Friday, 31 January 2014


After years of working as a short film director and 3D animator for TV shows such as Stargate SG-1 and Smallville, Neil Blomkamp has moved his focus to the silver screen. In 2009 he unleashed District 9 upon the world, a sci-fi action film that became a massive cult hit, and ensured that he was a force to be reckoned with. District 9 was an incredible spectacle of a film, so hopes were extremely high for Blomkamp's next feature film. Is Elysium as good as District 9? Well no, but it's still an excellent action film in its own right.

Elysium is set in 2154, and depicts a futuristic Earth that is in a truly awful state. Crime is rampant, disease is widespread and every country is overpopulated, all the while robots patrol the streets to keep humanity in line. It's a nightmarish future, but while the poor inhabitants of Earth struggle to survive, the rich reside in Elysium; a massive space station that allows its inhabitants to live a long and disease free life. The film stars Matt Damon as Max Da Costa, a former car thief and parolee who works in a factory that supplies weapons to Elysium.

After a radiation accident, Max is given the news that he has five days to live. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Max decides to make his way to Elysium, the only place that has the technology that will cure his otherwise certain death sentence. Getting into Elysium won't be that easy though, as any unauthorised incoming ships are routinely blasted out of the sky. Now, armed with a crude exoskeleton fused to his body, Max must storm Elysium in order to save his life. However, it's not just his own fate that rests on his shoulders, but also the fate of mankind and the people who remain on Earth.

Elysium focuses on the age-old poor/rich issue, and depicts a world in which the gulf between the two is absolutely monumentally obscene. Of course, this issue has reared its head once again in a big way in the last few years, and Elysium tries to tap into that. However, while I completely welcome a sci-fi that's more than just CGI explosions, Elysium treats these important issues in a very heavy handed and overtly ham-fisted approach. There's no flair of subtly here, it's a “the rich guys are bad, the poor guys are good” type of affair. It's disappointing and almost irritating at times.

That said Elysium is excellent when dealing with straightforward action. In Max's attempt to reach Elysium, Kruger is in his way at every turn. Basically, Kruger is the big bad of Elysium, and much like Max himself, Kruger geared up with an incredibly powerful exoskeleton. While there are fantastic action set pieces that involve the police robots, as well as some great space scenes, the true brilliance of Elysium is apparent when Max and Kruger come out to play.

It gets gritty, violent and keeps the viewer absolutely planted to their seat. Don't get me wrong though, Elysium isn't a dumb action film that happens to harp on about social commentary, not at all. It's smart in the right places, wonderfully designed, epically presented, and at least tries to tackle a subject worth talking about, worth bringing to a film that some might write off as a mindless blockbuster.

Overall Elysium doesn't reach the heights District 9 did, but ends up being a smart, thrilling and a hugely fun take on an Earth that is on the brink of tearing itself apart. Perhaps expectations were far too high for Elysium, but if approached as its own film and not as “a film from the same guy who made District 9” as most of the publicity wanted you to know, it's an undeniably awesome piece of sci-fi film making.

Elysium, despite its clunky approach to certain issues, gets an epically awesome 4/5 [].

Denis Murphy

Elysium at CeX

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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Scribblenauts Unlimited [3DS]

Two years before the first Scribblenauts game ever saw the light of day, 5th Cell, developer of the series, created Drawn to Life, a gem of a game that allowed the player to draw and use their own character, weapons and items. It was quite different for its time, and released prior to the iPad and the legion of fingerprinting artists that followed. Drawn to Life gave us gamers a completely unique experience. However, Scribblenauts took the idea and ran with, and allowed the player to create almost anything, simply from typing it into the game. 

While Scribblenauts was a step forward in terms of creation, it did take a step back when it came to story. Compared to Drawn to Life's extensive, almost RPG-like story, Scribblenauts' was wafer thin. It was serviceable, but at times non-existent. Scribblenauts Unlimited is the best of both worlds, and combines a neat story as well a fantastic items creation option. Awesome!

The story here isn't War and Peace (thankfully!), but it is quite enjoyable, and gives the series more texture and atmosphere to explore. Scribblenauts Unlimited finally gives the player an explanation as to why Maxwell- our lovable little protagonist- is collecting Starites. After his parents give him a book that can create objects by simply writing in it, Maxwell begins to abuse this power. He pranks an old hungry man into eating a spoiled apple. After seeing the delight on Maxwell's face, the old man puts a curse on his sister Lily. As Lily slowly turns to stone, Maxwell must collect Starites to break the curse, and they can only be collected by helping other people. It's a very childlike story of redemption, but ends up being surprisingly effective.

Gameplay is effectively the same compared to previous Scribblenauts titles, but the fun comes from how expanded the story is now. For instance, as opposed to linear and simple levels, Scribblenauts Unlimited takes place in a larger, more open-world. Characters populate this large world and it's up to the player to help them in order to receive Starites. Helping characters comes in many different forms, but purely focuses on Scribblenauts Unlimited's item creation aspect. Using Maxwell's notepad the player can just about spawn any kind of item. The amount on offer here is absolutely staggering, from a simple fire-hose or dog, to something more elaborate like a time machine or Chimera. 

But Scribblenauts Unlimited also allows the player to combine various items together and attach them to certain things. So while it's all fun, say, adding wheels to a dog and riding it around, you'll find yourself creating all kind of combinations to solve the various problems across the world. While some may assume that it doesn't add that much to the Scribblenauts formula, the new additions make for incredibly fun and varied gameplay, and without a doubt one of the freshest gaming experiences in the last year.

However, do keep in the mind that with different versions of Scribblenauts Unlimited, there are alterations in its features. Confused about which platform to buy it on? Let me put your mind at ease.

Nintendo 3DS: Sadly, the 3DS version of the game does not feature the object editor, mainly due to the limited power of the device. It does however utilise SteetPass and SpotPass, an awesome feature unique to the handheld.

