Sunday, 27 February 2011

Super Smash Brothers: Brawl

Graphics: 8/10

The graphics are pretty, and well-designed, but they're not exactly cutting-edge. I don't imagine they could push the Wii's hardware to the limits in terms of graphics, 'cause of all the stuff going on, on-screen.

Music and Sound: 10/10

Every character has a soundtrack from their respective games. It doesn't get much better than that. Sound effects are also pretty good, but sometimes they feel like they lack "umph".

Gameplay: 9/10

Anyone who has ever played a Smash Bros. game can skip this section.
Brawl lends itself to the same sort of gameplay that has been present in past Smash Bros. games, although I've been told it's not much different from the Gamecube version. Why mess with success? Brawl packs quite a wallop in terms of playability; unlockables galore, unique items to keep battles fresh, et cetera.
The Smash Bros. games, for those who don't know, are massive... brawls... in limited arenas. Players choose a character at the start of the match and try to knock the tar out of their opponents. There are tons of moves to learn, and lots of weapons that can be acquired mid-brawl, but it all boils down to fighting. The fighting tends to get old quick, however; I often found myself wishing a brawl would be over, just so I could go do something else. The game is excellent, but other than unlockables, I see no reason to play single player. Multiplayer can be fun, but you ought to find good players, 'cause winning all the time sucks too.
Online components make finding opponents much easier, but that's not for everyone.

Dialog and Story: 3/10

The story mode was absurd.

Controls: 7/10

Controls are very solid, but having multiple buttons to do the same thing is redundant. They're customizable though, so it can be fixed.

Closing Comments

Brawl is a game that is worthy of the title "killer app". But don't plan to play single player any longer than you absolutely have to.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Wolfenstein 3D on Xbox Live Arcade

(Trying a different direction for a review, starting with this piece for Wolfenstein 3D played on the Xbox Live Arcade.)

Graphics: 7/10

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Old graphics were great for their time. In Wolfenstein, however, you basically have a handfun of enemies and three textures for walls. None of the graphics have been upgraded or polished for the XBLA release. Although Wolfenstein is a piece of gaming history (the grand-daddy of first-person shooters) it's still not a whole lotta fun to look at.

Music and Sound: 5/10

Some of the music is decent, the rest is throwaway. The nazi's voices are always amusing, though. "HALT SIR! AIEEEE!"

Gameplay: 9/10

As this is the game to which all Call of Duty-playing gamers owe their respect, it would be impossible for this to get a bad score. This is first-person shooting in its most basic sense. No jumping, no crouching, no reloading, ducking behind cover and trying to memorize four-hundred button combinations to throw a grenade, et cetera. Just run, sprint, shoot, and open doors and/or secret doors. There are, of course, drawbacks, since this game was originally released before my computer had a color monitor; there is no inclination nor declination of the Z-axis. That is to say, there are no stairs. There are no raised or lowered platforms. No pits, no hills, no nothing. Just plain, flat floor, throughout the entire game. It makes every level seem like the previous one.
As with most first-person shooters, there are puzzles to solve, enemies to kill (including GERMAN Shepards... GERMAN) and Nazi gold to collect. Aside from the aforementioned every-level-looking-the-same thing, Wolfenstein has fantastic gameplay -- unless you demand crouching, jumping, freelook, grenades, et cetera, in which case, you ought'a show some respect to your (first-person shooter) elders, you ungrateful ass.

Dialog and Story: 7/10

I never really did figure out what was happening in this game. story-wise. All I know is that the baddies are Nazis, and Nazis are bad.

Controls: 9/10

Analog stick to move, right trigger to shoot, A button to open doors and/or secret doors and left trigger to sprint. Let's be honest, though, you could have assumed all of that.

Closing Comments

As dated as it is, Wolfenstein is pure retro badassery. If you haven't played it in some form already, 400 Microsoft Points is a steal. You might as well get it, so that you can brag to your buddies how you "were there" when the FPS genre got its teeth into gamers. Even though you probably weren't.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 25 February 2011

Considering different reviews

Hey, my loyal blog-pals!

I was thinking about moving a bit beyond movie reviews and doing video games and such, too. What does everyone think?

Leave a comment below!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Dead Like Me: Life After Death

The Forward

After a stunning television run (I watched every episode of the television series, Dead Like Me) it seemed like a natural step to follow it up with the movie.

The Story

The movie takes place a mere five years after the television series, and therefore, if you haven't seen the series, you may not take much away from this review.
If you think everything has changed in five years, you just hit the nail on the head, Peanut. Georgia "George" Lass has returned! So has Mason, the screw-up, and Roxy the "She-Could-Kick-Your-Ass" cop. George's mom and sister are back, too, and that's about where the similarities end.

Five years can change a lot.

Seems Rube, the cool boss-man from the television series is gone, without even a cameo appearance in the movie. Daisy, the slut, is played by a starkly different actor, as is Un-George (the What-George-Looks-Like-to-the-Living, if you follow me).

Anyway, the deal is, George, Mason, Daisy and Roxy are getting a new boss, and this new boss is a total jerk. He intentionally misleads them about times for reaps and whatnot, because he just doesn't care. This causes all of the reapers (except our heroine, George, of course) to go a little crazy. They begin indulging in selfish acts, and not caring what happens, 'cause, well, they're already dead. What's the worst that could happen?

