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Grann-Bach

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The distraction, 21 August 2014
7/10

Soldier Colter(Gyllenhaal, driven), wakes up on a Chicago subway train, sitting opposite of Christina(Monaghan, adorable, if less so than she was in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang… which is still a ton). She knows, and clearly likes, him, yet he has no recollection of getting on, nor does he recognize her… or his own reflection! 8 minutes later, the car blows up. He comes to, back in that same situation. It has already happened, but he can keep going over that portion of time, and try to find and stop the bomb. And, lest you think there is no tension or reason for us to care(as is the case with Edge of Tomorrow), he has to do it fast… it was only the first attack, and he is the best chance of preventing the next one.

This gains a lot from the human story in there, with our protagonist's insistence on being more than a tool, by being allowed to contact his father outside of the "replay", and the studio-enforced, yet still sweet, romance. The explanation for the sci-fi aspects strains credulity, though not to the breaking point. It's fun to see him try to crack the mystery, and we are guessing right along with him. Ultimately, the solution has a number of problems: it feels so convenient and simple that I kept waiting for the twist to it, and it's easy once we get there, to the point where the audience wonders why it took so long to get there. The effects, editing and cinematography are very nicely done.

This isn't as clever as it thinks it is. It also doesn't realize all of the ethical issues the concept brings up, in spite of trying to address the ones it can. The subtle exploration of post-9/11 thinking is one of the greatest strengths here. With a running time of 83 minutes not counting the end credits(89 with), and the first(as we're waiting for the film to establish what we go into it already knowing, or at least be entertaining until it gets there) and last quarter of an hour not being all that compelling, we're left with a middle that is enjoyable enough… still, I don't expect I'll watch this again. While the ending does make sense, it's rather sappy, and we end up feeling more tricked than surprised.

The DVD comes with the informational tracks: #1: audio commentary with Jake Gyllenhaal, Director Duncan Jones, and Writer Ben Ripley, #2: Access Source Code: Trivia and #3: Tales of Time Travel, three interesting featurettes: the 26 minute Cast and Crew Insights(interviews), 6 and a half minute Focal Points(the concepts are explained) and 18 minute Expert Intel(physics professor discusses the realism of different aspects of this), trailers for Unknown, Brighton Rock, Attack the Block and this, and an ad for Mars.

There is a little violence, disturbing content and moderate to strong language in this. I recommend this to the biggest fans of stories about time-travel, alternate universes, etc. 7/10

In Soviet Russia… game plays you, 20 August 2014
7/10

Niko(Hollick, angry yet hopeful; he is emotionally unstable, and his state of mind often doesn't match ours… and it's not like a distraught protagonist can't work, Kane & Lynch showed us that) goes to America, in part because his cousin Roman(Zumwalt, eternal optimist) claimed he had made it. All relationships in this are credible and dynamic, and theirs is no exception. He got involved with wrong people that and came to get away from that, only for it to happen again, and the theme of revenge and Capitalism are explored.

The multi-player is amazing. It plays like the single-player, as crazy and open, with only the deeper features removed. You can even go around the whole city(which helps us forgive that it's smaller, greyer and less varied, if more detailed)! The modes are sufficiently different from each other, and play to the separate strengths of these… race, steal, kill, escort, etc. One is specifically for missions, albeit their design is… meh, and they run together. This showcases the ability to pack a four-seater with four different players, all firing one of their two(that goes for every weapon class, at best) pistols, SMGs or throwables anywhere by the smooth 360 degree camera(you can turn as much as you want on the road without losing track of where you aim. You do have to manually adjust it whenever you aren't walking).

This tones down and/or removes a lot of iconic elements, humor, "over the topness", instead going for a more serious experience, with grit here meaning boredom. They add content, and little of it is interactive. The engines… graphics, physics(water, objects, rag-doll, dynamic lighting, etc.), etc… are improved upon majorly, with the game-play being the same or worsened(with a laundry list of features removed), when that was always something that we were patient with, since what wasn't average was fun, and that has changed here. It's just not as inviting.

