Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Alien: Covenant - The scoop and digest

For the second part of Alien prequel series, has Ridley Scott addressed multiple complaints?

Michael Fassbender - Walter/David
Katherine Waterston - Daniels
Danny McBride - Tennessee
Billy Crudup - Oram

In opening scene with Peter Weyland, David names himself after Michelangelo's statue of same name.

10 years after Prometheus, colonisation vessel Covenant is heading for planet Origae-6.

Crew includes upgraded android Walter, head female Daniels and acting captain Oram.

Power surge damages ship and awakes peeps from hypersleep seven years early.

Mother picks up a rogue transmission on apparently lifeless rock, compelling them to investigate.

Sound familiar?

On the way to finding derelict, dust particles released from trampled seed pods give ear ache and get right up somebody's nose.

Umbilical cord quickly grows and neomorph is born.

Vicious bastard is the result of ecosystem mutating with black goo.

David frightens beastie away and takes survivors to safe haven of now Engineer graveyard.

Call me a lunatic, but if I was 'rescued' by a randomer who took me back to place surrounded by hundreds of corpses, I'd be rather concerned.

Instead, nobody bats an eyelid.

Film is so fucking stupid.

Using black substance as template, he's been researching how to create xenomorphs.

To David's horror, Oram breaks connection made with neomorph by shooting it dead.

Oram is taken to incubation chamber where he's urged to take a closer look inside egg.

Guess what happens?

Before the inevitable, Oram asks David what he believes in.

"Creation."

Yep, out pops baby protoxeno.

Oh, Elizabeth was sacrificed in the same way.

At some point, facehugger is forcefully removed from Lope's face.

However, it curls up and dies.

Uh oh.

Meanwhile, Tennessee braves weather conditions and lands to extract survivors.

After learning what fellow android has been up to, Walter expires David.

Xeno hitches a ride on fleeing ship and killed when trapped and crushed inside arm crane.

Nightmare ain't quite over, as unidentified life form feasts on horny couple taking a shower.

(Grimaces).

With the help of Walter, Tennessee and Daniels successfully expel threat from hangar into the big black.

Prepping crew for hypersleep, Daniels asks Walter to realise her late husband's dream of building a log cabin on Origae-6.

'Walter' has no idea what crazy bitch is babbling on about.

Meaning...

Fabulous plot twist (we never saw coming).

With cat let out of bag, David regurgitates facehugger embryos, intending to use sleeping colonists as hosts.

Film closes with David making Covenant's final report as 'Walter'.

Gorgeous

From scenery to faultless CG, this is probably the sexiest piece of celluloid I've ever seen.

H.R. Giger headlines ending credits.

I should jolly well think so.

Overwhelming failure

Low expectations were unfortunately met.

Scott lazily goes over old ground, but unlike claustrophobic 1979 classic, running time never scares and delivers zero suspense.

Incredibly dumb characters are picked off in predictable fashion and script fucking sucks.

Performances fare no better, but Fassbender plays interesting dual role with aplomb.

Symbolism behind awkward flute scene?

I'm not entirely sure.

Neomorphs don't hold back, and while head design was obviously based on freak of nature the Goblin shark, I can't help comparing albinos to something from Silent Hill.

Walter and David engaging in Marvel and/or DC style combat?

Ha ha ha!

Before wrapping shit up, two more are planned.

Do I care?

No.

If ass craves a good sci-fi horror, then I suggest you get a Life.

Just make sure Ryan Reynolds stars, and not Dane DeHaan.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

In space, no one can hear video games scream

Promequel is out.

It was [censored].

Before my scoop, let's remind ourselves what pixels had to offer.

Mobile fodder will be ignored.

Unless stated, game title is identical to film it was based on.

Alien

Fox Video Games 1982 (Atari 2600)

The first licensed game was a shameless Pac-Man piss take.

Is that the best they could come up with?

Swapping dots for eggs and ghosts for aliens (giant mouths on puny legs), a human participates in a premise so lazy, it's fucking unbelievable.

Mazes have power pills and a flamethrower.

After each stage, bonus area swarming with aliens is basically Frogger, without the logs or personality.

Concept Software 1984 (Spectrum/C64) and Amstrad CPC (1985)

As game starts, you're informed the alien has given Kane violent chest cramp and then it's character select time.

The Nostromo is represented as a green and black grid as crew members search every nook and cranny of commercial towing vehicle for unwelcome guest.

Crew become increasingly unstable and depending on mental state (confident, broken, hysterical etc), may ignore pre-set text adventure-esque commands.

Another menu lets you choose rooms available for character to enter and help themselves to items and weapons.

To up the difficulty ante, 'somebody' (identity changes every game), is an android.

Yes, secondary antagonist may not be Ash.

If nasty creature occupies the same room, map screen will transform into a green alien.

That's snot a joke.

Special commands include:

Initiate auto-destruct, open/seal airlock and launch Narcissus.

If crew is depleted to three, you can escape in the shuttle, but only if Jones is caught and ship is set to auto-destruct.

Other ways to complete the game is to expel alien into space or kill it.

Remember, ship's hull doesn't take too kindly to acid for blood.

However game ends, rating is compiled from player's performance.

Gameplay in strategy adventure burns slower than an enormous candle, but what was achieved on host hardware was incredible.

Aliens The Computer Game (US Version) Activision 1986 (C64, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Apple II)

De-briefing scene with "Hudson Sir.  He's Hicks" really sets shit up.

Although dialogue before each section is 'wrong', you get the idea.

Essentially a mix of mini games, cast in full:

Hicks, Gorman, Vasquez, Hudson, Drake, Frost, Dietrich and Crowe.

No Apone?

Boooooo!!!!

More to the point, where's bowski?

Every key action sequence made it home safely.

Dropship landing, alien hive (with motion tracker), 'they cut the power', duct maze, rescuing Newt and of course, final confrontation with Queen inside power loader.

