Sunday, 31 October 2010

Golden Joystick Awards 2010

Here's the results in full:

Action/Adventure Game of the Year

Assassin’s Creed II

Download Game of the Year

Plants Vs Zombies

Fighting Game of the Year

Super Street Fighter IV

Music Game of the Year

Guitar Hero 5

Online Game of the Year

League Of Legends

Portable Game of the Year

Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver

Puzzle Game of the Year

World Of Goo

RPG of the Year

Mass Effect 2

FPS of the Year

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Racing Game of the Year

Forza 3

Shooter of the Year

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Soundtrack of the Year

Final Fantasy XIII

Sports Game of the Year


Strategy Game of the Year

Plants Vs Zombies

UK Developer of the Year


One to Watch

COD: Black Ops

Ultimate Game of the Year

Mass Effect 2

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Game Review: Demon's Souls-PS3

Phalanx’s, dark, amorphous form shuffled toward me; deadly spears darting in and out from it’s gluttonous body, probing the air, searching for it’s pray as it’s children, the Phalangeal, surround it protectively for they know that I am here to destroy their master with fire and steel, to bring an end to its reign in this world. Circling carefully, weighing up my quarry I wait for the opportunity to strike and seeing an opening I unleash a ball of fire into the thriving mass. It explodes in a brilliant flash of light, illuminating the large hall for but the briefest of moments before the oppressive, unearthly darkness swallows it up once more, choking down the light like some unseen, gluttonous beast who’s thirst can never be sated. But I pay it no heed for my heart is as hard as the armour that encases my body and as cold as the steel I carry in my hand. I have come too far and suffered to greatly to fall now, to become a slave to the darkness of the fog that has engulfed my home world and laid it to waste.

The unearthly screams of Phalanx as the flames of my retribution sweep over its nightmarish silhouette would have shaken a normal man to madness; but I am no normal man, I have stared death in the face more than once, walked his unholy halls and have overcome his minions time and again to reach this point and I will not fail. With reflexes born of years of training and hardship I swing my mighty sword, cutting deep into the demons flank, tearing at flesh and sinew, driving home my blade, letting my enemy know that I am its death and that there is no escape. Deftly rolling to one side, barely avoiding one of the demon’s deadly spears as it passes just inches over my shoulder, its tip glistening with dried blood and the stench of decay, I spring to my feet and cast another ball of fire. The hall is lit up once more, and as the demon’s children shriek in pain and terror as the flames engulf them it’s then I sense Phalanx’s fear; I can sense that the creature is trying to flee for it knows its demise is imminent. Seizing the advantage I call upon every inch of my being, forcing my aching, battle weary body to lunge forward for the final confrontation and unleash the killing blow that will rid the world of this foul abomination…

Phalanx is the first major demon in From Software’s dark RPG, Demon’s Souls and it took me just over six hours to confront this first boss monster. Why, you may ask? The answer to that is that Demon's Souls is as difficult as video games come; in fact it’s arguably the toughest video game currently on the market, but it's because of its stoic and often unforgiving gameplay that Demon’s Souls stands out as one of the finest and most rewarding RPG’s developed in recent times.

At its core Demon’s Souls is old school gaming dressed in today’s clothing; there are no checkpoints, no randomly placed type writers or fountains to save your current progress and should you meet your end you’ll be transported back to the very beginning of the level where you’ll have to start over. For many that will be perhaps enough for them to happily to ignore From Software’s RPG long before its steep learning curve has them flinging their control pad half way across the living room. If, however, you chose to brave Demon’s Souls dark corridors and damp dungeons you’ll be greatly rewarded with a deep and immersive RPG unlike any other. In perhaps an accidental homage to the video games of yesteryear, playing through this ominous RPG is about learning though the process of repetition; playing and memorising each segment of each level meticulously; remembering the safest pathways; and where to avoid the most powerful of enemies. Running in blindly, swinging your weapon haphazardly will lead to a swift death, but edging your way through each level carefully, feeling your way a piece at a time; understanding that a short sword is more preferable to a spear in a tight corridor, or that a cumbersome battle axe might not be the best choice against more dextrous enemies and that weighing up your foe and ascertaining the situation before leaping into battle will, more often than not, see you emerge victorious. Patience is your greatest ally in Demon’s Souls, not rampant button mashing in the vein hope that you might just chance your way through.

