Archive for September, 2011

609 – Night Terrors

Last series Mark Gatiss gave us the abomination known as ‘Victory of the Daleks’. To describe the episode as a stinker is an injustice to all the other bad episodes there have ever been. ‘Victory of the Daleks’ was pure, unadulterated eye cancer. So with trepidation we step into Gatiss’ latest episode, knowing that he has a hell of a lot to make up for…

Actually, it’s not a bad episode at all, although it does step once again into that familiar territory of strange domestic problems (something Gatiss uses a lot). The story flits wildly between engaging and wonky, although the whole affair is pretty much saved by an excellent villain. The creepy Dolls are quite wonderful, appearing both sinister and believable all at once. The only real problem is that once it’s revealed that they grab people and change them into Dolls, all the tension is lost – it becomes painfully obvious that the Doctor will just undo everything at the end.

There’s also a fantastic supporting turn from the always likeable Daniel Mays as a panicked father and some incredible use of sound, such as the ‘breathing’ lift and those skin-crawling children’s giggles.

So does it make up for ‘Victory of the Daleks’? Yes, easily. While the episode is flawed in several places – easy to figure out, the Doctor doesn’t do much, not enough is done with the Dolls and the ending would be better if the father killed the child – it’s still entertaining enough. Not the best, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the last episode Gatiss wrote.

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On Those Special Games

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Musings
Tags: , ,

What is it about Resident Evil 4? I only ask because I’m sitting here in front of the Xbox, watching the download bar slowly fill as I wait to play the game again. Problem is, this will be the fourth version of the game I’ve played.

Resident Evil 4 changed the gaming world, reinventing third-person gaming and giving players a masterpiece to enjoy again and again. It’s now seven years and has appeared on the GameCube, PS2, Wii, PC and now the 360. I bought the game on launch day for the Cube and played it for a solid week, loving every second of it. The set pieces. The characters. The tension provided by the ammo-enemies ratio. THe incredible action. All of it was brilliant.

When the game was ported to PS2, I travelled to Reading to help a friend play the Mercenaries bonus game and check out the additional content. While the game didn’t look or feel right on the PS2 (those analogue sticks were always wrong, somehow), the game was still good fun.

Then the game was ported to Wii. Once again, I bought it on launch day and spent a whole week reliving the masterpiece. The Wii version was the best one yet, providing the incredible graphics of the Cube version with all the added content of the PS2 release. The only downside was the fact that the pointer controls made it a hell of a lot easier to shoto enemies, thus reducing the fear factor.

Now it’s here again. I’ve purchased it on launch day (again), with money I don’t have (again) and will happily throw several more hours into the game (again). Why, I ask myself, why?

Because it’s worth it, that’s why. Every gamer has their favourite, a particular title they’d drop everything for in an instant and Resident Evil 4 is mine. The fact that the series is being rebooted just one game on from this masterpiece proves how flawless it is. While the gameplay may have aged, the characters, set pieces, heart-pounding fear and constant adrenaline have not and never will. Resident Evil 4 is back. All hail the king.

608 – Let’s Kill Hitler

BOOM! And so The Doctor finally returns to our screens. So many unresolved questions are now rattling around and we’ve had months – long, cruel months – to debate and discuss. Now we’re going to find out the answers. What happened to Melody/ River, Amy and Rory’s child? Is the Doctor actually going to die? Are bowties really a fashionable accessory? (Hint: yes).

The Doctor returns to present day England for a reunion with Amy and Rory, who still don’t know a thing about what’s going on. There the three are grabbed at gunpoint by Amy and Rory’s friend Mels, who forces the Doctor to take her to kill Hitler.

That’s when a series of amazing events occur and the Doctor finds himself face to face with a demented River Song, who is under orders to kill him. Faced with only forty minutes to live, the Doctor must stop River from destroying history and also deal with a time-travelling justice department, who want River captured at all costs.

The title is a bit misleading, to be honest. Hitler himself gets a paltry two minutes of screentime (which is hilarious, to be fair), and then literally gets shoved in a cupboard. Nothing is made of the setting either, with Germany in 1938 getting forgotten almost as soon as it is set up. This is a real shame, given who much storytelling potential could have happened here – the gang having to save Hitler from would-be assassins might well have been TV gold.

Still, what’s here is definitely good and occasionally great – River’s first attempts to kill the Doctor are borderline hysterical, while Rory could almost do stand-up after some of his lines. (‘Can you drive a motorbike?’ “I expect so, it’s been that sort of a day.”)

The alien villain is also well done and quite interesting, seeing a team of people shrunk down and piloting a shape-shifting humanoid robot. The effects department might be trapped behind the same budget limitations as before, but the idea itself is both entertaining and imaginative – certainly more so than regular alien baddies are.

On the whole, Who returns with style and flair. A couple of the major questions are answered by this episode, with many more left to be poured over for the remaining weeks of the series’ run. Long may it continue.

Come in, put your feet up. Would you like a drink? Why, yes, I have been away, thanks for asking. I went to Orlando, Florida.

It was incredible. I was fortunate enough to go there ten years ago, and now I’ve gone back. It’s perhaps twice as good as I remember, simply because this time my brother and I hit all the rollercoasters we could. The Hulk – a big, bad mother that launches you away at 60 mph – was utterly brilliant. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was also fantastic, featuring Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and several other key locations such as the Three Broomsticks. It was also the first place everyone chose to go as soon as the park opens, meaning that, if you don’t get in there asap, you aren’t getting in there for, oooh, hours.

So, yes, now I’m back. With a post-holiday bank balance to match. Eeesh. Happily, there is plenty of work going at the moment, so something resembling normal service can now resume.