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By Jessica Brister On 14 Aug, 2016 At 03:38 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWhen I was handed a copy of Dead Island: Definitive Edition for the PlayStation 4, I had no idea what to expect.  To be quite frank, I had no clue what the game was about, it’s history, and what I would get on this remastered version.  I guess that it was just one of those games that slipped by me at the time it came out.  However, I am glad that I got a chance to play it because I had a great deal of fun.  It wasn’t what I expected.  I was thinking it would be the typical zombie-slasher game.  Instead, I got a surprisingly fun, open-world Far Cry-like game.  There were some gameplay issues, but overall, I would recommend Dead Island: Definitive Edition as a great edition to anyone’s the FPS/open-world/zombie collection.

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Dead Island is an open-world survival horror RPG that was originally released in 2011.  It was developed by Techland (Polish developer who also did Dying Light), published by Deep Silver, and distributed by Square Enix for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  It got fairly positive reviews when it came out, though there were some negative marks against it, including game glitches.  The game was remastered for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One May of this year.  There is a sequel “Dead Island 2” that is coming out soon, but there is no release date as of yet.  I did not ever get a chance to play the original release of the game, so keep that in mind as I discuss the Definitive Edition.

The premise of the game is that you are one of four protagonist characters (each with their own special abilities and personalities) on the resort island of Banoi (modeled after an island near Papua New Guinea).  I happened to play as Xian Mei.  After a night of partying, your character wakes up to find that much of the resort has been turned into zombie-like creatures.  Your character, though, is immune.  You are guided by a mysterious voice over intercoms and whatnot (think BioShock).  After meeting up with groups of survivors, you realize that you can’t stay on the island forever and a plan is hatched to leave.

It’s a pretty straight-forward story plot.  It’s nothing super special, but I did like the fact that you didn’t have to worry about zombie bites turning you like you would in say, The Last of Us (more on this later).  The crown jewel of the game is the setting and the contrast between the gorgeous island scenery and the undead and gore all over the place.  I wasn’t expecting such a large map to play around in when I initially started the game.  I also enjoyed the pacing and progression of the story as well as some of the side missions, which some of them are actually pretty darned funny.

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The gameplay itself is a little disappointing for a standard first-person shooter.  You are definitely playing it for the open-world and not a seamless gameplay experience.  Jumping, exploring, and combat are all a little stiff with the controllers.  I got used to it after a while, but it definitely is not one of my favorite gameplay experiences.  Overall, it felt like a Far Cry game with lots of missions, weapons, and vehicles.  It’s an action RPG with three skill trees to add points to: Fury, Combat, and Survival.  XP is earned through completing missions and killing zombies, and you get points toward the skill try for each level earned.  It’s very standard fair for an action RPG.

Dead Island really shines with its reliance on heavy melee combat and its weapon systems.  The melee-focused fighting is actually pretty fun.  I liked that fact that I didn’t have to worry about being bitten (unlike other zombie games) because my character is immune.  I was able to just focus on kicking-butt and killing zombies.  The particular style of zombies that Dead Island have are more of the running kind than the slow creepers, so one of my favorite things to do in the game was throw knives at zombies running toward me and watch them splatter.

Weapons degrade after use, so it is vitally important to keep an eye on them and repair or replace as needed, although the higher level of the weapon, the slower it is to degrade.  If a weapon degrades too much, it becomes ineffective and will eventually completely fall apart if you try to keep using it.  The crafting system was pretty cool, as you can collect items and schematics and use them to build weapons.  Weapons can also be modded as well.  Though melee weapons are highlighted, there are guns as well.

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The graphics are improved from the original release, and they look fairly decent on this current generation of consoles.  The tropical scenery is beautiful and a delight to romp around in for a while.  Obviously, it is a remastered game from 2011, so there is only so much that can be done.  However, I found that it was quite enjoyable on the PlayStation 4.

Overall, I really enjoyed playing Dead Island: Definitive Edition.  There are, of course, some things that I have dinged it on, but the pros really outweigh the cons with this one.  I would have never picked up this game (mostly due to the title; it sounds a bit silly), but I’m glad that I did.  It’s a solid game that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun, open world FPS.

