quinta-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2008

Moonspell - Alma Mater (live at Wacken 2007)

Moonspell, probably my favourite Portuguese band, put on an amazing performance last year at Wacken Open Air, an annual festival that's basically like Meca for metalheads. Both bands and fans from all around the world go to the German town of Wacken for 3 days of pure fucking metal! About the Moonspell gig in particular, it was a pretty short one, with just 9 songs, but it was good one nevertheless. Included were 4 songs from the (then) new album (including the single Finisterra, but unfortunately my favourites Sanguine, Upon the Blood of Men and Luna were left out) and the classic Alma Mater, shown above, from their very first album, Wolfheart.

Fucking awesome song, this one is. Unfortunately that video doesn't make it justice, here's the album version in case anyone's interested, which I doubt, since my post about Dimmu Borgir's show (also at Wacken 2007) doesn't have a single comment...

Nightmares are made of this...

Soldier of Fortune. For most gamers this means blood, violence and gore, walls painted red and limbs flying off. For me it always meant more. Of course, the graphical violence was always a trademark of the series, and that's a good thing, since there's no alternative when it comes to brutal but always credible dismemberments and chunks of meat flying through the air, but this was just part of the franchise and not it's main selling point. After the first contact what kept gamers playing was the very solid and satisfactory gameplay, and also the attention to detail (try shooting enemies in the hand to see them drop their guns). SoF gameplay was so addictive that in the second game they even added an "instant mission" mode, that randomly generates new simple missions, for players to pass time without having to repeat the campaign levels over and over again. Great.

Well, now that you know this you can imagine my pure joy when a new SoF was announced. I jumped, I screamed, I dreamed of how a SoF game with a next-gen engine would look like. Then came the fear, when they announced that Raven, the software house behind the franchise, wouldn't be making the new game and that it would be a budget title. OMFG! The 3rd game in one of the best FPS series of all time, a fucking budget game!

Still, there was hope. The first screens appeared and the game didn't look that bad. "Just wait and see for yourself", I thought. Well, now I've finally played it, want to hear my opinion about Soldier of Fortune: Payback? The mere fact that they made a joke out of one of my favourite franchises made me want to kill myself, that's what I think about it! How could they fuck it up so bad? What the fuck were they thinking when they made this piece of shit???

Sorry if I look like the Angry Video Game Nerd right now, with this abnormal quantity of swearing, but honestly, I can't help it. Where should I start? The IA is a fucking joke. Most of the time enemies will run right at you or, worse, run by you, completely ignoring your presence until they reach where the hell they wanted to go to then suddenly turn around and start shooting.

The "gore zones" are also a fucking joke. SoF1 had 26, SoF had 36, Payback has 9. 9, for Christ's sake!!! While in the previous games you could accurately turn the bodies of your enemies into big piles of meat, here you just can rip the legs(knee and waist), arms (elbow and shoulder) and heads off. The official site says "Enemies will not only react to the specific area they’ve been hit but also to the power of the weapon they’ve been hit with". That must be why you can pop heads off with your pistol...

I could go on and on about how the graphics are just average, the gameplay is barely entertaining and how they fucked up this game so bad, but honestly I'm already tired of writing right now and the game just doesn't deserve the effort. Just take my advice and stay the fuck away from this game. Want gore? Go play Sof1 or 2 instead and forget this one even exists. In fact I think they didn't name it SoF3 for a reason, for the fans to just keep it out of the picture when they take a look at the whole franchise.

This one is for funnyman...

Please tell me you see the difference between Max Payne from MP:

and Max Payne from MP2:

segunda-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2008

Catch up

A lot happened in terms of entertainment since my last post, so I'll try to sum it all up in a , hopefully, not to long post. Breathe in:


Despite funnyman's warning about this movie, I decided to see it anyway, and guess what...I'm glad I did it! The action scenes are nicely done, well choreographed, with an interesting mix of shoot outs and sword fighting (no hand-to-hand combat, thought, so technically this can't be considered a martial arts movie) and the plot, well, for an action film is fucking great! I don't want to spoil it for you, but there's a plot twist here as amazing as classics like "Luke, I am your father!". So, my verdict is, if you like action movies, you should definitely give this one a shot.

This one is for Junlee, don't know if you've already seen There Will be Blood, but in case you haven't, here's what I think of it. It's a pretty good movie. Sorry I'm not as enthusiastic as most critics who called it a "masterpiece" and so on, it's my fault really since I can't seem to enjoy a movie with a really good story as much as a flick with loads of shit blowing up and blood splattering on the walls. Still, I admire the damn good acting and the interesting depiction of such a curious period in the American history, so if you're in for a good (yet tragic) story, I think you'll be pleased.

