Laika’s Spout – Game Reviews and Objectionably Sardonic Ramblings.


Dear Nathan Atkins… A Donnie Darko Tale

Okay, this is slightly different to my usual blog posts, in the sense that it’s going to take the form of a letter to Nathan Atkins. You probably don’t know who this man is and to be honest I’d be fairly surprised if you do, for the purposes of this post I actually had to actively search out this man’s name.

In an odd shift of tone, Donnie Darko is a brilliant film. If you’ve not seen it, then I honestly don’t know which rock and on which planet you’ve been hiding under since 2001, but I earnestly implore you to search it out and basically stop reading this blog right now because it’ll mean about as much to you as asking America politely to stop polluting our planet with their ridiculously big cars. I’ve already digressed majorly from what I wanted to write about.

Upon first hearing about S. Darko, the much anticipated, albeit with hugely bated breath, sequel to Donnie Darko, I was honestly excited. ‘Sweet, a sequel to one of my favourite films ever, sure it’s a big film to live up to in terms of greatness, but yeah, sure.’ Not that I could really see how they’d actually work in a sequel to such a film, by and large IMDB Top 250 films don’t generally have sequels, unless originally intended to from the word go. However, then I found out that it was going to feature only one of original cast members, who was too young to actually remember their time on set for the first film and had less screen time than virtually every other actor in the film. ‘Fresh new faces, this could be interesting!’ I thought, with a slightly glimmer of uneasiness about me, but still, it could’ve been good.

Then came the bombshell. Straight-to-DVD. I was nearly physically sick, I can’t name a single straight-to-DVD film that hasn’t been downright bloody terrible. See: animated Disney Sequels of long-dead franchises in order to gain what they call ‘life’ from a frankly long-dead horse. Not only that, but the original creator of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly, had absolutely nothing to do with the sequel in the slightest and wise was he to stay away from this absolute abomination.

Almost everything about this movie was terrible, the best way to describe it would be badly-writtten fanfiction by people who didn’t particularly ‘get’ the first film and if they did, were incredibly drunk upon each subsequent viewing and throughout the entire production process. For example, Frank. Frank was iconic of the first film, it’s good that Nathan Atkins recongised this ‘Guh huh huh, I can use this for my film, people will reconigse it. Guh huh huh.’ No, you stupid man. Any self respecting fan knows that Frank was in the first film because it was Donnie’s sister’s boyfriend in his Halloween costume; therefore the character of Frank only makes sense in this context.

Moreover, the cinematography was horrible, it was filmed in the same style as Neighbours, with a couple of awkward close-up shots, combined with frankly terrible casting. Someone from Twilight, someone else from Gossip Girl (some prick that doesn’t deserve my valuable time searching IMDB, but really does deserve a punch in the nose for being possibly the single worst character/actor in a movie, ever and… someone else from something equally bad.

Donnie Darko fans, by and large, are over-analytic cinematic pricks (Hi there!) and in order to ‘understand’ (in the loosest sense of the word) S Darko, you had to have seen Donnie Darko. But if you liked Donnie Darko, you’ll hate S. Darko because it essentially took everything good out of it, twisted it a little bit then attempted to enhance upon it, ultimately resulting in a twisted car-crash of inane plot, sci-fi nonsense, terrible CGI andnd a definite aura of self-parody.

But the worst part, guh, the worst part was the fact that in this ‘coming of age’ comedy/drama (which is essentially what it came over as, as opposed to the Philosophical splendour that was Donnie Darko) the paedophile/pervert/abductor/cunt gets away with it. Normaly I’d not have a problem with this sort of thing, granted that it’s done in a clever sort of way (See: A Clockwork Orange) Well, it’s not even that, it’s as if they basically forgot about that story arc, realised they’d run out of time and budget and just ended the film because they’d gotten bored.

I lied, that’s not the worst part. You know how in Donnie Darko he burns down Jim Cunningham’s house? Which leads him to be found out to have a ‘kiddy porn dungeon’? Funnily enough, Samantha Darko burns down a paedophile-clergyman’s Church. Why Nathan, you cunning devil you, you’ve directly stolen the same plotline, you craftly thing. No wait, there’s more. His cunt-sister has a copy of ‘The Philosophy of Timetravel’ by Robert Sparrow. This definitely shows how Nathan Atkins didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on in the first film because Donnie never received the book, he only received it in the Tangent Universe. Therefore his Physics teacher didn’t give the book to him so there is frankly no reason for her to have the book in any form.