By Tiffany Marshall On 9 Jan, 2014 At 06:07 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarRevival

Revival is written by Tim Seeley with art from Mike Norton and published by Image Comics.

The characters at the head of the story are sisters Officer Dana Cypress and Martha “Em” Cypress.  In a small town in rural Wisconsin, there has suddenly been this revival of the dead.  No one knows why and strange things are happening to some that have come back to life.  Revival captivates you from the very beginning and cinches the reader from a cliffhanger at the end of the first issue – Em is one of the revivers.  Due to this strange phenomenon the government has quarantined the town to prevent it from spreading and the CDC has come in to try to get a grasp on what’s going on.

The art is absolutely stunning and unique in emphasizing the suspenseful story.  Revival is not your typical zombie story as the dead that have risen vary between those that aren’t so responsive to those that “seem” very much like they were before “Revival Day,” or are they?

There is a lot unknown about these revivers, but so far I’m intrigued to find out more.  Dana is scrambling to search for the cause, while keeping an eye on her sister.

HIGHLY recommend this series to anyone that enjoys a good mysterous zombie-esque story.  The characters are all interesting with a depth not yet revealed, but insinuated in its existance.  Revivers are out and about, hidden and revealed.  Demons are wandering around in search of something.  Revival is an enthralling twist on the “zombie” premise and guaranteed to keep you wanting more.

Revival

By Charles On 4 Feb, 2013 At 08:45 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarposterIt’s official: zombies are the new vampires. Okay, maybe this isn’t that big a revelation, since there have been literally hundreds of zombie movies, books, games and even anime offered in the past few years. There have been nazi zombies, time traveling zombies, snow zombies, smart zombies, dumb zombies, angry zombies, steampunk zombies, huge-chested females hunting zombies, zombie cops, and even a few zombie comedies. So is it any bigger a shock when the genre decides to push itself a bit more and create a zombie romance? Maybe if you’re a purist into the entire “undead have no identity or feelings” idea. But for the rest of us, we now have something new to “chow down” on.

Based on the novel of the same name, “Warm Bodies” is a new take on zombie mythology. While Romero built upon the older, prevailing notion of the animated dead, completely devoid of the sense of self and little more than walking corpses seeking to satisfy their eternal hunger, Warm Bodies decides to take the narrative in another, unexpected direction: it gives them a sense of humanity, no matter how buried under layer after layer of brains. While there is plenty of the aforementioned eating of the living throughout the film, it asks the question of “what if:” what if, rather than just being a walking corpse, the zombie is actually retains a bit of itself beyond the “grave;” what if the zombie becomes capable to emotion, feeling something “more” than just hunger and shambling; what if we “got it all wrong” in the end.

I’m getting ahead of myself again and waxing philosophical…need to stop that for the moment. Where was I?

Warm Bodies is the story of one zombie out of hundreds: a young male who has no idea who he is or where he came from, just that his name starts with “R.” He’s your typical undead: eat flesh, wander around aimlessly, and wonder about how everything changed. For the first act of the film, he is a silent narrator, pondering on and on about what it means to be a zombie, and asking if there is anything more to his seemingly monotonous existence. He has his “friends,” he has a “home,” and in many ways “lives” the same “life” he did before becoming a zombie. In many ways, he is reminiscent of the protagonist “Columbus” from the landmark “Zombieland” film: a boy at the crux of his young life, wondering what went wrong, and where to go from there, while being firmly fixed in the “unchanging here and now.”

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Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?

His life changes the day he meets Julie, one of the survivors left on Earth and daughter of Colonel Riggio, the man who has kept humanity safe for the past 8 years in his walled mass of a city. While out looking for supplies, her team runs afoul of R and his mob of zombies, gunfire and feasting ensues, and in the midst of it all, R feels an emotion. Like the virus that changed him into one of the walking dead, it spreads first though him, then through those closest to him, giving them a taste of hope, and of a better “life” than what they have.

