Review: Conan Exiles (PS4)

Conan Exiles

Survival games come in a few flavors these days and Funcom’s mostly solid Conan Exiles ($49.99) has that interestingly coppery taste of blood, a bit of crunch from a handful of insects and a grassy finish, all wrapped in a hide of some sort that’s been smoked thoroughly. Or something like that. The game is a rough and tumble chunk of violent fun, complex crafting (that *really* needs streamlining), endless exploration and thankfully, offline play when those too packed servers are busy.

As with ARK: Survival Evolved, the massive open world sandbox element tosses you into things nearly naked and needing to gather resources quickly or die trying. Conan pops up at the beginning to free your user-created crucified character and wish you well before you’re left to your own devices. The game prompts you onward with small to large milestones and some fast level gains for small to large accomplishments. Drinking water, finding space for and creating that first shelter, crafting your first basic armor, figuring out the ridiculously complex cooking system and more all help you get a feel for the game right away. Or at least, you’ll realize that this is a game where you’ll need to pay constant attention to even the smallest thing lest you want to punt that Dual Shock 4 through your TV.

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By Crom! Conan Exiles Out Now on Consoles

Conan Exiles

Or: By Crom, I think I’ll never see daylight again. Yes, Funcom has gotten it’s popular M-rated MMO/survival/crafting game Conan Exiles out today on PS4 and Xbox One along with a nice update for PC users. I’m going into this totally blind other than checking out a few official gameplay videos and trailers over the past year from the PC version. My money says death will come quickly for my poor character, but I’m going to try and survive as long as possible (well, as least until I can build a decent shelter). Granted, I’ll need to make it through the character creation system, as I’m still thinking up what sort of character I’m going to make. I like that the tips PDF I got notes that choosing Crom as a starting deity makes the character agnostic, but you also get NO benefit bonuses from choosing him (as it should be).

 

 

While I don’t plan to do any PVP stuff (as I want to enjoy the story and gameplay without pulling all my remaining hair out because my avatar keeps getting killed by belt-notchers out to grab scalps wherever they can), I may pop onto a server and check out how long I’ll last there. I really want to focus on the lore and seeing how well any story content is structured, as Funcom says it’s not an empty sandbox you’ll be playing in. That means I’ll be searching high and low for lore to the point where I’ll very likely get keelhauled by an enemy because I’m busy reading some digitally dusty tome I’ve located. As well.

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Back in a bit with a review which will probably be in at least two parts. See you then.

-GW

Dark Souls Remastered: Get In On That Server Test, Folks

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FACT: I’m absolutely awful at the Dark Souls games, but I forge on nevertheless. Bandai Namco is indulging fans with a tease of a network test coming up for PSN and Xbox Live users that’s going to give those servers quite the workout. Details below. I’ve downloaded the client, but know what to expect already: me dying a lot and getting my game invaded by players looking to add a few notches to their belts. Some of us are pincushions for other’s win-cushions, I guess. Ow. Ow. Ow.

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DARK SOULS: REMASTERED NETWORK TEST DETAILS REVEALED

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. has confirmed today that the DARK SOULS™: REMASTERED Network Test will be running May 11-12, 2018, at specific times listed below, for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One. The network test will take place within the Undead Parish location and have players summoning co-op partners or invade others’ games.

More details regarding the DARK SOULS: REMASTERED Network Test can be found below:

What: DARK SOULS: REMASTERED Network Test for PlayStation 4 system and Xbox One
When: May 11th and May 12th from 6:00pm PDT to 11:59pm PDT each day for the Americas
How: Download the DARK SOULS: REMASTERED Network Test client from May 1st through 11:59pm PDT on May 8th on PlayStation 4 system and Xbox One (Xbox Gold subscription required to participate) to be part of the test. At 11:59pm PDT on May 8th the network test client will be removed, and no new participants will be accepted.

DARK SOULS: REMASTERED will launch for the PlayStation 4 system, Xbox One, and PC via STEAM® on May 25, 2018. The Nintendo Switch™ version of DARK SOULS: REMASTERED, network test, and Solaire amiibo™ will be available later this summer.

 

So, yeah, sure. I’ll see you online in a bit. Or not see you because you’ll be sneaking up on me while I’m trying not to get slaughtered by some bossy boss. Be gentle or at least tap me on the shoulder before you conk me on the head with that weapon or whatever.

