Saturday 31 January 2015

Maleficent - 2nd Look

As I am such a huge fan of Angelina Jolie; almost to the point of adopting a bevvy of multi-ethnic children and dragging around a Brad Pitt waxwork to any UN Summits that happen to be occurring in my local vicinity, I jumped at the chance to review Disney's Maleficent. Yes, I know it came out in 2013, and that's so two years ago, but please stop throwing wormy radishes and let me tell you why it still deserves attention.

Directed by Robert Stromberg and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Maleficent. Stromberg also worked on the likes of Avatar and Oz the Great and Powerful, with Jolie on board as an executive producer [you may have heard of her; she was in Hackers, a film that is so unapologetically 90's it should be sporting jelly shoes and a neon Baby-G wristwatch, Girl, Interrupted and my favourite film of all time, Tomb Raider. What do you mean you didn't think Tomb Raider was the best film ever produced? That's it, you can't play in my tree house any more.] Following the popular trend in recent years of showing the other side of the story, here we have the classic Sleeping Beauty tale turned on it's head and its magical fairytale wings very literally ripped out of it.

A positively Dionysian feast for the senses, the visuals will entrance younger audiences from the moment the castle of the iconic Disney opening sequence melts into this fantastical fairytale realm. We are introduced to a tweenage Maleficent, whose genuine lust for everything innocent and positive in life makes it immediately apparent that she's never had the misfortune of reading the comment section under a Youtube video. Girl meets boy, Stefan. Girl patronises boy. Boy judges girl on societal norms [humans and fairy-folk don't mix]. Girl smiles sweetly. Boy abandons all previous morals in hopes of dating girl, including throwing away his iron ring [iron burns fairies. Like physically, not in the "girl, those shoes with that dress, nuh-uh!" kind of burn.] They date. Everything's just peachy.

Fast forward a few years, we are shown that human kind is innately greedy, always searching for promotion, gains, more, more, more. Stefan has dutifully cast Maleficent aside in hopes of moving up through the gentry, and the King has decided he wants the Moors, where the magic people live, so there's this epic battle starring some tree-warrior type creatures, [the kind that would be invited to the same family picnic as Treebeard and Groot], a giant earthern serpent and Maleficent "I don't need no man" Goodfairy. You can't argue with the tech guys they had working on this film, this battle is epic, if somewhat short. Eventually Maleficent kicks the King's ass, he mopes back to his castle, and declares if anyone can kill Maleficent, he'll be the next king. And of course, Stefan hears this during his daily castle skulking so bounds off into the forest to slaughter his ex. Bad Stefan, shame on you.

But, like a guy who's had one too many Jack and cokes, when he gets Maleficent alone, he can't do it. Instead, he slices her wings off with some iron chains and takes them back to the castle to swap for a crown. The following scene, where Maleficent awakens to find her tawny wings missing, is harrowing. Not visually, so it won't cause distress to the young'uns, but more so to the older audience who will perceive the distress Maleficent faces when she realises that symbol of her freedom and whimsy has been stolen from her by the man she thought she loved. The final shriek of Jolie, the aural representation of her trust and naivety leaving her body will send chills down your spine. And from here begins our descent into the macabre [or as macabre as Disney can possibly go; which is a bit like putting black lipstick and a leather jacket on grandma Mildred; you know there's never any chance of true evil but you still get a bit of a shock when you glance up as she passes you an extra roast potato at Sunday dinner.]

Some of our favourite characters are here, including the sprightly "good fairies" from the original, but to suggest that the ill-aimed humour of these three would be appreciated by the children watching would be an insult to the intelligence of the younger generation, and is unfortunately an obvious example of Disney being "too Disney." Give the kids some credit. Perhaps I'm being a little too maleficent [hold for applause] but the juxtaposition of the seemingly slapstick fairies with the intelligent, witty quips of Maleficent herself jarred me slightly; however I will hold my Grumpy Cat Christmas jumper up and admit that I am a bitter individual and the jolly spirit could all have been lost on me.

A few years later when Stefan has a child, and foolishly decided not to invite Maleficent to the christening, heralds the introduction of Maleficent with her world renown horned silhouette, and begins the most hilarious sequence of the film, entirely down to Jolie's stellar ability to use intonation, timing, gesture and expression to set the writing on fire with a deliciously disdainful green flame. If you weren't already enamoured with Maleficent at this point, her treatment of the good fairies will win over your icy little heart.

When we meet Aurora [Sleepy B.] as a young adult, I thought the black empty space where my heart used to be would be repulsed by the sickly sweetness of this perfect individual, but Elle Fanning portrays her so effortlessly, so truly, so genuinely, that it is indeed impossible not to fall in love with her. Dammit. Towards the unavoidable pricking of Aurora's finger on the spindle, suspense is thrust upon the audience through the mesmerising combination of ghostly cadences and warped visuals, testament to the talents of cinematographer Dean Semler, and although you know that the inevitable is going to happen, a small voice is conjured in ones consciousness that screams, "there's still a chance Maleficent will save her!"

I'm not going to ramble on and spoil the ending, but there are some wonderful highlights, including a glorious battle scene that ends up as an expression of one woman's deep hatred of a man with too many iron accessories, a peculiar jaunt involving the token Prince Philip that thankfully only lasts all of 5 minutes, so we'll gloss over that and pretend it never happened, and a heart-breaking confession of love from Maleficent to Aurora that will have you catching a whimper in your throat.

While I won't go as far as to say that this film will be an instant classic; those that admire the mysterious majesty of the character of Maleficent, and appreciate a delightfully decadent piece of CGI cinematography with a sinister smirk; will relish the experience that is Disney's Maleficent.

Maleficent wakes up to a 4/5.


Dale Smith

Maleficent at CeX

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Friday 30 January 2015

Grand Theft Auto V PS4/XB1 - 2nd Look

Having looked forward to GTA V on the PS3 way back when for months, and playing it for months after that, I was actually pleased (and unsurprised) that it was being re-released on to Next-Gen. The game with seven world records certainly deserved the remastered treatment, and personally it’s worth every penny.  GTA V is absolutely incredible. 

Developed by Rockstar North and out now for Playstation 4 and Xbox One, GTA V is an action-adventure game, with players controlling three characters throughout the story mode, each with different linear scenarios and set objectives. The story mode is packed with entertaining characters and missions, and with the three story lines of Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips, and Franklin Clinton meshing together throughout the story mode, it keeps the player hooked with the interchanging style of missions. 

