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Reviews of ... Stuff!

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Tarquin

Introduction

Mine Games is a pretty awesome horror film that requires attention to detail by the audience to fully understand the progression of the story and identify key facts throughout.

Film Information

Director: Richard Gray

Actors (Top Billed): Briana Evigan, Joseph Cross, Julianna Guill

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery

Length: 92 Minutes

Horror Rating: 9/10

Mystery Rating: 9/10

Overall Rating: 9/10

IMDB Listing

The Story

Mine Games is a story about a group of teenagers going to the woods for some sort of end of school party. The story itself isn't strong out of the gates, which is probably why it never became very big in the box office. However it is an excellant, although very over used, base to a creepy horror story with a twist.

The general rundown of what the story entails is as follows (some spoilers!);

A group of teenagers travel out to meet their friends in the woods in what appears to be their vacation home. On their way there, they have a small accident causing their van to run out of gasoline and stop on the side of the road. From there, they choose to walk the rest of the way to the house where their friends are waiting.

Upon arrival, they find that their friends aren't there but rather have gone out and will be 'back soon'. They start to settle in and get into the party mood just as things begin to happen. A knock on the door, the lights beginning to fail. The normal stuff. Everything seems to go off without a hitch and everything is just dandy.

Following their party night, a couple of guys for a jog and discover a mine. As always happens in these movies, they feel it a good idea to explore, so they head back, grab the gang and head in. A mixture of alcohol and drugs causes some freak outs and shit begins to hit the fan. A practical joke goes wrong, a key to the story, but everything is resolved and they head back to the cabin where one of the 7 friends is having a post-freakout freakout.

As the story progresses, she gets sicker and sicker, and things take a major turn for the worse when they discover bodies in the mine. (This is one spoiler I'm not giving you!) This leads to major mistrust within the group causing an implosion before the killer decides to make his or her move. Then the story loops back on itself... You're going to have to watch it!

The Mystery

This movie leaves a few questions at the end like 'how did the cycle start?' which never get explained. Having said that the story ties itself up nicely explaining most of your questions throughout, although some just never make sense.

The writers keep you guessing as to what is going to happen next, is someone going to die, is something going to jump out and try to hunt them down? The true definition of a mystery. Although I classify it as a horror, it certainly doesn't play to the stereotypical horror sequences.

The Horror

The movie is classified a horror/thriller due to its nature. It definitely holds more Mystery theme than it does horror. Having said that, it stands up as a strong horror, causing jump scares and chilling discoveries along the way. It keeps you on edge wondering what is going to happen, asking yourself if the writers snuck in that stereotypical jump scare or knife to the back/throat just as the music peaks.

I must say I strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys horrors, thrillers or mysteries. Hell you may even enjoy it if you like the touch of crime and paranormal.

Tarquin

Introduction

Pain & Gain was Directed by Michael Bay, yet it has very few explosions, and none of them are very large. It is also not the traditional 'action packed' action movie. This is a movie I recommend strongly and is based on a true story.

Film Information

Director: Michael Bay

Actors (Top Billed): Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub

Genre: Action - Comedy

Length: 129 Minutes

Action Rating: 5/10

Comedy Rating: 9/10

Overall Rating: 8/10

IMDB Listing

The Story

Pain & Gain was based off a true story, one that belonged to a man called Marc Schiller. While not entirely accurate, it is chilling to see how close to the real encounters the story was on so many levels. While funny, very funny, during many many scenes, the movie has its own depraved sense of humour that made you question if you should even be laughing.

The characters themselves are again not entirely accurate, but are again fairly close. The names of the three 'bad guys' are accuratly portrayed and as the credits roll, their real pictures are shown next to their names.

The general rundown of what the story entails is as follows (some spoilers!);

A crew of body builders decide it's their turn to become rich and live the comfortable life. To do so they decide to force a man to sign over his entire estate to them, who they were of opinion that he did not deserve while they did.

In doing so they make some ... mistakes. These mistakes lead them to having to murder him. Only.. no matter what they do they can't seem to finish the job.

The man escapes, with no money or family to his name, and manages to make it alive to hospital. When interviewed by police his story is so whacky that they don't believe him. But a detective does, and works towards taking this crew down.

