Starring: Milla Johovich, Michelle Rodriguez and James Purefoy
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
If you’re a gamer, you know about Resident Evil or Biohazard if you prefer the Japanese title. One of the many games to give birth to the survival horror genre, Resident Evil had it all. Scares, intense action and a story that was so involving, players felt as though they had stumbled into a real nightmare. Sony Pictures brought audiences into that world in 2002, but managed to screw up the story along the way.
Acting as a follow up to the “Black Friday/Game of Thrones” episodes, South Park and the Stick of Truth is about the typical South Park crew after they decide that they need a break from video games and electronics, which leads them to decide to create their own LARPing game…. Bet you thought my Knights of Badassdom review was totally out of nowhere and had nothing to do with anything , did you? Now, unbelievers, onto the last meaty bits of the description. You play as the new kid to South Park, who, when forced to go outside by his parents, is coerced to join in the massive, Lord of the Rings-esque LARP session by none other than Eric Cartman. With his (and a handful of other familiar faces) prodding, you are immersed in the epic (from a 4th Grader’s perspective) power struggle over the eponymous Stick of Truth.
As a fan of old-school RPGs, I loved the Paper Mario-esque combat. Throughout the game, you are completely intended to be immersed, be it with time based RPG battles, or unskippable and often hilarious cut scenes. The game looks like you’re literally controlling an episode from the series. There are cameos or more from pretty much every South Park character, even the one’s you would not expect. As per usual, there is some immensely clever, if occasionally risque and almos always raunchy, writing. They even lovingly poke fun at tropes that are often over featured in games, like Nazi Zombies, as well as ridiculously difficult QTE’s (quick timed events) There are tons of collectibles, including Chinpokomon and numerous clothes and weapon types. But, for long time fans like myself, the game feels like a quadruple length, feature South Park movie, for better or worse…
The game, to me, is caught in an odd paradox in regards to length. It’s short enough, at roughly 12 hours, to allow a second or possible third playthrough, but it’s also way too long to actively appreciate it for the full length. I found early on that I got burnt out after about an hour to two of playing, I’d gotten burnt out on the experience and the humor. Don’t get me wrong, I love South Park, have for years, but if you watch/play for several hours on end, the laughs, guffaws, and chuckles become more infrequent, and less strong. So, if you are going to get this game, I recommend you follow those odd health instructions that come on game manuals, and take a break every hour or so.
Though, as I mentioned before, the game is short, it seems like the character levelling system is especially so. Levelling ends at 15, which, if you like to try and finish every side quest before the end like myself, leads to a lot of treading water and sameness in character weapons and stats by the end. Surprisingly, certain teammates rarely got used because they were no fun.Stan and Jimmy are the worst offenders, with Stan constantly bugging you the player to hurry up nearly two seconds after your turn starts, and Jimmy, poor, awesome Jimmy, being the victim of constant repetition of unfunny dialogue. Speaking of the teammates, it would have been nice to have the combat have more variations beyond “Press A”, “Quickly Press Random Button” and “Mash Random Button”. Another thing I wish was in the game was proper customization to what we, the players exactly want our avatar to look like, especially in regards to weapon types. After a trip really far north (desperately trying to not spoil everything), my onscreen character acquired a hockey stick that would inflict Slowed (this games equivalent of Frozen) with every strike. I really liked that weapon, and would’ve liked to have my character keep that weapon until the end bosses, since my Barbarian type character was rather unspecialized, only trained to inflict defense down and grossed out debuffs on enemies. Probably the worst problem of this or any other comedy game, repetition kills and rekills any joke you’d have thought was funny, especially when it wasn’t in the first place. Unfortnately, there is little reason for replayability if you max out your character by the end or find all the collectibles. Sure, there are 3 other classes you can choose from, but the combat’s just solidly good, not great, so I wouldn’t recommend trudging through a minimum of 11 hours just to hear the same jokes.
If you’re a fan of South Park, you’ll like this game. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But you can see the whole game was a labor of love for the fans, and if you can rent it or get it for cheap, I would recommend checking it out if you have a spare weekend and a little spare money. 7.5 Canadians Blamed out of 10.