While the story itself is nothing new, and plays to the conventions of the genre rather closely, it is the idea that zombies can “revert” back to human that lends this story some metaphorical teeth. See, in this new take on zombie lore, the reasons why zombies go for the brain isn’t rooted in some primal fear revolving around the destruction of the self. Rather, it is the last chance they have to experience emotion. Eating a human’s brain gives them a chance to “experience” the memories of that person, and for a lifeless creature craving something more than shambles, it is their only resort. They’re not trying to obliterate the self, but rather are trying to remind themselves what it means to have (and lost) one. Wow, that’s pretty deep for a zom-com…

aliveBut there’s more. In the case of so many zombie films, the zombies themselves are often viewed as incarnations of personal fears: death, decay, rampant overconsumption, corporate control and the dictation of culture, nazis- the list goes on an on. But usually near the top is the fear of loss- in particular, the loss of self and self-identity. Slavery, if you will, be it to another person, a disease or something else. The loss of freedom, the loss of power, the loss of the ego itself, when the person becomes nothing more than a body without a “soul,” a “what” rather than a “who.” Perhaps more than the ravages of time or death itself, the loss of who one is inside might be the biggest fear we all have.

In the beginning, Warm Bodies is just that, a question about the loss of the self, and what the meaning of it all is. R can remember bits and pieces of what it means to be human, and wants more of them as time goes by, but he knows he’s stuck in a dead body endlessly repeating the same motions perpetually. After he meets Julie, R’s journey becomes less about becoming human, and more about regaining his lost identity. He collects things, and that allows him to make a connection with the girl. When he begins to dream, that’s a look inside what he wants. When he begins to speak, he’s finding his ability to communicate, and by extension, his ability to express, restored (beyond the “typical” grunts and groans). When he begins to feel…he remembers what it was like to be human again. Not because his life is being restored, but because his sense of self is being restored, and with it his ability to become more than a walking body. Again, wow…pretty deep for a zom-com.

Okay, philosophical ramblings out of the way. So how is the movie itself?

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Yeah, because I have no idea what you’re going for here…

I really hate writing this, because I really enjoyed this film, but the trailer pretty much sums up the entire movie. Every major plot point, every revelation and summation of R’s trip is contained in those two minutes of film. The rest of the run time is icing to the cake. While R’s internal monologues are especially fun, and watching the budding relationship between human and zombie is both lighthearted and emotional, there are no surprise twists or turns, the ending is obvious within the first few minutes, and the “romance” itself evokes a bit of Twilight: it’s idealized, expected and fluffy. Hell, Teresa Palmer (as Julie) even looks and acts like Kristen Stewart, albeit with more ability and charisma towards her “dead boyfriend.” Maybe this was intentional, maybe not, but the idea that this movie is “zombie Twilight” isn’t that far off the mark.

Nevertheless, Warm Bodies is a solid date movie, and hella fun. If you’re one of those folk who love a good zombie yarn, this will satisfy you. If you like sweet teen comedies, this will satisfy you. If you like zombie philosophy (like me) this will definitely satisfy you. But if you’re a diehard zombie purist, look elsewhere. The brains you find here will not appease your hunger.

WB corddryAddendum: I want to give kudos to a scene-stealing Rob Corddry. Usually I reserve these kudos for John Malkovich, but since he’s playing himself the entire time, it’s up to Corddry to ham it up and deliver the best performance in the film. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, then you’ll shoot him in the head…maybe.

By Charles On 19 Apr, 2012 At 12:16 AM | Categorized As Movie News, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIt’s easy to say that everything’s been done. Because it mostly has been. Be it movies, manga, novels, games- how often do the words “revolutionary” or “genre-defining” actually live up to the hype. So when something truly original or well done actually does come around, it all too often tends to get marginalized, or judged by some inane criteria that does no justice to the work itself.