It is only once they get greedy and go after another rich couple that they finally get taken down and their whole scam goes down the tube.

The Humour

So this is a action-comedy. It means you are supposed to laugh, yet you almost feel guilty when you do. You are laughing at the expense of a man being held captive and tortured, at the expense of a man whos lack of education makes him appear incredibly dumb, yet while feeling bad for them you... don't. In fact at one stage it is almost expected you root for the bad guys because of how stupid they are. It just makes no sense! It's that good.

The movie reminds you at one stage that it is in fact a true story, that's how absurd it becomes. And while (as mentioned earlier) it is not 100% accurate, the story follows fairly closely the true to life events that occured. The stupidity of their actions leads to a majority of the laughs to be had in this movie.

The Action

So obviously you don't get Action-Comedy without the action. While there isn't a massive load of action in this movie, there is a decent amount of violence, hookers, drugs and general rich guy stuff. These guys don't know what they are doing so when the action buildup gets tense, they seem to ruin it with their antics and inability to stay on target.

But let's be honest, you're going to watch this for the comedy not the action. If you want an action movie, go watch Die Hard!

If you are interested in reading more about this story, here are some articles that may be of interest.

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/1999-12-23/news/pain-gain/

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2013-04-04/news/pain-and-gain-where-the-real-life-sun-gym-gang-characters-are-now/

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/aug/27/true-story-behind-pain-and-gain

Tarquin

From: Dishonored

Game Title: Dishonored

Platform: PC-Steam Launched

Game Genre: Action/Stealth/Minor Horror

Graphics Rating: 8/10

Audio Rating: 10/10

Storyline Rating: 10/10

Gameplay Rating: 10/10

Ending Rating: 3/10

General Comments:

I loved this game! It had everything that a game of its type should, including some unique features and some that have been seen before but never executed this well.

What can I say? I am a sucker for anything dark. I saw the trailer (Posted on the forum back at E3) and pre-ordered it. It delivered almost everything I expected (Except for the ending!)

Video: Official Debut Trailer

Beginning:

You start out with the most basic entrance, typical of most video games. Immediately you are given a choice as of what to do. Choices usually only come to play during the main plot, so it was a nice addition. I am not sure how much it would have affected the initial level of the game, but it was nice none-the-less. The game escalates fairly quickly when the person your character is there to protect, is killed. The game dumps you right into the action against the hardest enemy of the game, yes that’s right, the first fight of the game is against the hardest enemy.

Gameplay / Storyline Aspects:

This isn’t a recap of the game, so I'll try to not ruin too much or go on for too long. As with any good game, the game gives you a good array of weapons, health and mana potions (very easy to find!) and multiple ways of getting through each level. It also gives you the option of killing any targets you may have, or non-lethally removing them from the picture. (This aspect determines the games ending, but more on that later) In addition to all of that, it gives you a nice prison break level to top it all off! Who wants to play a game without one of those? (No really, I don’t want any more games released without one!!!!!)

Almost all items sitting around can be interacted with, broken or thrown. Although not perfect (really, is that even possible?) its damn close!

The game explains to you everything you need to know, anything more (or optional) can be learned by exploring or reading books and notes. This makes the game great for those who want to rush the story and finish it, those who don’t have to sit through long story segments, and those who want to be deep into the game. Cinematic can be skipped, but not by accidently tapping a button on our mouse or keyboard, but rather holding one down for 4 or so seconds. Brilliant!

Audio / Video / Graphics:

While the graphics aren't the most crisp HD in the world, they are stunning. They get the point across and they look good doing it. The world is a very steam-punk era design, and it looks amazing. It is very realistic in doing so, none of that flying with paper wings crap I've seen in the past! The cinematics are built using the in-game rendering, which means they don’t stand out from the rest of the game. I know that most games do it this way, but there are some games that use CGI based cinematics instead of in-game rendered, and they may look good, but they stand out too much!

