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


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.

 


Advertisements


Germans, Little Girls and Christians. A fun night out for sure.

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas… everybody loves Christmas! Well, not exactly. I spent my Christmas watching German movies and playing Bioshock, which I’ll get to later. And before you start, this isn’t going to be a ‘Christmas is shite! Burn Christmas!’ rant about nothingness.

I actually feel quite sorry for Christianity, sure Christmas is the most widely celebrated public holiday in the history of Western culture but it’s been bastardised beyhond all recognition. The clue is in the name, and Christmas should really be all about the birth of Jesus (although I’ve never really understood why, if that’s his birth, the Gregorian year starts six days later), a very, very religious celebration. I’m not sure about places like America, I understand their church-going population is much greater than on our miniscule island, but in the run-up to Christmas, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone allude to the religion at all and it’s sort of sad, in a way. 

By all means, we shouldn’t abolish Christmas, it’s a nice get-together time. But that’s just it, it’s not really anything more anymore, so we might as well turn around and just call it ‘Annual Family Time’, although this may see suicide rates in single, middle-aged men rise significantly. Leading me onto something else, the census. The most accurate gathering of information, as well as being reasonably feasible to carry out, but really is it that accurate? My point being, I was talking to my mother yesterday about it, joking how I will be putting ‘Jedi’ down in 2011, then asking her what she would put. Without a bat of an eyelid, she says Christianity… which struck me as odd as: for one, we’re not only not a practicing Christian family, but fairly avid atheists are people go . ‘Why?’ I ask, and my dad says ‘because we’re C of E’… Although I realise this isn’t necessarily reflective of the whole world, but I’d like to see my parents being, given my cotton-wooled distancing from reality, my best point of reference for the ‘general public’.

Leave Christmas to the Christians and stop ballsing up the statistics.

Anywho, on to my ‘Annual Family Time’ ‘celebrations’, which’d lead me to two solid conclusions: German Cinema is rather good and little girls with big red needle guns are absolutely fucking terrifying.

My examples of these brilliant pieces of cinema are as follows:

Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (English title – The Edukators): a movie about three anti-Capitalist activists in Berlin, two of which regulary undergo a fairly morally lucrative form of ‘Edukating’, breaking into the homes of rich people but not to steal or pillage, but to rearrange the furniture, giving those rich bastards an eerie feeling of privacy violation. I won’t go on anymore about the plot, else you might as well not watch the fucking thing, but it was my starting point, for foreign cinema, and it’s a very enjoyable and thought provoking film.

Goodbye Lenin!: coincidentally also starring one of the actors from the previous film, Daniel Bruhl again provides an entertaining performance as the son of an avid Socialist, around the time the Berlin wall is torn down, taking with it all of the ideals his mother holds dear. However, she suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma a couple of months before this happens, and upon awakening, her son is informed that any forms of excitement may kill her. From this stems an perpetually elaborate con to keep his mother believing that the Deutsche Demokratische Republik is still alive and kicking. Whilst it might not be a laugh-a-minute comedy, it’s certainly very watchable and fairly easily accessible, even for those (like me) who didn’t have any prior-knowledge surrounding the DDR.

Das leben der Anderen (English Title – The Lives of Others): coincidentally also set around the time the Berlin wall is taken down, following two parrelel, yet unwittingly interlinked regarding the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, more commonly know as the Stasi, and a man they are watching, under the ‘suspicion’ that he is against the state. It follows Hauptmann, one of the Stasi’s top interrogators and surveillence men, is ordered to keep tabs on a writer named GeorgThe film explores corruption at the highest level, within the Stasi. Unwittingly, Hauptmann develops a close relationship with the entirely unaware Georg and coming to realise a few home truths about the brutality and harshness of life within the DDR.

Last and certainly not least is Der Untergang (English title – Downfall): displaying Hitler’s, and the Nazi’s, final days during World War two and the events which eventually lead to his, along with many other high-ranking German officials and their families’ suicide. The first thing that struck me about this film was Hitler’s immediate portrayal as a fairly warm and inviting, yet frail and weak human, which was an excellent contrast to the usual ‘ABSOLUTE CUNTHOLE, HE EVEN RAPES HIS OWN PETS!’ image which is usually portrayed.

Verdict? Watch them all, don’t let subtitles put you off like I did, I guarantee you won’t even realise they’re on. If you do, I’ll… well, I won’t eat a shoe, you can just fuck off.

