Sunday 31 October 2010

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Clive & Ian Bailey gamebook Where the Shadows Stalk. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones.

Rob: I fire the revolver!
Brad: Can you blast the creature before it attacked you? You draw your revolver, crouch and prepare to fire.
Rob: It already attacked me?....Well then, no...
Brad: But, just as you are about to squeeze the trigger, you feel a terrible itching sensation all over your body and, looking down, see that your body is covered in a mass of writhing insects! In fact, the whole quarry seethes with millions of bugs. Centipedes crawl over your gun, beetles stir in your hair and maggots squirm round your feet.
Rob: That'd be hilarious if one of the centipedes just plucked the gun out of my hand.
Brad: This must be some kind of terrible hallucination, willed upon you by the alien.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Uh-uh. I think not.

Brad: Spiders crawl upon your face as you will your revolver back on target. The gun bucks in your hand and instantly the crawling horrors disappear. How many rounds do you want to fire?
Rob: One. Just to start off.
Brad: As the alien hangs in the air, an incandescent blotch begins to grow on its body.
You are about to be attacked by an energy bolt! The alien fails to launch the bolt.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Haha, wanker!

Rob: Use the revolver again!
Brad: How many bullets do you want to fire?
Rob: Two. I've got an exponential attack pattern.
Brad: Both rounds hit.
Rob: Of course they do, I'm the tits!
Brad: The bullets rip into the alien's delicate body. A colourless liquid pours from the gaping wounds and the creature collapses in a heap, its tentacles feebly twitching. Now you can begin to guide the villagers from the quarry.
Rob: I unhitch the truck.
Brad: Turning to the villagers, you see that, though dazed, they have recovered their free will. Which is nice.
Rob: I always find I miss it when it's not there.
Brad: Running over, you urge them to flee the quarry before Charles' dynamite obsessed attack begins. Yet, even as you coax them to the slate truck, three great explosions rend the air.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Run, you crazy sons of bitches!

Brad: Your time has run out; the attack has begun! As the weaker villagers finish scrambling aboard the truck, you and two able-bodied men kick the slate from the wheels and push. Reluctantly, the truck begins to roll, but in a moment it is rumbling down the line to freedom. You grab the truck's side and hoist yourself aboard. As the truck rolls towards the quarry defile, the air is filled with the unceasing crackle of dynamite exploions.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Where's the snap and the pop?

Brad: Glancing over the steel side, you see the aliens and their mutant minions scurrying through the dust to cut off your escape. How will you deal with this new threat?
Rob: Christ...
Brad: You hope the truck has enough momentum to smash through the creatures. With each second, the truck gathers more speed. However, the mutants are already crouched beside the line and the alien's flanks are glowing with the tell-tale white patches that precede an energy-bolt attack. Yelling to the villagers to keep down, you duck behind the truck's side and await the impact. With a jolt, the truck rolls through the mutants.
Rob: Deep Impact?
Brad: Presumably with a sound like a golf ball. A gurgling scream rises from beneath the wheels, then a large explosion stuns you, and you find yourself lying amongst the villagers at the back of the truck. Looking back, you see the front of the truck has buckled in and is beginning to melt - an energy bolt must have hit it! One of the villagers gives a hoarse cry and, turning, you see a misshapen arm appearing over the truck's side!
Rob: A horse cry? A misshapen arm? What the fuck is going on? I get my knobkerrie out!
Brad: As the first mutant hauls himself over the side, you greet him with a crushing blow from your knobkerrie. Clutching his face, he falls backwards, dropping a heavy mattock into the truck. Whatever that is.
Rob: Isn't he a TV detective?
Brad: Just looked it up. It's a digging tool, apparently. You order one of the villagers to grab it...then something flops onto the floor behind you. Spinning round, you come face to face with a hideously deformed mutant.
The stench of rotting flesh fills your nostrils and, as you retch, the horror attacks. With a terrible hiss, the mutant swings his mattock at you.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Well, bitch. Taste my knobkerrie!

Brad: You duck and the mattock whistles over your head, smashing into a mutant scrambling into the truck on your right. Hissing with anger, the mutant starts to pull the mattock out of his accidental victim, who slumps to the floor.
Rob: Knobkerrie, away!
Brad: Raising your knobkerrie, you aim a vicious blow at the mutant's head. The mutant slips to one side, dodging your blow.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Prick!

Brad: The knobkerrie splinters on the rim of the truck!
Rob: Oh fucking hell.

***Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones has lost KNOBKERRIE***

Rob: Is the car still moving at this point?
Brad: With a terrible hiss, the mutant swings its mattock at you. The mattock rushes over your head and sinks into another mutant who is climbing on to the truck behind you. Hissing with anger, the mutant you are fighting starts to pull his mattock free.
Rob: Hit him!
Brad: You aim a two-handed blow against his head.
Rob: Why would you punch like that?
Brad: I do not know. Your blow smashes into the side of his head. With a terrible hiss, the mutant swings his mattock at you. You dodge.
Rob: Hit him again!
Brad: You throw another gay punch. You miss the mutant, who has slipped to one side and your blow crashes down on the side of the truck. You howl with agony. The mutant attacks you.
You dodge.
Rob: Hit. It.
Brad: You miss and punch the wall again. Maybe you should throw a grown up's punch?
Rob: Maybe I will.
Brad: He attacks you. The mattock crashes into your shoulder, numbing your whole body.
Rob: Bollocks, this is almost the end! Grapple that fucker! If i'm going down, he's coming with me.
Brad: As the mutant readies the mattock, you grab its haft and push the creature back against the truck's side, whilst at the same time attempting to wrest the weapon from his hands. Tearing the mattock from the mutant's hands, you deal him a crushing blow to the head.
Rob: Yeaaaaahhhhh!
Brad: The mutant's body goes limp and he falls to the floor.
Rob: I stomp on his nads.
Brad: Elated by this success, you turn to help the villagers, as the truck rolls out of the quarry. The truck has picked up a fair speed as you turn to witness the villagers pushing out the last mutant. Three villagers are wounded and four are dead but otherwise your plan has worked!

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I am so tired.

Brad: As you kneel to help the wounded, a terrific explosion rends the air.
Rob: Terrific!
Brad: Looking back to the quarry, you see clouds of smoke and steam boiling into the sky and a great gout of water spurts from the quarry defile, sweeping everything before it.
Charles' dynamite must have released the reservoir waters into the quarry! A painful wailing begins to fill the air and, through the smoke and steam, you spot a large dark object rising above the hill. The wailing rises in pitch, then the creature ship shoots into the sky!
But part of it falls away and the ship begins to tumble, careering across the valley until it crashes into the far mountainside and is buried beneath a massive landslide! You have witnessed the destruction of the creature-ship!

