Review: The Terminal Man

the terminal manI hadn’t seen Mike Hodges’ somewhat exceptional The Terminal Man for over 40 years, so naturally, that film I derided that long ago for its awful TV edit was quite the gloomy, rewarding surprise as a revisit a day ago as a complete film. As a kid, I can recall vividly the scene where George Segal, wearing a messy blond wig, white suit and whiter shoes was beating a large triangular-headed shiny metal robot to “death” and how it made me laugh as I retold the scene to a few amused school friends.

As you can guess, I want to kick my younger self a bit now (not too hard, though) because it’s one of a number of haunting images the film has and it comes a few minutes after a shocking murder mostly clipped from the TV edit. Initially to be directed by its author, Michael Crichton (who the studio felt was changing his own novel too much for the film), Hodges was given the task of getting it into the depressing, downbeat sci-fi thriller it turned out to be, writing and directing the project himself. Amusingly, I came into the film as a fan of The Andromeda Strain. The film version of that had me go take the book from the the library that past summer and I blew through it a few times (it’s a fast, tense read and took under a day to blaze through non-stop the first time). So I didn’t get the less conventional manner in which some of The Terminal Man was structured. Well, the edited network version didn’t help much, that’s for sure.

terminal_man_ver3That initial derision from my younger self was also a definite case of being too young to grasp the film’s tone and my only exposure to Segal’s work being a few comedic and lighter performances. Seeing the film now reveals the range and rage on display, or an actor fully in charge of the character he’s inhabiting. As Harry Benson, a computer scientist prone to anger and seizures, he goes through an experimental surgery that has a tiny computer hooked into his brain to keep things under control.

Guess what? The early predictions of a successful recovery by his smug doctors? Yeah, they’re rendered into obsolescence when Harry decides to stop taking his meds and escapes from the hospital with the help of his girlfriend (Jill Clayburgh) who has no idea Harry’s implanted computer (which she has no clue about) is going to misfire quite badly. There’s murder and mayhem to follow, but the film doesn’t go to places it doesn’t need to outside of telling its particular tale, clocking in at a lean 107 minutes before it ends.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Bee Simulator: The Buzz Says It’s A Honey Of A Game

BeeSim_Website_Gallery_Pic2

Bee all that you can, bee…

Bee_logoLife is sweet these days, at least on the gaming front. So, I’m playing Varsav Game Studios’ wonderful Bee Simulator on the PS4 and so far, having a blast with this indie. It’s NOT a “simulator” as in reality doesn’t come into play in the scientific manner, but it sure is a colorful and fun-filled game the entire family can enjoy. Bigben Games deserves kudos for seeing this one through and it definitely deserves to be seen and played as a neat little sleeper.

I’ll have more on this after playing it to completion, but for now, it’s a pretty good contender in terms of indie games that do some things a bit differently.  Go peek at the trailer below – I’m going to go play some more and get a review up soon.

-GW

Review: Texas, Adios (Blu-Ray)

Texas Adios_01

“It might be Mark’s store… but its MY town…”

texas arrowMarketed as a a Django film in some territories, Ferdinando Baldi’s Texas, Adios definitely isn’t one. It has more in common with earlier western formula and pretty much sticks to its guns (ha!) throughout as a solid film that’s not as stylized as other spaghetti westerns, yet it’s unmistakably one that tries to be as American as possible. It’s a bit more violent than the older oaters, but it’s perfectly acceptable by today’s standards. Franco Nero makes for a decent single-minded hero when all is said and done, there’s not a love interest in sight, and the film gets a bit ruthless when it needs to make some points. Just don’t count the times no one reloads (unless the plot calls for it, guns seem to run on rechargeable batteries here).

Nero plays Burt Sullivan, a sheriff in a small town who travels to Mexico to bring a man named Cisco Delgado (José Suárez) back to justice in one piece. He’s got a strict moral code in effect, but he’ll absolutely kill anyone else who tries shooting him, of course. Cisco happens to be somewhat of a big deal feared criminal there, what with being a well-dressed meanie with a big villa, a ton of henchmen, and quite the cruel streak. Sullivan wants him alive because he killed his father many years ago also he can see him hang or be jailed in America. Naturally, Cisco very steadfastly has no travel plans to leave Mexico. Must be the weather and assorted torture he’s fond of exposing those he disagrees with that keeps him happy.

Texas Adios_02

“Look, I know you’re a bit tied up at the moment, but, ma’am, you can’t sleep here!”

Sullivan’s brother, Jim (Alberto dell’Acqua [under the unwieldy moniker “Cole Kitosch”, which sounds like a designer of expensive clothing you’d never wear]) tags along and we find out that Jim’s got something not even he knows is a secret. I’m keeping that secret a secret because it’s a nifty twist that kicks the plot above its level (and adds some poignancy to the affair), but really isn’t much of a surprise if you’ve seen other films that have similar themes

Continue reading

Spaceland: Tough Turn-Based Strategy To Switch Things Up

sl_gameplay_GIF

Tortuga Team’s new game Spaceland looks quite good and as a Switch and PC exclusive (so far), has my interest piqued. That said, I got a review code I’m finally getting to play and wow, it’s hard as heck at the start if you try going too far too quickly. Granted, I’m playing on Normal mode (the game has as Easy and Normal settings) and creatures popping from the floor are mopping that floor with my characters because they’re a bit vicious (Ow, Ouch, Wow). But this is less a complaint than it is an acknowledgment of the game’s welcome challenge. That said, I’ll crank the difficulty down and play some more because so far, it’s not bad and there are some puzzle elements to it that I like along with the clean visuals.