With the graphical enhancements and the constant 30fps making the game a lot smoother than I remember, it’s been a lot more enjoyable playing through the story again. The visual difference between the current and last-gen is noticeable, and makes the whole experience a lot smoother and easier on the eye. The draw distance is incredible as well – it’s great playing a GTA without seeing buildings load up just ahead of you. However, it isn’t all about the visuals when it comes to games, but even the gameplay feels better in the newer version. Los Santos also feels a lot more populated than it did on the last-gen version, as there’s way more traffic on the roads and more people walking around the streets. When walking through the streets, you can hear the odd sentence from random people’s conversations, and it makes Los Santos feel more alive than other cities included in games.

One feature that the majority of people have been looking forward to is the “First Person Mode” in GTA V. I’ll admit; I still prefer the third person view as I sometimes feel that the first person mode is quite clunky at times, and I prefer seeing what’s behind me. However, driving in first person mode is a lot of fun and personally easier, as weaving through traffic is a lot easier. 

There are also numerous other additions to the game – although they aren’t realistically the biggest of additions. In offline mode, you can consume (if you can find it) Peyote, a small cactus. Michael, Franklin, and Trevor can consume these and take on the form of an animal until said animal ends up dying/you decide you’ve had enough of roaming the streets as a pig. I must admit, I had no idea it was added until I was driving up to the top of Mt. Chiliad, and the prompt to eat one popped up. Five minutes later I’m flying around as a Seagull shitting on people. It is a small yet fun addition to say the least. If you’re still debating leaping to the newer version because you’ve sunk so many hours into the 360/PS3 version like I did, Rockstar has your back. You can transfer your character over, even if you’re switching sides and going from 360 to PS4! Other additions include new cars, weapons, updated radio playlists, and numerous updates to the multiplayer.

The multiplayer has probably received the most additions and tweaks in the newer version. You can now free-roam in a 30 player lobby opposed to a lobby capped at 16, as now there’s even more people trying to sticky bomb your personal vehicle or run you over when you spawn in. One of the more popular modes in the online was the racing, and custom races can now be double the size with an increased amount of items at your disposal. Not to mention Heists are finally around the corner, having been delayed since the first release of GTA V way back in September 2013. Getting in a team with your friends to rake in the money will probably overtake the fun in racing 24/7!

Overall, the enhanced visuals look fantastic, but the most impressive thing is how every small addition makes Los Santos a more immersive open world than it was on last-gen. The story mode is brilliant and keeps the player interested with the three different story lines all intertwining at some point. The online is still amazing, and the highly anticipated (and delayed) heists will be added in the coming weeks! The only thing I could say is that there isn’t a huge deal of new content, but if you’ve never played it before/loved playing it, personally it’s still worth every penny. GTA V was already a masterpiece, but the newer version is even better and I can’t recommend it enough.

is absolutely perfect and receives a 5/5.


Sam Terry

Grand Theft Auto V at CeX

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Thursday 29 January 2015

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell

Over the years the Saints Row series has had a bit of an identity crisis. Originally released on the Xbox 360 back in 2006, the original Saints Row was essentially a Grand Theft Auto clone, and not a great one at that. Saints Row 2 followed the same formula, but Saints Row: The Third took a new perspective on the series. For The Third developer Volition decided to turn down the “gangsta” feel to the series and ramp up the weirdness, thereby setting it apart from Grand Theft Auto. It worked and The Third was an equally refreshingly bizarre and batshit insane take on the series. Saints Row IV pushed all of that even further, and though I certainly thought that entry wasn't nearly as good as some might say, it was a fun game that spun a great sci-fi story. But since The Third I've felt that some of the wackier aspects of the series have started to muddy the water in terms of gameplay. For instance, while in the virtual world in Siants Row IV I found that using various superhuman powers- abilities you get early into the game- almost entirely negated the use of cars. So as this next game in the series pushes the crazy envelope even further than Saints Row IV did, the question is- does it go too far?

Developed by Volition and out now on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC comes Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, a game that is an improvement on Saints Row IV, kicks up the weirdness a few notches but also manages to make it all fit in with the game. Technically a standalone expansion of Saints Row IV, Gat out of Hell places you in the shoes of series favourite Johnny Gat, a dude whose previous wise words of wisdom include “You can never have too many guns” and “Let's kill some shit!”. From being featured in the first three games, being killed in The Third and subsequently coming back from the grave in Saints Row IV, the character this time finds himself in Hell, naturally. Sometime after the events of Saints Row IV “The Boss” and his/her crew use a ouija board which opens up a portal to hell. The Boss is pulled in and forced to marry Jezebel, Satan's daughter. However, before the unholy union can happen Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington also venture into hell in order to rescue the leader of the Saints. Featuring a bizarre cast of characters that even includes William Shakespeare and Blackbeard, Gat out of Hell turns the WTF up to 11.

The game takes place in Hell. However, this isn't some barren wasteland of despair and pain, as instead it's called New Hades; a bustling lava surrounded city that comprises of 6 open-world districts. Beyond the unique setting gameplay remains, well, kind of the same. The big difference however comes in the form of missions, because in Gat out of Hell there isn't any. Instead of a typical mission structure your goal in the game is to fill your “Satan's Wrath” meter, in order to draw the devil himself into a one-on-one fight. You fill your Satan's Wrath meter by completing certain objectives and activities around the city, such as causing as much damage to the city as possible, flying through markers, catching falling souls as they descend into oblivion and, of course, doing stunt jumps in various vehicles. Do enough of these and Satan sets his sights on you. It's a pretty short game as I completed the entire thing within 10 hours. The lack of real missions here is disappointing as much of the appeal, humour and charm of the series came through during some of the more fantastical missions it had on offer and the cut-scenes that accompanied them. There are still cut-scenes that propel the story forward, but it just isn't the same.

So without missions to bring structure to the game, the open-world of New Hades and the antics you get up to in it are the key to enjoying Gat out of Hell. Much like Saints Row IV, your character is able to unlock and perform various superhuman abilities. But on top of ones that already appeared in Saints Row IV, the big addition to the mix in Gat out of Hell is the ability to fly. Though you could merely glide in Saints Row IV, Gat out of Hell lets you grow wings and take off into the sky. It adds a great sense of freshness to the formula, and you'll often find yourself using this ability as your main way of getting around New Hades. As expected weapons are just as crazy, with frog launchers, a gun that blasts locusts at foes and an armchair armed with two Gatling guns being some of the better ones in your arsenal. Needless to say, through the varied and diverse abilities, weapons and bad guys on offer here, Gat out of Hell is much more batshit insane than Saints Row IV was... but it works.