Just like the film, locator guides Ripley to Newt and while dropping flares is optional, screen shaking (representing impending explosion) is just a fabulous touch.

There's also some great screens, particularly "Get away from her you BITCH!"

In-game graphics and sound were functional back then.

And now...

Aliens The Computer Game, Software Studios 1987 (C64, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and MSX)

Tactical shmup was brawn with brain, and remains one of my favourite games of any era.

Ripley, Gorman, Hicks, Bishop, Vasquez and, er, Burke, attempt to make it out alive.

Android is an odd choice, but Burke?

(Rolls eyes).

Crosshair or sprite (if you like), moves freely around whichever room, all 255 of the suckers.

It won't be long before you grab pen and paper and make your own map.

Those were the days.

Officially a solitary experience, but best played with two.

One armed with joystick and fellow marine at qwerty.

You can command any character to move up to 9 rooms.

For example, typing 4NH moves Hicks 4 rooms north.

Pushing space bar on door has the same effect, but more time consuming.

In case you're wondering, Burke is B and Bishop is I.

Characters can become exhausted and standing stationary replenishes stamina bar.

Combined with high-pitched proximity alarm, aliens appear without warning.

The nervous or slow will be punished...

Yellow (captured), red (impregnated) and --- (dead).

Display then turns into interference and alien replaces mugshot.

Grim stuff.

Hauling ass to said room and killing alien rescues colleague, but only when status is yellow.

Anything else, game over man.

R.I.P. Bill Paxton.

Exiting a room with acid pool below or the 'wrong' door will result instantly kill.

Although only one girl or geezer can be controlled at a time, you can easily switch between characters, and essential when alien presence intensifies.

Growth must be cleared before room can be left, but if an alien selfishly shows up off-screen, it's usually bye bye baby.

This is because aliens automatically react to misplaced gunfire.

Newt can appear almost ghost like at random and can be killed.

There are a number of key 'unnamed' areas that player will stumble across.

Armoury (refills ammo), med lab (facehuggers), generator (theoretically prevents power from being cut) and Queens Chamber.

If a blackout does occur, shooting is the only to temporarily light up room.

SSSSHHHHIIIITTTTT!!!!!

Sprites look smashing and huggers even jump.

I did reach final area on several occasions, but always died.

Freeware developer Derbian Games remade situation 30 years later as LV-426.

Alien 2: Aliens, Square 1987 (MSX)

For those who don't know, Alien 2: On Earth is the unofficial 1980 Italian sequel to Alien.

Occasionally gory obscurity closed with this warning.

"You may be next!"

Errr, okay.

Anyway, here's another fucked up Japanese exclusive.

Queen doesn't transform into a variety of animals like Darth Vader in Famicom Star Wars, but 'huge hostile body' is the same boss for every stage.

Warriors, eggs, huggers and chestbursters redeem situation, but platformer was reportedly insanely difficult.

Famicom Disk System version was never released, but vids can be found on the internet.

Konami 1990 (Arcade)

Content of competent action game couldn't be more authentic.

To see why, give link a click.

http://nukesandknives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/konamis-video-game-adaptation-is.html

Alien 3

Unless stated, Probe went through the licensed motions.

Mega Drive, Master System, C64, Game Gear and NES (1992)

Ripley has so many attempts to simply rescue prisoners and find exit.

How imaginative.

After so many acts of repetition, a level guardian of alien warrior (lifted from Aliens) must be negotiated.

Oh, Ripley leaves Fiorina 'Fury' 161.

Whatever.

Identical Amiga game was written by Eden Entertainment.

SNES (1993)

Ripley wipes out xenomorphic crowd with flame thrower, pulse rifle and grenades.

Expect to weld doors, rescue prisoners, destroy eggs and repair fuse boxes.

Password system ensures we don't have to tackle monotony in one sitting.

A fully grown Alien Queen forming part of end sequence widens eyes, but Ripley's sacrificial descent is admirably recreated.

Game Boy (1993)

Penultimate entry takes the B.I.T.S.

Objective in overhead adventure was to escape in the EEV.

Static shots of Ripley, Dillon, Bishop and Andrews resemble their live action counterparts, but dialogue is mostly made up.

Once key card is found, backtracking is obligatory to get items and weaponry (like pistol and smart gun).

The blowtorch is used to burn through a door to get the flamethrower, which can only destroy eggs.

Are these fucking things bulletproof?

Weapons and items have their own set of slots, so once purpose is served, shit must be discarded.

Here's the problem.

Unlike Resident Evil, game doesn't have the common courtesy to inform when an item is useless.

ASSHOLES!

Before Queen graces us with her presence, all xenos must be exterminated.

Check out useful menu.

T - Time
P - Prisoners
A1 - Warrior
A2 - Drone
H - Huggers
E - Eggs

Why not W and D for Warrior and Drone respectively?

Getting the fuck out of dodge is timed, or company will turn up.

So after Ripley has worn out several pair of boots, giving tool bag to Bishop will have android fix EEV.

Queenie is invincible and bitch must be trapped by the pistons to seal molten demise.

Terminator 2 anybody?

Heroine makes her escape and enters hypersleep.

I've played much worse, but why persist with Queen bullshit and Ripley escaping?

Alien 3: The Gun, Sega 1993 (Arcade)

Ripping off Taito's pump action classic Space Gun, hostile aliens can be dismembered.

Yeah, you could do this years before Dead Space.

Very much in the mold of Line of Fire (not to be confused with Clint Eastwood thriller In the Line of Fire), trigger must be released to recharge infinite ammo.

Or as Hicks would say:

"Remember, short controlled bursts."

Of course, bombs help get through sticky situations.

Ripley gave fast moving lightgun popcorn a miss, as up to two marines smash their way through action that flashes a giant fuck you at reality.

Each stage is preceded by a series of digitised film stills.

Why? They don't mean jack shit.

