Crawl or Die

Dixi's Donjon

Wednesday
Jun292011

Bulletstorm



    Doesn’t every little girl dream of the exciting life of being a space pirate?  Flying in space in really cool although constantly needing work ships, looting other ships for booty, seducing anyone you want?  Sounds great.  But reality sets in and those fantasies get replaced like all other childhood dreams with responsibilities.  The creative team at EA, Epic and People Can Fly haven’t forgotten that dream and with their game Bulletstorm it’s time to let those fantasies come out to play.
    In this game, you play Grayson Hunt, a former member of an elite military squad but now a space pirate with a hefty bounty on your head.  You find yourself in a position to take out the man who betrayed you thus starting your life of piracy.  Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and you find yourself stranded on a resort planet.  That sounds great except for the fact that the inhabitants, both animal and vegetable, have experienced dramatic mutation.   The only way to survive is by helping the very man you were trying to kill.
    The story is truly a basic one and fairly short.  It doesn’t take that long to go through all seven acts.  There are some really great one liners between the characters or even from the resort ads.  The truly entertaining party of the game , though, are the actual kills.  The more unique the kill the more points you get, which gives you more opportunity to buy guns and bullets.  If you don’t get enough points you can’t buy bullets, which can cause problems.  The solution to that problem is kill the enemy and take his bullets or just use environmental kills and environmental kills will get you more points so you can get bullets next time.  To give an example, a plain bullet kill gives you 10pts while a headshot gives you 25pts.  However, kicking a guy into some exposed rebar will get you 100pts.  Not all of the skill kills are environmental, most of them do involve the guns, and that can get tricky to accomplish.  The guns are standard, assault rifle, shot gun, sniper rifle, pistol but there are some fun guns such as a flail gun, grenade launcher, and even a drill gun! 
    The overall controls are what you expect but sometimes you can get caught on nothing.  There is no jump capabilities so sometimes even though you are a big hulk of a badass you can’t walk over a simple rock or root. The run feature is there and it was a bit easier to control than the run in some other games.  The slide feature was fun and it helped you with enemies and skill shots. The trouble with slide is sometimes those cracks that you can’t jump over will also stop your slide and they aren’t always obvious.

    Something I found interesting was that there is a part where you essentially go through a simple maze within a time limit.  If you don’t make it before the time runs out and you have to redo the maze, the way out that you found the first time isn’t going to be the way out.  The maze wasn’t hard but that was a nice touch.  When this game sets time limits on getting through a part of it, you really have to get through in that time.  I know other games do that, but it seemed like so many were just doing the “we’ll make it seem urgent that you get through but really there is nothing happening until you hit the check points so don’t worry about it.”  On a personal preference, there were a couple of spots where you did nothing really from checkpoint to checkpoint.  It seemed like you might have something to deal with but it was taken care of in a cut scene so you just guided Hunt through the level and you didn’t even have a time limit. 
    Once you finish the campaign, there are other modes to play.  There is the Echo mode which takes various maps from the campaign and drops you in it.  The objective is to score as many points as possible.  This is obtained through those skill shot kills that you were learning through the campaign, and by beating it within the par time.  This is the opportunity to show off to friends (because there is a  leader board) or to be embarrassed if you can’t keep up. 
    Then there is multiplayer.  The multiplayer can be with strangers or just a private match with friends.  The team is made of up to four people and you have to work together to get enough points to complete the wave so you can continue to the next wave.  It is very much like the hoard mode from Epic’s Gears of War 2.  The enemies from the campaign come at you, with each wave different and more difficult to kill.  They even throw a special enemy that has to be killed by the team in a certain way.  This is easy to do with two people working together, but I had trouble getting the four of us to get it.  The live players I was partnered with just couldn’t get it together and wouldn’t listen to directions.  The joys of online gaming!
    The achievements have been very straightforward and easy enough to get.  They just take a little time and perhaps a couple of friends for the multiplayer ones.  There haven’t been any that were out of the way difficult or any secret ones!  The most problematic is just getting all the points in the Echo modes and all the skill shots.
    This game is fun to play and with the various ways to kill people it does have some replay ability.  The multiplayer can get monotonous but with the right party it is fun.  I could see there being a sequel made with these characters on a different planet; although, it will be more of just the same.  But then, many games have been very successful with that concept.  It is a fun game that is quick to play and doesn’t get bogged down.