The Review

Mason is friggin' hilarious. Other than that, the movie is a never-ending "meh"-fest. We're re-introduced to every single thing that happened during the TV series, despite the fact that no one would watch the movie unless they had watched the TV series. Reaps don't happen often, and those that do are boring and entirely non-creative. It seems like someone who had watched a few episodes of the TV show decided to throw together a movie plot, to cash in on the darkly-hilarious original.
During the TV series, George always had this "I don't give a rat's ass about all this stuff going on around me" attitude, but during the course of the movie, I realized that this attitude had been given toward the movie's plot itself. All of the actors (though most notably, the one that plays George) seem to be half-assing their acting job, and doing it 'cause it's an easy paycheck.
Right toward the end of the movie, a few new pseudo-plot-lines are opened (Post-Its from the sky!?) but they're left to dangle. Realistically, I'm not sure I even care where these plot-ropes lead anymore.

The Summary

Overall, Dead Like Me: Life After Death is one Helluva mixed bag of nuts. It stays true to the Dead Like Me conventions in some senses, while just tossing out other aspects as it suits the plot of the movie. If another Dead Like Me film is on the horizon, they're going to have to put a lot more depth into it, in order to keep audiences entertained.

The Good+Mason, Mason, Mason
+Story is decent enough, but seems a little... flat
+The ending was pretty good, particularly George's last line
+Acting picks up a bit, about half-way through
The Bad-Missing characters and actors that I miss!
-Confusing, nonsensical pieces of story that are only half-explained
-Dull acting (including voiceovers) make you wonder if you should just turn the movie off

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Beyond the Seventh Door

The Forward

Free movie channels are free for a reason.

The Story

This movie is supposed to be about an ex-con and his girlfriend who rob a rich guy's castle, but get trapped in seven chambers of horror, which they must conquer or die. Sounds good in theory, right?
A quick example of a trap: The secondary character, a lady, falls through a trap door into a pit. Her boyfriend, the main character, stays at the top of this pit, and listens to her screaming in horror! What's wrong with the pit-chamber, you ask? Well, it seems there are three small holes on one of the walls. She yells up at the guy "There are holes! They're everywhere!"
There's a dead guy in the pit, conveniently enough, and "he looks like he drowned or something"! The old "dead" guy twitches as the poor girl tries to pluck a conveniently-placed screwdriver from his hands. She attempts to use the screwdriver to open a spontaneously-available hatch on the wall, by unscrewing small panels. After two screws are removed, water starts pouring into the room through the aforementioned three small holes.
Rather than continuing the unscrewing, she decides to stop, and whine at her boyfriend. She starts ripping off her clothing to plug the water-spraying holes. Now, here's the thing, if the water were rising, and the hole she fell through is in the roof, could she not just go back up the hole as the water rose? Of course not! The boyfriend goes back to a previous room that has an extension cord for some reason, and lowers it down to her.
The cord isn't long enough! He takes off his belt to make it a smidgen longer, and she gets ahold of it... but he can't pull her up because it'll break!
"Don't worry! The water will be gone soon!" he says.
"But I can't feel my legs!" the girl whines.
"You know, your legs, I never know[sic] how... how sexy they look!" he coyly states.
What a guy, huh?
Anyway, the water starts draining, exactly as the dude predicted. He hops on down, and warms up the girl's legs with his face, for some reason.
"Oh, make love to me!" the girl demands, as the screen fades out.
After a quick, four-second break, the scene cuts to the guy unscrewing the panel that his girlfriend was too useless to unscrew, previously.
The trap is defeated!
The man sees an open suitcase full of money on the other side of the screwed-on panel, and attempts to scream "I can't believe it!" but instead, a garbled mess of gibberish falls out of his face and goes to warp speed into the rear end of an unnamed mammal. A voice comes over a well-placed speaker, saying that our hero can just leave the treasure and walk out an honest man. Damn it, he came this far, he deserves SOMETHING, right? After some cautious examination, the man and his gal discover that the suitcase is attached to a bomb, via a lever and a very noticeable cable. The guy, acting on the side of caution, only grabs a couple bundles of money off of the top of the pile, then he and his girlfriend get into an elevator located right beside the suitcase, to leave the old man's castle.
Upon deciding that being free isn't good enough, our protagonist goes back up in the elevator. He starts grabbing bundles of whatever-the-hell-currency-that-is and wrapping them in his jacket.
The scene cuts away to a random hotel room that I have never seen before. The girlfriend is showering.
Back at the castle, we see our ol' friend being greedy and grabbing more and more bundles of cash. As he takes the last wad of dough, the lever lefts, and the bomb detonates.
Back at the hotel, a woman who looks nothing like the woman shown throughout the rest of the movie is crying on her bed. Some guy I've never seen before comes in, in a wheel-chair, and mutters something inaudible at the woman, then gives her "One thousand, as agreed." There's allegedly a sub-plot about this girl luring guys into the castle for this old man's kicks, but I've stopped caring. "One more thing," he adds, "you don't have to make love to all of them."

The Review

If it were possible to get over the main character's terrible accent, maybe I could understand a little more of whatever-the-Hell-was-going-on in this film.
Unfortunately, as it stands, there were about four sentences I could figure out, and all of them were by the girl or the old man.
The entire thing felt like a waste of time. I found no enjoyment in this film (if you care to call it that) and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. That's right, David, I won't ever make you watch this.
As if it wasn't clear enough, this movie is Canadian. Anyone surprised by that?

The Summary

There are no redeeming qualities here. If you read my review, thought to yourself "It can't be that bad!" and want to actually watch it, then you're stupid. Go away.

The GoodThe Bad
+I watched some pretty interesting
commercials while this was on TV.
-Terrible acting
-Terrible story
- Lazar (the star of this movie)
looks like the guy who played Liu
Kang in the Mortal Kombat movies,
except older and sculpted out of a
block of styrofoam by a monkey
that had been set on fire

Rating: 0/10