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First of all, there are a lot of things wrong with this game. It's a WW2 stealth based title, where you're either completely invisible or in plain sight. The enemy AI is truly 8 bit levels of stupid, following pre-set patterns, staring at walls or deciding after 15 seconds that their comrade whose dead body is right in front of them must have had a heart attack and continue their merry patrol over his corpse. Generally if you're seen you might as well just restart from the last checkpoint (some of which are very poorly laid out) since although you have guns, it's extremely hard to target anyone who hasn't noticed you. Problem is, the last level abandons stealth almost entirely and forces you to run and gun, resulting in an incredibly difficult finale where you'll die over and over again.
But here's the strange thing - you'll keep on trying. When you do beat the game you'll be glad you stuck with it. Surprisingly, it's from a German developer, and it's interesting to see the people you have to kill talking about how they hope the war ends, or reading the letters they've written to their loved ones. It also seems as if our heroine might just enjoy her job a little too much.
Although the tone is dark throughout, the final level is utterly brutal, and conveys the horrors of war far better than the likes of Call of Duty ever could. There are no fountains of blood such as in Dead Space or Mortal Kombat, but the way the violence is conveyed here, largely out of sight, is far more shocking and memorable. Well worth picking up if you see it cheap.
Forza Motorsport 2
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Your initial impressions of Forza 2 may not be 100% positive. It doesn't feel that dissimilar from the first game and the first few race series take place on some rather dull fictional tracks. However, you'll just want one more race, then just another one, then you are hooked.
One of the best things about the money system is how you have to work to earn. Prize cars are worth nothing to sell on, so you can't simply keep doing the same race over and over to earn money. Also, the harder you set the game the more you earn, which encourages switching driving aids off. On medium or hard difficulty the races are very tight and you will have to learn how to follow the racing line, not ride walls or barge your way past a la Gran Turismo.
The main problem is a lack of tracks, as you'll soon find yourself racing on the same ones again and again. There isn't a massive amount of choice with the cars and the damage model isn't that realistic either. But it's so addictive you won't really mind. The custom paint schemes have been carried over and you really could spend days making your own paint schemes (although you can't paint race cars, which is a shame.)
This is a great game that you really need to own at this price. It's not perfect, but it has the most important thing in any game, the 'just one more go' factor.
Dead Rising (Classics)
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It sound great on paper, a shopping mall full of the undead and a mass of weapons to combat them with. Unoriginal yes, but the potential is there, especially when combined with the go anywhere 'sandbox' approach. For the initial first couple of hours there is indeed serious fun to be had running around hitting zombies with whatever comes to hand. Sadly there are a few flaws that pretty much kill the game dead in terms of enjoyment.
First of all is the save system. You can put up with just having one save (works well in Halo or Gears of War) but having to take a massive detour to get to said save points is just plain stupid. Beat a boss or plot point and you'll have to head off to save, and if said encounter left you with little health, then forget it.
Second, the A.I is useless. In fact it's possibly the worst example on a current generation console. It seems so simple, press the button to call to them, then they'll follow or you can assign a destination. Except in practice they'll freeze or panic then get surrounded by zombies and eaten. Trying to call seems to work only at point blank range, making rescuing any survivours an exercise in frustration.
Thirdly, there's the text. As already mentioned, it is absolutely tiny, so much so that if your TV is below 21 inches you might ass well forget it. To make it even worse you mission update will often arrive in the middle of battle or an important event. Answer and you'll be helpless until it's ended, hang up and it will ring again 10 seconds later. This just smacks of a lack of playtesting and it's hard to believe Capcom let such a small yet important fault pass by.
There are some positives, the voice acting is good and the sounds the weapons make is brilliant. However at the end of the day it's just too frustrating to be any fun. Yes games should be challenging, but not because of text you can't read or allies that won't do what you tell them to. A good game to play at your friend's house for 15 minutes, but prolonged exposure could cause some serious controller/screen interaction
30 Days Of Night: Special Edition (2 Discs)
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Vampires have long been depicted on the screen but of late seem to have had an image crisis. Their appearance in Underworld, Blade or Buffy has left them looking a bit lame. How refreshing then, that 30 Days of Night injects some fresh blood into the genre. The vampires depicted here are clever, brutal, cold and creepy.
Josh Hartnett plays the longer cop very well but all the actors put in a decent performance. Director Slade doesn't fall back on the cliches of jump cuts or false scares to try and create atmosphere. He instead builds up slowly and as the rapidly diminishing group of survivours tries to hide from a remorseless foe who could appear at any moment. It is a violent film, but all that blood seems to be there for a reason, as opposed to trying to shock or gross people.