The audio is very loud, I definitely recommend turning your volume down, especially if you have a big subwoofer like me. Like the gameplay, the audio really engulfs you into the game. It’s eerie when it needs to be and fast paced when its crucial. The sound effects are accurate (ie glass breaking etc) and make you feel like you are really there. Overall, I am classified as an Audiophile, so my expectations are usually pretty high. The audio in this game was amazing!

dishonored-review-boat-8751.jpeg

Additional notes:

The weak point of this game was the ending. You save who you need to save, kill (or not kill) who you need to, and you are given a short cinematic. In the cinematic, it is small floating ’islands’ with scenes on them, all of them frozen in a dramatic state. Alongside this you get a voice over explaining what happened after the game ended, and then to credits. There are certain requirements for each ending, giving you a reason to replay the game over again and change your decisions, offering you a new challenge as most people will simply do what comes naturally (Kill or stealth). I personally replayed the game just to further explore, so far I have only replayed 2 levels and have already found SOOO much more. For a game with fairly high standards, I felt the ending was just 'chucked in', much like the Mass effect 3 one. This is of course a personal opinion, many others believe the endings to be 'artsy' and fairly well made. Overall, the game wasn't a very long one per say (So for some it may be worth waiting until the price drops) but it's replay ability is high. If you properly explore the game the first time (meaning no replay ability) then the game is substantially longer.

For those who want to watch them, I will leave you with the 2 ending cinematics. They contain spoilers, but will NOT ruin the game for you. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading!

Please Note: The opinions in this article are those of the author and in no way directly reflect or represent the opinions of The Abyssal Gaming Network or any of its affiliates.

Click here to view the article

Source: Dishonored

Tarquin

From: Halo 4

Game Title: Halo 4

Platform: Xbox 360

Game Genre: Action/Science Fiction

Graphics Rating: 10/10

Audio Rating: 10/10

Storyline Rating: 10/10

Gameplay Rating: 10/10

Ending Rating: 8/10

General Comments:

This Game Delivered. I was skeptical... They promised 3, then as per the usual money scrappers in the game development society, attempted to over deliver. I was against another Halo just because it seems that any game that goes over 3 is ruined and becomes over done. On top of that, my beloved Bungie was not a part of the making of this game, which to me felt wrong, it kind of still does... But this game DELIVERED.

Video: Official Debut Trailer

For those who didn't play or see the ending to Halo 3, this is where this game pretty much takes off;

Video: Halo 3 Ending

Beginning:

You start out exactly where you left off in the Campaign of Halo 3, seemingly stranded in the middle of nowhere. (For those who saw the extra ending, nowhere is right near a planet...) Cortana wakes you, the Master Chief, from stasis after about 4 years. Something is going on and the ship is suddenly at risk. The covenant are back, and they aren't friendly suddenly? I thought we had a truce at the end of 3?! WTF!!! As usual you fight through ANOTHER human ship, different to the rest that we have fought through so far. You find out that the covenant are deploying a full attack on your ship and your defenses are down. Eventually you fight to the surface of the ship and bring the defenses online. Suddenly, as if it were planned, the planet that you have been orbiting for 4 years without any trouble starts to pull everything in towards it. So it begins.

Halo4_1.jpg

Gameplay / Storyline Aspects:

The Weapons have changed again! But this time not too much (at least not the human/covenant) The Main rifle is powerful but spends ammo very quickly, I personally much prefer to get in there and Melee the shit out of those grunts, which is fairly effective! While the battle rifle is still extremely powerful in the right hands. The fast paced battle style is quite fun, the AI seems to have been improved from previous games, not simply recycled.

The new Weapons and new Race, amazing. Although a little more difficult to face at times, they are fun to kill and watch explode. The fact that the little flying sentinels can 'resurrect' them if not taken care of adds another aspect to each fight. You MUST kill them first! Not only that, but they can protect their enemies with shields and even fire on you directly! Overpowered much? Add to that the waves and waves of dog-like glowy thingy ma bobs, and you got yourself a real fight boys!

The direction of the game feels slightly more open, but that is but a feeling. As with all past Halo games, you are clearly and cleverly guided to each new sector of the game, it is very hard to get lost for longer than 10 seconds. The old waypoint system is back to point you in the direction, but this time wont often kick in until reasonable (aka you visually see a target, and it will be marked, otherwise you are going in blind)

Extra gameplay elements really improved this game greatly. Halo 3 introduced extra upgrades you could carry one of such a portable shield or the likes. Again Halo 4 has gone a step above and made it even better including highly strategic holograms, temporary shield, jetpack etc etc. They really change the game in a firefight situation and improve on combat. They saved my ass a couple of different times alone. The fact that you can keep using them (with a fairly short cooldown) instead of single uses makes them even better!