Case in point: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s latest film, “Cabin in the Woods.” This is one of those films that has a horrible name (even if it does hearken back to another movie with the same premise from long ago, starring Bruce Campbell) but delivers so much in the way of entertainment, that it definitely should not be skipped. And yet, looking at reviews online reads something like a troll festival (which, by the way, also would make an awesome movie).

“Don’t waste your money on this movie. it was more of a comedy than horror. If you really must watch it wait for the DVD or until it comes on cable.”

“Don’t go see this movie its the worst movie made in history save about 2 hours of your life it doesen’t even make sense even at the end. Just don’t see this movie.”

“Cheesy acting, bad casting, highly predictable and a poor story line that is all over the place. This movie may appeal to the gore/horror fan but just about everyone else will have a reason to hate it. I like quality films that stimulate the mind but this was nothing close.”

Bad reviews? Just another day at the office for these working (soon-to-be) stiffs.

This is just a sampling of what Fandango had to offer. There’s more of it, should you be interested. (And these are all direct quotes.)

One thing I need to mention: “Cabin in the Woods” is not your father’s slasher flick. While it does contain the requisite amount of blood and gore, this film also highlights something that has been missing since Wes Craven decided to lampoon himself back in ’96: humor, and a veritable ton of tropes. This becomes apparent from the first scene, depicting two working stiffs talking about their upcoming weekend plans (and some rivalry with Japan) and continues throughout the 90+ minutes of frontal shots, cheap sex, flowing booze and zombie rednecks. Seriously, every possible trope found within the slasher genre is here and on display. The difference is, this movie, to paraphrase a great thinker, “just don’t give a f***.”

“Cabin In The Woods” is that rare horror film that intentionally doesn’t take itself seriously. At all. Which, in the end, makes the movie more entertaining. Calling it a comedy actually works: a good deal of the scenes are supposed to make you laugh while you jump (something more serious horror flicks fail at miserably). Cliched characters abound here: the Jock, Slut, Geek, Virgin and Fool are all present, but are, at the same time, artificial along with being named. In fact, at times “Cabin in the Woods” actively criticizes the actions of its main players, calling them out for being “too whatever.”

From George Kirk to Thor to a “dumb jock:” the decline of Chris Hemsworth becomes apparent in this green letterman

This open critique of the slasher genre continues up until the “twist” ending, which not only proves that Whedon still has the same talent and knack for grandeur that made “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” a huge success (not to mention the ambition that was Firefly), but also shows that he pays attention to what others in his field do, and finds creative ways to refute/mess with them. Not since Scream sent up a genre Craven essentially created has a movie achieved such a level of intentional shlock. And believe me, it’s worth it just to see what he got right. (Points for the integration of yuurei into the story- how hard IS it to kill 9 year olds?)

Which is why I find some of the internet critiques so annoying. Calling the acting cheesy and the plot predictable essentially proves that the reviewer was missing the point- it’s supposed to be. Same goes for expecting a slasher flick to “stimulate the mind.” Seriously, if you’re aiming for haute cinema, why do you expect to find it in the horror section? You don’t go into Coppola’s “Dracula” expecting Bela Lugosi or Count Orlock, so why the sudden disappointment now?

Does she survive? Do we care?

Now I will admit, I did not expect much from “Cabin in the Woods.” I went because some friends whose opinions I respect both gushed about it via Facebook over the weekend. The trailers, commercials and even poster ads all make the movie out to be a re-imagining of “Evil Dead,” or a serious foray into “traditional horror,” when in actuality the movie is more akin to “Evil Dead II”- ridiculous and unforgiving against itself. It’s not afraid to be over the top, but rather relishes in its display of parody and corn syrup. It doesn’t aim high, because those bars will never be reached, but is perfectly happy to deliver exactly what the audience expects of it, then throws in a few (literal) bones to keep things interesting. In the end, what’s left is equal parts send-up and tribute to a genre that is definitely played out, but still draws the faithful in. “Cabin in the Woods” is the reward for years of slogging through mindless slasher flicks: an honest story we’ve all seen before, full of blood and tropes, that actually goes where a lot of people hope its more “serious” counterparts would.