Nintendo Wii U: With revamped and High Definition graphics, multi-player mode and the ability to share custom made objects with friends, the Wii U version is a different beast compared to it's handheld counterpart. This version also lets the player spawn various Nintendo-related characters such as Link and Mario.

PC: Much like the Wii U, the PC version features crisp High Definition visuals, and also lets player share custom objects via the Steam Workshop.

What version you choose is up to you, but we found Scribblenauts Unlimited to be an exceptional handheld title, a game that will put the power of creation in your pocket. That said, the Wii U Gamepad is a perfect extension to the game, and makes spawning or creating items is a breeze. 

Overall Scribblenauts Unlimited is the best of the series, and finally introduces a story that, while simple and basic, begins to build upon the world that we've been playing in since 2009. Regardless of what version you choose or what age you are, Scribblenauts Unlimited is an extremely worthwhile, charming and downright fun adventure to take part in. You might be surprised with how creative you can get!

Scribblenauts Unlimited gets creative and colours outside the lines with a 9/10.

Denis Murphy

Scribblenauts Unlimited at CeX

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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Lone Ranger

Brought to us by the same team behind the hugely popular Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Lone Ranger aimed to start a new franchise, something quite similar to what Pirates achieved. The Lone Ranger was absolutely plagued by delays in filming, delays that ultimately forced to studio to film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides first, despite The Lone Ranger being planned to be made before that. With costs of The Lone Ranger rising even more and investors holding back on cash, the director and most of the cast took a pay cut. 

After huge delays, a skyrocketing budget and concerns about Johnny Depp playing a Native American character, The Lone Ranger was released to a bloody mauling by critics. They hated it, and as it stands right now it holds a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It flopped at the box office too, and after taking marketing costs into account Disney were expected to lose around 150 million. So, when this popped up on my radar to review, while I always keep an open mind, I expected it to be pretty crap. However, not only was I surprised that I enjoyed it, but found it to be one of the best films of 2013.

The Lone Ranger started its humble beginnings as a radio play in 1933, and due to popularity moved into the realm of books and a widely known TV series, which itself spawned sequel films such as Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold. The latest adaptation tells the origin story of The Lone Ranger and stars Armie Hammer as John Reid aka The Lone Ranger, and Johnny Depp as Tonto, a Comanche Indian and sidekick to Reid.

After Reid is ambushed and left for dead alongside other Rangers including his brother, his body is taken by Tonto who- after witnessing a white spirit horse- deems Reid to be a “spirit walker”, someone who has been brought back from the dead for a reason, and a person who cannot be killed. Now, wearing a black mask and Tonto at his side, the immediate story deals with Reid’s vow to exact justice on his brothers murderer, yet a greater, more devious plan emerges, one that threatens the very future of the United States of America.

The first hurdle to any “buddy movie” is if the duo plays well off each other. If the film doesn't have that it just falls apart. Thankfully both Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp have fantastic chemistry in The Lone Ranger, which throughout is pretty a love/hate relationship. Tonto demands a more immediate and brutal kind of justice, while Reid, due to his history as a lawyer, wants a more civilised approach. This duality goes on throughout the film, and alongside their constant bickering and banter makes for a great team.

Hammer brings a wonderfully slightly buffoonish yet completely capable Lone Ranger to the screen, while Depp's Tonto is surprisingly nicely fleshed out with a back-story that explains his odd behaviour. This is all topped off by the fact that the story is told from the perspective of an aged Tonto in 1933. These scenes in which he's remembering his adventures with the Lone Ranger and his homeland that at this point has been completely changed, ends up being quite sweet and an excellent bookend to the film.

The Lone Ranger is packed full of action too. From the opening scene in which Reid and Tonto are chained together on top of a runaway train, to the final action set piece that features the classic William Tell Overture (The classic Lone Ranger theme) playing over it, the film is absolutely thrilling from start to finish. In fact, the last chunk of the film had me absolutely nailed to my seat, and the charming, fun and the almost Buster Keaton-esque action had me grinning from ear to ear. What can I say, I absolutely loved it and for me falls into the same category as films like The Mummy, Avatar and Waterworld - a harmless, epic and hugely enjoyable adventure. Yes, it's a bit too long and the plot gets slightly muddled near the end, but it's still a lot of fun.

Another thing I must say is that while I know CGI was used in the film, I'd say 90% of what I saw on screen was real sets, real locations and practical effects. The film looks stunning and the makers really must be congratulated on producing a film that looks so damn authentic. From the absolutely excellent design for Tonto to some of the more grand and lavish sets, The Lone Ranger isn't one of those modern blockbusters that smoothers the audience in CGI. The best part about this is that it's so noticeable, and you'll walk away from the film feeling the difference between The Lone Ranger and, say, the CGI overkill of Thor: The Dark World.

I walked away from The Lone Ranger gob smacked. This was the film that critics tore apart? Damn. This is the kind of film that hits home the fact that even before it was released, critics already made their mind up that The Lone Ranger was shit. That's not fair at all. The Lone Ranger is a film packed with imaginative action, style, great performances, stunning visuals and a breath-taking score from composer Hans Zimmer. The worst part about it is the fact that we won't get a sequel, but at least we'll have this. Yep, colour me very surprised.

The Lone Ranger rides heroically into the sunset with an 8.5/10.

Denis Murphy

The Lone Ranger at CeX

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Dexter Season 8

Good day reader, Dexter Season 8 has just been released on Blu-ray and DVD in box set form, I’m not sure if you’ve seen it yet, or if you are planning on seeing it but it is three DVDs of pure terror.  Do I mean creepy, scary and well-made drama about serial killers? No I do not.  It is the most appalling end of a series I have ever had to deal with.  Yes it was more unparalleled than Seinfeld, yes more soul destroying than Lost, it is terrible.  If you thought the season was good, then you are going to disagree with me on many points, feel free to get angry and email hate mail or whatever.  Though I kind of get the feeling that Mark Twitchell would have thought this series was an abomination as well. Also there will be massive spoilers.

