accomplished imitators. There are parts of this game to like, but nearly all of them are poorly implemented. There is one thing to like about the game though... Not a single utterance of the name "JONESEYYYY!"

I don't even know what movie this is from.

Bonus! Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (2008 360)

Back when adventuring was a lot more fun and innocent... and Lego didn't talk!

I haven't gone back to this game since the year it came out. It, like many of the earlier Lego games is oddly faithful to the movie. It hits most of the iconic moments from the original trilogy like the time Marion Ravenwood had a fist fight with Belloq and that swordsman in the marketplace exploded into bits when Indy shot him.

It's a little strange going back to the earlier games. The newer games are so packed with content, not to mention that they now talk. This game which already has an insane amount of collectibles and fun little secrets seems almost bare bones and is really lacking the visual shine the games have had since Pirates of the Caribbean.

The game is split into six parts. They hit most of the big sequences in the film during the six levels, often giving you a character that wasn't present in the movie. During the truck chase Sallah fell off one of the trucks and started running on foot which was quite amusing, but I had forgotten how awkward a lot of the combat and endlessly spawning enemies these earlier games had. Lego Nazis... I hate those guys.

You know how these Lego games are by now. They obviously appeal to kids an adults alike and this is fun, but definitely not as refined as later games, and most definitely better than the oddly structured Lego Indy 2. There's a bunch of weirdness like watching Indy ride a bicycle around Lego Nazis, Belloq doing C3PO impersonations or Marcus Brody looking like he's zoned out on drugs. And there's some fun touches like Indy's cool looking fight moves or the little animation of him shaking when he gets near a snake. Strangely the one thing that doesn't make any sense is when it tells you that ladies are more nimble and therefore can jump higher. Also, there isn't any fucking waggle!

Movie: The Crow (1994) Game: The Crow: City of Angels (1997 Saturn)

Welcome back to the world of Survival Horror. Good luck... You will need it.

The Crow is one of the most visually pleasing movies I have ever seen. I still hate cats though.

I have a list on Giant Bomb that has six or seven games that I deem to be the absolute worst I have ever played. All of them have a certain amount of bullshit about the way they play that makes them the kind of thing I wouldn't recommend to even my worst enemies, maybe Ecco, but even then they'd get some great visuals and some pretty good music. (Fuck Ecco the Dolphin.)

The Crow: City of Angels has zero redeeming qualities. You know that game you once played and thought it was really bad so you went and called it the worst video game in the world ever on an internet forum? Well, unless you were talking about this undead nightmare you have made a huge mistake. This is quite possibly THE worst game ever made.

If I had to describe what kind of a game it was from the opening level I'd say it's a 3D, Streets of Rage-esque brawler where you beat up a bunch of thugs that come at you. Once everyone is dead, a marker (In the shape of a crow.) pops up and you move on to the next area. What's so bad about that? I hear you ask. The Crow has these fully 3D areas with pre-rendered backgrounds, kinda like the first Resident Evil which makes moving around the environment a real pain as the game occasionally thinks it needs to shift to another camera angle. The biggest difference here is that it's not always the same angle. It even occasionally thinks you need a new angle every couple of steps, complete with a three second delay between the transitions. So every so often in the middle of a fight you have to find yourself on the screen and hope you're not taking damage. I'm being too generous here. When I said you have to find yourself I'm assuming that you are actually on the screen at the time. This game has a horrible habit of making you fight enemies when you're not even on the screen, making it more about luck than skill.

Some douchebag from Resident Evil taking the necessary steps to stop this evil from spreading.

What I REALLY meant to say there is that quite often neither you nor your enemies will be in the camera angle the game deems most appropriate for you, which as you can imagine makes it a lot harder to roundhouse gimp masked dudes in the face. I watched the credits in the options menu and saw there were about five or six game designers that worked on The Crow. I am almost in awe at the amount of incompetence shown in every single part of this game. That was harsh. Who am I, someone that's never shipped a game before to judge? Oh, did I mention this game has tank controls?

So, you waddle around the environment with the grace of a wounded penguin, beating up bad guys by lining yourself up with them. Do you know how hard it is to line yourself up with some thug in a bar when you have to rotate around to try and punch or kick them? Punching and kicking is awkwardly done using the L and R buttons, and any found weapon is used by hitting the B button. Every single area just spawns in enemies from off screen that also rotate on the spot and waddle over to you. So you get a room full of four enemies all rotating and waddling to get the perfect angle on you while you rotate trying to get the perfect angle on a couple of them and then everyone starts swinging and kicking blindly. About 90% of my time playing this game was watching two people blindly throw attack moves that glitch through each other failing to connect. Every so often a tiny part of the enemies health bar will go down, but there is absolutely no feedback to how it happened. As mentioned earlier the only way you even know you're hurting an enemy a lot of the time is by watching the bar randomly deplete as you hear a bunch of Yah's and Ha's happening offscreen.

I bought the Japanese version of this game as western versions of it seem to have become quite expensive over the years on both the Saturn and the Playstation. My favourite thing about this version is that Acclaim did absolutely nothing beyond writing the manual in Japanese. The title screen, all of the dialogue in the cutscenes and in-game voices are all in English. Not that there is all that much of a story. You and your son are dead and you're going to avenge him by killing the dudes that killed you. Which is kind of how that whole Crow thing goes. There's an opening cutscene with five or six people surrounding you on a pier with a gun to your head and every single one of them is just saying their lines out at random over the top of each other. "Hush little baby please dont kill me yeah kill him!" I have to say I was far too distracted by the early polygonal bondage-lady with covers on her nipples to make out all of the dialogue. Every couple of levels they give you a little bit more of the story or a flashback to the pier from a certain characters perspective, but I'm explaining this like this is important or even handled well.

What is wrong with your face dude?

The game goes on for about three hours. Some of it has this oppressive tone which fits the source material, but that is countered by a room full of dudes all saying "Hey, clown face" before they start exchanging almost-blows with you. Having three men with shotguns all going "awww yeahhhh!" made me laugh every single time. One minute you're trying to high kick a monk lady in the face and the next you're avoiding rockets fired by Bob The Builder. Getting spammed from offscreen by enemies with rockets, shotguns, pistols and SMG's is ridiculous. Quite often you enter an area and are immediately stun locked by four or five enemies shooting at you from off screen. It makes moving across the screen at a snails pace suicidal. Oh yeah, this game is impossible. I am one hundred percent certain that not a single person has ever seen every single part of this game without using an Action Replay. You get one life and there are a couple of levels with hazards that can one shot you without any warning or reason. Even when cheating with infinite health I got a game over by touching a swinging chandelier... which I was meant to be swinging on. I'd love to tell you I persevered through this game without cheating, but It truly seems impossible. Even when you manage to get guns you use up all of the bullets just trying to find the correct angle and have to end up throwing them away. Did you know that throwing guns at people makes them explode? Quite often the enemies would end up killing themselves by firing a rocket point blank into me or shooting their friends trying to attack me.

Possibly the poorest £10 I have ever spent on video games. There's so many things that are bad about this game. I haven't even mentioned about the enemies with medieval swords? or that during the bosses (One of which fires rockets out of an electric guitar.) you seem to have a nut-punch and a jump kick you can't use at any other point in the game. Why or how did I do a backwards somersault from time to time? And why do I fight monsters on a platform ripped straight out of Mortal Kombat near the end of the game? Not to mention the game over screen where what looks like E.T The extra-terrestrial tells me "We'll never be together."

The Crow: City of Angels is the worst game I have ever played, without any doubt. Even Sonic 06 can't compete with this, at least it had some nice music and not this Trent Reznor wannabe sludge that plays from level to level. Just look at the terrifying splodge of bits and pieces that is the undead protagonists face. Its as messed up as the weird mishmash of ideas taken from one genre and forcibly squeezed into a brawler. I really shouldn't be surprised about how much inspiration this rotting corpse of a game seemingly took from the original Survival Horror... You sure as hell won't survive, but there's plenty of horror here.

Watch this...

Or don't...

I Warned you...

End bit.

That's part two finished and put into a museum where it belongs. I'm still flip-flopping over a couple of games for my number ten. I should have fully thought this through. I'm not going to put a time on the next part this time around because I might end up far too busy with the next lot of games... And by that I mean I will probably be playing Titanfall followed by a little more Titanfall. Why isn't there a Titanfall movie? Hollywood should make a Titanfall movie.

Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other.

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Next gen wheels!

The share function on the PS4 is great for pointing out shockingly bad parts of otherwise great looking games.

the wheels on the bus go...well, sort of clunk clunk clunk

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Top Ten Blog (Part 1)

This is a big week for sparkly new video games on magical new systems. I have Titanfall being all roboty on my PC and there's some military superheroes and grungey Troy Baker-ish douchebags coming later in the week, so how do I spend my time preparing for the nextest of next gen games? I spend it playing the video game equivalents of my top ten favourite movies. This came to me during one of my insomnia fueled nights watching T25 and Nutribullet infomercials. "Hey, why don't I play all of the video games based on those movies wot I like." It was actually a pretty good idea come to think of it and far more doable than I'd have ever imagined possible. Obviously I'm going to have to stretch here and there and there's only one film I'm struggling to find a definite game to play. In the event that I don't come up with something before the third (Possibly fourth.) part I have a handful of backups in my not-quite-top-ten-but-close list.

The first three movies in my list are Hard Boiled which naturally resulted in the official sequel to that movie and dumb shootathon Stranglehold. A game that I already own and haven't really played much of since its release in 2007. Jurassic Park which had plenty of games to choose from like the SNES and Mega Drive movie tie-in's which I had already played a ton of when I was younger, but don't have the means to do so now without an emulator. This is something I feel a little bit awkward about doing, so instead I have played the far more crazy dinosaur fighting game Warpath: Jurassic Park. And finally the only animated movie on my list which also happens to be jerky anime for jerks... Ghost in the Shell. So obviously I've set a certain kind of tone here. I like robots, dinosaurs and shooty guns which are all pretty well represented in video games. This also gives me an excuse to re-watch and maybe reevaluate my top ten list of movies along with a bunch of games I'd never considered playing, had avoided or even knew existed.

Movie: Hard Boiled (1992) / Game: Stranglehold (2007 Xbox 360)

Tequila NEVER runs out of bullets... well, he does in the game...and if it's required in the story... whatever, he's awesome.

