Thursday, 31 October 2019

Top 5 Spooky Games to Play this Halloween!


5. Until Dawn 

Until Dawn plays like a love letter to classic horror movie tropes. It’s an interactive drama, dependent on decision branches and quick-time events, as well as third-person exploration and puzzle-solving. You’ll play as several characters over the duration of the game - a small group of teenagers, who all share the dark responsibility for the sudden disappearance of two of their friends.


Even if you’re a lover of action survival horror, you’ve gotta give Until Dawn a shot. The interactive drama mechanics make the story incredibly engrossing, and the plot is genuinely fantastic - all the better thanks to the branching decision system, which means you can play through this game several times and always have a different story. 


4. Amnesia: The Dark Descent 

Amnesia is legendary among fans of horror games - this critically acclaimed, award-winning survival horror game is horrible to play in all the best ways. You take first-person control of a young man from London called Daniel, who wakes up in dark castle with no memory of who he is other than his name, where he lives, and the knowledge that he is being hunted.


Although the gameplay is minimalist, Amnesia: The Dark Descent makes perfect use of the knowledge that the worst horrors imaginable are those we think up ourselves. You can’t fight enemies - you need to stay away from them to remain sane - so relying on hiding and listening means you’re always fearing the worst is waiting for you outside the door. But how will you know until you look?

3. Little Nightmares 

The design team behind Little Nightmares are geniuses. Unlike games that like to hide the monsters and let you torture yourself with your imagination, Little Nightmares’ repulsive character designs are very visible and very, very creepy in a way that will make you want to throw the controller as you play.


Playing as a little girl in a yellow raincoat, in a world of stylised graphics reminiscent of an animated film, the tone in Little Nightmares is deceptively bright - you’ll find yourself forgetting what’s waiting for you around the corner. With a sequel planned for 2020, now is the perfect time to pick up Little Nightmares for yourself. 

       

2. SOMA 

SOMA is the kind of game that stays with you. It’s a survival horror game that focuses on avoiding enemies and solving puzzles to make your way through the story, which is fantastically voice acted and utterly immersive. Based in an underwater facility and relying on stealth means the game feels very claustrophobic - any sound at all is enough to send you running.


But the part that stays with you is the story. A fascinating narrative that is equal parts compelling and disturbing, SOMA brings far more than the traditional jump scares and hiding in cupboards. It’s genuine psychological horror, that forces you to confront your own ideas of identity and morality. 

1. Resident Evil 7  

Resident Evil 5 and 6 had their moments, but to me, they definitely felt like they were moving too far into gun-toting action to really be among the best horror games. But that’s what made Resident Evil 7 such a brilliant surprise - a dark, terrifying return to the roots of the series. You take first-person control of a man named Ethan, looking for his wife in a derelict plantation.


Ethan is a civilian, not a soldier, and the combat reflects that. It’s the first main Resident Evil game to use the first-person view too, which makes the brilliantly engineered environments feel all the more frightening. Not to mention this game is also compatible with VR if you really wanted to enjoy a fright.

   


Jake James




Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

IT: Chapter Two ★★★☆☆


In 2017, everyone’s favourite murderous clown returned to the screen in what turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of modern horror. Despite early character reveals and trailers leading the masses to complain in unison that “he’s no Tim Curry”, actor Bill Skarsgård made sure our dormant coulrophobia was revived with a stunning performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The film succeeded from the nostalgic 80s setting, a stellar child cast with amazing chemistry and some really innovative and harrowing scares. But one of the film’s biggest shocks was the closing title – although coming as no surprise for anyone familiar with the novel or 1990 miniseries, the first film ended with “Chapter One”.


Yes, the first film’s plot covered only the young ‘Losers Club’ as they battled with the murderous titular entity, while the book also focused on the club 27 years later as they reunited as adults to finish off that clown bastard once and for all. Despite the heavy use of flashbacks, this long-awaited sequel almost entirely focuses on the adult Losers – and while there are some highlights, it is something of a disappointment when compared to the incredible first film.

Now adults, childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, an adult Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise - now more powerful than ever.

Firstly, give the film’s casting director a medal right now. The adult Losers are so uncannily cast that you truly feel like this is the kids from part one grown-up. While traditional star power comes from James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as Bill and Beverly respectively, the real stars are Bill Hader (HBO’s Barry) and James Ransone who are totally unforgettable as Richie and Eddie – a pairing that will certainly become iconic in horror movie lore for reasons that I shall not spoil. Their chemistry together and their command of the audience in scenes they are alone is certainly unparalleled by the other cast members. McAvoy especially seems to be on autopilot here.

But despite the efforts of some of the cast, the film itself is deeply flawed. For starters, a runtime nearing 3 hours (the longest horror movie ever released) means there is a lot of padding here. Whilst the original book exceeded 1,000 pages, it still feels like a lot of time here is wasted on tedious scenes that could easily have been shortened or chopped out altogether. The middle chunk of the film covers the Losers Club as they prepare for a ritual that they believe will destroy the evil entity, which requires them each to sacrifice a ‘token’ that is meaningful to them. Almost an hour of the film covers the group as they split up to find their tokens and the structure is so painfully episodic – we watch as each Loser finds their token, has an encounter with Pennywise, escapes. Rinse, lather, repeat. 