So Dexter, for those unfamiliar, started off in this show as a dark psychopath with a certain amount of morality instilled in him – in that he systematically killed off other killers exclusively.  He had no empathy but a moral code, he did terrible terrible things to people but they were terrible people so it was a good thing.  He was dark, he was sinister and he did all the things that the darker part of your personality wants to do, like disembowelling paedophile priests in a dark room.  

The great thing about Dexter was that it had a very definite end; he would get caught somehow and killed by the Miami Metro Police or another Serial Killer.  It’s really simple and so obvious that you would have to be a self sabotaging, drooling, slack jawed fucking idiot to do something completely different like have him get all emotional, kill his sister and run off and become a lumberjack.  I mean the only good thing about that is it’s a surprise ending. By which I mean so appalling of key that I can’t comprehend it any more than I could comprehend a unicorn sucker-punching me in the gym locker room, screaming quantum physics calculations at me until I shat a rainbow through time and ended up creating the universe we live in. Paradoxically. 

I’ll get back to that momentarily.  The end of the last season involved La Guerta, a major player in the Miami Police Force, figuring out Dexter was a serial killer and subsequently getting shot by Debra with her police issue firearm to stop Dexter being caught. Holy fuck right?  Like how are they going to explain that?!  Well apparently by ignoring it, using the etch-a-sketch version of script writing they basically put it all back to neutral.

How do I explain the confusion and disappointment? Ok imagine you’re a child about 5 years old, you’ve woken up in the afternoon on the sofa. Your mother comes in, sunlight shining in her hair, and you feel comfortable and safe with her. She approaches you with a big smile on her face and asks you if you want to go with her to get ice-cream. Suddenly you start to notice the sun is sinking away, the sky turns to darkness and that this is not your mother in front of you. It’s some amalgamation of all the psychopaths Dexter has dealt with over the years. And it’s dressed as a Nazi. 

You realise there is no ice-cream, just a very unfamiliar hand pushing your hair behind your ears, and as you look pleadingly into the eyes of this abomination in front of you, you feel a thumb applying pressure onto your eyeball. As your eye bursts all over this creatures hand you black out and awaken in a mysterious, unfamiliar room and you have aches and pains all over your body.  Where the hell am I?  What the hell is going on?  Why the fuck has Masuka got a daughter for no bloody reason? 

Ok that last bit was more specific.  On that note though, his daughter gets introduced as a sub plot, which goes absolutely no where, the ONLY reason she seemed to be in the show at all, was because a casting director wanted to film her topless for a few hours. Yes ok I get it – beautiful girls being beautiful on screen, I love it and approve, but not at the expense of any sort of credibility. 

The plot lines are so messed up and confusing that I’m not even going to try to explain them, but the important thing is that they made no sense, no one ended up catching Dexter, he killed his sister and he abandoned his child with a different serial killer.  He then sailed off, committing suicide by sailing into the depths of a storm that was threatening to rip Miami open like a Satsuma.  Oh wait no, he survived and moved to Canada.

The worst bit is the original show runner had a much better idea for the ending, and the ending they went with has actually ruined the show for me as a whole.  A bit like finding out your girlfriend had been cheating in you for your whole relationship. It’s just pure, horrible, betrayal.

In short Dexter went from this:

To this:

Very suddenly.

So my ‘review’ had originally ceased here and you can stop reading now if you want but if you want to see me surgically kick the shit out of Dexter Season 8, read on.

Dexter Season 8 elicited the same amount of disgust from me as watching a post apocalyptic circus clown rape a puppy.  In no particular order here is everything wrong about it that I can think of. All right Dexter Season 8 you and me are gonna spoon, now bend the fuck over.

Shaggy Dog Story Sub Plots

So in the end of the last season Debra kills La Guerta, she feels really bad for it and goes a bit off the rails. Which basically means having sex with people, drinking beer, and leaving the police force where she works for a private detective agency for about a month.  She then gets over brutally murdering a superior officer and trundles back into work no longer annoyed at her brother for forcing her hand and essentially disregarding everything interesting about the show with a one half-mouthed strokey smile.

Also Masuka gets a daughter who, as I mentioned, was brought in as a sub-plot. She gets hired to work in the police station, and that’s it… yeah I don’t know what to say; she was about as pointless as me putting a random noun in at the end of this sentence. Tyre.

Dexter at one point decides to take on a wee child as a trainee serial killer, to which I thought was a shit idea but at least one that would leave his legacy in the hands of another, but just as everything is getting sorted some random OTHER new character comes in and rips his skull open.

Quinn, who has come back from the previous season looking like a love child between Jennifer Lopez and Skeletor from He-man, has used his newfound powers of anorexia to make every scene very uncomfortable.  Primarily because nobody seems to have told the costume department not to make him look like a piece of linguini with a fake tan and a napkin hanging off it.  His main role, in relation to our topic, was that he was going to go for a promotion, it was between him and some random woman. Angel pushes for Quinn to apply, and considering he is making the decision on who gets it Quinn feels quite confident.  But he didn’t get it.  The other woman did, and she runs off with Lord Lucan and is never heard of again.

Hannah Mckay

What the actual shit.  Hannah McKay comes back from the dead, walks in to Dexter’s life and semi murders him and his sister, all this after trying to murder his sister last time.  She murders her husband, tells Dexter she was gonna murder him, says “oj, jk totes love you”, and they start dating again.  Now she has quickly become the most wanted woman in the state and her ability for indiscretion far out ways my own. Instead of cutting/dying her hair, she seemingly gets a her wanted poster and makes sure she looks exactly like that all the time, hovering around areas where there are nothing but traps and police. I can’t even talk about this she is a painfully badly written character. 