On a side note, I'm not a movie expert by any means, in fact my knowledge about this form of art is pretty limited, so I had never heard of this Daniel Day Lewis guy who plays the main role in this movie. Still, he looked familiar, and now I know why. He starred in one of my favourite movies, Gangs of New York!

On to games:

Finally I've played Call of Duty 4. It was about damn time! But the wait was worth, because the game exceeded all my expectations, and keep in mind that I've played almost every Call of Duty game out there, so it wasn't exactly easy to surprise me. But this game managed to do it, thanks to some of the most intense interactive cut-scenes I've ever seen and some of the most intense missions I've ever played. I don't want to ruin the experience of those who haven't played it yet, so I'm not going describe specific events here, but trust me, this is a game every FPS fan must absolutely play, and don't even think about just playing online. As great as the multiplayer modes are (CoD 4 owns Halo 3, and the statistics prove it), the single-player campaign is absolutely amazing. In fact I'm currently playing the game again on elite difficulty, but it's proving to be almost impossible at times, since you die with just 2/3 hits... Don't worry, there are difficulty settings to please everyone.

A great interactive action movie, that's all I can say about this one. What else would you expect from the pseudo-sequel to one of John Woo's masterpieces, Hard Boiled? It plays a lot like one of my all-time favourites, Max Payne, meaning you control your character in a 3rd person view and shoot a lot of bad guys while jumping in the air in slow motion. Not only that, but it also allows the player to slide over tables, run up stair rails or role around on carts, all of this while shooting bad guys in the face...or in the crotch (that got to hurt). But what impressed me the most in this game was the technology.

The engine core engine is the very popular Unreal Engine 3, but the developer's heavily modified it order to create the most awesome interactive environments you've ever seen. Everything on the levels react to bullets and more often than not they do that in a spectacular fashion, with big structures like statues that slowly fall apart with each consecutive shot, until they're nothing more than a pile of rubble on the ground. Believe me, I know I say this a lot, but this time I really mean it: it's fucking awesome! You can even shoot flags. Flags! For year's I've been trying to put a hole into a fucking flag, but the games never allowed it, with the still intact pieces of cloth laughing at me after an unsuccessful try to damage them, but in this game I was finally able to do it! Fuck yeah, now that's attention to detail!

quinta-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2008

Devil May Cry 4 finally!

So, after a hard journey of trying to play this game with a fucked up thumb and arguing with funnyman over the game's quality, I finally finished DMC4 and I'm here to talk about it. I know that a lot of people out there have been dying for my review (ok, two people, actually...) but I'm not going to do it. Wait... what? Yup, that's right, what's the point of writing a long, descritive, accurate, well written review when that's already been done? Twice? Instead, I'm just going to point out some of the things I liked and disliked about the game and, of course, my final verdict.

Starting with the bad, this is a mix of flaws and nitpicking. Starting with the obvious, this is not Dante's game. Fortunately Nero is a pretty interesting character and he looks and acts a lot like Dante, so it's not Metal Gear Solid 2 all over again (don't know wtf am I talking about? In MGS for the most part instead of Snake, the main character of the series, you control some stupid androgynous punk named Raiden...). Still, there wasn't enough Dante for me, so I hope to see him more in an hypothetical DMC5.

Talking about Dante, we can't forget the infamous backtracking. As I said before, Capcom could've done better, but it's not as bad as one might think since playing with Dante is very different from playing with Nero and the replayed levels are always somewhat different from the 1st time and shorter, so it doesn't get boring.

To end my rambling I was somewhat pissed off by the absence of an explanation regarding Nero's origins. All we get is the information that (SPOILER) "he has the blood of Sparda". Well, that narrows it down a bit, meaning he has to be either Sparda's son or grand-son. Now, this is just my theory, but I'm more inclined to say he's his grand-son, specifically the son of Vergil. Before calling me crazy, think about it. Vergil was more friendly with his demonic side than Dante, which could somewhat explain Nero's arm, not to mention Nero was able to restore and wield Yamato. How the fuck could he do that without being a descendant of the sword's original owner? (SPOILER end)

Now, on to the good part! First, the graphics. This game is EPIC! REally, I can't stress this enough, this game is absolutely gorgeous! Pictures and videos don't make it justice, you really have to play it to see. The characters (and enemies) models, the detailed textures and effects, the artistic design of the levels, everything in this game looks stupendous...except for the fugly shadows, that is... but forget that, it really only shows on the forest level, and even that level is so great that you'll soon forget about it.