By Charles On 1 Nov, 2011 At 10:10 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWell, its over. October, my favorite month of the year, over and done. This year I had one of the most eventful Octobers in recent memory, despite lacking con attendance, or managing to eat something pumpkin flavored every day, as I usually attempt to. But it was still memorable nonetheless, because I did manage to accomplish something I had been wanting to try for years.

Lower Karazhan- People actually break IN to this place.

I watched horror movies. A lot of them. One every day, give or take. And most of them underground, low budget, cheap thrills. This is something I’m proud of, actually- normally my Octobers consist of nightly walks, a few movies here and there, and a whole lot of creepy dungeon crawling on World of Warcraft. This year, since I mercifully quit that addiction just as the month was starting, I had to fill my time with other things. So I set out to cram as much Halloween-related stuff into my nights as possible, breaking the idea of quality and replacing it entirely with nothing more than pure quantity.

Here’s how it broke down.

Best movie nobody heard of: “Bereavement.” A prequel to the indie-horror slasher flick “Malevolence,” this movie told the story of a boy abducted from his parent’s front yard and forced to help an insane serial killer with his work. The setting- rural America, a rundown meat packing plant, and local school- worked to make this tale more tense than some others. Added to it the somewhat offbeat nature of both the killer and the boy (who feels no pain, literally), and what came out was a twisted, violent, bloody mess of a movie that kept me fully engrossed for its duration. And I liked the ending, which is so rare these days.

Best “classic” movie: This past month, I made sure to watch at least a few “established” movie franchises. While I avoided the “Saw,” “Halloween,” “Nightmare/Friday the 13th” movies, as I’ve seen them enough, I did manage to partake of some Romero, Craven and Williamson blood candy. I was tempted to say “Scream” for this one. I loved that movie, and the recent third sequel (Scre4m). But the movie I enjoyed the most this past month? “Dawn of the Dead.”

I love a good zombie movie. I love watching hordes of the undead rampaging through the streets, terrorizing people. In fact, in the past few years, the movies I have remembered the most have all been zombie flicks- be it the Nazi marauding death machines in “Dead Snow,” or the shambling hordes standing between Woody T Harrelson and his search for a twinkie in “Zombieland.” “Dawn of the Dead” is equal parts comedy and survival-horror joint- trying to stay alive while trapped in a shopping mall, as the dead close in around a small cluster of survivors. Watching those survivors slowly go crazy and turn on each other. The last, mad dash for freedom. And the hope of better days, trounced in the end credits. It’s probably the most realistic zombie movie ever made (sorry, Tallahassee), and full of enough humanity to leave a lasting impact.

Whiskey not included

Movie that made me take a drink right after the credits rolled: “Last House in the Woods.” Not to be confused with the revenge/horror “Last House on the Left,” this was an Italian movie, that made me never want to watch another Italian horror film as long as I live. Part of the Ghost House Underground series of indie films, it revolved around a pair of lovers beset upon by thugs, a well-to-do family living alone at the edge of the forest, mutant freaks, cannibalism, and a decent-sized body count.

I should have known better. After all, I love the films of Dario Argento, and that man is one twisted soul. But what I got, after a somewhat confusing intro, degenerated into a mindless gore-fest, with predictably bloody effects, minimalist music and an ending so profoundly messed up, that I immediately needed a swig of something strong to block it out. If you can find this one on DVD, watch it. It’s not for the faint of heart, but shows exactly what passes for horror in Italy. God help us all.

Best foreign film: “Let The Right One In.” I watched, in all, maybe 6 foreign movies this month, two of them Japanese, two Italian, and two Scandinavian. The Japanese ones were predictably weird, with bizarre endings and strange cinematography. The Italian ones…well, read the previous entry. One of the Scandinavian ones was “Troll Hunter,” which I reviewed this past weekend, and the other one was a delicious vampire film that managed to do right what ever single vampire love story fails to.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, “Let The Right One In” is, at heart, a love story between two 12 year old children- blond-haired Oskar, a perpetual victim of bullying, and dark haired Eli, a vampire trapped in the body of a preteen. When Eli moves in next door, Oskar is delighted to have a new friend, who helps him find himself. As for Eli, she begins to see a new world, and a new life, in the form of innocent Oskar. The film is a solid mix of blood and honey- you cheer when Oskar (finally) stands up for himself, and expresses his feelings to the vampire next door, and you cringe when Eli loses her caretaker and is forced to hunt for food, leaving behind a trail of bodies. But this film succeeds where “Twilight” fails miserably- it makes the characters both human and believable. And that makes the romance believable as well.

