Rising from the Grave: Syphon Filter

Your the best, around!

You’re the best, around!

Today, I have to watch and play things in order. It’s who I am. If I fancy re-watching Rocky IV, then I’ll start from the beginning and work my way up the ladder. As for games, when Assassins Creed 3 was due out, I went and replayed all previous games leading up to the release of the third one. I did the exact same thing when Mass Effect 3 was almost out, I went back to the first entry in the series and started a new character I could play as I an inevitable second/ third play through. When I was younger though, I couldn’t have cared less. That’s why I start at Syphon Filter 2, then went on to the first game, and finished with the third.

Syphon Filter is a game series about stopping the release of a deadly virus named Syphon Filter. You usually play as Gabe Logan, however you also are put into the shoes of many of characters in certain levels during your play through of the games. The last Syphon Filter game was released 6 years ago, with the suspected death of Gabe Logan, but he is a videogame character and could easily return with the correct writing. I won’t lie, my experience with the series ended with Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, which I didn’t like. But the original trilogy was so good, fun to play and had great boss fights. SCE Bend Studio is behind all Syphon Filter games, they’re also behind the more recent Resistance and Uncharted games for the PS Vita. But will Sony now use them to create a new chapter in the Syphon Filter series on PS4 or will they stick with PS Vita development? This is ‘Rising from the Grave: Syphon Filter’.

I hated this level in the first SF.

I hated this level in the first SF.

Why? I could have gone off saying Sony need this because Splinter Cell is seemingly sided with Microsoft. But with Splinter Cell now releasing on PS3 as well as Xbox 360, does Sony really need to bring back Syphon Filter? It’s usually seen as a stealth-action game, and sure we don’t have a load of those right now. I’m finding it really hard to find a reason for them to get behind another Syphon Filter. Don’t get me wrong, I want it. If Sony announced this, it would become one of my most anticipated games ever. Sony have lots of exclusives already announced for PS4, and the more the merrier, and perhaps this is what Sony may want. A stealth-action exclusive game, for PS4, from a studio that knows the genre and licence better than anyone no less. Honestly though, if they did announce the game, I would probably see it as a game Sony got behind to simply add to the number of exclusives for PS4. Nothing more.

How could it improve? New generation, new look. With the power of the PS4 behind them, a globe-trotting adventure of espionage and saving the world sounds nice. People also have certain expectations these days with third person games, so a familiar control scheme will help with selling the game to people who may think Syphon Filter’s golden age has come and gone. I remember playing the multiplayer, split-screen with my mum. A ton of fun, feeling a lot like a third person Goldeneye. Multiplayer is of course a massive selling point for a lot of people, so some imagination and originality would go a long way in making a great multiplayer component.

Realistically, could this game happen? SCE Bend Studio have been working on something for the past couple years, what it is exactly, we do not yet know. They have vast experience working with the PS Vita, however this coupled with the fact that the PS Vita isn’t getting nearly enough games that it deserves, I think if we are to get any new Syphon Filter game, it will only be on the PS Vita. I hope I’m wrong, perhaps being able to stream any PS4 game to your PS Vita will help in the decision to make the next Syphon Filter a PS4 game.

Reminds me of the Air Taser, good times!

Reminds me of the Air Taser, good times!

Probability of Rising from the Grave: 45%

-ast

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NECA – First Blood – Rambo Figure Review

They drew first blood, not me.

They drew first blood, not me.

Based off his appearance in the 1982 movie First Blood, NECA is out to prove that they are still the best in the business when it comes to affordable, detailed action figures. Rambo’s appearance on this particular figure is from the end of the movie as he moves through the town with his M60, hunting down the sheriff. The head sculpt is amazing, whilst it may not be quite as jaw-dropping as their Arnold Schwarzenegger likeness on their Predator figures, they still capture the essence of Sylvester Stallone’s look in the movie. As for the rest of the body, everything is proportionate and movie accurate.