Sanctuary is provided by the Nexus, a mystical hub of crumbling, medieval architecture, twisting stairways and dimly lit corridors. It’s also from here that you enter each realm currently held in sway by some magnificent, yet terrifying demon and its minions. As you progress through each of the five regions, (which split into 3-4 levels per region), dispatching the undead, possessed guardsmen and lesser demons you’ll collect souls and it’s these souls that are your key to victory. Souls double up as both the in-game monetary and leveling currency with which you can buy and repair new weapons, armour and items and also use to improve your overall stats and upgrade your character. Thankfully with each death you retain any new items and upgrades added to your chosen hero thus making each time you enter a realm that little easier. Ironically, the more times you embrace death not only will you have a better understanding of your environment and how best approach each region, but the more powerful you will eventually become; those initial stumbling first steps will, in time, become a distant memory as you carefully weave your way through each area, turning the tables in your favour. However, on dying any souls you have collected are instantly lost on your return to the beginning of the level and the only way to regain them is by fighting your way back to the point at which you died, but should you be slain a second time those souls will be lost forever. It’s a tough lesson in self preservation, but it’s through these harsh lessons that Demon’s Souls offers up an utterly believable sense of immersion; a beautifully crafted, coherent and absolutely logical world where each mistake leading to your sudden, and often brutal demise is-ultimately-of your own making and yet with each failure you learn, you adapt and eventually you begin to succeed; and the satisfaction that comes with that is an experience that you'll want to savour time and again.

Demon’s Souls gameplay can also change depending on how the player acts in each region, shifting each realm and their character between light and dark. This is known as World and Character Tendency respectively and can effect, to some degree, how the world and its inhabitants react to you and how powerful items and creatures therein are. While multiple choices and their conclusions are nothing new in today’s RPGs it’s the ability to constantly manipulate your Character Tendency to suit your current needs, allowing you to switch seamlessly from light to dark as little or as often as you like that separates it from many of its peers. What’s also interesting is that shifting your tendency from light to dark or vice versa in any of the regions only affects that particular region and not the world as a whole so it’s important to create a healthy balance when moving between realms and try to maintain the most suitable tendency for your chosen character and class. Like the majority of Demon’s Soul, understanding World & Character Tendency can be quite daunting for the newcomer, but as with everything else once it slots into place it makes perfect sense and becomes as equally important and plays as integral a part in ones progression as every other facet of this cleverly constructed slice of interactive entertainment.

While Demon’s Souls is ostensibly a solitary experience one of its greatest assets comes in its multi-player. Unlike the usual slew of multi-player modes found in many other games, From Software has cleverly woven it into the single player experience thus never breaking the sensation of facing the darkness of this haunting world alone. In each region, players-who are represented by ghostly apparitions that occasionally flit by you, battling their own unseen monsters-can leave messages that will help, (or hinder), your progress, warning you of enemies lying in ambush or of helpful NPC’s who otherwise may have met an untimely death at the end of your overly nervous sword arm. Throughout you’ll also find blood stains of other fallen heroes and by activating these you become privy to said players last moments giving you an insight to how they died thus giving you the opportunity to avoid repeating the same mistake. It’s also possible to call upon other players to assist you in clearing out a dungeon teeming with monsters or defeat difficult bosses, however it’s also entirely possible for other players to ‘break’ into your world and assassinate you and steal your souls. It’s a bit of a gamble as the attacker is unaware of the prowess of the player they’re attempting to assassinate and as such there’s always the chance that they themselves may be the one skewered on the end of a pole-arm. It’s an ingenious take on multi-player and one that works perfectly in tune with Demon’s Souls trial and error gameplay.

Few games are as bold as Demon’s Souls and fewer still are as unwilling to compromise their vision and, in the case of From Software’s creation, their unique identity. Many will be taken aback by its stark difficulty that much is true, but if the fundamental reason as to why so many are drawn to video games is in the lure of the challenge itself and the reward thereafter then arguably the finest examples of the medium are those that reap the greatest rewards, but only through the greatest of hardship.


