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Predators: Triple Play Edition (2 Discs)
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Predator set the bar pretty high in 1986. And although Predator 2 didn't really come close to meeting these heights, Nimrod Antal's 2010 offering comes pretty close.
The film focuses on a rag tag collection of bad asses who have been parachuted into what they eventually discover to be a Predator game reserve. Oh crap, i hear you say.
Several elements of this film deserve a mention. Nimrod Antal has kept the music of the first Predator film, and structures the film in a fairly similar way too (group together, slowly reduced in numbers, topless hero fights Predators), but introduces enough new ideas to keep it feeling fresh. His direction, under the watchful eye of Robert Rodriguez, is brave and focused, with few of the rapid fire camera switching scenes seen in AVP. He ratchets up the tension and keeps it there well.
And Antal should get a medal for a particular scene in the film where a protagonist fights a Predator in a moonlit field. Remember the Billy/Machete non-fight from the first one? Antal knew we all wanted to see that fight, so he has provided it. And this scene is a stunning piece of cinema, with no music, no special effects, just human vs predator with blades amongst the swirling grass of a field. Definately the film's highlight.
Acting wise, Adrien Brody does a great job as the leading male, the support characters are all rather appealing to watch, and Laurence Fishbourne's character is delightfully over the top.
The film suffers from a few problems-namely the fact that some characters are killed even though they are quite interesting and you'd like to see more of them. The different Predator factions in the film, although a terrific idea, seems to complicate a simple film, and doesn't really enrich the experience.
Overall, a film that should be watched. You will draw comparisons to the 1986 classic, and the original is still the best, but this is a worthy effort. Well done to Antal and Rodriguez.
Transformers: War For Cybertron
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Anyone played Transformers and Transformers ROTF on PS3? Well don't. And i'm a Transformers fan. 2 games that were, above all, BORING. Well, good news. This game isn't. In fact, it's a right laugh.
The style of the game is very definite: it's aimed at the 80s cartoon and fans will be delighted with the homages to this era. Even the trophy names are taken from the 80s cartoon movie.
It nails the three key elements of a good game; Campaign, Multiplayer, Online. It owes its success a little to Modern Warfare 2, as the Online style is lifted directly from it (classes, killstreaks, perks, etc) but the interest level is upped by the ability to transform and is fun from start to finish.
The single player campaign allows you to play as Autobots or Decepticons, and experience the battle for control of Cybertron. Fans will be delighted that Peter Cullen takes the role of Optimus (not Prime, you should note!) and does a great job as always. The other voice actors do a great job of their characters, and the script is tight and well delivered.
The 3rd person shooting gameplay is very solid, but a couple of key things are missing which would have improved it; a definite cover system ala Gears of War, and a bit more hand to hand comabt when you get up close, but you'll still have great fun clomping through the battered realms of war-torn Cybertron, shooting a Decepticon in the face, and then transforming and blasting off at high speed.
As a nice treat, the game features an Escalation mode which sees you surviving against wave after wave of robot enemies. Just like Nazi Zombies in World at War. Lots of fun.
It's impossible not to find this game fun. It has it's faults, but none that will inhibit your enjoyment. A great throwback to the 80s Transformers, the experience is tight and polished from start to finish. Very good.
Aliens Vs Predator
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Rebellion Software made the original AVP games back in the day on PC, and they were popular. REALLY popular. And so, when we heard Rebellion were reviving this game, we all licked our lips in anticipation. And the final result is.......mixed.
The sad thing about this game is that there are flashes of gaming genius in here, really top quality ideas that have been spoilt by, it would seem, pure laziness. Every single element of the game can be split into brilliant and poor, with no in between.
The story is identical to the AVP film. Humans find Predator pyramid with Aliens inside, release Aliens, Predators get cross and.......fight. And the story is the first good vs bad element. The three indivual stories for each species are really rather good, but you never feel as though they are three sides of THE SAME story. Rarely will you say "Ohhhhhh, that's why that happened when i was a Marine", and there's no fighting a boss battle, say, from each side. It's a missed opportunity.
Graphically, the game generally does well, with some good explosion effects, cracking level design and brilliantly graphic deaths. Predator trophy kills are wonderfully gruesome, as are Alien harvesting, but these also frustrate, as the control system is so picky that pulling these off is often difficult.
Enemy AI is similarly two-faced. First the good-the Alien AI is BRILLIANT. This is how Aliens should behave. They constantly run in the shadows, seek to attack you from unseen angles, and run at you when you least expect it. Rebellion have got this bang on, and fighting them is truly terrifying. And then there's the Marine AI. Utter rubbish. During firefights, they will take 'cover' in full view of your Predator target reticule, allowing you to pick them off. As you would expect then, the most fun is to be had as a Marine. Wandering the corridors of the colony with nothing but a torch and a pistol will scare you to death, and although the later levels aren't quite so scary, they're all pretty good.
Sound is the biggest area of good vs bad though. With this kind of game you expect the sounds from the films; the screams of the Aliens, the airy churn of the Marines' pulse rifles, the weapons sounds of Predator. They all sound truly ace. And the music is gung ho and atmospheric in perfect quantity, really fun to play along to-watch out for the nighclub scene-amazing. But then you have to put up with the voice acting, with three different voice actors saying "Don't relax just yet marines" over and over. Play Chronicles of Riddick or Uncharted 2 for how good voice acting should sound, and you'll see.
Multiplayer is quite a laugh, and although online battles tend to favour the Predator, the different races do make for some intriguing battles.
Overall, this game is fun enough to keep your interest, but scary levels and great music won't hide the shoddy aspects of the game. They won't spoil your experience too much and this is worth a good play, but it's a good game that could, and should have been great. Rebellion, make the next one, and ramp it up!
Pendulum - CD
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Pendulum have once again proved that although bands like Chase and Status are up and coming artists, they are STILL the band of the moment in the dance/rock world.
Immersion is at once head-thrashingly rocking and and great to actually listen to. Collaborations with Liam Howlett and In Flames stand out, and while some of the electronic noises on the album are rather simplistic, they switch, vary and keep you guessing at every turn.
Track to track, there are some real showstoppers. As soon as you recover from the brass crescendo of Watercolour, you'll get the thrashing rocking sounds of Crush, with lead vocalist Rob Swire on outstanding form once again. Under The Waves will make you feel like you're the lead character in a 90s amiga video game-gloriously simple but energetic at the same time. And The Vulture will have you humming the electronic riff over and over again.
An album where electroinca, rock and drum & bass always collide but never clash, Immersion is a homage to two different genres, the world of electric brilliance, and the world where you jump around like a lunatic to the sound of electric gutiars set to drum and bass rhythms. It's extreme in every sense, but there is rock, dance, drum & bass and even a little bit of dubstep-variety to suit every palate. Pendulum have learnt more and more with each album; Hold Your Colour was good but one sided, In Silico brought out the rock element in perfect harmony with the drum & bass. Immersion is a work of art bringing in all that is good in energetic music, and cranking it up like only Rob Swire and the rest of Pendulum can. Absolutely awesome.