We begin on board the Sulaco, which is bustling with all your favourite xenos, miniature missile tanks and machine gun drones.

Super Face-Hugger completes a head scratcher.

From there, we crash-land in the EEV where Fiorina 'Fury' 161 has already been turned into a nest of Aliens.

Setting of prison planet is expertly captured, but robots and giant tank dubbed Iron Tortoise kinda spoils things.

The same alien is repeated for the majority of boss battles and their 'boss' is eventually drowned in hot lead and finished off with sprinklers.

Okay, that happened.

Actual end boss isn't the Queen, as 'an unidentified man' (presumably Bishop II), isn't best pleased when you don't have the alien samples necessary to develop bio-weapon.

Check out transcript of fucked up ending.

As time passed, all records of the fearful incidents were erased.

The facilities were closed down and almost all was forgotten.

(Company members open fire).

Two names were deleted from the name list of the colonial marine.

No one knows whether they are dead or alive.

End of transmission.

My brain is more scrambled than eggs.

Alien Trilogy, Probe 1996 (PS1, Saturn and PC)

Nice looking and sounding FPS made a decent job of recreating atmosphere, but while fighting Queen in Aliens (albeit without power loader) is acceptable, repeating the feat in Alien and Alien 3 is fucked up.com.

At level's end, 32 character long passwords are generously given.

Which dickhead thought it necessary to have player waste so much time?

In Alien 3, her majesty has to be destroyed so prison can be rebuilt for other offenders.

Bizarre.

We tackle Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien (in that order).

What the fuck?

Alien: Resurrection, Argonaut Games 2000 (PS1)

Film was TERRIBLE, but game fared much better.

Player switches between Ripley, Christie, Call and DiStephano, with each having different abilities, as Call carries a motion tracker and Christie imports his twin pistols.

Xenos hunt in packs and display surprising intelligence.

High difficulty reduces enjoyment and stages get unnecessarily long very quickly.

Gary Dourdan, Raymond Cruz and Steven Gilborn return to provide voice talent for Christie, DiStephano and ASM Auriga AI respectively, but Ripley (Lani Minella) and Call (Theresa Rizzo) stand in for Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder.

Miscellany

Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure, Cryo Interactive 1995 (PC)

Loosely based on various Dark Horse comics, point and click stars ex-Colonial marine Lt. Col. Hericken (an obvious nod to Lance Henriksen).

Voice acting and characters may be appalling, but decent graphics and CG sequences compensate.

Combat makes blood boil and changing discs during gameplay is 'rather' inconvenient.

If you don't eat on a regular basis, expect to die of starvation.

Fuck you game.

Aliens Online, Kesmai and Mythic Entertainment 1998 (Windows)

Marine or Alien?

You decide.

FPS MMO had numerous maps and faction gradually improved by scoring points.

Servers closed down in 2000.

Aliens: Thanatos Encounter, Crawfish Interactive 2001 (Game Boy Colour)

During platoon's return to Earth after a training mission, ship's computer Mother, picks up a distress beacon from the space freighter Thanatos.

Mother receives orders from Marine headquarters to wake grunts from hypersleep and investigate.

Cpl. Brooke, Cadet Jorell, Private Vinora, Private Shiro and Private Chayton are differentiated by speed and stamina.

Most missions demand to rid dumb xenos from each area and rescue all survivors.

Snore snore snore.

Even the power loader can't prevent boredom.

Passwords are given after each level and player isn't forced to remain as current marine.

Turgid top down adventure just feels like a shittier version of Alien Breed.

Aliens: Extermination, Global VR 2006 (Arcade)

LED ammo readout on mounted M41-A pulse rifle controllers actually decrease and have force-feedback recoil.

Awesome.

Non-canonical sequel has marines return to LV-426 to finish off xeno population for good, but find Weyland-Yutani has reprogrammed an army of synthetic humanoids to stop anything getting in the way of company's development of lethal bio weapons.

Just for assholes and elbows, hardware is powered by a Pentium 4 computer, GeForce graphics, 512MB of RAM and resolution of 27-inch Super VGA flat-screen monitor is 800x600.

Choose from any one of four* hardcore missions (Bug Hunt, Seek & Destroy, Stronghold and Extermination), and apart from obligatory Queen encounter, Renegade Loader, Alien Dragon and Sat Com Tower provide boss battles.

*'Fifth' stage Self Destruct is just an excuse to pummel Queenie for 90 seconds before escape is secured.

For the time, graphics were state of the art, but on-rails shmup is largely unfair as xenos largely overwhelm and shooting CPU marines saps health.

Aliens Infestation, WayForward Technologies 2011 (DS)

The USS Sephora discovers the Sulaco floating in space and Marines are sent to extract and return sign of life detected on board.

To start with, four set marines are playable, and only one can be controlled at any time.

If squad is wiped out, well...

Fifteen more can be stumbled upon and if implanted, ass has 5 real-time minutes to perform rescue.

Each possess unique dialogue, idle animation and distinguished by colour.

Members can be swapped inside various safe rooms scattered around the Sulaco, where you can also save, switch weapons and restock ammo.

Lots of back-tracking and exploration screams MetroidVania and hostility ranges from rogue U.P.P. (Union of Progressive Peoples) soldiers to xeno hybrids.

Derelict can be seen during APC attack and we go against a Jockey Xeno inside.

Mixing things up, Queen Mother (probably) on the Sulaco provides final encounter.

Extras contains back story of each marine encountered and while pointless, I defy anybody not to give knife trick mini-game a whirl.

Holy Light of Demons (once known as Guyz Nite), perform credits song LV-426.

This is a very well crafted game.

Controls are tight, graphics more than hold their own and although repetitive, gameplay is never boring.

Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox 2013 (PS3, 360 and PC)

Discounting impressive graphics and sound, Fox approved sequel to James Cameron's film shouldn't have been made.