“WTF” did I just watch movie: “Hausu.” I said I watched some Japanese movies this month, and this one was the hands-down strangest. Having been a fan of J-horror for some time, I had heard about this movie, but never had the chance to actually see it. I heard it was bizarre, and very f-ed up, and figured it was a blend of the terrifying “Ringu” (The Ring) and decidedly art-house “Jigoku” (Hell). Well…

“Hausu” (House) is a typical haunted house movie, with a number of young girls traveling to the countryside to visit the Aunt of one of their friends, Oshare. Upon arriving, they each start dying, one by one, eaten by the malevolent entities in the “House,” until none remain. Sounds pretty much like standard fare, right? Not in the slightest. The girls all have names that stereotype their glaring character type (Kung-Fu fights, Sweet is adorable), and are themselves caricatures of stereotypical schoolgirls. The monster that lives in the “House” is equal parts lonely spirt, and her bakeneko. There are random musical numbers throughout the movie, lots of dancing, and at one point a girl is killed by pillows. If this sounds utterly ridiculous, it is. And worth every minute you spend watching it.

Movie that kept me awake all night: “Paranormal Activity.” I love these movies for three reasons: first, they take place in suburban tract housing, not predictably old gothic homes; second, they feature demons, not ghosts, and this offers a wealth more storytelling potential; third, each one is better than the previous. So when I watched the third installment the week before Halloween, I spent the rest of the night catching up on the previous 2. And let me tell you something- I stayed awake all night. I’m not ashamed to admit that, either. Paranormal Activity messes me up, keeps me jumping and won’t let me look away, because unlike any other film of its ilk (like, say, 13 Ghosts), it has a healthy dose of realism in it that makes the back corners of my mind believe in it. Blair Witch did the same to me in 1999, The Ring did it in 2003, and Paranormal Activity does it now.

The third installment was the best one yet, with slowly building tension, an ending that hits you before you expect it, and enough story to fit it into the continuity prepared by the first two films. It’s not a seamless fit, they did have to do a bit of retconning, but the end result features the most tension I’ve felt in a “cam flick” to date, and the ending sequence is damn near flawless, as far as I’m concerned.

Best “stupid” horror movie: “Dinoshark.” Roger Corman + Eric Balfour + Bad CG x Lovely Mexican scenery / no plot whatsoever = Uwe Bolle’s worst nightmare.

Most squandered potential: “Shadows of the  Dead.” I got this in one of those “12 Movies for $5” sets they often sell at Best Buy around this time of year, and while the premise was intriguing, the end result was just plan pathetic. The story is about a young couple who get lost in the woods on the way to a cabin for a romantic weekend. The man get bitten by a zombie and starts dying, so he of course infects his girlfriend and they are stuck alone, in the woods, dying together. Potential story-lines involving love and the struggle to retain one’s humanity are there, but are easily overshadowed by the hokey dialogue, dime-store makeup, and general lack of acting ability of the two leads. This could have been great: instead it made me shrug and move on. This movie edged out “Land of the Dead,” only because that movie had explosions and Dennis Hopper, two things that would have possibly made this one a bit more entertaining.

The Obligatory Stephen King reference: “Storm of the Century.” Billed as his first miniseries written exclusively for television, I remember loving this movie a little too much back in High School. Now that I’ve had a chance to see it again, it didn’t hold up all that well. I remember Andre Linoge being creepier, the storm being more devastating, the demonic references less obvious and the ending being a bit more screwed up. But still, it was a trip down memory lane, and didn’t make me laugh as much as re-watching “The Shining” did.