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Hooray!

Brad: After helping the wounded villagers to get out of the truck at Bryn Coedwig, you trudge warily back up Quarry Valley to view the scene of devastation. Walking between puddles of steaming water and piles of shattered rock, you spot something glinting at the base of one of the slag heaps. A quartz crystal perhaps?
Rob: Maybe...
Brad: You hand prises free a curious alien crystal in the shape of a prism. It glows with an inner light but, as soon as you stare into it, the light disappears. Charles and his party of villagers appear round the far end of the slag heap and an irresistible urge to hide the prism fills your mind. Pocketing it swiftly, you hail him, and head back to Bryn Coedwig, swapping stories.
Rob: I smell a sequel...

Charles: Well, I felt the plan was a complete success, with only two casualties.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: My two red-shirts?
Charles: Maybe...were...are you fond of them?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Define "fond".

Brad: You stay at Petrie-Heydrich's house for a further four days, helping the villagers and scouring the valleys for any sign of the aliens.
Rob: Helpful of me, I think.
Brad: On the fifth day you decide it is time you took your leave and in the morning you say your farewells to Petrie-Heydrich and Lucy. The postman's pony and trap take you to Corris, from where you catch a train to London. By the time you reach your house in Bedford Terrace, the evening is well advanced.
Rob: As in "clever"?
Brad: The housekeeper greets you at the door and, after a light dinner, you climb the stairs to your study. Once in the study, you open the window to let in some fresh air and then draw out the prism to look at it under the desk lamp. It is made of an opaque material rather like glass but you cannot scratch it with your letter knife and it has a disconcerting green tinge to it. It is in the shape of a pyramid and its four sides are all smooth and plain. The base sports a curious symbol, which is not engraved but somehow set inside the object.
The symbol is a stylised representation of a dragon curled round upon itself with its jaws devouring its own tail.
Rob: Shite. Ouroboros...
Brad: Hey, I'm impressed!
Rob: So those aliens I sent away were actually just Latin speakers?
Brad: Nothing else speaks of the object's origin or function, though you do notice that when it is placed directly in a light beam, it does not refract the light like an ordinary prism, but instead absorbs it. Whatever this object is, it is certainly not a prism. The only thing you have ever seen like it before are ancient Egyptian pyramidions on show in the British Museum.
Rob: This is a Kojima project, isn't it?
Brad: But those miniature pyramids are made of stone, not this strange glass or crystal, and their sides are usually decorated with hieroglyphics and drawings. Unable to deduce anything further, you put the strange artefact on your desk and, settling down in your favourite chair, begin to read the newspaper. Over the widowsill comes a gaunt hand, bearing curiously long talons.
They scrabble over the desk top and seize the pyramid prism. With a shout, you bound to the window and peer out. How could a thief have snatched the prism when you inhabit the second floor of the house?
Rob: He had long talons...He could have been freakishly tall as well.
Brad: As you stare out of the window, you see below the figure of a man - crawling down the wall. You shout again and the thief springs to the ground. For a brief instant a pale ugly face leers at you, then the gangling figure turns and lopes away into the night. Grabbing your coat from the back of the chair, you run for the door...



Omer: Hah! How superfluous was I?

Dickass DM will return on 12th November.

Saturday 30 October 2010

DVD Reviews

Starring: Adrien Brody, Eric Foreman, Danny Trejo
Director: Nimrod Antal
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 1st November - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy Set)
Review by Blake Harmer

A group of killers chosen for their ability to kill without conscience - some trained, some not - have been captured and dropped on a jungle planet to be hunted by the Predators. Will these human hunters be able to survive now that they have become the prey? After twenty years since the last true sequel, and having to endure the likes of terrible movie AVP2: Requiem, the Predator needed a film to do it justice and bring the franchise into the 21st century. Thankfully director Nimrod Antal and producer Robert Rodriguez have noticed this and given the Predator the update it deserves.

The film is great mainly because it captures the essence of the first Predator film. From the jungle setting, to the team of survivors being picked off one by one. It also captures the feel of the creature itself, from the traps the predators lay, to the weapons they use. It is also great as it shows a little more insight into the predator race, such as their dog like creatures they use to find and flush out the survivors at the beginning of the film. Also, Adrien Brody’s Royce makes for a great hard man action hero and makes for a worthy successor to Schwartzenegger’s Dutch. Also, with a crisp Blu-ray release with plenty of extras to keep Predator fans happy, this is a great film.

The film does have its flaws, though. It does seem a bit too reliant on trying to constantly reference the original Predator than focusing on being original to the franchise, and the plot may not be that fresh for the sci-fi action genre. But the main point is that the Predator, possibly one of the hardest monsters in the universe is back, and with a sequel it truly deserves.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Plenty of guns, explosions and people being cut to pieces by large wrist blades.
Sex/Nudity: None, a bad joke about rape, but nothing else.
Swearing: Quite a few f words and S words but doesn’t really feel overused considering it is part of the action genre.
Summary: A thoroughly enjoyable action romp that whilst not having too much originality to the proceedings, has plenty to keep the fans happy whilst expanding the concept of the Predator creature and giving it more dimensions. Chuck in a great Blu-ray release with plenty of extras and you have great package that easily erases the horrors of AVP2. 8/10
7 Days
Starring: Rose-Marie Coallier, Claude Legault, Fanny Mallette (No, not a joke. Her name is Fanny Mallet)
Director: Daniel Grou
E1 Entertainment

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Kelly Prior

7 Days is the remarkably harrowing story of Bruno Hamel, a doctor whose life is thrown into misery when his beloved daughter is raped and murdered on her way to hand out her birthday invitations. After his marriage begins to fall apart, he literally has nothing left to lose, so he hatches a plot to kidnap the man who killed his daughter. In a remote country house, he begins his seven days of brutal torture on the man who took everything away from him.

It’s a very thought provoking movie. It plants the question in your mind; what would you do, if you caught the man who raped and murdered your child? Could you be humane and offer forgiveness, or could you find the monster within yourself?