Though I've never been a huge fan of the games, Gat out of Hell brings the series to new and interesting territory. However, much like Saints Row IV it does ultimately push the series beyond the point of no return in the weirdness department. The days of playing Saints Row and primarily using cars as your means of transport is gone I guess, as with Gat out of Hell the series has morphed into something new entirely. It's not a bad thing really, but I would have loved to see the series stay a bit more grounded, as once you can grow wings, fly up into the air armed with a frog launcher and fight winged demons, well, it's kind of hard to be impressed by anything that isn't that over-the-top.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell isn't perfect, but it's still a hell of a ride and gets 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell at CeX

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Wednesday 28 January 2015

The Guest

Directed by Adam Wingard and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes The Guest, the latest film from the brilliant minds behind one of 2011 best films; You’re Next. And like You're Next, The Guest is both brilliantly made and cleverly subversive.

The film follows a soldier, named David, who has just released from the Army. He’s played by Dan Stevens who, before this, had only really been known for Downtown Abbey, but he shows how talented he is here, and even manages a damn good Southern American accent. David goes to the house of the Peterson family where he claims to be a friend of the family's recently deceased son, having fought alongside him. David works his way into the family doing jobs for them, and eventually everybody likes him. He beats up the ridiculous movie bullies tormenting the other son, Luke, helps out the daughter Anna and shows her he can smoke pot and drink with the best of them, and everyone starts to think he's just a pretty cool guy. But strange things start happening and suddenly things turn out to not be as simple as they first appeared. Like with You're Next, saying anything else but the basic plot would be spoiling it but there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns along the way. As well as the brilliant plot another strong point the film has is the awesome 80's-esque synth soundtrack, and just like You're Next  you'll find yourself listening to it long after you've watched the film. 

As well as Dan Stevens, who as previously mentioned is totally awesome as David, the other performances are pretty solid too. Another standout performance, especially to fans of The Wire like myself, is Lance Reddick as David's superior officer in the Army; Major Carver. Reddick is suitably bad ass in the role and brings a touch a the familiar to a film is mostly full of up and coming actors. Speaking of which, relative newcomer Maika Monroe, who plays Anna Peterson, also gives a great performance, which is especially difficult as she is the one who has to unwrap the mystery that is David, and if we didn't like her then we might not care about the mystery at the heart of the film. But luckily she's great, and the film doesn't really have a weak link which is helped by the fact that the younger characters are well written and realistic, when they could have been annoying.

The absolute best part of the film though is the action sequences. Anyone who has seen Adam Wingards previous films knows how creative he can be and these scenes in The Guest are no different. The shoot-out at the house is particular highlight, and Wingard directs with such kinetic energy that it makes it impossible to not be swept up into it. You'll find yourself oooh-ing and ahh-ing every time someone's gets shot or blown up; it's awesome. Although some of these scenes featured in the trailers for the film saying too much might be a spoiler, but the film is worth seeing for the climax alone. The tonal shifts in the film might annoy some people but I personally found them original and innovative, and I look forward to what director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett do next.

The Guest is one of the most enjoyable films I've witnessed in a long time. It's clear the film-makers enjoy films and aren't bothered with making high art, they just want to have fun. The films shifts from different genres and frequent twists and turns might annoy some people but those aren't the sort of people this film was made for. If you like surprises, awesome action and watching films that are just pure fun, then The Guest is for you.

The Guest makes itself at home and gets 5/5.


Tom Bumby

The Guest at CeX

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Tuesday 27 January 2015

Rabbids Invasion

Like some druggie down a dingy back alley, Ubisoft have been trying to push the Rabbids on us for quite some time now. These little critters first graced our screens back in 2006 in the Rayman spin-off, Rayman Raving Rabbids. But since 2006 the Rabbids have become their very own franchise, spawning a number of games, toys and, most recently, their own TV series. I really don't know how the franchise hasn't just ran out of steam by now, but I don't have kids and I haven't been, like, 4 in quite some time, so I guess I just don't fully understand it. But as if we wanted more from the franchise, the latest Rabbids game has just landed. However, though I haven't seen the TV series myself, fans of the show may feel like they're running over old ground here, as Rabbids Invasion doesn't just borrow ideas from the series, but rather entire episodes.

Developed by Ubisoft Barcelona and out now on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Playstation 4 comes Rabbids Invasion, the videogame equivalent to the kind of person who describes themselves as “random”. You know the type; annoying, loud hipsters who drink out of jam jars and consider a quick blast of Lynx a shower. Then again I may just be getting old and cranky, as Rabbids Invasion is aimed solely at young kids, not disgruntled gamers pushing 30 who remember the sound of dial-up. Anyway, there's no real plot here, but rather just a collection of episodes to play through in which the Rabbids act silly and do funny things. Essentially the game is broken up into two main parts- minimally interactive cut-scenes and slightly interactive gameplay. 

As you might expect, Rabbids Invasion makes use of the Xbox's Kinect and the Playstation's Camera. Without one of these you can't play the game, as all of the content Rabbids Invasion offers is purely based on these peripherals. There are 20 episodes to play through. This basically means that Ubisoft Barcelona took 20 episodes of the TV series, chopped them up and chucked them into the game as cut-scenes. I must say, these cut-scenes looks fantastic and are nicely rendered. From the huggable look of each Rabbid to their goofy expressions, these visuals look superb and will surely gain the attention of any young gamer in the room. Gameplay during these segments is incredibly linear, and purely focuses on you (through the magic of Kinect or the Playstation Camera) matching up your expression on screen with various Rabbids at certain times. From sticking your tongue out, looking like your trying to eat your own shoulder to grinning like a twonk, you'll look completely silly while playing this game.

However the real meat of the game comes into play during the many mini-games the cut-scenes break up. These activities make decent use of your consoles peripheral, and while they mainly focuses on you moving around on camera, some also incoporrates your voice at times. From moving your Rabbid back and forth in order to catch falling plates, doing pull ups, lauching Rabbids and controlling them in mid-air and even talking part in compeitive speed drawing, there are loads of mini-games to play around with here. Some work well, while other come across as pretty shoddy. The only major downside here is that as this gameplay isn't directly lifted off the TV series, the difference in graphics between the interactive cut-scenes and gameplay is shocking. One second your watching highly detailed Rabbids roll around your TV screen, the next you're watching a sub-par looking game.

Overall my 29 year old self won't play Rabbids Invasion ever again. However, all joking aside if you have kids who enjoy the TV series, here's a game they'll not only enjoy but it's also one that you can play with them. It's simple, easy and with the right gamers playing it, worth your time. Don't bother picking it up if you don't have kids though.