He has 3 ammo belts around his torso, which have been reported to be removable, but I’m not that brave, they look fine where they are. On his belt, Rambo has a knife sheath, you can in fact put his knife in here if you don’t want him holding it which is always a nice touch. Accessories include his M60, his knife and an extra hand that is for holding the knife. The M60 is a beautiful piece, with a lot of detail and even a strap so you may strap it around his back if you don’t want him holding it. The knife, thankfully, is very movie accurate, whilst you may not be able to screw the handle off, it still looks great rather in the sheath or when being held.

On the hunt.

On the hunt.

With over 25 points of articulation on the figure, there are plenty of display options available. NECA are always moving forward in this department and it shows, not only do we have lots articulation, but it’s all hidden rather well. Exposed joints can always make the item look cheap and unpleasant on the eyes. Thankfully NECA isn’t afraid and are confident in their ability to hide them effectively.

As far as paint application goes, NECA can be known for some shoddy work in the past. However, I feel the more recent NECA of recent years we’re seeing is really stepping up their game. The Rambo figure I received is near perfectly painted, with one small sloppy paint application holding it back from being perfectly done. Rambo features a cut on his right bicep, seen in the movie, however from various comparisons to other paint work on other Rambo figures, it seems as though the blood running down his bicep is very smudged. Thankfully, this isn’t consistent with the rest of the arm, and everything else is fine.

AAAAAHHHHHHH...

AAAAAHHHHHHH…

With another version of Rambo from First Blood on the way, that being the one with the poncho from when Rambo tries to hide in the forest from the police, I can’t wait to see what NECA has in store for when they start to show us what they’re doing from the second and third movies. Going off their current release schedule, it looks as if we will be seeing 2 new Rambo figures a year. I’m hopeful we will see a version of Rambo from the 4th movie too, but it all depends on the sales and interest of the series. Simply put though, NECA have done a wonderful job with their first Rambo figure and I recommend you pick one up whilst you can.

Verdict: Buy

-ast

George A. Romero of the Dead

A look back at some of the good, bad and ugly zombie movies made by the Godfather of Zombies himself, George A. Romero.

Those glasses are magic, I swear.

Those glasses are magic, I swear.

So after watching World War Z (Review Here), I found myself looking back at some of my favourite zombie movies, most of which come from the mind of the one and only George A. Romero. He has currently done 6 movies in his ‘Dead’ series, but which is my favourite and what should come next?

Night of the Living Dead (1968) – About a small group of people trying to survive the night in a farmhouse, Night of the Living Dead started it all. Being in black & white and seen by many to be the first zombie movie (it wasn’t), 45 years later it’s still an extremely creepy movie with a great atmosphere. Despite being black & white it’s actually quite graphic too and can end up leaving a lot to the imagination of the viewer, a very effective technique.

Dawn of the Dead (1978) – No doubt to be one of the most recognized zombie movies ever made, Dawn of the Dead is a lot of people’s favourite of the bunch, but not quite mine. Feeding the fantasy of everyone on earth, being let loose on an empty shopping centre, it’s no surprise so many people enjoy this movie. About 4 survivors taking refuge in an enclosed shopping centre, making it more like home with each passing week, it shares a similar premise to Night of the Living Dead, but with a different backdrop.

Day of the Dead (1985) – Now this is my favourite zombie movie. Ever. The zombie effects by Tom Savini had been perfected from his work on Dawn of the Dead and just the overall tone of the film was much darker in my mind. About the increasing tension between a group of scientists and military personnel seeking refuge in an underground mine, turned into a make-shift lab, Day of the Dead focuses more the threat we have on each other. From the opening scene in the street to the zombie infested mines of the end of the movie, this movie is full of memorable sequences.

Land of the Dead (2005) – After a 20 year wait, George A. Romero sides with a major studio to bring another zombie movie to the big screen. With a bigger budget, George was able to create the zombie movie he had always wanted to. Unfortunately, the studio had a say in a lot of what happened in the film. What we got to see was glimpse of what George really wanted to achieve. Feeling very Hollywood, the movie is about the conflict between the rich and poor in a walled off city that houses the remaining human population, that we eventually see fall victim to the zombies.

