Friday, February 17, 2012

Right out of the gate you know this is going to be a profane and gruesome action packed ride with the opening scene of an attempted hit on your mob empire. This game does a great job of emitting that raw and real feeling I got from movies like Goodfellas or Casino. To some this whole mob story was stereotypical but once you tie in the Darkness and those who seek it, you have an excellent plot that helps propel even the slowest points in this game. So let's take a step into the Darkness and see if this sequel exceeds the great expectations set by the original.
The game opens with you, as again playing Jackie Estacado, who is about to enjoy dinner with some lovely twin hotties when a rival attempts to take out Jackie and his crew. This was a pretty good opening and start to a ride that most are sure to enjoy. Jackie must loosen his harness on the Darkness to find out who hit him at the restaurant and why. The story takes a turn from the mob family bit and heads for occult territory which shows us they seek what is inside Jackie versus his empire, as we initially thought. You will also learn more about the Darkness itself and how the newly introduced Brotherhood who seeks the Darkness fits into the equation.
As with the first game the story is a big plus here, and many times you will find yourself completely engrossed in Jackie's trials and tribulations. You also see that Jackie still spends a good amount of time thinking about his girlfriend Jenny, which he lost in the first game. The flashbacks/ quick time segments with the two can actually blend the line between cinema and game. I found this to be the case in the flashback scene which has Jackie visiting Jenny at work and they share a dance and then it all crumbles to show him the Darkness is just manipulating and messing with him. This was yet another reminder of how badly Jackie is still suffering from the loss of Jenny. I really enjoyed the alternate reality asylum scenes, made me really wonder if I/Jackie were actually going insane. The fact that your whole world of friends including Jenny had different roles from doctor to patient only made the whole asylum bit more believable. I love how the writers did not shy away from the violence and adult nature of the story, but embraced it tastefully much like the last entry in this series. I did not buy this game intending to allow my child to play it because this is not intended for a younger audience, be warned there will be a whole hell of a lot of violence, profanity and nudity, all of which worked perfectly.
I am a massive fan of games that use cell shading like Thirteen or Jet Set Radio did. Digital Extremes went out on a limb going in this direction with the art but was it was well worth it. Some complain that you lose detail with cell shading but in this case I believe the detail has been increased, everything from faces to inanimate objects carried a great level of detail. There is also a decent amount of variety in the characters you will come across in this game. The macho mob personality gets old pretty quick as almost every male character displays it, but I guess that's how it goes with most gangster flicks and such. I did hear a lot of repeated lines though which became annoying fast. If one more NPC ran for cover while calling me a piece of sh*t, I may as well have wiped myself up with a piece of toilet paper. The art is this game gives off such an awesome feel like you are playing an actual comic book. Those who love the style of comics or cell shading should not miss this one.
The game play when boiled down is really a standard first person shooter. It is all the things sprinkled in that makes this a load of fun to play. This is one of the first games I have ever played where you will "quad wield" weapons or abilities. Initially I was very skeptical because it sounded gimmicky and seemed like a lot to handle while in battle but the learning curve is excellent and will have you dismembering and spraying lead in no time. You can actually shoot two weapons at one time and use both Darkness tentacles or use a piece of debris for a shield and shoot one weapon. The variety of ways to kill is actually pretty awesome. I personally loved picking up a random pipe or stick and using it like a spear to impale an enemy. The Darkness also allows you to use the tentacles to perform different kills by grabbing an enemy and pressing the corresponding button on screen. As you advance you will unlock new kills, abilities, perks etc. via a skill tree. Each kill rewards points similar to Bulletstorm's skill shots. You also receive points for finding relics, which can all be used at essence stations to unlock all the new abilities like swarm, which hits the enemy with a swarm of bees or the ability to launch your darkling sidekick at a specific target which he will attack. The skill tree is actually quite varied and will keep you finding a fresh new ability to spend that essence on.
This time around we also see you have one specific darking companion, where as in the last game there were many, which left little personality or interest in them. Our Darking this time around is one vile little thing, with what seems to be a British accent and odd little outfit. At times you will see him peeing on the dead or talking smack as he helps you deal with the swarms of enemies. I found myself laughing out loud more than once at what he was saying or doing. The decision to go with one darkling left me actually caring for the little jerk as we progressed through the game. When Jackie cannot traverse an area you will get a chance to play as this little monster. He has his own kills and abilities which also helps to keep things fresh all while adding another layer to this gem of a title.
A lot of my initial excitement for this title came with the announcement of multi player that would be deeper than the first game. Hey, say all you want at the beginning but this multi player better be more than an after thought like the last one was. Everyone can relax and put the pitchforks or torches away because this multi player exceeds expectations. We now have a 4 player co-op experience versus the competitive game play of the last game. This co-op experience has been dubbed "Vendettas" and runs through the full campaign story.
We get 4 new characters specifically for co-op who have their own unique weapons, skill trees and story ties into the Darkness. There is a Scotsman named Jimmy Wilson who loves the drink and carries a killer axe, A voodoo man by the name of J.P. Dummond who wields a cursed staff, Inugami who carries a cursed katana sword that must be fed by killing and Shoshanna who packs a killer double barrel shotgun for that up close and personal experience. Each of these characters are unique and interesting enough to have you trying them all out until you find the perfect killer or score all those valuable achievements/trophies.
The online game play was really fun and reminded me of a lot of the same experiences I had with Left for Dead, which I absolutely loved. Getting into a match was actually pretty quick and took no more than a few minutes waiting for the player slots to fill. There was also interesting if not down right funny dialog to listen to in the lobby as the four characters interact around a poker table prior to the match starting. As for connection issues, I saw very few and only had one game time out in the few hours I played.
I would consider this game a must buy for any fans of the last. The core elements of the first game bleed perfectly into the second without dragging along the first games' baggage. If I had a gripe it would be the short single player campaign which clocks in somewhere between 6-7 hours. Looking at the first game though if you removed all the mindless crap like pointless side quests and focused on single player, it was also probably 6-7 hours. So I cannot really complain for a game that tells an awesome story with great visuals that kept me fully engaged all the way through. If you need more game to play do not overlook the excellent multi player which will easily extend your stay as you try to complete the various vendettas.
I will gladly take an extended stay in the darkness if this what I get, hell I may even opt to move in.
Excellent visuals/comic book style.
Very gore filled and adult in nature.
"Quad Wield" is awesome.
Great story.
Awesome multi player.
Annoying repeated dialog by enemies.
Short single player campaign.
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Review - Zombie Honeymoon