Continuing on the story from the first episode, Bigby Wolf is still on the trail of a killer of Fables. With faces new and old to the series appearing, the player is confronted with more twists and turns to the case. Unfortunately, to say much more in regards to plot could ruin some of the fun, so I’m going to skip forward to… What Worked
As with the first episode, there were numerous character paths you could take to get similar results. As such, I’ve started a second playthrough with the exact opposite decisions for comparison, which, from this point forward, I will also keep up-to-date to provide a proper, thorough review. That said, even though it took forever to actually release, the second episode improved on many aspects from the first. The voice acting, for example, received a very generous boost from Dave “Lee Everett” Fennoy playing the violence prone Bluebeard. Though his character only appeared in a short part of the beginning of the episode, he was very memorable, and I hope he appears again later. Moral choices again play a major part of the story, though by this episode, it still seems to indicate that regardless of what you do, there will be few differences in your episode ending.
Unfortunately, while this is rather fun, it’s not perfect. There are lots of moments in-game where the seams are visible. For example, load times are still a major problem in the beginning of each segment within the episode, often causing the dialog to shortly run before actual visual accompaniment. Though it may not be as obvious to people who just bought the game and/or started playing, I could see the story parts that while appearing on the menu when I played upon release, got either scrapped or edited in the long break between episodes. As I mentioned in the positive section, while there are many ways to go about your problems in-game, you’ll inevitably get a similar, if not the same result.
While it story-wise adds upon the first episode, Smoke & Mirrors is hindered by a lot of glitching and obvious edits. Not an awful way to spend 5 dollars, but certainly not the best. 7 morally sketchy wolfmen out of 10
In my 13 plus years of gaming. I have never encountered a game this harsh, in both difficulty and content. The first few levels I played had me trying to prevent a Faustian pact, argue with a demon, and decide whether a small child should be sacrificed, or myself (my character that is). Rough stuff. It didn’t help that I’m not exactly a pro at point-and-click games, and later levels only added more moral quandaries and tough subject material.
Based on Harlan Ellison’s infamous horror/sci-fi short story, I Have No Mouth tells the story of AM, a rogue super-AI that has taken over the world, and his five captives that he has held and tortured for the past 109 years. AM is voiced by the original author himself, and acts as a demented prototype for GLaDOS, delighting in brutal mental and physical torture for all of his captives.
The game uses a relatively simple point-and-click interface, letting you input what you want your chosen character (one of 5 playable victims) to do in a given circumstance. If you want to move your character, you click on “Walk To”, and then where you want them to move. This may seem to be an outdated form of game design now, but considering the tech of 1995, the game holds up pretty well regardless. There is also a “spiritual barometer” system that indicates a character’s morality for that segment. Think of it as a pre-Mass Effect Paragon/Renegade system. Though it’s not really blatantly referenced as you’re playing, it can have an impact on your ending.
The game’s content is pretty gutsy and intense. With subject matter like rape, demons, genocide, paranoia, and self-sacrifice, the game is very difficult to process and deal with sometimes. Crazily enough, this works for the game. You see AM as a true monster, just as his victims do, and this helps immerse you in their story. Unlike the majority of modern horror games, which are extremely action based, I Have No Mouth is slow and methodical, letting you choose the pace of the story and the amount of depth received. Speaking of story and character depth, Ellison’s voice acting gives a nice maniacal glee to the despicable AM without falling to the modern trope of sounding to robot-like or synthesized, something I personally don’t like, as modern trends go. The dialogue at times can be pretty funny or dramatic, depending on both the character and the situation.
What Didn’t: Some of the voice work doesn’t exactly hold up, ranging from distracting to maddeningly frustrating. It may have been my specific download, or it could have been how the game was originally programmed, but I also encountered several glitches, especially on the character pictures and the walking controls.
With the occasional bug and bad voice acting from time to time, I Have No Mouth is certainly not perfect. But some shining examples of other traits, like Ellison’s work on AM and the morality system make it a pretty decent game that may be worth your time. If you’re like me, and don’t have a spare couple hundred dollars and want to try this game without pirating it, check it out here for roughly 6 American dollars. 7/10 insane AI.