She poisons EVERYTHING she meets, and after an apology, a hair flick and some boobs she’s put in charge of cooking for the entire main cast.  That’s like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of randomly thrusting a knife in your living room three times a day.

I promise not to try and kill you again.’ Says Hannah despite doing that every time she had a chance. 

It’s ok Hannah you fucking lunatic, I believe you now please look after my infant child as I go and destroy the integrity of this show.’ says Dexter, defecting onto Jeff Lindsay’s face.

Anything I can do to help?’ asks Hannah, trying to decide between sea salt and arsenic for tonight’s dinner.

You’ve done more than enough already you crazy pointless, pointless bitch.’ Says Dexter with love and empathy in his eyes like no serial killer ever.

Dexter’s Dad

So Dexter has been a terrible person, his father existing solely as a hallucination to protect Dexter from doing wrong, he even decides not to kill someone, which leads directly to Debra getting shot.  Because Dexter got over his urge to kill, because of the love of a serial killer who can’t be trusted, his Dad disappears into heaven like something out of fucking Quantum Leap.

Angel is a Useless Bastard

Three of the best detectives in Miami Metro in the past 8 years namely, Quinn, LaGuerta and Doakes have thought that Dexter was a serial killer. Angel has been handed evidence on many occasions incriminating Dexter, which in this series he literally tears in half.  He actually watches Dexter brutally murder someone and because he didn’t like the victim, let Dexter go. It’s almost as if they have been taking DMT and suddenly have realised that they are in a TV show and that it doesn’t really matter what they do.

Debra’s Bloated Defaced Corpse

So Dexter kills his sister so she doesn’t have to live as a blob of meat wrapped in a bed and marinated in her own piss. He then walks out of the hospital and drops her in the sea (because this hospital is on a beach), all emotional and beautiful and symbolic.  However given that he didn’t weigh her down and simply covered her up with a cloth like he was protecting a trifle from flies, she is going to wash up on the beach in about two days half eaten by sharks, and all waterlogged and bloated looking like Gary Busey on an average day.  

The US Marshall

So this guy right, his job is to catch killers, it is his JOB to hunt killers.  Despite being in the same building as Hannah who he’s after he also has had a conversation with Saxon, the most wanted man in the city, without having a clue who he is.  Somebody somewhere is bound to have told him. What the hell is with Hannah, is she a fucking siren or something? Sucking the cock of cleverness until all intelligence that any man once had has been ejaculated into the ocean of awful plot lines?  Argh!

So there are those things, and still a world of unanswered questions about Astor and Cody, and why no one seems to give a shit that Harrison has been kidnapped. Loads of the new characters could have had their plot lines given to characters already present, and weirdly the one time they did reuse a character was the most far-fetched thing I’ve ever seen.  So if you do watch it, do it before you meet someone for a fight or a cry because it will inspire no other emotions.  Way to ruin a good show, you fucking idiots.

Dave Roberts

Dexter at CeX

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Friday, 24 January 2014

Need for Speed: Rivals

The year is 1994. I'm 9 years old and I'm at my friends house as he busts open his new console. And what did his parents get him? A SNES? Megadrive? Sega Saturn? A branding-spanking-new Playstation? No. None of those. They bought him a - wait for it- 3DO. The 3DO aka the-system-no-kid-wanted bottomed out a mere two years after launch, so there wasn't a huge library of games made for it. However, between bouts of crying into his Sugar Puffs, my friend did manage to try out a game called The Need for Speed. “It has fast cars in it!” he said, as if to try and make the 3DO sound more exciting than it actually was. And while wondering how I'd get the hell out of there, the intro to The Need for Speed played.

Long story short, we ended up playing it for around 8 hours straight, and that, for us at least, cemented the fact that the 3DO was a pretty good console. We didn't attend its funeral, but we respected it dammit! The Need for Speed came out on the 3DO two years before it made it to the Playstation, and thus began two years of gloating about it at school. Now, 20 years later, I put Need for Speed: Rivals into my Xbox One hoping to reclaim at least some of those feelings of excitement I had for the first entry in the series. Did I? Read on, dear readers, read on...

Need for Speed: Rivals is the twentieth instalment in the franchise, and was developed by Ghost Games, a newly formed studio with Rivals being their first title. There are two storylines that the player can play in Rivals; that of a Racer or of a Cop. During the Racer storyline the player takes the role of Zephyr, a veteran street racer. After one of his videos of him outrunning the police goes viral, a number of copycats start popping up. 

In response the police go to exceedingly dangerous and daring lengths to catch Zephyr, to try to put an end to him and his admirers. Also, if the player chooses the Cop storyline, it pretty much remains the same but instead plays out from the perspective of the police. Both storylines extend re-playability quite a bit, give unique insights into each faction and are a must play for a full and complete picture of the game.

Gameplay could be boiled down to simply calling it a cat and mouse chase game, and while that may be true to some extent, it does take away from how varied gameplay can get. Taking a tip from Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, rather than taking place on various disconnected tracks, Rivals is set in the fictional Redview County, an open-world containing a 100-miles of fully explorable open road. This decision to make the world open drastically changes gameplay in so many ways, and right off the bat makes for one of the most epic Need for Speed titles to date. 

During your chases you'll have the ability to earn various rewards on the side, many of which will help you outrun (or capture) your foes. For instance, the game features eleven gadgets that are upgradable including the ability to use roadblocks, shock waves and EMP pulses to essentially shut off other vehicles. These abilities, when used during a high octane and pulse-pounding race, can be the tipping point between victory and failure. The player also has the ability to open their world to other players and friends. This multiplayer aspect is fantastically achieved and makes the game feel utterly alive.

Visually Need for Speed: Rivals is stunning. From the many cars you can unlock to 100-miles of road to explore, Rivals is truly a next-gen title that shows off the potential of the Xbox One and PS4. Another great addition to the game is the car customization, which lets the player completely customize their ride. From the paint job, overall vehicle performance, license plates, decals and rims, you can make your ride your own here.