I give this game a 4 out of 5. 


Wednesday
Jun292011

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmares


    One word: Zombies.  Now, take that word and drop it into an old west background.  That is what Rockstar did with their Undead Nightmares downloadable content for Red Dead Redemption.  The old west will never be the same.
    The DLC takes place after the game.  Your character, John Marston, has completed his task and returned to his wife and son.  It’s late at night when Uncle returns from the fields a changed man.  Chaos ensues, and your wife and son become infected.  Now John takes off across the west to find a cure for his family.  Many familiar faces have survived the strange outbreak, but not all.  Besides the obvious challenge of killing the undead with various weapons (I’m still trying to master tomahawk) there are other challenges and survivor quests unique to the DLC.  Escorting someone to a safe town isn’t completely new, but instead of the Most Wanted posters now there are Missing Persons.  I’ve only saved one so far but it was routine.  Something new - the woods of Tall Trees are “infested” with sasquatches!  Also, Mexico’s Chupacabra is out and about.  Perhaps the most amazing things are the four horses of the apocalypse and the unicorn, which you can ride... if you can break them! This is the old west meets horror meets fantasy!
    The controls are fairly simple and pretty easy to pick up.  The “Y” button on the default layout becomes the action button.  The major complaint I have with the controls is simply you have to be in just the right position to get the game to register you’re trying to open the chest or loot a dead body or even enter a room.  This is a problem I had with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto IV.  The run is funny and awkward looking but thankfully horses can go just about everywhere so you don‘t have to run that much.  The horse seems to be controlled better than the cars in GTA IV which is a big plus for me.  I might be thinking that because my paths aren’t as confined as the city streets and it’s much easier to take direct paths to a destination.  You can take any horse you want including undead horses, but personally I’ve been enjoying the apocalyptic horses.  Nothing is better than riding into town with your horse on fire as War is.
    To keep the game challenging there are different types of zombies.  You start with your general undead which the greatest danger from them is just their numbers.  Then there is the bolters.  They stay low to the ground but are fast, very similar to the hunters in a different game series.  The next type encountered are the bruisers.  These boys are big and will charge at you much like chargers and tanks, but they just charge and knock you down instead of pummeling you or throwing things.  The last distinct type of zombies are the retchers.  They spit toxic balls at you like the spitters, but they don‘t pool up.  While not a special type of zombie, there are zombie nuns.  I felt a little bad every time I killed them but it was a kill or be killed situation.  The different types of zombies all have one thing in common, they all fall with a single shot to the head.  You can use your revolver, sniper, rifle, or shotgun... as long as it’s a headshot the zombies go down. 
    This game seems a bit stingy on the achievements.  Most, but not all, of the secret achievements are story related, and you will get them as you play.  Some achievements you will get because you play but aren’t story related, such as getting 500 kills.  But many achievements you have to actively set out to do which is ok, but it is fun to just play a game and unlock a good portion of the available achievements.  I haven’t play multiplayer yet, but there are achievements for multiplayer. 
    I have finished the storyline of the Undead Nightmares, so I know about the fate of John’s wife and son, but this game does throw in a little bit of a twist for the free play at the end.  There really isn’t anything amazingly new or different for this zombie game but it is fun to go through. The west doesn’t provide much cover so surviving is up to you, your horse, and your gun.  This game’s campaign has replayability and I’m sure the multiplayer will be fun. Maybe I should actually play the original game to completion.

