December 2013

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventures on PC (7/10)

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventure

More episodic point-and-click adventure from Telltale Games. This series is definitely geared more towards younger gamers but there is much charm and witty story telling to keep older players entertained. If you enjoyed the movies and shorts, this is just like another cartoon in the Wallace and Gromit series. I thought the first episode, Fright of the Bumblebees, was the best and there is a nice bit of characterization and story that carries over from episode to episode. It's not quite on par with Sam and Max but it's still a worthy modern adventure game.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag on PC (8/10)

Assassin's Creed IV Screenshot

I played the first Assassin's Creed several years ago and, while I thought it was an okay game, I was never compelled to continue on with the series. It was just too repetitive and item collection driven. The only reason I have AC4 is that it was bundled with my new video card. Black Flag is an absolutely beautiful game and it's no wonder EVGA bundled it with my GTX660 as a way to showcase that mid-range card's capabilities. Ever since the original FarCry I have been a sucker for games that are set on tropical islands.

At its core it is mostly the same game as AC1 but the narrative is much more focused. The missions, although similar from one to the next, aren't the exact same quest over and over. There is actually a story-based point to most of the challenges you face. The mindless item collection is still part of the game, but looking for pirate booty sorta makes thematic sense here. The combat has also been streamlined but is ultimately kind of disappointing after experiencing the pure elegance of Batman: Arkham City's excellent fighting system. Thankfully, avoiding combat and stealth are a big part of the game.

Bloody Pit of Horror (6/10)

A ridiculous Gothic horror from 1965 that features a crazed executioner in crimson wresting tights who tortures and kills fashion models. There are quite a few wonderfully composed and filmed shots that look great as movie stills, but in context are stilted and boring.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (8/10)

I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I am glad that they are making these Hobbit movies, I wish they weren't trying so hard to link the story of Bilbo with the previous films. It's not nearly as bad as baby Greedo in Star Wars Ep. I but there is just too much attempted fan-service in here. The weaker story and characters keep this from being a great fantasy film, but it is still an entertaining ride with lots of great art direction and effects. 

Road House (8/10)

An eighties "classic" which I never got around to watching because I always thought the video box looked dull and stupid. Well the film is stupid, but it is not dull at all. I was surprised how well-paced it is as it moves from one cliché to the next. The actors play it for all it's worth as the spout out cheesy dialogue and memorable one-liners without winking to the audience like a modern action film would.

Baby Shark's Grass Widow Legacy by Robert Fate (10/10)

Another thoroughly enjoyable book in this series. This time Kristen is told to take some time off from all the revenge killing and, of course, she can't seem to avoid trouble with the local thugs. Lots of killin' and pool hustling ensues.

Foolish by Superchunk (10/10)

Format: CD

For most people, this is Superchunk's finest moment. When this came out, I didn't like it and it took several listens before I was able to accept this more mellow offering. I still tend the prefer the more punky On the Mouth. Letting Laura do the cover art must have been some sort of ill conceived breakup stipulation with Mac.

Tossing Seeds (89-91) by Superchunk (9/10)

Format: CD

This is the first of several singles comps Superchunk released over the years. Lots of covers and a few alternate versions of songs from the LPs. Also, one of the band's first forays into horrible cover art.

FarCry Blood Dragon on PC (8/10)

Farcry Blood Dragon

When I heard that this game featured Michael Biehn as the main voice actor I was intrigued. When I saw that it was an over-the-top homage to eighties science fiction and action movies I had to have it. The game doesn't disappoint in the nostalgia department. In addition to the neon Tron-style art direction, there is tons of cheesy dialogue, 8-bit cut scenes (including a power rock training montage), and an incredibly cool synthesizer-based soundtrack.