I'm not wasting precious qwerty time describing how unspeakably bad lump of shit was.

Why?

Because you already fucking know...

Aliens: Armageddon, Raw Thrills 2014 (Arcade)

Considering how many were published, I'm amazed subtitle doesn't share same name as a Dark Horse comic.

Here's the deal.

Xeno plague unleashed on Earth has caused near devastation and mankind's only hope for survival is to leave doomed rock behind by reaching deep space cargo ship ARK.

Four stages of relentless action can be appreciated on a gigantic 55 inch HD LCD monitor or 42 inch mounted gun version.

AR-15 style rifles having force-feedback with clip reload and alternative fire button adds strength and depth.

Weapons include flamethrower, rifles, shotguns and grenades.

Heck, you can even let rip with gun turrets.

You can either choose where to start (Chapter) or play from beginning (Story).

As you'd expect, visuals in spiritual sequel to Terminator Salvation are absolutely gorgeous.

Destroying numerous reticles is key to defeating bosses which fans of Let's Go Jungle and Deadstorm Pirates will be all too familiar with.

Hybrids, webbed huggers, tank and flying xenos are examples of regular bestiary and monstrous chestbursters and humongous aliens guzzle coins before going down.

Alien Isolation, The Creative Assembly 2014 (PS3, 360, PC, PS4 and Xbox One)

Set 15 years after Alien, it follows Ripley's daughter Amanda, investigating the disappearance of her mother.

Protagonist was first mentioned in Aliens: Special Edition, who died of cancer, aged 66.

Focusing very much on stealth and survival, FPS is a huge departure from the staple formula we've become accustomed to.

Amanda must evade the bloodthirsty intentions of a single xeno, fight hostile androids called Working Joes and occasionally tame humans.

Finding items such as the maintenance jack, flashlight, motion tracker and system access tuner are essential to make progress on Sevastopol.

MJ is used to remove security braces from doors and SAT allows you to hack computer terminals which can disable security cameras, manipulate air purification mechanism and gain information.

Tools and weapons can be crafted in a separate menu, but require junk like scraps, charge packs, bonding agents and ethanol.

Foraging will result in the creation of medikits, pipe bombs and flashbangs etc etc.

Shotgun, bolt gun, flamethrower and pistol aren't as useful as one might think.

Amanda can save progress by inserting her access card into whichever terminal and my advice is to do this at every given opportunity.

Working Joes can be gunned down, but a far more effective strategy is to give them a prod with stun baton and finish them off with maintenance jack.

Don't even bother outrunning the alien.

In short, give bastard an inch and it'll take a fucking mile.

No weapon can physically injure or kill it, but xeno can be frightened away with flame or bomb.

After plot twists and turns, more than a twisty turny thing, daughter finds Ellen's pre-recorded message on insane Captain Marlow's ship the Anesidora, informing that following Nostromo's destruction, she's okay, but stuck on lifeboat (Narcissus), long way out.

Ripley eventually boards the Torrens, but she's forced to eject into space when an alien corners her.

Final shot sees an unconscious Ripley awake in her EVA suit when a searchlight crosses her face.

Crew Expendable* and Last Survivor plays out two scenes from 1979 classic.

*Originates from Special Order 937 and also forms part of Ripley's dialogue in Alien 3.

Five downloadable content packs were periodically released, and taking control of NPC's adds new maps primarily to Survivor mode.

Summing up

Luscious this gen graphics filled with atmosphere and dread are complemented by lo-fi distortion and retro green displays.

APOLLO is basically Mummy, and sequence of Anesidora crew finding the derelict years later sent shivers down my spine.

However...

Voice acting fails to impress and we never care about the plight of any human (including Ripley).

Taking cover and biting your fingernails is initially great, but 487 times later, it gets rather fucking boring.

Survival can be trial and error and as a consequence, you'll die time and time again.

To infuriate further, there's no auto-save and save terminals are few and far between.

Arrrgggghhhhh!

I wouldn't blame anybody for quitting altogether, but having said that, it is worth braving shit out until the anti-climatic end.

Overall, the ultimate Alien game is a stunning looking, but frustrating and imperfect organism.

Bonus round

Seems I'm on a roll, here's what happens when an Alien meets a Predator.

As xeno is never protagonist and only a playable character, most should be called Predator vs. Alien.

Hey fucking ho.

Alien vs. Predator, Jorudan Co 1993 (SNES)

In the year 2493, colonists find dormant alien eggs on planet Vega 4.

Before humans get asses handed to them, Predator ship gets wind of distress signal and decide to help, as they seek more challenging prey than humans.

The result of the first video game crossover is a scrolling beat 'em up.

Pussy face (as described by Danny Glover in Predator 2), biffs, boffs, uses trademark weapons lance, wrist blades and smart disc to cut through xenos and boss types.

Alien screams sound like farts, but sprites, bosses and intermission screens are perversely decent.

What a shame it's so depressing to play.

Alien vs. Predator: The Last of His Clan, Ask Kodanska 1993 (Game Boy)

2593.  Planet Alpha Centauri 3.

Those nasty xenos have decimated your population, except for one.

If you loathe excitement and crave boredom, look no further.

Alien vs. Predator, Capcom 1994 (Arcade)

It's criminal this was never ported to any home system.

Predator Warrior and Predator Hunter team up with Lt. Linn Kurosawa and Major Dutch Schaefer to kick the ever loving shit out of marines, infectoids (parasitized humans) and never before seen aliens.

Apart from using their own very capable weaponry, Predator(s) can give smart gun, flamethrower, pulse rifle and grenade launcher a dance.

Capcom geeks will recognise Mad Predator boss scrap to be identical in principle to facing Rolento in Final Fight.

Mindless and totally satisfying, this was the cream of genre crop.

Alien vs. Predator, Atari 1994 (Jaguar)

Few games on 64 bits shone, but this sparkled.