Diary of the Dead (2007) – Trying something new, Diary of the Dead adopted the use of the found footage angle. Set against the backdrop of the initial outbreak of the zombie infection, we follow a group of film students as they travel home, documenting what they see. It was a fascinating concept and one I found myself very excited for. Whilst being a decent movie, I feel we needed more zombie hordes and gore for it to feel more like a George A. Romero zombie movie.

Survival of the Dead (2009) – A sequel to Diary of the Dead, sharing some characters for the first time in the George A. Romero ‘Dead’ series, we follow a group of National Guardsmen as they seek out an Island taken over by a family that have been chaining up zombie friends/ family awaiting a miracle cure. This is by far the weakest of the bunch, I found little entertaining about it, only the fact that it was a George A. Romero zombie movie.

Seventh Movie of the Dead (????) – Let’s all face it, George A. Romero isn’t getting any younger. At the age of 73, does he want to be doing this for as long as he lives? All I ask, as do many fans, is that he does one more movie, his big send off. One that goes out with a bang. Large hordes, plenty of gore and likable characters is all I ask for. Of course the chances of this happening are slim at the moment, as there is little to no news of any movement towards another George A. Romero zombie movie. Also, like rumoured for Survival of the Dead before being canned, it should just be called ‘of the Dead’.

To this day, it’s impossible to think of a zombie movie without thinking of one made by George A. Romero. He deserves a chance to bring the pinnacle of zombie movies to the big screen once again, and I sure hope he gets that chance.

-ast

World War Z (2013) Review

I love this poster.

I love this poster.

Every human being we save, is one less to fight.

Next on the summer blockbuster is list a zombie movie. Wait what? Let me just double-check. Yep, a zombie movie. Who could have guessed that we’d have received a zombie movie in the summer, with the budget and marketing of your standard superhero movie? Not many people, but it’s a welcome change for me personally. Zombie movies are my favourite sub-genre of horror. So to get a movie of this scale, about zombies no less, is an absolute treat for people like me. However, does the production troubles, rewrites and it being rated 15 (PG-13 in the US) hurt the movie? No… but yes.

World War Z has very little to do with the book. Aside from some similar stories that characters tell, this movie feels very much like its own thing. In World War Z we follow United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), as he traverses the world in a race against time to stop the zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

Now Brad Pitt is the star of this movie. All other actors/ actresses feel like nothing more than story filler and characters that I, as a viewer, wasn’t given the chance to grow to care about. So Brad Pitt has to carry this whole movie, fortunately he does a fine job. I’ve always liked him in the roles he’s played in the past and in World War Z he still delivers. I came to care for his character and sit on the edge of my seat as some of the more intense scenes played out. Daniella Kertesz plays Segan, who becomes a companion character to Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane. Even though I came to like her, if feel it a shame that we never hear more about her in the scenes she’s in. She has very few lines and it’s a real shame, I would have loved to have heard stories and background on her character as the movie progressed. A missed opportunity in my eyes.

Director Marc Foster has a decent background of movies behind him. Whilst not having seen them all, from the ones I have watched, this could be his best film yet. A lot of camera shots that displayed the destructive force of the zombie horde were very well-chosen. The movie has a great balance of big open scenes that show zombie hordes taking over a city in the matter of minutes, to smaller, quieter, more suspenseful scenes that show how dangerous just a handful of them are. From tight camera shots, to cityscapes show in ruin, Marc Foster has done a wonderful job of making the apocalypse nice to look at.

Mentioned above, but being the biggest surprise of the whole movie, there are quite a lot of suspenseful moments when zombies jumping out of the darkness made me jump out my seat. These were totally unexpected from seeing the trailer, but nevertheless, a fantastic addition to the movie. These scenes helped give World War Z that horror movie feel, when gore and violence is cut back to make a movie more accessible, filmmakers have to be imaginative to make the balance feel fair. It was the inclusion of suspense that achieved that for horror fans like myself.

