Archive for the Review Category

Hey, listen!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by randomintermissions

Hey you, stupid, what are you doing right now? Sat around, being bored? Furiously masturbating to while away the fruitility of existence? Well if it’s the former, you are in for a treat. If it’s the later, the get the hell off my blog, finish your business, clean up, wash you hands and then return for what follows.

What Follows:

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires the demons and the forces of … No wait that’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But right now there is a band, and this band will put a smile on your face as you lean back and contemplate their sound waves. I am of course talking about Collider.

... Collider (The Band) ...

Now I used to be at university with one of the band members, so maybe I am a touch biased, but that is no excuse not to get up off your arse (actually you may need to stay seated) and begin frantically following the links provided for you below. Need more convincing? Well I took the time to speak with Collider to give you a nice introduction and hopefully prod you in the right direction:

The Line Up:

Mase: Drums

Bill: Guitar, vocals, programming

Simon: Bass

... Here they are ...

The Influences:

“Our influences are Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Goodspeed etc…” [Yes that is a quote straight from the horses (or bassists) mouth just today]

Any Other Business?:

“We make our own instruments, awesome visuals, we are also very tight and very loud.”

——————  ——————  ——————  ——————  ——————  

But wait, before you close your internet window, there is more! I know I can spin a story from time to time, but it isn’t just me who enjoys Collider, no sir! My house mates and everyone who has seen them play also adores them!

Don’t just take my word at face value, check out what these fine reviewers think:

“COLLIDER – Radiohead gun it down the slipway as Mogwai fail to hit their breaks at the junction and Sigur Ros plough straight into the whole shebang.”

Bugbear (www.bugbearbookings.com)

“Most effective use of a nintendo DS I’ve seen by a band! Post rock guitar lines steeped with radiohead urges while pushing everything forward with one of the most energetic drummers I have seen. Hugely promising and I for one, want more.”
Screaming Ground

“think BJORK, RADIOHEAD / PORTISHEAD with their own twist and you start to get an idea of who Collider are and what they can bring about….AMAZING”
Vestival

“COLLIDER sound a bit like the end of this world, or the start of the next one- subtle mixes of low-fi and incredible electronic wizardry. Much of the band’s equipment has been created, and programs written by the band to create their own truly unique sound that pays homage to the idea of really original music! Really exciting stuff….!”
Socialicious

Homework:

Home

Twitter

Facebook

Soundcould

And if you really like them (as well you should) then you can also buy stuff…

... Funk yeah! ...

Bioshock 2 (Xbox 360)

Posted in Games, Review with tags , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by randomintermissions

... no caption required ...

I deliberately kept my mouth shut after completing the original Bioshock. I am known amongst my friends for accidentally giving away spoilers, and although this has not occurred in a long time, and the fact that I played Bioshock long after realise, it was a risk I was not willing to take.

Therefore reviewing Bioshock 2 is a bit of a logistical nightmare. I want to rant, rave and scream about it for various reasons (pros and cons) but shall have to stick to a ‘broad’ overview without getting down to the nitty-gritty through fear of letting some small detail slip. However, be warned that some links may (and some certainly do) contain spoliers.

So, without further ado, here is a roundabout review of Bioshock 2:

The first and most important thing to note (and this should be common knowledge by now!) is that this time, you play a Big Daddy; not just any Big Daddy, but the original. This in itself brings a whole new feel to your movement through Rapture and the designers have done well to not only slap on a nice frame to represent your helmet, but also added a real sense of weight to the characters movements, most notably whilst jumping. Thrown in to boot are a host of different weapons, amongst which there is the iconic (and possibly my personal favourite) drill. Get a couple of upgrades on this bad boy and no splicers are going to want to mess with you, although they will probably give it a go just for kicks!

However, don’t expect it all to be roses. Even with all of this thrown in the game play still very much resembles that of the original game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just be wary not to expect too much.

... Daddy's Home ...