Monday, 25 October 2010

Joe Kelly-Rock On!

A good friend of mine, Mr Joe Kelly, secured himself a place in the final of Open Mic UK yesterday in Cardiff. Well done fella!

If you want to check out some of his work here's a link to his MySpace page: JDKelly

Mortal Kombat-Ed Boon Interview

This is going to be ace.

Monday, 18 October 2010

7outof10 Needs You!

Whilst we’d normally be happy to offer up our consistent dribble of content onto the front page in the hope that some of you come back; we’ve recently caught a gust of windy motivation here at 7outof10 towers, and feel empowered – nay, driven – to bring those of you that gaze skyward along for the ride.

If you’re at all interested in writing about videogames – whether it’s reviews, previews, features, interviews, or the diaries of a real-life Katamari – please get in touch and you could soon have your own little graphical box on the front page. It might even have a number next to it, at which point all of your personal validation issues will instantly disappear, and life will become solely about fluffy kittens and dreamy comment unicorns.

We’re looking for anybody with a passion and aptitude for the task, and if you have any interesting ideas for content we’re open to suggestion and positively brimming with encouragement. We can’t offer payment just yet, but we can offer life-affirming feedback and the occasional free game, both of which – in this economic climate – are invaluable.

So, if any of that sounds like you (and particularly if you are a comment unicorn) drop us an email to:

Get to it!

Emmanuel Brown

Game Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2-Xbox 360, PS3

It’s clear from the off that Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 has been developed with its fanbase solely in mind and if-like me-you’re unfamiliar with this particular slice of manga/anime you may find the tale of a young boy’s journey to become the Ultimate Ninja, (or as it’s known in the context of the story, a Hokage), more than a little daunting. Never the less as far as fighting games go it’s a pretty solid affair, one that’s resplendent with beautifully drawn characters and environments and the kind of super slick, stylish animation found in many of today’s Japanese animated cinema.

Attack, jump, special moves and shurikens are consigned to each of the four main controller buttons making string attacks, juggles and combos easier to pull out of the bag. Whilst some may bulk at the simplistic control scheme there’s a good reason for why this approach has been adopted: fighting arenas in Ninja Storm 2 work in a full three dimensional plane that constantly shifts and turns depending on you’re location during combat. It’s an interesting take on the 3D fighter and one that works in considerable favour towards convincing the player that they’re in a living anime crammed with colourful explosions of power and dazzling pyrotechnics. Each of the characters can call upon ‘Chakra’ which, put simply, is a bond of elemental and physical energy that can be harnessed to unleash Jutsu (abilities) or Ultimate Jutsu (special finishers), all of which are quite magnificent in their execution and can turn the tide of battle in an heartbeat. Combining Chakra with simple attacks can also unleash powerful combos, allowing one to launch their opponent high into the air for a juggle attack before slamming them back down to the ground below.

What makes each fight so visually engaging is the camera frantically following the action frame by frame; from simple combo to spectacular finishing move it’s almost difficult to keep up with at times and it'll have your head in a spin. Unleash an Ultimate Jutsu and the camera will zoom in to capture your chosen fighters determination etched across their face and then just as quickly zoom out to show the entire arena before smoothly panning around as each fighter jumps back from a flurry of blows. The real skill involved in Ninja Storm 2 is being able to use the ever shifting three dimensional environments to your advantage, especially during team battles where you and your opponent can call upon others fighters to help out with guard, defensive and balance attacks. Constantly moving around the arena, using Chakra to quickly zigzag forward to then launch into the air at just the right moment to get behind ones opponent in a surprise move is a requisite for success. Done right it can be immensely satisfying and once mastered you’ll be able to give even the most challenging of players the run around, chipping away at their life force in a dazzling display of skill before taking them down with an audacious finishing move.

As well as a Free Battle mode, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 also allows you to take the combat online-the first in the series to do so- and, more interestingly, has an ‘Ultimate Adventure’ mode much like the story mode found in Tekken 6. However, unlike the former Cyber Connect 2’s offering doesn’t feel tacked on and is a much more fleshed out experience, one that goes a long way to explaining who Naruto is and some of the history behind the world and the characters therein. Beginning in a place known as Hidden Leaf Village, Naruto returns from a three year training stint and it’s here that you’re thrown into a brief introduction to the games key fighting mechanics, how to obtain, trade and buy items and how to explore and interact with the world Naruto inhabits. Encounters through the course of the adventure are played out the same as in the single player mode but with the added twist that boss fights are intertwined with QTEs and mini-puzzle games which add an extra dimension to the combat whilst also working as an excuse for the game to show off some of its stunning visuals.

