Thursday, 30 September 2010

Crash! Bang! Whollop! - 5 great Car Chases

Everybody loves a good car chase. Be it in an action movie, and animated movie (it does happen!) or even in a game, a good car chase sets the pulse racing. Here's my fav five.

5: The Self Preservation Society - The Italian Job (1969, Paramount)

What do you get when you cross Michael Caine, 3 Minis, a van-load of gold bullion, and a traffic-blocked Turin? You get one of the best car chases of the Twentieth Century. Over rooftops, through shopping malls, and even through the sewer, director Peter Collinson made the best heist movie ever conceived. And who can forget the immortal line: 'You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!'

4: Ford Mustang Vs. Dodge Charger - Bullitt (1968, MGM/UA)

Steve McQueen's seminal movie about a cop who has to protect a vital witness, Peter Yates directs this film with gusto. A solid performance from McQueen as Bullitt, with a rather good supporting role from Robert Vaughn, the films strong point is the nearly 24 minute long, and rather excellent,  epic chase between two epic supercars of the 1960's, with McQueen doing nearly all the driving, with the rear-view mirror giving away who was behind the wheel (up when it's McQueen, down when it's his stuntman, Bud Ekins).

3: Paris Rampage - Ronin (1998, MGM/UA)

This film should be classified as one long car chase, with the amount of vehicles destroyed. Starring Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno and Johnathan Price, Ronin is the story of several ex-special forces operatives, who have to steal a top secret, heavily guarded briefcase. With loads of backstabbing, gun fights and the brilliant car chases, it's one thrill ride that is definitely worth watching.

2: We're on a mission from God... - The Blues Brothers (1980, Universal)

John Belushi + Dan Aykroyd + one ex-police car = excessive car chases aplenty. Who'd have thought that a movie about an ex con, wanting to start their Blues band back up to save an orphanage from closure, could be a funny, exciting and brilliant cult movie. The chase in the shopping mall, crashing through Toys 'R Us and with a cop car skidding on its roof is a scene to watch over again.

1: I'm making this up as I go! - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982, Paramount)

A chase that ends up with the original driver being run over? Quite novel. Indy really wanted that Ark of the Covenant. So much so, that he chases after the truck carrying it on horseback, jumps on the roof, beats seven shades out of the guards, gets quite a slapping from the driver, thrown out the front window, gets back in, beats HIM to a pulp, and runs him over. Oh, and he also manages to ram a Machine Gun Mounted 4X4 off a cliff. Who needs CGI  Special Effects, eh, George? I was going to put the chase from Last Crusade that involves the Meschersmit and the Citroen, mainly because of the comedy value, but this one just pips it.

Monday, 27 September 2010

What's new, Pussycat? - Dead Rising 2 (Capcom, 360)

Great cover art. Shame about the game. And, yes, you can make that weapon!!
They shuffle. They stagger. They hunger for brains and flesh. Yes, those zombies are back. And they've taken over Fortune City, Nevada. So, a new town needs a new hero. Cue Chuck Greene. Ex Motocross champion, who's arrived in town with his daughter, looking for cash to buy the drug Zombrex, which staves off the effects zombieism after being bitten, but must be administered every 24 hours. But, zero cash means zero drug. So, he has to take part in the Number one show in America: Terror Is Reality, hosted by T.K. After winning the cash needed, it all starts to go pear-shaped. Cue loads of zombies doing the Zombie Shuffle, and loads of zombies succumbing to being shot, hit, crushed, decapitated, sliced, diced, roasted and anything else you can think of, all the while trying to escape before the military come in in 72 hours and quarantine everyone. The only problem being, that after the gameshow, you soon get the feeling you've seen it before somewhere....
Play it again, Zom!
....and that somewhere is in the original Dead Rising, released FOUR years ago. In the original, you had to get to the bottom of what caused the zombie outbreak and try to either stop it, or escape. I didn't like it. I didn't like the fact that you couldn't deviate from the storyline to save the countless survivors that were dotted around, because of the time limit between the parts of the case file, and didn't even let you off the reins to explore. There were also glitches which made it quite unplayable as well. Now, Blue Castle Games have had Four years to improve, or better, every aspect of the original. And, to me at least, they haven't. Everything, and I mean everything, is the same: the graphics, the animation, the controls, and even the gameplay mechanic (what I mentioned that I hated before). This time, the map is larger, and they are more generous with the time your given. Wow, thanks.
Wheelie good fun!....actually, no. No it isn't.
The Psychos also make a return, but this time they're tougher. And I mean tougher. One you'll come across is a chef that seems to have been to Sweeney Todd's School of Catering, and is a right bastard, as he'll not only throw pans at you, but swipe at you with one. If you take so much as a millimetre of health off him, he'll go round the tables and replenish it, meaning he's nearly invincible. Tosser. So, they've made the objective timers fairer, but the Psychos harder. They also added the ability to fashion your own weapons, like a Wheelchair Machinegun, an Auger (a pitchfork in a drill motor) and a plate firing-cement cutter. This is one of the better elements of the game, as you then gain double PP from the weapons you've crafted, but only after you've got the card for said weapon. It does add a bit of fun to the game, as does being able to push around a wheelchair, picking up a zombie giving him a bloody good ride, all the while his/ her arms are flailing around whilst moaning, and then slapping the chair into a wall, sending the zombie flying through a pane of glass. As I said, it's fun, but not much.
Just relax. You might feel a slight stinging sensation...
As I mentioned, the controls are exactly the same as the original DR. So, no change there then. They still haven't included a run button, which is sorely needed in a time-crucial game like this. The game does feel very 'been there, done that' in every aspect, and just feels like a cheap cash-in. After 4 years in the making, they've done nothing but buffed it up a bit. And to think they had the cheek to charge £40 for a 4 year old game with some polish on. The inclusion of a multiplayer adds a bit of spice to it, be it either playing the full game in Co-Op mode, or participating in Terror Is Reality online, against 3 other players. This part is actually quite fun, with various challenges on offer, and being able to import the cash won to the single player mode. But, after a while, this starts to get boring, and there's only so much of the opening cut scene that you can actually stomache, before wanting to kick T.K in the face. But, it does seem that all of a sudden, Capcom have become EA: only producing original games every 5 years, and rehashing older ones every so often. For shame. It could have been great, with a bit of an overhaul of everything (and I mean everything), but instead, it comes across as a bit of a con. Bargain bin it, don't full release it.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Crap Game Corner Wises Fwom the Gwave!: Flash Gordon (Spec, Ams, C64 - Mastertronic)