Now, about the gameplay, it's amazing how they managed to introduce new things without losing everything that made it great. I'm obviously talking about Nero's demonic arm that lets you grab enemies from a distance and smash them into the ground, which spectacular animations unique to each type of enemy (not to mention when you grab a boss). I have one complaint, though (wait, isn't this supposed to be about the good things of the game? Meh, fuck it...), Blue Rose, Nero's revolver, is fucking useless! Unlike Dante, Nero doesn't get new weapons, so we get stuck with this peashooter that does almost no damage even to the weakest enemies. Damn! Fortunately the devil arm kind of compensates for this, pulling the enemies closer to us so that we can slash them properly.

Well, what's left to say? Overall this is a game I really liked. It's fun, fast-paced, pretty long for an action-game and, above all, it's a worthy sequel to one of my favourite franchises. Oh, I almost forgot, most of you probably don't know how fond I am of the Devil May Cry series. Simply put, DMC was the very first game I played on a PS2 and basically the game that made me buy the system. Funny enough, I later managed to grab that exact copy of the game. I played it at a friend's house and he later sold it to me. After that I've played every DMC game, including the infamous DMC2 and the awesome prequel Dante's Awakening. Now I can proudly say that I've also played the latest entry in the franchise, and every fan of action games should play it too!

domingo, 17 de fevereiro de 2008

Turok afterthoughts

So, I just finished Turok, and let me tell you, this game was a blast to the very end. Being quite long for a FPS (can last from 8 to 12 hours, depending on the gamer's skill) I was afraid it would get repetitive, but fortunately that was not the case. There are little twists in the gameplay here and there and the levels are so varied that you'll hardly get bored. From ambushing a convoy of enemy troops, to shooting down helicopters, to escape from the jungle at night with only a knife and a bow after a fight with a giant T-Rex, it's all there, and it's all awesome.

Really, I'm having trouble expressing what I felt while playing (and after finishing) this game, but thrust me, this is not just your run of the mill shooter, this is really a great game that unfortunately was a little underrated by the press (the opinions of the gamers seem more positive).

It has it's issues, thought, and I don't want to fool anyone, so here's a few. As I said before the game is bloody difficult, but with a little perseverance and a change of tactics every battle can be won. This is partly due to the total absence of assisted aim. If this is not that bad with regular weapons, try to nail a headshot with the bow and you'll see just how insanely hard that is. Another thing I hated was the achievements. I usually don't care much about them, since they're basically just an e-dick to show off to people, but I really can't understand why, in a game that focus on the single-player campaign, whose multi-player mode was just an afterthought, 2/3 or more of the achievements are exclusive to the online mode.

Still, despite these minor flaws, this is one hell of a game, and I loved every minute of it (ok, except for the minutes I was dying). If you like dinosaurs and you're looking for a different FPS, this is the game for you.

By the way, on a side note, I just got Devil May Cry 4, but unfortunately I can't play it properly right now. Yesterday, while cleaning my knives (I have two pocket knives my dad bought me while he was working in France and later in Spain) I cut myself on the right thumb and, not only it obviously hurts when I touch something, I'm afraid the cut will reopen if I mash buttons like mad while playing DMC. I hope it heals soon, cause I can't wait to play that game!

Da Weasel - No Pincípio era (o Verbo)

Now, this might be a shock for you, but I'm not all about metal. Ok, my music library is probably 98% metal, but still, there's 2% of something else, and probably 1,5% of that is Da Weasel. Now WTF is this Da Weasel thingy, I hear my international friends ask? Obviously they're a band, but, despite the name, only they're first EP was sung in English, since then they always sing in Portuguese. This makes them the only Portuguese band in my top 3 that actually sings in Portuguese, after Moonspell (english, with some bits of Portuguese here and there) and Blasted Mechanism (English and Krakovian (google for it)).

But I do believe music is an universal language, since I love Rammstein even though I can't understand shit of German and I really like Dimmu Borgir even if I understand even less of Norwegian, so here I leave one of my favourite songs from those guys, No princípio era (o verbo) [in the beginning it was (the verb)]. If you're curious you can always try to translate the lyrics with google or babelfish.