Rabbids Invasion is one for the family and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Rabbids Invasion at CeX

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Monday 26 January 2015

WWE 2K15

One of my best memories when it comes to wrestling is watching Wrestlemania 6 in 1990. The main event was Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior, a match that has gone down in wrestling history. It was incredible, and throughout the real match on TV my four brothers and I had our very own match of Royal Rumble on our couch. The rules were of course adapted for a typical Irish living room, with the last one left on the couch by the end of the Hogan vs Warrior match the winner. I didn't win. In fact, I was actually hurled off the side of the couch, knocked over two cups of tea and a packet of Hobnobs, and pretty much fell flat on my face. Despite the fact that it hurt a lot, I got right up hoping I wouldn't miss any of the non-Murphy family wrestling action. It didn't disappoint either as Warrior kicked Hogans ass up and down the SkyDome. However, from there my love for wrestling dwindled, and though the Attitude Era was absolutely fantastic, I didn't bother tuning in beyond that. Still though, I did enjoy the WWF wrestling games that Yuke's were churning out from the late 90's onwards, but with Yuke's essentially peddling a business model in which they release a sequel ever year, is this latest entry into the series worth your time? If you have WWE 2K14, then no. If you don't have WWE 2K14, then still probably not.

Developed by Yuke's and out now on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 comes WWE 2K15, the latest WWE game that, instead of an update on last years release, is more like a downgrade. WWE 2K15 sets a milestone for the series, as this is the first entry in the franchise to make it onto the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. However, beyond some slight- and I mean slight- visual nods to this being developed with new tech in mind, you'd be forgiven in thinking that WWE 2K15 is a game for early last-gen. 

In a surprising move by Yuke's, certain modes differ depending on which generation of console you're buying the game for. There are two main modes to choose from on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions. 2K Showcase mode is essentially a mode in which you can take part in historical matches. However, with the vast array of feuds to choose from, this mode is only punctuated by two interesting rivalries- Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. CM Punk. This mode tries to offer the player a more in-depth look into these classic past rivalries, and it does a decent job at replicating some of the WWE's better moments. Then there's MyCareer which, as you might assume, lets you create your very own wrestler in the attempt to climb the ranks to become world champion. Though this mode starts quite strong, it quickly falls into the trap that has been a major problem with the series- repetitive and soulless matches. Granted the game does try and inject feuds, friendships and rivalries into the mix on the fly, but it never really takes off and after a few hours into MyCareer, you'll find yourself taking part in matches you literally don't even care about. Neither of these modes bring the series into any new territory, but that's something I've come to accept from a franchise that is being milked beyond recognition. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions of the game have 2K Showcase mode, but instead of MyCareer mode these versions have Who Got NXT mode, which basically focuses on five up and coming stars from WWE NXT, the WWE show that is the replacement for ECW.

Gameplay within the ring remains near identical and personally that's not a good thing. For far too long has this series got by with clunky, shoddy and unresponsive controls, and the trend continues here. But if you can get past the fact that moving your character feels like playing Jenga wearing oven gloves, there's enough badass moves, awesome finishers and crude weapons here to have a bit of fun with. Instead of just hammering on your opponent, you'll also need to keep an eye on both your health and stamina bars, both of which are vital to maintain. The downside is that 2K15 has removed a few features previously present in the series, namely Create-A-Special Move, Story Designer, Create-An-Arena and Custom MP3 tracks for entrance music. There's no reason or excuse for this, meaning that with the tiny improvements it might have over 2K14, 2K15 is a downgrade for the series, plain and simple.

It's sad when after playing WWE 2K15, a game that was released in late 2014 on hardware that is incredibly powerful, that I still deem Yuke's Smackdown series much better in every way. That series was on both the Playstation and Playstation 2, and above all else featured a career mode that was incredible versatile, fun and story-driven. Well, I guess it's time to dust off my old Playstation 2.

WWE 2K15 gets the Smackdown and receives 2/5.


Denis Murphy

WWE 2K15 at CeX

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Sunday 25 January 2015

Escape Dead Island

Back in February 2011 the first trailer to Dead Island was released, the first-person open-world zombie horror game by developer Techland.  The trailer was completely CGI and featured a zombie attack on a family that was shown entirely in reverse. Played alongside the beautiful music of Giles Lamb the internet had a shit fit about how good it was. Countless websites were wetting themselves by how “moving” it was. Psssht, my first thought when watching it was, “They must really not wanna show real gameplay!”. Whenever I see a CGI trailer alarm bells start to ring. So after picking up Dead Island back in mid-2012 (in CeX, of course) I wasn't completely surprised to find it wasn't “moving” like the original trailer. In fact it was shit, like, really shit. From it's awful graphics, terrible combat mechanics and PS1-era enemy A.I, Dead Island pulled the wool over the eyes of many critics before release. I can't blame them really, as I think until its release gamers were starved for zombie games. Now- thanks to The Walking Dead- they're a dime a dozen. So with Dead Island being such a failure I wasn't too thrilled to dive into a new spin-off from the series. Escape Dead Island is like Dead Island in many ways, just much worse in every way imaginable.

Developed by Fatshark and out now on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC comes Escape Dead Island,  the worst game released in 2014. The first big mistake made by Fatshark is the protagonist they make you play as. Looking like he's off the set of Jersey Shore complete with a shitty tattoo, popped collar and ridiculous looking muscles, you play the role of Cliff Calo. He's a spoiled brat and a complete arsehole, you know, everything you want in a character you'll be stuck with for 7 hours or so! In a bid to start up his very own media outlet, Cliff and his two friends venture to the elusive island of Banoi, which is the location where the original Dead Island is set. After coming across a mass grave of corpses that begin to come back to life, Cliff and his friends must... wait for it... Escape Dead Island! Come on, I had to.

Escape Dead Island differs from Dead Island is three big ways- it's world, player perspective and crafting. First off, it's no longer open-world. Yes, instead of offering the player a massive Far Cry 4-like world to get lost in, Fatshark have gone down the route of large-ish connected areas. It's kind of like the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter of butter- it's trying to be butter, but it just isn't. Then there's the player perspective which compared to previous entries, is now firmly locked into third-person mode. There's no real reason given for this change, but whatever Fatshark were trying to achieve with it, it failed. Finally there's crafting, a mechanic in Dead Island that let you pretty much cobble together your own weapons from random bits and pieces. Fatshark have completely removed it from Escape Dead Island- it's gone. Why? Who the hell knows.

Gameplay essentially boils down to two elements- stealth and, well, not stealth. You'll spend most of your time running around beating and shooting zombies to death. From two melee attacks to utilise and an extremely shallow list of weapons to choose from, combat is tired, dull and just plain boring. However, playing the game with stealth in mind doesn't bode any better either, with it just coming across as clumsy and broken. For instance, in order to perform a stealth take-down you need to be directly behind your target, like, perfectly right behind his back. This leads to most of your take-downs just failing as you scramble to find that sweet spot. Between trying to kill zombies silently and shooting them in their faces with crappy weapons, there's not much else to do in Escape Dead Island other than picking up a few collectibles.

Much like the gameplay Escape Dead Island utterly fails visually. It looks like an up-scaled PSP game due to a terrible and lazy use of cel shading, ugly character models, laughable blood effects, murky textures and animations that just looked half finished. It's an ugly, ugly game. Ultimately the game can be finished through button bashing, occasionally looking at the screen and following the the many corridor-like levels to their ends. It's lazy game development 101, and just another reason why I despise the series as a whole.

Escape Dead Island gets eaten alive by zombies and gets a 1/5.


Denis Murphy

Escape Dead Island at CeX

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Saturday 24 January 2015


Funnily enough, DriveClub and Watch Dogs were the PS4 bundles that I pre-ordered for release. Unfortunately, both of those games were delayed, with DriveClub being delayed for nearly a year. In that gap, the game to fuel petrol heads was never released, with the only credible racer on PS4 being MotoGP 14, and it really left me wanting more. Would DriveClub be enough to cross my need for a good racer over the finish line?  

Developed by Evolution Studios and out now on Playstation 4 comes DriveClub, a driving simulator with pretty big expectations, as the developers have said: “We are committed to giving you the best racing experience”. There are three modes available in the game: Tour, Single Event, and Multiplayer. The Tour is essentially the “campaign” in DriveClub with 52 events to enter and win, 225 challenges to complete, as well as 59 cars available to drive and unlock. You can unlock certain cars increasing your “Club” level. A “club” is basically a clan where you and your friends earned experience contributes towards the level of it. 

Like every racing game, it takes a while to adapt to the handling of the cars, and the handling in Driveclub was very frustrating at first. However, it’s rather realistic when you get used to it. It isn’t the type of racer where you can go 120mph around a corner, as you’ll either spin out or it’ll be touching impossible to steer your car around a corner. Personally, the handling is spot on and fellow petrol heads will definitely feel the realism, especially if you love racers like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. Another great feature is that it encourages you to race cleanly. If you cut a corner/crash into another car with too much force, you’ll receive a corner/collision penalty, which will lock your car at a certain speed for a few seconds. Although it’ll improve the way you race drastically, it’ll definitely increase short-term raging.

Now, with racing games in the past I always find that they can become really boring once I’m better at the game, as I’ll finish miles ahead of the AI racers. That isn’t the case in DriveClub, and it’s one of the best things about the game. The AI is ruthless. They’re always a second or so behind you so one mistake can cost you the race, as I’ve experienced a few times. Also, the AI will not hesitate in trying to spin you out, which makes a massive difference from myself sideswiping and spinning out those in front of me. There was a point in a race where second place clipped my bank end on the last corner, and I went from 1st to 9th in the space of five seconds. That’s how close the races can be, and they’re pretty tense from start to finish.

The visuals in DriveClub are stunning, and it makes driving feel like an absolute pleasure. The game’s tracks and environments are inspired by real places in diverse regions across the globe, and some races include a dynamic day-night cycle, as well as weather features such as rain and snow. Although these are decent features, the day & night cycle baffled me a few times, as there’s circuits which last a total of three minutes and it goes from pitch black darkness to sunrise. Visually, it looks amazing but logically? It loses me on that decision. You can also customise your cars to an extent, by placing a vinyl on your car and picking the colours you like, which mixes it up opposed to driving stock cars around on.

There are only two things I’d like to improve about DriveClub, and one is a pretty serious one – the multiplayer. Currently, I’ve only managed to get three races online before disconnecting, and I can’t remember a game where the servers have been this bad. It’s been a total let down on the multiplayer front personally, and during races you’ll constantly disconnect to the DriveClub server as it informs you numerous times in the middle of your screen. However, the three races I did have were your typical online races; people trying to cause as many collisions as they can on the first corner, and whoever makes it out without getting rammed into a wall tends to go onto win the race. I really hope this is something they can sort out, as it will obviously make the game a lot stronger than it currently is.

The atmosphere isn’t all that great, and although it’s hard to notice fans when you’re doing 180mph down a bank in India, when you crash you still notice them. I tested the fans out to see if they actually react in any way at all, and unfortunately they don’t, but at least they’re fully supportive. I sat and the starting line of a circuit facing the wrong way, and even when I was lapped, fans were still applauding my efforts. A minor problem, but a great atmosphere definitely helps the player avoid boredom within the game, and I did get that a few times.

Overall, DriveClub is a solid racer with stunning visuals and fearless AI that make some events a challenge from start to finish. However, the multiplayer isn’t solid enough down to terrible servers, and the atmosphere can make it a pretty boring game at times.

DriveClub crosses the finish line and receives a solid 3/5.


Sam Terry

Driveclub at CeX

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Friday 23 January 2015

5 Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

No one is disputing that 2014 wasn't a great year for movies. Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, Foxcatcher and Gone Girl are just a tiny few of the movies that impressed throughout 2014. However, as good of a year it was for movies, 2015 looks like it already has it beat. Seriously, 2015 is going to rock.

5- Crimson Peak

The first Guillermo del Toro film I ever saw was The Devil's Backbone. It was on late one night on Channel 4 and after watching it I was hooked on his style. Set amid the Spanish Civil War, The Devil's Backbone follows a young boy who is placed into an orphanage after his father is killed in combat. While that would be a scary time for any kid to go through the boy soon becomes aware that the orphanage may be haunted by a number of spirits, with some being seemingly harmless while others, well, being far from harmless. Though he's done some great films since The Devil's Backbone, his next upcoming project seems to be in the same vein as his Spanish Civil War ghost story, and with the little details we know so far, it sounds awesome.

Though it's scheduled for much later in the year, Crimson Peak is del Toro's first Hollywood film that hasn't been made for sheer spectacle. While I enjoyed Hellboy, Blade 2 and Pacific Rim, this latest offering by the director is more in line with his earlier projects. Set in the 19th century, Crimson Peak focuses on an author who, along with her husband, stays in an old decrepit mansion in Cumbria. Not many story details are known so far, but the author's husband has a dark  and mysterious past, and this may end up merging with the ghostly problems that plague the house. Featuring incredible looking sets, a direction that seems to hint at very little use of CGI and a superb cast in place, Crimson Peak will scare cinemagoers on October 16th.

4- Tomorrowland

I've never been to Disneyland before, but if I were to go one day the first theme land I'd head for would be Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland puts its focus on visions and predictions of the future, but also offers visitors to try out a whole host of rides, with most of them being based upon well known Disney movies. But while Tomorrowland has been a staple of Disneyland since 1955, this upcoming movie apparently has no connection to it. While I do think there will be some kind of connection to Disney's long standing theme land, so far Tomorrowland looks like it can stand on its own two legs.

Much like Crimson Peak, plot details are extremely rare. All we know is that the movie will focus on a young girl called Casey who, alongside grizzled inventor Frank, travel to a mysterious place known as... you guessed it, Tomorrowland; a place in which as Frank puts it, “What if there was a place... a secret place... where nothing was impossible”. It's a tantalizing idea for a movie, and with films such as The Incredibles, The Iron Giant and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol under director Brad Bird's belt, everything is pointing to Tomorrowland being nothing short of magical. Tomorrowland releases May 22nd.

3- Jurassic World

Jurassic Park was my Star Wars, and in turn the T-Rex stepping out of its paddock was my Star Destroyer zooming over the heads of the audience after the text crawl. Granted I loved Star Wars when I was younger too, but seeing Jurassic Park in the cinema back in 1993 was a life changing moment. It was scary, exciting and, above all else, filled me with sheer wonder. I left the cinema obsessed with dinosaurs, what they eat, theories on how they died out, how many different types there were and how easy it was to become a palaeontologist with Laura Dern as my sidekick- it turns out it wasn't easy and it didn't happen, sadly. Still though, Jurassic Park remains one of my all time favourite films. Jurassic Park: The Lost World was a disappointment and Jurassic Park 3 was, well, shit. But while that would be enough to usually scare my away from getting my hopes up regarding another entry into a series, Jurassic World looks pretty great.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, who so far only directed Safety Not Guaranteed (which is great, by the way), Jurassic World is a sequel to the original Jurassic Park trilogy. Two decades after the disaster that was Jurassic Park, the park has been revitalised and re-branded as Jurassic World.  In a bid to prevent disaster, the park owners have put major restrictions on the dinosaurs across the island. However with the creation of a completely new dinosaur hybrid creature, disaster befalls the island once again. Don't worry though, as to combat a mutant dinosaur there's our two heroes- Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt and his pack of tame Raptors. Awesome! Jurassic World stomps into our cinemas on June 12th.

2- Mad Max: Fury Road

Growing up I was hooked on the Mad Max films. They had everything- car chases, Mel Gibson, badass evil dudes, Australian accents by the bucket load, car chases, explosions, car chases and, of course, car chases. In fact, Mad Max 2: Road Warrior, the best in the series, is essentially like one giant car chase. No green/blue screen, just old real cars crashing into real car with real stuntmen taking the hit. Though Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome did disappoint, the trilogy is visceral, physical and full of balls-to-the-wall awesome action scenes. However, since the mid-90's the fourth film in the series has been in development hell, that is, until now. This year will finally see the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, and though it doesn't star Mel Gibson and where it lies in the trilogy time-line in unknown, it's looking better than I ever expected it to be.

I never thought I'd see the day, but here we are. Starring Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, Fury Road follows Max as he tries to help Furiosa cross the desert back to her homeland. However, in classic Mad Max fashion the pair are being pursued by post-apocalyptic maniacs, led by the masked Immortan Joe. From watching the trailer it's clear that director George Miller is trying to recapture the feel of the original films. This results in little or no CGI, intense action, plenty on on-screen car wrecks and more explosions than you can count. I seriously can't wait for this. Mad Max: Fury Road releases on  May 15th.

1- Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This had to be number 1, right? It just had to. Being a Star Wars fan all of my life, I thought the series was dead after Revenge of the Sith. However, after George Lucas shocked the world by selling the franchise to Disney to the tune of $4.05billion, Disney were quick to announce that they not only plan on creating a new Star Wars trilogy, but also aim to release a whole slew of spin-off movies. We all know the prequels were terrible, so what's stopping this new trilogy from falling into that pitfall?

I always saw the prequel trilogy as a guidebook of “How NOT to make a Star Wars movie”, but beyond using them as a guide, with original trilogy names attached to this project such as Lawrence Kasdan, John Williams and of course Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, it looks like The Force Awakens, much like Fury Road and Jurassic World, is trying to replicate the quality of the originals. But while the story is completely unknown at this point, simply watching the trailer will get you excited for it. X-Wings, Lightsabers, dark Sith goings on and Han motherf*cking Solo. I'll be first in line. While I was sceptical at first, I think The Force Awakens is genuinely going to deliver. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released on December 18th. My body is ready.

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Thursday 22 January 2015

CeX opening in Poland!

We have great news, pull up a chair and join us for some vodka friends, CeX is about to open in Poland!

Something about this flag just screams "CeX" ;)

That’s right, we’ve brought our revolutionary recycling to Poland ;) This brings the red CeX buy, sell and exchange recycling machine to a total of 10 territories globally! But stayed tuned, this ball won't stop rolling and there's more coming in 2015 :D

Much love to the wonderful store build staff!

If you ever find yourself in Poland, make sure to check out our brand new shiny red CeX stores, you can find them here.

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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

I've mentioned a few times before that because I didn't have a SNES when growing up I didn't really get a chance to play some of the classics. From the likes of The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario and Metroid, I didn't play them until much later in my life. When I did I loved them, but it was somewhere into the early 2000's. When it comes to the Mario franchise, one of my favourites in recent years was 2013's Super Mario 3D World. Blending gameplay we've seen so far in both 3D and 2D Mario titles, Super Mario 3D World was an exceptional title that proved that the Wii U is, or at least should be, a contender. However, one of the more interesting aspects of Super Mario 3D World were The Adventures of Captain Toad stages; levels that focused on the character of Toad and presented gameplay rather differently compared to the main game. This latest Nintendo offering is a spin-off of Super Mario 3D World, and builds upon the foundations that The Adventures of Captain Toad laid down. However, with the Wii U failing miserably and Nintendo doing their best to give gamers what they want, is Captain Toad: Treasure Hunter worthwhile?