The distinct lack of musical score is very unsettling, but in a good way. This film wants you to feel uncomfortable. It’s very difficult to watch, and is in fact very fucked up at some points. It’s a great look into the human psyche and the need to seek revenge. We see the action from two different perspectives; from Hamel’s, and from the perspective of the detective who is trying to find him. It’s an intense crime thriller that really puts the viewer under pressure.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Very gruesome scenes of torture
Sex/Nudity: None, but paedophilia is a big topic throughout.
Swearing: Plenty.
Summary: This film is pretty tormenting, and quite uncomfortable to watch. But, it’s obviously intentional, and does add to the experience. 5/10
Chanbara Striptease
Starring: Ryo Akanishi, Sasa Handa
Director: Akira Hirose
Manga Entertainment

Available Now – £17.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Following the death of her mother, Lili has been living with her grandmother and is about to become the latest in a long line of female warriors adept at the deadly martial art of Sayama Hashinryu. During a ceremony inducting her into the ranks, Lili is transported to a small village in 18th Century Japan, where she finds herself naked and alone. In no time at all she is fulfilling her destiny as a warrior by rescuing a young pregnant girl, Miss Yae, from ninja members of the Yamishika gang. It transpires that the gang is working for the evil Lady Okinu, who is running a protection racket throughout the local villages.

After being introduced to, and falling for, Yae’s brother, Hikoichi, Lili agrees to help the villagers by taking on Lady Okinu. Believing her samurai swordfighting skills – not to mention her magical, power-enhanced breasts (yeah, she has to have her tits out to fight properly) Lili is confident she can overcome the despot.

This movie is pure TITillation. See what I did there? Chanbara Striptease is that subtle.

This is totally, unbelievably, Japanically insane...and not in a good way something like Big Tits Zombie is. This is trying way, way too hard to be kooky and insane...and when something tries too hard to be kooky, it just becomes very, very annoying (cf. Pink). If Chanbara Striptease could be likened to any Western movie in feel and tone, it would be Tank Girl. And that’s never, ever a good thing.

The kung-fu is terrible. I’ve seen more convincing weapon wielding in Norwegian Black Metal music videos. This is really just generally very, very irritating.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Frequent sword combat and magical battles.
Sex/Nudity: The heroine needs to have her tits out to activate her magic powers. So does the baddie. They fight and jiggle and fight and fight and jiggle like a porny Itchy and Scratchy. There is also one surprisingly strong sex scene. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a porn movie with all the sex cut out. Come to think of it, that explains a lot. An awful lot. I’m onto you, Japan...
Swearing: Some, but nothing particularly memorable.
Summary: Strangely pointy tits aren’t enough to save this movie from the dull plot, predictable twists, sloppy kung-fu and overall stupidity. 2/10
Haunting at the Beacon
Starring: Elaine Hendrix, Teri Polo, David Rees Snell
Director: Michael Stokes
Scanbox Entertainment

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

While recovering from the loss of their son a couple relocate to the Beacon Apartments only to find that the building is haunted by a young boy. In an attempt to contact their own son, they try freeing the ghost only to discover a dark, malevolent entity stalks the halls of the Beacon.

The direction here is really, really lazy. It feels like a lame Hallmark channel Halloween special of some sort. The main problem it faces is that the central mystery really isn’t very interesting. Why do they give a fuck about this young boy? Why when he’s not scary anyway? I’ve shat myself more whilst watching Teddy Ruxpin than this.

The director makes several attempts towards a J-Horror The Grudge/Dark Water style of cinematography, but it’s very frequently let down by how awful it is. Then the last thirty turns into a zombie movie for no explicable reason, and a Doc Marten boot lashes out and the screen cracks. Michael Stokes, you owe me a new TV.

Finally, whilst I love the guy, Michael Ironside is rarely a seal of quality, is he?

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some bludgeoning, shooting and scuffling.
Sex/Nudity: Some BDSM type shenanigans.
Swearing: Some, but pretty mild, all told.
Summary: A dull haunted house story that really doesn’t offer anything interesting for the first hour, then gives up on making any kind of sense for a ridiculous ending. 3/10
Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated
Starring: Karl Hardman, Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea
Director: George A. Romero/Mike Schneider

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated is a collaborative artistic mash-up of George Romero's cult classic original zombie movie. Nearly 150 International artists and animators chose their favourite scenes and re-envisioned them through their own artwork, with no restrictions on style, media or process - resulting in an eclectic 'art show' interpretation of the seminal 1968 film, all placed over the original's audio.

With work ranging from oil paintings to comic illustrations and sock puppets to CGI and stop-motion - Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated not only pays the respect due to this most important work in horror history, but encourages viewers to experience the film in a brand new light that bursts with the humour and horror of a new generation of artists.

The effect of several different artistic and animation styles spliced together in rapid succession isn’t as jarring as it sounds. In fact, it’s like watching a movie whilst simultaneously viewing an art gallery. The artwork is generally of a high quality (the only repeatedly seen ones of questionable quality are the machinima segments. These are just jerky and distracting), and highly enjoyable.

If you’re a fan of the original movie, then you’ll really enjoy this. How well it will stand up to repeat viewings depends on whether or not you’re into art and animation, really. However, if you liked the sound of this and were wondering whether or not to take the plunge: go for it. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Very, very well.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Frequent riot/scuffling type violence, and some cannibalism.
Sex/Nudity: One nude zombie, not very clear in this version.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A great looking experiment. It’s fun, but you’ll be unlikely to watch this more than once. Well worth a rental, though. Still, bring on Dawn of the Dead! 8/10
Starring: Jeremy Fitzgeral, Emily Hardy, Mercedes McNab
Director: Michael A. Nickles
Chelsea Cinema

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Kelly Prior

Right, let me just get this synopsis out of the way, and then I can start telling you why you should never watch this film.

Leonard Karlsson has been released from prison after five years of being abused and mutilated by his fellow prisoners. Left with a grossly disfigured face, he wears a freakish mask to cover his shame. Karlsson has only one goal now that he is free from prison; to track down the twelve members of the jury who convicted him and make them pay. Basically, he has no face so he decides to take their faces away too. Not the most original plot, to be fair.

So, Claire and Vicki, two young girls who were on that ill-fated jury, take it upon themselves to save the townspeople and themselves from this menacing killer. Meanwhile, there’s an FBI agent who “goes missing” (he dies, I don’t care if I’m spoiling it) early on and, for some reason, is never spoken about again, and we are forced to watch far too many scenes about the world's worst deputy sheriff ever. And not in a funny way.

Just don’t bother. It’s terrible. I actually can’t bring myself to believe that it won Best Film at the 2009 annual International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival. Standards must be getting lower. The lead actress, Emily Hardy, looks and acts just like Kristen Stewart, which is obviously a very, very, very bad thing. Her totally dead-pan approach to acting made the film painful to watch.

