Author - Ripper71

Blood Bowl II Legendary Edition Review

The Warhammer Universe is HUGE and they have been very smart about using the franchise in pretty much every way that can be imagined.  The IP’s use in strategy games is one of my favorite of these ways. My favorite Warhammer game I have ever played was Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, with its third person shooting style. I actually want to go back and play it right now but I don’t have it anymore…  Oh I feel like I am missing out right now not being able to wield that chainsword, but I digress.  In this mix of strategy games is one that disguises itself as a sporting title called Blood Bowl II – Legendary Edition. Blood Bowl is a miniatures board game released by Games Workshop back in 1986 that actually already had two computer games based on it – Blood Bowl in 1995 and Blood Bowl in 2009. Blood Bowl II was initially released in late 2015. The new Legendary Edition features all the DLC and enhancements in one box.

The first place you want to start playing is in the game’s Campaign Mode.  This will give players a series of goals to complete that helps show them around the field of battle play.  You start off as a human on a “Bad News Bears” sort of football team that dumps its coach and players then hires you to try to fix everything.  You make a contract with a company that sells bell polish which is a huge step down from the days of courting “Bloodwiser” and you don’t get near the funds you need to fill your roster.  It has you playing against an AI and I played on its standard difficulty setting of “Medium” since I had never played any other Blood Bowl title.

The graphics are well done, the commentators during the game are hilarious, and the video cuts to a cinematic style view when someone gets particularly clobbered – or the other team cheats in some way. These cinematic moments are funny and continue to feel fresh even when they happen over and over again.  Set at medium difficulty, the opposing team has certain styles of play and it  doesn’t take too long on the first few matches to see their patterns and work around them.  The hardest part are the dice rolls. If you do a battling move or if you try to run at the edge of your range it rolls for you. When running if no one is around there is a good chance that you can stop without falling on your face but I did one time run into the end zone where it did a roll and with no one around I fell down and the ball bounced a few squares away. The dice rolls are a way of keeping its RPG roots alive and adding chance to the game.

Blood Bowl II: Legendary Edition is, at its heart, a turn-based strategy game.  You get a turn and you decide where your characters move across square spaces on the field within their range of movement.  If they encounter an enemy or try to pick up the ball it gives you a percentage of chance that you will complete the task.  So, say you have one of your faster runners and he has to pass to a much slower lineman.  It might say you have a 68% of accomplishing that then when you do it the computer rolls the dice for you.  Now if you are naturally and notoriously bad at rolls in life like me you will fall on your face, get knocked out or possibly killed!  It can be pretty funny when you manage to get past all the blockers then trip over you own two feet.  And it shows a video replay of you face eating the turf.  Every role is done with virtual six-sided dice, some rolls using more or less dice depending on the situation.

The higher you get in the campaign the more interesting skills you can get for your players and upgrades to your stadium that help your team.  It’s all the little tips and such from the campaign that will give you an edge if you play other players.  You can start friendly games where it looks for a local player which means lower ping to play or you can invite a friend to play.  You can also create your own league where you play against AI through a whole season using a team you built yourself. Or, you can play Multiplayer where you search for an existing multiplayer league and join in.  It gives you different options and, let’s face it, while an AI can be easier or harder than a human opponent, it seldom thinks the same.

Blood Bowl II: Legendary Edition is the base Blood Bowl II game, Blood Bowl II Expansion, and 8 more race packs all combined!  The result is a whole bunch of different races you can mix together in some modes, plenty of stadiums with different upgrades and add-ons, and even a Challenge section where you have to do something crazy like kill a Thrall or make improbable touchdowns.  One of the weirdest things I think is a new race that is composed of circus folk and a trained bear…  To say this game has no end is completely true since you can even start a single player mode Eternal League where you just ever level and learn across different campaign, leagues, challenges… FOREVER.  If you really want a laugh, get a friend who swears they hate turn-based strategy game and wait until they are completely engrossed to point out what they are playing.

