This Week’s Film/Games Reviews — 29/06/09

June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Sigh, WordPress decided to delete my post content again. Luckily, I didn’t write too much, but it still really pisses me off. I contemplated switching to blogger for a couple of hours but after I cooled down I came to my senses. Serves me right for not hitting up the ctrl-s combo.

So, anyway, here’s what’s on the docket for this week:

1) My review of Videodrome (1983), another David Cronenberg classic which the gods at LOVEFiLM have seen fit to send me.
2) My review of Battlefield Heroes for the PC, EA’s grand experiment with the free-to-play, microtransaction-led revenue model. (Check out the awesome G.I. Joe inspired trailer here.)

I also had a chance to rent and play The Club this weekend, a game so colourless and bland that I’m sending it back two days later. It’s not a terrible game; it works fine on a technical level, but it’s so horribly dull to play. I don’t know, the fundamental concept is a good one but they’ve really missed something here.

‘The Fly’ (1986) 600 Word DVD Review

June 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 4 out of 5

The Fly follows on from Cronenberg’s Scanners (my review here), combining two of his all-time favourite subjects: body-horror and science fiction. Inspired by George Langelaan’s classic short story, it casts Jeff Goldblum in the role of Seth Brundle, a twitchy “mad” scientist who has built the world’s first teleportation device. Veronica Quaife, played by Geena Davis, is the hot-shot journalist looking for the next big scientific breakthrough. Before long they’re romantically involved, and, together, they embark on a very weird and very disturbing voyage of discovery.

Following a few unsuccessful experiments – with some very gory and unfortunate results, I might add – Brundle eventually makes his pair of “Telepod” devices work with a human subject. Or, so he thinks… On one ill-fated evening a rather intoxicated Brundle casts aside all doubt and tests the machine on himself. He comes out the other side seemingly unharmed and with a renewed lust for life. At first, Quaife is delighted with Brundle’s new-found, boundless, irrepressible energy, but as he starts behaving more and more erratically she becomes concerned – did something go wrong during transit?

It did. Brundle wasn’t the only one in that pod when it transported him: a fly slipped inside before the door closed shut, setting off a series of events so abominable as to set teeth on edge, fray nerves and send chills creeping up your spine.

“Be afraid”? Oh, no, “Be very afraid.”

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‘Wanted: Weapons of Fate’ Xbox 360 Review

June 25, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 4 out of 5

From beginning to end, Wanted: Weapons of Fate is straight-up, meaningless fun. It’s a fleeting cheap thrill; a sweet, sugary high. Nevertheless, it’s also a game which fails to evolve past its primordial origins, and it never really goes that extra mile or promises a unique experience. It is what it is: a nicely crafted, slick, delightful morsel of hollow entertainment, which never surprises or astounds but very rarely frustrates, either.

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"UK Indie Retailers Downbeat On PSP Go" Edge Online Article

June 25, 2009 § Leave a comment

Remember when I advanced some skepticism towards the PSPgo’s digital distribution-only model and its price point? Well, heeeeeeeeello! This, from Don McCabe, joint marketing director of indie gaming store Chips:

At the moment [PSP hardware and software sales represent] about five to six per cent of our overall turnover. You’d never throw that sort of percentage away – they’re not flying machines but they’re nice and steady. [But] on hardware [alone] you make next to no money and in some instances we actually lose money on each piece of hardware we sell, so if you’re going to just sell a piece of hardware and then never see that customer again, from a retail point of view you might as well just shoot yourself in the head. [my emphasis]

Ouch. But he’s absolutely right: why stock hardware which actually takes away business from you instead of giving it?

Supposedly, North American retailers have been taking to the PSPgo much more enthusiastically, and that seems to be in a great deal down to the PlayStation Network cards which you can buy in stores and redeem online. At the moment these cards don’t exist in Europe, but there’s no reason I can see for Sony not releasing them here. I would say they have to if they ever want to stop the product tanking before it’s even released.

This Week’s Film/Games Reviews — 22/06/09

June 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

A review incoming for Wanted: Weapons of Fate for the Xbox 360 and a DVD review of The Fly (1986), directed by David Cronenberg.

Brevity Is Not Always A Good Thing

June 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’m in the process of reviewing Wanted: Weapons of Fate and I’m in somewhat of a quandary. It’s a really fun game and, normally, I’d have no reservations in giving it a solid four out of five score, but it’s short – and I mean really short. If I were to make an estimate, I’d probably say the entire game lasts around six to eight hours (and that’s me playing the game through slowly). Even for a rental it’s a startlingly brief experience, and yet it when it was released it was classified as a fully priced game. And let me make this clear: Wanted: Weapons of Fate is most definately not worthy of that title.

And then I remembered Mitch’s post a while back. Note that I try not to read reviews of games I’m planning to review myself, as I often worry that somehow my opinion will be influenced by those of more notable writers, but in this case my general verdict pretty much mirrors that of Mitch. The issue is this: do I review the quality of the experience or the value of the overall package? I believe it has to be the latter – of which the former is included – because we’re not just reviewing a pure experience here; we’re evaluating the value of a commercial product.

Of course, if a game is utter rubbish then no matter what you do it will still be crap – regardless of length, unlockable features, game modes, etc. You can’t polish a turd and call it gold.

‘Zodiac’ (2007) 500 Word DVD Review

June 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 4 out of 5

David Fincher is one of those directors burdened with success. It has been eight years since Fight Club captured the 21st century anti-consumerist zeitgeist, and twelve years since Se7en shocked audiences with its unconventional twist ending. Coming from a background in directing music videos for some of the biggest stars in the music business, David Fincher is not exactly what you might expect; he’s calculated, cunning, stylish, brilliant, but there is one thing he isn’t: obvious.

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