And with each Pennywise encounter comes this film’s biggest problem – the bloody CGI. IT Chapter Two is absolutely drowning in overly CGI’d monsters and ghouls that are just not scary. A scene in which a young Richie is chased by a possessed statue is so cartoonish in its delivery that it is just laughable and not frightening. And when the scares aren’t unintentionally amusing, the film goes for laughs on purpose and totally undercuts any tension or horror. One bizarre music cue of Angel of the Morning feels like a meme that was left in the film by accident!


But it’s not all bad. The characters are still interesting and the flashbacks (newly shot scenes of the child characters) recapture some of the first film’s glory, despite noticeable digital de-ageing on the young actors. And, of course, Bill Skarsgård is still a marvel as Pennywise. But the film does suffer in a lot of areas that the first film didn’t, which is very disappointing. Despite opening with an incredibly harrowing sequence that puts Georgie’s death from Chapter One to shame, the film runs out of steam pretty fast and ultimately feels underwhelming – at least, when compared to the modern masterpiece first film. Worth a look, though? Definitely. Just adjust your expectations accordingly and don’t expect the quality of Chapter One. 

★★★☆☆
Sam Love


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Gemini Man ★☆☆☆☆


Since bursting into cinemas in the 1990s after delighting the world with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith is certainly one of the biggest box office superstars of his time. And at the moment, he’s having something of a resurgence – his recent performance as the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin drew particular controversy! But visionary director Ang Lee’s latest, Gemini Man, proves that perhaps the world has finally had enough of the star. Gemini Man stars not one but two Will Smiths and is still projected to lose up to 60 million dollars at the box office. Why is the film doing so badly?


Originally conceived in 1997, Gemini Man went through development hell for almost 20 years. Unfortunately for all involved, the wait was not worth it. For starters, what may have been a unique and original premise in ’97 certainly isn’t in 2019. The film feels like something we’ve seen before a hundred times…

Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, an elite assassin ready to hang up his gun and retire after his 72nd hit. His plans are turned upside down when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who, seemingly, is able to predict his every move. To his horror, he learns he is being chased by a younger, faster version of himself – also played through Will Smith, behind very distracting de-ageing technology. Yep, if you’ve seen Looper, Logan or Star Trek: Nemesis then you’ll have a pretty good idea where this is going.

While similar de-ageing technology was utilised in Martin Scorsese’s 2019 masterpiece The Irishman, it was second to a phenomenal narrative that absorbed me to the point of not even noticing it. As far as I was concerned, I was watching a middle-aged Robert De Niro. Here, a nonsensical and predictable plot means that all you will be able to see is the rubber-faced CGI Will Smith’s often unnatural movements, made worse by the film’s innovative but divisive high-frame-rate release – some cinemas were able to run the film in 120fps, which made for an uncomfortably smooth viewing experience. Kevin Maher of The Times labelled the film ‘aesthetically repellent’, which certainly reflects the discomfort of having to endure 120 minutes of it. It genuinely made me feel unwell.


Gemini Man is, unfortunately, one of those films that have next to nothing going for it. Each of the issues would’ve been bad enough on their own but could’ve possibly been somewhat negated by a positive. For example, the bad CGI wouldn’t have been an issue if the plot was good, and vice versa. But here, there are no positives. Gemini Man is an overly CGI’d and cliché-ridden mess, stuck in the 1990s and not feeling even remotely fresh or vibrant in the crowded marketplace of big-screen action thrillers. 

An overwhelmingly disappointing shit show, 20 years in the making. Visually garish, not particularly well-performed and poorly written, this one should’ve stayed in development hell. Feeling like a straight-to-DVD Steven Seagal romp, Gemini Man is one to avoid like the plague. 


★☆☆☆☆
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Blair Witch ★★☆☆☆


20 years since its release, The Blair Witch Project is still widely considered one of the most influential horror movies of our time. Heavily credited with popularizing the dormant found-footage technique in filmmaking, Blair Witch was an enormous hit – grossing nearly $250 million against a budget of just $60,000. The film launched a franchise, including sequels, novels, comic books and now a highly anticipated video game. Developed by Bloober Team (best known for cyberpunk game Observer and the Layers of Fear series) and published by Lionsgate Games, this is Blair Witch.


Taking place in the same universe as the films, the game picks up in 1996 (shortly after the disappearance of the original film’s campers) as we take control of protagonist Ellis on a journey into Maryland’s Burkittsville Woods – home, of course, to the Blair Witch. Joining the search party for a missing child, you are joined by your faithful dog Bullet as you search for clues in your quest. Bullet, one of the best doggos in gaming for some time, is a major asset. He is able to seek out important items and follow trails and responds if you interact with him. Yes, you can pet him. He is such a good boy, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably spend more time petting him than actually progressing in the game. Other interesting mechanics include your trusty old mobile phone – which, at specific points has signal and can be used to call characters in the game and you can even play little mini-games on the phone, which certainly allows for a much-needed respite from the spooky bois that live in the woods. 

