Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days impressions

I didn’t play the first game, mostly down to almost overwhelming negative reviews, despite the fact I actually liked the look of it.  I chose to make up for this by buying the sequel, a game that has been received marginally better than its predecessor, but still is blighted by very negative reviews.  Which is a shame, because this is an enjoyable, somewhat simplistic but thoroughly engaging shooter, with two shouting, sweary leads that seem to have come out of any half-decent crime thriller of the last twenty or so years.  Continue reading

Tomb Raider Underworld

First impressions

I know, I am soooo late to the party on this one.  And what with the summer games drought, and having recently completed Resident Evil 5 (ahem, an easy recommendation, even if it seemed to lack the brains of previous instalments) – I was eager to get to grips with something new. 

Lara Croft the eponimous big busomed beauty of the franchise may have had a few rocky moments along the way with lackluster sequels and the eventual death of developer Core design.  Thankfully the franchise was taken over by American developer Crystal Dynamics of the mostly decent Legacy Of Kain series.  This resulted in the brilliantly executed but pitifully short Tomb Raider Legend.

So here we come to the hotly anticipated sequel, and boy was I excited as I fired up the trusty 360.  I am glad to say (at this point) that it plays brilliantly, looks fantastic, has many subtle and eye catching effects and very fluid animation.  Also it’s a breath of fresh air in this era of shooters and beat ’em ups to actually play a game that is all about exploration, where you aren’t constantly interrupted by a barrage of enemies when all you want to do is climb and jump and swing and explore (I’m talking about you, Prince Of Persia).

Update (22/08/2009):  Having played the game now for just over a week, here are my thoughts:  The environments are expansive and very detailed, with some good if not revolutionary lighting effects.  At times it looks a little last-generation, but then you notice things like the wet & dirt effects that accumulate on Lara’s body.  Puzzle-wise it can be tough going, but not overly fiendish thanks to a hint-system where you can at any time choose to either be given a clue or the solution, neither of which makes the game too easy as traversing the environment is still the main challenge.  Enemies whilst few and far between may be a touch cliched and dumb but offer a welcome sense of variety and aren’t overly intrusive.  Story wise the cut-scenes are of a high quality, voice acting is passable and it is all very compelling.  Overall a great entry in the long running franchise.


Viewed – 11 April 2008  DVD

Videogame adaptations have had a rocky history on the big screen, and many will have you believe that videogames just don’t make good movies.  I’ll agree that the likes of Street Fighter and Super Mario have been turned into utter pointless shite – but then again, these are games with no real story, and thats why the likes of Silent Hill and Resident Evil have faired better, even if they still came in for criticism.

So turning one of my favourite videogame franchises into a movie, in the name of I.O. Interactive’s seminal Hitman – I and many fans thought this just could not fail.  Overall, the casting of Die Hard 4.0 bad guy Timothy Olyphant as the deadly professional killer ’47’ works brilliantly, and his iconic red tie and tux complete with bald head and bar code tattoo is realised perfectly.  Thankfully the (often violent) action is handled just as well, with some great shoot outs, an impressive subway sword fight and stylish direction throughout.  What doesn’t work is the very simplistic plot, a villain with no charm or presence, and a few too many twists that make your head hurt.  Dougray Scott’s special agent who is on 47’s trail lends some weight to proceedings, and a sexy down on her luck prostitute becomes an unwelcome love interest for our normally lone Hitman, but thankfully things don’t get too slushy.  Only a brief running time stops the film having much of a plot to care about or any time to breathe between gunfights – although that said this still proves to be an exciting and stylish 90 minutes that kept a smile on my face.

Verdict:  3 /5