Twelve is crammed full of clichés, and not in a cool Tarantino sort of way. It’s also full of plot holes and I’m not even joking when I say you actually learn more about the plot from the blurb on the back of the DVD case than you do watching the film. The ending is appalling; so anti-climactic and disappointing. The film is actually pretty boring in parts, and never really has a chance to get going before it’s over. Oh, and the effects are awful, and the blood might as well be strawberry sauce. There are some good factors though, I suppose. The masked or disfigured monster makes for a great iconic horror villain. And a guy gets his head blown off which is pretty cool.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Is ketchup considered violent?
Sex/Nudity: Nope
Swearing: No, these people speak really courteously considering they are about to die.
Summary: An insult to true horror fans. 1/10
Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season
Starring: Erica Durance, Allison Mack, Tom Welling
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £49.99 (DVD) & £59.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Soaring into its ninth season, this modern retelling of the Superman legend and its classic characters continues to blend realism, action and emotional depth to reveal a new interpretation of the enduring mythology. This season, as Metropolis's clock tower tolls our characters' darkest hour, we find Clark Kent finally making his first attempts to embrace his calling as a superhero.

Clark tells Jor-El he's ready to start his training, but Jor-El sends him back to Metropolis to cut ties with Lois before he can begin. Chloe is shocked when Lois suddenly reappears after having been missing for weeks -- but Lois has no recollection of vanishing into thin air with the Legion ring. While investigating a monorail crash, Lois meets John Corben, a new reporter at The Daily Planet, with a negative attitude toward the “Red-Blue Blur”. Meanwhile, Oliver continues down a dark road, and Zod arrives at the Luthor mansion.

This is definitely Smallville’s best season so far, the storyline is dark and twisted, the newly introduced characters are well developed and it finally feels like it has grown up and joined the big bad world. I finally feel like I am getting to the root of Clark Kent and his development into Superman. You see him battling with his need for human contact as well as trying to put his feelings to one side so perform as a superhero trying to save the people of Earth.

The new villain in town is Major Zod and he has brought his army of Kandorians with him, it is great to see the Clark struggle with his trying to help the Kandorians acclimatise to their new surroundings whilst at the same time trying to save the humans from this new alien species living on earth.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Plenty of violence and destruction
Sex/Nudity: Plenty of scenes where you know sex has either happened or about to take place, unfortunately no nakedness, not even some side-boob action.
Swearing: The odd “bitch” dotted around the place.
Summary: This is Smallville’s best season yet. A great watch, still has some cheesy moments but the overall plot is great. 7/10
Baccano!: The Complete Series
Starring: Caitlin Glass, Brina Palencia, J. Michael Tatum
Director: Takahiro Omori
Manga Entertainment

Available Now - £39.99 (4 DVD Set)
Review by Brad Harmer

Don't let nobody tell you there's no future in a life of crime, because some rackets can last forever.

A mafia turf war is raging on the mean streets of the Big Apple, a place where regular joes bounce between backdoor booze joints and the breadline. But this caper ain't about a simple gangland brawl. It's about hoods who can't seem to die proper after catching a bullet or five between the eyes. Sadistic hit-men and the dames they love, mad bombers going boom, monsters going bump and soul sucking alchemists bootlegging an elixir of eternal life.

I didn’t really know what to expect when Baccano! arrived, and I’m still not 100% sure that I know now. What I do know is that despite my well documented grudging acceptable of “Anime Duty” and the fact I am still the only member of the E14 team to actively declare war on Japan (three times, so far), I want it to be known that Baccanno! is awesome. The animation is great, and even the voice acting works. The humour translates well and the story is one of the best I’ve seen in an anime (clever, but not so clever that it disappears up its own dimension shifting, talking, Gothic Lolita dolls backside).

If you’re into anime, then pick this up without hesitation. If you’ve never seen anime before: firstly, this is a really good one to start with, and secondly, where do you live? I might move there.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Several strong scenes of gangland violence, shootings, stabbings, beatings, and explosions. Very frequent blood and gore.
Sex/Nudity: Some romance.
Swearing: Some strong uses.
Summary: An excellent, pulp, action horror story with some great animation to boot! 9/10
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey
Director: David Fincher
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £17.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Blake Harmer

David Fincher’s excellent thriller has finally come to Blu-ray...but has it been worth the wait for this gory tale of two detectives trying to track down a killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi?

Happily I can safely say it is a resounding "yes". The film is still as gripping as it has always been, and the films iconic plot twist still holds up well and is more cerebral than the majority of films it has influenced (I’m looking at you Saw franchise). Also, the transfer to Blu-ray is very crisp. As the film is very dark, the blacks truly stand out in the conversion and look phenomenal. Also the sound has been greatly improved and adds greatly to the feel of the film, especially during the tenser parts.

There are also plenty of extras to keep fans of the film busy such as plenty of commentaries. However, the biggest addition is the fact that you can choose different masters of the sound and video so you can really notice how much has been done to the film for its re-release.

There a couple of niggles, such as the film not looking as impressive during the lighter scenes when compared to the darker ones, but these are just minor problems and do not really detract from the main enjoyment of this re-release.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Plenty of gory murder scenes are shown throughout, but you don’t actually see it occur and the true horror of the murder is more implied than shown. It is very well done, though.
Sex/Nudity: A naked fat man. Probably not a great recommendation for the film, but other nudity is more implied than actually shown throughout the film.
Swearing: Plenty of swearing including eighty-seven uses of the f word according to IMDB. That’s pretty good going for a thriller.
Summary: In short this is an excellent package, and one that is definitely worth getting if you are a fan of the film, and if you haven’t seen Seven? Then you should definitely get this as this is truly a great thriller that still stands the test of time over the last 15 years since it was first released. 9/10
The World at War: The Ultimate Restored Edition
Starring: Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Some Tanks
Fremantle Home Entertainment

Available Now - £79.99 (DVD) & £99.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

The World at War is one of the greatest documentary series ever made. First broadcast in 1973 when memories of the Second World War were still clear in people's minds and the war's veterans numerous, across twenty-six episodes this unique series assembled these recollections, together with archive footage, to create one of the most powerful and successful historical documentaries ever seen.

The World at War is the perfect grounding in World War II history. Little to no prior knowledge is assumed, and everything is clearly and concisely explained. The archive footage is interesting enough on its own, but the remastering job that has taken place for this edition is simply stellar. There are very few scratches or other forms of distortion visible, and the sound is also as good at it can possibly be.