You’re probably wondering how the Blair Witch’s found footage comes into play here – because hey, without it, this game might as well not bare the Blair Witch name. Tapes can be found around the game’s brilliantly designed and creepy woods, which can be forwarded through to change the in-game world – for example, a locked door may open up in the video, and that is how you can progress through it. It’s an interesting mechanic that makes for some innovative and versatile puzzle sequences, although they’re never particularly challenging.


The game does make a big deal of letting us know that it is totally decision-based, with the game warning you frequently that it is watching your actions – including your treatment of good boy Bullet – and will adapt to your gameplay style. While there are some very clear moments with choice, it’s not clear otherwise how your gameplay is going to affect the outcome of the game because a lot of it feels rather linear. The game’s relatively short runtime – on average, people seem to be finishing it between 5-6 hours – means that replays are certainly an option, and the game encourages it. But with an overly expositional final act and an underwhelming plot aren’t exactly pull factors to sit through it again.

Blair Witch is a pretty basic survival horror which, although boasting some interesting mechanics – particularly with your furry four-legged friend – doesn’t do anything particularly innovative or new with the tired genre. On the whole, this one is pretty underwhelming and feels like a bit of a rushed cash-grab aimed at fans of the now 20-year-old modern horror classic. One to avoid, unless you’re a Blair Witch junkie desperate return to Burkittsville Woods. 

★★☆☆☆
Sam Love

Blair Witch at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Joker ★★★★☆


There’s not a lot to say about Joker that hasn’t already been said. Arguably one of the most controversial and divisive films of the decade, the film has sparked great debate since even before its release regarding its portrayal of mental health, violence and the relationship between the two. There have been many reported walk-outs during screenings across the world, and the US military issued a memo regarding public safety and to remain incredibly vigilant in the wake of the film’s release. Now that public interest is beginning to wane and every other critic from here to Timbuktu has shared their two cents, let’s take one final look at Joker.


The personification of the ‘forever alone’ meme, failed comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Struggling with an involuntary laughing condition, Fleck is the victim of almost constant abuse from the people of Gotham, with his only solace found in his run-down apartment that he shares with his ailing mother. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as Joker.

Firstly, and certainly most importantly, there are no words to describe Phoenix’s performance here. A masterpiece of acting doesn’t even come close. On top of losing 52lbs for the role, Phoenix gives absolutely everything he has to the intense and disturbing performance. This is his film through-and-through, as he appears in almost every single frame – and commands the audience’s attention for every second of his descent into madness. I’ve been a fan of Phoenix’s for years, and this feels like the role he was born to play. If he doesn’t walk away with the Best Actor Academy Award, there is something seriously wrong with the world.

Visually, the film is absolutely stunning. The dirty, cold Gotham City is a living, breathing setting for the film and is as much a character as Joker himself. Never has the crime-ridden city felt so alive and so dangerous on-screen, aided by cinematographer Lawrence Sher and a phenomenal foreboding score from Hildur Guðnadóttir. Todd Phillips’ direction is pretty magnificent too – not bad for the guy who directed The Hangover trilogy. The pacing is intense and maintains a steady sense of dread, culminating in a harrowing sequence on the chat show of Murray Franklin (a great little performance by Robert De Niro).


But Joker isn’t perfect. While clearly highly influenced by Martin Scorsese’s early work (particularly Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy), the film does often go beyond homage and feel almost derivative. Some of the film’s potential shocks were lessened by the fact that I felt like I’d seen them before in those earlier (and superior) films from Marty. Furthermore, some of the film’s criticisms regarding the portrayal of violence are earned. While the film doesn’t applaud Fleck’s actions of murder as he transforms into the super-villain, it equally fails to condemn them. We follow his violent rise and transformation but the film never stops to question if his actions are ok (they’re obviously not). There are other issues with the film, but these will vary depending on the viewer. I went to see it a second time before this review with a friend of mine, who absolutely adored it and could find no fault. That’s the magic of cinema.

While Joker isn’t the ‘film of the year’ or ‘masterpiece’ some are labelling it, it’s certainly going to be up there in the top 5. This intense and upsetting film is one of the most realistic depictions of madness and murder I have ever witnessed, and I went away from the film feeling not elated but disturbed. It was a harrowing and uncomfortable two hours, with a truly masterful (and horrifying) third act. I applaud all involved for getting this film made and released by such a big studio – it is really just an indie character study disguised as a comic book blockbuster. But it is all the better for it.