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns BRIf ever there was a film where the title tells you everything you need to know while also telling you it’s a film you kind of need to see out of sheer curiosity, it’s Killer Klowns From Outer Space. yeah, yeah, I know a lot of you hate clowns in real life and nope, this film probably won’t be the one to endear you to the red nose and greasepaint cause. That said, if you love great practical effects, practical jokes, bits of stop motion creativity, 80’s gore FX and one damn catchy main theme song, this one has all those and more.

Arrow Video has once again pulled out all the stops with this restoration, adding a ton of special features that add to the big top thrills and chills. If you’ve never seen this one before, it’s worth checking out because it’s great for a few laughs and still works as one of those films that didn’t need a sequel (although there have been a few rumblings about one over the years).

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Random Film of the Week: Hard to be a God

(Thanks, kinolorber!)

 

Hard to be a God MPImagine an episode of Game of Thrones as performed by the cast of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade minus the fantasy elements and with an even more staggering attention to medieval detail and you’ll maybe grasp a small potion of the late Aleksei German’s outstanding, brutal (yet beautiful) Hard to be a a God. This 2013 film (the director’s last) isn’t for the easily disturbed but if you’re willing to sit through the almost three hour running time, you’ll likely find yourself glued to the screen from beginning to end.

While it may not look like a sci-fi film, right from the start you’ll see subtitles that note the story takes place on an earth-like planet going through its medieval phase about 800 years after ours. A group of scientists have been send there to observe the planet and gently nudge it forward without using technology or politics as it goes through what should be a renaissance phase. Unfortunately, things kind of get a bit out if hand when intellectuals of all types become targets for murder by a tyrant’s roaming militia intent on keeping the people uneducated and (mostly) harmless. Actually, about 28 minutes in, you get a reminder that you’re on another world thanks to a quick shot of something mechanical making itself known. But even then, the illusion of an incessantly nasty age isn’t at all broken.

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Review: Mutant Football League (PS4)

MFL_PS4Okay, confession time (again), For the record, I really don’t care for most professional or what’s positioned as “professional” sports these days. Now, I’m not  completely against your own sports or sports entertainment choices, mind you (if you love what you watch, I’m not stopping you at all). I actually used to be a lot more physically active and have played a bunch of team sports over the years and yes indeed, even had a few favorite pro teams for a number of decades. That said, as I’ve grown older I’ve found myself not caring about overblown, over-hyped event sports as bread and circus spectaculars in the grand scheme of things partly because it only takes a few crazed fans acting up to kill interest in what should be a less mentally stressful entertainment experience.

That said, I could play Digital Dreams’ killer Mutant Football League (MFL) all day and not grow tired of it. This one’s a “Shut up and buy it!” game if there ever was one and if you’re a fan of more arcade-like games in the NFL Blitz vein or recall playing the well-aged but still hilarious Mutant League Football back on the Sega Genesis, this one’s going to be right up your dark alley and waiting to club you on the head and swipe $20 from your wallet before skipping away whistling. Since your cell phone wasn’t lifted, when you’re back to a conscious state, do call up a friends and invite them over for some solid co-op action, online play or hell, even just to spectate and cheer at the mayhem on screen.

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Blu-Ray/DVD Review: The Cat O’ Nine Tails

TheCatONineTailsIn a new interview included on this superb Arrow Video release, director Dario Argento notes he initially didn’t much like his second film, The Cat O’Nine Tails partially because it felt “Too American” Interesting, but in a way, I’d say he’s correct to a degree. That said, as a followup to The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, the film pushes some of the right buttons it needs to while providing a pretty impressive murder by onrushing train scene early on that’s still pretty awesome even when you find out how the trick was done.

That “Too American” comment is very likely about the two Americans playing key roles in this film, James Franciscus and Karl Malden. Both give solid performances in film that’s a bit slower in pacing than Bird was, but has a few tense moments that liven things up. Malden plays Franco Arnò, a blind former journalist who lives with his young niece, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis). The pair are out for a nighttime stroll when Franco overhears a bit of a conversation from a parked car they’ve passed. It later turns out a nearby genetics lab has been broken into and onto the scene the next day arrives Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus), a reporter who ends up bonding with Franco. The two men set out to solve the case, but yep, there’s a murderer on the loose connected to the theft and he’s got his sights set on not only the two men, but little Lori as well.

