Archive for February, 2016

Resident Evil 0

Posted: February 29, 2016 in Video Games
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Funny when you think about how from 1996 to 2002 we got what are considered by most fans to be the best of the Resident Evil franchise to date. The original, it’s sequels, Code Veronica, the remake and of course the prequel Resident Evil 0. The later I had never played. It bugged me too because despite being a Resi nut I could never say I had played the whole series. Fittingly in what is the series 20th Anniversary I have gone full circle and can now say I’ve finished the whole series to date.

Resident Evil 0 was initially announced for the N64 but wouldn’t see release until 2002 and on a different platform. Early into development it became clear Capcom would need to rethink their approach to the game due to the limitations of the N64 which proved problematic with the sort of game they wanted to make. It’s a shame. The early footage of Resident Evil 0 on the N64 had a distinct PSOne era look and feel to it which now after all these years gave the game a retro charm and I would have loved to have played that version. The final game eventutally came out 2002 on Nintendo Game Cube.

What set Resident Evil 0 across from other games in the series was the games grogeous visuals, the new partner system (allowing players to switch between characters at the touch of a button) and the removal of item boxes. Now items could be dropped anywhere in the game which allowed players to make the most out of how they wanted to manage guns, ammo, health and key items. When the game was first out I’d read some reviews complaining about that and how it often involved a lot of backtracking to previous areas but it’s really not a big deal and on the main menu you can use an item locator on the map so nothing is ever lost or forgotten. The option to switch characters is used in a key way when it comes to the puzzles too. The game asking the player to place one character at say a switch while another works on some other element of the puzzle. These elements were brand new to the series at the time and in hindsight it seems like Capcom used this prequel to test drive some new mechanics as the co-op and partner system would become a staple of the series from Resident Evil 4 onwards.

The plot focuses on the memebers of S.T.A.R.S Bravo team who we learn in Resident Evil all came into a run of bad luck. Now we found out what happened. Rebecca Chambers steps up from co-star to co-lead along with escaped convict Billy Coen. This pair make for likeable leads and it’s boss finding out how Rebecca found her way to the Spencer Mansion the original game takes place in. We find out loads of story points too that relate to the history of the T-Virus. The new settings make sense, you’d figure these loon’s would need a site B so to speak to see how they’re experiments are functioning.

I played this on the PS4 and the game is stunning. The controls are different from the tank ones from the original release but the later are selectable if you feel the need. The action/puzzle/exploration balance is solid and the new enimies are horrid additions to the series. It makes you question why Capcom are so intent on taking Resident Evil in a more action orientated direction when based on the history of the series and the best it has to offer what they should be thinking is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Perhaps they have learnt their lesson after the fan outcry over Resident Evil 6. Time will tell. In the meantime Resident Evil 0 is among the strongest in the series and if it escaped you way back then it’s well worth investing in.

 

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First up is Jussie Smollett who is best known for his work on TV series Empire. Out of the four Smollett is who I am more aware of having watched a few episodes of Empire.

Joining him are a trio of ladies including Amy Seimetz (The Killing).

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Carmen Ejogo (Selma)

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…and Callie Hernandez (From Dusk Till Dawn).

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Hernandez is probably the least known out of the new faces. Could this be a breakout role for her or will the majority of the new cast simply be on borrowed time? What is interesting about how the casting is coming together is the lack of big names. Scott could (and should in my opinion) be returning to the mystery of Alien. By that I mean we have no idea who the lead is or who will survive.

A lot of sites are reporting the great Billy Crudup is “in talks” (urgh) for a role. Don’t like that sort of article. I bet a lot of actors are always “in talks” for a role. I’ll wait for confirmation.

Alien: Covenant arrives next year.

French actress Elodie Yung appears totally at ease stepping into the role of Elektra. Not too sold on that costume but much like Matt in season one we may see a evolution of Elektra leading up to her more iconic look. Yung is best known for the pretty good French action flick District 13: Ultimatum and David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remake.

From the look of this trailer Season 2 looks a lot like the first season. Daredevil having to contend with different gangs across Hell’s Kitchen while the man has to cope with his friends woe’s regarding his life choice.  Now that makes sense from a story point of view but still I hope there is a bit more to it all. I have faith that there will be. It has one hell of a cast and the tone seems intact despite a revamped creative team.

We will find out when Season 2 premieres March 18th

Resident Evil 6 is first up on March 29th. Resident Evil 5 will follow in the summer and Resident Evil 4 will be the last out of the gate in the autumn.

Right now each game will be a digital release priced at £15.99 each. Capcom have said that on disc versions will follow.

Very good news for anyone who hasn’t played the later games in the series. Not so great for those of us who have. The only reason I can see for picking up any of these is if you’ve got rid of your last gen hardware. Right now there doesn’t appear to be any added features or improved graphics.

Either way it’s good to have the option of owning the entire series on one system. My spider sense is telling me this may not be the only Resident Evil announcement this year. Could the 20th anniversary of the series be leading up to a new big reveal at this years E3?