Now for Bioshock, which I’m not going to say much about bar than it is the only time that, during a game, i’ve had one of those ‘OHMYGODNO!’ moments in a game, I believe in Shakespeare it’s known a a ‘cathartic release’, don’t quote me on that. The main reason I’m not going to say anymore is that personally, I’m ashamed I’d not played it before now and quite frankly, if you haven’t by now you’re probably drowning kittens or injecting heroin into your Grandmother as we speak.

All in all? A good Christmas, but disappointing in the sense that I didn’t have any awful games to rant about, stupid Lovefilm, actually sending me games and films I like, I oughta sue.

Now for something completely different:

(Warning: Awfully banal and sordid video above.)



Irrational Hatred or How I learned to stop believing hype and realise that LittleBigPlanet is a bit crap.

Hoo-bloody-ray, another ill-informed misanthrope blabbing on about how awesome and divine LittleBigPlanet. Referring somewhere in either the header, or the body to the game as ‘LittleBig{Overused Adjective}’ Almost as if it were the second coming of Jesus ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ Christ.
Wrong.

I’m going to be bucking the trend here, somewhat, perhaps even ‘going out on a limb’ to say that the hype killed LittleBigPlanet. Well, for me at least. You know how hyped up about this game I was? Well, I was one of those idiots you probably heard about squandering their hard-earned cash on ebay for a chance to get LittleBigPlanet early, amidst the wave of sheer disbelief that censoring had yet again pushed back a completely harmless title. I’ll admit, I paid around £55 for my copy, so as you can imagine seeing it being on on Amazon for twenty-fucking-quid now really gets up my arse. (Although I suppose the fact I paid £55 for a game I thoroughly despise for being so cute and shiny, but deviously hard.) This meant I got a NTSC copy on around the 23rd of October, nearly a full two weeks before the rest of poor, poor PAL got their grubby mits on it. I was bored by the time it’d officially come out.

Anywho, back to this ‘review’. Given that this game appeals to both the hardcore gaming populous, and Wii owners, as the ‘E – Everyone’ logo states. What strikes me as odd is the sheer difficulty of later levels… I sure I won’t be alone in cursing at the existence of that hideous, hideous giant rotating thing on ‘The Bunker’ and how inexplicably difficult this part is compared to the rest of the fucking game. I for one wouldn’t exactly deem myself a hardcore gamer, but proficient enough to represent a fair portion of the console gaming demographic… Fun certainly did not overcome… the emotion was more a mix between hatred, frustration and sheer sadness on not being able to complete a game that appeals to my baby sister, of 13, whose idea of a good game is Pippa Funnel: Stud Farm Inheritance. 

‘Oh, but Laika! What about the creator tool and the online feature? Eh? Eh? As well as the sheer customizationability of Sackboy?’

I’m getting to that part. First of all, am I the only person who noticed how our politically-correct culture has managed to manifest itself in a game as harmless as this? I’m not talking about that awfully offensive Somalian lyric… oh no… something far worse. At what point did it become politically insensitive to call somebody a ‘Policeman’? Even though all one is doing is stating the person’s sex and job? Sackperson. Sack-PERSON. For one, Media Molecule, since when was a bundle of cotton and felt deemed to be a person? I’m also quite sure that Sackboy doesn’t have any genitalia… and even if it did, I don’t think cotton phalluses have much use to anybody.

Oh, and the creator tool… ah yes, praised for how simple and effortless it is to use, even for the most simple-minded gamers. 

Why?! It’s about as easy to use as rubbing your stomach, putting your head and reciting all of Shakespeare’s works… in cocking Swahili. Even (Sir) Steven Fry’s dulcet tones, guiding you though every inch of the tutorial process, don’t detract from the fact that the creation tool is not easy to use at all. At least, not easy to use in order to game the complexity of levels Media Molecule have achevied with, might I had, several years of development time. Online, you’re more likely to find ‘easy trophy’ levels which, I’ll admit, I did greatly appreciate the creators for creating.

Basically what I’m asking is… is the game fun? Yes. Yes to the extent that it suffers from what I call ‘Wii-Syndrome’. With friends, it’s perfectly fine and good to play, pissing about and just generally having a lovely, lovely time. However, playing it alone, why don’t we all just step back a little bit? Remember when you were four and played dress-up with your little dolls? Your little girly dolls? No? That’s because the majority of you are male. And if you did play with ickle dollys, are male, and are reading this right now… I suggest you can and enjoy this glorified dress-up platformer which is perfectly fine and good if you’re playing it with real people… but else, you’re sitting in a room… getting a pretty dolly to perform acts of onanism on yourself.

Maybe that’s just me.

I may well be the best platformer ever made, but I suppose that could be like giving Hitler the award for ‘Best Genocide’ and ‘Biggest Bastard’.