I give Undead Nightmares a solid 4 out of 5.           


captruing the horse of War

Friday
Jan282011

Dead Space


    This week saw the releases of the newest titles in the Dead Space series, Dead Space 2 for the 360, PS3, and PC and Dead Space Aftermath by EA and Anchor Bay Entertainment.  I played the first Dead Space game by EA back when it came out in 2008 and loved many aspects of it.  No game is perfect, but for a horror girl like me, it had a good creepy feel all throughout the game making it fun.
    Playing the game made me want to watch the animated movie that came out as a prequel, Dead Space Downfall from EA and Anchor Bay Entertainment.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of movies going into the history of established characters but I was curious about what had happened on the Ishimura.  Downfall delivered the answers.  It showed the decent into madness by the captain and why the doctor was acting the way he was.  There were scenes in the movie involving areas that were visited in the game and I found myself going, “So that’s what happened there!”  I was not disappointed at all by the movie.
    Dead Space 2 follows Isaac Clarke after his exploits on the Ishimura.  It seems while physically Isaac survived his mind might not have.  Unfortunately, the blasted Necromorphs from the first game have found him and are killing everything again.  I haven’t played this game yet, but it is on my wish list.

    Before I check out the game, however, I think I will have to watch Dead Space Aftermath also from EA and Anchor Bay Entertainment.  Aftermath seems to be about the USG O’Bannon, the last ship (hopefully) that was sent out to investigate the catastrophe of the Ishimura and on the planet, Aegis VII.  It seems that the horror are still rampant though and only four crew members have survived.  From the trailers I have seen this promises to be another creepy and gory film featuring the truly unique zombie-like creatures, the Necromorphs.  However, there are still two years between Aftermath and Dead Space 2, so what else is in store for our viewing pleasures?

