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Crysis 2: Limited Edition
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Crysis 2 is resounding proof that there is a way to make s*** shine. This game looks great, but great graphics don't make you want to come back for more.
PC gamers were assured their platform would not suffer from Crysis 2 being released on consoles. However, we've been handed nothing more than a cheap console port. Make no mistake, this game was designed from the ground-up to work on consoles 1st - and PC 2nd.
The reason this is so bad, is that Crysis is no longer a game set in a free-roaming world where you can decide for yourself which direction to take. The level design is very simple: go through a 'corridor' then exit to an open space (or 'action bubble') have a fight with several foes, then exit through a 'corridor' to start the process over and over again. This is a design perfectly suited to console gameplay and technology limitations.
It is also here where the cruel console-oriented autosave system comes in. You will have to fight your way to the other side of these 'action bubbles' before your game is autosaved. And don't think you can simply cheat by using your cloak - enemies can see you regardless of your invisibility.
You'll encounter Quicktime events, a weird, awkward and intrusive 'lean' function that only works when the game intends it to be used, occasionally the odd left-over Xbox controller instruction... all thanks to the developers porting it from consoles.
Fighting the alien enemy is not an enjoyable experience. Make one mistake and they'll descend on you so quick and ruthlessly you'll be screaming with anger after the umpteenth time it's happened. Sometimes the game will let you stealth kill if you're close enough, other times it inexplicably won't give you the option. The alien AI is SO unbalanced; even if you've activated your invisibility, they run straight at you from a far and attack. Other times they get stuck on each other or on the landscape.
I could continue to complain why this game turned out to be such a disappointment (did I say the story/acting is desperately poor?) but I think you get the gist. Crysis 2 is a beautiful game but severely lacking in the enjoyment department... and crucially, it's another slap in the face to PC customers.
Alice In Wonderland (Tim Burton 2010)
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You would have expected something truly spectacular with the combination of a great old story like Alice getting a [sly] sequel by Tim Burton. That's right: this isn't a remake or a re-imagining of the original classic, it's an awful, ugly and poorly cast sequel masquerading as a remake.
I find it bemusing that such a big deal is made of Johnny Depp being the Mad Hatter, especially considering how poorly he portrays madness. Here, Depp is on a mission to drive us, the viewers, to the point of insanity with his bumbling self-pity.
By the end of the movie I really didn't care about Alice, I really didn't care about any of the characters. Especially after such an utterly appalling 'climax' - the theme of which seems an oxymoron to the charm and delicacy of the original, but ultimately this was the true sign that Burton really had absolutely no ideas of any value to offer. This is Burton's second big-budget modernisation of a great movie (Planet Of The Apes being the first) that he has dragged kicking and screaming into oblivion. Personally, I hope it's his last.
Aliens Vs Predator (AVP)
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I was fully prepared to give this game unconditional support and wanted to love it, being a big fan of the original two games by the same developers.
However, Alien Vs Predator is a big let down. It feels rushed, the controls are clunky and are not intuitive and the general content is vastly diluted from the original games.
Don't be fooled into thinking you get value for money because the game lets you play three campaigns as the Alien, Predator and human. All three use the exact same levels, just played out differently. But the biggest let down was the fact this game is not scary in the slightest.
The story aligns itself with the god-awful AVP movie, which I found infuriating to say the least.
On the positive side, the graphics are occasionally very good and the sound is still good.
All in all, a wasted opportunity.
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This game looks and feels so much like Age of Empires III it's uncanny, however it doesn't concentrate on people factions nor war - it focuses on building a productive and self-sufficient civilization.
I'm new to Anno, and often found it very tricky to begin with. Little things go unexplained which for me resulted in wasting lots of time trying to figure it out. Something I never understood is that the 'quick start' seems exactly the same as the campaign, although I could be wrong - proving how confusing Anno can be.
But once you crack the basics, you'll love this game. It's very difficult to put down once your city starts expanding and the game clearly has endless gameplay.
I would very much recommend it to anyone who wants a change from blowing things up, as this is one of the most relaxing games I've ever played.
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The mystery and misery of game-to-film translated atrocities continues with Doom, a movie that takes the cosmetics of Doom the game and the bare bones of a shallow action movie.
While it has a passing resemblance to the game, the story deviates to the point of total obscurity. In fact the minimalistic story becomes so difficult to follow it becomes pointless. What I DO understand is that the writers tried to rid us of the original plot and only due to pressure from fans did they base the movie on Mars - fundamental to the Doom franchise. The monsters are now scientific abominations rather than hell-risen demons and the heavy armoured military are now lightly clad SWAT-type goons.
One scene in particular that almost sent me walking out the cinema was the fight between the 'Hell Knight' mutant replacement and the big black guy who seemingly doesn't weaken no matter what crippling attack is thrown at him. Electrocute him, smash his face, break his back - doesn't stop this guy.
HOWEVER, there are some reasons to give this movie a peek. The Pinky demon, sorry mutant, bears a resemblance to the original design and is pretty cool -although again, unnecessary changes were made that weakens the character, such as wheels instead of back legs. The much talked about FPS moment is fun, if forced, and Karl Urban is likable and generally tries his best.
What alludes everyone except for Hollywood is why they change everything that made the original brand so good. If you're not a fan of the Doom games, there's no reason to watch this movie - there's endless supply of better action sci-fi out there and if you are a fan of the Doom games you might want to give it a chance.
The Simpsons Movie
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I had no expectations going in to see this film, although I thought early signs were poor with the trailer seeming to focus heavily on the whole 'Spider-Pig' malarkey. Indeed the DVD menu and all other coverage seems dependent on this small and lightly humorous scene from the movie.
Basically, the film rips apart old episodes and sticks them together to form what is essentially a cash-cow of a movie. I can only think of one single laugh-out-loud moment but even this seemed a bit too reminiscent of an old episode scene.
By the end you'll realise that Simpsons is dead and this movie was the last dying breath. It is a vague attempt to milk the franchise in an almost disrespectful way and the writers should perhaps pour their energy into Futurama.