Earlier this week I tackled the game to film adaption of Silent Hill, and favored it with an Okay score. Now it’s time to tackle the latest cinematic venture into the mysterious and cursed town of Silent Hill. This movie, which is loosely based on the game, Silent Hill 3, tells the story of Heather (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Harry (Sean Bean) who, since the occurrences of the first film, have been moving all over the country to try and escape the past horrors that involved the town of Silent Hill. That may sound confusing if you haven’t played the games, but without spoiling much for you… Heather = Sharon. Got it? Good. Let’s continue on. Obviously, the past catches up with them and forces Heather to return to Silent Hill in order to save her father from the horrors within.
What Works: The visuals are still fantastic the second time around, all the sets are detailed well, and easily fit within the world of the games. The fog, the ash, the rusty world, all of it is stunningly beautiful and executed well. Little details from the games are incorporated well and little props you may recognize make an appearance, it made me quite happy.
I also have to give the story some positivity this time around because they did a much better job at least keeping to what occurred in the game. The script is a improvement this time around as well. Probably the biggest step forward for the cinematic form of Silent Hill was having a better structured cast that mostly performed well with each other. Adelaide Clemens is wonderful as Heather, she looks like her, walks like her, and she has a fantastic screen presence and definitely carries the film forward. Sean Bean has just about the same amount of screen time as in the first one, but he is still a great addition, and Deborah Kara Unger is back as well as Dahlia, with a new look and new temperament which is very refreshing.
What Didn’t Work: I noted above that the story was closer to the game, but it’s not close enough for it to be enjoyable, important scenes and details of the game are ignored, or shown out of context. Example: The Detective’s role in the story is so severely reduced that it’s almost criminal. I mentioned the script was better, but the dialogue still starts to suffer as the film progresses, hitting a dreadful peak at the end of the film. While we had some pretty good acting this time around, there are some that are bad enough to drag the film down even further. I’m looking at you Kit Harington and especially you Malcolm McDowell, and you can’t blame the script for your lack of enthusiasm in the roles you were given. Blah.
Once again, creatures like Pyramid Head make an appearance when they don’t belong there. The addition of the mannequin spider is also perplexing. Speaking of that scene in general, what was the point of that scene? I found no point at all to even introduce the girl that Heather sees there and tries to rescue. It’s pointless and cheesy. So is most of the ending of the film too.
Based on my criticisms, you’d probably expect a Just Bad or maybe even a Painful, but the feeling that came to mind the most was my level of Disappointment. I was really excited for this movie, and as fun as it was to watch in 3D, I came out not feeling angry but just feeling sad. Sure, the visuals are stunning, and the acting and script see some improvement, however, it’s the really their choices in telling the story of the game, some really bad performances and dialogue, some characters shown that were pointless or some characters that were important that barely made an appearance that makes a good chunk of this movie quite a drag.
I’ll give Silent Hill Revelations a 4 out of 10. It is available on Netflix if you’re interested.
One of my favorite game franchises of all time just happens to be the Silent Hill series from Team Silent and Konami. Nothing has been quite as immersive as the fog you must find your way through in order to uncover the truth of the mysterious and quite frightening happenings going on around the resort town of Silent Hill. The games take a deep psychological approach in messing with the player, with intensely grotesque monsters, deeply disturbing story lines, and some of the best environmental designs in any game. So naturally when Sony Pictures announced that they were making a film adaptation of the first game fans reacted in a few different ways, including detesting the film before it was even released. I was one of the many fans who were intrigued by what they could accomplish on the big screen with the town of Silent Hill. How did they do?
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of this film, it takes after the very first game that came out for PSX (of Playstation 1 for those not in the know). In the game, Harry Mason and his daughter Cheryl, are driving out to the resort town of Silent Hill, when a mysterious figure appears in the road and causes him to crash his car. When he awakes, he finds that the world is literally shrouded in fog and his daughter Cheryl is gone. The movie, however, changes things a bit. Instead of a male protagonist, we get Rose Da Silva (Played by Radha Mitchell). Her and her husband Christopher (Played by Sean Bean) are having a bit of trouble with their adopted daughter, Sharon (Played by Jodelle Ferland). She keeps sleepwalking into dangerous situations, and she always mentions the name of a town called Silent Hill. Worried and perplexed by the behavior, Rose goes against her husband’s wishes and takes Sharon to Silent Hill, along the way being chased by police officer Cybil Bennett (Played by Laurie Holden). Christopher decides he’s going to try and find them, and that’s all you need to know in order to move forward.