A little pricy for a Christmas present, perhaps, but if you’re into World War II, you should certainly treat yourself to this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Near constant.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: You’d have to go a long way to find a better World War II documentary than this, and this is the best it’s ever looked. The picture and sound is superb. If you’re into your World War II history, you should own this. 10/10


Focusing on the German tank strategies and the invasion into Russia in 1941, Tank Battles of World War II looks to be a pretty entertaining and informative ride. With tanks.

Though outnumbered two to one, the Germans' superior training and tactics gave them the edge in capturing the city of Kiev. They were stopped only twenty miles from Moscow by the powerful Russian T-34 tanks and the bitterly cold winter, which historians consider being a turning point in the war.

Meanwhile, in North Africa, German troops, led by General Erwin Rommel, outclassed and outnumbered the Allied forces until General Patton and his American troops arrived in Tunisia and provided reinforcements.

Thanks to our friends at G2 Entertainment, we've got two copies of Tank Battles of World War II to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Saturday 6th November. The first two names out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!

Friday 29 October 2010

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Clive & Ian Bailey gamebook Where the Shadows Stalk. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones.

Brad: The flickering, opaque, alien mist covers the quarry like a canopy. It is as if you are about to enter a brightly-lit cavern. Keeping close to the left-hand slate embankment, you stealthily advance along a narrow defile that leads out into the quarry. Ahead you can hear the noise of a steam engine.
Rob: What...the...fuck?
Brad: Immediately inside the quarry stands a small locomotive linked to a line of slate trucks. For the first time in three days you see a machine that actually works. But you are even more surprised by what is happening beyond the train. Crouching low, you run into the trucks and shelter behind them.
Some forty yards in front of you a group of villagers and mutants are feverishly working about a dark cleft in the quarry wall. In the strange diffused light the villagers appear ashen-faced and there is a disturbing hint of green to their pallor.
Rob: They're probably a little queasy.
Brad: They move like automatons and they seem to be under the control of three of the tentacled alien creatures. At some unheard signal from the aliens, the villagers and mutants retreat across the quarry and take cover behind some stone slabs. The aliens retreat, too. There is a series of explosions and the rock face to either side of the cleft falls away.


Rob: Hrmph, Metal Gear...
Brad: The rock fall reveals part of a dusty black object. As you watch, the thing begins to writhe and the quarry is suddenly filled with an intense blue light, stabbing out from the object like a fiery dragon's breath. The light splits into myriad beams of colour - red, orange, blue and violet - accompanied by a high-pitched hum.

Chemise-Rouge: Laser Floyd!

Brad: Finally the light beams cut off with an audible crack. Your skin tingles and you feel giddy. The human slaves are stirred to action by the tentacled aliens and return to excavate the creature-ship from its tomb. A blotch glows incandescent on the body of one of the aliens.
Then a ball of light curves gracefully across the quarry floor towards you. The burning globe glides over the top of the slate trucks and ignites on the quarry floor, scattering vicious rock splinters. Obviously you are not welcome here!
Rob: Clearly!
Brad: A second globe punctures the locomotive's side, releasing a great jet of steam. Using the steam cloud for cover, you race for the narrow way out of the quarry and collide with the man who ambushed you on the hillside - somehow he is still alive!

Redshirt: I told you to hit him again.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: You most certainly did not!

Brad: Though the man seems weak after your earlier struggle, he succeeds in grappling with you. A glance over your shoulder reveals the alien guards crowding into the defile. Can you break the man's grip and escape the aliens' energy bolts?
Rob: I certainly hope so!
Brad: With all your might, you swing the man round so that he is between you and the aliens. An energy bolt ignites on the rocks to your right and you feel pain stab through your arm. Then a bolt ignites upon the back of your opponent, bathing you both in an intense white light. The man screams, then falls limp.
Rob: Hehe.
Brad: The smell of charred flesh clogs your nostrils as you drop the body (possibly still holding the arms, let's be honest), and run out on to the quarry road. The slag heaps and broken ground to the south of the quarry road offer ample cover and a chance to shake off your pursuers. That man really held a grudge against you for some reason.
Rob: Yeah, I noticed that. Did I fuck his mum?
Brad: Some while later, you reach the Petrie-Heydrichs' house and Lucy quickly ushers you inside.
Rob: Like a proper usher, with a waistcoat and a torch like the ones they use to guide down planes?
Brad: As you enter the study, that old man looks up from his books and invites you to take a seat by the fire. He listens studiously while you relate the day's adventures.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I got a man vaporised!
Charles: Awesome! Was is all like "Pow!! Arrrgh!!! Whoosh!"?
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Mostly it was all 'ARRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! IT BURNS!!

Brad: By the time you have finished, the light is fading and, while Charles mulls over your story, Lucy takes a taper from the fire and lights the table lamp.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: So...lived here long?

Brad: Gazing thoughtfully into the fire, Charles begins to talk:

Charles: Couple of weeks now.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Wow, so you've lived here as long as I feel like I've been here!
Charles: It feels awfully long to us too.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I have that effect on people.
Charles: Whilst you were prowling around Quarry Valley, I was visiting the village. There I discovered we were not the only victims of last night's attack.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Just the only ones who bagged a kill?
Charles: At least twelve villagers were taken from their homes and dragged away to the quarry. No doubt they were the luckless individuals you saw today. At first I could not fathom this sinister turn in events, but the sounds of blasting at the quarry and your ownobservations have led me to this conclusion: the aliens are trying to free their machine from its tomb and need all the help they can find.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: I have first hand evidence of that being true.
Charles: Now, we must formulate a plan which will not only destroy the aliens, but also ensure the safety of the villagers they have kidnapped.

Brad: You stay awake until the early hours of the morning, devising a plan with Petrie-Heydrich and Lucy. Eventually you decide upon the following: disguised as a mutant, you will attempt to enter the quarry and join the kidnapped villagers.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: All night, and that's the best we could come up with? Make me look a bit mongy?

Brad: Meanwhile, Charles will organise the remaining villagers to push a shitload of dynamite into the old mine.

Redshirt: Right...

Brad: The resulting explosion should seal the mine and distract the aliens. Fifteen minutes later Petrie-Heydrich's party will begin to hurl bundles of dynamite down on to the aliens and mutants in the quarry. The time between the blast and the attack should be sufficient for you to lead the kidnapped villagers to safety.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Sounds like a plan where absolutely nothing can go wrong.
Charles: It's a good just needs a little more dynamite.