Blood Bowl II Legendary Edition is one of the best games in the Warhammer franchise and Warhammer is one of the best gaming franchises in existence.  Blood Bowl II Legendary Edition is not only super-addictive, but it is also the best sports game I have ever played.  Time to get back to game before the commentators say any more bad things about me or my players….


Blood Bowl II Legendary Edition Review Score

(5 out of 5 Stars)


 

ARK: Survival Evolved Review (PC)

Before I hit the age when I got a BB gun, I used to have my plastic dinosaurs fight my plastic soldiers all the time.  I lost a lot of them in my great grandma’s back yard, never to be seen again. I never lost my fascination with dinosaurs. When I learned that we could not only fight dinosaurs but also ride them – not to mention taming sharks, cage dragons, and more, I knew I had to play ARK: Survival Evolved.

Dinosaurs, Dragons And Sharks, Oh My!

ARK: Survival Evolved gives you a massive online experience that starts with very humble beginnings.  You wake up on a beach, pretty much naked, and you have to construct some shelter and defenses.  You have to forage for your own resources and protect yourself at the same time. If you have the means, I definitely recommend starting this game with a friend  so you can watch out for each other and work towards common goals – in this case, surviving.  Another important thing to consider when starting ARK: Survival Evolved is whether you want to start out on a PVP or a PVE server.  In case you don’t know the difference, PVP means “Player Vs. Player” where other players can kill you and loot your corpse for your stuff.  Most players who play this type of server try to find a big group to join or bring friends along to play together.  If you think that it is hard enough, you also have to worry about everything from bugs to dragons wanting you dead! If that isn’t your cup of entertainment, you might want to play on the “Player Vs. Environment” server where players cannot kill each other.  If you are a lone wolf player or, like me, a reviewer who finds he likes a game but knows he probably won’t get back to the game in months, then going PVE makes sure no one boots you from their tribe for inactivity!

Once the server is chosen, you’ve landed on your beach, you can start punching trees for wood and work with stones so that you can get to the “Stone Age” of your existence and are not trying to kill bugs and small dinosaurs with your fists. Many of the dinosaurs roam in packs and you will be outmatched without some good old human ingenuity.  Since you out in a diaper and hungry, staying warm and getting food are your first necessities.

Another cool thing is I know as I am going in I will start with sticks and stone axes but eventually I will have sweet guns and have the ability to tame creatures in order to use them as mounts.  Also some of the animals you can’t ride, but you can use as pack mules! This is really cool as you will have a second dinosaur following you around with all your stuff.  Speaking of stuff, you get recipes to make most of your items, although loot drops do exist as well.  The important thing is you need to know this game definitely has a grind and a pretty long one at that, during which time you have to be willing to dedicate yourself to to get to the end content.

If you find you need a break from that grind, you can play the ARK: Survival of the Fittest multiplayer arena game which is included with ARK: Survival Evolved. This game mode could could have been called ARK: Hunger Games with Dinosaurs in terms of its design. The biggest departure there is that you work in tribes, not by yourself.  In this mode, you and your tribe are in a dome and you have to run around and try to kill off all the other tribes.  When someone gets killed, their face gets projected up on the dome along with who killed them – last tribe surviving wins.

Surviving The Evolution

ARK: Survival Evolved is a huge multiplayer game that, while featuring a grind, has some really great content to explore as well as cool end game capabilities.  The only limitations in the game are your imagination and with how well your latency holds up on a 70 player server.  In addition, the game recently got a map expansion and a bigger game expansion is due out in October.


ARK: Survival Evolved Review Score

(5 out of 5 Stars)


 

The Atoning Review

I love this time of year because of all the horror and supernatural movie screeners start being distributed to the press.  I don’t care if the budget of the movie is tiny or huge, all that matters is that it does whatever it supposed to. Thrillers building tension, horror spreading fear, etc.  Some movies like The Blair Witch Project managed to reach fame on a micro-budget, while others have millions and completely fail to illicit any response except disappointment.  But, I will give them all a fair shake, especially if they give good poster art or a nice trailer like Michael Williams (OzLand) directed The Atoning did!