Ultimate Adventure also allows you to unlock a huge array of extras and goodies for use in online play, VS and single player modes. Like with many of today’s beat em ups gamers expect more than just a simple Single Player and VS mode for their hard earned cash and so between Ultimate Adventure, Free Battle, VS, Online Battle and tons of hidden extras there’ certainly a lot of bang for your buck to be found here and as such you may quickly find yourself spending hours trying to discover and unlock all these hidden extras. It’s also worth noting that Ninja Storm 2 is infused with some fantastic audio. From the ‘whoosh’ of air as your fighter zip, flips and springs into combat; the deafening crack of lightening exploding forth from fingertips; and the thunder of the ground being ripped up through sheer force of will; there really is nothing quite like it in the fighting genre and will leave anime fans, new and old, breathless.

Still, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 won’t appeal to everyone outside of the core fanbase and with its strong leanings toward Japanese culture it could be off-putting for some audiences. It’s lack of depth, when compared to other fighters currently on the market, will almost certainly have beat ‘em up aficionados turn their collective noses up at it, and that it’s considered a ‘kids cartoon’ by many will undoubtedly see Ninja Storm 2 ignored by the older generation. Having said that, what it does do is not only offer up a unique spin on the traditional beat ‘em up, but it does it with a sense of style and razor sharp direction rarely seen in many of today’s video games. It’s not perfect, but its damn good fun and that alone is perhaps enough for Naruto to garner a few more fans outside of the land of the rising sun.


Monday, 11 October 2010

My Dying Bride

So, I’ve spent the best part of this evening burning all my CD's from my favourite band, My Dying Bride, then converting my favourite tracks to my phone. Being as I have their entire discography on original CD's it's been a mammoth task I can tell you. I've been a My Dying Bride fan since 1992 and while I don't get chance to see them live these days due to other, obvious commitments, (last time was at Derby on a friends stag do in 2006 where I got a drunken, 'metal face' photo-see below-with front man Aaron Stainthorpe and guitarist Hamish Glencross), I continue to be an avid fan. Even the wife, who has no idea who they are, surprised me one Christmas with their live DVD, Sinamorata, which was filmed at atHof Ter Lo in Antwerp in 2003. Bless her.

After meeting them and discovering that they're really sound guys who not only appreciate their fans, but who also have a lot of time for them regardless of age and who you are, my own appreciation for their music soared. May they long continue.

Yeah, a lot of booze was consumed that day and if my memory serves me correctly I'm sure I hit the deck in the mosh pit. Getting to old for that shit now-moshing, that is. Doesn't look quite as good with thinning hair either...

Friday, 8 October 2010

Van Helsing and those Vampires....

I was up late last night watching the Van Helsing movie from 2004 featuring Hugh Jackman and the lovely Kate Beckinsale. While it may not be the greatest of films it is mildy entertaining, boasts some rather good special effects and when it comes to portraying Vampires it, quite litterally, shits all over those awful Twilight movies...


Turns into this...

Then this monstrosity ...

That's how Vampires should be done, and for that Van Helsing garners some kudos.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Apprentice or “As Useful as a Cock Flavoured Lollipop”

I make no secret of the fact that I’m not a huge fan of reality TV, but like any good middle aged moaner it’s always advisable to have some knowledge of what you’re ranting about. At its core there’s nothing essentially wrong with reality TV and for the first couple of series some of these slices of TV ‘entertainment’ aren’t inherently bad. You either like reality TV, loath it or have an air of indifference about it. Unfortunately because they’re cheap to produce television executives keep rolling them out over and again until they become a parody of themselves and eventually all that’s being wheeled out is some dead, rotting corpse that stinks the place up something awful; the only reason we don’t notice is because we’ve all become as vacant as Holly Willoughby staring into an autocue desperately trying to find the full stops. So yes, I have at times succumbed to the power of reality TV and, admittedly, have even enjoyed it on occasion. Master Chef anyone?