Developed by Nintendo and out now exclusively for the Wii U comes Captain Toad: Treasure Hunter, another great effort by Nintendo to drag gamers kicking and screaming towards buying a Wii U. As you can expect from a game that is a spin-off the a Mario game, the plot here isn't exactly War and Peace, though neither is it Dumber and Dumber. It's all fairly bog standard, and follows the adventures of Captain Toad and Toadette who, as you already assume by the name alone, is practically the female Toad. When trying to nab a Power Star, the evil bird Wingo swoops down and grabs Toadette. Naturally Captain Toad must go and rescue her, but as if it's almost making fun of the classic “damsel in distress” trope, over the course of the game Wingo steals both Captain Toad and Toadette at different times, leaving the remaining character to go and save them. But like with all of these games the story isn't important, but it's rather the gameplay that takes centre stage. Thankfully in the case of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, gameplay is pretty much up there with the best.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a 3D platformer with a twist. Due to the fact that this isn't a Mario game and, well, Toad and Toadette are just mushrooms, you can't jump in the game, and neither can you use power-ups to change your character. Now on the surface that sounds incredibly boring, but while it's true that your character can't exactly do much, the true genius of the game shines through in its many incredibly designed stages, all of which rely heavily on the Wii U Gamepads unique abilities. Each level pretty much fits into the confines of the screen, and are often presented as small cube-shaped locations. The goal in each level is simple- reach the Power Star. Power Stars are clearly visible once the level starts, but getting to them can range easy, tricky to just plain hard. While levels are indeed quite small, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker shows its genius when you rotate the camera. The same way Fez only makes sense once the camera is altered during gameplay, the same goes for this. From rotating the camera to find a secret passage to the Power Star, or tilting the camera up and down to make your way through a trap, it's all about perspective here. This innovation also extends to the Wii U's Gamepad touch-screen which, during certain levels, can be interacted with to move and slide certain platforms around to aid you. This idea of fiddling with the level and viewing it from any angle kind of has a very LEGO-like toy feeling to it. Each level is its own small interesting and fun world, and you essentially have it all right in your hands. Think of levels as being puzzles cubes, with each one offering a different challenge that is both relaxing and enjoyable but also demands you use your brain.

Visually Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is perfection. While it is pretty reminiscent of other recent Nintendo games, its small self contained levels are so packed full of content, so expertly designed and so charming that it's hard not to love. Levels are bright, vibrant and brim full of colours, characters and enemies are wonderfully created and it all makes for one of the best looking Nintendo games ever. However beyond the visual aesthetics, in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker each level has been designed with incredible care. As I said before, as each level is basically a small puzzle cube and the fact that your character can't do much beyond running and climbing, different levels propel the game off into new and interesting territory. Sure it robs small ideas from other titles, but at the end of the day Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is level design at its finest.

Though the game itself won't take you too long, there's enough collectibles here that will keep your attention for some time. They're all hidden rather well, as coming away from the game I missed a good few. At its heart Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is classic Nintendo. Focusing on good old fun and adventure, it's a game that will easily please Nintendo fanboys out there while also reminding the rest of us that, despite a few missteps from time to time, Nintendo are still ahead of the rest in many ways. The only downside is that there's no 3DS release. For a game that focuses on using the touch-screen and rotating levels, I think the 3DS would have been a better fit, but oh well.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker digs for gold and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker at CeX

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Wednesday 21 January 2015

The Rover

Australia has a good reputation in cinema, managing to frequently put out some really good films. From the Mad Max trilogy to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Australia has a pretty good track record. Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD, The Rover is, at the heart of it, a film about a man and his car. But Mad Max this isn't. Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in what feels like director David Michôd's Australian version of The Road. The Rover is pretty damn bleak, and things don't get better for the characters as the film progresses. People die, quickly and suddenly, and the characters aren't exactly nice people. But if you like that sort of thing then The Rover is excellent. 

The film follows a man called Eric, portrayed by Guy Pearce, who on just an average day in the apocalypse has his car stolen. He angrily tries to get it back, fails, and meets the injured brother of one of the car hijackers, Rey, played by Robert Pattinson. Eric doesn't reveal why it is the car is so important to him but he makes Rey take him to where his brother will be so he can get it back. Along the way the two go through some more hardship including evil army soldiers, a gun selling dwarf and gunfights a plenty. During the road trip the two men eventually stop hating other, meaning the inevitable fight with Rey's brother will be even more complicated. Saying more would ruin it and the film isn't exactly over flowing with plot as it is. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing as it lets you appreciate the performances. The underrated Guy Pearce is as great as ever, really giving heart to his character who, in lesser hands, may have come off as a dick. Instead, because of Pearce's fantastic performance, we understand the evil things he does even though we don't fully know why he's doing them. 

A more surprising performance is Pattinson as Rey. I hadn't really ever seen Pattinson in anything that great up until this point but here, he knocks it out of the park. His character is a little mentally challenge and if not handled correctly his performance could have been very cringe worthy. Instead, Pattinson breathes life into the character and allows us to feel for him, even as he too does some pretty evil things. The film doesn't always have all the answers and for a lot of viewers this could be a bit frustrating. We don't know everyone's motivation, nor do we know all the outcomes but this doesn't really matter. The film isn't as much concerned with what started this apocalypse as it is with showing us how people are dealing with it. Again, this sort of storytelling might be frustrating for some but I personally really like it. Michôd’s direction is also top notch and the film has some great cinematography too. The film really manages to communicate the bleakness and the isolation in this apocalypse and the natural landscape of Australia doesn’t hurt either.

The Rover might not be everyone’s cup of tea; for some people it may be too slow, or too bleak, or to opaque, and sometimes it is but I personally really enjoyed it. The Rover is a gritty and rewarding road movie with some really great performances especially by Robert Pattinson. Not every question has an answer but that’s alright, it’s just the world the film has created. Not for everyone, but I personally loved every minute of it and it’s an easy recommendation for fans of Pearce or Pattinson but for fans of intelligent films it’s a must watch.

The Rover gets a very good 4/5.


Tom Bumby

The Rover at CeX

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Tuesday 20 January 2015

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix

In the past few years I've been starting to realise that now, more than ever, how I'm getting older when stacked up to the release dates of games I've played in the past. The memory of playing Final Fantasy VII for the first time is still fresh in my mind, but when I begin to realise that it was released 17 years ago I want to vomit into my Sugar Puffs. 17 years. That's crazy. Granted I was still pretty young at the time, but by that point I was already at the tipping point between being a typical nice kid and a hormone filled spotty shut in. However, during those years where I was in the puberty trenches, one game helped me see it through- Kingdom Hearts. Originally released back in 2002, it was a fantastic game that spawn a whole bunch of sequels, prequels and spin-offs. So far they've all been pretty great, despite the story throughout the series being overblown, nonsensical and downright confusing. But while we may have to wait a bit longer to get our hands on Kingdom Hearts 3, a high definition release of Kingdom Hearts 2 have finally arrived. Aimed at both pleasing  gamers who played the original and gamers completely new to the series, this HD remaster is one of the best I've seen so far.