The poster art with a pale skinned Vera (well-played by Virginia Newcomb) contrasted by a demonic black hand covering her mouth made me want to see the trailer, and the trailer showing off the demon creatures were made from practical special effects – not CGI – pulled me in even more.  CGI effects can save a movie money and if done right can be down right creepy but, if done poorly, they can ruin an otherwise good film.  A great example of this is American Werewolf in London which had some of the best practical effects in horror history, meaning they really created the hand stretching, spine popping, and muzzle growing.  It’s sequel American Werewolf in Paris however used computer effects when showing the werewolf running around and it looked silly and ruined the movie (ed. note: I still love Julie Delpy in it).

So I was excited going into the movie and now comes the hard part of trying review it without giving too much away.  First off the camera work is excellent, the lighting is spot on, and everything is set up well to immerse you in the film’s setting.  The movie has a few twists and is designed to have them be solved throughout the movie at an almost even pacing.  The filmmakers want to give you a chance at solving them early so they give a hint at the beginning which unfortunately if you get actually makes the movie drag on a bit.  At a certain point in the movie the average person has probably figured out what is going on and the demonic things from the poster and the trailer are in full effect, but in kind of a confusing way.  Why hadn’t these demons shown up 20 minutes into the show, they would have saved the characters (and the viewers) some unnecessary time lost.

That is what it really came down to.  The Atoning had great cinematography, a good story with twists & turns, solid acting, and well-done practical effects.  The problem was it could have been a much shorter film.  If the repetitive nature of the story (which, admittedly, serves a purpose to some extent) were trimmed down a bit this movie would have been excellent but, as a result of deciding to edit to a full length feature, it feels padded and as a result is decent. It should be noted that the film did win the Magnolia Independent Film Festival’s “Best Home Grown” award in 2017!

The Atoning is available now on digital HD and DVD.

GameStop Expo 2017 Post-Mortem

I get the chance to cover a lot of the gaming conventions that roll into Las Vegas and I love the GameStop Expo. In many ways, it is like a mini-E3!  It has many of the same photo op pieces such as the Mario “Capo” tank, Pickachu, Spiderman, Iron Man, and Freddy from 5 Nights At Freddy (it must have been about 10 feet tall).  There were lots of celebrities to get pictures with like Gary Payton, Alexa Bliss, Kirk Angle, and even a wandering Pickachu.  There was a surprisingly small contingency of cosplayers until I found out what other cons were happening this week and which ones were coming up (it has AX in it).

For a long while, the GameStop Expo was an industry-only event for GameStop employees. Now, however, it is open to the public and they even sell a VIP pass that garners the attendee a sweet swag bag. Of course, a huge draw for the convention was getting the chance to play demo builds of games that are not out yet: The Evil Within 2, Vampyr, the latest Super Mario Bros., Star Wars Battlefront 2, and a lot more. Speaking of Battlefront 2, that demo station had a never ending line that had to be cut off before the end of the day, it’s going to be a VERY popular title.  The Nintendo Switch was there for display and Nintendo of America reps were there to answer my questions. Considering how many controllers I have mastered over the years, the Switch Joy Con controllers will take a little while to “get”. The simple fact that moving the controller and splitting it in half was introduced it shouldn’t be that hard but I was instantly struggling, I think I almost caused the Nintendo rep teaching me to use them to have a breakdown – Sorry, Nintendo rep!

Those who are really in the know of this particular event go and check the GameStop mini stores built into the expo floor and the benefits room.  They look like GameStop shops but all the inventory is either drastically discounted, rare to find or, in some cases, both.  I missed a big one and saw just about everyone walking around with a Disney Treasures boxes clutch tightly to them so I couldn’t even see in the bags. They had $2 shirts, $5 hoodies and their wall of shirts that would be between $15-$20 in the stores were all $10.  Those who were seeking out rare Funko Pop! Vinyls figures needed to just keep checking back throughout the day to see what new stock came out, we got a few hard to find horror ones that showed up midday and were gone in minutes.

