Friday, August 30, 2013

Max Payne 3 (2012)

Guest Writer: Xavier Faulknor

The action packed Max Payne series have been on a hiatus ever since it’s last installment Max Payne 2 in 2003. Since then, many people have yearned for a sequel to one of their beloved hero’s last generations. Now Rockstar Studios have picked up this franchise with its latest installment Max Payne 3. Does this game redeem itself as one of the best shooters out there; or does it fall flat to its name?

Story: You play as Max Payne, an emotionally scarred ex-cop nursing himself with alcohol and painkillers until he stumbled upon Raul Passos, who helps him into taking a new job as a private security contractor in South America. The setting is in Sao Paulo, Brazil several years after Max Payne 2, and it’s just as dangerous as New York.

Max’s cynical memories tell the daring but interesting events are presented. At times the game pushes its dark theme a bit too far, often mocking the premise that can plaque Max’s likable character. He’s a flawed hero, yes, but it shouldn’t feel over-bearing to witness his story.

The Max Payne series is well known for its driven story-telling. From the first installment, Max, the narrator told through physical and metaphysical experiences. Max Payne 2 followed that same stigma. This game focuses on more realistic events so die-hard fans may miss the interactive nightmares from previous games. Still Max Payne 3 has an amazing story that shouldn’t be missed.

Gameplay: The intense gunfights are both immersive and entertaining. Painkillers are your best friend- giving Max the ability to regain health. Along painkillers comes Bullet-Time, the ability to slow down gunfights to obtain precise and accurate shots. There’s three ways to enter bullet-time; by freely activating it; by using bullet dodge, in which you dive and shoot enemies; and Last Man Standing mode, which upon death, gives you a chance to take out an enemy before dying, with a use of a pain-killer.

With every shot enemies react to pain; whether it’s a shock from the shoulder, or a shot to the leg disabling movements. The Euphoria engine manipulates Max’s movements as well. Grazing objects or walls while diving can cause collisions, hindering his maneuvers during a gun battle. This can become an annoyance because the clumsiness causes Max to be exposed, setting himself up for imminent death. At least the death scenes are pretty gruesome, showing the last hit that caused it.

Sound: The eerie sounds of the violin throughout Max Payne 3 blends magnificently with the setting of this game. The soundtrack adds on to the dusk action of gunfire and agony when killing your foes. Dark, but action packed, this game does not fault in this criteria. Similar to previous installments, hearing Max’s narrative adds more to the story although bit over-dramatic sometimes. Still it doesn’t ruin what makes this series unique when all its good elements are put together.

Multiplayer adds to the typically standards of most multiplayer-enabled games, but other modes like Gang Wars sets itself apart. Numerous objectives are given based on which gang completes them, and each victory adds a small advantage until the ending showdown. Battles are intense just as single-player and it’s just as thrilling, which helps the overall entertainment of this game.

Max Payne 3 is a dark and gritty game with fierce gameplay, although sometimes its narrative is flawed. It’s story spans for about 8-10 hours in addition to finding gold parts and clues that scattered around each level. With the action oriented single player experience, adding on with the extending multiplayer component, this game would satisfy anyone with the need to shoot bad guys. Even with its flaws, Max Payne 3 is a great game that worth the purchase.

I give this game, 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

500 MPH Storm (2013)

Number Rolled: 59
Movie Name/Year: 500 MPH Storm (2013)
Genre: Action and Adventure
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Daniel Lusko
Writer: Hank Woon Jr.
Actors: Casper Van Dien, Michael Beach, Sarah Lieving, Bryan Head, Keith Meriweather, Chad Brummett, James Lawrence Sicard

Dr. Sims is out on a hot-air balloon trip with his wife and son, completely oblivious that the scientists at his job are taking a step in the future. The experiment goes bad when it tears a hole in the ozone layer, causing the weather to spin out of control. Dr. Sims begins his mission to survive the end of the world, while his co-workers attempt to fix their blunder.

In some cases a smaller budget can mean that the director just has to be more creative to get the result he wants. In this case, the director wanted something he couldn’t obtain with his budget and attempted it anyway. This caused the movie to look like a mix of found material and CGI that was created by beginners. There were maybe two scenes that looked mildly realistic. I consider this a huge accomplishment considering even the rain seemed like it was created in Microsoft Paint.

I can’t say I’m disappointed though, because I expected what I got; a script that seemed like it took random lines out of other disaster films, characters with as much depth as my bathtub and a crap storyline. I can’t comment on the actors, because who knows what they would have done with a good script?

When it comes to B movies, I tend to enjoy them when they don’t pretend to be something they’re not. “500 MPH Storm” attempted to trick the audience into believing it was an A film, but didn’t have the substance to succeed.

Overall Opinion – 1/5

The Random Rating: PG-13 (for moderately long horror moments/action sequences)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Choose (2011)

Number Rolled: 14
Movie Name/Year: Choose (2011)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Marcus Graves
Writer: Brandon Camp
Actors: Katheryn Winnick, Kevin Pollack, Nicholas Tucci, Bruce Dern, Richard Short, Alexi Wasser, Lenny von Dohlen, Cady Huffman, Billy Kay, Billy Magnussen, Tom Cleary, Shana Dowdeswell, John Rothman, Kate Nauta, James Riordan

Newspapers are running the story of a terrifying homicide. A teenage girl was brought into a room with her parents and told to choose: which of them should die. An impossible choice to make, the teenager pleaded desperately for them to be let go, but the killer insisted and she found out just how bad the choice could get. Fiona, a studying journalist, becomes obsessed with the story after realizing how familiar it sounds.

About fifteen minutes into the movie, it becomes clear that you’re watching one that follows the same recipe as Scream, just without the laughs. Up until the forty-five minute mark, actually, it kind of seems like it’s going to be the exact same movie. Only then do the differences start to pop up.

Recipe movies are a necessary evil. The more movies are made, the more brilliant a writer/director will have to be in order to widen the scope of what we expect. Don’t lament that. The more mediocre movies that are put out, the more fantastic really good movies will have to be. Look at it that way. It’s really the only way to see it when you’re writing reviews, or you just going to start to get angry.

The plot wasn’t bad, but the script brought it to a level it almost didn’t reach. It eventually dragged me into the story. The witty banter between some of the character was interesting enough to overshadow the parts that made me roll my eyes.

As the ending neared, the movie seemed to get better and better, then the climax hit and you could almost hear the sound of someone getting an answer wrong on Family Feud.

I’ve seen movies that flopped at the end, but still managed to be good enough to be remembered in a positive light, this was not one of them. There were two different endings, one right after the other, and neither of them was acceptable. In fact, I was left with a growing confusion after the last frame that has yet to disappear.

In short, “Choose” wasn’t for me. It had a good middle, and that was it.

Overall Opinion – 2.5/5