Wednesday
Oct202010

Oklahoma Horror Film Festival

The Oklahoma Horror Film Festival has come and gone.  It was a blast, and if you missed this one, shame on you!  You had better be at the 2011 OHFF.  Yes, I have talked to the people in charge and they are planning on another one next year.
    FearCast had a blast out there talking to new people and some old friends.  I even experienced a run by glittering, from which I still have the glitter in my phone.  However, I’m not going to just write about the con experience, I wanted to talk about the few films I saw.
    Now, yes, I know that you’re thinking, “But Dixi, you review video games.  What do you think you’re doing?”  To that thought, all I have to say is this is MY dungeon and I AM the mistress!
    First, I have to say I didn’t get to see nearly as many films as I would have liked.  Working with FearCast I was busy getting interviews or manning the table or just talking shop with people.  Sunday I got to watch some but events kept me from watching everything.
    The first short I watched was The Resurrectionist directed by Susan Bell.  In this film the wife sells a recently dead body to the medical school.  Her husband has to deliver the body but along the way he is plagued by visions and supernatural events.  He gets home and finds out why the body can’t rest in peace.
    It had a good eerie feel to it and the story was structured very well.  There were some camera angles and shots that didn’t work completely for me, but they didn’t distract overall from the film, so that wasn’t a major problem.  The cast was minimal; the only truly extra cast member was the son.  I know it was to reinforce the fact that there was a family to provide for.  I couldn’t completely tell if the son was supposed to be ill or not.  When you see him it’s late so he could have been in bed just because of the hour.  If part of the motivation was to help their sick son it could have been implied better or even brought up that the money could buy the medicine the child needed.  Something so that it wouldn’t seem like just pure greed.  All that aside, I would watch the film again.
    In Sinkhole, directed by Eric Scherbarth, a young representative from a company talks to an older man, and that is the whole of the movie.  The older man owns property that the company the younger man works for wants.  But it turns out that there is a reason the older man won’t sell.  The enthusiastic young man won’t listen until it is too late.
    This is a very simple movie premise, just two people in a simple room talking.  But for all that simplicity there was complexity.  The use of lighting to help bring to focus certain points.  The social commentary of corporations trying to take over.  Or, if you want something more basic, the eternal struggle of the youth and the mature.  I liked this movie and would watch it again.
    The description for Survivors is simple.  “A classic zombie tale told with Bollywood bite.”  it starts with a young woman running trying to find refuge from some unseen pursuer.  She finds a bar and the bar owner, who is reluctant to let her in.  How quickly humans go to thinking only of themselves.  She is finally allowed in and after a while they share their stories realizing that their lives were connected before everything went wrong.  The zombies attack when they are unprepared.  The ending is in my opinion one of the best for a zombie flick and I won’t give it away.
    The story was well paced and many shots were beautiful.  There is some throwback to Hitchcock and others.  The threat was off camera and all the violence was more conveyed through their stories of what happened.  I’ve always enjoyed movies that didn’t rely on violence and gore to get the point across (not that this dungeon mistress doesn’t like those movies too.)  Yes, this is a movie I would watch again too.
    D wanted to watch the foreign short Zombies and Cigarettes.  In this short our young hero wants nothing more than to share some ice cream with the beautiful young heroine.  As she is rushing away from his offer to go to work, zombies invade the mall where they work.  Our hero’s mission is now to protect the fair lady and he tries to find her.  He actually falls and is knocked out but the zombies leave him alone for some reason.  The girl and friendly ice cream vendor find him and bring him to where they are hiding out planning an escape.  Just as they are making a final run at getting out of the mall, the outbreak is over.  The girl goes back to her friends and our hero is left alone.
    This one was subtitled in English, but that didn’t take away from the movie.  It had a great balance between the horror and light comedy.  This film was nominated for the best foreign and best special effects awards.   It had the simplest reason for why the zombies didn’t attack the unconscious hero.  And while I wasn’t happy with the ending (why did the zombies go away?  What about the bitten survivors?)  I did enjoy the movie.  Even D liked it.
    This next short is hard for me to actually consider a short.  It is called The Necronomicon, and it is a spoof of an old Book of Mormons commercial.  The commercial starts out with a man reading a book.  He is joined by another man and they begin discussing books and life.  The second man tells of an amazing book that changed his life.  From there it is the commercial for the Book of Mormons.  Well, the Necronomicon starts the same only it is from the Esoteric Order of the Old Ones and Cthulhu Cultists.  There isn’t much I can say, it is a commercial more than a short film, but it had me laughing.
    The Terrible Thing of Alpha 9 won the Howler for Best Animated Film.  I actually agree that it deserves an award, although this was the only animated film I watched.  This film follows a space hero on his quest to defeat this terrible beast that has claimed the lives of many adventurers.  He finds this beast and tries everything he can to kill it.  The problem is that this beast isn’t really such a horrible blood thirsty creature.  It really is misunderstood and just wants to play.  Unfortunately this beast plays too hard with its toys.  As our adventurer is added to the pile of broken toys, another craft lands on the planet and the beast is happy again with the prospect of another playmate.
    I liked the fact this played on the "classic creature isn’t bad, just misunderstood" theme.  And the animation made me think of  the movie Heavy Metal, a favorite of mine.  There was no dialogue that I remember.  It was a fun movie that I want to watch again and again.  The audience even felt for the beast judging by their reactions.
    Worm was a movie that explains a lot about your high school teachers.  This movie is mostly the inner dialogue of an average looking teacher, but his thoughts are anything but average.  They start out common enough with the basic contempt for the kids he’s trying to teach who refuse to learn.  During a break in the teachers' lounge he still has nothing nice to say about fellow teachers either.  You get the feeling that maybe the other teachers don’t like him too much either.   As the day goes, on we find out that the teacher has a crush on a student.  He is completely infatuated and in his mind is making plans to go away with her.  He gets jealous when she talks to a male student.  By the end of the day his thoughts have gone homicidal and his briefcase is full of disturbing pictures and equipment.  Then he goes home.
    This is a slower horror movie, and I have to admit, I was bored through the beginning.  I laughed for the jokes and recognized a similar attitude in myself towards some people I know.  It did get better but I can’t say that I have the desire to see it again.  There was an opportunity for more conflict, although obvious, but it wasn’t taken.  The film just didn’t really stand out in my mind as great but I can’t bash it completely.
    The last short I got to watch was Dracula’s Daughters vs. the Space Brains.  I think the title is longer than the actual film.  And I have to say the blurb for the film tells more than the film does.  But I’m going to just talk about the film.  It starts with Neil Patrick Harris walking with a ballet dancer.  They are talking and it seems like a nice romantic date.  Then the couple encounter another woman, the ballerina’s sister.  The sisters decide that NPH is their next meal but after one bites him, he reveals he’s not a red blooded human but instead a host for a space brain.  The sister that bit him becomes infected and both brains attack the remaining sister.
    This film was nominated for Best Horror Comedy and it was funny.  This was one where it was intentionally made to be funny instead of such a horrible movie you have to laugh.  I do kind of wish that it was longer.  The atmosphere was eerie and worked well.  Needless to say I liked this short and I couldn’t have picked a better film to be the last of the day.
    I wish I could have watched more of the movies.  But I was busy taking pictures and talking to people.  I do have a copy of President’s Day that I can watch which D and Monster both recommend.  So, I have one more fun thing from the festival to look forward to!