The characters are well-cast, covering many ethnicities, with Italians, Irish, Russians, etc. There are offensive stereotypes, in the satire, which is clever, smart, thought-provoking, and targets everyone equally(the sad thing is that the Republicans have been so aggressive in moving further right-wing that when it comes to them, this doesn't parody, but represent). There are perverts, radical feminists, hipsters, reality TV, drugs, corruption, sex, money, a scared-of-sex Conservative, a sham psychic, health-care debate from all sides, global warming fought through T-Shirts, etc., through ads, shows, signs, logos, slogans, etc.

There's a lot of tedium and repetitiveness here. Plot points are repeated(you lose track of how many of your employers are killed or jailed, most before you really get to know them), murder is the solution to most problems(without the stealth we fell in love with), and gunning others down is just not that enjoyable(yup, huge problem right there…). Bullets knock down others(though the explosiveness of barrels is unpredictable and useless) in one of the countless awkward aspects of this, and the cover is awful, to the point where you vie for not using it unless forced to. You don't stick out when bringing up the reticule, only when you pull the trigger, and only while you're holding it down, messing up timing for both starting and ending a burst.

The cell is inspired. Make and receive calls(any "name" you meet in this is added to your contacts list) and photos, and, unfortunately, be harassed by Friends(at least earning favors, such as cheap guns, goons, a ride, all near you, with a cool-down and the requirement that you stay on their good side) to go take in one of the decent-at-best mini-games, or one of the hours' worth of shows, stripping, stand-up, etc. that you don't care about. You or they ask for it to happen "now"(so hurry up and get there, you barely have time, especially if you're far away, and there's at least one where you basically have to be right next to him to make it), you take them there, choosing where, then take them home. The internet allows emailing, engaging with companies, online dating and such, fleshing out the world, and you're not particularly forced into it.

This is less challenging than the earlier ones, albeit it still isn't an Assassin's Creed title. Still, for that amount, you gather guns and ammo(well, they throw both at you, loot bodies and you'll never need to spend a dime on either), explore the area, and come in with as much of a plan as you can, apply yourself during it, and you may still need luck, leading to satisfying, hard won victories. The trademark frustrating unevenly difficult areas return, now worse than ever, because of the contrast. Military, bicycles and planes are gone… well, the latter takes off non-stop at the airport, without us being able to block or blow them up and why wouldn't I try to don't you realize what series this is.

Steering a helicopter remains more involved than driving(it should be both or neither… yes, one is more complicated than the other, but you can't just sit down and master either just like that), albeit it doesn't handle as bad as cars with skidding and slow response(that goes for much of what you do on foot, as well), and you can use what you've learned before this. It isn't necessary often. Just Cause does far better on this, and there are numerous parts of this that that is true of, add the other Grand Theft Autos to that. The controls, in this and in general, are in desperate need of streamlining. Too often you end up looking at your keyboard, trying to find the right one. Why does your phone have separate ones? You can't do anything but move when you have it out, anyway!

In addition to what I've already mentioned, there is a lot of bloody, violent, disturbing content, strong language in this. I recommend this to the biggest fans, and mainly for playing with others. 7/10

8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
The worst one yet, 15 August 2014
5/10

Arms dealer Stonebanks(Gibson, awesomely evil, and starts the trend of the aging icons who join this being the best part, especially from how they relate to the returning members, which is with tension and core conflict, often with Sly… we miss them and their energy and talent whenever they aren't on screen) turns out to still be alive, and is determined to kill his former team, The Expendables. So group leader Barney(Stallone, enjoyable; and his fun facing off with CIA spook portrayed by Ford puts the latter's gruff authority to good use) he fires the people we paid to go see, immediately after freeing Doctor Death(Snipes, yes, that's what he's called here, and his rivalry with Statham, both of them knife-wielding long-time colleagues and close friends with Ross) and hiring Galgo(Banderas, who never shuts up, and is easily the most fun… albeit it is a love-him-or-hate-him kind of thing), both of whom struggle to fit in with the established team. For a third or so, this is hijacked by the pilot for a spin-off series, or possibly the audition tapes for the next Mission Impossible movie... a modern spy thriller, at least. The young mercs are fine, even good at points, but they don't belong in this. And ultimately, the old guys are brought back in.

