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.

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

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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: Lornsword Winter Chronicle (PS4)

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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.

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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.

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Featuring… a cast of DOZENS!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature – Arte For The Masses

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This one’s special, folks.

Publisher and co-producer ARTE and indie game studio La Belle Games have a really surprising treat for gamers and non-gamers who just might be intrigued by a wonderful take on a literary classic. The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature ($15.99) is out now on PC and Mac on Steam and coming soon to mobile platforms in November. In addition, ARTE is bringing the Nintendo Switch version of the adventure in Q1 2020. There’s a playable prologue here (click, scroll, enjoy) that does a wonderful job of giving you a taste of the experience as well as introducing the writer and a few important acquaintances on one fateful night where a few terrifying tales were told.

Here’s a trailer to peruse – screens and game info are are below the jump.

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Death Stranding Launch Trailer: Turn, And Face The Strange

I’ve been wisely avoiding any news and potential spoilers on Kojima Productions new game because I want to go in as cold as possible. So right now, I’m about frozen solid in terms of what I know about the plot and characters. I’ve seen a few trailers over the years while it was in development, but true to form, they were intentionally vague or showed off some impressive tech and packed in the weirdness that was hard to decipher if one decided to go down that rabbit hole. I chose not to, as speculation is the worst thing one could do with what was looking like a strange enough title that was innovating on a few fronts.

For me, Hideo Kojima’s games since the Metal Gear Solid era have been essential because even with trailers, you’re not getting the full story because there’s going to be a ton of context not seen until the full game is experienced. That and the sole time I broke with this tradition of mine was with P.T./Silent Hills, a game that was killed by its publisher and fantastically frightening demo unceremoniously removed from PSN after a nasty breakup that saw Kojima form a standalone studio. That was one game that very likely could have turned that series around, but we’ll never find out. I’d let myself be seduced by the idea of new Silent Hill game with a talented team at the reins (Guillermo del Toro amd Norman Reedus were part of the project), and it was a shock to find out later that the game was canned and its creation halted.

Anyway, Death Stranding arrives a week from now on the PS4, and next summer on PC. I’ll be getting the PS4 version because hell, it arrives first and I hate spending money on any potential PC upgrades that might be needed to run this on my aging laptop.

-GW

Ghost Parade: If Ever There Was a Game Made for Halloween, It’s This One

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As soon as I saw Aksys Games‘ gorgeous looking game Ghost Parade (created by the fine folks at Indonesia’s Lentera Studio), I knew it was going to be something extremely cool and very Halloween themed with its mix of Tim Burton meets Vanillaware style artwork at the forefront. It’s also a peek into another culture, as Indonesian ghosts are the subject and yes, it’s a great thing to see some more of what’s scary overseas coming to US audiences. Granted, I’ve played a few games with some of that countries’ terrifying spirits or horror themes in them (DreadOut and My Lovely Daughter being the standouts), so this game is going to be right up my dark alley once I get to playing it.

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Love the art style here.

Here’s a look at the trailer. The game is out NOW for PC, PS4 and Switch and Aksys has run a nice digital comic on the game’s official site.

I hope this gets a wide enough audience, as I’d love to see Lentera become a household name among gamers here. As usual, we shall see.

-GW