What Worked: We all know it’s incredibly hard to translate the world of a video game into a movie, we saw it crumble apart with the Resident Evil films gradually over time, and don’t get me started on that awful Doom movie with The Rock. With that said, Silent Hill looks gorgeous in this film. The detailing in the destruction of the town, between the rusty world, the foggy world and the real world that Christopher Da Silva is running around in, all look amazing. The visual effect design of the fog and how it interacts with the ash falling from the sky and the environment around the characters is breathtakingly accurate to the game.
The sound design is also immensely effective (mainly because they use a lot of the sounds from the game series, which is an epic win). When you hear the siren go off for the first time and the darkness comes over the town, it’s an incredibly intense and quite immersive experience, definitely a stomach churner later in the movie as it cues you into more demented madness coming up. The make up design is also pretty top notch, especially on the monsters, a lot of fan favorites make an appearance in the movie which is a good point and also a bad point to the movie. (I’ll explain later). Another Double edged sword I’ll mention is the acting in the film, some of it’s pretty good, and some of it’s absolutely awful. I’ll get to the awful ones a little later. Radha Mitchell is a very strong choice for Rose, and she plays the motherly role quite well, and I gotta give her a lot of respect for doing a lot of the stunt work her character endures in the film. Sean Bean plays a pretty good husband and father, searching the town of Silent Hill for his wife and daughter. Laurie Holden as Cybil Bennett and Deborah Kara Unger as Dahlia Gillespie, put in pretty good performances as well. It’s also worth noting that Alice Krige as Christabella is rather good as well.
What Didn’t Work: As much as I do enjoy the movie, somewhat as a guilty pleasure at times, there is quite a bit to dislike about this film. If you’re a big fan of the games, and you’re familiar with the story of the first Silent Hill, you’ll notice they changed a lot to the story, and to the point where it gets quite silly. The church cult of witch burners? Really? That’s the best they could come up with instead of what actually happens in the game? I could forgive the change from Harry Mason to Rose Da Silva, but a lot of the disturbing and demented happenings in the game don’t transfer to the movie well, and it’s rather disappointing.
I mentioned above the presence of fan favorite monsters was both good and bad. As much as I enjoyed seeing Pyramid Head in this movie (especially when he takes out a rather obnoxious character) he is not supposed to be there. He is a manifestation intended only towards the main character of the game Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams, thus as cool as he is in the movie, many fans are very disheartened by his appearance in the wrong story. Back to the acting, some of it is absolutely atrocious, which may not all be the actor’s faults as the script and the dialogue within are all pretty badly written, with some lines being downright funny or just painful to listen to. Anna, played by Tanya Allen, is one of the most guilty of just being awful, so is the detective that takes Christopher through the town of Silent Hill (Kim Coates as Officer Thomas Gucci). The actress that plays Sharon and a few other characters close in appearance (you’ll know why when you watch the movie) is often criticized for being one of the worst actresses in the film, I note this here because I don’t agree with that assumption, she had the hardest roles in this whole film and for being so young, it’s actually quite impressive. However,her dialogue is some of the worst as well, so it’s a hit or miss type of performance for different people, so I’ll leave it up to you.
I thought long and hard about what to give this movie, and this score will probably vary between person to person. As I had said above, this movie is a guilty pleasure of mine and thus I couldn’t give it a mediocre like a lot of people would probably give it, if not worse. Despite all the films issues with story, characters and script that make this movie sound like a brand of torture, the reason I have it an OKAY is because the design of the movie is just fantastic, the make up effects are well done, the sound design is jarring and intense and just seeing one of the most iconic towns in all of survival horror brought to life, makes Silent Hill one of those movies that I still watch to this date, even though a lot of it pains me in context with the brilliance of the games.
Silent Hill gets a 6 out of 10 from me. Your personal scores may vary however.