There were a couple vendor aisles which I don’t remember from two years ago when it was last in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there.  Also, it felt like there weren’t as many booths as in previous years but that is possible that I am remembering when it was last here it was for employees so lines were shorter and smaller crowds make a place feel bigger.  Either way I highly recommend going to the GameStop Expo and am anxiously awaiting its return!

Photo Gallery

Retro-Bit RES+ Retro Console Review

I am an old school gamer with a hoarding problem. I keep hold of my game systems, disks, and cartridges even when I go onto the next system that comes along.  So, even though I have a PS4 and an Xbox One, I also have an Atari 2600 system, two original NES consoles, a Super NES console… But I digress.  A big problem for my gaming is time. Time gives us room to make technological advancements and these advancements make playing those original consoles troublesome. For example, I’m not going to keep a CRT television around just so I can play an Atari or NES. There are some ways around this but these workarounds seem to come at the expense of visual quality and clarity.  Retro-Bit makes new consoles that accept old cartridges and disks, and utilize the latest and greatest connections and outputs. Enter: the RES Plus retro game console.

Game On:

The first thing I noticed about the RES Plus when I pulled the system from its box is that it is only about the size of an NES cartridge.  That means for play at home or on the go it takes up very little space.  I can toss the RES Plus and a couple games in a suitcase and head out the door in minutes.  It also means that it can be taken from one room to another, plug it into an HDMI port and be right back into the game!  Or as I mentioned before if I am playing a game and it is time to head off on a trip I just grab the system and it is so compact I can put it anywhere in minutes.  If you are having a hard time getting enough room for an HDMI connection the system also works with an AV one.

The RES Plus is a top loader as apposed to the original NES, which was a front loader. Being a top loader makes it nice because, without even turning on the system, you can tell which game is loaded for play.  For transportation you might be a little more likely to disconnect the cartridge rather than leave it plugged in but that is really the healthiest for the cartridge and the system anyways.  Plus leaving your cartridge in during transporting was believed to be one of the main reasons your system would start having trouble reading games.  The original NES required you push the cartridge in until you couldn’t any longer then you pushed it down.  A lot of people would then leave it in that position when moving it around in the room or taking it over to a friend’s house.  Sometimes the cartridge would pop up due to being shook around instead of the ejection process and, as gamer rage is not a new thing, sometimes people would eject the cartridge roughly.  As a result, it got so players would have to delicately push the cartridge down into position JUST right to make it work… or there was the dreaded folded cardboard trick where you had to fold some up an place it between the cartridge and the top of the loading section to make it work.  No side plugging and engaging with the RES Plus, just push down the cartridge straight down in the top until you can’t anymore and you are ready to play!

One of my other favorite aspects of the RES Plus is the power system.  You can plug the power cable into a standard outlet and play away but sometimes when you are on the road the power outlets are far, far away.  Thankfully, with the RES Plus, the very end of the power cord detaches to allow you to plug into a USB port. In other words, you can plug it right into a USB battery like you might use to recharge your phone on a trip.  At that point your game play is only limited to the amount of juice in your battery. Brilliant!

The game system comes with two 6′ long cable controllers that are a variation of the original NES systems though you shouldn’t have any problem using other controllers like I have for my NES systems such as the NES Advantage, QuickShot, Zinger, you get the idea.

How is the quality? The quality is great! I played on my HD television display and was simply delighted by these classic games that I feared I may not ever get the chance to enjoy again in their full glory.

One of the best things about the system would be its price point, pretty much no matter where you buy it you get it for $40 new, picking up an actual NES with all its wear and tear will usually cost you more than that.

Game Over Man, For Now:

Retro-Bit has given old school gamers a gift when it comes to the RES Plus, one that is great at home and even better on the go.  This system will be a new part of my travels and will let me set my NES systems up on display somewhere instead of taking up space on my media center.  Now I just need to get ahold of the other Retro-Bit systems to make even more room on my shelves.