★★★★☆
Sam Love




Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ★★★☆☆


From 1981 to 1991, author Alvin Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Gammell terrified youngsters with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series. As of 2017, the books had collectively sold more than 7,000,000 copies and appeared on numerous children's’ best-seller lists, not to mention being hailed as a “cultural touchstone for a generation”. Some parent and social groups have argued they are inappropriate for children, as they are certainly more disturbing than Goosebumps for example. The nightmarish illustrations from Gammell and themes of murder, cannibalism and disfigurement have been labelled “repulsive” and “sick” – but there’s no such thing as bad publicity, as the series continues to sell to this day – and now, Hollywood has sunk their claws in…

Directed by Trollhunter’s André Øvredal, this big-screen adaptation is a surprisingly effective little shocker.


The shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large in the small town of Mill Valley for generations. It's in a decrepit mansion that young Sarah Bellows turns her tortured life and horrible secrets into a series of scary stories, which acts as a framing device to adapt several of the titular ‘scary stories’ into one film. These terrifying tales soon have a way of becoming all too real for a group of unsuspecting teens who stumble upon Sarah's spooky home. Thankfully, the film is not structured as an anthology film – instead, each of the stories come to life throughout the adventure of one group of characters. Surprisingly, the human cast is actually well-written and well-performed characters that do give the film an added level of quality akin to the recent IT adaptation. Horror is always more effective if you care about the characters.

Producer Guillermo del Toro opted against the anthology format, stating at 2019 Comic-Con “anthology films are always as bad as the worst story in them — they're never as good as the best story”. With del Toro acting as a producer on the film, you know what you’re in for – spooky, gothic chills. And they are certainly delivered in abundance; this cinematic adaptation of the iconic stories certainly has some harrowing visual shocks up its sleeve. There is a looming sense of dread and discomfort throughout the stories, but there is a caveat. But like almost all modern horror, the film does let itself down with an over-reliance on jump scares that detract from the overall feeling of dread and horror. But at the end of the day, this is an adaptation of a children’s book so the scares are not going to be as intense as they’d be in something like Hereditary. If nothing else, Scary Stories serves as a gateway into the horror genre for younger viewers, crafting an effective horror film that may be light on gore and violence but is certainly high on fear.

Vastly superior to the Jack Black-starring Goosebumps films, which are of course aimed at an even younger audience, Scary Stories shows that horror can be accessible to a younger crowd with a strong filmmaker behind the lens. Proving again that creaky floorboards and dark corridors are scarier than CGI beasties and jump scares, this traditional delivery does make for an enjoyable little romp – even if the CGI and jumps do make one too many appearances here. On the whole, this is really an introduction to horror for younger audiences but there is still enough to enjoy here for older and more discerning horror fans. There is something for everyone in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and if this is only the beginning of a new horror franchise, I’m excited to see what we get in Part II. 

★★★☆☆
Sam Love


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Monday, 28 October 2019

Zombieland: Double Tap ★★★★☆


Late sequels are always risky business. If you want a sure-fire cash-in on the success of a film, you need to get the sequel out quickly while interest is still high. This was the intention with Zombieland: Double Tap, with talk of a sequel beginning before the first film, was even released some 10 years ago. However, the project languished in development hell and it seemed certain that we were never going to get a sequel after all – despite the critical and commercial success of 2009’s original film.

10 years on, the four lead cast-members have reunited for the long overdue sequel. In the time since the first film, Emma Stone has become an Academy Award winner while Eisenberg was nominated in 2010 for The Social Network, so it’s pleasing to see they’ve returned to their roots for Double Tap and not become too big for their boots. The sequel picks up ten years after the original as our dysfunctional zombie-slaying family have settled in the White House. When Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) runs away with a pacifist to a hippy settlement, the gang – Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg) and Wichita (Stone) – set out of a journey to protect her as the zombies evolve and become smarter, faster and seemingly indestructible.


Zombieland: Double Tap is a difficult film to review without also reviewing the first film, as this sequel is really just more of the same. As self-aware as ever – the film opens with Columbus’ voiceover thanking audiences for choosing Zombieland again after all this time, despite the many options now existing in the crowded zombie genre – the film is packed with references and gags at the expense of The Walking Dead (“totally unrealistic”) and Dawn of the Dead, among others. The action set-pieces have improved, with the final showdown at the afore-mentioned hippy commune feeling totally over-the-top and yet earned. The self-awareness and tongue in cheek approach to the material mean that the ridiculous action just feels right – as does the non-stop comically graphic violence. Expect a lot of beheadings, exploding skulls and dismemberments.

As with the first film, though, the highlight isn’t the action or the violence. It is the chemistry between the four leads, which, thankfully, is still totally intact. While Abigail Breslin has changed the most – she was just 13 in the first film and 23 in the second. Breslin’s acting certainly leaves the most to be desired, but it’s hard to tell if that’s because she’s just been given the weakest material. As the lovestruck Little Rock, all she gets to really do is blindly follow the object of her affection (Avan Jogia). Harrelson, Eisenberg and Stone, however, feel like they’ve been living in Zombieland this whole time as their chemistry and characters burst back to life like they’ve never been gone. Double Tap is considerably funnier than the first film, with Harrelson’s Tallahassee again proving himself to be one of the best, funniest and most bad-ass characters in the entire zombie subgenre. I’d love to see him stand up to the Whisperers…


Zombieland: Double Tap isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch, but I had a great time with it. I don’t know if that comes from a place of blind loyalty and nostalgia for a franchise that came along in a formative time of my life, or if I was actually enjoying the film. Either way, it does everything a sequel should – it expands upon and improves on what made the first film so much fun while staying true to its roots and feeling necessary and earned. Double Tap was a hell of a lot of fun.