I’ll have a review up probably later this week or around the weekend. I was sick fir a week plus and got temporarily stuck in two other games I’m working on (one needs patching, the other is just at the point where a difficulty spike is making it a pain to play), but I think both games are getting fixes soon, I hear. Anyway, this one’s fun and needs to be done, so I’ll get back to the bug bashing and deliver a verdict soon.

-GW

Review: Lornsword Winter Chronicle (PS4)

Lornsword_01

Just out for a little cardio…

lornsword box“RUN!” Amusingly, I was thinking of the late Richard Pryor (I think it was from Live On The Sunset Strip) as I played this game because running like your character’s life depends on it (it does) is a big part of Lornsword Winter Chronicle, ($24.99) developer Tower Five’s pretty solid real time strategy/action game hybrid. My review’s a little late thanks to some illness, getting stuck in an area late in the game (I was having trouble in one busy area) and waiting for a patch that fixed some visual issues, but I rather liked the game overall. It does start out slowly, as tutorials tackle the basics and get you through the early parts before setting you free to experience things in its solo or co-op modes.

Story-wise, it’s pretty well written and straightforward with dramatic elements and a touch of wry humor every so often. As Corun Lan Ka, Lornknight turned general (sort of), you’re tasked with leading quite a number of disposable troops into battle as the story recounts your efforts. The game allows for offline co-op play (which works quite well), offering the ability for a friend or anyone otherwise interested to jump in and assist at any time. Given how hectic some battles are, that help sure comes in handy when its needed. Maps are both small enough to get you to targets quickly, but large enough that you can’t run continuously because you’ll be out of stamina. Corun is a capable fighter only when the enemies have been thinned out, so keeping him alive is key here. Running away to your base with a few enemies giving chase is both funny and frightening at times.

Continue reading

Review: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Switch)

 

mario and sonicSega, on a roll, II: While its appeal might seem to be more towards super-fans and younger gamers, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 ($59.99) is quite a fun game overall for all ages. That said, you’d better have a few Switch controllers in tip-top shape and prepare to do a bit of of a workout with your fingers in some of the trickier events. 24 zippy mini-games are here with bright and colorful visuals and a soundtrack that’s suitably Olympic-sounding.

Nostalgic fans who may be a bit older or keen on old-school visuals will very likely love the retro 2D goodness found in the time traveling (via oddball game console trap) Tokyo 1964 storyline and its additional 10 events. The nice thing is the game lets you play through its story modes in order and also lets you have at it in any mini-games here if you just want to grab a few friends and family members (up to 8) and play together. Online play and cloud saves are of course, all aboard if you want to play with a few folks online. That said, it’s good to see the game supports couch play (something more games need).

While it’s kid-friendly, and only supports the less fancier means of control (well, Joy-Cons, motion controls, and some first and third-party game pads), the game doesn’t skimp on the challenge for new players in some events where every bit of precision counts. The 2D retro mode’s games are far easier, bit everything here is well done any guaranteed to get you grinning. You can stay on the couch, too in either mode, but prepare to work those controllers in some events where a bit of precise button pressing, some rapid jamming and other moves need to be pulled off. Notably, there are no voices for the characters outside some generic grunts, but there’s enough of a plot that ties things together if you’re into it and prefer not to skip through short cut scenes and dialog segments.

Switch_Mario&Sonic2020_02v2

Featuring… a cast of DOZENS!

Continue reading

Games I Need to Play 4: Chernobylite


Well, well… I guess I really need to play this game, too. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Chernobylite, a 3D scanned “science-fiction survival horror experience” from developer The Farm 51, who deserves some sort of award for exposing themselves to the probably still very irradiated location of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, where some of the photo-realistic visuals and locations were derived from. I haven’t touched the Early Access build yet because I’m swamped with stuff to do and my backlog is somewhat long, but that sort of attention to detail makes me want to see what the heck this is all about from a few perspectives. If that trailer is doing its job on you, you can go pick up the Early Access version of the game either on Steam or gog.com.

Chernobylite_EA_Announcement_Screen_04

Just out for a little walk in the (radioactive) park…

I’ll shut up here and let you ogle more some screenshots and other media on the game’s official site, as I’m I’m the middle of a few reviews and today is extra busy for a Monday. This is also console bound at some point but as far as I can tell, it’s headed for PS4 and Xbox One only.