Three films in, and we've abandoned the 80's throwback "let's get these guys together" concept. The original had a huge(albeit exhausting) climax, the second a massive opening, this has neither. All we do get are epic shots, and this straight-up steals the setup for the last 45 minutes from what I'm told is a far better picture. Did I mention this is an overlong two hours? The excessive number of characters reaches a new high… or low, rather, and no one has much to do, even if the young blood actually have identities and roles in the missions. The PG-13 is felt, with bloody, gory violence completely trimmed(and the strong language toned down; people are still gunned down and blown up, you merely don't see any wounds or the like) to remove the edge, but it's the least of the problems here. In general, the "over the top" quality is just about gone. Every cool gag was in the trailer. In spite of the quality that aspect of the last sequel, the action here lacks variety, each sequence ends too soon, it's stealth-heavy and every mêlée fight is done in close-ups and edited to be too fast, eliminating the showcase of the martial arts of the youths that was part of the pitch here… they certainly weren't hired for their acting chops.

I recommend this solely to the most patient and forgiving fans. While never a good franchise, this is where it throws in the towel. 5/10

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
We're in good hands. I think., 1 August 2014
10/10

Peter(Pratt, playing it like a mix between Han Solo and Marty McFly, likable from the get-go) steals a coveted orb, and intends to nab the reward, until he… eventually… realizes that it's too powerful, and has to be kept out of the hands of religious fanatic Ronan(Pace, terrifying, psychotic, driven), or he will commit genocide.

Our unlikely and reluctant hero meets others like him(they fight at their first encounter), and these scoundrels(there weren't enough of those in the franchise) form an uneasy alliance, gradually connecting with each other and becoming selfless and heroic. Bounty hunters Rocket(Cooper, angry, bitter, smart), a cyborg raccoon(!) and Groot(Vincent… eh, or: Diesel, putting a lot of emotion into three words, naïve, enthusiastic, a big lug with a huge heart), a giant, sentient tree(did I mention this came out of the Silver Age? It's a Saturday Morning Cartoon every step of the way, and gloriously so). Assassin Gamora(Saldana, sultry, deadly, moral) trying to break away from adoptive father Thanos(Brolin, with all the gravitas that requires… with only a short appearance, he's not the main villain… see above… he makes a real impression), and "sister" Nebula(Gillan, sadistic because of her intense jealousy borne from their sibling rivalry), who hunts her down. And Drax(Bautista, who does remarkably well for little experience… everyone, character and actor, is solid), essentially Conan(the barbarian, not the O'Brien) of space, who wants revenge on the bad guy for his murdered family... or possibly aforementioned, since she worked with him…

There are too many elements in this(groups, people, allegiances, motivations…), and the scope and abilities of some of them is a little difficult to get a proper grasp on, but once you let it sit, probably after the end credits(which you must stay through!), it does all come together. Somehow it splits the focus and time fairly equally between them, if it only hints at, and doesn't explore. This is amazing from start to finish. Everyone has something to bring to it, in action, drama, humor, etc. This is a stand-alone that takes place in the same universe as the Avengers films, and you can go into this with no knowledge of those, or the comics it emulates and is based on. This takes inspiration from Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and lives up to the standards set by those classics.

There is some violence(it doesn't push the PG-13 as much as other recent entries in the genre) and a little strong language in this. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys big, fun Summer blockbusters. 10/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Chilling, 25 July 2014
8/10

Sgt. Sarchie(Bana, determined, with a past) struggles to balance his job, dealing with gruesome New York crime(such as an early creepy scene at the Bronx Zoo), and a loving family that tries to give him space, but it is starting to strain their relationship. When the latter are put in harm's way by the former, he finds himself teaming up with a priest(Ramirez, exotic and passionate for his calling) that he gets a bit of a bromance going with, and challenging his notion that there's no such thing as the supernatural… when he finds himself chasing a serial killer whose rituals don't seem to be only the work of a human.