Brad: Satisfied that this is the best plan you can devise, you eat a hearty supper before retiring for the night. You awake in the morning refreshed and ready to begin your rescue bid. To complete your part in the plan, you must disguise yourself as one of the mutants in order to enter the quarry without alerting the aliens. To that end, you take flour from the kitchen and rub it into your skin to simulate the mutant's pallor. A back-pack would be too conspicuous, so you can only take four of the following items with you:
Stick of Dynamite (each stick counts as one item)
Revolver (loaded with six bullets)
Warrior's Wand

Rob: Well, let's see: a single stick of dynamite...Revolver...Knobkerrie...Dagger.
Brad: What's the thinking here?
Rob: I just figure with a Revolver and a Dagger, I cover my bases in case you've been fucking with me all this time using Cluedo.
Brad: Armed and ready, Charles, Lucy and yourself tramp up to Quarry Valley. Here you join a group of grim-faced villagers, armed with a variety of home-made weapons, shotguns and dynamite. One group is led away by Petrie-Heydrich and Lucy, while the remaining villagers move off towards the quarry rim with a cargo of dynamite. You are left alone to begin your perilous task.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Lucky I have my two red-shir...guys?
Redshirt: I'll be with Lucy.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Who hasn't?
Chemise-Rouge: I'm. Going. Home.
Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Fine. Piss off then, you ponce.

Brad: Picking your way quickly but cautiously among the slag heaps, you move easy towards the quarry. No sounds disturb the early morning air as you approach your destination. Have the aliens already departed?
Rob: Have I gone deaf?
Brad: Or do they lie in ambush near the quarry's entrance?
Rob: Either way, it'll be exciting.
Brad: You climb the crumbling flanks of a slag heap and peer over the crest. Below, two mutant man-things armed with mattocks lurk in the shadows of the defile. As you try to judge your chances of overpowering these guards, the quarry locomotive chugs into view towing a line od laden slate wagons. The engine pulls out of the defile and rumbles onto a circular track which girds your vantage point. Below you, the train halts and the single mutant driver proceeds to dump the slate.
His task completed, the mutant climbs back into the locomotive's cabin and releases the brake. The train moves off round the slag heaps towards you. Here is your chance to enter the quarry.
Rob: Why is there a slag heaping towards me?
Brad: I'm amazed it's taken this long to get around to that gag.
Rob: I try and slip into one of the slate trucks.
Brad: As the train rumbles round the slag heap you hastily descend the broken slope and fling yourself onto one of the trucks. You hoist yourself inside just as the train comes into view of the quarry guards. You have not been detected and the locomotive chugs back into the quarry to halt on the spur line where you encountered it yesterday. Peering from your hiding place, you see the villagers standing just yards away from the train. Away across the quarry floor looms the bulk of the alien's creature-ship.
It has been dragged from its ancient tomb, out into the middle of the quarry. Now three aliens appear to be supervising the labours of man-things who scuttle around and over the ship, which resembles a great black slug. As you watch, the ship heaves and mutants topple from its back.
Rob: Clumsy of them to be up there really.
Brad: There comes a weird crackling sound and pulses of orange and violet light spit from the creature ship's rear into the quarry wall. The rock blackens and then melts! After centuries of slumber the creature-ship awakens. Time is running out! How will you save the villagers before the creature-ship blasts off?
Or before Charles' party destroys the mine and commences hurling explosives down into the quarry? Are you considering any of this? Fucktasm?
There appear to be two grim alternatives.
Rob: Right...Any cheery ones?
Brad: You could join the villagers and try and lead them to safety, or you could unhitch the rear slate wagon from the train and herd the villagers into it...there is just a chance that the truck can be made to roll, in which case it will trundle under its own momentum back down the gentle incline of the defile and Quarry Valley, all the way into Bryn Coedwig.
Rob: Wasn't the entrance to quarry valley being exploded, or have I got it round the wrong way?
Brad: I can't be expected to keep track of your loopy schemes.
Rob: Unhitch the wagon. As long as some alcoholic celebrity's not on it.
Brad: If the Braggarts live for one thing, it's ludicrous schemes, right? Slipping from your hiding place, you drop behind the train and run to the end truck. Here you unhitch the coupling, slide down the slate chute so that the villagers will be able to board, then jam a piece of slate under one of the wheels to prevent the truck from rolling away.
As you finish your task, you feel your scalp tingle and a horrible sensation, like cold water, fills your skull.
Rob: I drown?!
Brad: Peering round the truck, you see one of the aliens wafting across the quarry towards the villagers. The creature's body seethes with a mass of orange and black stripes, while its tentacles fidget excitedly.
Rob: Gross...
Brad: As a group, the villagers begin to move towards the monster. Their minds must be enslaved by the alien!
Rob: Jammy bastard!
Brad: You must fight the alien in order to release the villagers! Running forward, you burst out into the open ground between the shuffling people and the alien creature.

Braggart Smith-Rhys-Jones: Excuse me, I'm with the band. No, really! I'm Bob Dylan!



Using characters intended for an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, writers Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis created Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which began airing in 15-minute episodes as part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming. This collection brings together all the episodes from the fourth series.

Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad are walking and talking food products who spend their days solving mysteries and coping with general problems regarding adolescence. Part of the network's Adult Swim series, which targets 18-34 year olds, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is strikingly original entertainment.

Thanks to our friends at Revolver Entertainment, we've got three copies of Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Season Four to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 5th November. The first three entries out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!

Thursday 28 October 2010

Gaming Reviews

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Mercurysteam/Kojima Production/Konami
Available Now - £49.99 (PS2, Xbox 360 (Version Tested))
Review by Blake Harmer

Set in a war ravaged Europe during the middle-ages where vile creatures such as lycanthropes and vampires wreak havoc, the story follows Gabriel Belmont (Robert Carlyle) who is out to avenge the death of his wife Marie at the hands of the dark forces known as the Lords of Shadow. However, when he learns from his ally Zobek (Patrick Stewart) that the Lords of Shadow each contain a piece of the God Mask, a relic that can make the wielder God’s vassal, Gabriel sets out to destroy the lords and purify the world and bring his love back to life.

As reboots to classic franchises go, Lords of Shadow has certainly pulled out of the stops, with its unique magic system and Gabriel’s whip like combat cross, the combat is graceful but devastating as you take on multiple foes at once...think God of War without the other the top deaths and gore and you’re pretty much there. However, it also ups the scale with huge enemies and lush environments that are some of the best seen on a multi-format game. With huge jungles and large mountains that rival Uncharted and colossal monsters that gives God of War titans a run for their money, the new Castlevania has definitely earned it’s place amongst the big boys of gaming. Chuck in a long twisting adventure spanning several hours and you truly have an epic experience.