I went into this film expecting the worse but this far exceeded my expectations, Nathan Atkins shouldn’t ever be allowed near a single piece of film, ever again, by penalty of being hung, drawn, quartered and distributed evenly into every 666th packet of all Nestle products. You stupid, stupid, stupid cunt.

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Hype claims another victim, fanboys unaffected.
February 2, 2009, 7:11 pm
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If someone asked me to name a few notable games coming out this year, my first thought would be in regards to Killzone to and Resident Evil 5, the demo of the latter coming out the today, the former on Thursday. I’ll be the first to admit that I was fairly anticipative of the forthcoming Resi 5, it being the principle reason my friend actually bought a Playstation 3, the fool not realising it was multiplatform, but by doing this actually making the better choice.

Being the semi-late-90’s gaming type I am, you’ll be surprised to know I’ve not actually played any of the previous four Resident Evil games, I’ve not even scene so much as a glance of any of them, so for the first time in a while, I was going into a demo with absolutely no pre-conceptions, bar the dull glow of hype that seemed to surround it, painting an illustrious picture of sheer liquid awesomeness. I won’t bore you with the background details because unlike me, you’ve probably played the game and are currently contemplating some form of suicide due to me boring you absolutely shitless.

I digress, you know how good the Resident Evil 5 demo was? It make me cancel my pre-order with ShopTo. I suppose this won’t so much be a review on Resident Evil 5, but more unto the entire Resident Evil series, as I understand they’re all virtually the same game, each with generation-specific graphical upgrades. The first alarm bells starting ringing on the first game screen, before the menu, a hoarse voice stating the games name in what I can only assume is a half-hearted attempt at, well, something. Tacky, that’s the word I’m looking for.

My main gripe of this game is the entire mechanics of the damned thing, the control scheme makes it literally impossible to run and turn at the same time, resulting in a series of run-pause-turn-pause-run sequences which really break the entire flow of gameplay, and a hairline fracture through the whole idea of ‘survival horror’. On it’s on, it’s not a major hitch, and I probably could have learned to love it. Note the past tense. But I guess I have the same problem with Dead Space that I have with this, why do developers insist on survival horror from a third person perspective? Both games feel forced and awkward, and it cracks immsersion over the back of the head with a wrench, as you instantly associate that you’re not important, you just incidentally happen to control someone who is. 

I lied about any of the above being the real problems with the game, oh, not by a long shot. From a survival horror game you would expect several things: a sense of danger, probably created through tension, suspense, combined with a sense of urgency. Second, scary monsters. Whilst Resident Evil 5 certainly ticks all of the boxes for the second category, the entire game seems to completely misentrepret the whole concept of survival. Imagine if you had to fend off waves of zombies with a limited supply of weapons? Scary, no? But for all the right reasons, you’re not going to just ‘happen’ to have a stockpile worthy of a the US Marines , so that works. However, envisage yourself in exactly the same situation, but with yourself glued to the spot, whilst it might serve for about 5 seconds of pulse pounding action thriller rollercoaster nonsense, it will only last 5 seconds because you would fucking DIE. I’m quite sure the lead-designer for Resident Evil 5 must’ve suffered a brain aneurysm during the conception of this game, because the notion of having to be static whilst shooting, and aiming down the ironsights, if a completely fucking ludacrous one. I’m unaware if the previous games were like this, quite frankly I’ll be fucked if I go and play them now just to prove a point to myself. But if they were, how the bloody hell have Capcom been getting away with it for 4 previous games? I’d have probably expected it from the first two, given console limitations and all, but the gameplay feature in RE5 is one I’d expected in a Newgrounds game devised by Robert Mugabe and voiced by Kerry Katona. Furthermore, I know the AI is meant to simulate zombie behaivior but, come one! It’s just downright lazy, I’d have thought enemy AI would be pretty much the first thing one would code for in a game like this.

From what i’ve read, these are the ‘improved’ controls, to give it a more ‘Gears of War’ feel. Personally I’ve not actually played Gears, but I’m quite sure that Capcom have far and away missed the mark on that claim.
If you’re torn between buying Killzone 2 and Resident Evil 5, for gods sake kill yourself, because the obvious choice is obviously Killzone 2, and anybody who disagrees shall be shot on sight. If Killzone 2 does a ‘Haze’, I will LITERALLY eat an entire jam-jar worth of pennies.