In the Dishonored review I mentioned that skipping cut scenes wasn't easy, which was good because there is nothing more annoying than accidentally skipping a cut scene. In Halo 4 they have required 2 key presses in a row (A then Y I believe) to initiate a cut scene skip. If you don't hit Y fairly quickly, it will re-hide the option and you will need to press A again. This is great! Thanks 343!!!

Audio / Video / Graphics:

Halo 4 brings 1080P to a screen near you! The graphics are amazing. The very first cinematic (before you start playing) actually tricked me into thinking that some cinematics were going to be done with real life recordings. I was on TeamSpeak at the time, those witnesses will tell you that it did trick me!

Halo has always gone for fairly realistic graphics, but Halo 4 made even the grunts and Elites seem plausible. I was seriously taken back by how the new Covenant entities looked, they look extremely different to any of the other games, but in a good way. If you directly compare them, they are clearly less 'cartoon' and more real than ever before.

The terrain looks amazing, both the immediate and the background. Everything is crisp... Lighting, Liquids (Including blood ;)), particles... everything. Moving through the environment feels like you are there, it is extremely immersive even though you are on a distant planet. It gets the point across extremely well, you never forget that you are on a foreign planet.

The cinematic graphics are amazing as well, the facial structures are highly detailed and give you a sense of real emotion, something that Halo hasn't really delivered on in the past.

The audio enhancements in this game compared to any before it are amazing. It is much more crisp and fine tuned than ever before. The covenant no longer simply speak random exerts of English but now have their own crude dialect that is sometimes interesting to hear as their bodies hit the floor. The atmospheric noises are great, much like the graphics they make the gameplay more immersive and make you feel like you are there, especially on my 5.1 System.

Video: 15 Minutes of Game Play on the level 'Infinity'

Additional notes (WARNING: There is a spoiler here, be very careful if you don't want the game ending spoiled!!! - You were warned!):

The weak point of this game was the ending. Yes I know I said this about Dishonored but it seems that the creative teams behind todays games just cant get the ending. Admittedly the Halo 4 Ending was fairly good... Just in comparison to the rest of the aspects of this game, it was ... weak.

There was no final boss fight that really challenged the player, you simply had to do one of those button press events where it says on screen 'Pull Left Trigger to use sticky grenade' and you beat the game. The cinematic was, as the rest of the game, high quality and nice to watch. It was dramatic and had a big event feel to it like the other games. It felt like it generally ended on the right not (minus the lack of a blockbuster fight).

They did 2 things which annoyed me, one of them may be rectified knowing that they expect to make another 2 games (Halo 5 and 6) for the storyline.

The first is that they actually 'kill' Cortana.. You heard me... shes gone... Destroyed by a bug that affects AI's after 7 years (This being her 8th year of deployment with the Spartan 117). This is actually a core point of the story that is touched on very frequently throughout the game. Secondly they take his darn helmet off and blacken the screen (After the credits) WHY YOU TEASE US BUNGIE 343!!!!

In summary, I am a Halo fan. I was disappointed to hear that the original Trilogy was going to be drawn out for another 3 games. In fact usually I take them home and play on release day, this game took me a week to open because I was reluctant. On top off all that, like I mentioned at the start, the fact that they pulled Bungie from the dev team really upset me. But they pulled it off. If you own an XBox 360 and loved the Halo franchise, hated the Halo franchise or if you never played it, this game IS for you.

Its mixture of amazing and breathtaking graphics and audio, interesting and fun game play styles and techniques and all the added aspects that this game introduced to the franchise, really made it a AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA title. It is worth whatever price tag your local game store is asking, and we haven't even touched the Multi-Player

For those who want to watch it, I will leave you with the legendary ending cinematic. It contains spoilers, but will NOT ruin the game for you. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTkIB2hE_Us

Video: Single Player Campaign Cinematic Ending

Video: Legendary Single Player Campaign Cinematic Ending (After Credits Roll)

Thank you for reading!

Please Note: The opinions in this article are those of the author and in no way directly reflect or represent the opinions of The Abyssal Gaming Network or any of its affiliates.

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