Overall Need for Speed: Rivals is quite simply the second best Need for Speed game so far. The 9 year old in me would have frothed at the mouth over this, but the 28 year old in me appreciates it even more. It's fast, furious ad unrelenting.

Need for Speed: Rivals laps the competition with an 8.5/10.

Denis Murphy

Need for Speed: Rivals at CeX

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

The World's End

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return with director Edgar Wright in the third and final part of what has come to be known as the “Cornetto Trilogy”.  If you enjoyed Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, you’ve probably thought to give this one a watch too and though the Pegg, Frost and Wright combination seems like a safe bet, should you? Let’s find out.

In the opening scene, Gary King (Simon Pegg) tells the story of the riotous night twenty years ago when he and four mates tried to conquer the “Golden Mile”, a pub-crawl in their hometown of Newton Haven; twelve pubs, twelve pints, one in each pub.  The five young friends, despite their bravest efforts, failed to reach the final pub – The World's End - and never finished the Golden Mile.

Twenty years on, Gary still thinks of it as the best night of his life and longs to recapture that old feeling.  One by one he rounds up the guys and persuades them, against their better judgement, to head back to Newton Haven and give the Golden Mile a second shot. With hilarious consequences.

While his childhood friends, (Nick Frost and Martin Freeman among them) have all grown up and have wives, kids and careers, Gary still acts like a teenager – jumping fences and making inappropriate remarks.  He's like the annoying friend who's a bit of a dick, but you let him hang around with you because you feel a bit sorry for him and remember that you used to have good times together.

Pretty soon after the night gets underway, the five friends realise that their hometown has changed while they've been away - it's not just that the pubs have been taken over by a chain.  Much like in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, there is something sinister going on...  their quest to reach the World's End becomes a quest to stop the world from ending.  

The special effects are excellent and the well-written story makes the film worth watching more than once.  The 90's Britpop soundtrack is a perfect match for the story and adds a touch of nostalgia for those from that era.  I'm struggling to find anything at all to fault in this film. I was expecting to get a few chuckles from this film but it was even better than I'd hoped for.  There's loads of laugh out loud moments and dashes of deadpan humour too, delivered perfectly by all of the cast – not a single actor lets the team down.

Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were great, good for a few laughs but I think with The World's End they've topped the lot. Definitely worth a watch.


Ant Silvers

The World's End CeX

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Thank you for raising £22,000 in 2013

Thank you for raising £22,000 in 2013

Thanks to you, we raised £22,000 for charities last year. You can currently help fundraise for Help for Heroes and Muscular Dystrophy Campaign at CeX.

It is now even easier to donate to charity at CeX. See how much your stuff is worth at and donate online or at your local CeX store. If you are amazing enough to donate 100% of the item value, CeX top it up with a further 10%.

Do you have any old phones, games, electronics, gadgets, DVDs or more collecting dust?

To learn more about where the donations you help raise go and how they affect real people, click the images below.



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Tuesday, 21 January 2014


It's hard to believe that the first film in the Riddick series, Pitch Black, was released 14 years ago. Upon release it did reasonably well at the box office, but received a pretty large cult following in the years after. In fact, it gained such a strong following that 2004 saw various Riddick related media, including a direct-to-DVD animated film called Dark Fury, a videogame called Escape from Butcher Bay, and most notably, a second film in the franchise, The Chronicles of Riddick.

This second outing cost around 100 million more than the first and expanded the Riddick universe to new exciting heights. However, something was lost in the sequel. With a larger, expanded universe we lost the thrilling simplicity that made Pitch Black so impressive. Now, 9 years after the slightly lacking sequel, director/writer David Twohy turns the series into a trilogy with 2013's Riddick. Riddick brings it back to basics. Whereas The Chronicles of Riddick perhaps tried too much, this entry into the franchise tries to replicate what made the first film work, yet also tries to offer something new.

The film begins 5 years after The Chronicles of Riddick, after which Riddick is growing increasingly frustrated of being the Lord Marshall to the Necromonger fleet. He makes a deal with Commander Vaako; someone, who before Riddick became Lord Marshall, was intent on killing him. Riddick's deal with Vaako is that if he brings him to Furya (Riddick's home world), he will make Vaako the next Lord Marshall. The deal is accepted, but Vaako brings Riddick to an unknown planet, tries to assassinate him and ultimately buries him under a mudslide. As Vaako departs the sun-ravaged planet with the new title of Lord Marshall, Riddick emerges from his intended mud tomb. He's injured, alone on an almost uninhabitable planet, weapon-less and not only is the local ferocious wildlife out for his blood, but Mercenaries arrive on the planet keen on collecting the bounty on probably the most wanted man in the galaxy. Yep, this isn't going to be easy for Riddick, folks.

The first 20 minutes or so in Riddick is entirely without dialogue. It's just him surviving on this unknown death trap of a planet. It's a pretty ballsy move, but also serves as a stylish way to get Riddick back into the game after 5 years of not honing his hunting, stealth and fighting skills. It's during these 20 minutes in which he befriends a creature on the planet, and though entirely CGI, the various interactions Riddick has with the beast are surprisingly charming. However, the real meat of the film kicks off when the Mercenaries land on the planet. It doesn't take long for them to find out Riddick was the one who sent out the distress signal, and this leads to two opposing groups of Mercenaries working together to take out Riddick at any cost. The film does go beyond this simple set-up, and begins to play out quite similar to Pitch Black, especially in the group-of-people-surviving-against-a-planet-full-of-creatures department.

The action in Riddick is absolutely fantastic, and it’s various gruesome, graphic and bloody death scenes is a world away from the PG-13 rating of its predecessor. Of course, this is only helped by the great script put in place by David Twohy, which not only welcomes in new viewers to the series, but also awards those of us who have been with Riddick since Pitch Black. You don't have to have seen Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick to enjoy this, but it helps! This excellent action and great nuts-and-bolts story all comes down to Riddick and how Vin Diesel just hurls himself into the role. While the Mercenaries could be anyone, there's only one Riddick and his mission to get off the planet alive remains the focus of the film. While other characters are of course fleshed out, they don't take the reigns of the film.