Play-as-you-moan – Brother’s in Arms: Hell’s Highway

I had to get a play in words into the title for some completely arbitrary reason, I’ve gotten bored of the ‘conventional’ methods of reviewing. Either down to sheer laziness, or the fact my memory is so cataclysmically awful, I’ll probably just end up making most of what I’m saying up.

The game in question is Brother’s in Arms: Hell’s Highway which, I KNOW, was released September 23rd, making this review a whole 109 days late, nearly a third of a year and if you don’t like that, then fuck you. Now for less hostility, and more on my feeble reasoning behind this massive delay. Lovefilm have a ‘priority’ system whereby you allocate your most desired titles as to be shipped most urgently, the problem with this is that when a new game is released, everyone with a lovefilm account, their mother, dog and kitchen sink’s will automatically want to rent it, meaning it’ll take about 3 ears to actually play the bloody thing. You’re probably thinking this isn’t a big-name title, and you’d be right, it isn’t, I’m just trying to justify to myself why on earth I’m reviewing this now, I guess. German Films, that’s why.

Now for the main event, which is quite likely to go monumentally badly:

Before I actually start playing, I probably should give a background incase somebody is still contemplating buying the game, the mad bastard.  BiA:HH was developed by a company called Gearbox Software, most well known for porting Half-Life and Tony Hawks 3 from pc to console and vice versa, respectively. So a previously virtually unknown dev. team is creating yet another World War 2 ‘epic’, and this one is the eighth in the bloody series! If counting the 4 mobile-phone versions, but shhhh.  Bizarre then, it was, that I found out these odd lot are rumoured to be the developers for Halo 4… I know Halo isn’t great but before playing this game I’m pretty sure it’ll be better than this.

Well, on the disc menu on the PS3 there’s not even any bloody music,  just a bit of fire, and two men staring angstily past the camera like some punk-pop musical nightmare. Ah, I see, fire, hell, clever.  Oh for fucks sake, I need four gigabytes to install a game I only plan on playing once? One second. Bye, bye PAIN!, you awful, awful excuse for £6.99. Gah, PixelJunk Eden isn’t even worth deleting, 109MB? I shit 109MB…  EUGH, all this time Mercenaries 2 has been taking up 2.5GB space on my hard drive, and they’d already stolen half an hour of my life. Still, if the intention of that game was to make you feel like you’d just been raped and pillaged, they bloody succeeded.

Finally, back to the review! Installing game data, it’s the basic PS3 stock screen, lazy bloody developers. Devil May Cry 4 may have been pretentiously awful, but at least it gave pretty pictures and a storyline history to not care for. 17% after writing that, how do you pass the time whilst a game is installing? I know, getting a drink, maybe… 83% now, horray! Although my drink is water that tastes like Halford’s, a very, very potent tyre-rubber taste, I fear my father my inadvertently be killing me with his cowboy-esque plumbing abilities.

Now it’s done, and powered by Unreal Technology, no less! The start screen is a bit boring, the same angsty man as before, staring off into the distance again, text in red, blood, clever. Marching band drums playing, ah yes, the army! Intriguing, I didn’t expect this game to have any multiplayer, least of all online multiplayer, sod the single player for now, lets go and check this out. Oooh, that marching band music is now into full swing, it’s very Band of Brother’s, or, for that matter, every World War Two film ever made, ever. Still, quite nice.

‘Searching for available games’, results: 6 servers. Haha, Christ, more than I expected. Only one of which has full connection, let’s go! Loading screen with a little more than nothing, I appreciate that. Well that’s a kick in the teeth, I can’t spawn, but on the upside my squad is raising the flag and has just won. The graphics, well, they look quite a lot like Red Orchestra, or another title from around the start of the Industrial Revolution. Well that was a one minute of a life I’m never getting back, that was possibly the worst online game I’ve ever played, it the buildings and players look like they’re made out of paper maché, the guns have about as much affect on the enemy as farting in their eyes, we won by just… I don’t even know how our team won, and the lag is just diabolical, and this is on full connection!