Alien:

Find and rescue Queen to make hive whole again.

Mouth, claw or tail attacks, and cocooning enemies (which eventually hatch), regains health.

Predator:

Claim Alien Queen's skull.

Points are pertinent to obtaining weapons and lost when killing without honour.

Lance, scimitar, energy based projectiles and infra red vision make job easier.

Marine (Private Lewis):

Locate and launch escape capsule.

Expect to unload from the barrels of classic weaponry.

System's magnum opus?

I'd say so.

Alien versus Predator, Rebellion Developments 1999 (PC)

Note this is first not to abbreviate 'vs'.

What's the bastard point?

Three species battle for survival.

Scale walls as alien, lock and load as marine and stalk and hunt as the Predator.

Like Jag game, each have their own agenda.

Civvies are easy pickings, but 'predaliens', mechanical aliens and androids put up more of a fight.

Problems include no crouch button, disorientating camera and short campaigns.

Most fucked up was the need to download patch to save game in-level.

Gold Edition addressed multiplayer issues, but FMV left an embarrassing taste.

Alien versus Predator 2, Monolith Productions 2001 (PC)

Graphics are given a kick up the ass, but beefy machine was needed to appreciate Lithtech engine.

On LV-1201 where xenos have wiped out another alien civilisation, all hell breaks loose when a researcher is impregnated.

Game picks up shortly after and each character's story intersects.

2002 expansion pack Primal Hunt added new missions and back story to main course, with single player campaign serving as prequel.

Contrary to what box states, the infamous Medallion does NOT include Primal Hunt and literally just a repackaged version of AVP 2.

Gold Edition did bring both together.

Alien versus Predator: Extinction, Zono Incorporated 2003 (PS2/Xbox)

Real-time strategy had numerous campaigns for each faction and units must be upgraded for new abilities.

Limited, but different.

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Rebellion Developments 2007 (PSP)

Devoid of personality and combos, charmless button masher set in Gunnison, Colorado can kiss my sweet ass.

Controls are terrible and xeno AI couldn't outwit a dead slug.

Alien vs. Predator, Rebellion Developments 2010 (PS3, 360 and PC)

Considering this was a sequel to AVP 2 - what a stupid fucking title.

Opulent and bloody gory, it's a case of same shit, different story.

Hunter Edition included facehugger model, lenticular card and Weyland sleeve badge.

Also thrown in are four exclusive map packs:

Docks, Outpost, Machine and and Hive.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - The scoop and digest

Writer/director James Gunn returns to serve up the next slice of MCU pie.

Chris Pratt - Quill/Star-Lord
Dave Bautista - Drax
Zoe Saldana - Gamora
Bradley Cooper - Rocket
Michael Rooker - Yondu
Karen Gillan - Nebula
Kurt Russell - Ego
Pom Klementieff - Mantis
Chris Sullivan - Taserface

Thanks to CG and cosmetic appliances, Kurt Russell looks considerably younger in 1980.

34 years later and while Baby Groot looks on, the GOTG manage to kill a giant squid-like monster on Sovereign.

Mr. Blue Sky playing during title-cum-action sequence is a stroke of genius.

In exchange for protecting precious batteries, they take Nebula with them.

After Rocket helps himself to what Gamora's estranged sister was caught stealing, High Priestess Ayesha sends drones to attack

Crash-landing on Berset (I think?), Quill's father Ego takes son, Drax and Gamora 'home', while Rocket and Groot stay put to guard Nebula and repair the damaged Milano.

Once there, Ego's bug-eyed pet empath grows attached to Drax.

Switching to the bright lights of snowy Contraxia, Yondu was exiled by Stallone's Stakar Ogord for child trafficking.

Led by Klingon wannabe Taserface, Ravager community capture Rocket and Groot.

Kraglin (still Yondu's biggest fan) sets them free, and boy in blue wipes out crew by commanding trusty telekinetic arrow with cheeky whistle.

Celestial God Ego assumed the form of a human to interact with other forms of life and met Quill's mother Meredith.

Ah, so beginning now makes sense.

Pops teaches Quill how to summon energy, but does Ego have an ulterior motive?

Yep.

It turns out Ego planted his seed inside countless women to expand his godly presence, but children couldn't access Celestial might.

Enter Quill.

He's forced into doing evil bidding, but fights back after learning Ego killed Meredith by purposely planting a tumour inside her head.

Planet's core is breached where Groot sets bomb near Ego's brain, resulting in rock's inevitable disintegration.

While the other Guardians make their escape, Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill.

To honour Ravager, a spectacular pyrotechnic funeral is held.

"I am Groot" corrupts credit roll and in no particular order.

Kraglin's failure to control Yondu's arrow amusingly ends up with Drax getting the point, a hormonal Groot grows teenage roots, Ogord is inspired to steal some shit and High Priestess has created a new birthing machine (dubbed Adam) which will destroy the GOTG.

Finally, Stan Lee's astronaut bores a group of Watchers to tears.

Super smashing great

Better than the first?

That's down to individual opinion.

Whatever, it's just as much, if not more fun.

A hyper critical bitch (ahem) may point out chaotic climax is by the numbers, Groot is underused, Star Trek II-esque funeral is slightly cringing and cameos of Ving Rhames and Michelle Yeoh are pointless.

Also, Howard the fucking Duck is given actual scene on Contraxia.

However, special effects are fabulous and sarcastic chemistry remains consistently superb.

Drax is such a wicked bastard to Mantis and raucous laughter is genuinely hilarious.

From Cat Stevens to George Harrison, Awesome Mix Vol. 2 delights.

Pac-Man appears during end fight and credits kicks off with Cheap Trick's Surrender.

The despicable Pixels plays said song at start and features giant dot muncher as video game enemy.

Hmmm.

The Guardians will be back in Vol. 3, but until then, expect cameos in Avengers: Infinity War.

One more thing.