Overall Riddick, while a little too similar to Pitch Black, is a complete success. It could have been horrible, and ultimately the final nail in the Riddick coffin. Instead it reinvigorated a franchise that still has plenty of life in it yet. It's a simple action sci-fi with plenty of thrills and kills to please even a newcomer to the series. Riddick is back. I eagerly await the next film, videogame, comic, animated adventure, Riddick themed underwear, etc.

Riddick triumphantly emerges from the shadows with an 8/10.

Denis Murphy

Riddick at CeX

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Friday, 17 January 2014

Forza Motorsport 5

In 2005 when Turn 10 Studios released the original Forza Motorsport, the gaming world went silent and took notice. You see, up until then many considered Gran Turismo to be the unchallenged heavyweight of racing simulators. And with Gran Turismo being a exclusively Playstation brand, and Forza Motorsport being featured only on the Xbox, there was an intense rivalry between them. Now, with Gran Turismo 6 out and kicking up a storm, the rivalry has come to ahead once again. However, does Forza Motorsport 5 stack up against it?

Developed once again by Turn 10 Studios, Forza Motorsport 5, right from the opening montage narrated by Jeremy Clarkson, is clearly about celebrating cars, motorsport and racing. It won't take you long to work out that Turn 10 Studios didn't just aim to make another racing game or Gran Turismo rival, but rather bring to fruition a perfect depiction of something they truly love.

The first noticeable thing about Forza Motorsport 5 is the insanely stunning visuals. This is how you do a launch title for a console, folks. This game goes balls-to-the-wall with presentation, as everything from the tracks, cars, and the fine detail on every car’s bodywork right down to the deliciously styled interiors, look flawless. While this all can be appreciated during races, it can thoroughly be enjoyed during ForzaVista mode. This mode essentially lets the player zoom in and out of every car, and lets every microscopic detailed be drooled over. Yeah, it's basically Forza porn, but none of us are complaining. If you're a fan of all things cars, Forza Motosport is almost worth buying if only for this feature. It's stunning.

However, what will surely disappoint long time Forza fans is the fact that when it comes to track and car count, Forza Motorsport 5 trims what its predecessor offered. 600 cars are now 200, while 24 tracks are now 14. I know what you're thinking, and you'd be right to assume that cutting back on cars and tracks on offer is a step backwards. However, Forza Motorsport 5 has merely trimmed the fat, and ultimately offers quality over quantity. That said, in the car department everything is covered. Whether you want to kick back and cruise along in a 1969 Nissan Fairlady, or go full throttle in a Lotus E21 Forumla 1 car, Forza Motorsport 5 has you covered.

The car handling has been slightly refined here, and ultimately makes for a fantastic playing experience. This also ties into the fact that your personal cars can be upgraded, painted and fine tuned throughout the game. This offers a level of customization never seen before, as you'll soon find that your car is rather unique, whether it's from the funky paint job or how the suspension handles tight turns. And that's the ethos that Turn 10 Studios are going for, and do their best to give the player a unique, varied and memorable experience.

With a bunch of game modes to enjoy, a truly excellent multiplayer to take part in with friends and an enemy A.I that is based upon the actions of real world players, Forza Motorsport 5 is a truly excellent game all round. While the constant exclusion of night races and diverse weather is a little annoying, the game comes together quite nicely in the end to deliver a formidable package. Though a completely different beast than Gran Turismo 6, both games are near perfection when it comes to racing simulators. Whatever console you owned, buy one.

Forza Motorsport 5 hits 5th gear with an 8.5/10.

Denis Murphy

Forza Motorsport 5 at CeX

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

CeX Amritsar now open!

Today is a fantastic day CeX fans. We have opened our 15th CeX shop in India.
Please welcome CeX Amritsar to the family. Wahoo!

Come on down to buy, sell and exchange your unwanted phones, games, computers and gadgets. Pick up something new and shiny or just to chat with us about all the techy things you love.

Check us out for all your buy, sell, exchange and geeky needs. Find us in:

Trilium Mall,
Store no. 5 & 6, (On the third floor)
Basant Avenue,
Circular Road,

Find your nearest CeX at

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Frozen Ground

Building up to the release of The Frozen Ground there was quite a bit of talk about it being the first time Nicolas Cage and John Cusack were on screen together since Con Air. For anyone looking at the poster and seeing these two names, they might have thought it was some kind of action film, as for the most part it's all Cage does lately. However, they would have been wrong. 

The Frozen Ground is a powerful and haunting depiction of the true story about serial killer Robert Hansen, a man who murdered at least 17 women, and assaulted and raped many more. It's a tough film to watch at times, and may not be something you'll watch time and time again, but is a respectful portrayal of the horror that haunted Alaska for over a decade.

The Frozen Ground focuses on the story of Cindy Paulsen (Vanessa Hudgens), the only survivor of Robert Hansen's (John Cusack) onslaught, but plays out mainly from the perspective of Detective Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage). After Cindy is assaulted and raped by Hansen, she escapes while he's loading his plane, which he planned to bring her in to a secluded location. However, the Alaskan police don't take her story seriously, due to the fact that she's a prostitute and Hansen is a seemingly respectable member of the community. She's essentially disregarded despite her awfully traumatic experience. However, Halcombe decides to look into her case, and unknowingly begins to unearth what is now considered one of the most infamous and disturbing series of serials killings in American history.

Making this film was always going to be tough, considering it deals with extremely disturbing recent history, and much of this would rest on the shoulder of the cast. There have been so many true crime films that have just fallen flat when it comes to the cast. Thankfully, The Frozen Ground isn't one of them. Everyone is top notch here, from Vanessa Hudgens as the victim no one believes, Nicolas Cage as the weary yet determined detective and, of course, John Cusack who plays the sadistic Robert Hansen. 

This role is worlds apart from what you've seen John Cusack in before, and his portrayal of Robert Hansen, both in his everyday life as a baker and during his disturbing assaults, is haunting, convincing and completely unsettling. Also, The Frozen Ground is one of those rare films that reminds us that Nicolas Cage can act. Granted the guy acts in plenty of shit films and tends to be the butt of many gags, but he's fantastic here. Everyone involved treats the subject matter with care, yet avoids trying to gloss over the true horror of what unfolded in Alaska in 1983. That said, The Frozen Ground isn't exactly violent when it comes to blood and guts, but rather in its brutal portrayal of true violence, both physically as well as mentally.

This could have been a train wreck of a film, a cheap cash-in to a traumatic experience that still exists in the minds of many, especially Cindy Paulsen. However, this is anything but that. The Frozen Ground is a grim and honest take on a piece of American history that is truly horrifying. This is mostly down to the all round fantastic performances by the main trio of actors here, but is also thanks to the direction director Scott Walker took the project in. It's disturbing, thrilling, intriguing and, well, saddening. When the credits roll and the real-life faces of the victims appear on screen one by one, it only hits home that The Frozen Ground was clearly made for them, and thankfully it was given the treatment it deserved.

The Frozen Ground treats its sensitive subject matter with respect and garners an 8/10.

Denis Murphy.

The Frozen Ground at CeX

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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Super Mario 3D World

In my review for Sonic: Lost World I detailed the problems Sega have had with trying to bring Sonic into the realm of 3D. It's a series that just doesn't make that transition that well at all. Mario on the other hand made that move perfectly with the Nintendo 64 classic, Mario64. Since then he has had plenty of 3D outings which have all played wonderfully. The latest instalment in the series, Super Mario 3D World, brings the action to the Wii U. However, as the Wii U's future remains uncertain due to terrible sales, is Super Mario 3D World worth the purchase?

The never ending yet always lovable rivalry of Mario and Bowser continues in Super Mario 3D World, and has Mario and his friends explore a whole new world. During a typical trip through the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad come across a clear pipe. And yeah, I know what you're thinking, “Mushroom Kingdom? Clear pipe? Is Mario getting off his face with magic mushrooms while hitting a bong?” But no, he's not. I know how suspect it sounds, but they're just going for a leisurely walk. It seems in the Mushroom Kingdom there's no bowling, arcades, bars or cinemas to enjoy, sadly. 

Anyway, a little fairy-like creatures appears out of the clear pipe only to have Bowser- big bad himself- pop out, capture her in a jar and disappear back down the pipe. It's funny though, without hesitation the first person to jump into the pipe after the captured fairy is Princess Peach. I guess she knows only too well what it's like to be captured by a giant green lizard, eh? Then and only then is Mario concerned, and understandably so as Peach is his on-again off-again girlfriend. Once into the pipe our heroes find themselves in Sprixie Kingdom, probably the best Mario world to date.

As expected with any typical Mario game, the world is initially presented as a mini-map. This mini-map not only fits into the narrative of what's going on in the story, but also helps you easily jump from level to level far more easily than any generic options screen is capable of. What makes this Mario title stand out however, is the fact that every single level- all 96 of them- contain something new, different and unexpected. It's these constant surprises that really make Super Mario 3D World outlast previous titles. It's always trying to reinvent itself, and the new addition of cat suits only proves this.

I know what you're thinking, “Cat suits? Really?” But hear me out before you start hurling Koopa Shells my way! The cat suit fundamentally changes gameplay, and lets our heroes run, scratch, pounce, air-dive and wall climb. This, apart from looking pretty cool, lets the player explore areas previously impossible to get to. Alongside collecting stars, stamps and finding all kinds of Nintendo treats and Easter eggs, this all comes together to create the Mario title with the most re-playability ever. It's awesome!

The visuals and level design are next to none, and are as beautiful as they are diverse. This even extends to our heroes, as never before have Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad had so much character and charming oozing from them. This is the first game in the series that while the focus is still on Mario, his friends are just as important. No longer are they background characters, but instead they're right there alongside him throughout the adventure, in the guise of player 2, 3 and 4.

Nintendo have always approached the Mario series in a simple yet perfectly refined way. Over the years it technically hasn't changed much, but has honed its gameplay to near perfection. Super Mario 3D World takes almost 30 years of trial, error and experience and tries to create the perfect Mario title. And you know what? If it weren’t for Mario 64, this would be the best Mario title to date. Buy it.

Super Mario 3D World gets a 1up with a 10/10.

Denis Murphy

Super Mario 3D World at CeX

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Monday, 13 January 2014

From Up On Poppy Hill

As a long time Studio Ghibli fan, I await their new releases with a mixture of excitement and nail-biting anticipation. Many of their films are a real delight to watch; Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away are treats for both the eyes and the ears. A few, however, don't quite live up to the high standards you come to place on them; Only Yesterday springs to mind. Naturally my expectations were sky high. Not even seeing that it's directed by Goro Miyazaki dampened my spirits; due to the fact that it's scripted by Hayao Miyazaki, so how does it fare?

Set in 1960's Yokohama, From Up On Poppy Hill tells the story of Umi and Shun. Umi is a school girl forced to take care of her ungrateful siblings and a couple of lodgers due to her father's disappearance at sea and the fact that her mother's away in America. Umi gets involved with rebellious Shun, setting off the High School Romance Alert. Shun runs the school newspaper, which along with various other clubs, is run from a building known as the Latin Quarter.

Though the film focuses heavily on Umi and Shun's efforts to save the Latin Quarter from it's planned demolition, the real meat of the story is their developing romance. Without giving too much away, it takes a couple of unexpected twists and turns and it was refreshing to find out that the High School Romance plotline wasn't as cliché as it at first appeared to be. If it wasn't for this there wouldn't be much to make the story anything worth shouting about. 

The film has all the stunning animation and the stand-out soundtrack we have come to expect from Studio Ghibli and the English dub is graced with a star-studded cast including Christina Hendricks and Anton Yelchin. Despite all this, Poppy Hill sadly lacks some of the magic that makes the studio's greatest films so special; perhaps it’s the lack of magic in a literal sense?  The use of magic in Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away allowed the artists to create whole new worlds limited only by their imagination, making these films the visual spectacles that they are. Likewise the existence of spirits in My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke lead to the creation of arguably Ghibli's most memorable characters.

In a story like From Up On Poppy Hill there is only so much you can do as an artist. The film has its share of beautiful landscapes, seascapes and skies and when Umi cooks tempura it's lovingly rendered using Ghibli's famous mixture of hand-drawing and CGI. But despite the best rendered food I've seen in an animation there's just no scope here for the breath-taking creatures or the fantastical characters that we adore. I guess I'll just go back to waiting for The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki's final offering prior to his retirement, *tear*.

A good film in its own right but certainly not one of Ghibli's best, 7/10.

Ant Silvers

From Up On Poppy Hill at CeX

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Saturday, 11 January 2014


A new console generation is always a bit of a rollercoaster; on the one hand you have the excitement of new hardware and on the other, the inevitable disappointment caused by sub-par launch titles. In this particular PlayStation4 3D platformer, you are Knack - a walking, talking collection of “Relics” brought to life by Doctor Vargas.

Not everyone is as confident as Doctor Vargas when he introduces Knack but the doctor believes his creation is the best tool in an on-going war between humans and goblins. At just three feet tall he doesn't look like much but we soon discover that there's more to Knack than meets the eye. He's fast and feisty and takes down even the steeliest of robots with ease. Knack can absorb energy from Sun Crystals allowing him to use special abilities and grows larger by taking in extra relics, turning him into a massive Goblin smashing machine.

Simple to Play, Shame about the Story
Knack's gameplay is fun and the controls are simple, making it easy to pick up. The story line, sadly, is lacking making this more of a game you'll dabble with when you've got time to kill, then casually cast aside once you're done. This is somewhat of a shame as the game’s creator, Mark Cerny, helped develop some of the most popular titles and mascots of previous generations; Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, so I can't help feeling the potential was there for something so much better. Though I've never played a platformer where I've really immersed myself in the story the way I did with, say, Ni No Kuni or a Final Fantasy game.

Despite the less than engaging storyline, the fact that Knack periodically changes from being small and fast to very large and powerful provides an interesting change of pace throughout. It's pretty sweet when you're a hulking creature that can take out a troll in one hit and destroy the environment by going for a simple stroll. But when Knack shrinks back down again, you forgive him his lack of power because he makes up for it with speed (plus he looks cute).

The two-player co-op option gives Knack a little buddy, “Robo-Knack”. This is fun for a while but if Robo-Knack can’t keep up, the camera follows Knack and Knack's buddy gets left behind, off screen. Bizzarely, Robo-Knack also seems able to take more punches than Knack lending to a strangely lopsided gameplay experience. It doesn’t even help much as when Knack dies, the game returns to the last checkpoint so player two can't continue solo. This can get pretty frustrating when you're about to kill an enemy and suddenly you're back to the beginning of the area.

There is an Easy mode making this game a good choice for the kids or casual gamers out there. Meanwhile Hard mode is masochistically hard and Knack can die in a single hit, which sometimes feels maddeningly cheap. This can be a real pain as some of the checkpoints are quite far apart and you're made to play the same part of the game over and over again, with increased sighing and swearing. Normal is a better option if you're not a masochist while still providing enough of a challenge for adult gamers.

Pixar Look and Feel
Visually this game looks very much like a Disney Pixar film with characters sporting a cartoonish appearance, all upper torso, big noses and tiny legs; even the bad guy has a pointy-evil-guy beard. This is sure to appeal to those who like that style; I personally found it refreshingly light-hearted and fun. Style aside, the graphics are where this game impresses and this is the main reason you know you're playing a next-gen console game.

The music is adequate but forgettable; nothing tear inducing like Ballad of the Wind Fish or ear-bleedingly bad either and the voice acting is generally good but Knack's voice came as a bit of a surprise. Not at all what I would have imagined him to sound like and I think I would have opted for something different, a bit less... human sounding?

There is occasional use of the controller speaker when Knack picks up new relics, which although pleasantly surprising at first ultimately seems a bit redundant. Sadly, there's no use of the PS4's touch pad or any of its other new features. All-in-all quite a missed opportunity.

The simplicity of this game and style of its animation makes it good for younger gamers, while Normal mode provides more of a challenge for adults and Hard mode for the hardcore gamers out there. Co-op is good if you want to show your friends what the PS4 can do graphically but is lacking when it comes to showing off the console's other new features. 

Gripes aside this is a fun game with something for both kids and adults to enjoy, definitely worth checking out.


Ant Silvers

Knack at CeX

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Friday, 10 January 2014

CeX Recycling Competition Winners!

Well just look at that smiling happy face, congratulations again Santiago, and game on good buddy!

Hey CeX fans!

Our Recycling Competition has come to an end and we've picked the lucky winners. First up are our 2 runners-up who each win a £100 voucher, useable in store or online at

Congratulations to Pablo for his submission of a console nativity scene, we loved it and might recreate it here at CeXTowers for Xmas! And congratulations Jonathan for his submission of a RAM Chair, looks cool but it's probably as comfortable as a throne made of swords!

As for first place, drum roll please!

The winner and lucky individual who will receive the next-gen console of his choice is Santiago with his submission of PS3 pad coat hangers, now you know what to do with your old DualShock3s!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for more competitions in the future!

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