You could argue that the timescale depicted seems a bit too far fetched and the ending is rather unlikely. They are minor problems however and doesn't detract from it being possibly the most refreshing horror since 28 Days Later.
I Am Legend
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First of all, it should be pointed out that this is less a film version of Matheson's novel, more a remake of the Omega Man. This in itself isn't a bad thing however, as the Heston version has dated somewhat and was ripe for a refresh.
Will Smith is certainly a fine actor and does very well here. You could argue he has too much charisma to play the loner type but he does very well with what he's given. The views of a deserted New York are brilliantly done and really help build the mood.
There is however one major flaw with the film. Put simply, the CG used for the monsters, or Dark Seekers if you will, is not up to the mark. They move and act in a highly unrealistic way and convey little threat or menace. For some reason, the team behind the film decided to go with entirely CG Stalkers and the result really doesn't work. It seems even stranger when you look at the brilliantly done cityscape and almost as if they spent so much time on the former, they had to rush the final effects. Without spoiling anything, the ending also has none of the impact of the book.
Nonetheless, this is still a good action film, well paced and written. A worthwhile purchase, but still seems like an opportunity missed.
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End
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Sequels to horror films can be dodgy at the best of times but sequels to average horror films are enough to set alarm bells ringing. How refreshing then, that Wrong Turn 2 turns out to be rather enjoyable.
Whilst the original was essentially The Hills Have Eyes in a forest, the sequel actually manages some clever and innovative touches. Ok, so the plot is abandoned once the bodies start piling up, but the use of head cams and sly digs at the phenomena of reality TV are quite well done. The film's main flaw is that it is a bit too eager to get to the bloodletting and reveals the bad guys far too soon. That aside, if you'd like something with buckets of blood to keep you amused for 90 minutes then this will be perfect.
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
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Just as a joke isn't funny if you have to explain it, so if you have to try and explain Anchorman to someone they wouldn't see the funny side. Looked at objectively the film really shouldn't work and you'd be forgiven for not liking it after the first watching.
Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy, a 70's new anchor with sharp suits and even sharper hair. Whilst the story isn't much to write home about, it's irrelevant as such concerns are lost in a mountain of jokes and brilliant off the wall humour. The reason why the film works so well is not just because of it's lead, but the universally brilliant supporting cast and cameos. Special mention must go to Steve Carrol as weatherman Brick, who comes very close to stealing the film. This is the type of film you could watch a dozen times and ever sitting notice a different joke or background reference. Anchorman is one of the funniest films of recent times and an essential part of anyones DVD collection.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby
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Subscribing to the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' school of thought, Ferrell and McKay followed on the inspired Anchorman with essentially the same tale set in the world of NASCAR. Yet despite the same oddball humour and Ferrell's undeniable screen presence, this effort never quite shifts into Top Gear and remains only sporadically amusing.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the film is that there is nothing new on show. The rise fall rise story is on that you'll have seen countless times before, or that whilst Anchorman's protagonists where a breath of fresh air, Talladega's are cliched. Perhaps it's just because Steve Carrol isn't present. There are redoubtably some great moments, such as the scenes talking about Jesus round the dinner table or Sacha Baron Cohen's entrance. Overall, this is one for Ferrell's fans rather than casual observers.
Family Guy: Blue Harvest (A New Hope Episode IV)
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Take one of the best films ever made and combine it with a very funny TV show and the result should be comedy gold. For whatever reason however, the outcome rarely rises above average.
Whilst the creators have an obvious love of the Star Wars films, and the series is ripe for a (decent) spoof, the main problem is that there aren't enough decent jokes. Whilst Stewie is excellent as Darth, there are less laugh aloud moments then your average 20 minute Failmy Guy episode. Which brings us to the second problem, length. 45 minutes really isn't enough and result in scenes being rushed through as quickly as possible so as to get to the next joke. Even at £10, the asking price is pretty steep. If they'd based it on the original trilogy then it would've worked better. As it is Blueshift stands as a let down and is hard to recommend to anyone other than Family Guy fnas
Still Remains - CD
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The decision to aim for a more diverse sound is a controversial one and not easy to do. Sometimes it can bring new fans and acclaim (Trivium for example) other times you can loose your identity and just become another clone (Bullet for my Valentine anyone?) Luckily it has paid dividends for Still Remains and they've broken from metalcore cliches to make one of the best albums of the year.
Tracks range from they light keyboard led Sleepless Nights Alone to the brutal Avalanche and everything in between. No song sounds like another, the only connection is there isn't a weak track amongst them. Even if you only have a passing taste in metal or metalcore this is essential. One of the best albums of 2007 in fact.