Well, what can I say about this film that wasn't already said about A Tale of Two Cities...well a lot actually because A Tale of Two Cities is a classic and this movie is an overly dramatic pile of poo. Please understand that I never prejudge a movie on production value or sound or well, anything, I judge on content and this movie is bleeehhhhhhck. Spoilers may follow.
It starts with a happy young punk/hipster couple getting married and going on a romantic month long get away to the lovely....jersey shore...that’s right the jersey shore. Now I was intrigued because Snooki scares the bejesus out of me and I wanted that kind of visceral scare. Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed as no guidos were present in this zombie classic. So over tanned fake Italians aside, Denise and Danny (our newly weds) embark on their new lives. They start this like many young newlyweds do by doing it in the back yard then going surfing. Wellllll as Danny boy is taking a nap a seaweed covered zombie emerges from the water and attacks him....thought it was for a second but still no the zombie attacks it vomits blood all over young Danny and causes Danny to go into cardiac arrest. If only this movie would have ended there. Later at the hospital our hero(?) comes miraculously back to life to the delight of his wife and my dismay.

When they get back home and Danny is different, and by different I mean eating people. This is really where the movie swerves into stupid country. Sweet, sweet baby Denise thinks this is icky and odd but still loves her man. This continues as he eats more and more people, and may I add people closer to both of them....but she looooves him so its okay.

You may think by this point this is a comedy but no, no its not. This crap fest is filled with way to many overly dramatic pauses and moments that do not add anything to it. You start to feel like he should eat her dumb ass to put her out of our collective misery. It ends the way you think it will but hope it wont.
I’m not saying to avoid this film, in fact celebrate it with a loved one and point out to them you would put them down like a rabid dog if they ever started eating people.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Rise of Nightmares (Xbox 360)

Ever since the Xbox 360 Kinect hardware was announced my imagination ran wild thinking of all the different horror themes and how the Kinect versions of them would play out. I mean can you imagine a Saw game where you are in the trap and have to release yourself with real world movement?!?! Fast forward to the end of summer and you will see Kinect owners drowning in a sea of party games and sports/action titles. Along comes Rise of Nightmares promising new game play that did not involve a sport and was horror themed. Imagine my excitement after seeing a few videos of these playing. Did R.O.N go the distance and breath some life into a rather stale game assortment for Kinect owners? Does it take the survival horror genre in a whole new direction with an all new layer of game play? Kinda of and kind of not. Read on for "the skinny" when it comes to Sega's latest foray into horror.

Right off the bat this game screams House of the Dead in not only game play, but voice acting, art, and almost everything else. This is not a bad thing because I loved the series, but did hope R.O.N would not be an exact rip off, and it was not. The story is so so and pretty basic. You play as Josh who is on a trip with his girlfriend Kate, who busts his alcoholic ass before the train can crash. And you start the search for a missing Kate. You will interact with others from time to time, all of which felt really stereotypical and once again reminded me of characters from Sega's House of the Dead.The levels are broken out into 10 acts much like another shoot em up Sega title (Ahem.. House of the Dead). The level design was a lot better than I expected and the enemies were varied enough to keep your eyeballs into it. A decent amount of time went into the design of the enemies and some like the zombies look awesome, while other filler types like cyborgs looked cheap. The sound was nothing super awesome but did the trick and voice acting was as expected being on par with House of the Dead.