Stranglehold is a weird thing. It's a sequel to a much older Hong Kong action movie that plays like a game (Max Payne) that was trying to emulate John Woo's (Director) style. Which gets even weirder when you consider John Moore's wretched Max Payne movie is trying to emulate the action from the game based on the other action movies with the sequel game that plays like the other game. Got that???

Stranglehold is the continuing adventures of Inspector 'Tequila' Yuen from the movie Hard Boiled. Tequila, as he is only referred to in the game is a no nonsense cop that has no time for authority and knows when shit has to get done, it has to get done with dual pistols and a hundred dead bad guys. As unorthodox as this approach to police work is it gets the job done. It also helps that Tequila is invulnerable to bullets and has infinite ammo.

We start the story with a cop being murdered, shot right through the badge which is probably the ultimate insult to a cop. We then get the usual cop movie office arguing where the higher ups are all like "There's nothing we can do about this." But our hero voiced and modeled by the actor Chow Yun Fat isn't having any of it and sets out to mess up a large portion of Hong Kong. The weirdest part about the voice acting in the game is that some actors are not native English speakers (Like Chow Yun Fat.) and some of them just have an American accent. I find this Jarring at times. I would have liked an option to change all the dialogue into Cantonese, but Chow Yun Fat does a pretty decent job.

This is what it looks like when doves fly.

The game immediately drops you into a market place where someone has conveniently placed a clue for our hero and a couple of pistols. As soon as the game begins enemies keep popping out of doorways in the environment and start shooting at you. You can use the right stick to do the standard aiming and pull the right trigger a couple of times, but if you pull the left trigger something magical happens. Tequila jumps through the air, the screen turn sepia and everything slows down which is convenient for lining up your aiming reticule with the center of people's faces. Thankfully Stranglehold has some of the most generous aim assist I have ever seen in a game and you can pop a succession of bad guys heads before you have even hit the ground.

For as shallow as this game is there is something satisfying about constantly flopping into the scenery and dual pistoling twenty bad guys. Tequila's movement is designed around interacting with the environment, so if you hit a table you'l slide over it or land on a trolley and it will continue to roll as you shoot people. You can even steer its movement resulting in some strangely comical moments of silently rolling on your belly into an empty corridor. The environment plays a big part in the enjoyment with a large portion of the scenery completely destructible. The first level has you shotgunning melons in slo-mo along side bad guys heads and shooting down neon signs that crush enemies with a satisfying blood splash. After returning to this game after quite a while I have to say that I was having a bunch of fun, giggling to myself about the amount of absurdity happening on screen. The game is seven missions long with each chapter coming in at about an hour which is possibly a little longer than it should be, but at least they try to mix it up on occasion, like when the game pretends to be Desperado and gives you a couple of guitar cases full of guns and ammo, an on rails helicopter sequence, protecting a jazz band from stray bullets and a laser maze you need to navigate without triggering bombs.

Stranglehold has you destroying most of Hong Kong in the first few missions. Not content with destroying all of the drug labs at the docks our supercop decides he needs a change of scenery so he travels all the way to Chicago with the sole intention of shooting up a dinosaur exhibit just to piss Patrick off only to to return to H.K in the back end of the game because he had forgotten to mess up the slums and some triad dudes house. The game throws in a few bosses like a couple of helicopters, a fat man with dual shotguns and a supposedly intense face off with a dirty cop you thought was your friend. This boss fight is completely bonkers because he can do all of the same moves as you so you see him jumping through the air in slo-mo in real time and sliding on his chest with dual pistols. Unfortunately for him I can slow down time on top of his slo-mo time where I killed him by using my barrage mode in which the game grants me infinite SMG bullets for a few seconds. He had no chance while I lazily aimed at his face and pulled the trigger. Serves him right for having a nap at my feet.

Cart rolling is one of my favourite things in the game.

You have a little meter at the bottom of the screen that lets you use screen clearing attacks called 'Tequila bombs' where Tequila spins around as doves fly about in proper John Woo fashion and you get a slow mo shot of everyone in the room dying. There's a couple of other uses like a heal and the barrage mentioned above, but there is also a precision aim mode where you follow a camera of the bullet flying into the aimed-at part of the body. There's some fun shots of people holding their necks as blood splurts out or dudes holding their crotches. It's juvenile, but I have a pretty childish sense of humour so I'm ok with it.

Stranglehold is a fun time if you don't think about it too much. It gets the spirit of the movie spot on. I watched Hard Boiled the other night and it is still full of some of the best action scenes John Woo has ever produced. As incredible as Face/Off is he was never able to recreate the mayhem from the movies he made at home. There's some fun references in here like a text message where an earlier Woo movie - Bullet in the Head is referenced, and the meter-filling paper cranes that Tony Leungs's character Alan makes that are for every person he kills amusingly enables even more death. It's full of flashbacks, dead girlfriends and some shockingly bad faces and hands. There's even a section where Triads in trenchcoats drive boats through doorways trying to kill you. Probably even sillier than the movie... John Woo even sells you unlocks at his bar. How cool is that!?I will probably never understand why Tequila lights cigarettes only to discard them seconds later, and it's weird when your daughter throws a bad guy over a balcony only to shriek in horror when she realises he fell to a bloody mess below, but that's not what this game is about. It's about endless enemy doorways and jumping on trolleys. Oh, and Chow Yun fat does a James Bond-y Turn, pose and shoot the screen thing at the end... Perfect.

Movie: Jurassic Park (1993) / Game: Warpath: Jurassic Park (1999 PS1)

Jello. Jelly. Jelloy... VELOCIRAPTOR!

I'm going to assume that when John Hammond said he would make the park run better by not relying so much on technology the second time around he didn't mean that he was going to turn it into some sort of illegal dino-fighting bloodsport arena.

It's a good idea though. Kids love dinosaurs, adults love dinosaurs, dinosaurs love to eat other dinosaurs, it's a win for everyone.

When you start up Warpath: Jurassic Park it seems promising. The atmospheric music evokes the movie and various menus have snarling Raptors in grass or T.Rexes hiding behind trees like the worst Cretaceous assassin ever. There's some nice animation on these dinosaurs and they look pretty good for an original Playstation game. Warpath is possibly one of the stranger Jurassic Park games. 3D fighters like Tekken were big on the PS1 and Primal Rage was the only other real attempt at trying to make a dinosaur fighting game previously. Warpath is pretty much the Raptor Vs T.Rex fanfic I wrote as a child. I'm sure if this game came out when I was a child I would have thought it was the best thing ever... I had already defended Primal Rage on the SNES far more passionately than anyone ever should. Even I should have known better back then. (Although to be fair dinosaurs and stop motion are two of the best things ever.)

This is the Jurassic Park fighting game I want to play.

There's the usual collection of modes - Arcade, Survival, Team etc, so I set out to complete the game with all of the available dinosaurs. Initially there is only eight dinosaurs to choose from, with another six to unlock. Luckily the favourites are there with their names shortened giving them all a nickname. It's funny to see the Vs screen with things Trike Vs Anky. As you beat the game there are a couple of unlocks along with the extra dinosaurs like a weird dino-history mode where a man tells me no expense has been spared and gives me sounds, a list of other dino's that lived at the same time and some height information. Funnily all of the dinosaurs contained within the game all fit into the Cretaceous period, a complaint I remember hearing when the first movie came out. It's a nice inclusion and it doesn't really need to be in here. It gives the game some educational value, but lets be honest what you're here for is dinosaurs murdering other dinosaurs and Warpath has all of your dino-murdering needs covered.

The fighting is pretty wonky featuring some terrible hit detection with your connecting attacks often resulting in you taking more damage than your opponent. There's like four different classes and all of the dinosaurs have their own trick, and by trick I mean that one spammable move that lets you win 90% of the time. The best thing about the fights is the crazily out of place announcer. To begin with I was mildly amused at the Mortal Kombat-esque shouts of Flawless when you bounce that Spinosaurus off of an electric fence over and over, but the more I played it the crazier some of the dialogue was. I ended up with about two pages of notes with announcer dialogue and I'd love to put all of it here, but I'm not entirely sure this game deserves that amount of writing.Some of the best are when you lose or continue with gems like "Your insurance is paid up right?" and "Clear the spectators, he's coming back!" Now, I'm not one to pick the big dumb holes in video game logic, but not only are they letting the public watch these violent fights to the death, they're exposing them to explosions, volcanoes that are about to go off and by the announcers own admission they haven't even put the containment fence on. I sure do hope that Pachycephalosaurus has paid his insurance though.

Look how big that raptor is... It's a MEGARAPTOR!

It is a nice bit of fanservice though. Every dinosaur has its own intro animation and some of the arenas are fun like the boat from Lost World where the T.Rex continually recreates that bit in the movie where he jumped onto a yellow explosive barrel. and there's the car stuck in the tree when the Carcharodontosaurus bends through some seemingly elastic trees. That's a pretty common thing that happens in this game. When the Triceratops breaks out of its cage it bends and distorts like something out of a Looney Toons cartoon. There's a good ten to twelve backgrounds and they're all pretty fun with a lot of environmental hazards and dudes, dogs and Compsognathus's for you to tail whip or munch on. This one time I ate a goat mid combo. It was pretty great.As I mentioned before the trick to winning is finding the one move that works best, most of the attacks are bites, tail whips, headbutts and horn charges. Some of the animation of the moves is cool. The way you bite into one dinosaurs neck and hurl it into the ground where you proceed to pounce on it and snack on its belly is fun to do despite the amount of glitching through each others body parts. The one other move the dinosaurs do that seems 100% accurate is that a bunch of them can do kung fu kicks. This is best displayed by the Velociraptor. Did I say Velociraptor... I meant MEGARAPTOR! This thing is fucking huge. Everyone knows the movie was full of lies despite claiming to be a documentary, and the Velociraptor was about the size of a dog, but this Raptor is MEGA! And it's like the Jet Li of the dinosaur world. It has swipey kicks and flying kicks and is generally the coolest being in all of Jurassic Park. Warpath has some weird shit going on with its dinosaurs. it tries to stay sort of grounded by having the dinosaurs do dinosaurey things, there's no silly hats or alternate costumes here, but some of the win animations are crazy like Pachy does a somersault upon victory and a couple of them seem to start breakdancing or crotch thrusting. These are some well trained dinosaurs, but I guess some of them had to die for the paying public. I'd like to think Hammond stuck to his word and this kind of entertainment is affordable to all.