Graphically, Bioshock 2 is not too dissimilar from its predecessor. A few updated character modules (a few of which look considerably better in my humble opinion), but the environment itself remains in the most part untouched. Again I tread on uneven ground making reference to another “common knowledge” fact, but there are underwater sections that you must transverse to see you safely between certain areas. These in themselves are not added anything hugely exciting in terms of game play, but change your perspective of Rapture and give a scale for the shear size of this under-water ‘utopia’.

... Say What Now? ...

One vital thing that I must call to everyone’s attention is the change in transport system in the game. Bioshock gave us biospheres that allowed a user not only to travel forward to a new area, but also to back-track and re-explore certain areas for missed items (the franchise being all about exploration and discovering the world you have been thrust into). This is not the case for Bioshock 2, and although I will not revel the method of transportation, you will find it very liner, once you leave a level, there is no returning. This not a game for anyone hoping to blap through the story quickly and drop back in later to mop up the bits they have missed. So many of the pickups and audio logs (again a feature from the original game) reveal vital clues to the plot, characters, areas and the world of Rapture, truly immersing the player in the environment. Miss them and a key aspect of the games intention could potential be lost.

As if I haven’t gone on enough, there is also a multiplayer mode to discuss. Don’t expect anything fantastic here but it’s a nice little touch featuring the usual game play modes (all with rather clever names) and a very simplistic levelling up system. The most notable feature I have found to date is the pre-lobby section which sees you in your apartment in Rapture and allows you to customise your character and load-out before bloody battle.

... Just a Teaser ...

In terms of plot, there is very little I can say without giving away potential spoilers so again I am going to stick to generalities. I enjoyedthe game a lot; a small criticism being that, although many aspects have changed and there being a new plot (obviously) this does feel rather like Bioshock 1.5. The story is solid, with a host of new characters / enemies, developments, history lessons on Rapture, its people and progress since the first game. To top it off, some interesting elements are thrown in throughout that mix-up the game play and cement the developing plot throughout both games.

And my final thought? Well worth buying as it is going to take a couple of play throughs to truly appreciate everything that has been built in to drive the story along, but don’t expect anything hugely spectacular in terms of new game play style.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

8.5 / 10. (Two thumbs fresh seal of approval).

The Princess Bride

Posted in Books, Film, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by randomintermissions

“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poisson. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”

That’s a hell of a tag line for any book or film. In actual fact the aforementioned quote spans both of the aforementioned genres.

... images courtesy of Google ...

The Novel

The Princess Bride by William Goldman is a masterpiece of adventure, action and romance, soppy enough for the ladies, but with enough comedy and action to suck in even the machoist of guys. To go into plot details would do nothing but spoil it, but suffices to say it’s a modern fairy tale of the beautiful Buttercup and her love; Westley the farm boy. When Westley departs to make his fortune, Buttercup vows never to love another. Then one sad morning, news is delivered that Westley’s ship has met with none other than that of the Dread Pirate Roberts, a pirate so ruthless that he never leaves survivors. Heartbroken, Buttercups charms soon draw the attention of Prince Humperdinek, who will do to any lengths to make her his wife, and thus the plot is afoot.

The plot alone is brilliant, but Goldman uses a device I have never seen before or since reading it. Goldman claims in his introduction (and frequent interruptions to the prose) that he is merely presenting us with an abbreviated version of one S. Morgenstern’s novel, “The Princess Bride”. Not being one for over-analyzing texts, I can quite honestly say I have no idea what Goldman was attempting to achieve by doing this, but it certainly makes interesting and comical reading.

But what of the film?

I am very much against film adaptations of novels, but ever rule has it exceptions:

  1. Jurassic Park.
  2. The Lord of the Rings.
  3. The Princess Bride.
  4. I am sure there are others… suggestions on a postcard please.

The Princess Bride is a special exception here, as the screenplay was actually written by Goldman himself and so this is a simplified version of his vision, but retaining the suspense, mystery, action, adventure and comedy; for once, nothing is lost in translation bar a few additional scenes which flesh out the setting in the novel.

The moral of the story (pun not intended at first, but then I kind of liked it, so decided it could stay): read the book, watch the film, enjoy.