On to the more expansive, and no doubt expensive scenes of the movie. To be perfectly honest, you see a lot of it in the trailer, so you know exactly what to expect. Hordes of zombies running like a wave of death through the streets consuming everything in their path. It’s quite nail-biting and something I have never seen done before. I liked what they did, it showed numbers as well as these zombies giving off the vibe of being an unstoppable force, even when met face to face with a helicopter mounted machine gun. Felling fresh and original, for the first time ever, I liked the fact that zombies were running.

Speaking of zombies, they’re called that often throughout the movie. Not infected, just zombies. I was nice for a change, let’s just call them like we see them. At first glance, they would remind anyone of the rage infected hordes from 28 Days/ Weeks Later. As we progress through the narrative though, we see zombies that are quite fascinating. When nothing is around, they wander around like a classic zombie. However, when triggered by noise or visual contact with humans, it’s almost like they activate in a way and start to give chase. When in pursuit they also have the tendency to leap onto their victims like some sort of Rugby/ American Football player. This leads to some wonderfully done outbreak scenes, with zombies leaping from victim to victim.

World War Z has a great opening act too. Showing us the initial outbreak in Philadelphia with Brad Pitt’s character and his family in the middle of it all. For any fan of zombie movies, this is total eye candy and as close to the real thing as we would ever want to get. We see zombies throwing themselves at the fleeing crowd of humanity. We also get a glimpse of what people would lower themselves to when such an event would happen. With a possible rape scene and gun being pointed at us and not the zombies. Another standout moment in the movie took place on a plane, without giving too much away, this was incredibly intense.

It’s all been quite positive aside from the disposable cast up until now. So let’s talk about the ending, without spoilers. I didn’t like it. Not a lot of other people did too. My reasoning behind it though, was the fact that it led to making a sequel extremely difficult. I have many ideas that would make a sequel plausible, but at the moment, it seems as though it was filmed to simply make sure nobody could easily make a sequel. A real shame too, from memory, the war against the Undead was a long and brutal fight. So there could have been plenty of stories to tell. I say all this because I wanted more, the movie flew by and was over before I knew it. I wanted more footage, now I want a sequel focusing on the war and not the initial outbreak.

Maybe someone will hear my cries and we’ll have a ‘Part 2’ in the future. As it stands though, World War Z was a nice surprise, being very entertaining and pleasing to watch as a fan of horror and zombies in general. It has its problems like the ending and a lack of memorable characters, but the positives outweigh the negatives. I would happily suggest that you go and watch the movie, whether a fan of the book, horror, zombies or simply just action, you’ll find something in World War Z that’ll make you walk away with a smile.

8 Zombie Hordes out of 10

-ast

Top 5 Games of 2013, so far…

I must admit, when making a list of all the games I’ve played this year so far, I had no idea how difficult a task it would be to only pick 5. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these 5 games make it into the top 10 games list at the end of the year, with next-gen just around the corner. Some of the games listed, you may not have played yet and hopefully this list will encourage you to pick it up. To make it on this list, the games had to be memorable, an experience I wanted to go through again. As a package, everything had to be at least enjoyable, that includes any multiplayer or co-op mode. Finally, all games had to be worth the price of admission, every penny you spend on the game had to feel like it was well spent on a quality product.

1. The Last of Us – It really is this good, I promise you. The story was nothing short of one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with games. Characters I cared for, situations I cringed at, A.I. that was fun to play against and a conclusion that leaves me more than curious to see where Naughty Dog may go in the future with the franchise or DLC. Then there’s the multiplayer, and once again, it’s amazing. The focus on survival, crafting and limited ammo makes the multiplayer feel unlike anything you’ve ever played. Each life is just as precious as the next. After putting over 15 hours into it, I can’t wait to see it expand with more modes and maps through DLC.

2. Bioshock Infinite – I remember playing the original Bioshock like it was yesterday, I played through that game numerous times. Unfortunately, Bioshock Infinite didn’t capture the magic of Rapture for me. That’s not so say it’s a bad game however, quite the opposite actually. This game shown gamers that the main driving force of the game doesn’t have to be the playable character, but it can be a companion character. Elizabeth was the best friend we always wanted, come the end of the game, all we care about is the safety of her character. That’s great story telling and writing if I ever saw it.