Part of what makes this work is that there is more going on than the possession. This is driven by the characters, and their very tangible personal issues. You want to see more of them, including the bad-ass adrenaline junkie partner, Butler(McHale, bringing his hilarious snark in, easing up the otherwise constant strangling tension). The atmosphere is amazing, with little sound or light, and an ominous score, similar to Derrickson's earlier work, Sinister. And yet, this isn't the same movie, albeit they touch upon some of the same themes, in different ways: a flawed, non-superstitious, well-meaning protagonist who has to protect his loved ones but also fight the grisly murders that he finds himself pulled towards – mirrored by our attraction to his working against it.

The jumpscares are never purely cheap, with new twists put on existing tricks, and with how it builds… yes, there is a sudden shock with a cat, but it's part of an on-going thing. Scenes will hold a tight grip on you as you watch on in terror, without it getting exploitative… in spite of a lot of bloody violence, and some graphic gore, much of it effective. While attempts to convince the viewer of the truth of religion, Christianity to be exact, are feeble at best and completely unnecessary, this is compelling as an exorcism piece. The grit and grunge of the city plant it firmly in the real world, and make us pray for the release the end credits will bring, not from poor fiction, rather, from seemingly inescapable, actual evil. There are awkward and silly moments in this, and you do have to suspend a sizable chunk of disbelief to fully enjoy it.

In addition to what I've already mentioned, there is some strong language in this. I recommend this to any fan of horror. 8/10

Worse things have happened to the Jews, 22 July 2014
7/10

1987. A bunch of youths who are still stuck living at home with their parents have to save up money for college and take Summer jobs in the titular amusement park. Among the unwinnable games, all of these odd types unintentionally form a sort of dysfunctional family. James(Eisenberg, nerdy and neurotic) starts falling for Em(Stewart, her being her usual moody self fitting this, and him, they're cute together), but things are a little complicated. For one thing, she secretly has a thing with Mike(Reynolds, charming as usual, former big time musician), even though he's married.

Outside of one or two chunks where a lot happens, this is uneventful. It's pretty slow, even though the 96 minutes sans credits(102 minutes with) don't really drag. The teen romance is relatively conventional in its progression, but it's also realistic and engaging. With 40 80's pop songs, this has a very distinct sense of setting. It's very indie – small, personal, intimate. This isn't a laugh-out-loud comedy, albeit it can be funny. There's enough quirk to go around, with awkward interactions, especially on dates… talking past each other, half-answering, ignoring, misreading nonverbal cues.

This contains some drug content, strong language and sexuality, as well as brief bloody violence. I recommend this to anyone who wants this kind of story. 7/10

Neighbors (2014/I)
0 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Amiable relations with some nuisances, 18 July 2014
7/10

Married with infant daughter Rosie(the twins Vargas, who we all agree are adorable and has some of the best moments) and living in suburbia is boring Mac(Rogen, still wanting to get stoned) and Kelly(Byrne, dying to get out of the house… she is allowed to let loose, nearly steals the show, but does also do some of the worst things… which makes the lack of consequences for the couple, and the clear way this sides with them). When a frat moves in next door, they both worry about the loud parties(which do get repetitive and exhausting, quick), and see a way to prove, in part to themselves, that they're still cool and irresponsible(for a while, they certainly live up to the latter). And once they call the cops on the bros, an all-out war is declared.

This is very funny, but only the climax is non-stop hilarity. When it crosses the line into the offensive, it does actually make us laugh, it isn't pure shock value. The set-pieces are great, memorable and often inspired. There are some issues with the humor, a lot of it arising from trying very hard to make our sides ache. Too much awkwardness(when some of it, such as the response to a fist-bump, is actually really good), going loud for the end of a scene in place of a punchline, because it's a way to get a reaction(when that, by itself, isn't actually that compelling). And while a lot of solid material comes out of the improvising, it does grind the movie to a halt to let them riff off each other.