So, onto the Apprentice. I watched and enjoyed the first, was bored by the time I got half way through the second and wanted to scratch my own eyes out by the third. A new series has begun this week and I felt compelled to have a quick look to see if it might entertain. It took about 10 minutes for me to decide that eating a bucket of shit that had been left out in the sun for a whole day would be preferable.

Ill explain.

The girls and the boys were divided into two groups with their first task being to conjure up a snazzy, original, but empowering team name. Quite a simple task one might imagine until this Janet Street Porter look alike who seemed to have tore off Pinks peroxide blonde, spiky scalp and then proceeded to staple it to her own head, said:

“I think we should call ourselves Winning Women!”

Yeah, you can see where this going.

One of the other female ‘contestants’ then piped up suggesting that might not be such a good idea because at some point the groups would be put into a mixture of boys and girls, to which our Janet look alike replied:

“Oh yeah, that hadn’t actually occurred to me…”


Jack Thompson claims Medal of Honor victory

Remember ambulance chasing US Lawyer Jack Thompson? The hellfire and brimstone bible bashing lawyer who got disbarred for raising a string of frivolous lawsuits against various parties, which included some of  the biggest players in the video game industry because, to his mind, they were creating 'murder simulators' and 'teaching kids how to use real weaponary'?

Well he's back and is as big a twonk as ever.

Read on:

From MCV:

Jack Thompson says gamers who don’t appreciate what he does for American culture “can go to Hell”

Shamed former US lawyer Jack Thompson has reared his ugly head once more, claiming ‘victory’ in what he sees as a battle against EA to get the Taliban removed from next week’s Medal of Honor.

EA confirmed last week that following a period of pressure and media hype it has removed reference to the Taliban from the game, deferring instead to the generic title of ‘Opposing Force’.

Ripten reports that Thompson had previously written to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an effort to get the game banned.

“With all respect for everything else on your plate, but as someone who has represented the surviving family members of such video game-caused massacres, I personally urge you, as Secretary of Defense, to do what is necessary, proper, and legal to stop the release of Medal of Honor on October 12th on the basis that it poses a demonstrable danger to our troops by providing a training tool for those who wish to kill them,” his letter read.

“I would also strongly suggest that the Defense Department find out who these Special Ops people are who have acted so foolishly in this regard.

“Finally, I believe the full weight of the federal government should come down upon Electronic Arts and the video game industry’s Entertainment Software Association for their allowing, presently and fraudulently, despite promises to Congress, the widespread pre-sale of this adult game to minors throughout the country and around the world.”

When asked for comment by Ripten, Thompson replied with the following:
“I win again, as usual. Any gamers who don’t think so and who don’t appreciate what I do to protect our culture can go to Hell.

“And please add: Any gamers that don’t know how to get to Hell on an expedited basis, let me know, and I’ll send along the cheat code to get there more quickly.”

Of course, no one with a modicum of intelligence and reason takes this muppet seriously any more and the man is clearly in need of some psychiatric help, but still it's nice to see he's still around, being mad and providing us all with some entertainment.

Just for the record, Jack had nothing to do with the Taliban reference being removed from Medal of Honors' multi-player aspect,  he just decided he should take sole credit for it for reasons unbekown to anyone but himself.  A stone cold case for the man being locked up in a room made out of rubber wall paper if ever there was one.

Sorry Jack, but being disbarred for being barking mad does not constitute as 'winning' in anyones book.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Blast From the Past: Gauntlet, Doom, Burnout 3: Takedown


Released by Atari in 1986 during the emergence of popularity of role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the game was a sensation being one of the first true dungeon crawl arcade games.  Countless home ports, re-imagings’ and re-makes of this hugely popular arcade game surfaced over the years but it was the original arcade game that remains one of the most popular and important video games of all time-so much so that it even saw itself re-launched on Xbox Live Arcade.  Arguably without Gauntlet we may never have seen the likes of World of Warcraft and many other popular RPG’s that have fascinated and enthralled gamers over the years.  For my part, (as a fan of Table Top RPG’s back in my youth), Atari’s dungeon crawler was the video game that cemented my own passion for games and gaming and today still remains as one of my all time favourite video games.