Conclusions

Posted in Games, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by randomintermissions

As promised, here are my final conclusions on Prototype…

meh

meh

A week or so ago I posted my initial reactions to Prototype, and I feel that it is only fair that I follow up with some conclusions on the game now that I have completed it.

It is perhaps unsurprising that I have traded it in. That’s not to say it was a terrible game, blapping around the city, messing about with the powers, random fights with infected… all this kept me amused for some time, but I still feel that it lacked two fundamental points:

1) Originality: I struggle to find anything in Prototype that I could not get from a Spiderman game. Movement round the city, fight sequences, the upgrading system; these are all very reminiscent of any Activision sandbox / open-world game… and again I return to Spiderman. The only real difference is instead of web-swigging, you hover.

2) Plot: I found this very lacking and jumbled and obviously I shall not be going into details (spoilers and the such), but I did find that there was barely a thin piece of cotton holding the thread of this game together in terms of story.

I would recommend Prototype if you are looking for some mindless ‘ fun’ gaming; you’ve just got in from work, you want to zone out and mess around. But if you are looking for an emotive and gripping plot with a shred of originality you are in for a disappointment. Maybe I began the game with the wrong attitude and took other peoples rave reviews too literally, but I just didn’t feel the passion for the game I was expecting. Metacritic is beginning to reflect this, and Prototypes score is beginning to drop… try a rental and see how you feel.

Having said all this, Black Box Conversations [Rob Taylor] has very a very different opinion and he may post his own review on completion.

_________________________________________________________________

In other news, I picked up Call of Duty: World at War when I traded in Prototype, a game I have been avoiding for a long time as I was expecting a direct rip from CoD: Modern Warfare, just with a World War II setting. So far I have been pleasantly surprised, some of the set-pieces actually provoking a vocal response of wonder (you just cannot beat a good FPS in my opinion). Review to follow once completed.

Mediocre Again

Posted in Music, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2009 by randomintermissions

Taking Back Sunday and Brand New (for those in the know) have always had a very strange relationship, being friends, falling out over a girl, making up again… you know, the usual teenage angst stuff… but they have one fundamental difference.

Brand New are in my subjective opinion (and after all, that is all a review can ever be, subjective) have gone from strength to strength with each album, evolving and re-imagining their sound, from their humble beginnings with the raw sounding Your Favorite Weapon to the grandioso The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me.

Onwards and Upwards

Onwards and Upwards

On the flip side of the proverbial coin, you have Taking Back Sunday who burst onto the scene with the instant hit Tell All Your Friends, followed 2 years later by Where You Want To Be. Even in the absence of John Nolan who had moved on to start Straylight Run with his sister Michelle, this was a still a strong and sing-along-able follow-up, just missing a little of the original spark.

Another 2 year gap, and then came Louder Now, and this is when things began to take a turn for the worse. Now that’s not to say that Louder Now is a bad album, but it certainly falls into the vain of attempting to please the masses instead of focusing on what had previously made Taking Back Sunday so likable. Still, one or two stand out songs presented themselves from the midst of the chaff, and Taking Back Sunday were forgiven for redirecting themselves towards a more mainstream market.

And then there was New Again. How can I describe this album without sinking into obscenities that would make my mother weep? Generic mindless dribble that plods along without any passion, originality or excitement. We were promised great things, a return to the days of Tell All Your Friends, a return to form. In reality it is lacklustre 38 minutes of disappointment. Every track starts with promise, a sense that it could go somewhere, but when the chorus comes, it’s the same ploddy dirge heard in the previous song; a generic rock / pop work that even makes Fall Out Boy’s latest album at least seem harmless and bouncy. Further description is hard to muster as there appears to be no saving graces, nothing stand out, nothing worth mentioning.

What went wrong?

What went wrong?

This is without a doubt a non-event and a great shame. It is looking less and less likely that Taking Back Sunday will ever produce anything comparable to Tell All Your Friends again.


Initial Reactions…

Posted in Games, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by randomintermissions
...is exactly how it sounds...

...is exactly how it sounds...