Now, about the band itself, most people will say they're a hip-hop band, but that's incorrect. They mix so many genres that they can't really be classified that easily, so you better just listen to them and decide their genre for yourself, but note that they can vary their sound greatly from song to song. Listen to Dúia and then to Tás na boa to see what I mean. They're a full session band, with drums, turntable, guitar, bass and two vocalists, one of them with the curious stage name of... Pac-Man! Yup, he loves videogames. In fact hey actually have a song called GTA, where they talk about the mass-controlling devices we call TV's and our overall decaying little society.

And that's Da Weasel for you! A fucking awesome band, specially when playing live (went to 3 of their shows and I hope to go a 4th time this year). Hope you liked it.

quinta-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2008

Games finally!

Yup, it was just a matter of time before I started talking about games again. Today I played a lot of Turok for the 360. Fucking awesome game, this one is! Or at least for a dinosaur fan like me. Ok, it's not a masterpiece, but it's a way more solid game than what most reviews on the web will lead you to think. The story is pretty good for an FPS, complete with nice flashbacks that kind of make a bridge between Turok's past and the present events. Of course this is not the same Turok, the dinosaur hunter, that we knew from the previous games. Still, despite his stupid haircut, this "new" Turok is a nice character, and he borrows a lot from the "old" Turok, like being native-american and being an expert with the bow and the knife.

Talking about the knife, this often overlooked piece of equipment is used up to its full potential in this game. Except for big ass dinosaurs like the T-Rex, almost everything can be instantly killed with a deadly strike from our little friend, resulting in often spectacular action sequences where our character slices the chest of an enemy soldier or the throat of a dinosaur.

There are other weapons, of course, but forget the exotic pieces from previous Turok games. Here you just have the usual machine-guns, pistols, shotguns, etc... Like in most modern shooters you're just allowed to carry 2 weapons at the same time (besides the knife and the bow), but to make up for that you can dual-wield them at will, which is a nice touch and will come in handy since this game is bloody difficult! The easiest difficulty setting is "normal" (WTF? no easy mode?) and so far I've died almost as much as when playing Gears of War in the middle difficulty level. Meh, at least so far the game's been interesting enough for me to always try again.

Graphically this game is just fucking beautiful. The jungles may not rival the ones in Crysis, but this is a 360, not some million dollar PC, and what we see here is just amazing. From the moving grass, the the giant trees, to the strange rocky formations, everything's just gorgeous. And the dinosaurs, oh the dinosaurs... Their shiny skin, their fluid animations, the way they get covered in blood with each accurate shot from our rifles... These are, without any doubt, the more realistic reptiles we've ever seen in a videogame, even if they're not meant to be accurate renderings of what the real dinosaurs looked like.

So, I'm not even half through it yet, so this is not a review or anything like that. I just wanted to let you all know that so far I'm fucking loving this game and if you like dinosaurs and FPSs, chances are you'll love it too!

Here's a video review:

quarta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2008

Movies...you know the drill...

Yup, I'm lacking the imagination to create a decent title for this post. Nevermind. On to the "flix", shall we? The first is, as you've probably already guessed by looking at the picture above, Cloverfield. Apparently, thanks to a viral marketing campaign, everyone and their mother knew about this movie, or at least knew "something" about it. For me, sitting in this little corner of Europe, the first glimpse of the movie came from the usual tv spot some days ago, so I had to do a little research on it and the results were promising. Monster movie, lots of action scenes, Manhattan crumbling into pieces, all of this filmed in a little hand-held camera. Cool!

For a Blair Witch Project nut like me, this sounded really good, and now I can't really say that regret watching it, but I'm not thrilled either. The movie is pretty interesting, the monster itself is rather unique, the action/destruction scenes are pretty well done and the hand-held camera gimmick is nicely done, but still it's not one of the best movies I've seen. Still, give it a try if you like monster movies.

Now, this is my shit! Now, before I continue, I must say that I'm not the biggest Rambo fan out there. In fact I don't even remember seeing any of his movies from start to finish, just some scenes here and there when they passed on tv (saw almost the entire Rambo 3 last week on AXN). Still everyone knows who Rambo is, and I am no exception so I knew the basics. He's a badass who kills lots of people, that's pretty much all you have to know.

Anyway, on to John Rambo, aka Rambo, aka Rambo IV (whatever the fuck you want to call this movie). This movie kicks ass! It's a brainless, gory, spectacular action movie done right. The plot is weak, like in basically all action movies, but it's at least coherent and not fucking ridiculous like in Dragon Wars. It does the job, and it's job is to put Rambo in the middle of the action. Oh, and there's lots of action...