No raccoons or tree creatures were harmed during the making of this movie.  However, the same can't be said for the handlers of the raccoons and tree creatures.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Super Street Fighter II Turbo

Super Street Fighter II Turbo X: Grand Master Challenge (Japanese title), boasted several minor, but important improvements over previous update The New Challengers.

Intro has Chun-Li (and Cammy's mucky tongue) tower above England, with mysterious figure flashing back and forth just before Ryu unleashes fireball.

Who could it be?

They put the speed back in (1, 2 or 3) and globe was completely redrawn.

Inputting fiddly codes had characters become TNC and set the standard for the future games.

Once character is selected, eight random opponents and bosses are initially hidden by ? in a single horizontal row near bottom.

As plane flies to next opponent, information message of Battle in [insert country here] is displayed at the bottom of screen.

Portraits are now framed like family photos and before settling under mug shots, names appear from left to right slam in middle centre.  In TNC, VS was engulfed with glowing fire and large blood splat.

Scratch that, as gore is gone and new sample sounding like 'fight' cracks it.

Also, chosen speed and purple background of 'Super' new globe scrolls furiously from bottom to top.

Some characters learned new specials.

Dhalsim (vertical Yoga Flame), Honda (fancy throw), with Chun-Li and Dee Jay given different vertical flying kicks.

So-called Super Combos can be executed when gauge is filled.

Upgraded specials hit multiple times and if used to defeat opponent, sunny-esque explosion occurs.

In order to fight Akuma instead of Bison, at least three perfects must be achieved and player can't lose a round.

To play as secret boss, hover over Ryu, T.Hawk, Guile, Cammy and Ryu again for three seconds each, then push all three punches and Start simultaneously.

With a bit of luck, Ryu will transform into Akuma’s silhouette.

Finally, endings add exclusive screen after standard sequence, which is ultimately pointless, as finishing game displays all sixteen stills behind credits.

I need a drink.

(Ah, that's better).

Right, here we port.

Unless stated, Capcom were responsible.

3DO, 1994

Panasonic’s bomb was the first home machine to host Super Turbo.

FM Towns soundtrack is lifted, but adapted to include danger themes.

Capcom brought out a weird looking 6 button pad, but worked much better than standard hunk of plastic.

‘Character name’ is oddly spoken, but ONLY in VS battle.

WHY?

Sprites and animation are arcade perfect, but background colour scheme is muted and just like FM Towns, are devoid of parallax.

That’s just the start.

Dee Jay

Much of crowd is frozen and torch doesn’t cast glow on peeps or tree.

Ryu

Position of crescent moon is in a totally different position and sky doesn’t scroll.

SERIOUSLY?

Blanka

Peeps in wooden hut don’t move.

Cammy

Fiery haze is quite choppy.

T. Hawk

Majority of crowd remains static.

Guile

Guy sat on crate doesn’t tap knee or foot.

Dhalsim

Six elephants don't move or make a racket.

Chun-Li

Hat guy down alley refuses to move.

Ken

Luxury yacht doesn’t bob and seagulls don’t caw throughout round.

Honda

Tub doesn’t overflow or have extra drips.

Balrog

Most of the pretty lights are on the bastard blink and of the crowd, trilogy in middle (and a small section directly behind), two showgirls and guy with mask actually move.

Vega

Fence is already down, green lights, lanterns and bull sign don’t glow.  Oh, some characters don’t move.

Okay, gameplay cannot be faulted, but the amount of detail left out is fucking deplorable.

DOS CD, Eurocom 1995

Arcade's graphics data at lower resolution mean ‘larger’ sprites look out of place and backgrounds are squashed.

In a futile attempt to remedy situation, characters stand a greater distance away at round start.

Danger themeless music is pretty slow and sounds like something knocked up on a fucking organ or xylophone.

Speech can be out of sync, gameplay generally sucks, but patches went some way to fixing glitches.

Amiga (AGA only), Gametek 1996

If you want a giggle, look up incredible box art...

Intro with Cammy and Chunners is present and correct.

Sprites are perfect; as are backgrounds.  Well, nearly.

Ryu’s house has magically shifted to the opposite of the screen and elephants are reduced to four.

Remember, Amiga original had six Dumbos.

I am very fucking confused.

Backgrounds are frozen in time and even though sprites 'back off' correctly, animation is embarrassing.

Colours of inanimate projectiles amuse, as Ken’s fireball, Guile’s sonic boom and Bison’s psycho crusher see red.

(HA HA HA!)

Voices couldn't make it and sporadic sound effects are pathetic.

Remixed music is a huge improvement over DOS, but at the same time – really fucked up.

Character select music plays between plane flying to next country.

Most bizarrely of all, whichever tune plays for a limited time and ‘ends’.  Then, regardless at what point match is at, danger theme comes on.

Soon after, process begins again.

Hmmm, interesting.

Few can forget how terrible original played, but this is EVEN WORSE.

Gravity shy characters? Animation skipping like badly scratched CD?

Fucking hey.

Detail can be toned down to make shit run better, but nightmare remains vastly unplayable.

One more thing.

Vega is fought before Balrog.

Wrap your head around that.

CD32, Gametek 1996

Same slurry, and loading times can swivel on ferocious mid digit.

Street Fighter Collection, PS1/Saturn 1997

TNC and Super Turbo on one disc, with console exclusive Alpha 2 Gold appearing on the other.

Upgraded arcade port has Cammy unlockable in versus and training modes, and sprite is based on X-Men vs. Street Fighter.

2006 PS2 compilation Street Fighter Alpha Anthology included a remixed version of Alpha 2 Gold.

Pigtails was given her own story, ending and can also be selected in arcade mode.

Street Fighter Collection II, PS1/Saturn 1998

Marketed as Capcom Generations 5: Street Fighter Collection 2 in Japan, but an independent ‘sequel’ for Europe and North America.

Anyway, expect The World Warrior, Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting.