In spite of some inconsistencies and vagueness to the personality in the background ones, this does get a lot of strong bits from its characters. Our two protagonists, and how they are together, and it becomes explosive when you add the president of the Delta Psi, Teddy(Ephron, dumb and determined to leave a legacy via a year-end epic blowout… and while the whole trio get to play both extremes, his gentle, charming leader-type and his pure, unrestrained psycho are phenomenal). Likewise, this contrasts the two neighbors well(albeit never properly explaining why no one else in the area are bothered by the noise), with both jealous of some of what the other has… be it a fun life, or a set future.

This contains constant coarse language, sexuality, drug content, violence, and some nudity. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a raunchy teen comedy. 7/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Highly refined, 14 July 2014
10/10

After half a century of occupation, the planet Bajor is finally free of the Cardassians(all but Garak, who remains, seemingly an exile… is he really just a tailor? Could he be a spy for them?). Well, more or less… the latter will continue to pester them, since there's now a treaty, and they retain some territories. The Provisional Government is a barely cohesive whole and doesn't have much support. Kira(Visitor, speaks her mind even when it'll get her in trouble) is the liaison between them and the Federation, who remain to support the rebuilding effort. The discovery of a nearby wormhole, the only stable known, complicates matters. It will enable travel back and forth between "our", quadrant, Alpha, and Gamma, which, until now, was so far away it made little sense to even consider going there. The orbiting station of Deep Space Nine will be a trading post and dock, dealing also with the plentiful traffic, all of which represents a potential help, or threat… to the safety of the war-torn lands. And a few seasons in, also once "the voice" of this has been found, tensions increase and what was a great show becomes an excellent one.

Characters are the core, as with all good Star Trek. Credible, three-dimensional, well-acted(even when they have their body "taken over", etc.), passionate, every last one. Main and even some peripheral, the focus is evenly divided. The show likes and understands them all, and that is contagious. We don't meet as many new species or groups, but this means less one-offs, and most you meet, you will see again, learning more(without the mystery ever being lost) about them, seeing them(heck, everyone in this) in different situations: with or without power, at their peak or their lowest end, and running the gamut of emotions. The status quo will be shaken up... and these changes take time, not happening overnight. I should note that this review is co-written by my ex-fiancée. She has watched these more than I and helped me ensure that I covered every aspect here.

Things are run by Benjamin Sisko(Brooks, wounded badass, not brooding, pragmatic but not jaded, charming). His kid Jake(Lofton, a real teen, unlike Wesley) and he maintain a natural father/son relationship. The latter's friend Nog(Eisenberg, dedicated), a Ferengi(capitalist, "let the buyer beware"), the two from different cultures, and the question is raised, are they a good or a bad influence on each other. His uncle Quark(Shimerman, giving us uncomfortable reminders of our past), who runs the bar/casino and attracts business, and his contacts can get off-the-record stuff done. He has a real give-and-take, banter-driven thing going on with Constable Odo(Auberjonois, using his T1000 powers for sting operations), the lonely, "non-human who gives us perspective on what we are like"(like Data or Spock) of this. I imagine he was based on those with Asperger's, and from personal experience, can say they do it extremely well.

Officer of not techno-babble but actual science is Dax(Farrell, with the Dax symbiont in her giving the weight of many lives and their memories). Chief of Engineering Miles O'Brien(Meaney, an everyman) and his wife Keiko(Chao, a botanist), who have a Homer/Marge marriage… he may not always know how to make her happy, but he does love her and his efforts show that. And finally, Doctor Bashir(Siddig, young, arrogant, eager to prove. He has studied, not experienced). Prominent guests include Jeffrey Combs, who is always enjoyable to watch. Always present at the bar is Morn(Shepherd, a big, cute guy, who doesn't speak and hardly moves, we know about him from what others say about or to him, such as in response to an off-screen exchange. He has a ton of personality, and it's consistent, with the use of mostly just his eyes and gestures, reminiscent of Kevin Peter Hall, R.I.P., who performed The Predator, among others), a tribute to and anagram of Norm, of Cheers.