However, this reboot is not without it’s flaws, it is quite evident that Lords of Shadow has borrowed greatly from God of War for its combat system and general feel, with even the controls being nigh on identical, and Gabriel just isn’t as interesting a character as Kratos or even other competitors such as Dante or Bayonetta. I also found that some of the button combinations were a bit fiddly to pull off in certain circumstances when under the pressure of combating several enemies, although this was only fairly occasional with other sections such as the platforming and puzzling working fine.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Truly astounding graphics with lush backgrounds and huge enemies to destroy.
Sound/Music: Excellent voiceacting and uplifting and emotional music throughout. Truly epic feeling.
Gameplay: A deep third-person action adventure game with lots of meaty combat, some great puzzles and strong platforming to boot.
Lasting Appeal: A huge single player experience with plenty to unlock from revisitng areas to give it more replayability.
Summary: A truly epic reboot to Konami’s twenty-five year-old franchise that makes castlevania a AAA game again thanks to Mercury Steam and Hideo Kojima. Sure, it may not be the most original game out there at the moment, but it certainly pulls off everything to near perfection and definitely one to get if you love your action games like God of War or Bayonetta. 8/10
Scooby Doo and the Spooky Swamp
Torus/Warner Bros.
Available Now - £14.99 (PS2), £29.99 (DS, ii (Version Tested))
Review by Blake Harmer

Scooby Doo and the Spooky Swamp is a double-edged sword of a platform game. For a budget-end Wii title, it has obviously made an attempt to capture the feel of the Scooby Doo cartoons as accurately as possible, and I can happily say that it has achieved that perfectly for its target audience. However, it is because of its target audience that the game has dumbed down, which is a shame as younger gamers shouldn’t be treated in a way that they can only understand basic gaming and that any other game would be “too hard”.

Take the platforming, for example. The controls are pretty simple with the only difference in each of the members of Mystery Inc. being how they attack and what special ability they have for solving puzzles. For example Scooby Doo attacks close up and can fit through small vents, whilst Velma can throw books whilst decoding locks to open doors. The combat is very basic too with only three possible attacks, which includes your primary attack, a ground stomp when you leap in the air, or the ability to pick up a certain object and throw at them, and all bad guys can be killed in one or all of these ways.

However, as mentioned earlier the praise lies in capturing the feel of the show perfectly, the voice acting and sound affects are great, the plot very similar to your average Scooby Doo episode, and the graphics, whilst nothing to shout about, at least capture the cutesy feel of the show, even though the gang are in children form to be more in line with the new TV series. However, the only downside to this is the canned laughter that seems to follow whenever Scooby or Shaggy say anything in the show is also present here. Even if they say the least funny thing you could say about food, the canned laughter is sure to follow.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Sub par with nothing really special to elevate it from other Wii games.
Sound/Music: Good voice acting and accurate sound effects, but did they really have to put the god awful canned laughter from the show in the game?
Gameplay: Basic platforming and adventuring and very simple puzzles and combat, pretty basic all round really.
Lasting Appeal: An incredibly short game with very little to do after completion aside from purchasing more costumes for the Mystery Inc. gang.
Summary: Whilst not a truly terrible game, the basic gameplay will only really attract younger gamers as something to tide them over till Christmas, and at quite a cheap price, you won’t feel cheated by the games brevity. However, if you can tolerate the accurate representation of Scooby Doo’s terrible comedy and canned laughter, then you are better than me. 5/10
Front Mission Evolved
Square Enix
Available Now - £34.99 (PC) & £44.99 (PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Tested))
Review by Blake Harmer

I love battlemechs, from animes like Gundam Wing and Macross through boardgames such as Battletech to video games like Mechwarrior, Zone of the Enders and even obscure games like Ring of Red. I love them. So when I was given the newest Front Mission game I will admit I was quite excited.

So how does the game deserve the title of "evolved"? Well for starters, it has moved on from previous instalments and gone for a more all-out action third person adventure, rather than the usual turn based strategy gameplay from previous games. However, apart from this change, the game hasn’t really stepped the mech-smashing genre forward but rather taken a sidestep.

Take the plot, for instance. When a terrorist attack destroys an orbital elevator, the military is mobilized to eliminate the threat and Dylan Ramsey, a young engineer who witnesses his father die in a battle, finds himself caught in the midst of the battle. This plot is even too clichéd for most animes, let alone video games, and I swear the idea of orbital elevators has been stolen from Gundam Wing, but I may be mistaken.

The combat doesn’t fair much better, the action plays a lot like Xbox classic Mechassault but with a lot more complex upgrading system to build your mech from hundreds of parts. Whilst this upgrading system is a good thing that mech lovers will enjoy, the fact that Mechassault had a similar combat system, is at least eight years old, and has more impressive explosions than this, means that something is wrong here.

However, that’s not to say there isn’t a perfectly functional and enjoyable mech based blast ‘em up here. Sure the graphics are below average when compared to most current generation games, and the plot is quite clichéd and short, but with plenty of customisation on offer, there is plenty here to keep Mech lovers happy whilst they wait for the next big mech game, and definitely not a game that will destroy my love of battlemechs.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Below average graphics with poor explosions and detail, the cutscenes fair better but it still cannot compare to the likes of AAA titles.
Sound/Music: Fairly meaty gunfire and explosions, but the voice acting is pretty dire.
Gameplay: A bog standard mech based game that doesn’t really add anything new to the genre, however, with lots of scope for customising your mech and fast gunplay will keep mech lovers happy.
Lasting Appeal: A very short single player game with a sub-par plot, it’s really the large amount of customisation on offer that will keep fans of mech games coming back to this.
Summary: A disappointing entry in the mech blasting genre, especially as the game doesn’t really deserve the title of evolved. However, this is still a solid game with a deep customisation system for your mechs, so it is definitely worth mech lovers giving this a rental to tide them over to the next big game. 6/10
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2
CyberConnect2/Bandai Namco Games
Available now - £44.99 (PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Tested))
Review by Rob Wade

Naruto Uzumaki has been away from the Hidden Leaf Village for three years, training under the famous Lord Jiraiya. His return to the village should be a tranquil one, but before long he is embroiled in an adventure unlike anything he has ever faced before, and will meet old friends as well as new enemies hell bent on the destruction of the world as they know it…

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is an adventure game, set in the Naruto universe (understandably really). The main body of the game involves brawling in a 3D arena, but between two battles the character can explore the extensive game world as well as carry out side-quests which will usually yield financial rewards, or in some cases some cool items. Sounds like most Japanese role-playing games you’ve played, doesn’t it? Well, prepare to be nonplussed if you’re
expecting the usual fare. It is the usual format in most ways.

That’s not to say that this game isn’t any good; far from it, in fact. The gameplay is really good, particularly the battle scenes. The team-based gameplay (in which your main character can call on a couple of other team members to perform a random attack or defence manoeuvre), works well, although the support characters are sometimes a little confused when performing attacks, not actually going up to the enemy and just doing their move where you called in the support. The attacks themselves for the main character are easy enough to chain together for a good number of hits, and massive damage can be achieved by using the game’s power-up ‘chakra’ to charge attacks effectively.

Graphically, the game looks generally very good. Characters look great moving, and the backdrops are really well crafted, particularly on the 3D battle engine. However, at times the animation looks a little rough around the edges, just from having weakly placed lines around the character models. Some starker contrast may have helped the game’s models to stand out more effectively against the backdrops, but then this contributes heavily to the motion being so good, so maybe it was conscious.

The sound and music are pleasant enough, typical Japanese RPG fare really. The voice acting is very similar to the voice acting on the show, with the same acting cast used for the most part. Ultimately, the game is pretty enjoyable, and certainly an essential purchase for fans of the show. For those new to the series, it’s probably just as good as the series as a jumping on point, as the storyline follows pretty similarly from the anime. Incidentally, if you’re a massive fan, be ready for some story overlap, as the game follows a fair bit of the anime in terms of plot. Other than that, a great purchase.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Although it looks a little rough around the edges at times, the game is beautiful in motion, and the backdrops and settings are all well done.
Sound/Music: Some pleasant Japanese RPG style music, amped up during the battle scenes. Voice acting is the same as the TV series, if you like the series you’ll enjoy this.
Gameplay: Essentially a 3D beat-em-up with a Naruto skin, the battles divided with some generally tedious (but short) travelling and item collection.
Lasting Appeal: The game has a single-player campaign of reasonable length, plus the option to battle online as well.
Summary: Not just for the show enthusiasts, and a good jumping-on point for new fans. 7/10
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light
Square Enix
Available Now - £24.99 (DS)
Review by Brad Harmer

In the small kingdom of Horne, Brandt awakes on the morning of his fourteenth birthday. Today is the day he becomes an adult, and the custom of the realm says that he must go to the castle to present himself to the king.

Yet when he arrives at the castle he finds the kind distraught and the youngest princess missing, abducted by the Witch of the North. With no one else to turn to, the king makes a shocking request: will Brandt save the princess? And thus Brandt's adventure begins...

Wait, I’m a teenage farmboy summoned to the king who then tells me to go and rescue a Princess?

Whilst I’ve never been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy games before I have always loved their storylines. The Final Fantasy series has been one that has pushed narrative in video games harder than most, and to see an instalment reduced to the this hack, clichéd and embarrassingly trite setting seems like a real let down. Anyway, I tried not to let this put me off, and soldiered on.

The learning curve is really steep, and I found myself getting fragged more than a few times before I managed to get past the first quest. This is largely due to them changing the “keep hitting attack and ignoring all the useless shit you collect” engine in favour of one that they don’t really want to have to explain and I could barely learn.

All the “innovation” is bad. It’s either pushing it away from what made it great, or pushing it so far back as to be embarrassing. One for JRPG and Final Fantasy nuts only.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some fantasy/sword & sorcery type fighting and shenanigans
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A really uninspired addition to the Final Fantasy canon. Any attempt to “innovate” has either made the game that much worse, or simply catapults it backwards by twenty years. 5/10
De Profundis
Second Edition Core Rulebook
Cubicle 7

Available Now - £9.99 (Paperback and PDF Bundle)
Review by Brad Harmer

De Profundis is one of those games that has passed beyond “legendary” and has become “mythical”. For those not in the know, De Profundis is a Lovecraftian horror game, played by post. It is a bizarre half-LARP, half-PBM game, where the players send letters to each other to tell out a story, in character. It’s very free form and, to be honest, as there are no real rules as such, there’s really no need for any sort of rulebook. Thankfully then, De Profundis (Second Edition) skips all that bumpf and acts as a very thematic and well presented “how to” manual.

The book simply oozes theme from the outset and makes you want to set up your own Society (group of players) and get cracking straight away! As I mentioned earlier, don’t expect hardcore rules or anything, but if you’ve ever been curious, then this is a really good overview.

This version makes a good example of how to set up a game, and even how to go about finding over players out there. What’s more, it presents it – appropriately enough – as a series of letters, written to you by a friend, detailing his experiences with De Profundis. It’s immersive, fun and more than a little creepy, exactly like the game should be.

However, by virtue of its weirdness and immersive atmosphere, no matter what the author would have you believe, De Profundis is definitely not for newbies. If you’ve racked up a few years of Call of Cthulhu, then this is probably worth a look. If not, then you should probably pick up some role-playing experience before tackling this one. It’ll be waiting for you... 8/10
Wings of Prey: Wings of Luftwaffe
Gaijin/Iceberg Interactive
Available Now - £14.99 (PC)
Review by Rob Wade

In Wings of the Luftwaffe, the player takes the role of a German pilot and participates in explosive battles over Britain, Sicily, the USSR, Belgium and Germany. From blocking airdromes, to attacking aircraft, to destroying ground targets, the player will fight with honour and bravery for the glory of Germany. These new missions allow virtual pilots to see the war from the enemy's point of view and try out some of the most advanced fighters of the era.

The game expansion provides 10 new missions from the point of view of ‘ze Germans’, with battles such as the Battle of Britain told from the point of view of the Nazis. It’s worth noting, however, that the game requires you to unlock the missions with in-game currency unlocked by playing online. If you’re not into this game in any particular depth, this will require you to become more experienced with the game’s online modes.

In terms of mission selection, the expansion certainly adds some value to the game, with plenty of extra missions and plane skins. Added to that is the already robust suite of online options, as the game now incorporates a 4 player co-op mode. For your money, you could do a lot worse if this sort of game is your bag, and at the price it’s certainly worth going for if this is your sort of thing. However, as with the original game, the problem lies in that if you’re not an enthusiast for this sort of game, you’re unlikely to be swayed by this offering. The game still controls awkwardly with keyboard and mouse, and it’s not worth the investment to kit yourself out with a full flight stick outfit in order to play the game.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating : For fans of the original, who play a fair bit online, this expansion represents great value for money. 8/10