-GW

Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris Gets A Wonderfully Depressing New Trailer

 

Geez. Take my time and money, already department, deluxe edition: Teamkill Media’s upcoming game, Kings of Lorn: The Fall of Ebris makes Demon’s Souls classic and mighty downbeat intro seem as if it’s unicorns and rainbows, but with a bit more winning on the part of of the lead here. I like it for that. That said, it’s hard to get a gauge on enemy difficulty in the newer game, as some enemies seem to go down too fast. Then again, this is likely the developer wisely hiding the challenge level until the masses get their hands around a controller when the PC version is released on November 22 2019.

This almost looks too frightening to finish (and no, that fantastically dour music isn’t helping one bit). If that’s going to be the aural force that’s coming, the already mind-blowing visuals will have some stiff competition as far as what’s going to keep me freaked out the most. I can’t wait, but I also want to see how the console versions stack up (PS4 is my preferred way to play, thank you).  Oh, here’s the earlier E3 trailer (in case you haven’t seen it yet). Go wishlist this now… or it’s coming to get you.

-GW

MARS: PDP Brings Lightgun Arcade Fun Back For PS4 And Xbox One Players

VOTD_art

Talk about a vacation from hell…

I’m smiling too much while playing a detective on holiday (and on a few replays, a cheery British gal pyromaniac) aboard a huge cruise liner that’s suddenly become filled with zombies. A few comically big-headed biters go down with ease, M-rated blood splashing and splattering when they’re hit, but I’m soon jumping out of my skin when I spend too long on a large pack of undead that suddenly appear to my left (oops), and I get waylaid by some swarming in from the right (double oops, and GAME OVER). Ah well. A few shots to the menu later, I’m trying again and yes, having a blast. Yeah, some pleasure cruise vacation this is turning out to be, huh?

The game is called:

voyage-of-the-dead_logo_600pxIt’s an Unreal engine-based rail shooter downloadable PS4 or Xbox One title from developer Gaming Corps Studios, one of three games currently available for PDP’s new MARS LIGHTCON (lightgun) peripheral and IR STATION camera setup ($99.99, game included).  The wireless LIGHTCON is sturdily built and came with 2 AA batteries installed that gave it a nice heft, but it’s light enough to be comfortable for long play sessions. It’s not cheap feeling at all, mind you, but something that’s very well-made and made to work precisely for the games that come out for it. I did replace the alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones because that’s how I roll these days.

Oddly, you need to have a wired or wireless controller handy to initialize or pause the games and definitely a wireless one if you happen to have an external hard drive plugged into a USB like I do. The IR STATION requires one port, your main controller another if it’s not wireless. PDP also sent over a nice controller charger set (I’ll review that in a separate article), but the PS4 has always suffered from a lack of USB ports. Personally, I think the console should have shipped with an extra side port and/or one on the rear because of peripherals like this and the fact that heavy users like myself need a larger storage.

mars lightcon

The Orangesicle color scheme is familiar, but the tech is modern.

Back to the game, it’s quite fun overall and offers up enough zombie types to keep things interesting (aliens, voodoo, and magic using undead pop in as the missions go on). The PS4 version generally runs smoothly, but there are a few areas with hiccups in the frame rate, and some scene transitions aren’t as smooth as they could be. That said, it’s got a certain charm and makes a good first impression.

The game also packs in eight characters to play as (some unlocked via mini-games), a single-player mode, a versus mode, six mini-games for up to four players (I’m especially fond of the quirky pinball , UFO, and “golf” games here). Overall, it’s worth a look if you like all things zombie-related. While it’s not rated for kids, given that there are a great deal of wee ones that find zombies awesome and kind of hilarious, if you’ve got them (kids, not zombies!) and you’re OK with the gory stuff, they might find this pretty cool.

While the campy voice acting gets repetitive, the audio design and soundtrack are quite excellent overall. You can expect about 2 hours or so in Story mode (well, experts will probably blow through in less time and nope, I’m no expert). unlocking everything in every mode depends on a player’s dedication to seeing it all as soon as possible or on their own time. While you need to restart the game each time (like most arcade games, there’s no save system in place), the game does track all your stats so you can see that progression if you’re curious.

Continue reading

Diablo IV: Back To The Past For The Future’s Sake

While Blizzard is in a wee spot of trouble for a few things these days, if you can divorce yourself from those elements, Diablo IV is looking mighty incredible. The return to the bleak color palette of the first two entries in the series is a great decision as is the company deciding to release both the opening movie and a gameplay trailer that looks pretty spectacular. I’m concerned about a few things, though.

Only three classes (so far) is a throwback to the original game (an excellent touch), but I’m hoping more are added and not at a premium price point. Some fans are already too testy about microtransactions in games and game companies overcharging for content that should be part of the package, so I’m mot sure how Blizzard will respond to this. At least the game is wisely confirmed for PC and save for the Switch, consoles, so it’s a definite day one purchase for me. EDIT: Ah, I see from the official site that these are  “the first three” classes, which probably means more will be made available at some point, likely by some form of unlocking (payment?) or a completion reward for completing the game with one of the three starting characters.

With that out of the way, I can breathe easy that the game is in good hands as development continues. Multiplayer I can take or leave, but we’ll see how it turns out as things progress. The brief bits I saw certainly looked good, but I’m more of a solo player in games like this because I tend to take my time and not rush through dungeons.

-GW