Oh the flipping controls. Thank god I did not have an actual controller in my hand or it would have went from one to one thousand pieces before act 3. I had plenty of issues while in "flailing combat" where Josh would just start going backward or forward. In battle this was easily the most frustrating thing I found in the game. I did get a little better later on by making my movements more of a lunge, versus the step a normal human would take. The addition of an auto-walk button was a god sent at times but felt like they knew something was broken and just offered a band-aid versus a repair. Recalibrating the sensor did nothing to remedy the movement. Luckily the robust weapon choices and gore filled combat made the trip through each act doable.The Kinect has very little in the way of games that rock outside of the genres already mentioned. If you like the House of the Dead series, as I do, you would be a miss to not at least rent this title. It would also give your Kinect a break from make believe pets and boring ass party games. I really hope to see more developers embrace the Kinect and take a chance at making something different. If it is fun and engaging I have no issue standing all day and flailing like a sweaty fool.
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday the 13th double-feature

Stay up late with Jason Voorhees, if you dare, for a rare 35mm double-feature of Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) on Friday, January 13, 2012 at the historic Vista Theater in Los Angeles.

The evening will be hosted by La-La Land Records, Creature Features and, in celebration of the premiere soundtrack release of Friday the 13th Parts I-VI, A Limited Edition 6-CD Box Set, featuring composer Harry Manfredini’s acclaimed, never-before-officially-released Friday the 13th scores.

Between the films, a Q&A panel will be hosted by managing editor Ryan Turek. Special guests will include Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2’s Adrienne King, composer Harry Manfredini, and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives actors Thom Mathews, David Kagen, Darcy DeMoss, Vinnie Guastaferro and Nancy McLoughlin. More guests to be announced!

The event will serve as the release party for the Friday the 13th Parts I-VI box set, available in a limited edition of 1300 units. The box set includes 6 CDs and a 40-page book, and will be available for $70. (CASH ONLY, sales tax included). The box set will also be sold at starting Jan. 13, 2012.

Special event-only merchandise, created exclusively for this screening, will also be on hand!

WHERE: The Vista Theater, 4473 Sunset Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
WHEN: Friday, January 13, 2012 @ 9:30pm

article originally posted on
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Batman: Arkham City - Review

Welcome to yet another fantastic fall/holiday rush of AAA titles. I start to sweat with excitement when I think of this time of year. When the last Batman game in this series Arkham Asylum was released I intentionally passed over it, even though every friend and media outlet was gushing like a nerd at comic con. My reason for this mistake was based solely on the amount of games with super heroes attached that completely sucked ass. I will not bother making the list because I do not need carpel tunnel that bad. I think my point is pretty obvious and I am not alone in thinking these companies have made a lot of quick cash by flipping a turd with a super heroes name on it. So Arkham Asylum landed on my Christmas present filler list because it was about 20 or so bucks and I did not want to waste the cash. Low and behold the Almighty holiday came and so did a neatly wrapped copy of Batman AA. I was on holiday break and decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. From that point I did not eject the disc from my Xbox 360 until the main quest was complete, which is pretty rare for me and my 30 second attention span. Since the announcement of the sequel at the 2009 Spike VGAs I have been waiting patiently to play this one through just as the last. And let me tell you it was damn well worth the wait.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Review - Panic Button (2011)

Panic button is a great representation of how a small movie with an even smaller cast can come across as a film with a much bigger scope than its means. It also represents a very real threat to us here in the digital age and that means a very real, palpable horror as well.
Panic button centers on four characters, each from different walks of life, who find themselves the winners of a social network site's contest that puts them on a private jet headed straight to the big apple for an all expense paid vacation of fun in the US. Right away, our all British cast almost gurantees a well rounded crew of capable actors (Not to digress here, but how many British productions do you see that have less than adequate acting chops among their central thespians? Scones and acting... those Brits bring their A-game). After brief introductions in the airport, our winners board their ride and are almost immediately treated to a game of " who's the biggest scumbag" MC'd by an on-board computer representing All2Gethr, the social network site that is soon to become the film's antagonist. It is here that the real horror of Panic Button shows its pearly whites. Horror is more than the killer in the closet, the monster under the bed or the maniac with a master plan to prove his demented philosophies to his victims. Horror is around us, laying in wait, packaged as a nice slick service that connects us to our friends all the while nearing closer to our jugular with a serrated blade. 
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Yuletide Terror - What to get the Horror Fan this X-Mas!!! (Part One: Video Games)

We horror fans can be a finicky bunch and buying for us can often seem like a nightmare. In light of this little dilemma, I have decided to take it upon myself to write this handy guide to what to buy this holiday season. Here you will find video games, DVDs, toys and maybe even a few little plush monstrosities to fill those stockings. Just remember, no matter how frustrated you get... BACK AWAY FROM THE SOCKS AND UNDERWEAR!!!! Especially if you're shopping at a second hand store... I mean, really?!?!? That's how germs are spread. Shall we begin?