★★★★☆
Sam Love



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Contra: Rogue Corps ★☆☆☆☆


‘Contra: Rogue Corps’ is definitely what you would call a blast from the past. The game is a direct sequel from ‘Contra 3’, set in a place called the Damned City where you will once again face off against an alien invasion by just shooting everything you see. It’s a pretty standard plot for a shooter game from generations gone, but in all honesty, I’m not sure who this game is really aimed at. The majority of young gamers have probably never heard of ‘Contra’ before, and going back to the older games to find out more is quite difficult unless you have access to much older consoles.


The game is of twin-stick shooter variety and has single-player and co-op – both online and couch co-op, which is highly appreciated as not many games are doing this nowadays. I always find it refreshing to play a co-op where online play isn’t needed, with it being such a prevalent thing in this generation.

I’d love to give some elaborate review points about the storyline of the game, but unfortunately, it’s nothing more than a backdrop… An excuse to slaughter hundreds of aliens.  There could have been so much more effort made in the writing area of the game which would have differentiated itself from the prior games from decades ago. Fair enough that the story wasn’t great in those ones (as they often weren’t with basic shooters), but there’s not so much excuse nowadays – especially with a current gaming demographic that craves the thrill of an absorbing plot. 

And this leads onto my second problem with ‘Contra: Rogue Corps’ – without a story that is intriguing then the gameplay really needs to make up for it, yet here it does not. The twin-stick nature of the games means the controls need to feel tight but most of the time moving the character around feels sluggish and off. On top of that, over the course of the 20-hour campaign, the game is not really a pretty affair. Bland and overused textures litter the screen, with nothing really standing out graphically.


Interestingly there is no ammo as such in the game but rather a weapon overheating system. You’ll get a certain amount of time that you are able to fire your gun before you have to stop and wait for a few seconds, with little else to do but kiting your enemies and stalling them until the firing can happen again. The first time it happens is fine, but dealing with this over the entire course of the game becomes frustrating, and leads to the player feeling like they’re spending more time waiting than actually killing things.

In fairness to the developer they have obviously tried to create and input new ideas into the game to make it a viable option in 2019, but none of these parts come together as a whole to make an experience worthy of paying for. By changing things in the game that didn't need to be changed, ‘Contra: Rogue Corps’ has lost its identity as a ‘Contra’ game which leads me to ask – If ‘Contra’ fans won’t like it, then who will?

★☆☆☆☆
Hannah Read



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint ★★★☆☆


‘Ghost Recon Breakpoint’ is the follow up to the successful ‘Ghost Recon Wildlands’ (both from the ‘Tom Clancy’ series) published a few years ago by Ubisoft. It puts you in the shoes of a tactical soldier thrust into an open world full of people to shoot and robots to destroy. The previous entry was set in Bolivia but this time Ubisoft have created a mostly fictional island as the setting. You would like to think this is because they could have more options on how to create a varied setting but this is probably mostly due to the complaints from Bolivia's government on Ubisoft’s depiction of their country.


This sequel isn't just a “by the numbers” one by any means. There has been a distinct shift in the type of game on offer here since ‘Wildlands’ and ‘Breakpoint’ borrow many different mechanics from Ubisoft’s other flagship franchises such as ‘The Division’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed’. This shift is not always for the better though, with some of the mechanics feeling stuck in at last minute whilst other elements such as microtransactions feel way out of place.

In ‘Breakpoint’ you play as an operative trying to survive on an island of a tech company that has been taken over by a military-based company.  They have turned the island into a fortress protected not only by soldiers but also an army of drones looking to hunt you down. You can play in Co-op as you could in ‘Wildlands’, but this time when you are playing Solo there is no A.I squadmates to back you up which is quite a departure for the other ‘Tom Clancy’ games.

This time around loot is the name of the game. In a system borrowing heavily from ‘The Division’, you will find many lootable items such as guns and equipment for your character that all have item scores. In previous ‘Tom Clancy’ games, you would pick your set up and stick with it for most of the game, earning attachments and almost building a relationship with your designated gun of choice. This time you'll be swapping guns out every few minutes chasing the big numbers and damage. 

This doesn't really work within this universe like it does with ‘The Division’, especially when you realise the number of microtransactions available to buy – not only cosmetics but also equipment and even skill points. I have seen bad implementation of microtransactions before but this really takes the cake. It's almost as bad as a mobile games app that throws it in your face every few minutes and after paying an AAA price for the game to begin with it just feels insulting to the player, especially as those of us with less coin (or less willingness to spend) are automatically at a disadvantage to those happy to chuck money into a virtual universe. Microtransactions which affect levelling are and always will be my main issue with modern gaming, so this was an inclusion I wasn’t too keen on. It should be noted that, due to backlash from Early Access players, Ubisoft has pulled some of the microtransactions from the store.


