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Shinobi no mono (1962)
Part 1 of the definitive ninja film series.
There are very, VERY many excellent samurai films. It's a shame then, that there are so few good movies focusing on the ninja. At least as far as what's been released in the U.S. anyway. Still, considering just how highly regarded ninja are in American pop culture, it's a mystery why the Shinobi No Mono series isn't more widely known.
The series is based loosely on true events and features far more grounded action than Ninja Gaiden fans might expect. After all, the real life ninja were all about infiltration, espionage, sabotage, assassination, and subterfuge with their enemies not knowing what hit them until far too late. Straight combat was strictly a samurai thing.
The first three films are part of a single story arc and takes place during Japan's Sengoku (Warring States) Period which lead to Tokugawa Ieyasu becoming the first supreme Shogun. The fourth movie is a stand alone story taking place a number of years later when Ieyasu was consolidating his power and features a different main character (though played by the same lead actor).
All in all, the Shinobi No Mono series is definitely worth a watch for ninja fans. Also, anyone interested in Japanese history, or even anyone with a taste for period political thrillers should check it out. We can only hope that the rest of this series will some day be released here.
Medal of Honor (2010)
A refreshing change of pace.
The following is a review of the single-player campaign only.
I'll start out by saying that I never even touched the multiplayer on this game, or any recent game for that matter. It's just not my thing. I will also say that I only payed $7 (with a few other items for free super saver shipping) for this game and I'm certainly glad for that. The other reviewers aren't kidding. That campaign really is on the short side, even by today's standards. The whole package should never have been the full $60 that it was at launch.
Despite that though, I really enjoyed the time I did spend with the single-player. It takes place during the opening days of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in early 2002, still a year off from the debacles that would come from the Second Gulf War in Iraq and its aftermath. You play primarily as "Rabbit," a member of an elite "Tier One" squad code-named Neptune (SEAL Team 6) but you'll switch around to a few other characters from time to time (another "Tier One" operator named "Deuce" from Team Wolfpack (Delta Force), an Army Ranger and an attack-helicopter gunner). After all the WWIII fate-of-the-world-rests-in-your-hands type plots in the CODMW Trilogy that were really just excuses for big epic set pieces (not that that's a bad thing but it can get old), I was happy to play a military fps where I was a commando simply doing the actual-type stuff that commandos do in real life today. Much like the old COD and MOH games were essentially greatest-hits-of-WWII, this is greatest-hits-of-the-war-in-Afghanistan and I really liked that.
Shooting mechanics are solid for the most part and the weapons all feel good. The shotguns being the one possible exception which I must admit feel noticeably better to use in COD. Graphics and sound are both top notch. I like the fact that everything feels more plausible and the small Tier One teams don't just "go loud" on whole armies by themselves for no reason like pretty much all the recent Call of Dutys (that always bothered me about the Safehouse mission in COD4 helicopter or no). There are of course a few larger scale battles to break up the pace here and there which is appreciated. The on-rails helicopter mission is fun but perhaps a bit too simple. All in all, my biggest complaint is that the game is too short. I would of loved a couple more sniper/stealth missions with Wolfpack, a second more complicated helicopter mission, and at least one more mounted minigun sequence, but in the end, I didn't regret the $7 I spent.
One last thing I should mention is the game's title. It should have been called Medal of Honor: Special Forces or maybe Warfighter #1. Anything would have been better than just reusing Medal of Honor like the original ps1 game never existed.
If you're hungry for a new sp shooter to play and don't have a lot of money to spend, I'd recommend this game.