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All reviews - Movies (44) - TV Shows (2) - DVDs (4) - Games (30)

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 4 August 2011 03:06 (A review of Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune)

It's a nice piece on a lesser known artist. What's here is your pretty standard documentary fare but the subject is so interesting that it keeps you going. The major flaw of the film is that it seems like a bit of a fluff piece at times. When the film begins to set the stage for Ochs' death it feels like the mental problems, alcoholism and daddy issues come suddenly from left field and are only briefly examined. I would have liked to see more examination of Phil Ochs the man as opposed to Phil Ochs and his musical output. It's a good music documentary but by the end I didn't feel like I knew much more about what really made him tick then I would have by reading wikipedia.


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High Noon review

Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 30 July 2011 12:34 (A review of High Noon)

A unique little western film. It clocks in at under an hour and a half and the majority of that is Marshal Will Kane failing to rally the town to defend from the devious Frank Miller who's been released from prison to enact his vengeance.

The time leading up to the final battle is interesting with the passage of time (all leading up to the noon hour) on clocks being a big visual motif. Gary Cooper puts in a pretty good turn as a marshal who refuses to abandon a town that won't stand by him. As he repeatedly fails to get a posse together you can see the desperation and fear of mortality creep into his performance. He's almost an unlikely movie hero. He does the right thing but he's not the "Man With No Name" - he can't gun down 4 super villains at once. This makes the final showdown the most interesting yet least satisfying part of the film.

The box art and inflated expectations lead one to believe that the final showdown will be a classic one on one duel. It isn't. It's interesting in its own way but the conclusion of the showdown is quite sudden and unexpected. Realistic perhaps, but it lacks the high drama I was expecting.

Still, Cooper is great and this is as fine an examination of a man facing his mortality while his loved ones turn their backs as you will see in any film, let alone a Western.


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RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 review

Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 29 July 2011 05:04 (A review of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3)

This is one of the best sequels ever made. It takes the core game elements of the previous Rollercoaster Tycoon games and exports it to glorious (for 2004) 3d. It also adds the ability to ride all of your rides in first person view which makes the excellent coaster building mode all the more immersing and addicting. There's tons of mods and 2 expansion packs available as well making it possible to make a amazing amusement parks.


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Escape from Monkey Island review

Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 29 July 2011 04:59 (A review of Escape from Monkey Island)

This is not close to being the best of the series but it survives the transition from 2D animated adventure gaming to 3d animated adventure gaming relatively well. The humor, voice acting and characters are still top notch but the controls and puzzles are lacking in certain instances. At certain points it takes ludicrous puzzles to new must search the internet for answers extremes.


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House review

Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 28 July 2011 05:27 (A review of House)

A horror comedy that's less horrifying and funny and more totally insanely bizarre. The bare bones story here is that a group of practically named Japanese school girls heads to a house in the country for summer vacation. Then strange stuff happens.

In all reality all that plot and characterization is not at all important. This film is all about the crazed vision of director Nobuhiko Obayashi. It's filled with odd storybook painted backdrops, weird visual camera effects and strange shot framing. It's less a film with a cohesive storyline and deep characters and more a unsettling trip into Obayashi's imagination. If you're looking for a film that makes you laugh AND shake in terror this really isn't for you. If you're looking for a cheesy, imaginative, immensely weird visual project then House might fit the bill. It's not for everyone but it's one of a kind.


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Discworld review

Posted : 6 years ago on 9 July 2011 10:48 (A review of Discworld)

This was a brilliant adventure game. It featured great characters, voice acting and writing. It also had a great darkly warped sense of humor.

Discworld doesn't deviate from the tired and true graphic adventure standards but if you dig that style of game it is an adventure that should be taken.

The one issue is that it can be very difficult at times. Several of the puzzles are non-sensical. That being said, the writing, humor, art style and production values make it worth checking out.


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Die By The Sword review

Posted : 6 years ago on 9 July 2011 10:37 (A review of Die By The Sword)

Die by the Sword is as close to a sword-fighting simulation as we're ever likely to see. It takes a stock fantasy world, populates it with goblins and orcs and tasks the player to go out and, using the much heralded VSIM control system, violently dismember your foes.

The big draw for this game also ended up being its biggest weakness. The idea behind the VSIM control scheme was to do away with canned animations and put control entirely in the hands of the player. Essentially, the mouse represents your avatar's sword hand. Your swinging movements are encumbered by the laws of physics and momentum making the system more suited to simulation than fast paced action. That's where DbtS misstep is. The system is incredibly hard to learn and incredibly difficult to use with any efficiency. There are "simpler" control schemes available but they just don't seem to work properly.

This wouldn't be a crippling problem except for the fact that your enemies jump around like caffeinated three year olds. Thus combat breaks down to wildly moving the mouse around while hoping for a random decapitation affair. It's just not fair that one of your first fights in the game requires you to hang upside down with a rope while fighting several opponents. Die by the Sword was a great idea but the needed to incorporate a shallower learning curve to avoid the frustration that results from starting it up.


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Diablo review

Posted : 6 years ago on 9 July 2011 10:08 (A review of Diablo)

The original Diablo was great when it came out but by modern standards it suffers from an acute form of reverse sequelitis.

That is, the sequel, Diablo II, took the basic gameplay formula that made Diablo so addicting then added bells and whistles that made it impossible to revert back to the original.

The gameplay here is still mostly solid but the existence of a better sequel makes it pointless to ever play the original Diablo again.


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Diablo II review

Posted : 6 years ago on 9 July 2011 10:05 (A review of Diablo II)

As a reformed Diablo II addict I can easily say that this is probably my favorite RPG ever.

The story isn't particularly spectacular and it obviously lacks the deep characters that populate more recent RPG's but Diablo II took the successful formula of the original Diablo and almost universally improved on it.

It's hard to explain why the Diablo gameplay style is so addictive but it is. Despite the simplicity of combat (it basically comes down to clicking and using hotkeys) there is an unquestionable depth to the character building process that makes each playthrough unique in some way. Add that addicting quality to the classic pursuit of bigger and better loot and you have the perfect storm of addiction. It's the PCP of point and click RPGery!

Another big positive for Diablo II is that it doesn't really try to do much. The art style is simple but varied and still looks solid by 2011 standards. This makes it that rare timeless game that never quite loses its luster. Here's hoping Diablo III keeps the franchise in fine fashion.


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Dragon Age: Origins review

Posted : 6 years ago on 9 July 2011 09:59 (A review of Dragon Age: Origins)

Dragon Age: Origins is a modern RPG that uses some of he best elements of old school RPG's (i.e. Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment) to create a fantastically realized fantasy RPG universe.

The story is deep, the characters widely varied and personable and the world is one of the best I've seen in a recent RPG. There are some issues with bugs and information overload but this is a game that is greatly immersing.

I had some issues with the combat early on but once I became used to effectively balancing my combat parties those issues went away and combat became a nice affair that rewarded strategy and wisely thought out combinations. There is also enough variety to the missions to make the giant battles that the game throws at you meaningful and interesting.

My favorite thing about the game by far was the characters. You meet quite a few along the way and each person has a fleshed out back story and personal motivations that are intriguing and key to plot development. They also add to the replay value as some characters have arcs that only appear if you have them in your party while on certain missions.

Overall this is one of the best recent PC RPGs. The writing and core systems are close to perfect and the game has a lasting appeal.


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