One welcome change from ‘Wildlands’ is the emphasis on story. The main antagonist, a previous ghost like you, is played by Jon Berthall (The Walking Dead) and puts on a stellar performance as an evil killing machine. Unfortunately, any other NPC you interact with fails to provide the same calibre of performance. There are too many bad pun jokes and cheesiness that pull you out of the experience and it feels like the game is contradicting itself, not knowing if it wants to be semi-serious SIM shooter or an action film.

Like many games that have come out recently, ‘Ghost Recon Breakpoint’ is trying many different ideas to find its place in the current gaming market. Not all of it works though, feeling at points like it’s a money-making machine rather than a true gaming experience. There’s no doubt that it’s fun, with some excellent action and stealth scenarios, but if you’re playing on your own then it almost feels like the only way you can truly do well is by giving into those damn microtransactions. 3/5

★★★☆☆
Hannah Read



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

The Surge 2 ★★★★☆


‘The Surge 2’ is the follow-up to the initial sci-fi souls like game ‘The Surge’ that garnered a bit of a following due to its intense combat. It was really fun to play and was heavily incentivised by quite an unusual method of gaining new weapons and equipment in the game – cutting off the limbs of enemies. It was an interesting concept and something a bit different than your carbon copy of ‘Dark Souls’, but unfortunately, a lacklustre story and some bland level design held it back from being great. ‘The Surge 2’ is a leap forward in quality in almost every area that really makes this entry a lot more enticing. It’s not without its problems, of course, but it really shows a commitment to making a better game.


In the sequel, you play as an unnamed character – unlike the first game you get to create your character before you start, with a fairly extensive selection of options to help make your character distinct. The game is set mostly in the quarantined city of Jericho after an outbreak of a nano-plague and you, the sole survivor of a plane crash, find yourself deep in trouble in the city, torn between various factions all trying to take control of what is left of society.

As I’ve mentioned, the main thing you want to be doing is cutting those limbs off – to do so you’ll run-up to any human or robot you see and chop, chop and chop some more.  Once that shiny golden glow of loot flies off their bodies you can either upgrade your current equipment or find new toys to play with. Of course, this isn't all you will be doing in the game. As you explore the different areas there are some environmental puzzles to solve and loads of side quests for you to undertake. The level design is so much more fluid in this game, with many shortcuts to be found that make traversing the environment dangerous yet rewarding.

My main qualm with ‘The Surge 2’ is in the graphics department. Not only has there been a major downgrade since the previous entry (I imagine because the scope of the world is a lot bigger than the previous one) but performance is disappointing at times. Loading into new areas or sometimes even pausing/unpausing the game can lead to heavy texture pop-in that really drags you out of the experience. You can be talking to a vendor and, as the conversation is going on, more and more of the clothing texture will pop-in, making it really rather distracting.

Luckily the game is quite smooth when it comes to framerate and I didn't have too many issues with frame dips while I was playing. The camera can sometimes act a bit funny as there are a lot of tight corridor environments, which leads to the camera going behind a wall and blocking your view of anything that is going on – something I don’t expect from games of this generation.


Even with the problems that I had, ‘The Surge 2’ is a vast improvement on what was already a good first entry into the franchise. The second game improves on all aspects and adds a lot of variety with more weapons to choose from and many different builds to play. The game contains many hidden secrets and, for fans of the first game, there is so much to love here. It does enough differently to set itself apart from being just another souls like clone, making it a positive recommendation for those that enjoy this particular game style.

★★★★☆
Hannah Read



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Friday, 25 October 2019

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered ★★★☆☆


‘Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch’ is a faithful remaster of one of the most beloved JRPGs from the last generation, oozing style and cuteness. Looking at the game, you might not be surprised to realise that Studio Ghibli was involved in the development of the original – the design and musical score is very reminiscent of many of their films.

Of course, this remaster comes out a few years after the quite well-received ‘Ni No Kuni 2’ - unfortunately, it didn't have Studio Ghibli involved but was still an excellent experience, although I would say that it never really lived up to what made the first game so intriguing and fun to play. Now with the remaster coming out (and the game being released on PS4, Switch and PC), so many people will get to experience the game for the first time in all its beauty.


Throughout the story, you play as Oliver, a boy whose mother has recently passed away. Struck with grief, he travels to a fantastical world with his partner Drippy to try and find a way to bring her back to life.

There is a whole cast of loveable characters to meet on your journey and some incredible places to visit… Lush forests, ice caverns, and much more. There’s an attention to detail that features in all locations that aren't all that common in games of this nature, It really makes you feel like you’re living in one of Studio Ghibli’s movies, completely pulled into the experience.

Some of the characters or familiars will join you on your journey and these familiars are the main weapon you have at your disposal in the game’s action-style combat. Although you are involved, Oliver at the start of game is quite weak, meaning that you will need to rely on your familiars quite heavily. You can tell them directly what to do during fights and, although it starts off simple, it becomes fairly complicated once more characters join your side.