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I don’t know this actor. I know he was in The Hateful Eight so I can assume this is a good sign of his talent. Ridley Scott knows good talent. Bichir is the latest addition to the new Alien movie and he will be joining Michael Fassbender & Katherine Waterston.

Recent reports have stated Danny McBride was in line for a role but as far as I know (I don’t count rumours or actors being considered for a role as locked casting) nothing official has been announced yet. No details on the new roles. All we know is David is back and the new female lead MIGHT be called Daniels! How exciting! Haha.

I am looking forward to this. Fingers crossed it’s all a bit more Alien(‘ey) this time around. It’s out next year.

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Great episode. Mulder feels like the power of time and technology has erased a lot of the effot he has put into his lifes work. Twitter, phone cams, the net and even shock advertising has played a role in debunking once famed monsters. So Mulder is less than pleased when Scully announces their latest case involves a small town monster and a pile of bodies.

The episode is centred around comedy and it works. Mulder and Scully’s interactions with the folks of ‘small town anywhere’ are laugh out loud funny in parts. As with most X-Files cases there is more to the case than meets the eye. The same applies to the episode because along with the comedy resulting from the threat ( a were-lizard thank you every much!) we get some life insights about the state of human nature and how we behave when seen from the outside looking in.

The highlights of this episode for me were the scenes with the were-lizard and his dog and a hysterical sequence in whcih Scully visits a suspect at his work place. I won’t spoil it but it was so funny.

We are halfway through the mini-series. If the next three episodes are as strong and fun as these first three then this season will have been a more than simply ‘good’ return for the show. I hope it works out behind the scenes  because I would like to see the show return next year ideally for a slightly longer run. Maybe ten episodes next time?

 

X-Men X-Tinction Agenda

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Comics
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For years I have been looking to get a hold of X-Tinction Agenda. I knew it was a big event and had solid word of mouth as one of the better X-Men arcs from the 90’s. Thanks to Ebay I was able to track down a copy of the trade.

X-Tinction Agenda is a crossover event from 1990 and ran through Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants and X-Factor. Everything kicks off as Genoshan Magistrates attack the X mansion and capture Storm and several of the New Mutants. The evil Cameron Hodge, once belived murdered by Archangel, is behind the attack and orders the captives brought back to Genosha which harbours terrible secrets regarding how the country is managed. This all provides the incentive for the teams to unite and launch a rescue mission to get back their team mates.

Cameron Hodge is a great villian. This is my first time encountering him. Although I am not too familiar with him it didn’t matter because the content of this tale brings you up to speed on who he is. He’s a twisted mind trapped in a horrific body, at times I was really freaked out by him. Especially during the last few pages of the story. Some of the art and panels are like somthing from a horror movie.

Always great to see my fave X-lady Psylocke and she has some cool moments, as do Wolverine and Jubilee but the real stand outs are the lesser known (at least for me) New Mutant members Boom Boom, Rictor and Wolfsbane. They pop out the pages with some funny exchanges and kick arse action scenes. Cyclops and his little bro Havok get a great arc too and play a larger role as the story progresses. It’s a big cast and a credit to the writers to say almost everyone gets a moment to shine.

Chris Claremonts contributions to the X-Men over the years can not be overlooked. Some of the best X-Men tales that continue to stand the test of time have come from his imagination. His work here, along with that of Louise Simonson is no exception. There is adventure, fun, humour, all out action, high stakes and tragedy. Equally as impactful is the wonderful variety of art on display from talent such as Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld.

X-Tinction Agenda is a very good addition to the X-Men lore and okay it may not be an all out classic along the same lines as Age of Apocalypse or The Dark Phoenix Saga but it is pretty much required reading for any X-Men fan. More so if, like me, this slipped by you or was before your time.

 

Cloverfield

Posted: February 19, 2016 in Movies
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Cloverfield was released in 2008. What was great about it was how it came out of nowhere. It had a build up that fed off the self imposed secrecy the filmmakers built around the movie. Filmmakers Matt Reeves, Drew Goddard and J.J. Abrams made sure the trailers and the pics from the film showed as little as possible and the plot remained underwraps. The closer we got to release was when it became clear the movie would be some sort of found footage disaster movie but what was the cause? That was half the fun! Guessing what the film would be about and thankfully my guess was the reality haha; a giant monster movie!

Main guy Rob has just got a job in Japan so his bro and their buddies throw him a party to celebrate. Just enough time is spent at the party to get to know Rob and his buddies and like ’em before the shit hits the fan. Hence the reason we have the hand held/found footage. Valid enough and at this time the only real big found footage movie was The Blair Witch Project so the format hadn’t been done to death.