In 1993 programmer John Carmack and designer John Romero unleashed their first-person shooter Doom onto the world and suddenly what was possible with gaming was changed forever. Widely recognized for having popularized the first person shooter genre; pioneering immersive 3D graphics, networked multiplayer gaming and support for customized additions and modifications, Doom was an overnight sensation. Halo and Call of Duty might be the crème de la crème of modern day, online multi-player first-person shooters, but without Doom they may have never existed; certainly not in their current format. In 2004 Doom was re-designed and released as Doom 3, a darker, more sinister take on the 1993 original. Boasting state of the art visuals, sound and effects, id Software’s remake was, unsurprisingly, met with critical and commercial success. I dare anyone to play Doom 3 on their own, in the dark, with headphones on for more than a couple of hours without having to take a break due to it being so pant-wettingly frightening. However, the original Doom is still a firm favourite and is as playable and as intense as it was nearly twenty years ago.


Criterion Games' take on arcade racing mayhem with Burnout 1 & 2 saw this small British developer garner the interests of publishing giant Electronic Arts soon after their original publisher, Acclaim, went bankrupt.  To say their relationship with EA got off to a rocky start is an understatement, but through sheer stubbornness of Criterion’s lead developers wanting more creative freedom, EA soon decided that their current project(s) be scrapped and that the Criterion should do what it does best. The result was one of the most exhilarating and addictive combat racing games ever created: Burnout 3:Takedown.  Featuring state-of-the-art visuals and effects with game play that took players at breakneck speeds through hundreds of events across the USA, Europe and the Far East using every dirty trick in the book to take out the opposition, Burnout 3: Takedown was an absolute blast and was very difficult to put down once you’d begun. It was also the first racing game that upon taking out an opponent the camera would, on the fly, zip back in slow motion and gleefully show you your rivals vehicle flip and turn in mid air, spewing out chunks of car and glass before throwing you straight back into the action in one seamless moment.  It was impressive stuff and set the game apart from many of its peers by a country mile. While each subsequent sequel has proven to be as entertaining in their own right, (particularly the recent Burnout: Paradise with its open world gameplay), they've failed to capture the magic of Burnout 3: Takedown.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Game Review: Blade Kitten-XBLA, PSN, PC

The ability to download video games via market places such as XBLA, PSN and Steam may be nothing new these days but the last year or so has seen a slew of quality, affordable titles that have proven to be as entertaining and engaging as much of the premium boxed product filling high street shelves. Ranging from the inspiring, to the simplistic to the down right bizarre, these pick-up-and-play slices of entertainment have grown not just in sheer volume but in measured quality over time and, unsurprisingly, are hugely popular amongst the gaming community and games media alike. Without the constraints of time lines enforced by over zealous publishers or lucrative film studios, the creative freedom offered through producing entertainment for the downloadable market is a boon to developers keen to show of their talents without a having to contend with-for the most part-a mountain of pressure and innumerable rising costs.

Blade Kitten is one such video game and while on the surface it may appear to be a cynical stab at past greats such as Strider and Pandemonium, Krome Studios’ frenetic platformer carries a delightful charm all of its own design. Taking control of a pink haired, sassy, American teenage voiced, bounty hunting cat-girl named Kit and her veritable roster of skills and abilities, Krome Studios’ throws you into a vibrant, colourful world resplendent with big, chunky visuals that fill the screen. Each level offers its own unique style as you take Kit on her adventure of wall jumping, projectile hurling, sword swinging and nimble cat climbing, dispatching the local law enforcement and collecting tokens of various colour and value as you go.  There's no doubting that Blade Kitten is a very pretty game and its mixture of American styled cartoon art and Japanese anime is a welcome change from all the browns and greys dominating many of today's blockbuster titles.

Kit’s goal is simple: Collect enough tokens and buy herself a new space ship to replace the one destroyed by said law enforcement whilst at the same time try to retrieve a bounty stolen by a rival. As well her acrobatic and wall climbing skills, Kit is armed with an electrified floating sword that obeys her every command and that can be used as both a close combat weapon and projectile attack. Perform enough combos and head stomps and our heroine can pull out of the bag a Matrix style special attack taking down everyone in her path for the duration of the move. Kit’s sword is also helpful in hitting switches and releasing traps that are otherwise unobtainable, allowing Kit to traverse dangerous fire pits and unlock countless secret areas and alternate pathways.