3. Tomb Raider – Never talk about a game exceeding expectations until you’ve played Tomb Raider. This game shocked me with its brutality, yet drew me in with the development of Lara Croft as a character. A simple explorer, turned true survivalist. From her first kill, to losing some of her closest friends, we see a side of Lara Croft that I want to see more of. Multiplayer is perhaps a little more average in comparison to the single player, but when your setting traps, zip lining across maps and hunting down your friends, it can be a lot of fun.

4. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – For the price of admission, you’ll find it hard to get better value than this. When most shooters seem to focus on the realism and Russian enemies, the idea of playing a cyber commando and dragons shooting lasers out their eyes is a pleasant one. As it turns out, it was. For a 1/4 of the price of a retail game, you got just as much content. Funny, over-the-top, great soundtrack, fantastic art style, it’s the game every fan of movies from the 80’s has to play. Now if only we could see a sequel or full a Far Cry game in this style, Ubisoft would be on to a winner.

5. Metro: Last Light – If you wanted to play a survival horror, first-person shooter with a captivating story, then Metro: Last Light has you covered. Graphics that will push your PC to its limits, stealth gameplay that feels satisfying yet violent, Metro as a franchise is heading to the right direction. Improving upon its predecessor in every way, I’m interested in where they may go with the series next. There’s always that rumoured cut multiplayer content they may want to expand into a game, or maybe try to tell some stories from different view points. Nether the less, with Deep Silver now own the publishing rights to Metro, we may see more, sooner than you think.

Honourable Mentions – Dead Space 3, God of War: Ascension, State of Decay, Crysis 3 and Injustice: God Among Us.

-ast

State of Decay – Sandbox Mode and 500,000+ Downloads

It hit the spot.

It hit the spot.

Big congratulations are needed as Undead Labs have achieved over 500,000 downloads for their open-world, zombie survival game, State of Decay. If this is evident to anything, it’s that the zombie sub-genre of games is not overdone, just needing a new direction. That direction being a focus on survival and not mowing them down with enough ammo to sustain an army. With these kinds of sales, it’s no surprise that Undead Labs is hard at work on patches for the game to make it more stable, but more interesting, they’re also working on additional content.

We all know, including Undead Labs themselves that a co-op mode would do more than sweeten the deal. These kind of survival games crave he ability to have a friend accompany you as you walk, run and drive through the zombie infested map. Unfortunately, this is something that will take time and will not be coming to the game anytime soon, the developers themselves have confirmed that.

On the positive side though, they have confirmed something that will be coming to the game within the next couple of months. Sandbox Mode. In this mode the story quests are deactivated and your one and only objective is to survive for as long as you can. Also confirmed is that some additional mechanics will be introduced within this mode, however no light has been shed on what they may be. For me, maybe some additional activities to keep you busy around the map or the inclusion of being able to have your home base at any of the available destinations on the map.

Unfortunately, we’re still in the dark as to whether or not this Sandbox Mode will arrive as paid DLC, free DLC or in a free update. We do know that achievements will be attached to it, but usually that means it’s a form of DLC, and usually paid DLC at that. Drop the extra achievements and let everyone who has bought the game, experience the new mode, that’s what I say. Either way, well done Undead Labs, I look forward to future products from you.

-ast

Man of Steel (2013) Review

It's good, it's REALLY good.

It’s good, it’s REALLY good.

It’s not an S. On my world it means hope.

You don’t know summer is here by the change in weather. Nor by the way people start to dress. Only when you begin to see trailers and posters for the next big superhero movie, do you start to believe summer is actually upon us. It will never feel like the summer unless we get superhero movie, they’ve proven to be safe money for studios. 2013 has already seen the return of Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 (Review Here), now it’s Superman’s turn to hog the limelight. But does his long-awaited return succeed in making Superman a hot topic? It certainly felt that way to me!

Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder, produced by Christopher Nolan and written by David S. Goyer, has the credentials behind it to make any movie lover go crazy. Zack Snyder knows his way around an action movie, and the people behind the greatest superhero trilogy ever conceived are helping him. This movie was going to be great before it had even been made. Man of Steel is about Clark Kent trying to find his purpose in life. He is then forced to confront his heritage and who he really is when Earth is invaded by members of his race.