This is a game sooooo crud, that I can't remember what it is (runs off to look at the title!)...

.....a considerable amount of time later......

(runs back out of breath).....right...(pant)....I've remembered.....(puff!) it! I bought it on a whim, from somewhere (I swear the person is still laughing at me). And to think I went by the name as well. The film might be campy fun, but this is isn't either fun or campy.
Well, at least this is really good. Shame the game doesn't follow suit.

It's Flash (ahhhhhhhh!) Gordon ('s alive?). I'm doing this for your benefit, so you don't make the same (wrong) decision I did.

The title screen is great, with the Flash Gordon logo prominent at the top of the screen, and both Flash & Ming's mugs on the screen. It's really colourful, and easy on the eye. The ingame graphics are alright, just that Flash doesn't look like Flash at all, but rather like a motorcyclist with his crash hat on, who's looking for his chopper (ooo, er!). The game is really (and I think) unfairly hard. To move about, it is vital that you make a map, as navigating is like going into a supermarket and getting lost in the lingerie section (it's Ireland's biggest, I understand!), though there's no bra's or knickers in sight (unfortunately!). When you get past that stage, the next one is a 3d bike-a-thon, if you get that far. Which I didn't. As I couldn't even get out the bloody maze-like jungle part. And by that time, I was bored. So bored, that I would rather play Predator (I hate it that much!).
The map at the bottom is completely useless. Make your own (if you can be bothered)

Control-wise, Flash moves with all the grace of a dead snail. So, when you come into contact with the evil-do-ers, you'll lose time (within which you have to save the Earth), which you will do constantly. And thats the game's punishing factor. Because you have limited bullets (which you have to find scattered thoughout your journey), one wrong press, and you'll lose the whole lot.
Action packed, explosive, fun filled. Shows that inlays can be deceiving!

Yes, I hate it. It sits on the 'Hated Shelf', along with NES T2, NES Dragon's Lair, and the rest of the other lots of cobblers that I can't stand (Predator has it's own case, as not to contaminate the rest of my games. I would burn it, but it would be a waste of a match), never to be played, touched, seen, or spoke of again.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Are You a Member of the CULT? - Logan's Run (1976, MGM)

'It's different now, because it's me! My Life!' - Logan 5

If you were around in the 70's, you might have heard of a little film called Logan's Run, based on the book by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. There is one change from the book, and thats the age limit to 30. It's the year 2274. People live in huge domes, and have their wildest dreams and fantasies come true, all by servo-mechanisms. Once they reach the age of 30, they must enter the fiery ritual of Carousel once beckoned, and thus be 'Renewed'. Of course, there are people who want to reach 31, and so go on the run, becoming 'Runners', and are hunted by a 'Sandman' (a kind of human version of the Terminator). One Sandman is Logan 5, who is tasked, after finding an object called an Ankh on a dead Runner, to find a place called Sanctuary, and destroy it. But, it all changes when he gets outside...

'Logan, I understand, we all go a little crazy sometimes.....' - Francis 6
I want one of those guns!

Starring Michael York as Logan 5, Richard Jordan as Francis 6, and Jenny Agutter as Jessica 6, Logan's Run is nothing more than a chase movie, but it's such a good chase movie, and was the first to feature special laser photography, and in doing so, won a special Academy Award for special effects. The film does have a bit of nudity, especially in a place called The Love Shop, where everything slows down, and people get a bit 'frisky'. Lots of bums and breasts wobbling about a bit, but covered in some sort of body paint. And when Logan and Jessica go outside, the effects to make it a desolate and ravaged world are just as good, with flora, fauna and vines all around the Washington Monument, and around the Lincoln Building, where the two first encounter the Lincoln Statue (Is that the face of....old?), and then the Hall of Congress, where they find Old Man (Peter Ustinov), who is surrounded by lots of cats (who he can't remember the names of). You do get a feeling that it gave James Cameron a sort of idea for The Terminator, and it certainly draws some parallels, even if they are unintentional:
Logan is both Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese, with him trying to stay one step ahead of his pursuer.
Francis is The Terminator, who'll stop at nothing to get his target.

'Fish, Plankton, Sea Greens. Fresh from the sea.' - Box
Some excellent model work, and not something you can knock up from a £4.99 model kit!

The music by Jerry Goldsmith is just as good as well, with many good tracks that set up the various action scenes (like the fight between The Doctor in New You and Logan), and even the main theme is good, where it starts with sparsity, and then builds into it, until it becomes something you'd recognize as a Jerry Goldsmith theme.

'Run, Runner!' - Logan 5
'Did you not hear him? RUN!'' - Francis 6
'Well, it's the first time I've been on a carousel, and there's no ride on horses!'
It's unashamedly 70's kitsch. It has dated, but by god, it's a great movie. And, coupled with the also rather excellent Westworld (also set in the future), you have the perfect 'Fractured Future' double bill. Just be careful when you get to 30, and make sure you have your running shoes on.