Developed by Square Enix and out now on Playstation 3 comes Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix; a game that offers a whole lot of great content on one little disc. The hook of the series is that it merges many Disney characters and worlds together, while also sprinkling in a few well known Final Fantasy characters for good measure, cause why not? From worlds based upon situations, characters and locations in Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tron and many more, Kingdom Hearts is a wonderfully bizarre, different and exciting concept. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix contains Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. Originally only released on Nintendo DS as Kingdom Hearts coded, Re:coded remasters the original games cut-scenes, and plays them out like a movie. Birth by Sleep Final Mix is a prequel to the original game, and contains new characters, worlds, scenarios and gameplay. Originally out on PSP back in 2010, Birth by Sleep Final Mix is almost as long as Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix, the main focus of this HD remaster (as well as the focus of this review). Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix is an updated version of Kingdom Hearts 2, and is the first game in the series to go bat shit insane with its plot. From Sora, Donald and Goofy in stasis at the start of the game, you taking control of an entirely new (and boring) character, the mysterious Organization XIII and enough references to “Nobodies”, “Heartless”, “Ansem” and “Diz” to put anyone to sleep, it's a good thing the gameplay itself is top notch.

Once again taking control of Sora and armed with his Keyblade, you'll spend the game venturing to various Disney themed worlds, interacting with both Final Fantasy and classic Disney characters alike, and taking part in various missions that will ultimately point you in the direction of Organization XIII. The worlds and the characters that inhabit them are wonderfully realised and beautiful rendered, with each one looking and feeling utterly unique. Both visually and narratively each Disney world feels like it was plucked right out of the movie it was based on. Winnie the Pooh's house is here in all its charm the Tron world is presented in all its neon-lit beauty while stepping into the world of  Pirates of the Caribbean essentially plays out like the film, instead with Sora's presence throwing the story a curve ball. It may not be a hardcore RPG like Square Enix's Final Fantasy series, but there's enough world building here to captivate almost anyone.

Combat comes in a mix of melee attacks, magic use and summoning powerful characters and creatures. Compared to the Final Fantasy series, Kingdom Hearts' combat plays out in real-time. From taking on hordes of enemies at once with your Keyblade, or building up a powerful thunder spell and unleashing it, or even calling on Genie from Aladdin to bash multiple enemies at once, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix has some of the most enjoyable, free form and fun combat outside of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Arkham City. It's easy enough to master, but over the course of the game it never gets old, feels tired or runs out of steam. This is in part both thanks to the diverse enemies you'll go up against, but also due to the fact that Sora has different “forms”. These forms essentially change Sora's play-style, how he uses his Keyblade and what type of attributes he'll focus on. To the Valor Form that allows Sora to wield dual Keyblades and focuses on physical strength to his Anti Form that transforms him into a shadowy Keyblade-less creature that excels at combos, there are enough forms here to suit any play-style and situation.

Overall Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix is perfect. Sure, the story is complete bullshit and at times you'll often find yourself cringing at the dialogue, but whenever a beloved Disney or Final Fantasy character turns up it'll no doubt bring a smile to your face. With its convoluted story overshadowed by its genuinely fantastic gameplay both in terms of combat and its RPG aspects, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix is a roaring success. It's the perfect package for fans and newcomers of the series alike.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix improves an already perfect game and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix at CeX

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Monday 19 January 2015

Left Behind

Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD, Left Behind is an adaptation of the super popular book series of the same name. It deals with the rapture and boy is it preachy. Left Behind got destroyed by critics on its release. But it can’t be that bad, can it? I mean, it’s got Nicolas Cage in it and he’s always hilarious.

Going into a movie about the rapture, a movie in which all religious people are sucked up to heaven and the others are left to rot on Earth, you know that it will certainly have a biblical message behind it. But how heavy-handed and badly executed the conveying of that message is, has to be witnessed to be believed. But we’ll get back to that. The movie opens with Cage’s daughter returning home for his birthday. But he doesn’t want to spend it with his newly converted, super religious wife Lea Thompson (“If she’s left me for another man, it might as well be Jesus.”) He uses his job as a pilot to get out of there, flying off to London and disappointing his daughter. 

Now I wish I could say “BAM! And then The Rapture happens!” but it doesn’t. The daughter sits around in the airport talking about her belief (or lack thereof) in God with cut-price Jai Courtney. This is where the sloppy message first rears it’s ugly head. If you don’t believe fully in religion, expect to be LEFT BEHIND (huh, huh?) with Nicolas Cage and the rest of them. This boring talking and walking is followed by more talking, then walking to the mall. It all lasts about forty minutes. By the time they reach the mall and witness a surreal display of surprise break-dancers you’re wishing for the rapture to happen.

By the time the rapture happens you don’t care. The movie has already secured itself a place on the “worst movies ever” list. The film then see’s the daughter running around a few streets as extras scream and wave their hands in the air. Considering millions of people just up and vanished, it all looks sort of normal. Ok so a car crashes and a guy gets shot. It’s all very lazy and extremely cheap. Nicolas Cage on the other hand is stuck in a plane over the Atlantic surrounded by the most annoying, one note characters I’ve ever seen. First there is a foreign man who everyone suspects is a terrorist and yes that comes across as racist as it sounds. It feels offensive just watching it and his sole purpose seems to be to say “Look! Even the nice people of other religions get left behind. You better worship the right gods!” It leaves a sick taste in your mouth watching it and you wonder how anyone involved in this film could think this was a good idea. Also on the plane is a dwarf. And gee I hope you like the sight of a little person falling down an inflatable slide! Because that’s the sort of comedy you’re going to be getting with Left Behind. Also apparently hilarious according to the writer of Left Behind, an elderly woman with extremely severe dementia getting one of our protagonists confused with Frank Sinatra. A laugh riot. Although the sight of people vanishing and comically leaving their clothes behind is in fact hilarious.

I really hope the paycheck was good on this movie for the actors to degrade themselves so much. Then again I can only imagine the vast majority of the $15 million dollar budget was spent on the salaries because it definitely did not go on the special effects. They are not the worst I’ve ever seen, but they’re distractingly bad nonetheless.

The special effects are hardly surprising however. The whole movie has an air of “TV movie” about it. From the shoddy acting to the crappy sets to the abysmal music. And I expected more. The director is Vic Armstrong, possibly the most prolific stuntman in history. I expected one good scene, but nope it’s all awful. And Nic Cage just looks bored. I defend him as the most entertaining actor working in Hollywood today, even when it’s bad it’s great to watch. But in this he looks like he wants to get his paycheck, crawl into a hole and forget this atrocity ever happened. And I hope the money buys him a down payment on another castle, I really do.

The movie does often have a so bad it’s good quality to it at times, but then it disappears behind a cloud of confused religious propaganda. Every single aspect of Left Behind is atrocious. It is not even for Cage’s die-hard fans (but we still love you Nic!). It’s easily one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen both Baby Geniuses films.

It’s an insulting film, but I’m sure it’d make an amazing drinking game. Left Behind gets zero stars.


Jack Bumby

Left Behind at CeX

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