Retro-Bit RES Plus Console Review Score

(5 out of 5 Stars)


 

GoGroove AudiOHM HDX Earbuds Review

The other day I needed a stack of sticky notes so I went into one of my old convention bags. They usually have a few of them inside as companies hand them out like candy at the conventions. It’s good marketing for them as, each time you look at the sticky note, you are reminded of their company.  As I reached in I felt something else and no it wasn’t a scorpion or brown recluse spider, both of which you have to be careful of when you reach into bags in my area.  Instead, it was a little round rubber bag slightly smaller than the post notes (which explained their misplace) with the word GoGroove on the top and with that I fell back in love with my GoGroove AudiOHM HDX High Performance Earbuds With Mic.

Grooving Through the Grounds:

The earbuds were in their case and not their box because I had put them to heavy use at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) where the din gets to intensity levels that damage your eardrums and cause you to hear a ringing for a day or two.  I had been visiting GoGroove’s booth when I won a raffle they happen to be having, I said thanks and put them in my pocket with plans to use them after I finished chatting with the booth.  Since it was so loud on the floor I took everything out of the packaging, used a clip to attach the little round storage bag to my backpack and started using the earbuds immediately.  I chose the buds that were already on them since they felt secure and helped drowned out the noise before I even started the music and I began some tunes to try and find a bit of inner chill in this massive electronic market place.

The nice thing was at the end of the day my ears weren’t ringing as bad as usual and I had the case attached in an easy to reach place. The case has an elastic belt strap but I used a clip ring to secure it to my backpack instead.  The next couple days I wore them, I was wearing down but they, of course, were doing fine.  Start the day pulling them out of the case and hanging them over my shoulders until I decided to use them and at the end of the day back into the storage case.  That is how it went for the week until the last day when I took everything from the bottom of my bag and hooked around it’s outside and tossed it into a storage bag.  The earbuds slipped to the bottom until the other day.

I have been walking a lot lately to try to lose some weight and try to get into great condition for Halloween season, when a good deal of the GamingShogun staff and thousands of others travel to everything from home haunts to full-size amusement parks to take on the scares they have to offer.  It involves A LOT of walking and I have a medical condition that highly limits that, so at this time of year I start pushing and testing my endurance while finding out what canes work the best for me and figuring out when I will need a wheelchair.

The cables are wrapped in a nice thick rubber, the design at the earbud is set up so that if you accidently pull it from your ear it will pull at an angle instead of straight down on the connection.  This should give it a lot of extra life.  The call button is bright orange so it stands out nicely against the grey to hit it on the fly and the split section between the input cable and the earbud cables is reinforced rubber to help it from breaking down.

Because of that I use headsets a good deal of the day, trying to distract myself from massive amounts of pain or trying to find inspirational music to push that much further.  I have used all kinds of headsets from dollar store ones WalMart specials.  I never seem to get the $250 ones for gaming or walking but I know my way around affordable and the GoGroove AudiOHM HDX are definitely the higher end of that with a price tag of around $15.

Grooving Along:

The GoGroove AudiOHM HDX High-Performance Earbuds with Microphone are a nice and durable set of earbuds with some sound cancellation and a very affordable price.  I will definitely have them in my headset/earbud rotation and expect for them to stand up to repeated use for some time to come.


GoGroove AudiOHM HDX Earbuds With Mic Review Score

(4 out of 5 stars)


 

John Carpenter’s Tales Of Science Fiction: Vault (Issue 2 of 3)

The first issue of Vault left us with a strangely alien ship that has a quote from Emily Dickinson on the hull. The strange ship is named Vault and it features an Arabic countdown timer on a large screen on the bridge.  It would all seem quite inviting if not for the bodies strewn about in a eviscerated form, strange gooey slime, and a science officer that seems to want to join the other team.  That last may actually make sense with the conditions of the bodies.