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Random Film of the Week: The Hateful Eight

TH8Yep, I’m calling it now. The Hateful Eight is also a Thanksgiving movie you can pop in and clear your house with if you end up with relatives arguing about politics or sports when all they really need to do is show up and shut up when they’re stuffing their faces with whatever tasty treats you’ve prepared. Note to turkey preppers: get that frozen bird defrosted and/or in a brine NOW (as in don’t wait until Wednesday night to fuss with a frozen bird) so you can have it all ready to pop in the oven and done up right. You fresh turkey buyers have an extra day as long as that bird doesn’t go into the freezer.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Yeah, you’ll be thankful for this film because you’re not going to find a more gorgeously shot yet hilariously amoral American film (well, one made by Quentin Tarantino) where you might go in expecting one thing but get exactly what you didn’t think you’d get. Let’s put it this way, if ever a title meant anything, it’s this film’s. Upshot nutshell: Eight not so nice (SO not so nice) people meet and otherwise interact in a cabin they’re trapped in during an epic snowstorm. Not everyone survives the experience. Nutshot upsell: Oh, boy is this film violent as hell. No one is spared from the talented folks at KNB Effects Group as they gore things up with some impressive practical effects. The film is about much more than than, although it kind of takes its sweet time in making its points.

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Random Film of the Week: Corruption


 

As mad scientist flicks go, Corruption is something of a forgotten classic in its own crazy manner. You get the great Peter Cushing out of his usual period piece horrors playing a successful plastic surgeon in a more modern 60’s setting, some surprisingly shocking (by mid 60’s standards) content and a laser gone haywire in a finale that may elicit some chuckles from forward thinking Star Wars fans. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cushing go full-tilt, over the top into scenery chomping territory, this one won’t disappoint one bit. While there are some slow expository moments here, the overall film is an interesting slice of horror that while not wholly original, ends up being pretty memorable on a few fronts.

(Thanks, groovemaster!)
 

After the swingin’ credit sequence, we meet Cushing’s Sir John Rowan and his pretty younger fiancée Lynn (Sue Lloyd) at a pretty raucous party. While the good doctor struggles with the mingling, Lynn, who just so happens to be a model, is in the middle of an impromptu photo shoot when Rowan rushes up to stop the snapping away before his squeeze loses all her clothes. Before you can say “Watch out for that hot studio lamp!”, Rowan accidentally knocks said lamp over and it lands on poor Lynn, burning half her face. Ouch! Fortunately, she’s engaged to a very capable plastic surgeon, right? Unfortunately, conventional surgery won’t work this time, so Rowan decides to use Lynn as a guinea pig to try out a little something he’s been working on in secret.

If you’ve seen Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without A Face), you can probably guess things up to a point, For everyone who hasn’t, Répétez après moi, s’il vous plaît:

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ALIEN: Covenant – The Crossing: Coda Blue


 

Well, well, well. This is very interesting indeed. For one, it’s excellently shot and edited, albeit about a minute too short for my tastes. “Too short?” you’re thinking? “It’s supposed to be a SHORT!” you say. Well, okay, it goes like this: although it’s the perfect bridge between Prometheus and the upcoming ALIEN: Covenant, it feels as if it’s absolutely popping up on the AC Blu-Ray as a bonus. But curious me wants to know if MORE was shot because I have questions.

What would be cool is if future disc, streamed and cable versions of Prometheus add this onto the ending as a post-credit sequence just to give that film a bit more oomph. It certainly needed a kicker that was better than the ending it got in the theatrical cut. That said, I wonder if this gets shown in the theater before the big-deal feature? That would work as well for those new viewers who haven’t seen the previous film and want a brief wrap-up appetizer befre the main course.

Anyway, I can predict the future! Well, sort of. As in I know that HBO very likely has dibs on the first-run cable rights to this one. Easy-peasy reasony squeezy is this not at all shocking video:


 

So, I guess that’s going to end up on a disc as well (mark my words, I guess). Hmmm, okay… back to work. I’m a bit behind in stuff thanks to more stuff and wanted to watch the original ALIEN at some point today. But that’s not going to happen, so I did the next best thing and dug out my ancient Kenner ALIEN Movie Viewer for a quick fix.


 

Yep, it still works fine, noisy cranking reel action and all. The film strip in the cassette is a bit scratchy, but this kid’s edit still packs a punch. I still can’t fathom that Kenner toy line, though. A film you’d never take a child to gets merch no one probably bought for the kids they were marketed to. Still wish I bough more than one of those hideously stiff but super-detailed ALIEN figures, though. Mine and its box got mangled by my younger brother when I wasn’t around for a few years, grrrr!

Back in a bit.

-GW