As you progress, Kit will pick up a few helpful hangers-on along the way, ride a hairless Chocobo type camel thing, run and jump like the clappers away from screen-filling bosses and encounter a host of bizarre characters and creatures. These interludes go a long way in helping to mix things up a bit in what is ostensibly your typical platformer and, thankfully, do so without breaking to much away from the original template. Add into the mix the ability to visit the local merchant where you can buy new weapons, upgrades and costumes for our nimble heroine, a funky selection of tunes ranging from jazz fusion to up beat techno and what you have is a well rounded slice of platforming action that should be appeal to all types of gamers looking for a undemanding, Sunday afternoons bout of gaming.

Krome Studios’ platformer is not without its faults of course. The camera likes to keep the sensation of being constantly on the move and while it does add to the ‘zaniness’ of the game with it’s constant zipping in and out and panning around it does take a little getting used to in the opening stages, especially when chaining together Kit’s repertoire of moves. Also, in perhaps a bid to maintain a sense of speed, some of the levels are far too short and lack some of the exploration and the endless amounts of collectables found in many of the other levels leaving you feeling somewhat cheated. Did I mention the voice acting?  While its not quite as cringe worthy as Resident Evil on the PSone it can grate, but having said that it suits it's purpose well enough even if it is more Nickelodeon than Shakespeare.  Other than that though, unless you’re looking for gritty realism combined with multi-million dollar set pieces and effects, there’s very little here to complain about.

Blade Kitten may not be the most original of concepts and makes no excuses for wearing its influences clearly on its sleeve and as such has its tongue firmly set in its cheek. Is it homage or a blatant rip-off of past glories? Well I guess that’s up for debate, but what ever you might decide one thing is for certain, Blade Kitten is an absolute blast.



Movie Review: Twilight Saga, (1-3)

The popularity of ‘The Vampire’ has seen a resurgence in recent times, no more so than amongst young adults and bored housewives who have, quite literally, fallen head over heels in love with the Twilight Series; a collection of romantic, fantasy novels penned by American author, Stephanie Meyer. Our tale is of one young American girl Bella, who falls in love with an 108 year old vampire Edward, who along with his family has turned away from taking human life in a bid to try and eke out their lives as normal human beings, or as normal as one can whilst trying to avoid being caught out in direct sunlight and exposing their true nature. The tale of forbidden love between mortal and immortal is an oft told one in vampire lore, but here the story is set within a high school in the sleepy town of Forks, Washington USA. Throw in a few werewolves, a love triangle and a few other ‘minor’ complications along the way and the scene is set.

The books were a hit and so it wasn’t long before a film adaptation of said books were in full production and, subsequently, became a global phenomenon. Having not read the books I can only assume, and if history has taught us anything, they’re better than what’s on offer here. Even without prior knowledge of the books the story feels disjointed and unfinished, as if whole chapters and important set pieces have been omitted altogether leaving the viewer often wondering what the hell is going on and why any of it matters, if at all.

Romance plays a huge part in many a movie and for a few is the core ingredient of some of the most celebrated films ever made, but here, ( in the first three films based on the novels of the same name), its delivery is water thin, sometimes unbearably cheesy and often just plain silly. Matters are made worse by the fact that our heroine Bella, (Kristen Stewart), is as an un-likeable and wholly unremarkable individual as you’ll ever likely come across.

Our love sick teen swans from one miserable scene to the next, dragging her self-pitying bottom lip across the ground, grumbling and generally acting like a spoilt, selfish child towards anyone or anything she stumbles into. Remember Kevin and Perry from the Harry Enfield Show? Yes, you’ve got it, just like that.