The second issue in the series really ramps up the tension as faces are given to what is to be feared on Vault and probably at least a couple of the explorers of the ship wish they didn’t know now.  Instead of providing the crew with any answers it seems to just have confused them more since the “monsters” have cousins on Earth but those cousins do not cruise around in ships eating folks as snacks.  Their Earth cousin and them do seem to share at least one thing and I keep waiting for some to Google it up (it’s okay to say Google, they use the name in the series).  Thankfully, the crew have finally realized how the creatures managed to get around them in a very Alien kind of way. Because of this, I am hoping that they will be able to keep at least a handful of the crew they have through the rest of issue number two and, maybe, the final issue -perhaps to become re-occurring characters in John Carpenter’s Tales Of Science Fiction comics going forward.  That’s going to be a tall order, however, as they’ve got some big nasty stuff to get by if they are going to have that happen.

Deeper Into The Vault:

The first issue of John Carpenter’s Tales Of Science Fiction: Vault was really good at building up tension but issue two brought on the monsters and showed what they will have to fight or, at least, survive if they want to make it out alive.  I’m still wondering how they will get the whole story tied up in just one last episode but we are talking about John Carpenter. If anyone can pull off a three issue Tales of Science Fiction run, it would be him!

The Monster Project Film Review

When the opportunity to review The Monster Project came along, I was completely excited about it.  I didn’t know the filmmakers for their celluloid works but, instead, for their annual interactive haunted attraction known as Delusion where the guests play a part in the storyline. Delusion is only accessible by reservation and sells out quickly every year (this year they are dark, unfortunately).  I’m such a fan I even have a poster and a plague doctor’s mask from one year’s production.  Knowing that these people can take you into a setting and make you feel like you are part of a movie I figured the chances would be great that they could pull off the easier task of letting us sit back for a change and have them do the movie magic. So I gladly screened The Monster Project.

A Story You Can Sink Your Teeth Into:

The premise they came up with was fairly straight forward but not one that had well-trodden on by other movies yet.  A small group of filmmakers, who up until now had made to fake viral monster videos, decide to do a documentary on people who think they are really monsters.  They put out a casting call for people in the area who might think they are possessed by demons or suffer from conditions such as Lycanthropy or Renfield’s Syndrome (clinical vampirism) to come and be interviewed for the documentary.  It doesn’t take long before a man claiming to be a Native American Skinwalker, a woman claiming to be possessed by a demon, and woman claiming to be a full blown vampire each contact the group in their own special way to apply for the interview.  They rent out a derelict house for atmosphere and get ready for the night.

The crew consists of the “idea man” Devon (Justin Bruening), his videographer Jamal (Jamal Quezaire), Devon’s ex Murielle (Murielle Zuker), and a recovering addict named Bryan (Toby Hemingway). Bryan is a close friend of Murielle and someone her and Jamal havce taken in to give him a chance to get back on his feet.  As a gift for his sobriety and his birthday, Murielle gives Bryan a GoPro which helps us have another view of the happenings directly from the head of one of the characters as this film is shot in somewhat of a “found footage” style.  It also lets you know how people are feeling by being the “fly on the wall” in dramatic moments.

We never get a good look at the Skinwalker played by Steven Flores as his characters requests to be kept in the shadows to protect his identity and they even use a voice modulator on him.  As a reservation police he wears a body cam which gives us a little more looks at situations that I will get back to but it does have a certain irony that the monster we hardly see helps us see the crew better.  Then you have the demon possessed girl played by Shiori Ideta. Ideta’s character is akin to Kayako from The Ring: She is a petite Asian woman with black hair over her face, pale skin, and a simple white dress.  The pleas she makes to the demon that, she claims, lives inside her can make your skin crawl with creep factor.

The last monster in the mix is “vampire” Shayla (Yvonne Zima), who steals the show.  She has an enticing beauty that pulls you in despite her glowing white eyes.  Sporting a ton of tattoos and making herself at home putting her feet up on the interview desk, there is no question who is in charge of the room once she enters the scene.  The Monster Project has an interesting take on vampirism – especially how they handle a vampire’s dealing with sunlight.  Shayla answers their questions until she decides it is a good time to drop a bomb on the team that sends them fighting among themselves, kicking off a lot of chaos for our filmmakers.