Warpath isn't a good fighting game, but it has its heart in the right place. It's always funny to see Michael Giacchino (Star Trek, Incredibles, Lost etc) listed as the musician on a game like this, even If I knew he was responsible for a bunch of video game soundtracks in the past like the original Call of Duty and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The instruction manual lists the 'Voice Talent' as the lead tester on the game which probably explains a lot of its weirdness, but it has its charm (" Get this thing out of here before it starts to stink!") I'm glad I played it though... I could have played countless other Jurassic Park games, but this seemed like the weirdest, not quite as weird as I was expecting, but silly enough to be entertained for a handful of hours. The reward for finishing the game with all of the dinosaurs is a live action video featuring a triceratops playing frisbee advertising an amusement ride in Florida. Was all that time worth it? I dunno. What I do know is that the Tricera-hop is a majestic thing.

I am a certified dinosaur expert* and after careful consideration I've decided not to endorse this game.

Movie: Ghost in the Shell (1995) / Game: Ghost in the Shell (1997 PS1)

One of my favourite moments in the movie is the face off between Motoko Kusanagi and the walking tank.

Ghost in the Shell is quite possibly the most late 90's game I have ever played. It's the kind of game they'd be playing in the movie Hackers if they weren't already playing that fake version of Wipeout in their fancy hacker club. This game has the anime, the robots, the cyperpunk and most importantly music with a thumping techno beat.

Ghost in the Shell has some impressive animation upfront, animated by Production I.G who were responsible for both the movies and the TV series. They have provided some flashy shots of spider tanks shooting up rooms, quick cuts of naked robot ladies and Kusanagi gasping in an overtly sexual manner while all wrapped up in wires. There were probably a bunch of 14 year old boys replaying that intro over and over because there's nothing like hot anime cyber-ladies and machine guns right? There's about ten minutes of really nice animation overall with about five of it tied to the story and another five tied to various win or lose conditions in the training mode. I'd have probably not seen a lot of those throwaway sequences if there wasn't a 100% complete save file cheat.

The game is a third person shooter where you control a little red walking tank that can talk called a Fuchikoma. (I know that the TV series had something similar called a Tachikoma which was blue, but this is essentially the same.) The game starts you off with a very basic mission where it throws you into a small city area and asks you to get four codes by blowing up mechs. You have machine guns on the square button and a limited number of screen clearing grenades on circle which can be replenished by collecting the ones scattered around the city. You can blow up the mechs by shooting at them or by holding down the fire button to lock on with up to six missiles Panzer Dragoon style. Ghost in the Shell's only real standout trick is that the Fuchikoma can stick to walls and ceilings and has a fancy sliding strafe move by hitting L1/R1. You have to learn to exploit this very early on as some enemies can't shoot up and are often completely oblivious to you pummeling them with rockets if you're just out of reach of them. It's good to know that if Judgment Day ever happens and Skynet ever becomes self aware all we have to do it take potshots at the Hunter Killers from long range. The human spirit will prevail by shooting those robots from really, really far away.

Being super cautious is the only real way to play this game. The really arcadey movement, which feels very good compared to a lot of early 3D PS1 games seems to be at odds with the highly accurate and deadly enemy fire. To lock on you have to get really, really close so you find yourself inching forward getting a few lock-ons, firing and then backing off, which is made even more deadly by the constantly respawning enemies if you travel too far back. Sliding from side to side sometimes works, but the homing missiles have a nasty habit of doing their intended job and flying directly into you. How dare they!

It looks plain, but moves really well.

They mix up the game a little by giving you objectives like "Destroy all the bombs in the area!" within a time limit, and there are a couple of auto-scrolling levels, both on the water and a road where you have full movement and an insane amount of enemies to contend with. These sections are completely maddening in their difficulty as the health pickups fly by too fast requiring you to memorize the layout by dying over and over and over. There's even another mission where you have to fight off another cyborg that keeps on disappearing using the Thermoptic Camouflage seen in the movie. Ghost in the Shell is made all the more difficult by there not being any checkpoints. A lot of the missions had me making my way to the boss with a little challenge and then having the boss destroy me in about a minute. Most of the bosses are giant walking tanks with kill lasers, rockets and stompy shockwave moves. There's a couple of standouts like a couple of flying mech suits and a generator core where you need to destroy all of its fuel rod things. For the most part you will fight the bosses by holding down the slide buttons and strafing all over the walls and ceilings continuously holding down the rocket lock-on hoping to score a couple of hits. If you were the pilot in the Fuchikoma there would probably be a certain amount of motion sickness and the last place you want to be puking up is in a confined robot tank. If I was that tank I'd be pissed, although these tanks are pretty cheery. There's one cutscene where one of them is clapping its hands and being overexcited in Major Kusanagi's office. The talking tanks should stay in the garage, think of all that oily mess they'd make on the carpets, not to mention their little stubby gun arms. All it takes is for one of them to have a bad day and start shooting up computers. Offices are no place for walking, talking robot tanks.

There's two main types of level over the course of the twelve missions. There's the open city areas and then there's enclosed areas set in sewers, warehouses and super sci-fi complexes. The tight corridors where you don't have to worry about backing or sliding into respawning enemies actually work out a lot better because you get to use more surfaces for being tactical. These sections seem to be a lot more plentiful with grenades and health also making for a little less challenge which helps. The game is short, but took me quite a while to get to the last mission which I could not complete. I don't have the patience to make my way through the tower, it can be crushing to spend twenty minutes creeping through the level only to be killed by a collection of rockets from an enemy slightly off screen. Maybe one day, although I've seen the ending and I can tell you it's not worth seeing.

I'm really glad I played this game actually. This was one of the more expensive purchases for this dumb idea coming in at £17 which for a complete copy of the UK version was a very good deal. I've been curious about this game for a long time. It has an artstyle somewhere between the movie and the original manga, and the English voice cast sound like the same ones from the VHS I had years ago which is cool if you're into that stuff. (Dunno about the TV show, only seen about six episodes and they were in Japanese.) It's a fun game with possibly a little too much of a challenge in places, but the well animated videos and the good controls really help. It can look a little drab and grey in places, but it does have some nice, green wire-frame mission briefs that are very similar to the stuff in the movie that plays out with Kenji Kawai's haunting music before the final battle against the tank.So this turned out a lot longer than I was expecting. The fourteen year old me could have spent the last hour watching that opening video over and over on YouTube.

End bit.

So, part two will maybe be next week. I have only played two other games on my list and it all depends on how much time the new games will take up. I was a little hesitant to have this be more than a couple of parts, but I know how people are with words and things... Reading is booooring! So I'm going to split it up and make it more manageable. Feel free to say something about your favourite movie/game combo or tell me how much my movies suck, which they don't because y'know it's my list... the best list ever! Until next time where there will most likely be a little fortune, glory and bad motion controls.

Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other.

* Based on having a dinosaur book I owned as a child in close proximity at all times.

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Blogvania.

I'm not going to pretend I'm the biggest Castlevania fan in the world, but I've played enough of them in the past and spend a large enough amount of time whipping my bedroom walls looking for various pieces of meat to say that I really, really like Castlevania. Sure, I'm one of those dedicated few (Crazy people?) that kept on screaming at the internet that if you can make it past the first half of Lords of Shadow it really, really, really is an amazing game, but I'm also a big fan of Super Castlevania IV, Symphony of the Night and the DS games, two of which I played back to back for the first time last year.

Vampire killer turned vampire candidate #1 Van HelCushing. I assume Peter Cushing got so good at this role he'd be the perfect undead killer of demons and vampires.

For some reason I assumed that Lords of Shadow had done really poorly, when they announced the sequel I was overjoyed at the thought of seeing how the incredible twist ending of the first game would play out. Lords of Shadow 2 was quite possibly one of the top three games I was excited to play this year, and when I started seeing a few of the early review scores with a complaint here and a complaint there about the stealth sequences in the game a few little alarms went off in my head. I find myself often disagreeing with reviewers these days, and I'm far more forgiving of a games faults than most. I can usually see the best parts of even the worst games. I want to point out up front that this isn't some kind of Devil May Cry 2-esque ruiner of lives, but it is one more terrified family-lunch away from exploding into a big, bloody awful mess.

Candidate #2 - Seth Gecko. Handy with crosses, pistols, and pneumatic stakes. Not afraid to put family members out of their misery.

We start the journey strong. Count Begbie is just chilling with a nice cup of neck claret when some irritating intruders bust into his nicely decorated throne room and start trying to kill him. Dracula, The Prince of Darkness or not this is pretty rude. And while I think it's a little severe a punishment for trespassing, I feel like good old Drac has every right to drain these men of their blood. If that wasn't enough of an intrusion these men have brought a giant wooden robot to mess up Dracula's house. Dracula, as confused as I am about what is happening has a strange lapse in sanity and starts questioning himself about what it is to be a man. He doesn't search deep inside all that long for an answer, it's obvious... We are a miserable pile of secrets. I ignore that my eye just twitched and proceeded to watch Dracula blood-sick all over the giant's jewel, forcing a man in some shiny gold god armour (Not to be confused with the fantastic Jackie Chan movie Armour of God.) to start swinging his flamey swords around. The cheek! Not only is a large portion of Dracula's home rubble, now he has to deal with this aggressive, winged man trying to kill him in what is probably the remnants of a stylish banquet hall.

Dracula beats the intruder and as some kind of last attempt to drive him from his home starts chanting some Latin, but Dracula like an overly theatrical, Scottish Jerry Dandrige is all like "You've got to have faith." and starts a monologue about how he is vengeance, he is the night, he is the wind beneath your wings and most importantly that he is Batman. Dracula, like any sane person is all like "If I can't have this house, nobody can" so wipes out an entire army with some kind of bat-based nuclear bomb. Enter Alucard... DUN DUN DUUUN!

Candidate(s) #3 - The Frog Brothers. Very good knowledge of things that go bump in the night, double the whip wielding skills for advanced killing. Probably able to use claws and sword at the same time.

It would be easy to get sucked in with an opening as strong as that. Sure, it's a bunch of quick time events, tutorials and cutscenes, and thankfully there is an option to turn off all of the QTE's, but it is incredibly fun. The game immediately thrusts you into a pretty long story recap throwing you forwards into the future that was first seen in the epilogue to the first game. It's hard not having that interview with David Cox talking about wanting Mercury Steam to be the next Naughty Dog stuck in the back of my mind. You can see they have taken inspiration from the in-game world interaction from the mountain village in Uncharted 2, with you shuffling round a small section of the city streets with a homeless lady and a drug dealer only saying their scripted lines when you get within a certain radius of them. I'm a patient person a lot of the time, but I despise the slow, forced walk. I dunno if that's a concept page on the site, but it should be. It isn't enough to make me automatically sharpen my fangs and run to the internet, but it does make those alarms start ringing again.

Then that scene happens. I say that like you're bothered, but the second this game started getting bad reviews nobody seemed to care about its oh-so controversial family murder sequence. I will agree that it is at odds with the rest of the game which strives to make you feel like Dracula glassing a whole pubs worth of the English in the face with a big cheery smile. And it's maybe one of three or four moments in the game where Dracula is made out to be pure evil. For the most part he is filled with sadness and regret at the loss of his family and humanity. Honestly, It plays out exactly as you would imagine a hungry vampire trapped in a room with walking Capri Sun pouches should do. It wasn't a particularly fun sequence, but it's absolutely no different than many scenes from various films and TV, there were episodes of Angel (Another evil murderer you're supposed to root for when he heroically kills demons.) that dealt with similar themes/ideas far more graphically, and I never saw a single complaint about that.

Candidate # 4 - Winona Ryder. Responsible for not only Dracula's death, but also able to defeat the darkest of dark ones, Christian Slater.

It's hard not to love how committed Patrick Stewart sounds to the role of Zobek. This game isn't consistently good across the board from a voice acting perspective, but Stewart, Robert Carlyle and even Rob Stark along with a handful of other characters get the perfect tone for what I think Castlevania in the year 2014 should sound like. That overly theatrical reading of the lines really helps with some of the better story moments. I'm even willing to forgive how stupid it sounds when Stewart is all like "I've opened a portal for you." I'm not entirely sure why it sounds so off considering he has had to say far more absurd things in both Star Trek and X-Men in the past.

Zobek has a nice shiny suit and wants you to go kill some stuff. This is the set up for a large portion of the game. It wouldn't be so bad if the very first mission didn't want you to use the new stealth mechanics introduced in this game. Is it hard? No. Is it boring, oh god are these sections boring. I really can't see any reason for their inclusion. There is one type of enemy that Dracula is unable to defeat. Gabriel Belmont wasn't even an all powerful vampire lord before he whipped Satan back to hell. By the end of the game you have beaten the largest of Satan's minions, giant beasts with razor sharp claws, rocket launcher wielding mechs, even the deepest darkness within Count Duckula himself, but a single Golgoth guard is too much to handle. You're always reminded that Dracula isn't at full strength in these moments, but that time I juggled two shotgun toting demons in the air doing spins and dashes makes me think someone's telling a little porky pie.

Candidate#5 - Peter Vincent. I'm sure he'd be a little reluctant to become one of the undead, but he's beaten werewolves, demon assistants and vampires. Not sure about whip-skills.

The problem with the brief, but unsatisfying stealth moments is that there is only a singular way to complete them. It's just a case of trying all available options until you stumble across the correct one. That said, most of them are really straightforward and require you to turn into rats or bats. I'm a big fan of the rats in this game, it's a shame it isn't an ability you can use at any time. Although I assume that would have probably broken parts of the game elsewhere. I love the way being a rat has its own jaunty theme. If there was ever a bit of music that made you want to rummage about in other peoples bins, this is it. While I'm talking about the music, Lords of Shadow had the one of the best scores of any game in 2010 and Oscar Araujo continues his high standard of work in this game. There isn't as many memorable pieces, and this seems to have a couple of themes carried over from Mirror of Fate, but this is some damn fine orchestral music. Appropriately grand during action sequences and beautifully tender during the more thoughtful story moments. Although I would like the game far more if the entirety of it had Vampire Killer playing in the background.

There is Last of Us spoilers in the next section.

It's quite hard to talk about this game without sounding like I have a handful of really petty complaints, but the game wants to take away any fun you're having at every turn. Every so often I'd get into a succession of boss battles and arena fights that show off the games biggest strength... its combat. Only to have that fun halted immediately by making me throw daggers at targets with an erratic aiming system or hiding from a lady by dripping blood on the floor, only to whip her to death minutes later when the game deemed it appropriate for me to do so. The first game was full of interesting, throwaway ideas that kept the game fresh from start to finish, these seem designed to make you want to hate the game and ruin any kind of pacing it had built up previously. The biggest offender is the leaf maze guarded by the demon Agreus. (Pan's brother) He's a little upset that you killed his brother and towers over you ready to mess you up, but instead decides that he'd rather you try to hide from him in a maze with dead leaves on the ground. It seems like someone wanted to know what was happening elsewhere in the world of hot new video games and discovered that there's a stealth boss fight between Ellie and David in The Last of Us. Instead of there being a lot of broken plates and glass on the ground there will be dead leaves and if he hears you he's going to immediately find you and stab you to death. This point in the game is where many will just give up. It's frustrating when you're unsure about the best method to beat it, The one hint the game does give you makes the section harder (Although some people swear by using the distraction bells.) They never suggest you should dash and mist over the leaves, the way there are hand holds all over the scenery make that seem like the best way to beat it. After an hour and a half of messing with the bells and shimmying around the environment as the evil Russian skele-goat-man keeps on telling me he smells my fear. I started dashing and using my mist ability out of frustration and ended up finishing it within five minutes.

A minute later Dracula's fear is no longer a problem and you just whip Agreus to death.

Candidate #6 - Jack Crow. Very good at beating head vampires, good with various weapons and crosses, probably good with a whip, has former friends that are vampires, gets "excited" at the thought of killing things, swears a lot.

It was hard to even have fun after this. I definitely did have some fun during a couple of boss fights, and getting jewels for upgrades was a nice distraction only hindered by the absolute mess of a map screen. Some sections of the map don't allow you to fast travel to certain places and none of the city or castle has a coherent layout. Sometimes mission markers tell you to go one way, but don't explain that you have to travel through time, run through a part of the castle and then jump back to the present to continue your journey. There was more than one occasion where I found myself faced with an arrow pointing one way only for me to enter another area and then have the arrow facing back towards the way I came. Not to mention the barrage of machine gun wielding enemies scattered all over the place in a melee focused game. It's ok when you're fighting one or two of them in an enclosed space, but when there's five of them and the camera is confused by the minuscule space you're in and they're all doing unblockable attacks it is the opposite of fun. Regarding the unblockable attacks, there were moments where I was facing three or more enemies and they were spamming those moves for thirty seconds at a time with no opening. It was a minor annoyance, but there were points where them spamming like that bordered on the ridiculous.

Candidate #7 - Buffy Summers. Very good against all demon-types, knows what it is like to love a vampire, but probably not so great with whips. Knifed a former friend in the side. Has died numerous times. Probably already undead.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 is possibly one of the most disappointing games of the last few years. It has a lot of the same problems as Darksiders 2. Bigger in scope, but lacking the things that made the original special. There's a Train sequence that's (probably) full of quick time events. I can't help but think about that David Cox interview again. I get the feeling that someone had a checklist of things that Uncharted 2 excelled at which resulted in them trying to shoehorn a train sequence into the game without the excitement or the flair.It has its moments, the combat can at times be excellent and there's a late game twist M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of... it's so good that it doesn't deserve to be in a game of this quality. I'm sure this game will have its passionate supporters, but this time I'm not willing to hop aboard the crazy train. I spent more than enough time on the rubbish stealth train. For every moment that there's a fun boss throwing incredibly dramatic, antagonistic words at me as I whip it in the skull, there's a Jason Isaacs interpretation of Satan which comes across as if he was given a piece of paper in the studio instructing "Do the most video gamey Satan voice possible for a video game ever!" I want to love this game so much, so, so much, but it keeps coming back to that miserable leaf maze.

That leaf maze sucked some of the life out of me.

Thanks for reading. Be Excellent to each other.

Edit - I did try to link this to the LoS 2 page, but it didn't work, sorry.

3 Comments

They drew first blog.

The very first time I saw the Rambo video game I couldn't quite fathom what I was seeing. This weird plastic haired, digital version of Sylvester Stallone re-enacting those moments from a movie series I deeply love, no irony, just a pure love for the action movies my family would borrow off an uncle when I was a child. I knew I was going to play this game regardless of its wonky visual quality and seemingly shallow gameplay. A year or so has passed and this jewel of a game is finally out, It has indeed been a long road and I've brought a good supply of body bags to play Rambo: The Video Game.

I start up the game and we are met with Jerry Goldsmith's beautiful score on the title screen. Things are looking good. I then look at the words at the bottom of the screen asking me if I'd like to play it with a friend ("it's a long road" written next to it) it raises a smile, but I'm left confused as to who the friend Johnny would be bringing along on his journey. I start the game, select a loadout like some kind of Call of Duty clone and immediately greeted with the funeral of John Rambo. What the fuck? I've not even started and he's dead. His gravestone just says "May God forgive him." I don't see what he did that was so wrong, he killed a few comedy Russians and saved some Vietnam POW's, not to mention winning that weird dead sheep sport in Afghanistan... I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Right, here we go. Remember those short flashback, torture sequences from First Blood, well here they have been fleshed out to show us what went on after they escaped. It turns out Rambo won the Vietnam war with a bunch of his buddies fighting beside him. This was probably one of my favourite moments of the original trilogy (Is it a trilogy?) There's a lot of dudes firing guns beside me going FUCK YEAH! AMERICA! EAGLES AND FREEDOM! and whatnot. It's a magical moment with the score from the movies pumping out while I gun down various clones in a weird kind of Virtua Cop/Time Crisis-esque rail shooter. This comes to an abrupt end when the voice over reminds me that that something broke Rambo out there. I dunno, it looked like a party to me, shit was exploding and dudes were getting mowed down... it was kinda awesome.

Don't push it! Don't push it or I'll give you a war you won't believe.

After the bullet-party we are transported forward to the first scenes of First Blood. It's going ok despite some wonky character models, and then Brian Dennehy turns up and is all like get out out of my town you dirty vagrant, only that it's not Brian Dennehy and it's some fake Brian Dennehy seemingly recording his lines in a toilet, it doesn't even sound like him. To make things even more authentic it seems that Teyon the developer have used real sound clips from Sylvester Stallone, only that instead of some awesome remaster it seems they recorded the clips using a tape recorder sat next to a very loud TV playing a VHS of First Blood.

We are told that Rambo has done a bunch of bad things and then we get to the section where a young David Caruso and some nasty small town cops try to give our hero a shave, I get to beat them all up and storm through the police station beating up identical cops using well timed button prompts. I'm just about to get on a rad motorcycle when I'm greeted with an end of level screen that gives me a bunch of stats and a star rating. Oh, awesome I just finished this level that was about a minute long and I'm now a level 2 Rambo. I have some perks and some upgrades, the usual strength and damage kind of deals. I like that we get an image of Trautman for a skill point, that's the ultimate skill, to try and be as awesome as Richard Crenna.

Right, onto the hunt. There's no messing about, Rambo knocks the dude out of the helicopter, the one and only kill from the first movie and then I'm hunting down all of Jerkwater USA's finest by skipping from tree to tree hitting those timed button prompts. They give me a warning beforehand though, this is important information as if I want to get the best score/ perfect disarms I have to be dead on with my QTE-age. The penalty for hitting the buttons too early or too late is a gruesome stabby-slicey kill animation. I want to keep my playthrough as close to the movie as possible so I hit all of my prompts early and murder David Caruso and all of his mates in a variety of bloody ways. I then get to hold fake Brian Dennehy up against a tree and we get the whole "I'll give you a war you won't believe" and indeed I do. I'm immediately given an assault rifle and told that I can shoot the guns out of the cops hands to maintain movie authenticity, so I proceed to headshot all of the cops which gives me point totals and the words COP KILLER flashing all over the screen. I murder all of the cops and then I'm thrust forward to the end of the movie with Rambo driving a truck with a magically gained machine gun where I tear through the street killing the entirety of the United States police force and have to force out fake Brian Dennehy by filling up a bar by shooting at a police station. I do this and put about 20 or so bullets into the evil cop-man, COP KILLER MOTHERFUCKER!

You may scream. There is no shame.

There's some more voice over from fake non-Trautman dude and shots of Rambo's supposed death, but then straight into the second movie. I love First Blood Part 2 with all of my heart, it is easily one of my top five action movies of all time, featuring, some of the best action, stealthy moments and wonderful music of any movie I have ever seen. I see the whole "Yeah, but the first movie is a genuinely good action drama" thing all the time but the second Rambo movie is incredible. It's one of Stallone's finest and is the stereotypical image of what Rambo is, the pumped muscles, the bow and arrow and a million deaths. The body count isn't even that high, not even close to them making fun of the body count in Hot Shots Part Deux. Watch the final half hour of Schwarzenegger's Commando and you'll see he murders more people than Rambo does in the entirety of the first three movies.

Anyway, I've gotten off track again. We are met with the recreation of Trautman convincing John in prison to go for another tour of duty to rescue some newly discovered POW's and that he'd only going in for reconnaissance. This is probably one of the most iconic moments of the movie, or any 80's action movie in general... the tooling up. I've always been fond of this particular tooling up as it features him loading a camera with Ilford black & white film, having studied photography it brings a smile to my face. Unfortunately we skip all of that awesome stuff and have Rambo meeting Co, a lady spy who seems to have replaced all of her hair with evil spiderwebs and looks about twelve. I then have to kill people stealthily using my bow that has a circular charge on it like in the new Tomb Raider game. I missed my second kill which alerted a guard and then I was greeted to an animation of me being spotted and then having a bullet planted right in my forehead. So much for being the best of the best Rambo.

I get through the base, save a POW and then have to shoot at a million boats, just like in the movie. My favourite part is when a boat drove ahead of me and pumped out WW2 era mines for me to shoot. At this point I have murdered a million, trillion , billion dudes with a slight resemblance to John C Reilly. I dunno why the developers seem to hate him so much but I have been responsible for wiping out a nations worth of them this afternoon. We get off the boat and then me, Co and the prisoner have to avoid mortars which results in the evil powers that be back at homebase telling Trautman to abort. I get a nice closeup of his nightmarish face and then Rambo stands in a field looking like a gormless idiot. I was wondering if they'd play out the torture scene using QTE's, but they held off for the escape. So I hit fake Stephen Berkoff and his mate in the face, the model doesn't even look like him, at least the Brian Dennehy one had hints of him. What we get is your standard Call of Duty comedy Russian accent, also recorded in the same toilet as everyone else.

Me and Co escape killing everything, occasionally she wants me to share ammo, it doesn't seem to do anything at all and it's the only time in the entire game it ever happens, occasionally she shouts out "You so strong Rambo!" which is nice of her to say. Co is way into Rambo at this point which is important for a plot point coming up very soon. That plot point is pretty much Rambo being all about the feelings and then Co immediately getting gunned down. Sucks for him... and her I guess, but if you're gonna go make sure you're going to be the inspiration for shooting a hundred men in the face. The game then reenacts my favourite moment in any of the movies and that is Rambo taking out all of the Russians one by one caked in mud all stealthily. It recreates that stuff pretty well until it finally just decides fuck it and lets you gun everyone down.

Then the village... The village is a weird bit in the movie as Rambo pretty much destroys an entire village of innocent farmers in the pursuit of saving a handful of Americans, I mean it seems fair. What do those people need with crops and houses anyway? The Rambo music swells up as I burn through the village murdering people left and right, occasionally innocents get in my way, but I can't really help any collateral damage, I'm on a mission, not to mention I need to avenge my sort of-kinda love interest. And this is where I got stuck, just a ridiculous amount of enemies requiring me to replay an earlier section of the game to get some more Traut-skillz and upgrades. It turns out you can get an insane amount experience from that QTE filled police station level that takes about a minute. I'm a pro at that damn police station now. I return to the innocent murder as a level eleven Rambo and wipe that village off the map using explosive arrows. Serves them right for cheap difficulty spikes. The final level is just shooting at a helicopter and then faking it out, we don't even get to shoot up all of those computers and say "Mission accomplished" although that badly recorded sound clip does play at the end of every mission.

"What do you say John?" "Fuck 'em!"

I'm feeling pretty exhausted by this point, and I'm onto the weakest of the original movies. I like Rambo 3, it definitely has its moments. The tank yard/prison breakout action scene and the bit in the cave are some really great moments in a film that at times can be boring. It takes a little bit of time to get going, but it's a fun ride and has more comedy Russians so that's always a plus.

The bad voiceover man tells me that Trautman has been captured, no messing about with bare knuckle fighting or Buddhist temples, just right into Afghanistan and talked at before getting into the Commie murder. I'm a little bummed out that we don't get a fake Clarence Boddicker and while I'm gunning down helicopters murdering everything in a village I notice that a lot of the soldiers look like WW2 Nazis which is a little weird.

We get another scene of Trautman getting beaten up by another comedy Russian that isn't Stephen Berkoff either, but looks surprisingly like the other dude. This time though it sounds like he was eating his dinner while trying to talk. And if there's something I...I mean Rambo can't stand is evil dudes with rude eating habits. So Rambo teaches him a lesson by gunning everyone down in his prison. There was an option at the start of the mission to do Stealth, but like before I wanted to stay true to the movie, so I just killed everyone dead. I did have to return by climbing up the side of a mountain, but this mission was almost the same as the other one, just during the day. It seems bizarre that there are all of these heavy gunners and flamethrower guards. I don't remember that bit in the movie, but it's been a couple of years and I'm getting a headache from all of the gunfire.

So, I'm at the final push, I get a really strange minute where I have to shoot snipers with a Dragunov and then into a cave. I have some renewed faith in the game that we are going to stealthily kill everyone in the cave like the hunt at the beginning, but no, dudes from Splinter Cell rope in from the ceiling and I have to shoot them all. sometimes I can shoot rocks to fall on them, but it's just more of the same. I get to the rope and expect a cool (and by cool I mean pretty boring) QTE fight against a big comedy Russian, but instead they choose not to have anything at all, just the end of the level. You'd have thought they would have planned the level around that fight considering their love of QTE's elsewhere... nope, just the end bit...

That fucking end bit. Sure, they went for the dumb sweary quote, and it does bring a smile to my face in the movie, but this final section should be the power fantasy moment. I should be able to breeze through it like Rambo's knife through peoples necks. Nope! This is one of the most frustrating sequences in anything I have played in years. Just ridiculous enemy spam requiring you to juggle staying in cover, when to use your health boost power and shooting a barrage of grenades out of the sky. I restarted one checkpoint over thirty times and only got through it due to luck. You blow up the helicopter using the tank and Rambo sits in a car with Trautman while I'm told they got married and lived happily ever after. I have a sigh of relief. My war is over.

End bit

So, yeah, Rambo: The Video Game. It's a thing... a thing that I bought with money and everything. I love those movies, and this erm... curiosity is a strange thing. Who really cares about Rambo these days? I don't even think of the newer movie as part of those older ones, it's so tonally different and no other movie has ever had me leave the cinema feeling slightly disturbed and offput by what I had just seen. It's definitely Rambo, just not the Rambo that I love. I'm glad I played it, I got a cool little figurine from preordering it (about a million times better than the game) I honestly can't think of a better game-type to fit this series. A dumb, mindless game to go with a couple of dumb, mindless movies. I'm saddened by the lack of real music from the movies, making the two or three moments where it is used stand out instead of their boooring action tune that plays over the vast majority of the gunfire. I dunno what to say, I spent my afternoon playing it and then proceeding to think more about it by writing up what I'd just witnessed. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to use that great blog title. Yeah, good job me.

It really was a long road.

Thanks for reading, Be excellent to each other.

Don't play Rambo: The Video Game. (Unless you love Rambo and want that cool figurine.)

4 Comments

Next Gen Blog.

Next gen? Current gen? Weirdo fighting stance Street Fighter Gen. Whatever this is, we are in it, right now! You could probably argue we've been here for a while on the PC, and I'd possibly even agree having upgraded my own with magic, voodoo and the dark art of TressFX some time in the middle of last year, but for the lowly console owners this is the future. We are half a step away from Mattel hover boards, watching Jaws 19 and wearing two ties at the same time.

This is happening NEXT YEAR!

I wasn't planning to transition from the PS3 or the 360 so soon, with a lack of games and a whole bunch of disappointing launch releases. But the chance to get one of these new machines for less than the insane £400 (+game) pricetag was far too good to turn down. That coupled with inFamous Second Son and Ground Zeroes on the horizon I took a leap into buying a new home console in the first year of its life for the first time. (I did get a 3DS at launch, dunno if that counts.) Was it a poor decision? Here are some words that I wrote with my hands talking about my experience with the PlayStation 4 over the last couple of weeks. (ish)

This is Next Gen Youtube on a PS4... it doesn't work. even the Wii U and the 3DS don't have a problem with this. Nintendo 2 Sony 0

I opened the box and took out the console which looks like a giant eraser. My first thought was how light the console is. It seems a lot lighter than both my previous consoles and it has pointy angles which automatically says future, like some kind of alien artifact. It was strange unboxing it, there was a distinct lack of excitement compared to my Saturn or even the 3DS (back in 2011). the same feeling I had when unboxing the Wii U. I picked up the controller, felt the sticks and the triggers then switched on the machine. I like the new controller, it has real weight to it, and the sticks have a good amount of tension on them. I do however think the triggers while better than the PS3's are still a little spongy and inferior to the 360's. I was greeted with the usual login and update stuff you get these days, but the most surprising thing was that the PS4 doesn't have a start-up chime. It seems like an odd omission. I love console start-up noises and Sony have had some of the best over the years, it's sad to see something like that go, but in its place Sony have added some sad piano music playing in the background to remind you of your own mortality or maybe it's there for you to mourn over the loss of the start-up chime. I wouldn't be surprised if it was filled with subliminal messages telling you to go buy the digital version of Knack on the PSN store for £53 (FIFTY THREE POUNDS FOR KNACK!!!) Whatever the reason it's plinky-plonky and makes me want to cry when browsing my games.

This isn't Blacklight Retribution at all. This is James Spader in The Blacklist which is infinitely more interesting than that game.

One of the first things I did was download all of the PS3 games I own like Sound Shapes, FlOw and Flower. And then onto the "free" PS+ games such as Resogun, Don't Starve and Contrast. later in the week I dabbled in a couple of the free to play offerings such as Warframe and Blacklight: Retribution. I played Blacklight for a couple of matches. I killed four or five people in a row and it told me I was a threat, mega threat? ultra threat? some kind of threat. It seemed highly accurate though because I obviously have the skills to take down the future terrorists (?) with my shooty-guns. I pressed the left trigger followed by the right one a bunch of times in some eerily empty maps with barely anyone playing, admired the kinda cool looking menus and deleted it from my 354GB HDD... What the fuck!? Where did all my memory go? This seems like a pretty big problem for the future. 500GB (which is a slight lie in the first place after all the updates) seems pretty small considering the sizes of some of these files. It wouldn't be so worrying if I hadn't used up over a fifth of the space in a handful of days. Six months to a year down the line it seems understandable, but so soon it's a little worrying. I guess this is an inevitable problem for the future, but one I know I'm going to come up against sooner than I'd like.

This is some Next Gen messaging. PS3 TO PS4... THE FUTURE!

There's something really simplistic and empty looking about the XMB... is it an XMB? Infinite-line-media-app-bar? ILMAB? There's something a little unfinished about it. I love that I am immediately at the games I want to play as soon as I have signed in, but that bar is full of things cluttering up my games. Does the Playroom need to be there when I have no intention or the means to use it? same goes for the unlimited music and movies too. It's nice that I have the option to use that stuff (I won't ever) but let me remove it from that list. This has turned into a whine. I don't mean it to be that way, it moves snappily and it's easier to get to messages, the store and downloads because they are on another bar at the top. I'm not entirely sure what the Facebook-ish wall at the bottom is for but It's good to remind myself what games I have played and gotten trophies in minutes beforehand. I guess with all the information overload we have in our lives I have to be constantly reminded of that time I breezed about a digital field and murdered some space Nazi's in Killzone just to feel alive. Next gen feeling.

I captured this using the share function on BBC Iplayer. This is Danny Dyer in Eastenders... Not to be confused with Danny O Dwyer... Giant Bomb should probably hire Danny Dyer.

There's some other menu stuff. I like the little text boxes when you send multiple messages back and forth and the inclusion of a little noise when you get a message or something has started/stopped downloading is probably one of my favourite improvements (really) Maybe Sony could only pay for one sound clip and cut the start-up chime in favour of this. I still dunno how I feel about that, I'm still stuck on this damn thing. To be honest I don't really know why I keep bringing it up. There's still no option to set all games to have inverted camera just like the 360 in 2006, but hey, next gen and all that. Sony hate us dirty, inverted players. You can't pause downloads and the download speed seems similar-ish to the PS3 speeds at most times, although I DL Warframe during the middle of a weekday and it went surprisingly fast considering the filesize. I also like the way the light on the controller pulses in time with the beat during Sound Shapes.

Here are some thoughts about some video games I have played on a new video game system.

Resogun.

My first thought was to try and be clever by creating an image of Resogun using lots of tiny Lego bricks. I have the right amount of Lego and I have the right amount of patience, but after about an hour of trying I just ended up with what looked like I'd dumped a pile of Lego onto my bedroom floor like the overgrown child that I am.

Resogun was the first game I played and it's a real stunner in the visual department, somewhere between Geometry Wars and Super Stardust HD. The amount of things going on on screen is crazy. The first time I started it up it was like an overwhelming barrage or light and sound being stamped directly into my brain. That first time I heard the lady abrasively say "Save the last humans" through the speaker on the controller as the huge words rotate around the cylindrical level, my eyes lit up. Admittedly I didn't read how to play the game and just thrust myself directly into it, which resulted in the first few games turning into a mess of nonsensical noise.

After an hour or so I fully grasped that you had to fill the bar up at the bottom by killing enemies which would result in a strikingly beautiful, yet pretty simplistic boss at the end of the five levels. Occasionally you are told that keepers are detected that are a collection of glowing enemies in close proximity, that are usually on a kind of rail which have to be defeated before they disappear, which in turn shoots a spark off to somewhere else on the level freeing one of the ten humans in boxes around the level. I absolutely adore the way you have to manage all of the things at once, defeating waves, picking up little humans running about the level and boosting through tens of enemies at a time. The boost is one of those mechanics that has the right combination of sound effect, light trail and burst when you pop out of it to create this satisfying explosion of light. I think forcing 40 or 50 enemies into a clump and then boosting into them for a huge explosion is one of the most exciting things in any side scrolling shooter I have ever played. That along with the way the level just slo-mo explodes into thousands of particles at the end of a level make this the best and most visually pleasing game I have played on the system.

Resogun is super short and there's plenty of replayability with the harder modes being incredibly difficult. I'm really glad it's given away for free with PS+ If there was ever a game that could do with some dlc levels this is it. I'd probably buy more Resogun in a heartbeat.

Warframe.

The default character you can choose has a horn on his head. He looks kinda like Rocksteady from TMNT, only nothing like this at all. You totally have a horn though, this is a fact.

I think this is probably my first time adventuring into free to play games. I put about four hours into it and it seems... ok? It's hard to judge something like this that's completely free. It seems fully featured with a pretty big selection of various mission types. The shooting reminds me of the guns in Mass Effect and the sword has no lock on making most melee fights some sort of ultimate test against the jittery camera more than any hunchbacked, alien-beetle-monster-man.

All of the missions saw me leveling up my sword and my guns at a pretty slow rate with the occasional loot drop out of an alien space locker. Most encounters early on seem doable with one or two players, but I had to stop at the first boss because I'd always reach him and the rest of the people I was playing with would drop out. He seems far too hard to beat without excessive (boooring) grinding or having a couple of other similarly leveled players, and I don't think the action or similarly boring environments are enough to put anymore time into. I'm sure there's a lot more to see and there's a whole crafting and mod system in confusing menus that are never explained to you. The tutorial pretty much explains how to shoot and slice things. I found myself utterly baffled about how to even get into a mission due to the badly designed menu.

If there is one thing I like about the game, it is that the character designs are pretty unique and alien.Some people have heads like hammerhead sharks and the default suit has a striking resemblance to something out of Evangelion. There's something very organic-looking about the character designs and I like that a lot. If the game played better I'd be tempted to put a little more time into it, but that slow grind and samey missions/environments don't seem all that much like a fun time.

There is also some crazily priced microtransactions in the store, one of them is about £80 and another couple are £110 just for some cosmetic shit, weapons and in-game currency.

Contrast.

I like the music, the setting and the atmosphere of this puzzle-platformer. Some of the dialogue is really good and other parts of it is horrendous. The characters have really striking designs, but the second they move they act like badly animated puppets, which is even more noticeable when all of the other characters are shadows. It seems ok, but I'd have been really disappointed if I'd paid for it. It has a really cool dash move. I'm pretty big on the dashes in video games.

Killzone Shadow Fall.

No, Not the face! I have about 30 screenshots where I'm hovering over dead bodies stored on my system. After all of my corpse images in GTA V I'm starting to think I might have a problem.

My console was a Killzone bundle, so this came packed in the box. I have generally been a fan of these games. I liked the campaign in two a lot and adored the multiplayer in three. The campaign wasn't all that bad either for the entire fifteen minutes it took to complete.

Killzone Shadow Fall never rises above its opening mediocrity. After the first mission it just gradually slopes downwards until the messy, unexciting end. I came away from Killzone thinking more about the twenty or so times I died slamming my face into the side of falling buildings more than any of its beautifully crafted character designs or explosive setpieces. You can tell a lot of effort went into the story side of things, it's just that every single moment of it falls completely flat with you being talked at sternly by the dude that exploded in the second season of Homeland and an invincible Helghan lady that's good with a sniper rifle and some knives. Even Malcolm McDowell didn't reprise his character from 3 and that dude will do ANYTHING!

The first problem that rears its head is that you're always waiting for something in this game. I assume Guerrilla thought being talked at by angry, deadly serious non-characters and waiting in lines as people are processed was immersive. It's just boring a lot of the time. This game seems so pleased with making you wait for a crane you're riding to shift over or waiting for something to happen after you have inserted one of about 700 plugs into a socket two feet away. There is an odd stealth sequence that basically has you running from container to container in a well lit room to avoid nasty-space nazi guards you could probably kill easily with your bare hands. It's just a lot of waiting for someone to say "go!"

This might look like I drew it in the dark with some crayons, but it is actual Next Gen graphickxs.

Killzone... more like Waitzone. So, yeah, you do kill stuff, and for the most part it's pretty good with some aggressive enemies and a selection of pretty satisfying weapons. The Shadow Marshall rifle, which is your standard gun that can double up as a sort or energy-sniper rifle is probably the best thing about the entire game. I tried my hardest to never part with it on the missions it was given to me. Unfortunately the combat becomes more about entering rooms with an almost endless supply of enemies that pop out the second you take two steps forward. One room in the final(ish) mission is absolutely insane. It must be a pretty awful job being one of the elite Helghan guard. 95% of the time you must be hiding, crouched behind a wall going "Is he here yet?" "Shhh I heard a noise... get ready... sorry, false alarm guys." There are also a couple of points with infinitely respawning enemies. One where you have to hold off wave after wave after wave after wave after wave of soldiers while SURPRISE! you wait for a slow moving thing to get to its destination. In another I somehow ended up in a weird stalemate fighting against 5 or 6 Helghast while trying to hack a computer console. (Also waiting for the Helghan lady to hack a computer or something.)

The combat elsewhere is against really aggressive spider-tank things that aren't very fun to fight and these giant mechanical turrets that require you to mess around with more energy plugs in yet more sockets while avoiding exploding spider drones. The back half of the game is the biggest chore. I'd much rather be shooting things in a first person shooter than doing a selection of disposable side activities... and I'd happily never have to blow up one of those turrets by shooting energy plugs again.

What to say really. I'm like the millionth person to talk about how miserable an experience Killzone SF is. (and months late) I played a couple hours of multiplayer but got tired of being blown up and sniped by invisible characters over and over again on poor, messily designed maps. All of the talk about more open ended missions is nonsense with them usually having a pretty set path to go. There's a mid-credits mission that requires you to do four objectives in a really set pattern. It's a forced stealth mission in a game that can largely be played without ever having to do stealth. It was incredibly frustrating having to trial and error my way to the end of the game for about an hour in what is a five minute long sequence. Killzone feels incredibly last gen (semi-current?) with these stunning environments and incredible lighting, but full of little things that pull you out of the world. Some stuff is completely destructible, but you can knife those bottles on that table all day long and they'll never break. I played Ghostbusters at the same time and I could destroy huge amounts of the environment in a game from 2009. Come on next gen Killzone... let me bust stuff... Bustin' makes me feel good.

End bit.

SEXY!

So. this is some thoughts on my next gen console that's like current gen, but like old gen compared to PC's or something. I could describe some of the horrors I have seen spending a whole evening watching Twitch livestreams. I have seen the worst of humanity through a video game console. And I thought the voice chat in Call of Duty or Halo was the worst. I don't know why so many of the comments up the side of the screen want the girl to put the thing into the other thing... maybe theyre just trying to help her finish one of those plug sections in Killzone. The one thing I do know is that I am unable to stop watching. This is the future, we are in the future NOW! I'm off to go stop my future children from getting sent to jail.

Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other.

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Sega Saturn Blog.

This is something I have wanted to write about for quite a while now. I bought a Sega Saturn about a year ago and have wanted to talk about my newest-oldest console love affair. Immediately I hear distant chuckles and whispers of "The Saturn is a big pile of shit" but I'm here to tell you that the Sega Saturn is totally rad.

For many years I had it in my head that what I really, really, really wanted was a Sega Dreamcast. Everyone says the Dreamcast is awesome. It has that game with the fighty-fights and the shifty-colour spaceship game, and y'know the adventurey Sonicses. The Dreamcast had the internet and was like the future, but was cut down in its prime. Without the Dreamcast's online-ness my uncle would have never met his wife which was probably awesome for him, but I've not spoken to him in over a decade and maybe he stabbed her to death out of some Sega fanboy loyalty induced rage. Anyways. After I thought long and hard about this and a bunch of the best Dreamcast games have since come out on XBLA and PSN I decided that it wasn't worth getting a system to play a Treasure game and a couple of wonky 3D Sonics.

The first time I saw this game I was pretty unimpressed. I had already defected to Nintendo by then.

As a fan of the speedy blue mammal I have always been curious of the other Sonic Team games like Nights and Burning Rangers. (One day I'll get around to the Billy Hatcher game.) I remember being mesmerized by a video of Nights on a Saturday morning show that reviewed entertainment products, but beyond that my exposure to the Sega Saturn was pretty limited to me once staring at an unplayable version of Bug in an HMV and sitting watching the above mentioned uncle play the first level of the original Panzer Dragoon. I'm not going to say that I'm still bitter that he wouldn't let me touch his shiny new console, but he didn't so therefore he can die in a fire.

Early last year I was having a pretty bad day, so naturally all of my thoughts were on browsing Amazon and Ebay looking for things to cheer myself up. Somehow I ended up looking at Mega Drives, Mega CD's and Japanese versions of cartridges I'd never be able to play and then I saw it from the corner of my eye... it was like the internet was giving me a sign, my hand dragged the cursor over to the words that said PAL SEGA SATURN AND SEVEN GAMES. My eyes lit up, I felt a voice deep in my soul, my heart was in agreement. YOU.MUST.BUY.THIS! I looked at the listing and found myself unable to commit to this kind of relationship in such a short amount of time. So I closed the browser and went to bed.

I woke up the next day expecting my usual dose of self hatred, but the second my eyes opened there was only one thing on my mind. I jumped out of bed switched on the computer and hit the big old buy button without a single thought. I was met instantly with regret, but spending a year (ish) with the system I feel like I made one of the best gaming purchases of my entire life.

Yeah, so I bought a Sega Saturn.

You fight a shiny man underwater at the end.

The day I got the console was really fun. I had a bunch of flashbacks to opening up console boxes in my childhood. There was something really nice about opening up the old thing in its original box with all of the wires placed neatly into it. I wasn't expecting everything to be in such nice condition, and I really didn't expect the box and the manuals to be included. A couple of the games such as Wipeout and F1 Challenge didn't have boxes, but had manuals which was ok as I was never really interested in most of the games that came with the system and I had played the hell out of Wipeout on the PS1 when it launched. I really wish I'd have kept the PS1 version of the game to compare the two, but from my memory of that game it seems like pretty much the same thing although knowing how the Saturn wasn't so hot at 3D games I wouldn't be surprised if it was vastly inferior. The F1 game has Damon Hill in it and a wicked guitar solo on the title screen, but it's F1 so y'know...

Psheeeowwww!

All of the games I got with the system were pretty unremarkable. Virtua Fighter 2 is so common it seems that most places almost give it away for free and Clockwork Knight, a game which is one of the standout titles for the system according to crazy people on fanatical Sega forums. It is truly one of the most awful platformers I have ever played. No saves, awful visuals (but I assume great at the time) and unresponsive controls. It's apparently very short, but I couldn't make it that much further beyond the first boss as the music was driving me insane.

I <3 you Burning Rangers.

I got a couple of other games I messed with for fifteen to twenty minutes, but the new toy feeling had started to evaporate, maybe me and my new console weren't meant to be together, maybe I'd made a huge mistake. Over the next week I found myself devouring any information on the best games for the system. The same old names kept popping up, with many of them being imports or increasingly rare games with silly price tags. Luckily I had bought Burning Rangers at around the same time I bought the console and it came in the post a couple of days later. I braced myself for £50 worth of disappointment and put the disk into the drive... Within a minute of starting up the game I knew I had made a good decision.

Video games!

I have a list here of the best games I have bought for the system over the last year. There are some other really good games like Radiant Silvergun, which is both insanely expensive (yet hardly rare) and available in an amazing version on XBLA, same for Treasure's other Saturn game Guardian Heroes.

BURNING RANGERS.

whump-whump-whoosh!

The Burning Rangers are fucking awesome. I mean, they're a team of futuristic firefighters that save people by putting out fires on spaceships, defeating giant alien plants and riding through watery space-mazes on dolphins. How do the Burning Rangers put out fires? I hear you ask. They shoot them out with fucking laser guns. Space-fire explodes into jewels, and different kinds of jewels depending on how much laser you're shooting into its fiery face. It's real lucky as fire-jewels act as a form of health, the Burning Rangers are there to put out fires and save lives and unlike the vast majority of people you'll ever meet in your life they will never let you down, I know this because the nice rap-man in the song "We are Burning Rangers" says so. He also says something about nightmares and Wes Craves which is a bit weird, but the overall feeling is that you should want to be a Burning Ranger. If I was a child I'd want to be one and now realise this game features the role models I probably needed to craft me into a better person. There would also be a chance that I'd get a laser gun with a little picture of Sonic on it.

They will never let you down.

I have a lot of love for this game despite seeing all of the flaws that a lot of games from that era share. The camera is unfortunately controlled by the L and R shoulder buttons which is never fun and there are some issues with jumping to ledges in confined areas where the camera gets caught on stuff, but for the most part it moves really smoothly and works as intended. There's a nice focus on dodging fires and listening to orders and sounds in the environment to progress. There's no map, but the lady on the other end of your radio tells you to go left or right at the press of a button like you're in some messed up version of the Crystal Maze. The other thing I adore about the game is the whooshy backdraft noise before fire pops out of a wall or consumes a room. If you hit back as soon as you hear the noise start you can do a fancy dodge move that even Kurt Russell would be proud of.

Hmm. Seems familiar.

Burning Rangers is a weird game, but one that shows that Sega were full of creativity once upon a time. Full of colour and strange bosses, It's a short game with an odd lack of music for the majority of most levels, and packed with a ton of optional people to save for extra lives and thankful emails after the mission ends. If you weren't told that it was made by Sega or Sonic Team you probably wouldn't know it was by the same people, but the way fire-jewels work like rings or the loading screen art are nice little giveaways. Burning Rangers is a flawed game and I don't know if it's enough to warrant the purchase of a Saturn, but I would LOVE an HD version. One of the most enjoyable games I played in 2013... who couldn't love a game with a character with a mohawk made of metal tubes called Big Landman?