Maybe single player may quell my anger?  New game, hey? Casual or veteran? Fuck it, I’m going all out, it’s not exactly going to be Survivor+ mode now, is it? There’s another level, you have to play the entire game through to unlock it, fuck that for a game of soldiers. HAHA, It opens with a ‘Previously on Brothers on arms.’, how very, very inappropriate for such a game. What ensues is a bizarre sequence, detailing… something, it’s so arbitrary you wonder exactly what DID happen beforehand, it ends up being bizarrely compelling, visually pleasing, but fairly disorientating all at once. And whilst I was typing that, a girl was shot, a civilian, and they’re now in a place. Wow, these scenes are actually pretty well done, seems they probably blew the entire budget on shiny CGI and a competent scriptwriter. Although I still have no idea who is who, what is what, or when is when. Apparently he was a friend; the first sequence starts with ‘He’s gone, he’s gone’.

962 words and now I get to actually play the bloody game, hooray! Training enabled, please. Right stick for camera, good. Red screen on taking damage? Call of Duty, you sly devil you. X is sprint? In a first person shooter? Okay, I’ll let that slide due to the fairly realistic running-before-your-face-gets-bombed shakeyness. Ah ha, a deviation! Third person ‘dug-in’ mode, this could be interesting. Graphics aren’t anywhere near as good as the cut scenes, still they’re not bad. But nowhere near as good as World At War. R2 for firing? Are you out of your bloody minds, Gearbox? Conventions are conventions for a bloody reason, don’t break it if I’m heavily acclimatised to using R1. R2 for grenades, R1 for primary fire. It’s simple. Another new idea, ‘surpression’, a red circle appears above the enemies heads and they can be ‘suppressed’ by blind fire, once the red turns entirely grey mean they’re unlikely to shoot for fear of being blasted in the face by yours truly, finally a nuance of tactics in a World War 2 shooter! That genuinely took quite a while to kill them it felt like a firefight as opposed to a run and gun, which is exactly what WW2 was. It also lasted six years and often involved periods of grueling hardship, without gaining any ground for prolonged periods of time. Good idea, IN THEORY, but so was the idea for Haze. I can see this getting very bloody frustrating. On the upside, a couple of German’s have just ran screaming out of some double, doors, on fire, with fairly decent graphics, score one for the Allies! And genuine heat-haze above it, score another for realism. And all the lights have systematically been closed off in the corridor we’re in, dun dun dun! Everything has a weird green tinge, interesting… ‘There goes the lights’, my brother in arms tells me, got any other gems like that? The sky is blue, the grass is green, there will never be another good Sonic game. Shitcock! Cut scene, bomb, German’s, dead friend! I think… still, not very clear.

‘3 days earlier?!’ ah, another film technique… as well as a title sequence, a proper title sequence, with an equally insipid and ‘heartwarming’ voiceover from a character, may it’s you, I’m not quite sure. I’m sure this is the Band of Brother’s music, it even had the semi-operatic singing for Christ’s sake. Why is a US soldier, with a US flag on his soldier, talking like Hugh Laurie? Another cut scene, with genuinely decent dialogue, again, like a film. I can’t be bothered to listen to minor plot details whilst I type this, but it seems that whoever the ideas man was for this, desperately wanted to make a World War 2 film but knew they couldn’t possibly compete with Hollywood epics and thus, got hired by an unknown studio to try and bring his masterful idea to the small screen. If only Call of Duty had this level of cut-scenery, it would be the perfect game. Instead it’s just Kiefer Sutherland talking over quite bizarre, modern graphics, contrasting somewhat awfully to genuine footage. Why is it always good game play, but no emotional attachment to characters? Back to the game, we’ve just landed in a field… I think in France, cue that potentially plagiarized music again. Scenes of open countryside with planes overhead, how very poignant. Although I don’t remember any mention, anywhere, of gliders being used in world war two, gliders that house jeeps… Either my history is worse than I had intended or I’m about to start hating this game quite a lot.

This is getting quite tedious now, isn’t it? I can tell? No? Well it bloody well is for me. In a nutshell it’s exactly what I expected from a game play point of view, a mediocre WW2 shooter with a couple of interesting tweaks… I’m quite bored now, I’m sure you are too. All you need to know now is that for some utterly benign reason, you can blow up sheep on this game too. Also, I’m not doing this again, it’s too slow and took up 1700 odd words and I’d not even fucking really started playing yet.

I was going to post a Peep Show video up onto here, from youtube, but apparently they’ve put country filters on now and none of them I can watch. Fucking great, I can’t even watch that now.