I can’t give away anything else without venturing into spoiler territory, but once that chaos begins, the folks behind The Monster Project really begin to shine.  After years of having to have practical effects that look perfect time after time feet away from a live audience, their coming up with them for a movie seemed effortless.  Using night vision helps with this of course, wires aren’t as visible and the image is somewhat distorted. A GoPro carried by one of the crew is also a savior because they can take it and shoot in sections of a property that might be too difficult otherwise.  The ending is definitely important to catch too because it had a surprise that myself and the person watching it with me did not expect at all.

There were only a few things minor that detracted from our enjoyment of The Monster Project. On the small end of the gripe spectrum, Jamal seemed a bit over the top and, while this helped the energy of the scene, I didn’t believe his delivery some of the time. Also, they seemed to love racking the slide back on their pistol after already having done so multiple times. With semi-automatic handguns, there is a round in the chamber once the slide is racked back the first time. Each additional racking of the slide will eject the currently-chambered cartridge and load the next one in the magazine until the magazine is empty (at which point the slide stays locked back). This is a small, yet technical-detail that I noticed and did pull me out of the scene at points.  There was one big thing though and that was the use of the would-be Skinwalker’s body cam.  Once he takes off his clothing, where was the camera attached to? I love the idea of a body cam view, but someone has to be wearing the cam for it to work, right? I digress, however, as I really enjoyed this movie despite those minor issues.

A Monster Project:

The Monster Project starts off a bit slow but once it gets up and running it starts sprinting with an amazing kinetic energy all the way until the end.  The Monster Project is a great example of how practical effects can be performed on-set and still be very effective to the audience at the same time. Couple that with good acting and Victor Mathieu excellent direction and The Monster Project is a great time – especially if you can find it in a theatrical screening. I look forward to seeing more films from the folks behind Delusion, as long as it doesn’t mean we have to miss out on another year of that!


The Monster Project Review Score

(4 out of 5 Stars)


 

The Domicile Movie Review

I like all kinds of movies, from serious, high-budget productions to the campy, home video quality flick.  The divide between those two kinds of films is closing over time with the rise of professional grade editing programs and consumer video equipment. Add to that mix crowdfunding programs such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe and an independent filmmaker’s dream can come true without their having to mortgage a property. So it’s difficult to say if something is actually a low budget film or video anymore, which is nice because then quality isn’t distracting from the film. This is definitely the case in The Domicile, a new film by Artist View Entertainment.

Entering The Domicile:

Once The Domicile commences, the scene is set with low hanging fog (which can be a bit overused if not careful) and ominous reflections in various glass objects. A very pregnant, redheaded Estella (Katherine Flannery) puts on an Estella’s Baked Goods apron for just a moment then takes it off which kinda makes you wonder why she put it on or if it might be foreshadowing. She talks to her husband Russell (Steve Richard Harris) who is working on a home project and injures himself so responds to his crankiness by saying she is going to sedate Sam (Amanda Ruth Ritchie) so she doesn’t go into the neighbors house again. Then when Brody’s drinking buddy and playwright partner David arrives, the stage is set for a movie of creepy happenings that will make you begin to wonder what might be supernatural and what might be “simple” insanity.

The person telling the story, from whose point of view we are witnessing the events, is not perfect. They have some issues with alcohol, are known by the police as being a troubled individual, and goes from calm to extremely angry in a moment’s notice.  This can make some viewers wonder if he is a “faulty narrator”, that maybe he sees paranormal things because of what he has been through and not because they are actually happening. There’s also the simple possibility that it is a creepy ghost story, you are left to judge for yourself.

The creepy moments are well done and The Domicile features some good makeup effects and lighting design. It looks like a Pepper’s ghost illusion might have been used but it’s also possible the effects were done in post production. When I think about The Domicile, I keep going back to the makeup I liked and the effects – they struck my wife and I as the strongest part of the movie and whoever did it deserves more work!