The decsion to film hand held was a risk but Reeves does a great job of keeping the viewer engaged with the characters, the city and the action. Yes there is some shaky cam which I am not a fan of, but overall it’s framed really well and you feel like you are along for the ride while still being able to bask in the danger and destruction as a viwer. The scale of the film is great and you have to factor in that the budget for Cloverfield wouldn’t have been the same as say The Avengers or some big AAA summer movie. You can see how Reeves makes great use of the city, the effects and the big star of the movie to tease a much larger movie than you actually have.

We get a good mix of genres with sci-fi, horror, adventure, romance, comedy and most of all mystery. The film never gives the audience the easy answers regarding what is happening. As Rob and his friends search for his lost love we get tiny bits of informtaion but are left to form our own conclusions. A non-linear narrative helps out with that too, keeping the viewer on their toes.

We see buildings getting destroyed, the army going head to head against the monster and they have no idea what the hell they are going to do to stop this thing. The smaller moments are every bit as exciting. You get mini creatures stalking out the underground and hunting our heroes and a rescue mission that will upset anyone with vertigo!

The film holds up. It’s going to be ten years old in two years which is crazy. Not sure if Blu Ray is the best way to watch it, if you have the DVD it may be better keeping that due to the super detailed Blu Ray image not really benefiting the hand held approach.

10 Cloverfield Lane is right around the corner, again it came out of nowhere and the trailer (purely what I’m guessing at here) is probably showing only a fraction of what the film is about. I know hardly anything and that is all I want to know until I see it.

 

Street Fighter V launches!

Posted: February 18, 2016 in Video Games
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Would love to say I will have some thoughts on the final game coming soon but as it stands right now I won’t. Yep. Street Fighter V was unleashed on the public this week and it has very little content to offer. Let’s take a look shall we?

Story Mode – Consists of one match rounds with some characters journey lasting only three to four opponents.

Survival Mode – Beat as many opponents as possible (again only a single round).

Training Mode – And that’s it for offline.

I’ve read the game was rushed to market for the fans because it’s known at this point Street Fighter V will be one of the BIG games at this years EVO. Okay, no issues with that. Players can jump on, go online or train. Makes sense. Yet to launch with no offline Arcade Mode or VS CPU option is shocking and disappointing. I’ve seen some people defend the decision stating how casual fans should learn to play the game and go online but that is rubbish and ignorant.

A lot of fans go online and get destroyed. It’s not fun. Now just because I prefer to play casually offline I need schooling? Please.

Capcom have stated a larger story mode will debut in a few months as well as daily challenges but there is still not confirmation that they will add Arcade Mode (you know it’s how we all used to play Street Fighter ‘back in the day’) or a VS CPU option.

So sad to say no I won’t be buying Street Fighter V at the moment. If online is your thing then have at it. Hope you have a great time but I’ll just wait for something a bit more complete.

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I was a massive Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fan as a kid. I was NUTS about the show and I still look back on it with a lot of good memories. What wasn’t to love? Five teens chosen by some inter dimensional being to save the world from the forces of evil? And they get to ride in massive robots and fight giant monsters? It was the best show ever. So I thought as a kid!

The Movie came out in 1995. At this point in time the Power Rangers were at their height in popularity. If you’re a 90’s kid then you know what I’m talking about. The Power Rangers were everywhere, toys, show, comics, video games, trading cards and the movie. With a new movie due out next year I thought it’d be a good idea the revisit the original feature film debut!

One of the most questionable decisions regarding the film is how it doesn’t follow the continutiy of the TV series. I guess the reason was to reach a wider audience but the audience was locked in for this from the get go so for me it never really made sense and just seemed confusing. They keep the same cast yet use different story arcs (the film and one on the show) to cover the same story. Basic plot of the movie being the Rangers current powers are destroyed and they must go off in search of new ones, is covered in the show but slightly differently. The cast do well and stay true to their TV counterparts but it’s all a bit DC multiverse. Same characters but in an alternate reality/continuity. It never sat well with me even as a kid. Same for Angel Grove, the setting of the show, locations we all know look totally different in the movie, probably due to the fact it was filmed in Australia, still they could have tried to keep the same look haha.

The suits are given a movie upgrade. For some reason they’ve been made to look more action ready and edgy I guess but I don’t think they look as good as on the show. Nor do the creatures. The effects on Goldar are MUCH better on the show. He looks really bad in the movie and this is the movie! You’d think they’d go all out.

The CGI is really bad but you can forgive that because it was the mid 90’s and CGI was all the rage back then! Really cutting edge haha. The budget just didn’t seem to meet the ambition. I think minitures, like in the show but better, would have worked a lot better but perhaps that would have cost too much.

Taken on it’s own merits Power Rangers The Movie is enjoyable. The practical effects that are used on some of the creatures are pretty good. As are the fight scenes and the story but you can’t shake the feeling that if a little more thought and effort went into the creative side of the movie (and budget)  it could have launched a new franchise akin to Star Trek.

Things would get more complicated with the sequel Power Rangers Turbo, which does take place within the continuity of the TV show. I’ll be checking that out soon!