Wednesday
Oct202010

Naughty Bear

     I have to admit, that I write this article under the watchful eyes of four friends.  They want to make sure I write a good review.  And they will use any means possible.  One has his tire iron over the keyboard and another took his face off!
    Nobody likes to be left out of community events, not even teddy bears, but poor Naughty Bear finds himself left out of the parties constantly, or he is under the gun as the other bears bring in ninja assassins and/or the military.  These are the stories of the 505 Games’ Naughty Bear.
    The game comes with seven episodes. These are your stories, and they are all self-contained.  The only reason you have to play them in order is just to unlock the next one.  Each of these episodes have five challenges.  The nice thing is that an eighth episode is available for download and is free.
    The overall idea of the game is to punish the other bears for excluding you just because you’re a little bit naughty.  But the way you punish is where the fun begins.  Let’s take the first episode for an example.  It’s Daddle’s birthday and you have a present for him but you weren’t invited.  So, you destroy your present for him and all the other ones you encounter.  Not enough punishment for being left out of the fun for you?  Then you can destroy the party decorations!  You get points for destroying things, so destroy away!  With everything you destroy it makes the bears scared, and that gets you even more points.  Still feel like it’s not enough punishment for those bears?  Then you can go Jason Voorheese on their asses!  You can scare them, set up bear traps, beat them up, or kill them.  And there are so many ways to kill the bears, including with a machete!  My personal favorite thing to do, though, is to drive a bear insane and push him over the edge so he kills himself. 
    So, now that I have explained the basic ideas of the game, let’s get down to some actual game play.  It’s a third person game, and it has some camera angle issues.  There were times during an execution scare when the screen is black.  Also, going with the bad angles, sometimes you can set a trap outside a window or door and it has you on the barrier.  The bad thing is it will always put you inside as you take care of the trapped bear, and the other bears in the room will attack you.
    More on the negative side - you have to have everything lined up just right.  I’ve had bears escape the trap because I couldn’t get the right angle for the action menu to pop up.  Going along with that is the game's aim mode.  I like aiming my guns to get my headshots but here you have to go into aim mode to fire the gun.  Ok, this I can handle.  Aim mode does slow down your movement.  Again, something I can understand.  It gets annoying that it’s a toggle feature instead of just holding the button down.  Also annoying is when you pick up a firearm you go straight into aim mode.  That can cause problems if you are trying to run away.  But probably the most frustrating thing is that the aim mode should be just for the guns, but in this game melee needs to have aiming too!
    Something that does make the game even more frustrating is if you fail your objective, you have to restart the whole mission over again.  Most of them are broken into three segments, and if you fail at the end of the third it is back to the start.  Failing doesn’t always mean dying.  If can just be a bear got away or someone catches you being naughty.
    As much negative I have about the game, I still enjoyed playing the game.  What can be better than fighting Zombear Jason or Zombear Freddy, Ninjabear Lee, Officerbear Hooks or Officerbear Hightower?  The makers put some thought into the game with the subtle humor like that.  There are even some posters around that have been “Obama-ized”.  And there are some very fun death sequences.  This is a game that seems like it is for the children but is entertaining for the adults.
    I rate this game 5 out of 5 (but please remember to take 2.5 points off - I only gave it a five because I am being threatened by those 4 scary bears that thankfully can’t read).