Russell is an alcoholic, and the movie kinda beats that point a little deeply into the ground. There is a little green bottle in pretty much every scene he is in, most scenes have several.  He is extremely stressed about finishing his latest play and any distraction makes him drink even more. The thing is he never seems to have more than a buzz even though he is constantly drunk, his only side effect is better writing. Or maybe more… but we don’t need more green bottles to go there.

In the way that the drunkenness is under played a lot of the other scenes are a bit overplayed. Acting can be a subtle thing and it was pretty good, just a little off.  I bet their next films they will be even more on spot.

One Last Peek in The Domicile:

The Domicile had some really creepy supernatural effects that kept you glued to the screen to see what would happen next.  The acting was still a little raw but the effects, camera, lighting, and editing are all well done and professional causing this movie to only drop a hair into the realm of “campy”.  I look forward to The Domicile Two or maybe a new venture from the same production company.

Redeemer Review

One of the best things to ever happen to gaming I believe is Steam’s Project Greenlight.  Games that would have failed to be seen or even fully produced found their fans and funding through this way.  This is a hotly debated topic since Project Greenlight is going away, but it is nice that it brought us REDEEMER before it leaves. I’m not taking an editorial stand here on whether moving away from Greenlight is a good or bad thing, I am just happy it managed to bring us this top-down gore filled action title.

In REDEEMER, you play as an elite operative who once worked for one of the biggest arms industry corporations in the world. Officially working in security you was tasked with infiltration, assassination, extortion and even torturing. You managed to escape this life and live a peaceful one among monks who showed you the path to harmony.  Unfortunately his former corporation didn’t look kindly on his retirement and have come to retire him and all the monks permanently…

It starts easy enough, a few guys to fight in each room, some combating you with their fists and some using cattle prods.  You start with only your hands and what the environment provides such as a chair here or a crate there, you can even ram their heads into walls, fires, ornate objects. When you take out an enemy with a weapon you can pick up the weapon but everyone of them have limited durability or armor and you throw them away after their usefulness wears out.  So you are constantly grabbing a weapon, using it up then grabbing another, generally from the merc you just killed.  You also keep track of where more than one weapon dropped in case you have to backtrack and pick up some more.  Another good way of getting a weapon is watching which direction the enemy is facing and coming up behind them and doing a sneak execution.  Then their weapon is at max durability from not being used and gives you a little more fight.

You can only hold one melee weapon at a time and one range weapon, so you generally want to pick up the best durability ax and most ammo pistol for example because once those are done you are fighting with your hands and the environment such as chairs until you get more weapons.  Something I like to do is once I have cleared a couple of room of all the mercs I check and pick up the best weapons then I grab a chair or a crate so that technically I will have three weapons starting off the next fight.  You pick a target, throw that chair and then decide if you want to empty your pistol or start zapping them with the prod.  You can also pick environmental things while you are at it because those tend to have the most beautiful Rorschach blood patterns.

The levels are all varied and have beautiful details scattered throughout.  It would have been easy to make the levels more sparse because a lot of people will probably be plowing through as fast as they can but, for those of us who take the time to notice, the details and sound quality are really well done.  One reason you might see a room a lot is the save points are kinda far apart, especially when it comes to a difficult group to fight, you might be all jazzed you got past a rough spot and you get killed right after that spot, only to have it send you back quite a ways.

After you get past certain levels in the game, it unlocks Arena fights, which are wave based matches on the map you just cleared.  They come from all different directions with increasingly tough weapons but it is a bunch of frenzied fun.

When it comes to the PC there is a decision to make on how to play it: Using a game controller or not.  I think it was initially made with a game controller in mind because all the onscreen hints are for a controller.  Looking into the controls you can find all of them and most of them are fairly obvious and once you get used to them you maneuver and aim just fine.  I played part of the game using each style, game controller and keyboard / mouse. Both were fine but I think I preferred the game controller just a bit more (which is usually not the case).

Last Splat:

REDEEMER is an amazingly fun top-down gore ride into righteous fury. I never got tired of smashing, bashing, and splatting all the mercenaries who have showed up to disturb my chill.  May you have the same road to redemption blast.


REDEEMER Review Score

(4 out of 5 Stars)