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Month: October 2012

X-COM: Enemy Unknown Review

X-COM: Enemy Unknown   Oh, goody: an update to an eighteen-year-old turn-based science fiction squad shooter strategy game being released on consoles, utilising the Unreal game engine. That sounds pretty terrible, right? I mean, even if science fiction turn-based squad strategy shooter games are your thing (and if they aren’t, why not?), the prospect of this classic franchise, famous for its slower pace, deep resource management focus, large scale and shamelessly X-Files-esque premise being updated for the modern gaming audience sounds like a recipe for disaster. Chances are that it will alienate (ho ho!) old fans by dumbing down the less populous elements, while at the same time spurning new ones with its geeky premise and delayed-gratification mechanics. Given the pressures placed on triple-A titles these days, and the games industry’s lamentable (but understandable) reticence to invest in anything other than cookie-cutter remakes and sequels, the chances that this game would be any good were looking slim. How fortunate, then, that the team at Firaxis have pulled off the near-impossible and delivered an excellent game that manages to balance respect for its pedigree, whilst also updating the mechanics enough to have broader appeal. The game is split almost down the middle between a resource management simulation, where numerous different fuels, tools and materials have to be balanced, built, sold or researched in order to further the other part, a...

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Dredd 3D Review

Dredd 3D starts with a neat audience tease; we see the titular character dressing for another day dishing out law and order, but we can’t see his face. The final part of his uniform is the helmet which covers everything apart from his mouth and chin. With that in place, Judge Dredd is finally ready for work. It’s a neat little nod to fans that this film will be different from the previous attempt to adapt the British comic book character: The widely derided “Judge Dredd” starring Sylvester Stallone opens right in the middle of Dredd at work and those 15 minutes or so are actually OK to middling (if you ignore Rob Schneider). However, everything goes straight to hell almost precisely at the point when Dredd takes his helmet off to reveal the movie star underneath. An absolute no-no for fans of the source material; the makers of the new Dredd clearly understand this as once Dredd suits up for work, the helmet stays put. As a Judge in Mega City One, Dredd’s job is to be Policeman, Judge, Jury and Executioner. Not only does he arrest suspects, but he has the right to dispense on-scene justice as he sees fit with sentences ranging up to and including death. Unsurprisingly, this means his day-to-day work is somewhat violent, as the opening confrontation makes abundantly clear. Back at base,...

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Total Recall Review

This review has been a long time coming; not just because I’m lazy (although that’s a big part of it, let’s not kid ourselves), but also because I’ve been struggling for how to describe this half-arsed remake of a 90s Schwarzenegger sci-fi action film based on a Philip K. Dick novel starring Colin bloody Farrell and not much else, without just using the term ‘shit’ and leaving it at that. It’s been out for some time now, so I don’t want to beat around the bush: if you were going to see this, you probably have, in which case you have my sympathy, and if you weren’t, you can rest assured that you made the right choice. The signs were there from the start; directed by Len Wiseman, which for all but the most optimistic filmgoers has to be a red flag at the very least (the original Underworld might have its rare few fans, but the rest of his oeuvre, consisting mostly of the sequels of that surprisingly tedious series, is largely and rightfully ignored), this limp and soulless film-by-numbers pales not only when compared to its 22-year-old alternative, but to pretty much any other hollywood sci-fi film since. The story is set in a world which is stolen in equal parts from Blade Runner (an overpopulated ramshackle distopia) and Minority Report (hover cars, Colin Farrell), with a...

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