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Nothing could possibly wipe the grin off my face, 28 July 2015

It's the retro-futuristic year of 2007. The nuclear ashes of Vietnam war 2 makes a new kind of soldier necessary. It is the Mark IV Cyber Commando. The former commander, Colonel Sloan(Blanco Hall, delirious, evil, ranting about the gutless politicians and the Reds) is planning something. His island is protected by the Omega Force army, that force scientists to do experiments. You're gonna stop all of that. As Rex 'Power' Colt(Biehn, having as much fun as we and the developers are, never met a problem he couldn't shoot). 90% not human, you're still 100% man. At least the parts that count. And you aren't alone: his former ally, Dr. Darling(Griffin, a strong female, and only one of the memorable, character... except for when she isn't) assists you via radio.

This is a love/hate piece. Will *you* like the tone? Watch the trailers, they communicate it really well. It won't be for everyone, but I'm of the opinion that making something for a certain audience, even if that isn't a huge majority, is well worth doing. The one requirement is to try to make it clear that that's what you're doing, and this does that. This is a big, neon, OTT, fun, black-comedy-sense-of-humor-having, filled to the brim with references, one-liners and charm, comedic parody tribute to 80's and early 90's action flicks, Saturday morning cartoons and early shooter VGs. It makes you the unstoppable hero of one, like Commando, Rambo and RoboCop. The look and feel takes notes, heck, the excellent, heavily synthesized music remixes tunes, from Terminator, Aliens, Predator and Total Recall. The intentionally dumb, cliché-ridden story, told through 8-bit cutscenes are too long right from the start, but you can skip them: Enter, then Esc, takes us from one of the best openings of the medium ever to one of the most amazing finales. This goes back and forth between owning it and being self-aware, with "you" mocking, raging at the tutorial you start with! And it's made to be obnoxious, obvious. He'll also point out the tropes. This has some terrible, and a lot of bad, jokes, but "the good kind". The swearing is gratuitous. This is incredibly cheesy, with moral lessons like "don't litter" and "winners don't use drugs" in amongst the violence and death. Like, seriously, these are written on crates and the like. I do wish it had been completely consistent – hints, tutorials, descriptions, all fit this. But "this icon means it's saving", the main menu, they're regular.

A lot of the issues here are relatively forgivable, since the game is so short and inexpensive, at a quarter of its parent title, which this otherwise only shares its engine with. You may notice them, yet not be bothered by them because it just doesn't let you have a lot of time for that. It's giving you a pretty good amount for the low price that it is easily worth. You will want to play in stretches. It lacks content and variation, becoming monotonous almost immediately. Slow, shallow and linear, it's more streamlined than the main one. The joke wears thin after an hour. Everything looks the same. The murky visuals, rather than vibrant colors, are unappealing. It can even be hard to make out what you're looking at. Not being "meant to be taken seriously" is a choice, not an excuse – where it makes sense, that is disregarded in favor of the experience. It has the open world annoyance of having going to different places to get to the gameplay. My times for completion are based on me buying maps for the collectibles, though I know I shouldn't take that shortcut, I'm not the type to look for them myself if I don't have to – and if I hadn't, I admit I might have tired of this. 3 and a half hours to complete the one campaign, with only single player, and 6 and a half to get all collectibles, the awesome upgrades(explosive bullets, 4 barrel Winchester!) they unlock, and the sidemissions.

You'll liberate Strongholds, each time earning yourself another base you can Fast Travel to, where you can purchase kevlar, ammo, healing syringes, swap out any weapon for any other, for 4 carried at a time. It's also where you go for Hostage Rescue: take out the guards, avoid being seen or they might start killing the man you're there to get out. And Predator's Path: kill one of the various mutated, endangered species of animals, often with the silent, compact bow. They may attack you if you aren't careful. You can look up their territories, and hunting is the one thing you can't run out of. There is no redoing anything else. It does have three slots, so you can restart without losing anything, and even the easiest of the three difficulty settings will challenge you some. Still, it doesn't, much, on purpose. To take one of these garrisons over, you will have to remove every enemy from it. As you do, those on your side inside will start aiding you. And so will the Blood Dragons. They do immense damage, aren't necessarily particular about who they'll kill and their only weak spot is on their chest, meaning if they aren't attacking you, you don't have a clear shot at it. While crouch-walking can hide you, you'll want to throw an artificial heart, that you actually ripped out of one of the downed foes, as it will attract them. You can use that to lure them away from yourself – or to get them to take on those inside the citadels. If you want them to eat, slash and the like, so do more than fire their eyelaser at the people through the Mega Shield, you'll have to eliminate it. Turn off/make it boom.