Number 10- Low budget laugh riot: “Red Riding Hood.” Not the Amanda Seyfried “Twilight-esque” retelling of the classic fairy tale, this one was on the same box set as “Shadows of the Dead,” and was infinitely better. It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not- the acting is over the top and hilarious, the blood is plentiful, the story is just barely there enough to keep it going, you see the ending coming almost from the beginning, and then it surprises you with the single most ridiculous twist I’ve ever had the privilege of sitting through. This film was worth all 60 cents I paid for it.

 

Oh Damn, I forgot one: “Wake Wood.” Timothy Spall + “Wicker Man” + “Pet Sematery” x Irish Countryside / Why wasn’t Christopher Lee in this movie too? = I want to see more.

By otakuman5000 On 2 Nov, 2010 At 04:57 PM | Categorized As PlayStation, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 2 Comments

No Gravatar

Chuck doing what Chuck does best

Ever since the teaser trailer posted on the internet in mid-2009 many people have been waiting eagerly for Dead Rising 2 and early October 2010 it is finally here. Originally Dead Rising was an Xbox 360 exclusive but Dead Rising 2 is now available for the Xbox 360 as well as the PlayStation 3 which is great because a wider audience can enjoy the zombie killing mayhem. However the Xbox players did get a little bonus, for a mere 400 Microsoft points ($5) they got Dead Rising 2: Case 0. This sets up the story of the star of the game, Chuck Greene and his daughter Katie. Players that have played Case 0 get to import their stats into the game which makes it a little easier at the beginning, as well as gives players a good tutorial on how the game works so they can jump right in but it is not necessary to play to understand the story. The best part of this sequel is that the events of the first game have no bearing on the player’s enjoyment or understanding of the game so worry not to everyone who has not played the first game or missed it because it didn’t appear on the PlayStation 3.

The Gameplay in this game is very simple yet provides hours of entertainment. It is your job as Chuck Greene to kill as many zombies as possible with objectives thrown into the mix that are time based. All of your objectives are given to you via a handheld walkie talkie (just like the first game) and most of these calls pertain to stranded survivors. These survivors are completely optional to visit and are not required to finish the story but saving them gives you a huge PP bonus. PP are Prestige Points and are used to determine your level, the higher your level the better Chuck performs. Sometimes these survivors aren’t that happy to see you and want to kill you, from here you can stay and fight or run away but killing them gives a nice bonus as well. While running around and saving people there will also be alerts when the story is about to unfold, events happen at a pre-determined time and usually there is a bit of down time in between to do those side missions or just kill as many zombies as you possibly can in the most creative ways. A big part of this

Crazy weapons

Freedom Bear and Chuck kickin' butt

game is the new combo weapons, no longer are you confined to killing with just a baseball bat, now you can duct tape nails onto it for more damage and more PP. The combo weapons are a nice feature since these weapons do a lot of damage and there is a variety of them. In the first game a lot of weapons did very little damage and there was one chainsaw that was essential to play the game, this is no longer the case since all combo weapons seem to be on that level. These combo weapons are created by combining two items on a workbench, and there are a lot of different possibilities however not everything can be combined. Another bonus to combo weapons is that they offer additional PP when using them so chuck gets to level up faster. Ranged weapons also got a massive improvement because chuck can now shoot and move at the same time, which hasn`t happened in too many Capcom games yet.