This favors tense episodes with a climax and then a short wrap-up over an in-depth explanation. Like other sci-fi, it works on multiple levels, such as 'just wanting to enjoy the story' and 'thinking about/debating/analyzing', repeated viewings will allow you to think about the layers. It seems to have learned lessons from The Next Generation, it's so tightly written and executed. The theme of religion explored, almost every single idea explored in the show has, and is fair to, both sides. The Prophets(or to others, aliens) offer spiritual guidance, "helping people to accept situations, and to grow" without forcing rules upon people(though the people come up with some. They see everything, without time or context, but they show you only glimpses of your future, often something truly important to you.

This features amazing production design, with tremendous attention to detail and credibility. It meticulously ties up anything resembling loose ends and plot threads. This is even more relevant now, 20 years later. It is the first Star Trek with a regular straight-up comic relief character, and it can be a tad annoying, and doesn't always fit with the otherwise mature content. They do stories, scenes and concepts that you've seen before, but they do them so well that you don't mind, and at times you'll even be happy to see their take on it. Politics, philosophical ideas and compelling SF concepts are explored, but that happens in other ST, as well... so here, there's the added dimension of inner conflict in the core group. Half of them have different backgrounds, goals and points of view than others, and this comes across. The tension is felt.

There is disturbing content and some bloody violence in this. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys fiction… this has the closest to real people and the most universal stories of the franchise(you should have a basic understanding of the tech, since there is so much else going on here, it's too much to pick up), and if you watch only one series, it should definitely be this one. 10/10

Hansel and Gretel (1982) (TV)
Almost everything in my house is... edible!, 7 July 2014
5/10

Two children are lured into the woods and left for dead by their stepmother, who claims she cannot feed them(me, I think it's because she unfairly portions the... slop). They come upon a house made of cake and faces(!), and comfortably eat, even agreeing to come in... only to find that the woman who owns it is a witch.

We all know the fairie tale. This follows the structure and, in general, a lot of elements, including ones often changed, like the swan. It does, however, change... some things. Because of(?) the Asian cast, there is martial arts, complete with shurikens. What is meant to fatten Hansel is a gingerbread man. That talks. And demands he eat it. A kid is grabbed by several of the hands attached to the marshmellow bed he was sleeping in – Craftmatic charged extra for that. Both of the wicked women in this are played by the same person, a guy no less, and he eats *all* of the scenery, sugary or otherwise. Yama's performance alone is worth watching this for.

Yes, this is disturbing. One of the ingredients here is concentrated nightmare fuel. Before you ask "isn't this a children's film", yes, but it is also a Brother's Grimm tale, and, also rather explicitly, a Burton piece. His trademarks are very present: Gothic, surreal, creative design/visuals, exaggerated features and the like, such as their huge dinner table(I swear, that thing'd seat a dozen people, easily), and the same object can be both creepy and cute. The father is a toymaker, allowing for a lot of wound-up figures, largely gratuitous and confined mostly to the opening sequence(did I mention that one of these eats another? Hey, it's thematically consistent).

This is made of both stop motion and live action, and, sadly, you can usually tell where one ends and the other begins. Sets look cardboard-y, some of the props don't feel "real". This is separate from the cleverly done "unreal", imagination-driven atmosphere, which was, of course, intentional. I don't know if the colorful candy is supposed to look as nasty as it does. The two titular characters deliver OK performances... not many actors their age are stellar. Cinematography is good. The 34 and a half minute running time is decently paced. Considering the budget, even for TV, this could have been better – it's probably more that this is Tim's first chance in the chair.

I recommend this to anyone curious, though this shouldn't be the director's first work you see. It is memorable, for reasons both positive and negative, and it is currently, legally, free to watch online. 5/10

Be vigilant, 4 July 2014
8/10

It is the future. Time unknown. The nature of this dystopia is hampered by pollution and/or nuclear fallout. The "Euro-American War" has ended, and Union City, which you spend most of this trying to get back out of, has removed all labor rights. You are Robert Foster(yes, named after the beer), having grown up in the care of Aboriginals in the wasteland that is The Gap(I guess the store really took a turn for the worse) where you were abandoned, and now taken back to "civilization", to find that it is a 1984-ish Cyberpunk nightmare. You were apprehended by security officers who show immediately they mean business(I won't give away how), but they put you on a chopper and it… doesn't land on its feet. One way or another, you have to get to the bottom of what's going on. You seem to be connected to it, too…

This opens with something of an exposition dump, but it's also absorbing and drenched in atmosphere from right away. The few cutscenes are like reading a comic book, with panels, and it's mostly "still", just going to different frames when necessary rather than trying to fit it all into the typical in-engine stuff. Part of the reason is that art and plot were done by Dave Gibbons, who co-created Watchmen(!). He was chosen because the developer was a fan of the novel. The graphics are great, with natural-looking movement animations and dynamic backgrounds, such as mechanical equipment that may well be running on a loop. There is a tremendous amount of detail, and you believe that the computers, manufacturing machines, etc. can actually run.

You start at the top of a building having to make your way down to ground level, with the separate floors being like social classes, and as you progress, it increasingly opens up, since you can(heck, you have to) often go back to areas you've already been to, for further challenge. Arguably, it does get excessively difficult near the end, and it definitely is too easy to die in this. That in spite of the fact that you can save(and load) anywhere, anytime, outside of "conversations" and such.

You've got your best friend Joey, a robot moved from one shell(and he can use abilities of his current one to aid you) to the next, such as when one is destroyed. When you move to a new area, he'll drive(or occasionally fly) in from the area before it(though he at times moves very slowly, and often needs to be in an elevator with you when you move between floors). He also won't always follow you to the next area, meaning you may have to wait for him, at times not even certain if he's on his way or not. The two have a buddy dynamic relationship, tease, argue, etc. Characters can get "stuck" between each other, which can be annoying in cramped and/or crowded spots.

The plot is engaging and intelligent. It is indeed strange how everyone allows you there(you usually claim to be Security or a Safety Inspector), and, more so, comfortably answer your questions, even when they're about the very fabric of society… the core concept is cool and the exploration of it interesting, if clichéd by today's standards. With that said, this is still well worth playing, and today, it's freeware(so the price is right), and plays on Windows and other systems. It took me about six hours to complete. Of course, once you have beaten it, it doesn't have a lot of replayability, depending on whether or not you looked(and if you'd care to go back for it) absolutely everywhere and tried everything you could say to others and such.

This is a point and click adventure game, with simple, intuitive controls. Point to get "title/description", left-click to move/state what you can see and right-click to use/pick up. It will do the most logical action when you press something, such as open a closed door or close an open door, press a button, etc. Point to top of screen to open inventory, where you can combine, use, and examine objects. You also talk to NPCs and explore different places.

Puzzles are logical without being too obvious, with misdirects/red herrings. You meet memorable people, some of them bizarre and/or crazy, including some of the ones in power. There's definitely some Kafka going on here. The voice acting is very good, if some of it is goofy. Sound is well-done all the way, albeit some bits have an irritating repeating noise, such as a fish in a tank swimming loudly back and forth. You visit a multitude of different locations: swanky apartments, a park, a courthouse during a trial, etc.

The humor and the tone in general is decidedly Australian, even if some of the recorded lines were Americanized: it's offensive, doesn't hold back, and nothing is really off-limits(did the release of this just barely beat the founding of the ESRB…?). An early example is when a cop responds to your shock that your helicopter crashed into a hospital with "it could have been worse, it could have hit the factory." The comedy gets black, verbal, clever, silly, there are references, etc. This is seen in the dialog choices, and responses either you or others have to things("most doors are boring, but *this* one…!" when you check it out). It also manifests itself in events, etc.

This is one of the pieces of fiction to imagine the internet as a surreal, visual world that you plug your own form into, and it's fun to walk around in it. It goes into other sci-fi ideas, and while I can't say too much about which, they all fit here and are each interesting.

In addition to what I've already mention, there is some gore, disturbing content and bloody violence in this. A bit of it is played for laughs(!). I recommend this to any fan of this type of game. 8/10


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