In addition to what I've already mentioned, there is a lot of gore in this, with heads and limbs blown off. I recommend this to anyone who finds this at all engaging. 8/10

Ant-Man (2015)
0 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Bigger things, 23 July 2015

Scott(Rudd, a likable small-time crook, good as the underdog) has put his cat burglar days behind him. Until he realizes it may be the only way he'll get to be with his young daughter Cassie(Ryder Fortson, cute). He ends up in the suit of Ant-Man, a superhero mantle that he is to take up now that the original inventor of it, Pym(Douglas, a mentor albeit angry), who's become something of a recluse, watching the world through a dozen monitors rather than interacting with it. His daughter Hope(Lilly, a strong female character who gets to kick ass) is trusted by Cross(Stoll, also a brilliant scientist, though one without ethics), who they have to steal the tech from, so it isn't spread to the world - as it would end up in the wrong hands, and make for an almost unstoppable force. The three plan a heist, and have to work together, in spite of strained relations between them.

Like Guardians of the Galaxy, this is a far-out concept, which is blessed with an adaptation that embraces that, rather than shying away from it. It took Edgar Wright to get it off the ground, and his departure left a substantial void which Peyton Reed, as game as he is, couldn't fill. What could have been is all over this one. The ending is pure cheese. Like the other origin pictures, which this is one of the best of, there's not much in the way of a villain. Heck, even doing good is limited here. What we do have is essentially one long training montage, punctuated with stunning shrinking scenes that make the 3D worth the extra bucks, and a few solidly planned and executed break-ins. The action is creative, memorable and fun. Dialog is improvised and hilarious, with charm, great interplay and an energized cast.

There is a little strong language and disturbing content in this. I recommend this to anyone persuaded by the cool trailers, which did not give too much away. 8/10

Ted 2 (2015)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Of Fitzgeralds, impromptu road trips and internet porn, 17 July 2015

Kunis left. I know, obvious, single guy easier than couple. However, apparently, she didn't return because she's pregnant with Ashton Kutcher's kid, which is ironic, since even without being in this, she's involved with the child of someone dumb, obnoxious, inexplicably popular who refuses to grow up. Adoption to fix a failing relationship. No way to do that without being heterosexual... wait, no, being a person. Preaching doesn't have to be boring. Anyway, no, there's no plot, and a lot happens that doesn't progress it. This feels like the same as the first, worse.

John(Wahlberg, dumber and a major jerk... so, reversed from the great portrayal in the sweet-and-standout original, a mix which this messes up. The heart tries to drive, then the comedy wrestles back the wheel) tries to help Ted(MacFarlane, spreading and inviting hate. Directs with a broken arm, writes, along with the other two, half-asleep and without restraint) with a civil suit. They're joined by their lawyer Sam(Seyfried, at times the straight man who doesn't know any pop culture, other times game, crass as them. They bond over pot. She tries... everyone does), so that she can get together with... do I even need to say? Tami-Lynn(Barth, unstable and white trash) gets some to work with, albeit is only in about 50% of this. Donny(Ribisi, as creepy and psychotic as before) is back, in the same role, making less sense this time. Cameos are overused, and oddly full of missed opportunities – as a lot else in this. I'm not sure anything was cut from this. Except those two bits that were in the trailers, which thankfully did not give away all of the best material, albeit a lot of it.

Wait, you're still with me? Wow. Well... I laughed. Like, a lot. When this works, it's hilarious. That's one of three jokes. The second you "get", without them getting even a smile or smirk from you. And the third just falls flat. I'm glad I put money towards this, and sat down in a packed theater who were just as into it as I was. I'm not kidding... I stand by that. Yes, of course, I wish this was spared the earlier-mentioned problems, the structure or lack thereof, how this feels like a long cartoon episode, has several climaxes and "calm down" periods, and hope someone cuts it down. Of course, that does bring up people complaining it's two and a half hours, feels longer than that... I don't stay through the credits. And I don't count previews. These are things which, I'd like to note, are entirely possible to avoid. I noted when it started and ended. This is 105 minutes.