Arranged soundtrack can be unlocked and after completing 1P at least once, Super VS mode gives the best of three character worlds.

CPU Battle (available after vanquishing each game without continuing), offers the challenge of fighting against any opponent on highest difficulty.

Collection is pretty cool, as art galleries, bios and tips for each game can be viewed.

Finishing arcade mode opens the door to secrets.

'For Matching Service', Dreamcast 2000

Only available through mail-order in Japan via the Dreamcast Direct Store, port was obscenely accurate.

If you want to be hyper bitchy, arcade’s Q Sound doesn’t begin until after Round 1 is spoken and screen appears to differ in size.

Via Sega’s Matching Service, online versus mode was only compatible with analogue modems.

Tonnes of goodies can be accessed in secret option menu.

Dip switches gave licence to change region and version, meaning  Balrog can wear boxing gloves for the first time in a Japanese version.

Bonus rounds cut from arcade can be restored and new speed settings (4-6) and 0 (super slow) adds spice.

Icing on top of cake is 'another' Gouki, who possesses Super Combo Shun Goku Satsu.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival, Game Boy Advance 2001

Known as Super Street Fighter II X: Revival in Japan, alternative version rings the changes.

Gone is Ryu unleashing hadoken and various full screen static poses form intro.

Mug shots are notably 'tougher' and blazing inferno burns brightly during character select.

Globe is kinda redone too, looking more like TNC, rather than Super Turbo.

Also, only your character dominates winning screen with his/her quote.

To get around portable only having four buttons, controls can be customised in various ways to get the six.

For example, hold light punch longer than usual to get medium punch, or press two buttons together for the same effect.

System works, but still not ideal.

D-pad make motions painful and good fucking luck doing a 360.

We get speed settings, every bonus stage and Super Combo KO warps to hyperspace.

Endings aren’t animated, but expect brand new (or altered) screen with scrolling message.

Modes of miscellany are unlocked via accumulation of VS points, beating game at least once, or on specific difficulty.

(Sighs).

Rewards of perseverance are Akuma and Shin Akuma (both possessing their Super combo), art galleries, Time Attack (5 modes) and Survival (8 modes).

Defeating up to 100 random opponents isn't as difficult as what it sounds.

Now things get juicy.

For the most part, it’s the SNES port of TNC, but India now has the hallowed quota of six elephants.

This is so fucking awkward.

Animation (sprites* and audience), sound effects, speech**, music***

*New techniques use arcade’s animation, so sprites briefly grow.

The ‘best’ of both worlds?

Ha ha ha!

**You Win and You Lose are missing.

***Compressed beep music includes danger themes and sporadic remixing.

As for parallax happy locations, most are untouched, but China and Vegas recycle environments from Alpha 2 and 3 respectively.

More, more, more.

‘Modded’ stages

Ryu

Battle now takes place on rooftop, with two huge houses and giant full moon.

Zangief

‘Improved’ version of classic original is spliced with Alpha 2 pipes and lights.

Brand spankers

Guile

High in the sky, ocean twinkles in warm sunlight with jet coming and going as it pleases.

Basically, a variation of Charlie’s Alpha 2 stage.

Akuma

Same as Ryu, but red sky at night.

M. Bison

Sinister looking hideout, lit statues and computers.

Ken

Under the bridge, buildings and saxy billboard.

Oh yeah…

One of the best alternative versions has one major flaw.

When criteria is met to fight Akuma in Arcade, the game crashes when you reach him.

Hard reset also leads to times glitching up in Survival and Time Attack.

Insultingly, this affected North America and Europe, but NOT Japan.

HOW THE FUCK WASN’T THIS NOTICED?

Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition, PS2 2003

Ignoring limited arcade run in Japan a year later, Nubytech brought out various character pads (each with their own box and face plate artwork courtesy of Udon).

Unsurprisingly, a huge arcade stick featuring entire cast looked tip top.

Years later, Madcatz would do the same for SF IV.

As Ryu prepares to unleash fireball, game logos flash up during intro.

Expanding on the concept of SFC II, every version of each character can be selected.

Rules, portrait, speech etc are specific to game, so Dee Jay is only available in TNC and Super Turbo.

Bonus stages are gone and some background details removed from arcade are reinstated.

For example, Ryu’s signs and both Honda’s lanterns.

(Scratches head).

CPS-1, CPS-II and arranged music are found in Gallery, together with The World Warrior's iconic intro.

Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (albeit cut), is thrown in for good measure, enforcing BBFC 15 rating.

Overall though, this should’ve been subbed ‘The Incomplete Edition’.

Regardless of which character version is chosen in Arcade, CPU is always Super Turbo.

Bullshit.

If CE character is chosen, we should rattle through CE.

You know I'm right.

The Anniversary Collection on PS2 and Xbox contained Hyper and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.

Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 on PS2 and Xbox in 2005 boasted The World Warrior, Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting, with 2006 sequel Vol. 2 having Super Turbo.

PSP equivalent Reloaded (not to be confused with Remixed), had the same complement as Vol. 1.

So TNC can only be found on Street Fighter Collection.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Xbox Live/PSN 2008

The first to offer widescreen support and current gen visuals was developed by Backbone Entertainment.

First off, there is no intro.

Redone sprites and backgrounds by Udon look decent enough, but most portraits are incredibly goofy.

New victory quotes are poorly written, but endings are more fleshed out

Remixed music fares better, and while voices are similar to what we know, characters themselves (particularly Blanka), smack of Alpha III.

Mulitplayer online modes include Tournament, Quarter and Ranked matches.

What mode interests most is Rebalanced, as new moves and techniques are mixed with standard set.

Principle of stages remain, but with new audience members and other tidbits.

The Crazy Buffalo (name of Balrog’s Super Combo) replaces Golden Nugget, a section of India has been opened up to show the Taj Mahal, China has a different street scene, clouds above Guile’s parked fighter jet scroll and Ken's yacht bobs perfectly smooth (although sea remains static) and includes cityscape.