Prototype is the first of my “eagerly awaited games” of ’09, in fact I was so keen to pick it up and start playing that I didn’t even return home to pick up any old games to trade in, choosing instead to simple pay the £39.99 retail price.With glittering reviews flooding in left, right an centre I could sense a chill of excitement flood through my as I placed the scratch-less disc into my XBOX 360.

Please bear in mind that what follows are my initial reactions after 2 and 1/2 hours of game play, there will no doubt be another review upon completion of the game.

The reality of Prototype is sadly rather disappointing. Imagine GTA4 (without the complex and immersing story-line) crossed with one of the Spiderman games and you will have a close approximation of the generalised game play. Maneuver around the city using an incredibly familiar “running up the side of buildings” move (Spiderman: Web of Shadows) and a little bit of hovering before descending on an in-progress battle or being spotted and subsequently shot at. That’s not to say this is necessarily bad; I enjoyed the Spiderman games for sheer “running around a city and hurting people” funability, and it did keep my playing solidly for two and a half hours, but already I am beginning to sense the “once I have completed this, I should trade it in” feeling.

This feeling is intensified by the incredibly well thought out, but poorly executed plot [spoiler warning]. Without giving too much away; you are a prototype (shock horror) genetic experiment with crazy super human abilities including hovering, changing your hands into a variety of weapons and the ability to absorb / clone pedestrians / the military / other characters to gain knowledge and experience (known as EP) and as a disguise. Oh, and you have no memory, so you are piecing together how you came to be by absorbing peoples memories and putting together a “Web” of events. All sounds pretty fun right? Wrong. The in game cut scenes flow with all the grace and style of a a drowning cow with very little continuity and weak voice acting.

This may sound condemning, but so far Prototype has failed to live up expectations. Yes it’s fun, and yes I want to complete the game, smashing and bashing my way around, defeating foes, but it just doesn’t feel as immersing as the likes of GTA, COD or Bioshock had (and from initial reports, should have had). In fact it feels more like a prototype (pun almost intended) released for testing and to gage public reaction.

I aim to follow this up with another review once the game has been completed, so check back… but my current rating is as follows:

*** out of five, recommend rental (at least initially)

_______________________________________________________

Additional:

Modern Warfare 2 (COD4 2, sort of) 10/11/09

Bioshock 2, Sea of Dreams 30/10/09

GTA (DLC) The Ballad of Gay Tony Coming Soon

Up

Posted in Film, Review with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2009 by randomintermissions
... and away

... and away

A Pixar / Disney (yes, unfortunately Disney are involved too, they always will be, now owning Pixar) release is always cause for much excitement, and their latest film certainly does not disappoint.

From their humble beginnings with the first full length computer animated film, Toy Story (1995), Pixar have gone from strength to strength, bringing us such wonders as Toy Story 2 (1999 – there had to be a sequel), Monsters Inc (2001) and The Incredibles (2004). Then in 2008 Came what can only be described as a mind blowing triumph, Wall-e. After the affectionate and imitatable wailings of our robotic hero in one of Pixar’s most adult themed movies to date, it was difficult to see how they could follow it up.

Enter 78 year old Carl Fredricksen, tired of city life and with a promise to keep. One house floating by 10,000 helium filled balloons, a collection of sidekicks ranging from Wilderness Explorer, Russell, a Dog called Doug and a bizzare, female bird like creature (affectionately called Kevin), hilarity quickly ensue, leading to yet another masterpiece.

Touching to start, Up pulls on the heart strings before turning it’s theme to feel good, comedy, adventure romp, making the impossible seem possible.

Turning to a more technical note, the animation is truly another leaping bound towards photo-realism (seriously, check out how darn good the balloons look)! It would not come as a shock if Pixar were to be the first company to release the first photo-realistic, computer animated short / full feature film. Time will tell on this one as although Pixar’s scenery is looking considerable more realistic with each film, there is a real sense that they are trying to establish a definite style with their human animation that moves away from realism.

With two consecutive (and clearly now a third) wins of the Best Animated Oscar, we can only hope that this year will be Pixar’s chance to (at the very least) pick up a nomination for Best Film.

Best film of 2009 so farr, be sure to check it out.

___________________________

Suplimental:

Toy Story 3 on it’s way in 2010.