Wikipedia says: "Rambo holds the record with the most kills out of the entire Rambo series, with 236 kills and an average of 2.59 kills per minute." Fuck yeah! If Rambo is already fucking deadly with just a knife or his bow, when he gets hold of a .50-caliber machinegun near the end all hell breaks loose, limbs start to fly off and blood starts to rain. Trust me, it's just fucking awesome!

So, the point is, if you like a good action movie and you're not easily impressed by severed limbs and exploding heads, you owe to yourself to see this film. NOW!

domingo, 3 de fevereiro de 2008

Yup, it's another post about movies...

Yup, I've been a cinema whore lately. Saw 3 new movies, but the first is so bad that I really don't want to waste a lot of time talking about it. It was Dragon Wars, a Korean movie about dragons and legends and stuff. I know what you're thinking, how can a movie about dragons (I'm a dragon fan) with some pretty good CGI and special effects be that bad? Well, because it's just so fucking ridiculous!

The plot is a joke. It's about some girl with the power to turn a celestial serpent into a dragon that gets pursued by an evil snake that wants to turn itself into a dragon. Then the girl, along with her lover, commit suicide and they both reincarnate in modern-time LA. Wait, why the fuck would two 16th century Koreans reincarnate as Americans? Satan knows why...

Anyway, the evil serpent is back and starts to run after them, destroying everything in it's path, and then an army of reptile beasts and men comes in it's aid. Wait, where the fuck did they came from and why would men help a big ass evil snake? And, most importantly, where the fuck are the dragons??? Besides some flying beasts that resemble western-like dragons and a Korean dragon at the end, all we see is big snakes, some sort of dinosaurs and giant slug-like reptiles with mounted rocket-launchers...yup, they already had those in 16th century Korea...

Oh, fuck... This movie is so messed up... Really, has good as the CGI and special effects may be (and they are, the movie had a budget of $75 million and it shows), you just can't connect with the characters, or the setting, or anything, and when that happens you simply stop caring. The beasts themselves don't have anything charismatic about them and overall this is such a mess that you should do yourself a favour and avoid this movie like you would avoid a real dragon...which the movie lacks, for some reason...

By the way, the scene in the poster never happens. There's indeed a scene with the couple on the top of that building with the snake on the right, but the snake on the left just appears in the end of the movie. Gosh, I seriously need to watch Reign of Fire again to purge myself...

Next comes Sweeney Todd: the demon barber of fleet street. Thank god, a good movie at last! This was a great surprise, since I usually couldn't care less about musicals. This movie is different, though. The dark setting, the main character and the fact that there's enough blood to make a slasher movie, all helped to catch my attention.

Based on the musical of the same name, it follows the return of an old barber to 18th century London, after being falsely arrested and sentenced to a life of hard labour. Now is life is pretty much ruined, since is wife is dead and his daughter was taken by the corrupt judge that sentenced him, so he needs to find a new hobby. What did he chose? Cutting the throat of every evil man in the neighbourhood, that's what!

Of course there's more to it than the gore scenes of sliced throats. In fact that just happens during the second-half, with the first being filled with amazingly performed musical scores by all the actors and an interesting depiction of 18th century London, so if you're just looking for some gratuitous violence you'll probably be disappointed.

This movie is really a piece of art that should be seen by everyone, so even if you're not a big fan of musicals, give it a try (as long as all the blood doesn't bother you).

Finally comes The Kingdom, a pretty interesting film about a team of FBI agents sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate a terrorist attack. Now, I know what you're thinking, another movie about American heroes annihilating evil middle-eastern terrorists. Well, rest assured, that's not the case, because this movie actually tries to show us the "other side", the efforts of the Saudi State Police soldiers to stop the terrorist threat. Not only that, there are scenes that show us a little of their way of living, their costumes and their beliefs.

It's also interesting to see the interaction between both sides, evolving from mistrust to a deep friendship between the leaders of both teams. Of course, we also couldn't live without some pretty good action sequences, and near the end of the film there are a lot of action packed scenes, including a car chase on the streets of Riyadh and lots of bullets (and explosives) flying around.

One last thing I really liked is the realism of the dialogue. All the characters speak like in real life, without one-liners, without deep speeches. There's a lot of casual talk and even some funny scenes due to the Saudi Arabians inability to perfectly speak and comprehend English, leading to some misunderstanding between the two sides, just like what would probably happen in real life. It may seem insignificant, but it's little things like this that make a good movie great.

I really don't know what to say more, so you'll just have to trust me, this is another good movie that deserves to be seen.

Until next time! (there's a chance I'm going to see Cloverfield next week with a couple of friends)