Quality of animation for background characters are 16 bits and colour scheme is garish.

Yep, I'm a huge fan.

If whole situation encourages nausea, Dreamcast Super Turbo is built-in.

Worth £11.99?

Not really, but each to their own.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is due to be released on 26 May 2017 for Nintendo Switch.

Price?

Oh not much, only 35 quid.

Robbing bastards.

Choose between classic pixels (presumably still Dreamcast), or those in HD Remix.

Evil Ryu (Alpha 2) and Violent Ken (originating from SVC: Chaos) belatedly join roster, and two-on-one mode Buddy battle (Dramatic in first Alpha) are unexciting additions.

Incidentally, SNK's Fatal Fury was the first to have two humans gang up on CPU.

Taking a leaf from FM Towns TNC, colour editor lets you alter character palette and gallery includes over 1400 illustrations from out of print Street Fighter Artworks: Supremacy book.

First person mode 'Way of the Hado' has Ryu wipe out Shadaloo army by player angrily waggling Joy-Cons.

Let's be brutally honest, charging so much for an enhanced port of a not very good 9 year old remake is taking the fucking piss.

Intense scrutiny may be over, but Ryu and chums will be back to dominate future features.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Rambo: The Video Game

Not to be confused with Sega's 2008 arcade Rambo (or any other game of same name which were based solely on First Blood Part II), it's time for toilet to finally flush Teyon's colossal turd.

Released for 360, PS3 and PC in 2014, travesty miserably replicates action sequences from the first three films.

Laughable graphics, terrible voice acting, embarrassing enemy AI and unbalanced difficulty condemns QTE driven on rails fuck stain to nearest plague pit.

Oh, it also crashes.

Filling and activating the Wrath gauge has Rambo enter Max Payne-esque slow motion and is the ONLY way to replenish health.

How fucking stupid.

As central characters have no additional dialogue (including groans and screams), the dulcet tones of Stallone and the late Richard Crenna are taken from StudioCanal's original voice tapes.

Talk is definitely cheap.

Did they forget about Brian Dennehy and Steven Berkoff et al?

Bizarre.

So apart from Rambo and Trautman, rubbish script is made up.

Ignoring a completely pointless Vietnam section, Rambo's exploits are remembered at his funeral.

This is NOT Colonel Trautman.
Headstone states he died at some point in 1988.
"MAY GOD FORGIVE HIM "
I just love how they managed to fuck up positioning of speech marks.
Unlike said arcade, Polish developer decided against using live action footage for cut scenes.

First Blood

Rambo arriving in fictional state of Washington gives us false Hope.



But from hereon in...

Forget Johnny, heeere's Teasle.


OH MY GOD!

Gotta admire dodgy moustache.

Did 'cleaning up' process begin wearing vest?



Guess not.

Take a butchers at magnificent mistake.

People a bit loopy are said to have a screw loose.
Mitch begs to differ, and determines solider boy has a screw 'lose'.
Absolutely unforgivable.

Chuckle at close up of Galt inside helicopter.


Impostor doesn't have a black eye or moustache, and hair is near shaved off.

But wait.

Subtitles state Gault.
Oh shit!
And there was me thinking that Jack Starrett portrayed Galt.

Lester on the radio is decent in principle.



Less blue and red sirens of course.

(Ahem).

Amusingly, Rambo is described as a Green shitting Beret.
Brilliant writing.

If unstable war veteran (or anybody) held a knife to my throat, I wouldn't exactly be smiling, but come the fuck on.
For fun.

"I could have killed 'em all. I could kill you. In town you're the law, out here it's me.
Don't push it. Don't push it or I'll give you a war you won't believe. Let it go. Let it go."
Take a peek at National Guard geezer firing rocket launcher.



It's just fucking ridiculous.

Hey Earl, he looks exactly like you.

BULLSHIT!
Fair enough.

Unfortunately, there's no rat cave scene.

Boo hiss boo.

After stealing army truck and arriving back in town, he's already wearing belt of M60 bullets.


Is this true?

Not really.


To clarify, ammo draped across body doesn't happen until later.
To make gas station go bang, zippo lighter more than assisted.

Guess what?

Instead, flammable spillage loses argument with M60.
We then embark on a law enforcement massacre.
This happened in the book, but rather importantly, NOT in Ted Kotcheff's film.

Trautman does at least closely resemble his 1982 counterpart.


Rambo: First Blood Part 2

Authenticity is upped, but still contains some juicy shit.

Yushin


Lifer


Co


Julia Nickson looks, well... HORRENDOUS.

(Laughs).

Apparently, this is Podovsky.


Seriously?

This game is killing me.

When Rambo cuts POW free, it's done from the front, when should be from the back.



Hang on a minute, character in question isn't semi-naked.

What is their fucking problem?

Best of all.

Lovely green grass, boots are clean and not a speck of mud on M16.
But...

Yep, scene is so dirty, I need a wash.
Rambo III

Final part begins four days after Trautman is captured by the Russians.

Guy telling story reveals himself to be POW Rambo rescued.

Yep, he was Banks all along.

Describing Rambo's relationship with Trautman:
"a real friend in all that mud and blood and puke, that's one of a kind."
I get the mud and blood part, but puke?
Ha ha ha! 
At the end of eulogy, Rambo comes out of hiding and leaves Thailand to save Trautman.

So after one of the greatest plot twists of all time, there's no reason why events from war-torn Burma couldn't have been translated.

Lazy bastards.

Anyway, 3 days later in Afghanistan.

To be completely fair, I can't moan too much.

Trautman


Zaysen


However, dialogue contains another spectacular goof.

Vengance? Not vengeance?
That's it.  I'm done.

Supplementary to film trilogy is DLC Baker Team.

Who cares, right?
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