Unlike the second ‘Ni No Kuni’ game, which was fairly easy on release, (leading to boredom at times during the combat), this game has some difficulty to it and tactics are definitely needed. There’s a certain amount of grinding required in the world in between big fights, but not to the point where it becomes tiresome.

I just wish that the storyline wasn’t so unimaginative, with it pretty much boiling down to the protagonist trying to save the world. I had this same complaint when the original game was released, and I’d say it was even more noticeable this time around as I’d lost that sense of wonder I had from first playing – I’d done it all before with the original, so second-time around the story really felt like it was lacking. Of course, this won’t affect newcomers to the game, but it’s still a shame as the story isn’t as exciting as it could have been… It starts so well, and you expect a little bit more when Studio Ghibli is involved.


For a game that is now several years old, ‘Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch’ is still beautiful and feels great and intuitive to play. Although I’d liked to have seen a few more improvements given that it’s on a next-gen console, it’s still a good 50+ hour JRPG with entrancing art design and music from Studio Ghibli. For new players, it’s a great choice of the game with a lot of offer, but if you’ve played the original then the only real reason to move onto this one is for that sense of nostalgia. 3/5

★★★☆☆
Hannah Read

Ni no Kuni at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

CeX @ MCM London Comic Con!

Come see us at this weekend's October MCM London Comic Con 2019 and check out our awesome pop-up store located between entrance N5 and N4!


You can drop by to say “Hi!”, check out our treasure trove of goodies, and of course, buy, sell & exchange to your heart's content. Check out our photo competition of fans and cosplay aficionados who've visited our store and vote for your favourites from Monday onwards. The top 3 will win a £200, £100 or £50 voucher (voting starts on Monday the 28th)! 

Or try your hand at our Mario Kart competition for the chance to win a £100 CeX voucher for the fastest time of each day!


What are you waiting for? Come down and party!
Can't make the event? No worries, you can also see what's happening via our Instagram feed and Twitter (@CeX)

Hugs
Team CeX

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Code Vein ★★★☆☆


‘Code Vein’ is the latest release that you could call a “soulslike”, a term that I'm getting pretty tired of now (and perhaps you are getting bored of seeing crop up in so many of my reviews) that is pitting games up against one of the best ARPG series of all time. The reason I’m finding it so tiring is that these newer entries to the genre never seem to live up to the gameplay, world-building, and pure addictiveness of the ‘Dark Souls’ series by Fromsoftware.


‘Code Vein’ is reminiscent of ‘Dark Souls’ but only in the way it initially plays – to be honest, I’d say ‘Code Vein’ is more of a dungeon crawler than anything else. The game is developed by the same team who made the cult classic ‘God Eater’ franchise (Bandai Namco Entertainment) and you can see how apparent this is when you start the game, moving from beautifully rendered cutscenes to a pleasingly in-depth character creator. The game oozes style and the anime-like graphics of the character models are really quite enticing. Unfortunately, the environmental art is quite similar to ‘God Eater’, meaning that it is a bit bland and simplistic.

Once you have got through the initial cutscene and tutorials you are thrust into your first dungeon where you will be picking up weapons and other equipment and levelling your character to gain new skills and powers to use on your foes. The combat is very similar to ‘Dark Souls’ or ‘The Surge’, but you also have some special abilities mapped to the different buttons on the controller that come in the form of heals/buffs or special moves. It adds a little bit more depth to the combat and lets you plan out elaborate moves before you initiate combat scenarios.

The enemy design is quite repetitive, like the locations, but because the actual gameplay is so fun it's forgivable. My main complaint lies with what else you do in the game. Unlike ‘Dark Souls’ the level design is not very interesting and generally boils down to one locked door after another (always only unlockable from the other side) which leads to the fairly repetitive task of getting to that other side in order to open it. (Putting it in writing makes it sound even duller than it actually is.)

This idea isn't dissimilar to what ‘Dark Souls’ and ‘Bloodborne’ did, but in those games, it felt fluid, with level design so good it made exploring and finding these shortcuts really rewarding.  For ‘Code Vein’ this just isn’t the case, making for a game that feels like it’s lacking something.


The story of the game, however, is pretty interesting and I would say is one of the main positives of the game. It is much more coherently laid out than some other soulslike games, with you playing in a destroyed world as a character who is pretty much a vampire feeding off the blood of enemies. It leads well into the interesting mechanics in the game, such as the available skills and how you can go about acquiring them.

I think ‘Code Vein’ has had the wrong type of marketing up to its release, leading people to believe that it’s a pure soulslike with a heavier emphasis on the story when in truth it is a very capable dungeon crawling game. It has excellent varied combat that is only let down by the cookie-cutter enemies you face in a bland environment, devoid of anything that would add some real visual interest.

If you come into the game looking for a good ‘Dark Souls’ style game to fill the void then you’re probably going to feel at least moderate disappointment. For dungeon crawler fans with an open mind, however, then there is definitely something to like here.