Henry Cavill plays Superman in the movie, and if you didn’t like him now, you’ll like him after the movie. He’s an excellent Superman, being both a sympathetic character and an absolute badass when needed. Michael Shannon plays opposite to that as General Zod. We’ve not had the pleasure to such a greatly played villain since Heath Ledger was the Joker. He felt like a menace when on-screen and was able to hold his ground in fight scenes. Not to mention, he don’t give a flying fuck about us humans, he’s totally ready to kill everyone on earth. At Shannon’s side we have Antje Traue as Faora-Ul, she also plays a great villain but I feel as though she was a little underplayed in the movie and deserved more on-screen time.

Both Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner play Jor-El and Jonathan Kent respectively. They are the father figures towards Superman in the movie and do well to drive forward the more emotional moments in the movie. They both shape what Clarke is to grow up to be, and are both responsible for the birth of Superman. Amy Adams unfortunately didn’t quite nail Lois Lane for me. She felt like more of a forced love interest to me and didn’t do much in the story for me to care about her character. I literally wouldn’t have bat an eye lid if she had died or not, and it serves her right, she even flew into battle with the military at the end of the movie.

Unlike many other superhero movies that have blessed us in the past, Man of Steel features very little comedy relief. DC Comic movies generally go for that tone anyway, and it’s usually Marvel that love to put a lot to chuckle about in their movies. That works to Man of Steel’s advantage though, giving it a serious tone. That in turn, makes the overall movie seem more violent, we may not see blood everywhere, but having people punched across a city certainly makes you feel the contact. You can tell the guys behind The Dark Knight Trilogy had their hand in this movie as it features the same dark, adult tone you would get from one of the recent Batman movies.

Being directed by Zack Snyder, you’d expect nothing short of amazing from the action in the movie. No problem here, there’s plenty of it and it both looks and sounds amazing. To movie has few quiet moments, but those that are there give great motive and reasoning behind why Clarke wants to find out who he is and where he came from. On the other side of the coin, the action is spectacular. Zack Snyder uses his experience to great advantage here, with fight scenes where anything is possible, to seeing Metropolis fall victim the General Zod’s scheme. It’s eye candy at it’s very best, we know a lot of it is CGI, but we simply don’t give a shit. It looks that amazing and is extremely entertaining to watch.

The real highlight during the movie for me however is Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack. This guy knows his stuff when it comes to creating memorable music that truly resonates with the characters on-screen. He showed this with The Dark Knight Trilogy. I am also a big fan of his work in Inception too. Is this my favourite work he has done however? I’d have to listen to the whole soundtrack on its own, but it has a great chance to be his best work yet. The way the music and scenes on-screen are moulded together was a treat for both your eyes and ears. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but when we’re getting explosive action on-screen and epic music behind it, I shake a little with excitement. It may be just me, but it happened on a regular basis during Man of Steel. I can’t wait to get my hands on the OST as soon as I can. It’s the kind of music that builds up tension over time and then explodes with the orchestra in full effect.

I felt something I had never felt after watching a movie before. I’m not quite sure what, I was speechless, immediately wanting to watch the movie a second time. Was it the sheer scale of the movie? The kind of fights scenes were we can see people punch each other through buildings? A Superman that we can relate to? How about all of it and more. Not only is this Zack Snyder’s best movie to date, this is the best superhero movie we have ever gotten. This comes from a big fan of The Dark Knight movies, but it’s only when you watch it for yourself will you truly believe me. Now all we need is some worthy sequels and an equally worthy Justice League movie.

If your still reading at this point, please don’t. Open another tab, book some tickets to go and see Man of Steel, and experience one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. Whilst you’re at it to, try to make it an IMAX 3D booking if you can, it will blow your mind. Whilst not quite a perfect movie (what is?), this may be as close to perfect as we’re going to get this year.

10 Laps Around Earth out of 10

-ast