There is a lot of strong language, gross-out, pardon the pun, gags, and it's immensely mean-spirited. I recommend this to everyone who finds that at all appealing. 7/10

18 out of 47 people found the following review useful:
Determined systematic regeneration: achieved, 26 June 2015

The only way to beat the robot army is to stop it from preventing us from defeating it. Of course this means going through the time-machine just used by the cyborg Terminator(which we get a lot of cool bits with, including two of them going head-to-head... albeit the T1000 all over the trailers is barely in this, and there are definite anti-climactic, even, very 2010's, pointless, fights) infiltrator hit-man, which here, has not been reprogrammed. And then, it gets complicated. John(Clarke, giving us a credible, and genuinely, and earned, trustworthy leader; poor him, on guy 5, or 6 depending on whether you count both from the '91 one, and barely ever looking similar twice), appears, adult, before the future. Healing his trademarked face-scar, without even requiring copious amounts of cocaine, he reveals himself the main antagonist - so the internet can officially calm right the heck down. They didn't blow a twist, they revealed that this had an actual plot, and this is coming from someone who looked forward to this from the first glimpse of it, and is tremendously satisfied with it.

If you hate the idea of the core structure of the first three being used again, nothing in this will change your mind. Next you'll tell me that something not using that same formula would feel like part of this franchise, and that suggesting otherwise wasn't actually one of Salvation's seemingly countless problems. They didn't even bring back Arnie, who everyone wants on the silver screen in each of these. Offer him a mere cameo?! Who do you think you are, anyway? Sly? And yes, this is a reboot. Go in blind, you'll just find out parts of the canon over the course of it. You will appreciate this more if you do know... don't recall, not into rewatching the others? Skim Wiki for it. This plays with iconic scenes from the original two, using them as jump-off points for the storyline that deviates from them, and paying them respect, or, depending on your perspective, lazily rip them off. If you're in the latter camp, this won't win you over.

How do you justify going back to revisit familiar ground? What did T2 even, and what does this, do? Approach it from a new angle, and toy with already beloved elements, and, giving the audience, surprises, keep us guessing and render it relevant to, again. The four main characters return, with not a single one of them the same as we've seen them before. Kyle(Courtney, making up for not remotely resembling Biehn physically by otherwise doing his performance justice, moreso than any other... maybe they should have gotten a guy whose appearance vastly differs from his much sooner) is out of the (time?) loop, albeit, The Butterfly Effect-style, retaining memories of this alternate timeline that, along with his expertise in combat and strategy, now shared by his allies from the past, makes him invaluable, rather than leave him as "just present" as Wolverine in The Days of Future Past. Pops(Schwarzenegger, able, game and fun as ever) is a parental figure, yet now having lived in that role for about a decade. And he now took that over from the, again, off-screen-killed mother of... Sarah(only on the third talent, having swapped one spot-on take by a Game of Thrones actress for another, always retaining one demeanor). She's had little contact with other humans ever since, and their father-daughter relationship is humorous, real, and, yes touching. This has real heart, and this dysfunctional family gradually finds more common ground and come to care deeply about these not-as-expected people they've known for years, mostly without the other actually being something other than a memory.

The action setpieces are big, memorable and, without seeming false, carefully crafted. Each part of the mythos is reintroduced in a cute, and seldom forced, way. "No fate", the Dysons, abilities, motifs, every. Single. Thing. Irony is used to keep the known from feeling stale. The pace knows how to balance these massive stakes, powerful individuals and plentiful detail with letting us breathe every so often. A two hour running time feels just right. The 3D, adding some atmosphere, and occasionally depth, still ultimately feels like a post-conversation, and can easily be done without.

There is some moderate to strong language and a lot of bloodless, intense combat in this. I recommend this to anyone not put off, perhaps even drawn in, by the conceit propelling this forward. 8/10

Dragonsphere (1994) (VG)
Unleashes the amazing, 31 May 2015

You play as king Callash(charming yet willing to invoke his authority), and Sanwe(deliciously evil), a sorcerer has vowed to take revenge on you. He was trapped before you were crowned, 20 years ago by Ner-Tom(clever), The Court Wizard who is now missing, and now that time is up and he may soon be free. The titular Dragonsphere represents his unnatural prison and him remaining trapped within: and recently, the surface has begun to crack, and the creature inside, stir. You go alone since an army is more likely to be detected, and send no one in your place as it is your responsibility now that you're on the throne... one of the many themes explored well here, along with humility, acceptance, cooperation, respect, culture, expectations, blind spots, loyalty, identity. This is genuinely a well crafted, smart fantasy tale, and along with an intricate and involved plot wasting not a single encounter(the only exception to it is that near the end, we do get a bunch of exposition dumps, rather than it just fading in and out to say everything was said, since we already know the details, and they are being told to another person), detail or line, it switches deftly between being sweet, scary, awe-inspiring, etc.

My experience with these is limited, so I will be drawing comparisons throughout to the contemporary Beneath a Steel Sky(both are from '94), and The Curse of Monkey Island('97). This has easily the best twist of the three. With dialog choices, much of the storytelling lies in the interesting conversations. The digitized speech and great acting really help bring these memorable characters to life, albeit this won't say descriptions, actions("I'm pulling the lever") or responses(whether failed or not). It is cemented by the realistic human movement, due to rotoscoping. At times, details will be a little hard to make out, when they're subtle movements, such as a hand reaching into a breastpocket, and close-ups on such are rare. You look forward to the cutscenes, with detailed animations, cuts, angles, and effects. The more frequent in-engine ones are great, also due to the good, graphics for the time, 256-color. And a version optimized for today is easy to get your hands on, with the only shortcoming being that at times it is slow to respond. The soundtrack pulls you in.

Moving across vast stretches will be shown, often taking the time it would, so you can get an idea of the scope, and it builds the consistently compelling atmosphere of the deeply engaging world. Half the time, you can press Space to speed it up. Heck, the intro has you riding a horse-sized lizards, or Dramels(presumably a mix between a camel, and a, y'know)! All in your realm, for you to explore, is a huge, seemingly endless desert, a cave with pits of lava, a forest full of life of varying shapes and sizes, such as massive toads, and you can meet and speak with fairies and sprites. Others include Shamans, shapechangers, animals, even seemingly inanimate objects may reveal themselves to be cognizant. Some you'll work with, for, avoid, trick or the like. This enables you to save(it'll even do this for you when you exit this if you forgot to!) and load progress. This is useful for taking breaks from playing, cutting down on time moving back and forth between far apart places. You can die, yet will automatically come back to life, nothing lost or required. That can be annoying to watch if you keep dying the same one place. You can't mess up, so you can focus entirely on the solving.

The puzzles are intricate, intuitive and involved, some of them requiring you to do set things before too many seconds have passed, other than those, this goes entirely "at your pace", with you picking to proceed. There is always a logic to them based on the rules of the land, often specific to where you currently are, including one very Alice in Wonderland quiz from The Butterfly King. There are entire rooms where you do nothing other than learn more about this universe, which I don't recall being the case in the others I've tried. And this is too open right from the start, you can go anywhere and do a lot, making it hard to figure out where to go. Thankfully, going back and forth between areas is swift, once you've dealt with what prevents you from making progress. There are two difficulty settings, for how hard the events are, and how many hints there are towards how to complete them. There is no overall time limit, in spite of the image of the orb gradually worsening in condition, which this keeps going to. The main source of the sparse replayability here is that you earn points, the amount of which are revealed at the end, and you can try to top that.

This is the third graphical adventure developed by MicroProse, and it's of the point-and-click variety. While the mouse is recommended, keyboard can also be used. You move to a new screen by clicking at the edge of the current one. This is the less well-designed interface and takes getting used to, with many pointless orders cluttering up that section. The inventory is at the bottom of your screen, always visible. Click on the item or its icon "to supply nouns for your sentence". It will also give you a list of special commands, verbs - clearly the better way.

There is a lot of disturbing, brutal, bloody and violent content in this, though you'll miss the majority of them if you're careful not to suffer a sudden demise. The same goes for when the humor, isn't content to remain silly, "this is the best wall you've seen all day!", and goes into black comedy: "you died from a fall... too bad for you that no one has invented the parachute yet!" I warmly recommend this to any fan of the subgenre. 8/10

Outlast (2013) (VG)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Overstays its welcome... and needed to be longer!, 22 May 2015

You are Miles Upshur(Baichoo, panicking as we do), a freelance journalist who goes into the infamous, old Mount Massive Asylum, long abandoned but recently reopened, supposedly for charity, to discover the truth behind it, which includes former Nazis and bizarre experiments. Some call it weird – I disagree, it's based in Norse myth, including Germanic folklore, and explores evil... what it really is, who is to blame for it, and how to fight it. Immediately after going in, he wants to leave again... and a reporter in a dangerous place is hardly original. A bunch of the notes that detail the background and events is teenage-y and swear-filled, rather than composed the way you'd expect from someone in his field... some of that goes for the reports written by doctors and such, which, at the least, is often casual: not professional! I find the contrast of awful undertakings and a detached, objective or, perhaps, gleeful, writings regarding it much more hard-hitting... then again, this is not keen on having more than one note, or speed, and if or once you get into it, you won't want it to. It's a roller-coaster, which does wind up taking too much time... meanwhile, I didn't want it to end! Make more of these! And I'll be closely watching what these guys do next... hopefully spiritual successors in place of sequels. This took me 4 hours, and I know some did it in half that time. If I redo it, I could probably reach that. With few achievements, in spite of its four difficulty settings, it being challenging on the easiest, this doesn't have very much replay value.

You find the place to hold many patients, and some doctors, spread chaotically over it, all screwed up physically and mentally by the deeply disturbing treatments, based on the real, early, inhuman attempts at treating insanity, they were subjected to – to an extent, they look mostly normal, physically, albeit scarred, with skin that looks partially burned, and sometimes missing, or having mechanically replaced, body parts. It's how aware, awake and violent they are, that differentiate them from you and each other... some of them harmless, some of them want to hurt you but are securely behind bars(albeit you may have to go where they are... and once you do, they're gone... they'll come back. You're on their turf now), in a padded cell or the like... but you *will* be hunted by the homicidal ones. Some are on-going, you find yourself attacked by some of the same ones, albeit mainly Chris Walker. I found him by far not the most compelling one, by his of the numerous creepy designs or grisly characterization... a hulking sadist with claw-like fingertips. And they all are, or were, completely human...!

The parkour offers both fun and intense chases and carefully moving around the dilapidated, and still falling apart, with the floor collapsing under you. It remains credible for a normal person in OK shape, no wall-running, etc. FPP parkour was terrible in Mirror's Edge, but this does it right: you can tell what you'll be doing when you interact with something you're traversing, where you're going, when fast-paced it doesn't start and stop, and you can tell how close you are to an edge when jumping. It helps that missing it will only cost you a second or two, it won't mean automatically dying if you can make up the time or the like. It *does* happen that you'll walk off the edge rather than go onto the small ledge that you have to carefully walk along. I haven't died from that fall... come to think of it, the only thing that seems to kill me in this are the reasonably programmed AI. You run with camera out, you don't have to put it away, even quickly, making the question of how you manage to not drop it when running, jumping and the like not even the most prudent question to ask: it's how you manage to keep it out and level while you run, crawl through vents, vault, slide through a small, vertical slip and the like. It appears the only time you put it away is when hanging from a ledge(yes, even when you walk on it can you have it out... somehow), climbing ladders(so situations where you for sure have no hands free) and when you fall far, this has you then pick it up, and it's just as capable of surviving long drops as you.

This is similar to "found footage" movies like REC and Paranormal Activity. Why this hasn't been done more is a mystery – this kind of thing is begging to be made: go from the feeling of "putting us right there" to genuinely accomplishing that. You're documenting everything(well, your choice of whether or not to see this almost exclusively through the viewfinder, but it doesn't impair you to do so, and makes a lot of sense to do), your mission of finding out what's really going on taking on greater importance. What you are seeing isn't just for you, it needs to be revealed to the world.

You have a night vision option for use in the many unlit sections, and it is the only thing you have that can be used for that. This means that you can't "direct it" like you might a lamp, but have to get closer than you want to, and that it doesn't give you away, since it's a filter, and doesn't actually give off any light. This means you can spy on enemies and have a temporary advantage, as long as you're close, and avoid being in the direction they're going... It's the only way you spend batteries, which must be scavenged and replaced over time. Controls are fairly intuitive.

This is extremely gory, brutal and disturbing. It also contains a lot of male nudity, including full frontal. I recommend this to anyone who is intrigued by it. 7/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Goddess Must Be Crazy, 5 May 2015

It's 2055. Only women have survived the final, and biggest, war. We see a small farming community which also has teachers, and into this comes the other gender's extreme, thus contrasting and exploring their differences, strengths, weaknesses: a military man, Major Jason Mercer(Keith, charming, determined) with working knowledge of engines and such awakens from 40 years of cryo-freeze. Different villagers react to him in distinct ways: one falls in love and wants to know more, one is completely against him, an elder one is reminded of her fiancé, etc. But what will become of him? Can it even work, having such a group suddenly take in an outsider, simultaneously demonized and the subject of many imagined, distant scenarios?

This hits just the right balance. The conflict is neither cheesy nor vague. No one is purely the ideal they might be expected to be, every character has depth and is well-acted. And this doesn't off-handedly choose either side, rather, we see that a middle-ground may be the best solution, when this Bechdel-test-winner-by-design easily could have preached. Is more will-power needed in trade? Can his suggestions aid, or break, their ways... peaceful, yet marred by hardship? The storytelling and pace are swift: within mere minutes, the high concept(which could have come off as silly and contrived) is set up, then explained well without the exposition bogging things down(yes, sperm-banks). I was left to wonder why the pronunciation of only certain words had changed somewhat. There is tension, even some action in this. This is one of only episodes I've watched of either version of The Outer Limits, but, like the others, it fosters a desire to seek out more.

There is some disturbing content, sensuality and sexuality, as well as a little female nudity from behind(in the totally necessary and not gratuitous co-ed shower scene). I recommend this to any fan of science- and speculative, fiction. 8/10

Opera in the streets, 1 May 2015

You play as Luis(D'Leon, with attitude and professionalism), a Latino and the ex-con bodyguard/business partner/platonic friend/the guy who does the dirty work of Gay Tony(not Stark, though they do look alike; Kenner, with the two having an old married couple, bickering, relationship) who owns several nightclubs. He has become something of a junkie and letting the business suffer. So he, among others, loans money from the wrong people, and you have to clean up, work off debts and take out the garbage of the wealthy. Others keep mispronouncing your name(Lou, Lewis, etc.), often on purpose. Willing to kill if you have to, you don't really want to or seek it out. You start out in the bank heist, though you do, accomplish, and contribute, zilch, nada, nothing. Along the way, you will deal with the same stolen goods and the like, including, yup, those same diamonds. We again have the lead show up somewhere the other two did, and this time, you're on the opposing side, so you fully appreciate what happened, and, thankfully, you're not just doing the exact same thing(third time's not the charm).

This has essentially no famous actors, opting for more distinct characters and voices, and the casting is good all-round. Your mother is hard on you, strong, passionate and complicated relationships between family members. You'll work for Yusuf(Djalili, a powerful Arab in love with hip-hop culture, keeps using the N-word), who, as pointed out by another character, "wants what he can't buy": he likes to have you steal military vehicles and shoot your way back out. In general, this sends a lot, at least a dozen or two, of police, some Homeland, helicopters at you, which you're well-equipped enough to take out. Brucie(Adams, roided up) constantly doing martial arts and/or physical exercising, every second. We now meet his older brother, Mori(Gurner, who is clearly where a lot of his self-esteem issues come from). You'll deal with the Russian mafia, and can meet optional minor characters. They will talk about their current situation, comment on recent events, etc. And you may be double-crossed, and change sides over the course of this.

MP remains the best part. It's just about the only way this challenges you. Almost everything you could hope for is there. While some of that goes for a lot of recent titles, this is one MP that is as chaotic, open and crazy! The guns especially work for this, with people blowing up and plowing down each other. It does feels out of place how much heavy weaponry this puts in your hands, with explosive bullets, an LMG, etc. Maybe they were worried about competing with Just Cause, Saints Row and the like – thus, they compromised their product. This comes with a server list! With filters, at that! Ranked Matches can be found, albeit few are on these days, regardless. There's also, at the time I submit this, been about two weeks straight of issues with the RSC, which keeps us off. Nevertheless, I've had few issues with it or the GFWL – others have had many, and it'll also crash. Customizing is limited to appearance, with only a handful of options, and through their combination, a bunch of choices. Modes are cut down to the bare minimum, and we're left with a more basic experience.

Less atmosphere than San Andreas which is in general better than this small and grey city. That is even more visible now that it's supposed to be glamorous. Sure, there is bright glitz in some areas, yet, it does feel out of place: Vice City delivers properly on that front. That had the help of being an entirely different setting, and one has to wonder why they tried to pull this off, given what they had to work with. The hard rock remains, as well… Like the others, this has a separate identity, which is: ethnic nobody with a record in the socialite world that he doesn't belong in. At first I didn't think I'd get into it, then, as usual, I very much did. Liberty City is based on New York, with three main islands. Bronx is Bohan, Brooklyn called Broker, Manhattan now Algonquin and Queens renamed Dukes. There is still too much of going from close to one end of the islands to the other – even if this is credible, it's annoying.

You have two friends who have stayed in the lower area they all grew up, and won't accept your offers to get them jobs in the upper class. The three of you can engage in Drug Wars: you'll all drive to a certain spot and: hijack a transport possibly in motion or take money possibly first having to ice the guy handing over the money. These gradually increases in challenge, though you aren't getting closer to some ultimate goal, since you're ripping off others', not establishing yourselves. Every 10 won unlock a new addition to your arsenal. They try to talk with you during it, but you insist they focus, perhaps because they keep going over the same lines, and either it's an attempt to prevent us from noticing by keeping them short, or they find that as annoying as we do… seriously, why not just not have them talk every few times, instead of the same lines several times. They argue, with lots of gay jokes. You can all hang out together, the two of them are just about inseparable, and one offers discounts on hardware from his van that he'll park nearby, the other will steal and deliver cars.

A number of things from the 4th game have been addressed, some improved, or even fixed. Unfortunately, the core frustrations remain: too slow movement, that in part ruins the ill-conceived cover system, tedious shootouts and repetitive gameplay.

There is a lot of strong language, bloody violence, sexuality and disturbing content in this. I recommend this only for those dedicated to trying everything in the franchise. 7/10

9 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
As intelligent, nuanced and, yes, awesome, as its titular villain, 23 April 2015

Everything seems to be settled for the team, making room for more infighting as this goes for psychological thriller in their individual nightmares being forced to the surface. Each of them have their own drama and interpersonal relationships, all effective and compelling, yet incredibly well-balanced with the near-constant humor and huge, creative and unforgettable action as this doesn't take itself too seriously. A certain genius creates a powerful A.I., failing to realize that this is based on a comic book, so, duh, it's going to Sky-Net on them, and this manages to avoid feeling cliché. Ultron(Spader, in the unusual, for him, not-perverted role, but intensely creepy nonetheless) is the first bad guy in the MCU(did I mention this is the best one yet?) to be as compelling as Loki.

This somehow manages to be both jam-packed with detail yet not overwhelming, deliver on an incredible amount of the dense, and well-utilized continuity, and, somehow, actually allow newcomers in. I kid you not, you can go into this completely blind. Sure, you'll have to pay close attention, but it's doable, and where "Guardians" told and did not show, this does the opposite, spending little time explaining, and rather just letting us see how everything and everyone works. Everything you need to know to follow it is in there – think Star Trek, as you watch, you'll understand more and more, and it doesn't really throw anything you can't at all follow at you until you've seen a lot to set it up for the payoff… and yet, it doesn't feel constrained by that. This delivers from frame 1: we start in the middle of a major attack! A ton has happened between movies, and we quickly pick up on it, and this establishes, develops and uses every element, be it big or small.