The graphics Dead Rising 2 are a huge improvement over the predecessor. The camera is a third person view and is fully maneuverable with the right analog stick and is usually pretty close so you get a good sense of the action. When Chuck is doing a special attack the camera moves to an angle that will show the best gore and right back after the action is over. Zombies are rendered in fairly high detail and there could be a thousand zombies on the screen without a hiccup. The games seems to do this by keeping everything in front of you in good focus but things that are off in the distance, including zombies, seem blurry. This does not take away from any gameplay and actually makes the game look better in my eyes. When shooting a ranged weapon the camera moves into an almost first person perspective (a over the shoulder but Chuck is transparent) and then you really get to see how ugly the zombies you are killing are. With so much mayhem happening all over the place the cut scenes are a nice break and are rendered in game. This can make for a lot of funny situations because of the clothes Chuck is wearing, especially when he’s being serious wearing a “Borat thong”. As beautiful as this game is there are a few hiccups that occur during play, this game does not seem to handle fire too well. There have been a few moments where explosions happened and there was a small frame rate shudder but when fire is involved it can be quite noticeable. When I encountered this it was mainly in the cut scenes so it didn’t really affect the Gameplay but it definitely caught my eye and was annoying, though worry not this only happened less than a handful of times.

When it comes to the audio for this game not much can be said for music, but a lot can be said about voice acting. The music is limited to mainly “mall music” or Muzak for the majority of the game and the occasional horror music here and there with rock thrown in during use of the work bench. At all times this feels appropriate and fits into the scheme of what is happening and where you are in Fortune City. The voice acting in this game is superb, with a great cast of people doing the voices. All the tones of the voice actors are very appropriate for the scenes that are unfolding and don’t ever seem unnatural. This is a great thing because it really helps immerse the player into the story. The only annoying voice acting comes in the form of survivors yelling for help because sometimes you can hear them way before you can see them and if you have no intentions of saving them, then you may be stuck listening to them for a extended period of time when you stick around the area, though you can always kill them yourself. <insert evil laugh>

Dead Rising 2

The multiplayer comes in two flavors in Dead Rising 2, first is the co-op and then there is “Terror is Reality”. The standard co-op allows a player to jump into a friend’s or random stranger’s game as long as the host allows this from the options. The joining player does not have any items but has their level and PP as well as their clothes. This may be a bit odd but while in co-op there are two Chucks running around at the same time and whichever person initiates a mission is the one featured in the cut scenes. The game plays exactly as it would in single player and the hosts file is used to mark the progress in the story and only the host can save. The joining player can save only their PP and combo cards upon disconnecting. To enter and exit areas both players must be close to the door and if one person gets killed then there is a timer started in which time the second player can revive the downed one with food. This reviving makes the game a bit easier but if the player isn’t revived then it’s game over, though the timer is very fair.

In “Terror is Reality” the player takes part in a competition with three others in a series of 3 minigames and then a finale of Slycycles (this is the first thing you do when you start the single player campaign). During the whole competition TK is making announcements in between events and there are two commentators that say some very crude things during the events. At the beginning of each even is also a summary of how to play so every player knows the controls and all together there are 9 events. Each of the 9 events focuses on killing or humiliating zombies with money awarded for everything you do. This money is then used to rank you on leaderboards and can then be transferred into your offline game, which is great since it gives you one less thing to worry about while the zombies try to eat you. There seems to be very little lag on the co-op portion of the game and in “Terror is Reality” the only mini game that lag is noticeable is when it happens in Ramsterball. This is the only minigame that has players trying to hit each other and sometimes players will teleport instead of having smooth motions, the rest of the games are player vs zombie and lag is almost not an issue. One thing I did notice though is in games where I saw lag in Ramsterball the final stage of Slycycles had much less zombies to kill then games with no lag.

Dead Rising 2 is a great game and is open to fans of the series as well as new comers alike. There is so much to do while between parts of the story that there is never a dull moment and in case you really don’t feel like playing the main story, you can always fail and just free play without having to do the missions, just kill zombies in as many ways as possible. With the addition of multiplayer there are even more laughs to be had with a friend to back you up as you decide to play soccer with the zombies or slice them in half with medieval weapons, whatever you prefer. Visually this game is appealing so you will not have to look away at any time unless you are squeamish due to the huge amounts of blood and gore from all the mayhem you cause. I highly recommend this game to anyone that likes to kill zombies with the craziest weapons imaginable and to anyone that likes to play games at their own pace since everything is pretty much optional in Dead Rising 2. So get your duct tape out and start killing those hordes because it’s an awesome for the good of humanity.