Horror fans might find the wii a little too family friendly friendly for their tastes. That being said, there are still some great titles to get the blood flowing and the adrenaline surging.

Dead Space: Extraction
Although I haven't played this particular title, the Dead Space franchise seems to be a mainstay in the industry and I've heard good things about this shooter. There is also an enhanced version for those PS3 owners out there that ports over the wii controls for the Playstation Move.

Buy Now from Amazon

The House of the Dead: Overkill
This one is not for the pint-sized zombies in your house, unless you want your nine year old going to school sounding like Samuel Jackson on a smack binge...
For the most part HOTD: Overkill sets out to do exactly what it promises: zombies, gore, a huge nod to exploitation cinema and a lot of fun. Although a little repetitive and featuring some pretty clunky reload action, this is a title you'll be glad you have for when the New Years revelers show up with dip and that jailhouse toilet-wine your friend Rodney makes.

Buy Now from Amazon

Cursed Mountain
Cursed Mountain in no way references the stack of nudie mags in your shed that your uncle left you when he went into the clink. What is does is provide a wii exclusive (console anyways) horror game that is heavy on atmosphere and story.

Buy Now from Amazon

You might also want to check out:
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Resident Evil 4


PS3 is admittedly my console of choice. I know there are a lot of 360 purists out there, but I was sold on the bluray playback, so nanner, nanner, nanner. (Of course if I was making my game selections solely for Playstation Network accessibility I would have been sitting on a watertower somewhere with an assault rifle earlier this year, so go figure)

Although not a "look-over-your-shoulder" title, Splaterhouse delivers on so many levels for the die-hard gorehound. For those that remember the original Splatterhouse in the late 80s, you are going to bathe in blood soaked nostalgia. For those that don't, well... bask in your youth and go chase girls and backpack across Europe... what the hell are you doing sitting around playing video games, anyways?!?!?

Buy for the PS3 on Amazon    Buy for XBOX 360 on Amazon

Siren Blood Curse
Although I was not a huge fan of the controls of this game (using the games' patented Epileptic-at-a-Rave technology) I have been told that should I stick it out Blood Curse proves itself to be quite possibly the most chill inducing horror title for the PS3. Couple that with the fact that it is a available as a download might make this one a no-brainer.

The House of the Dead: Overkill (Extended Cut)
So we might have covered this already in the Wii, but there are levels not included in that version here, PLUS... this one is 3D compatible... so you can kick ass in at least one more dimension... just like Buckaroo Bonzai...

You might also want to check out:
Dead Space 2
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare


Ok... I know there is this "cult of xbox"; xbox enthusiasts who rival the long-term supporters of Apple... they are rabid... dress in the skin of their kills and will defend their favorite console to a grisly end. However, I don't own one, so it looks like I will have to listen to the people's voice on this one and give some suggestions based on user reviews and what not...

Dead Island
Oh yeah... zombies and a place where you are almost guaranteed hot towels monogramed with the emblem of the resort and its faceless parent company... throw in a volleyball and we are all over it!!! Better yet, read  our in depth review of it here and get the real skinny!!! Read our Review

Rise of Nightmares

Its the first M-rated game for the Kinect and although we were all hoping this would be that long rumored first person Ron Jeremy "shooter" alas... it is Rise of Nightmares. However, its nice to see Kinect stepping up with a nice horror title such as this, AND, xbox has been promoting it pretty heavily took which is refreshing. Search for your missing wife amidst zombies and try not to become dinner... I still think it might have benefitted from Mr. Jeremy at the helm, but my pleas for common sense go unanswered.

Dead Rising 2

Play it some more, same as before. More zombies need to be killed inventively and its up to you to come back to Dead Rising for another round. I enjoy this franchise and its base element is really a huge love letter to fans of horror and zombie cinema. Use whatever you can to dispatch of the undead... and in a move that equals a hiroshima of the rotting and shambling... Celine Dion is your secret weapon (this is a joke... well its actually two jokes if you count Ms. Dion... so don't go scouring the net for Celine Dion DLC for Dead Rising 2... but if you do, and you find something... I want it).

These are just a few, but based on either personal experience or a lot of positive reviews web-wide... you really can't go wrong with these titles.

Next stop... Blurays, DVDs and all those films that fit snugly in a sock nailed to your fireplace (not that sock, we've talked about that sock) ... this might take a while, but we promise we'll be done before you hear those familiar footsteps on the rooftop...
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