There is a lot of disturbing content and, mostly mild, violence, a little of it genuinely getting nightmarish and inching close to an R… and yes, the language does occasionally get strong, and the film teases the MPAA by pointing out the amount and where that line is drawn. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys going to the theater, albeit the 3D is entirely optional. 10/10

Tyrian (1995) (VG)
Fancy, 6 April 2015

It's the future. Like, by a lot. You are Trent Hawkins, a pilot with skill in terraforming and scouting out habitable locations. Well, that's the idea. In this, you make things go boom. All the time. There's a detailed plot about who wants what and such. And I refer you to the sentence before about that. Along the way, you'll be contacted by Star Trek: The Next Generation-style aliens(facial prosthetics, mainly humanoid, not that outlandish… as far as you see, at least) and even ninjas(!). Yes, this is partially comedic, what with cartoon-like artwork, the plentiful silly dialog and content. This includes a sweet letter from your mom, ads for working camps to send your kids, and tourist attractions that may maim or kill – however, they do offer quick hospital transport and attention, and good burial options. Heck, you may get to use a food item in an… unusual manner. It isn't always Earthworm Jim status in the non-serious material, as far as how strange or funny it is. Some of it can get disturbing for kids. The graphics are great, very detailed and, like most of the what we get here, varied.

I will be comparing this to Raptor: Call of the Shadows throughout, since they are from the same time and I am especially familiar with that. We have arcade-style vertical scrolling shooters, and in this, the speed will occasionally increase temporarily, upside down(!), and/or it'll fly backwards, then let you fly ahead, then backwards, etc. It's very much set in outer space, sometimes you're close to the surface of a planet, inside an asteroid belt, etc. The temperature may go to extreme heat or cold. You can place yourself anywhere on the screen, and it will move at the same pace regardless – but the further towards the top, the less chance of adjusting for the next thing that you approach! At the same time, something may come at you from behind… These are mostly fast-paced, memorizable and present a variety of enemies – flying, fixed, some on rails: you have to dodge them and their fire(and tell it apart from your own), as well as some buildings/other physical obstacles that may be destroyed. A problem is that, especially at first, it's tough to tell these apart, and include with that pickups(in that, they have glint), and sometimes even completely passable terrain/go under/over. In that, in general it's easier to tell if something is safe, neutral or dangerous. There are bosses, which, unlike most of the rest of the foes, cannot be avoided, have to be killed, and when you've done so, you'll have completed the level. They have a health bar and unique attacks. There are many occurrences of stationary and/or indestructible obstacles. Sometimes, controls are slow to respond.

Before your starship is destroyed it must take enough damage to exhaust several points of shields (which in this regenerate over time. In contrast to that, which never do, though you can buy multiple of, and repair inbetween) and armor(which you can find rare repairs for. And when it's low, you hear an obnoxious siren telling you so – a big help, d'you know that?). The music is catchy, electronic, energetic and, here, light. There are 3 difficulty settings and 3 hidden ones, and this is challenging on Easy… in fact, this starts in that where that leaves off, more or less. Before a level, if you picked up Data, you may be able to read warnings about your next level, what enemies and the like. Part of what makes this so hard is surprises that are likely to get to you the first time, and other unfair elements.

You can save any time before or after any level. It also automatically does so after, so you can replay it(which, along with loading, is the only way to play it except starting over and working your way back up to it. Unlike that, you can't choose which of the five episodes to go for the next one in – there, if you want to try one of those, it'll let you try the one you got up to last time you played that one. In this, if you want to play any of them you aren't currently, you'll be going back to the beginning with none of what you've earned. Completing one lets you start on the next without losing anything. When you complete this game in full, it lets you can redo #1 with all you've gotten, and play through these again. This took me 5 and a half hours.

There is a lot of replayability in the additional modes… Timed, two Super ones and Arcade: find, not purchase, what you need – this is where you can play two, as well, be it via modem or local, since this supports keyboard, mouse and joystick, and you'll have different vessels, that can even be combined into one, where you either man a turret or the whole thing at once. Heck, there are minigames to unlock! Ones based on Scorched Earth, Galaxian, one with bouncing threats to clear and avoid touching.

You independently buy a different machine, your generator that'll keep your energy high and upgrade/get new of all four weapons: Front(forward arcs) and Rear(wider coverage with sides, backwards, or, alternately, back-up) linked to the same button albeit they can be different types, and up to two external pods(Sidekicks: powerful low ammo ones for when things get hairy, charged ones, or even ones that can split/reattach when you want them to, or simply additional force… they can't be broken. You will sometimes wish you could set it to them all going off at the same time) with their own ones. The three last mentioned are optional, and thus, a place to scavenge more funds. These include, yet aren't limited to, multi-directional cannons, lightning guns, beam lasers, heavy missiles, and homing bombs.

I recommend this to any fan of the subgenre. 8/10

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