★★★☆☆
Hannah Read

Code Vein at CeX


Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

AI: The Somnium Files ★★★★☆


If there was ever a game that is a little difficult to review, it turns out that it’s the most bizarre game that is ‘A.I: The Somnium Files’. It is the latest adventure story-driven game from Spike Chunsoft and follows protagonist Kaname Date and his completely ludicrous A.I eyeball named Aiba (short for “eyeball”) as you try to solve a series of murder cases. You’re probably thinking that already this sounds pretty weird, but it only gets weirder.

There’s a lot that you would expect from a detective-style game here, from interviewing people to checking for clues in crime scenes, but the real meat of the game is a tactic you can employ that’s a little more unusual, which is entering various people's subconscious to search further for clues. These are dreamscape-like scenarios that are filled with puzzles for you to work out to progress. Not much unlike an escape room, really, but just quite a bit more surreal. These puzzles that you have to solve tend not to be much more than interaction with objects in environments, from passing skill checks to completing quick time events, but the game will always keep you guessing about what’s exciting revelation is to be revealed just around the corner.


Truly, the best parts of the game come from the visual novel sections that have a heavy emphasis on story. These are governed by your actions in the world and within people's heads, with the direction of the story drastically changing depending on what actions you end up taking. You never quite know what is going to come next and that was really the main draw of the game for me.

As well as this, the performance and graphics of the game are just excellent. I really love the anime style of Spike Chunsoft games, which is completely unique. The small cast of characters you will interact with throughout the investigation range from loveable to annoying but there’s a great variety there and it’s hard not to warm to them.

There’s one thing that I’ll say though – if you’ve never really been a fan of these type of graphic novels then I don't think that much will pull you in. The style is really designed for fans of the genre, as is the gameplay and general feel of the game. However, if you thrive on games such as ‘Danganronpa’ or ‘Root Letter’ then this game will be right up your street.

I am still waiting for a visual novel adventure game to come out that really gets worldwide and western acclaim – generally these types of games are very underappreciated, except for the niche audience and cult following its gains. I think they have a lot to offer the mainstream gaming world but so far it just hasn’t happened. I hope that this game will be a hit for Spike Chunsoft as it is so well written and the characters are great.  The puzzle-solving could be a little more in-depth but I still found it quite engaging, resulting in it a game with multiple pros that is well worth your time.

★★★★☆
Hannah Read



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

GRID 2019 ★★★☆☆


‘GRID: Autosport’ is one of the latest games from a previous generation to be ported over to the Nintendo Switch. It's become a small trend where these less performance-intensive games are being remade for the Switch. Usually, this tends to work out pretty well – the Switch is less powerful than the PS4 and Xbox One but still has excellent capabilities and allows you to have some of your favourites from the last generation, such as ‘Dragon’s Dogma’ and now ‘GRID: Autosport’ on the go.


Another thing to take in to account (in case you are wondering why this rather serious and pretty driving simulator is now coming over to the Switch) is that there is little to no competition for it in that market. Of course, you have the likes of Mario Kart, but that’s wildly different to games like ‘GRID: Autosport’ and there aren’t any good racing simulators currently out on the Switch.

I would say this is just a port but it has had a little bit more work done than that. For instance, there are some options for graphics and performance which is something that many will welcome on the Switch. You can choose Performance, which is a smooth 60fps, but with lower graphical fidelity, or the opposite where graphics and textures are improved but the game is locked at 30fps. There is even a Battery Saver mode which limits fps and lower graphics for those on the go – perfect considering the portability of the console. These are so very welcome and a bit of a surprise – I found myself mainly choosing graphics over anything else as I felt this worked best for the gameplay.

There are several modes that are on offer to play, such as Career Mode which has many different types of racing including off-road and street racing. There are a ton of tracks and loads of content on offer here that will keep you busy for days on end, and if you’ve watched the trailer (or indeed played the original game) then you’ll know how addictive and frustrating the game can be at times.

The only problem with ‘GRID: Autosport’ is that it really just feels like a game that came out five years ago (which it did). Racers have evolved since then with games such as ‘Need For Speed’ and my all-time favourite ‘Forza Horizon’ that have elevated this type of game to new levels, bringing a whole new gameplay experience with them.


‘GRID: Autosport’ is quite basic in its presentation and doesn’t offer anything you can really consider unique. It feels a bit like the developer saw an empty hole in the Switch market and just decided to release it, knowing it would sell well due to lack of competitors. It's not in any stretch of the imagination a bad game - rather just that things could have been tweaked a little or added to make it a really tempting offer to gamers.

If the Switch is the main or only console that you own and you’re a big fan of racing games then this one is certainly worth your money and time, particularly if you still enjoy that older style of racing gameplay. Don't go in expecting anything that is going to blow you away, like the open worlds of ‘Forza Horizon’ or the technical brilliance of ‘GT Sport – whilst a good game, ‘GRID: Autosport’ just can’t compete with them.

★★★☆☆
Hannah Read



Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl