Sunday, 31 August 2014

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited

If there's one genre Sony has always catered to it's the Tactical Role-Playing Game (TRPG). From the likes of Vandal Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy Tactics on the original PlayStation, Stella Deus and Phantom Brave on the PlayStation 2, and Valkyria Chronicles and Record of Agarest War on the PlayStation 3, if you're a huge TRPG fan then it's quite likely that your also in the PlayStation camp. This trend is currently continuing on the PS Vita, and like every impeccable TRPG since the PS2 era, it's coming in the form of Disgaea. However, while this may be simply a port of a previously released PS3 title, it's not without some new bells and whistles.

Developed by Nippon Ichi Software and out on the PS Vita comes Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, the best Disgaea to ever be released on a hand-held system. However, before we get into the finer points as to what makes it so awesome, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited is actually a port of the 2011 PS3 title, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. While fans of Disgaea would have preferred a brand new title for our PS Vita's, we're certainly not going to turn our nose up to this port, mainly due to the fact that the PS Vita needs all the new titles it can get. That said, this port isn't just a direct port, as it adds some new content to the experience, content that ultimately makes it a much more satisfying and rounded experience compared to that of its PS3 counterpart.

As always in the series, A Promise Revisited is set in the Netherworld, a world ruled by Demons where murder, violence and theft is as routine as going to the shops for bread and milk. However, as the series has always done, to balance itself against the ramifications of its bleak and dark setting the story here is over-the-top, hilarious and just plain wacky. You take the role of Valvatorez, a demon that was once a highly feared tyrant. But since vowing to stop consuming human blood, the key to his power, he has become a lowly Prinny instructor. Prinny's are the reincarnation of human souls that have sinned, which are depicted as small, cute almost Penguin-like creatures. Once Valvatorez finds out that the government of Netherworld is corrupt, he, alongside his loyal friend Fenrich, decides to try and take back the power and choke hold of fear he once had over the people. Yeah, it's all a little silly, but backed up by great voice acting, an endearing script and excellent characterisation throughout; A Promise Revisited delivers narratively by the bucket load.

The gameplay falls in line with pretty much every title in the series so far, but that's a good thing.  As the genre suggests, A Promise Revisited's battles take place on grid-based levels, similar to what you might see on a chessboard. Turn-based by nature, this is a game that demands the player to put thought into every move, item used and attack chosen; one misstep could be your undoing! But while at first A Promise Revisited might seem like a generic TRPG, beyond its exterior it's incredibly in-depth. This depth comes in many different forms and nicely sets the game apart from any TRPG you've played before. For instance, Geo Blocks are areas of the map that, when a character is placed upon it, modify that characters stats. There's also the ability to enter any item and battle enemies within the item, thereby levelling up both it and your entire team. Then there's also the fact that you can set up your own cabinet and have your foreign minister collect bribes and rare items from other players online. These additions to gameplay, already on top of what is truly an exceptional and well balanced combat mechanic, makes A Promise Revisited astoundingly deep and complex.

Now you're thinking, “But I've already bought Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten on the PS3, what new content does this port have?” Good question, reader! It has enough new content to be worthy of a second purchase; some of which is new to the series and some implemented from past games.

Here's some of the new content Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited has compared to its PS3 counterpart:

  • Includes all previously released DLC for Disgaea: A Promise Unforgotten.
  • 4 new characters! Now you can use both Nagi Clockwork and Sister Artina. Additionally, if you have a save game of Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention on your PS Vita, you instantly unlock a further two characters, Rutile and Stella.
  • The Event Viewer, which gives the player the ability to re-watch past cut-scenes.
  • The Cheat Shop (previously in Disgaea D2), which allows the player to change different elements of the game. For instance, the player can change how much money, experience and mana they receive from battling.
  • Character Painter (previously in Disgaea D2), which lets the player change the colour of their characters outfits.
  • The Innocent Warehouse (previously in Disgaea D2), a place in which you can store the innocents collected within the item worlds.
  • Special skills that are unique to Generic Classes such as the Thief, Archer and Mage (previously from Disgaea 3)
  • A new story scenario focusing on Artina and Valvatorez.

Overall A Promise Revisited is a wonderful addition to your PS Vita collection. From its truly detailed and utterly perfect combat mechanic, to its colourful, if a little samey visuals, it all comes together to create the best Disgaea title to ever be released on a hand-held. Though it may be a little overwhelming to a newcomer to the series, don't worry, it may seem daunting but the game does have a nice steady learning curve. That said, if you're not a gamer who is into battling, stat heavy gameplay and excessive grinding, stay well away. If you've already played Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten in 2011 and enjoyed it, trust me, this is well worth the purchase!

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited delivers on the promise made back in 2011 and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited at CeX

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Love and Honor

Ah the 60s. Love, Peace, The Sharon Tate killing, the Manson Family, The Beatles, Alaska being invaded by The Soviet Union, The Rolling Stones, Watergate, JFK getting killed, Flower Power, the murder of Martin Luther King, Led Zeppelin, the murder of Malcolm X, The Moon Landing and of course Vietnam. Starring Liam Hemsworth, Austin Stowell and Teresa Palmer, and based on the true story of a Michigan soldier, Love and Honor is a story of a man who flies home from Vietnam to convince his very bitchy but beautiful girlfriend to marry him. Though, watching it will give you the feeling that the film focuses more on the supporting, more famous characters, even going so far as having neither of the ‘main’ characters on the film poster.

In 1969, around the time of the Apollo 11 mission, Dalton Joiner (Stowell) is fighting in the Vietnam War. With his best friend Mickey Wright (Hemsworth) he is sent on R & R for a week in Hong Kong. Until now Dalton had been receiving frequent care packages from his girlfriend Jane back home in America. Suddenly, completely unexpectedly, and out of nowhere she whips out a break up letter, shocking and confusing Dalton faster than if she’d whipped out a penis. He finds himself instantly overwhelmed with denial and insists that she just fears his inevitable death and decides to prove to her his immortality by flying home and proposing to her.

Mickey, seeing that his friend is clearly going mad with grief, tries to console him and convince him to come meet some lovely Asian women in Hong Kong to shift his focus off his broken heart and onto his fully functioning penis. Dalton insists that he is going and this causes Mickey to do the good friend thing and go with him. Mickey is charming to everyone he meets, primarily because of all the lies that he tells, but his ability to woo the women he meets is tested when, as they arrive home, he meets a headstrong rebellious woman called Candace. So as the sun is rising on their relationship and setting on Dalton and Jane’s a tension arises.

I have to say that I liked this film, I wasn’t completely blown away nor drawn in by it, as I comfortably watched it over two nights and didn’t really care if I saw the end or not. It seems to me that they were trying very hard to show that though Vietnam was a terrible thing, being a soldier was brilliant, even if you didn’t want to be a soldier and you had to. The sneaky, jealous journalist guy was made to be out a dick, but not because of his beliefs, or his place in the war but because he was acting like a massive bell-end.

The actors all felt like, and I believe most of them were, teen actors from TV shows and films aimed at the younger end of teenager-hood, who all got together and decided to make a big grown up movie so people their own age would want to kiss them on the lips and touch their bums. The only thing the film lacked for me, was a reason to give a fuck about anyone in it, it was pleasant, non-offensive and was full of pretty people but was about as entertaining as a yoghurt.

For being a bit of ok it gets a 3/5.


Dave Roberts

Love and Honor at CeX

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Friday, 29 August 2014

Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood

I've always enjoyed adventure films, especially those either set in the Middle Ages or in completely fantasy based settings. I'm thinking of films such as The Lord of the Rings, Legend, The 13th Warrior, Conan the Barbarian, Braveheart, Dragonheart, the original Clash of the Titans and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (gotta love that track by Bryan Adams, right?). You know, films that just scream adventure, action and style. One film I thought I'd love was 2011's Iron Clad. It wasn't that I particularly hated it, but I just didn't see what all the fuss was about. Headlined by James Purefoy, the film had everything I usually love in these types of films, but I just didn't click with it. Now comes the sequel, Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood. I went into this film blindly. No trailers, no Wikipedia; nothing. In fact, I never knew it existed until it popped up on my CeX radar. But the question is... is it any good?

Directed by Jonathan English and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood, a sequel no one was asking for but we got anyway. Much like the original film, Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood also focuses much of its story and action around a castle siege, although this time it is entirely fictional compared to its predecessor’s somewhat historical depiction of the siege of Rochester Castle in 1215. With his Scottish castle under attack by Celts and the future of his people looking dire, English nobleman Gilbert de Vesci sends his son Hubert out into the world to find Guy de Lusignan, in the hope that Guy can help fight off the marauding Celts. Guy was in the first film, though this time he's played by a different actor. It's a simple story, but films like this don't need to be that heavy on narrative to be enjoyable. The problem with Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood doesn't reside with its story, but rather almost everything else.

As much as I didn't rave about the original Iron Clad, everything it did right is pretty much done wrong here. Firstly, this time around there aren't any big names. Before you had big names like Brian Cox and Paul Giamatti, and you could tell that they absolutely relished their roles, with Giamatti especially giving an incredibly bombastic performance. However, in Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood you have names likes Roxanne McKee, Danny Webb and Tom Austen. They're the “hey, I know him/her from that TV show/advert” kind of actors. I'm not belittling them as they do a decent job throughout, but the film is entirely populated by C-grade actors. Perhaps the only exception to this is the presence of Michelle Fairley, known to many of us as Catelyn Stark from Game of Thrones. Though I suspect she's only there in an attempt to bring in the Game of Thrones fans, as her role pretty much amounts to nothing. Truly a shame to see her so underutilised. 

The biggest problem here is the action. I may be spoiled in this department after recently watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The 13th Warrior, but in Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood the action is just awful. From dull set pieces, a complete yet crappy rehash of the original films climax, and worst of all an overuse of the dreaded “shaky cam”. This leads to the fights scenes being rather confusing at times, and while the original film did use shaky cam as well, it was used rather sparingly and to good effect. It might be due to its low budget, which ultimately puts certain limitations and constraints on the film, but the element that should fix your eyes on the screen just isn't there.

Overall Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood is awful. While the first one was a pretty enjoyable action flick with big names, this is an incredibly low-budget string of boring action scenes, cobbled together with bland scenes of exposition by actors who might see as Drunken Hobo #3 on some sitcom next week. It's worth a lazy watch with a takeaway because it's in the so-bad-it's-good category, but don't expect anything in the way of real entertainment.

Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood bleeds out and gets a 2/5.


Denis Murphy

Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood at CeX

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, absolutely love them! My deep seeded childhood love for all things Turtles came about when I first started watching the classic 1987 TV series, which I suspect many of you also enjoyed! The excellent voice acting, animation and the fact that it had the awesome James Avery in it, made it literal perfection. Then there was the Konami arcade game that allowed 4-players to kick Footsoldier ass. Brilliant! I also enjoyed the 80's movies too, though even as a kid I did find them a little boring, especially the third one in which the Turtles time travelled back to Feudal Japan. Ugh... what a piece of shit, right? Then I even got into the action figures, and pestered my parents to buy me the figure of my favourite Turtle, Leonardo. Which they did, though I lost his sword the very next day. 

Needless to say, I was in a Turtle craze in the early 90's, but that evaporated as the decade went on. Since my fascination with the franchise, there has been countless more TV series, films, figures, games – you name it, they made it! But while a lot of Turtle media has been created since I stopped paying attention to it, the new film caught my attention. Produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebesman, the latest incarnation of Turtles, going purely by the trailer, just looks, feels and sounds, well, wrong. Seeing as this latest game is based upon this new Turtles film, I didn't exactly have high hopes...

Developed by Magic Pockets and out now on Nintendo 3DS comes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a game that despite offering nothing new is strangely enjoyable and charming. The story doesn't base itself directly on the film, instead going down a route that reminded me of Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, in the fact that between following major plot points seen in the film it also throws in a few extra villains, scenes and scenarios. So unlike the film, this game isn't just about defeating Shredder, as it even includes classic Turtle foe Baxter Stockman and his legion of abominations created in his lab. Though it's a story we've seen a million times before, Magic Pockets' decision to beef it out and include other characters is highly welcomed, as an entire game based around defeating Shredder would be a little thin on substance.

Obviously targeted towards the younger gamer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goes for a rather simple approach to gameplay, but that isn't to say it's not fun. Viewing gameplay from an isometric perspective, once into the game the player will soon discover that they can instantly switch between the four Turtles: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo. This isn't just for simple visual flair though, as each Turtle is vastly different from one another. Obvious weapon changes aside, the differences come in the likes of speed and strength, with Raphael being the muscle of the group. Though I found Donatello the perfect mix of strengths and weaknesses between them all, choosing the right Turtle for the right mission is key. Fighting is painfully simple, with the Y button serving as the attack button, the R button being used to evade enemy attacks, and the L button to eat pizza to restore health. It's pretty straightforward, but combat is nonetheless fun, quick and reminiscent of the kind of game I would have loved back in the days of the PS1. It's fun for all ages, but younger gamers will love it!

The Turtles' underground sewer serves as the games main hub. From here you can choose to use unlocked cheats, take part in various types of challenges, buy new weapons and items, craft new gear, do some side missions or simply just go directly onto the next main mission. This hub is a nice little addition to an otherwise linear game, with the crafting element being especially welcomed. Through collecting weapons and then breaking them down into various raw materials, the player can then craft new, stronger and better weapons, which can even have added special effects such as being poisoned. Though rather simplistic, this crafting element breaths new life into the game, as instead of merely trying to rush through levels, I found myself checking around random corners, backtracking through levels and even breaking boxes looking for random items I could use for crafting.

Overall Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is neither terrible nor great, it's just good. What Magic Pockets has created here is a game that tries nothing new, recycles ideas we've seen a million times before, yet somehow managed to create a fun game that genuinely feels like it belongs in the Turtles franchise. It ain't high art, but hell, that's fine by me!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goes down like a decent slice of sewer pizza and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at CeX

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014


For years Westerns have borrowed off ideas and premises from Japanese films. Japanese cinema is not only still a rich source of inspiration and creativity, but early Japanese cinema arguably gives early Western cinema a run for its money. Most notable is The Magnificent Seven, the 1960 classic Western starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. Though The Magnificent Seven clearly stands on its own two feet, it's actually a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 epic Seven Samurai. However, it's about time the tables were turned, right? Though I never knew it even existed until I bought the Blu-Ray, Unforgiven is a remake of one of Hollywood's best Westerns. The question is... is it any good?

Directed by Lee Sang-il and out now on DVD and Blu-Ray comes Unforgiven, one of the more impressive and worthwhile remakes I've ever seen. Unforgiven is a remake of the 1992 Western of the same name, which was directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. The original film has been rightly hailed as a classic, and after receiving Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing, it single handedly brought the Western back into modern cinema. Followed by a string of Westerns in the years after, I would have thought it was unthinkable to remake this classic, but Lee Sang-il does a great job here. 

The story is pretty much the same as its American counterpart, and is even set around the same time period... only now the narrative instead shifts to the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido. Unforgiven focuses on Jubee Kamata, an ex-Shogunate swordsman who was highly feared during his days of slaughtering rebels. However, after fleeing his former life, Jubee lived out a large portion of his days manning a farm, while taking care of his wife and children. Sadly though, his wife, who allegedly turned him away from the dark road his former life was taking him down, passed away, leaving him with a barren farm and no way of supporting his children. To give his children a chance, Jubee is drawn back into his former life of killing, and takes a bounty alongside a former comrade and a young warrior. Blending superb action and intense drama, Unforgiven is a deeply personal tale about the cycle of violence and one man’s mission to put an end to that cycle.

The stand out role here is that of Jubee himself, played wonderfully by Ken Watanabe, who you'll probably recognize from the likes of Inception and, most recently, Godzilla. He doesn't simply redo what Clint Eastwood did for the role in 1992, but rather tries to make it his own. Compared to the original portrayal of the character, Jubee here comes across a little more mentally unprepared for what he's about to face, even if the skills needed are, and have always been, right there waiting to get out. He's backed up by a great cast too, and everyone involved helps prevent the film from becoming “a remake of Unforgiven”, as opposed to its own piece of cinema.

Unforgiven is beautifully shot too, with most scenes looking incredibly lavish and breath-taking. The stunning photography here of Japan litters Unforgiven to great effect, which only hits home how suited this classically Western tale is for a Japanese setting, much like how Seven Samurai easily found a home in the Wild West in 1960. This visual brilliance even extends to the sword-on-sword action scenes too, which may be even more intense than what Clint Eastwood achieved in his 1992 film.

Overall, Unforgiven is a huge surprise. Was it needed? Well, no. Is it welcomed? Absolutely! Through bringing the tale to the Meiji era, Lee Sang-il has brought new life and exciting possibilities to the story. There's more going on beneath the surface than a simple location change, but that does spice up things a great deal.

Unforgiven is forgiven and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

Unforgiven at CeX

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sacred 3

Back in 2004 I played Sacred and loved it. I have always been into those kinds of games, games that fall in line with the likes of Baldur's Gate, big open isometric worlds, topped off with in-depth combat. Sacred perfectly suited me in that regard, and the series has since gained quite the following. Though Sacred did gain an expansion pack and also a prequel entitled Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, with the demise of its developer in 2009, Ascaron, the future of the series was up in the air. However, publisher Deep Silver saved the franchise from certain doom, and last year released Sacred Citadel. Sadly though, for fans like me who wanted an in-depth RPG set inside a massive, detailed open world... we were a little disappointed to say the least. Sacred Citadel was a side scrolling hack n' slash game, and though it was enjoyable for what it was, it catered to a different type of gamer. On its surface it looks like Sacred 3 is bringing the series back to its old school RPG roots. But looks can be deceiving, as Sacred 3, though enjoyable like Sacred Citadel, is one step forward and two steps back.

Developed by Keen Games and out now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC comes Sacred 3, a fun yet flawed title that shouldn't exactly belong to the Sacred franchise. The story is set roughly 1000 years after the events of the original Sacred, and once again lets the player take control of a band of warriors in a bid to defeat evil. Since the events of Sacred, the peoples of the world ‘Ancaria’ have all but forgotten the Seraphim; guardians of the powerful 'Heart of Ancaria'. But that changes when Lord Zane, ruler of Ancaria, forges an alliance with demons, and is hell bent on opening the gates of the Underworld by using the Heart of Ancaria. With a new group of powerful warriors taking upon themselves the quest to save humanity once more, the fate of the world literally hangs in the balance.

Right from the start Sacred 3 eagerly presents itself as being much more of a simplified and linear experience compared to Sacred 1 & 2. The cast of characters is much smaller here, as Sacred 3 only allows the player to play as 4 warriors, compared to the 8 offered in Sacred. There's Marak the powerful Safiri warrior; Claire the Paladin; Vajra the Khkuri bow and arrow member of the team and finally Alithea, the Arcarian lancer. Each member already has their own personality and back-story, yet despite the very little choice of characters here, they do actually make for quite an interesting and diverse team. Sacred 3 is a hack n' slash game. No longer is the series focused on being a slow, narrative focused RPG that demands time and patience. Instead it's all about fast paced action and high-speed dexterity in place of thoughtfully upgrading your character. 

But that's OK, I guess. I mean, I would have preferred if they dropped the series name Sacred, as this really isn't what Sacred should be, but fine, I can deal with it, mainly because it's actually pretty fun. The player starts off with a few basic attacks at first, which are a normal attack, dodge, a dashing attack and two powerful attacks that will consume energy. However, over the course of the game the player can upgrade their character using gold and experience points, thereby gaining new and more powerful moves. But like I mentioned before, compared to previous Sacred games the player doesn't really need to slave over their character's stats, as in Sacred 3 brute force always wins over a more thoughtful approach. That said, the combat on offer here is fast paced, fun and pretty addictive, especially if you make use of the fantastic 4 player co-op. Playable both online and locally, your friends can jump in and out of gameplay instantly, while the difficulty and enemy numbers alter accordingly as to how many players are present. It's a great addition to gameplay and easily drags Sacred 3 from the realm of disappointment to sheer fun.

Overall Sacred 3 is a mixed bag. On one hand I admire that Keen Games' attempt at replicating the original Sacred titles, from its isometric visuals to very quirky sense of humour. However, what we have here is not the Sacred I loved, but rather somewhat of a dumbed down bastardisation of it. I can live with that though, as the game isn't terrible, even if it is a little linear both narratively and in its gameplay. If you're looking for a fun multi-player title with a few mates, give Sacred 3 a try. If you're looking for an in-depth one-player experience, well, don't expect classic Sacred, but that's OK.

Sacred 3 gets some praise and is bestowed a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Sacred 3 at CeX

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Monday, 25 August 2014


I love blindly buying a random film. Though it's certainly not something I can afford to do too often, blindly purchasing a film, book or game is something I do from time to time. It can help cut through preconceived notions of a film based on reviews, or even its cover art. I applied this patented (and potentially money wasting!) technique to Pioneer, a film that popped up on my radar. Without a single idea of what it was even about, I shoved it into my Blu-Ray player. So, here's how this session of “Movie Roulette” turned out...

Written and directed by Norwegian film maker Erik Skjoldbjærg, Pioneer is one of those films that will sadly go far below the radar of many, but really shouldn't. Skjoldbjærg is best known as the director of Insomnia, the 1997 film starring Stellan Skarsgård which was later remade into the 2002 Christopher Nolan film of the same name starring Al Pacino. He also wrote the script for the remake, and though he hasn't done much since then, his latest film, though it doesn't reach the heights of Insomnia, is a fantastic film in its own right. The film is partially based on real events. Set in the early 1980's amid the Norwegian Oil Boom, Pioneer begins with the discovery of oil beneath the floor of the North Sea. Knowing that the payday will be monumental, oilmen Peter, his brother Knut and Mike agree to lay a pipeline. However, a catastrophe occurs that results in the death of Knut. After returning to the surface, Peter begins to have hallucinations, and starts to question whether what happened 500 metres below the ocean was truly an accident. As his mind starts to unravel at the prospect of a huge conspiracy, the viewer must question Peter as much as Peter is questioning himself.

Pioneer is very much in the same vein as Insomnia, in the fact that as you watch it you're not exactly sure if the main character is a trustworthy narrator. Peter is erratic, trying to cope with the death of his brother, potentially suffering my some kind of neurological damage after the accident, and increasingly finding himself beginning to question everyone. This excellent dynamic is greatly achieved by actor Aksel Hennie, whose performance will leave the viewer constantly questioning whether there truly is any substance to his claims of a conspiracy. The rest of the cast are perfectly fine, but no one really stands out, perhaps apart from Stephen Lang, who most of us last saw kill Na'vi scum in Avatar. That said, there are no bad performances here at all, just ones that feel a little lacking compared to Hennie's.

There's a great sense of isolation in Pioneer too, both physically and psychologically. For instance, the underwater sections of the film are truly terrific, and despite it geographically being the complete opposite in every which way, the feeling in these scenes are rather reminiscent of Gravity, a world of endless exploration, yet painfully lonely. This then extends to the isolation Peter begins to feel once he makes it to the surface, and only manages to get worse over the duration of the film. Though it does tend to drag out a bit near the end, this sense of confusion, dread and danger throughout is really superb, and is something that makes Pioneer stand out among other films of the same genre.

Overall Pioneer won't win any Oscars, but if you're looking for a film similar to Insomnia, and a film that will really keep you questioning about what exactly is happening until the end, buy it. Backed up by a largely good cast, an effective script and visuals that sometimes look quite iconic, Pioneer is not to be overlooked.

Pioneer rises from the deep and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

Pioneer at CeX

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery

Who Killed Laura Palmer?

That was the tag line to Twin Peaks when it first aired back in 1990. This was long before the spoiler filled world of the internet, so viewers keen on finding out the answer to that question had to wait a year and a half until it was revealed. Created by acclaimed director David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks was cancelled after its two-season run. Though infamous for having a string of dud episodes during the latter half of its second season, everything else that came from the series has been praised, both by fans and critics alike. The series follows special agent Dale Cooper who is assigned to the case of a murdered girl at Twin Peaks. What starts out as a simple “whodunnit?” slowly but surely manifests into something utterly surreal. Blending dark comedy, drama and mystery, Twin Peaks features a diverse cast of characters, and a plot that gets incredibly supernatural. Spawning a prequel film entitled Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the Twin Peaks franchise is truly something that should have continued. Though there have been many DVD and Blu-Ray releases of Twin Peaks related material in recent years, this new release is quite literally the most definitive piece of Twin Peaks media ever. Here's the best of what's included in Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery.

Better Quality: First off, everything included in this release has been remastered from the original negatives, making the picture quality look even better than what we saw in the Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition. In doing this remaster Twin Peaks does sadly lose the highly memorable brown and yellow tones that accompanied its early 90's blurry TV broadcast. That said, it’s the best looking Twin Peaks yet.

Log Lady introductions to each episode: When the series was syndicated to Bravo, Lynch created “Log Lady introductions”; intro monologues to each episode starring the Log Lady, the bizarre woman who appears in Twin Peaks cradling a log. These introductions haven't been seen in any release until now, and they're interesting, weird and an exciting piece of new content for Twin Peaks fans.

US and International pilot episodes: Though the series has been available on Blu-Ray before, a number of releases have omitted the pilot episode due to issues with the rights. But with this recent release, Lynch has chosen to not only include the typical US version of the pilot that sets up the series, but also the rarely seen European cut. The European cut offers a different ending, and ultimately reveals the killer of Laura Palmer. Though this version is non-canon, it's an interesting curiosity nonetheless.

Season one and two: As fully expected, The Entire Mystery includes all 30 episodes of Twin Peaks. Like I said before, the latter half of season two is hit and miss, but everything else is truly gold. From the first dream Cooper has which places him in “The Red Room” face to face with the backwards speaking “Man from Another Place”, to the terrifying reveal of Laura Palmers killer, never before (or since) has a TV series delivered such a level of excellence. No scenes are extended or added here, so what you get is what aired way back when in 1990. But that's fine by me; it's perfect!

Season one and two image galleries: Previously unseen images of behind-the-scenes of Twin Peaks, directly from David Lynch's own personal collection.

Season one and two deleted scenes and out-takes: Many (if not all!) of these have been seen before, but it's still a welcome feature for hardcore and regular fans alike.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: This is the prequel film of Twin Peaks, focusing on the last days of Laura Palmer life. While it got a massive critical and fan backlash upon release, it is now considered a hidden gem by many. While the series was sometimes quirky and offbeat with its humour, Fire Walk With Me is much darker, and delves into some pretty grisly themes such as drug abuse and rape. Much like the series nothing new has been added, but it is now presented in stunning 4K clarity.

The Missing Pieces: If you're a true Twin Peaks fan then you'll already know what this is. For the uninitiated, back when Fire Walk With Me was released, what we received was a heavily edited down version of what was in the original script. While certain scenes served no real use, others fleshed out certain aspects of Fire Walk With Me that ultimately led the film to feeling somewhat unfinished. After a legal tussle that has gone on for over 20 years, these scenes can finally be seen, and in high definition no less! The Missing Pieces compiles all of these scenes into an hour and half of Twin Peaks gold. Yes, an hour and a half! If you're like me the sheer prospect of that is making your mouth water. The scenes are worth the wait too, as they cover a whole range of stuff, including more detail on what happened to Philip “David Bowie” Jeffries, Dale Cooper speaking with Diane, scenes of TV series regulars Harry Truman, Josie Packard and Hawk, more Red Room footage and new insights as to what happened after the season 2 finale. From start to finish all of this content is gold dust. Incredible!!!

A Slice of Lynch: An hour with David Lynch chatting to various members of the cast, and musing over various topics regarding Twin Peaks. It's an interesting insight into the man behind the series, and his thoughts on CBS pushing him to reveal Laura Palmer's killer, and how he thinks it was a huge misstep, is especially captivating.

Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks: A four parted documentary that brings the viewer from the creation of the pilot, scoring the music and ending the series with season two. Though I would have preferred if it were a little more in-depth, it satisfies nonetheless.

Beyond Two Worlds: A 40-minute two-parted segment that has Lynch interviewing the actors who played the three members of the Palmer family; Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie. However, in classic Lynch fashion he interviews them while they're in character, which results in some rather creepy yet enjoyable musings of how certain characters are doing after death.

Moving Through Time: Fire Walk With Me Memories: A great short, half hour retrospective of Fire Walk With Me. It's nice to see Lynch putting focus on his forgotten master-work, but it's a shame that it's just so short.

Atmospherics: These are great. They're 10 short video and music montages of Twin Peaks related themes. Over cut with various pieces of music and voices from the show, and played over a backdrop of pine trees blowing in the air and neon signs swinging in a cool breeze, these “atmospherics” nicely capture the mood and feel of what is Twin Peaks.

Overall this new release is a must have, simple as. There's more in the box set beyond all of this, but this is the majority of what makes it so damn special. If you're a fan of Twin Peaks, The Entire Mystery is essential, absolutely essential. However, if you've never seen it before then you're in for a treat. With this box set you will get the most complete Twin Peaks experience ever. From watching the Log Lady introductions in high definition, Fire Walk With Me's heart breaking finale in stunning 4K clarity, to the long awaited The Missing Pieces extra, I can't stress enough how much you need this. Twin Peaks is a series that rewards the viewer for re-watching it. Whether it's characters nuances or previously unnoticed symbolism, Twin Peaks is a long lasting investment. After all, to paraphrase “The Man From Another Place” – ‘It's filled with secrets...

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery is essential and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery at CeX

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Rio 2

To be succinct, Rio was a film about some blue birds fucking about. It was so popular that we now have another film about some blue birds fucking about, except there are more and the whole plot was spoiled in the trailer hurray! Someday I’m going to start a website called ‘’ where I just tell people whether or not they should the trailer before they watch the actual film. Anyway, Rio 2 stars Jesse Eisenberg and other people’s voices and it’s ok.

Blu and Jewel, two cartoon birds, are living the life; their kids have iPods, pancakes and human being houses and everyone’s very happy. I haven’t seen the first Rio but I imagine it was a blue cartoon bird version of The Pursuit of Happyness. Now that they have everything they want, Blu’s wife decides she would like nothing more than to go on the Paleo diet, stop eating wheat and relying on human being instruments. Mere moments later their previous owners appear on TV, announcing that they think there are more blue cartoon birds living in the Amazon somewhere. Clearly Blu has been told that ‘a happy wife is a happy life’, so he willing uproots everyone to head to the Amazon. Obviously to the fact that doing everything your wife says is not the way to a happy life, but a good way to get her to cheat on you.

After making the move to the amazin’ Amazon they find Jewels dad who is an unrelenting, disapproving, male stereotype who hates anything new or exciting and refuses to associate with humans because humans are bastards that try and destroy forests. Some fucking dick called Roberto, another blue cartoon bird, enters the fray and starts throwing his big blue cartoon penis in Jewel’s face and she suddenly decides that Blu is not as cool as before, thinks they should live here and ignore all evidence of good humans trying to protect the Amazon.

So Rio 2 essentially boils down to good humans are trying to save the land, bad humans are trying to destroy it while blue cartoon birds get in a fight with red cartoon birds over their nuts and start to play football like Germany and Britain in the war. The outcome of which is lots of good things, a stereotypical ending and lots of cheering happy kids clapping away at bright colours and simple stories. The problem is, not all kids are morons, and some will prefer well-written versions of bright colours and simple stories like the first two Shrek films than this drivel. Why is that too much to ask?

No, instead kids get stuff like this.

On the bright side it wasn’t offensively bad at any point, it flowed quite quickly, the depressing Hollywood drop off in the middle of the film didn’t last that long and was over shadowed by cartoon birds playing quidditch. I was quite attracted to the poisonous cartoon frog for a while. But I think I’m going mad with a fever at the moment, which is very probable.

Blue and Red look nice when there’s green everywhere, 3/5.


Dave Roberts

Rio 2 at CeX

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Friday, 22 August 2014

Enemies Closer

There's an art to making an authentic b-movie. The problem with many films in recent times, which allegedly fall into the b-movie category, is that they're trying to hard to be considered b-movies. I'm thinking of stuff like Sharknado, films that try so damn hard to be b-movies that they explain away bad visual effects, script, characters and acting because, well, “it's meant to be like this!” That never sits right with me, because the best b-movies out there never set out to be b-movies. So there's a lot of shit out there that falls into the much-loved unofficial category, but really shouldn't. Enemies Closer is a proper b-movie, and that shouldn't be (and isn't) an insult.

I've always been a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme. My first Van Damme flick was Timecop, and upon watching it my then 9-year-old self absolutely loved it. From the twist at the start where a bunch of Wild West dudes are gunned down by a guy with a futuristic weapon, to the visual effects that back then blew my mind, it made a lost lasting impression on me. So with my love for Jean-Claude Van Damme firmly in place, and after hearing that Timecop director Peter Hyams directed Enemies Closer, my anticipation for the film suddenly shot up. Enemies Closer isn't perfect, but what it does do it does almost flawlessly.

The premise is refreshing in its simplicity. Former military frogman Henry has decided to retreat from the world with his new job as a park ranger. Though he doesn't get to see many people, Henry does cross paths with Kayla and Clay. Though Kayla comes across as a possible love interest at first, her true intentions may be a little dastardlier. Clay on the other hand right off the bat pulls a gun on Henry, keen to exact justice for his little brother who died in Afghanistan, a death for which he blames on Henry. But before Clay can carry out that justice, Jean-Claude Van Damme's Xander character turns up. You see, Xander is a drug lord and is keen on finding a pure heroin shipment that crash-landed in a plane into a nearby lake. But after killing most of the cops in the surrounding area in a bid to keep his plan all hush-hush, he comes across Clay and Henry. Being all that stands between Xander and the heroin shipment, Clay and Henry must overlook their differences and fight together. Simple and basic premise, but perfect.

The best part about Enemies Closer is undoubtedly Jean-Clause Van Damme. Though that would have been a given during his heyday is the 90's, as of late he hasn't exactly been living up to his past greatness. But as Xander he just goes incredibly over-the-top. From schooling his cronies on Veganism and their carbon footprint, to suddenly taking out an entire room of cops single-handedly, Xander is to Van Damme as The Joker was to Heath Ledger. He literally chews through scenery during every scene, while the last line uttered by him in the film is bloody hilarious. I won't spoil it! Beyond Van Damme everyone else is passable, if largely forgettable. The dynamic between Clay and Henry is interesting, but the film doesn't exactly take a breather to examine their inner machinations or perception of one another, thankfully. Things blown up, Van Damme has Christopher Walken hair and the body count is high. I'm happy.

Though the action is somewhat hampered by choppy quick cuts it's surprisingly hard hitting and pleasing. With the simple enough premise and good choice of location, Enemies Closer is filled with a whole slew of action set pieces, and breezes along nicely in its short running time. It's a film that revels in its simplicity to wonderful effect, but it's a double-edged sword as, due to its small scope, it feels as if director Peter Hyams is holding back too much. Considering his best films have been over-the-top spectacles, Enemies Closer feels somewhat restricted and a little stifled. But like all the best b-movies, it just gets on with it and makes the most of what he has to play around with.

Overall Enemies Closer isn't up there with the best, but as a Saturday night action flick you could really do much, much worse. Hugely enjoyable, especially for Van Damme's crazy performance, Enemies Closer is a gem that will sadly be overlooked by many. 

Enemies Closer gets up close and personal and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

Enemies Closer at CeX

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Google Glass at CeX

The clever folks over at are right folks, you can now buy, sell and trade Google Glass with us here at CeX!

Whether you want to get rid of yours or can’t wait to get a pair and start your glorious cyborg future, we’re here to help with our “bargains prices” :D

Check out their full article here.

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Raid 2

The Raid 2 is the follow up to the surprise hit, The Raid (or The Raid: Redemption). It had a whole lot of hype behind it, with the first film already considered an action classic by many fans of the genre. After watching the trailers for the The Raid 2 you could tell this movie was going to be different to the first, a sweeping, operatic crime epic whereas the first one was small and contained. It could have gone either way…but it didn’t and the end result is just astounding.

The Raid 2 picks up a few minutes after the first film ended. So needless to say, watch that one first! It jumps straight into things, with protagonist Rama being sent into prison to gain the trust of a mob boss’s son. This is where we discover the biggest difference between this film and its predecessor. The Raid 2 has a substantial plot, and a great plot at that. The first film had hints of a bigger story but mainly focused on Rama kicking ass through a block of flats. This time we follow Rama and meet a collection of interesting characters, unlike the first one which seemed to have so many character purely to have them killed off. This film strips away the first film’s simple, claustrophobic setting and becomes something a lot bigger. To many it may lose a bit of the simple charm that made the first one such a success, but to me it became a crime epic. Almost like an Indonesian version of a Scorsese film.

The action in The Raid 2 is just phenomenal. The fight choreography is so well done, it’s like watching a dance. It’s mesmerising and you can really see the hundreds of hours that went into planning it, and they were all worth it. The action scenes are fantastic, be it a gunfight in a warehouse, a car chase on a busy highway or a prolonged fistfight, each fight is even more imaginative than the last. The action scenes are perfectly paced as well. They stay around for the perfect amount of time and don’t outstay their welcome. They’re also so varied that each one feels like its own set-piece. They are placed throughout the movie well too, never allowing the pace to slow or the audience to get bored.

The directing is also superb. Action films live or die depending on the directing. If the audience can’t tell what’s going on then it’s a pretty crappy action film. That’s not a problem here. Welshman Gareth Evans directs each fight so well, you don’t get lost for a second. No matter how long the fight, you watch with your eyes open the entire time. It’s just such a sight.

The villains of this movie are worth mentioning. The two I’m thinking of are Baseball Bat Guy and Hammer Girl. These two are two classic villains, each with their own “thing”. You can probably guess what they are. The former kills people with a bat and baseball and the latter, well she has to be seen to be believed. They seem to be straight out of a classic action movie, and they are a lot of fun to watch.

The Raid 2 lives up to the hype set by its predecessor and surpasses it. It’s violent, it’s epic and it is astoundingly entertaining. It may be a tad overlong for some people (with a runtime of two and half hours), but fans of the genre will be more than happy. If you liked the first, you will defiantly like this one. And if you have not seen it go find both of them and watch them right now!

The Raid 2 gets the full five stars. I wish I could give it more. It’s an intense, often beautiful rollercoaster ride through the underworld of Jakarta. A must watch for action fans, but also recommended for everyone else.


Jack Bumby

The Raid 2 at CeX

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Oppo N1

Although the Oppo brand is relatively unknown I certainly tip my hat to them. In my opinion the Oppo Find 7, is one of the best smartphones on the market hands down and the OnePlus One, made in conjunction with the CyanogenMod team, also stands it’s ground in a saturated market. Both are also criminally underrated and unknown. Not only have they earned my respect but they deserve worldwide recognition for their push of fantastic hardware at impressive prices.

One of their most recent offerings, the Oppo N1, was unveiled in October 2013 but despite being on the market for close to a year it’s almost impossible to find. I think when Oppo designed the N1 they didn't really spend any time designating their core audience or thinking about who would use it and for what purpose. Regardless, this is a big and simple mid-range smartphone, packed with a surprising level of value, close in size to the Note 3 and Spen, and definitely not for those with small hands.

It packs an attention grabbing camera, design, and some pretty respectable specs and I was excited to use it… until I finally got my hands on it.

The Oppo N1 comes packed with a modified version of the Android operating system; ColorOS. It’s not fluid, looks like the Touchwiz (Samsung’s proprietary UI) and seems to predominantly excel in making your device slooooooooooow. Gestures don’t always register correct and, to add insult to injury, it doesn’t even look good, with many of the icons looking like they’ve been drawn by a 10 year-old. Sure you can change the skin, by it should be an option, not a necessity to stop you from clawing your eyes out.

As mentioned above the phone itself is huge with a 5.9” screen, matching or even slightly bigger (approx. 0.2 inches) than those seen on the LG G2 or G3 and, for some reason, very large areas around the screen. It is, without a doubt, the biggest smartphone I’ve ever seen, even bigger than the G Flex but with a smaller screen. Despite a decent size the quality is poor, even at a resolution of 1080x1920 the 373 ppi leaves the screen noticeably lacking in quality and lacking any eye catching colours.

Beneath the screen the Oppo N1 sports the Snapdragon 600 chipset, a Quad-core 1.7GHz 300 Krait processor and a very middle-of-the-road 2GB of RAM. Specs that are certainly nothing to write home about, and as software (games, apps, etc) becomes more complex, only promises to become slower and slower than some of it’s rivals. I even experienced slow down, crashes and bugs just using ColorOS, sometimes having to wait between 3 and 5 seconds to unlock the phone from standby.

The only place the Oppo N1 shines is the camera. With a formidable 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, and dual-LED flash, it can even contend with it’s better known rivals. Even the bemoaned ColorOS uses the camera in interesting ways that other smartphones don’t such as long exposure shots, which filters the light to a maximum of 8 seconds and shoots. Combined with a tripod and this feature can lead to some really interesting and artsy shots, if that’s your kind of thing, and excels in lowlight and nighttime conditions. As well as these features the Oppo N1 camera swivels, meaning it acts as both the back facing and front facing camera, meaning you can get 13MP shots for all your selfies as well, currently something not offered by any other smartphone… yay.

Technical Specifications:
  • Size: 82.6 x 170.7 mm x 9 
  • Display: IPS LCD, 16 million colours 
  • Memory: 16/32 GB RAM 
  • Operating System: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) 
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 
  • CPU: Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300 
  • GPU: Quad-core Adreno 320 
  • Camera: 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels 

All in all, the Oppo N1 is not great. If you want a big phone with a big screen, mid-range specs, an impressive camera but only just an acceptable level of quality, then this is good for you. Otherwise I’d say you can get far better smartphones out there.

Filipe Alves

Oppo N1 at CeX

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Donate to DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal with CeX

CeX are adding DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal to our list of supported charities as of today (Monday 18th August). This means customers will now have the chance to donate part or all of the trade in value of their items to DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal to help alleviate the suffering and save the lives of those affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has caused the humanitarian situation there to reach crisis point. As with our other supported charities CeX will add 10% of the total amount if you donate the entire value of your trade in.

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The Double

Just released on Blu-ray and DVD is the pitch black comedy film ‘The Double’. Based on the book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, produced by Alcove Entertainment and directed by Richard Ayoade (Dean Learner, Moss from the IT Crowd) It’s about a man named Simon James, played by Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network, Zombieland) who, after a bit of a difficult life so far, finds everything is being taken from him by a doppelgänger.

Simon is introduced to us via a plot defining moment of schadenfreude, when he is gets off a train and manages to get his briefcase caught in the door. As he tries to wrench it free the handle breaks off entirely and satisfyingly to someone who gets pleasure from other peoples misfortune, leaving Simon to sign himself in to work without his ID badge, which was in his briefcase. He is an unassuming man with a lot of fabulous ideas on how the business could be improved, but instead of listening his boss assigns him the role of tutoring his daughter Melanie, played by Yasmin Paige. Now everyone talks to Simon in a very pleasant way, not disarmingly pleasant like a good con man, nor terrifyingly pleasant like a Nazi officer who is going to check your basement. They treat Simon with the kind of pleasantness you would treat an ageing relative with if you were about to put them into an old folks home because you were starting to think that they were a bit in the way. Simon’s inability to socially integrate himself means he basically spies on his neighbour Hannah (Mia Wasikowska) that he has a thing for.

Enter James. He is a man who looks exactly like Simon but is living his life entirely better than he is, proving that confidence and success has a lot more to do with your non-verbal communication than with your verbal. After some time together, during which James uses Simon to further his own career and also has sex with every woman he meets, Simon starts to have a bit of a nervous breakdown. So that’s the essence of the energy and pulse of the film.

The real draw of this film, that makes it one of the best I’ve seen in a while, is the surreal but brilliant choice in direction and cinematography. You aren’t sure if what you’re seeing is happening chronologically, whether it’s ‘actually’ happening or whether it’s a dream. You don’t trust anything that’s going on and it really makes you pay attention. It deserves a second viewing much akin to other films like Donnie Darko, The Matrix and Fight Club, which left you questioning everything you just and scraping your brain off the ground to thumb it back in your earhole. Though it’s mental, surreal and very stylistic so it may not be for all, I truly enjoyed this film.

It gets a 4/5.


Dave Roberts

The Double at CeX

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