The story tries to justify Bella’s unhappiness with her life by her being an only child whose parents have separated, and while divorce can and often does affect any children involved here, in Twilight, it backfires-embarrassingly so. Both Bella’s parents are not only seemingly more content in their day to day lives and clearly a great deal happier by their decision to separate they both show an equal amount of love and affection toward their daughter and never starve her of a stable up-bringing while at the same time doing all that they can to guide and help her make the right choices in life. Bella gets on exceedingly well with her non-violent stepfather; her natural father isn’t a drunk; her mum isn’t the local whore. In fact Bella’s life is as well balanced, well rounded and as safe as any young person could ask for. Unfortunately though, Bella fails to rise beyond being anything other than an annoying, ungrateful little brat that needs a thick ear, or in our more politically correct society, a good ‘talking to’.

So what of the vampires themselves? In short they are without a doubt the most dreary, two-dimensional blood suckers to ever grace the big screen. Given that the vampire is arguably the most famous mythical creature ever to exist in popular folklore, one that boasts a rich and fascinating history dating as far back as Greek and Roman times with more than a thousand stories, tales and fables portraying this fearsome creature-of-the-night, that’s quite a feat.

Yes Twilights’ vampires can move fast, are extremely powerful and yes they drink the blood of the living, but they’re so flat and lifeless, (no pun intended), that just watching them amble about looking like they’re constantly auditioning for a Marilyn Manson music video will have you willing Van Helsing to make an appearance and exact his own particular brand of vampire slaying justice. Like his chosen family, Edward, (Robert Pattinson), is as equally boresome; his unwillingness to accept who and what he is, is accentuated all the more due to his having fallen in love with a human, (Bella), and who now won’t quit whining about the unfairness of his predicament . Further more, Edward and his clan’s attempts at trying to fit their vampiric nature around his pet human is not only cringe inducing, but will have you fighting to take any of it seriously as you attempt to stifle bouts of laughter at the ridiculousness of it all. “We’re glad to have you come by my dear; it means we get to use our Ikea kitchen for the first time!” It’s more The Munsters than Hammer Horror and as such isn’t very big on scares or the kind of nail-biting drama one would often associate with a vampire movie featuring werewolves.

And that is much of what the three films are about; the forbidden love between vampire and human in the face of adversity. There’s nothing wrong with the idea, it’s the staple on which all vampire tales are essentially built, but in Twilight it simply drags itself along at a snails pace without any real sense of direction and rarely will it have the blood pumping. Even the inclusion of love rival Jake, (who happens to be a vampire hunting werewolf from a long line of Native Americans ), struggle to make one care about the dark, romantic tale being played out and the characters therein. Having said that there is a glimmer of hope in the appearance of seasoned British actor Michael Sheen, who in the second film Twilight: New Moon plays Aro and who is also one of the Volturi; a powerful vampire clan considered to be royalty amongst other vampires due to their rather lengthy time as immortals. As expected Sheen delivers a performance with his usual sense of conviction and grandeur and for the brief time he’s on screen Twilights’ vampires feel more real, more alluring and more satisfyingly dangerous than they have for the entire three films. However by the time you’ve reached the third instalment, Twilight: Eclipse, you’ll be pleading for more than just a cameo to lift this irksome tale above its own sense of self-indulgence and deliver just a sliver of edge-of-your-seat-excitement. But it never comes, and so Twilight continues to drown, choking on its own mediocrity as one enervative side plot follows another usually involving some ingenious way to bump off Bella, who, consequently, has been far more of a thorn in the side for her new found friends than not which begs the question: why are they still putting up with her?

Fact is the Twilight movies aren’t very good. They’re neither tense nor thrilling; the plot is forced, often trite and leaves far too many plot holes and loose ends scattered about to bring a sense of satisfaction to any of Twilights’ conclusions. In all fairness the movies are more akin to a teen TV serial similar to Dawson’s Creak, albeit with vampires. With that in mind perhaps fleshing out the Twilight Saga over the course of a televised series would have been a far more agreeable approach and may have perhaps made for a more interesting, well rounded viewing experience? Then again, let’s not put ideas in their heads.

Maybe I simply don’t get it, and I freely admit that I’m not the most romantic individual out there, but anyone who is a fan of vampire lore and who has experienced the rather excellent Dracula: Prince of Darkness or perhaps read more than a few vampire novels in their time, should be confident in their knowledge as to what makes for a good vampire tale, because teen love and buckets of confused hormones oozing out of every pore are not it I’m sorry to say.