Panzer Dragoon/ Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei.

LASER DRAGON!

Dragons are cool. People seem to be way into that Cucumberbatched up dragon in the film about the tiny people. What the Sherlock-dragon (With a name that's pronounced way differently to how I did as a kid.) sucks at is shooting lasers. Panzer Dragoon dragons have giant horns on their heads and shoot mutliple lasers out of their mouths. Fire-dragons suck, well maybe not that one in Dragonheart... or Dragonslayer... or that cool one in the boring film with Baldy Mathew McConoughey and Batman. Oh, whatever, Panzer Dragoon dragons shoot lasers and have riders that shoot their own lasers and sometimes walk and stuff. It is really rather wonderful.

This is a dragon, not much else to say really.

For such short games that are mostly on rails the amount of personality in the world they created is amazing. Both the Saturn games have this very alien atmosphere with stunning music that alternates between energetic synth sounds and beautiful orchestral pieces. The way the dragons weave in and out of the scenery through the ruins of past generations or through alien forests full of giant acid spitting wildlife is fantastic. I really can't stress how much of a unique atmosphere these two games give off. The hints of old magic and futuristic weaponry mixed with dragons is so strange, yet fits perfectly.

I have the Xbox sequel which crashes on the third stage on European 360's unfortunately, and Panzer Dragoon Saga the RPG that some swear is better than the PS1 Final Fantasies is insanely expensive if you want to play it with English subtitles (Japanese version much, much cheaper.) The two Saturn rail shooters are among the best games I have played for the system, and while I really like that the second game (which is weirdly titled 2-2) has unique dragon leveling and incredible visuals, I think I like the simplicity of the first game. It's hard to explain, but it feels like it has more grace than the sequel.

Oh, and DRAGONS THAT SHOOT LASERS!

Thunder Force V

Fish-robot-thing... KILL IT WITH LASERS!

Ok, this was the most expensive game I bought. I know that it came out on the PS1 in the US, but the only way to get it here is to import it. If a lot of these games tell you anything about me, it's that I like lasers. Thunder Force V has THE laser. The CRAW laser which can be rotated 360 degrees in this side scrolling shooter is ridiculously powerful. If you know where to aim it, a bunch of the bosses in this game can be beaten in seconds.

Monster thing... KILL IT WITH LASERS!

There's not really a lot to say about this game other than it's probably one of the best side scrolling shooters I have ever played. It's full of incredible, fast paced music and brilliantly designed bosses like giant manta-ray-bird things and wire frame butterfly-robots. It is super fun despite its incredibly high difficulty. I like that it lets you play through the first three stages in any order you like so if you really struggle you can see more than just one level.

Hexagonal thing... KILL IT WITH LASERS!

The Saturn is packed with 2D shooters and Thunder Force V is pretty special, even with it's slightly crude polygonal visuals. Normally I prefer the horizontally* scrolling games, but if you've read this far you know how partial I am to the laser beams, and this is one of the best laser beam parties I've ever been to.

* Edit - I think I mean vertically scrolling here. My mind is telling me that the horizontal screen scrolls up, but then I think about it and I'm probably wrong... I'm pretty stupid *shrug* I like the scrolly-uppy games more. I should have said that in the first place.

Shinobi X

I like that when you cut some people in half there is a delayed reaction before all of the splurty blood.

Do you know what would make Shinobi games better? Digitized actors and live action FMV. Obviously those things would never be better than fighting the deadly trio of Godzilla, Spiderman and Batman, and the idea of a Mortal Kombat-ified Shinobi sounds like the dumbest thing ever, but this game is 100% Shinobi.

Believe it or not this is the SECOND best thing in the game.

The game in the US was known as Shinobi Legions and is generally thought of as weaker than the European version which has a unique soundtrack by Richard Jacques who went on to work on the synthy music for the first Mass Effect. This game is craaaazy hard and I have only seen the end of it due to cheating with Action Replay codes. (I can get to about the halfway point before I want to snap the controller in half)

Get over here!

I'm a huge fan of the Mega Drive games and this feels almost identical to them despite the graphical style. Gameplay revolves around throwing Kunai and slashing things with your sword. Every so often a giant statue pops out of the ground after collecting a certain amount of what look like giant blue Smarties. It just sort of floats around the screen killing things which is weird, but when placed next to some of the other stuff in this game it seems pretty normal. There's a mission in a lab where you have to fight off what seem like toy Brontosaurus heads that pop in from the side of the screen every so often.

But the one thing that makes this game special is the cheap, Power Rangers-y FMV cutscenes. These are some of the most wonderfully bad examples of this lost artform. Don't worry as I have included a video with all of them above!

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?

There's hardly any images of the game online so I guess the box art will do.

So, this (mostly) side scrolling shooter is a strange movie tie in game that is pretty good. It's real easy and would make absolutely no sense if you haven't seen the movie ( I'm pretty certain it isn't easily available anywhere outside of Japan these days.) It follows the movie almost exactly and spans two disks despite only being a handful of hours long, probably due to all of the movie FMV between stages.

There's something really endearing about old, pixelated anime video at the start of games. It's something I'm hugely fond of along with early polygonal character models... but back to the game. Macross lets you control a mech/jet hybrid and you basically blow up everything on the screen with infinite missiles which require you to constantly keep holding the button down to lock onto everything. This will probably give you some pretty bad hand-cramp.

Missiles and laser beams.. My kind of game.

Every so often the characters need you to know some pretty important story stuff so you have to guide missiles or avoid a boss without using weapons for some reason or other. Either way it's pretty story/talk heavy for this kind of game and probably only has any real value if you are a fan of the movie. I think it's a pretty lovely movie so I guess I'm pretty much the target audience. I knew there was a reason why I bought it!

It plays the song from the movie that means nothing to 99% of the people reading this (And if you got this far thanks!) over the final battle which is really rather wonderful.

Asuka 120% BURNING Fest LIMITED.

I have punched all of these girls in the face!

This is a super fun, fast paced fighting game. This is probably the best 2D fighting game nobody has ever played. That's a fact which I made up with statistics and science and stuff. Apparently it plays like the Street Fighter Alpha games or something. This might be true or someone else might have made up facts about it so who knows. It's basically about an all girl school where the different classes beat each other up for fun times. It's like Rival Schools, the Capcom fighting game that isn't Darkstalkers or Street Fighter... only that that's a lie and it's absolutely nothing like Rival Schools and has 2D hand drawn sprites with massive hands.

spamspamspamspamspamspam

I really wish the Saturn had online as this game is super fun and all of the girls have a ton of personality in their design. The girl from what I assume is science class throws a frog at you and another aggressively whacks flaming tennis balls nonstop at your face. There's a tiny cheerleader girl that is ridiculously hostile even when you knock the difficulty down to one star. In fact the way the super "120%" burning moves work is that they seem to be on a timer for most characters which means that you can do as many super moves as you want before the time runs out. (I think?) The A.I spams that shit nonstop. The fights are pretty flashy with a bunch of super moves being thrown out on both sides for a vast majority of most matches.

GANBAREEEEEEE!

I looked up what Ganbare meant using the Googles. Apparently it means do your best. It's good to know what it means when it is being shouted after every other punch thrown. It's nice that all of your school friends are behind you when pummeling another girl in the face, maybe if I had a little more support like this I wouldn't have gotten the shit kicked out of me at school so often... or if I had a weaponized frog.

Astal.

Pretty.

This is probably one of Sega's best and least known 2D platformers. If you look around the internet typing into the search "Wot is the bestest Saturn games to buy with money?" Astal is often one of the top answers. It was not released in Europe so I had to import it. Luckily Astal is super cheap in Japan and has fantastic box art. The story doesn't make any sense, but it's a short 2D platformer so who cares.

Possibly one of my favourite video game covers ever.

You play a little man that might have a hood or a cape that's probably his hair, and you can pick up trees and rocks, throw people, fistpound them in the air and blow real hard at like hot things all while hopping on platforms... y'know platformer things. You also have a little bird with you that can apparently be controlled by player two with a second controller. Also, during one boss fight where Astal is trapped you get to use your dashy beak attacks. I dunno what happens at that point in two player. I assume the second player fights the boss, I guess I'll never know so I'm not entirely sure why I'm typing this.

When not controlling the bird it will bring you health items that look like eggplants which is pretty nice. It's not the hardest game in the world and a lot of the challenge comes from cruelly placed enemy placement in the more precision based levels. It's pretty varied from start to finish, sometimes you ride a water dragon and other times you're protecting yourself from meteor showers or avoiding giant rock monster legs. Astal is a gorgeous looking game. The closest comparison would be the artwork from Vanillaware games with its big detailed sprites. It has this wonderful style to it that makes me sad that so few people have seen it.

(Better quality US opening that doesn't have the singing.)

Astal has weird hair.

Along with the beautiful visuals is maybe one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a game. Soft electric guitar solo's and floaty bass. It's super pretty and reaaally 90's, but sets the atmosphere perfectly. I adore this game and it was the first Saturn game I finished. It's such a shame Sega never got to do anything with this character. I love the Saturday morning cartoon-esque animated intro to the game. (Reminds me a little of the Sonic CD intro... kinda.) If you ever buy a Sega Saturn buy this game first.

End bit.

Probably the most important purchase after the console itself

So that's my blog. I had some thoughts about Nights, but realised very quickly that although I think that game is visually great and full of creativity, it's utter nonsense and not a lot of fun to play. Die Hard Arcade is full of all my favourite sequences from the movie like the part where Bruce Willis beat a man to death with a grandfather clock and fought a couple of mechs, but yet again not a lot of fun to play. Deep Fear is like Resident Evil with infinite ammo, a monkey and would give Naughty Dog a run for its money in the acting/storytelling department, Rayman still looks nice despite a lack of limbs and After Burner 2 will always be super fun.

This game has amazing box art, but is incredibly irritating.

I had a lot more things to say about my lovely Saturn, but this is probably far too long already. I want to blog more regularly and will hopefully stick to a semi regular schedule. For some odd reason I feel like I should apologize or something before I have even started. Maybe I'll get around to examining all of that hostility directed at family members I'm pretty indifferent towards and maybe next time I'll have things to say about shiny new games on shiny new consoles.

Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other.

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