The Lost Reviews – Infested Planet

20 10 2016

Infested Planet (Rocket Bear Games - 2014)

If Alien movies have taught us anything, it’s that guns do not work against Aliens! That statement has been proved over and over again from films such as Aliens (where an elite team of Marines were wiped out in near seconds), Starship Troopers (where legions of soldiers were killed in less than an hour) and Independence Day (where the human race was nearly wiped out in 3 days). So, with this knowledge in hand we know for sure that if Aliens invade Earth, we should not use guns in any shape or form as they simply do not work; it seems however that some people have to learn the hard way.

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Infested Planet (produced by Rocket Bear Games) is a game about a squad of soldiers invading a planet infested with an alien species, and whose job it is to try and wipe them out. Each level begins with your elite team of soldiers landing in an area, with a small base set up. From here it is your duty to guide them through a maze of tunnels in the hope of destroying all enemy bases to win the level. As soon as you land however, the Aliens are on top of you and you will need to plan wisely and prioritize where you can as the aliens descend in swarms around your base.

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Each level is set in a nicely rendered 2D plan view map, and there are no tricky images to understand as everything is nice and clear. The games visuals remind me of one of those planet invasion flash games. You know the ones that feel more like a maths exam, where there is a planet with a value of 10, and so you need to send an army with a value of 11 to conquer it. Well, the maps look like that, with nice near circular bases for both you and the aliens, and as the swarms of alien monsters begin to descend on your bases and men, they even begin to look like those sorts of games. The aliens and soldiers feature a wonderful colour palette, with your soldiers changing colour as they upgrade and even the aliens get a nice patchwork of colouring too.

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The main way you play is by guiding your soldiers around the map, attacking bases and taking them over, bit by bit extending your reach. You will be offered times to upgrade while in the battlefield, upgrading your soldiers to different classes, while also being offered opportunities to drop supplies in and even call in helicopter strikes. It’s kind of similar to opportunities offered in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (which I have still yet to play). These upgrades however do not make the game any easier as the aliens can mutate as their bases get destroyed, and just because you have claimed a base does not make it safe, as the aliens can and will attack them, destroying them and converting the land back to their side. They will even take control of you gun turrets given half the chance.

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The AI in this game is brilliant. The aliens attack in well-designed swarms, and don’t just rely on being small, because as the game progresses, and bases mutate, other larger and more fearsome species come out to play. It’s actually kind of fun, yet stimulating-ly terrifying as you see these swarms just appear and attack out of nowhere. Yes, you can put up defenses, but spots can be over run and you can’t help but look back at your bases, just to check if they are safe for the time being. Meanwhile, you have to keep a sharp eye on your team as they come under attack, and have to defend themselves not just from aliens, but the alien’s own defensive capabilities also.

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What this game provides at its core details plus in game specialties is really nice, and it’s good to see a game that even when it does provide you with upgrades, it does not necessarily mean that it gets any easier. It does not necessarily have a learning curve, more a steady playing field, and one that requires you to strategize rather than burst in all guns blaring. The game though for all its wonderful inclusions does have some short comings. There is an in game shop system which allows you to purchase new items and upgrades from cash you receive from winning (and even surrendering) a level. When you go into the shop though hoping to get much-needed upgrades, you discover that most of them (although at a fair price) are temporary and are only really available for no more than the next three levels. That is pretty annoying especially as some of them can be pretty expensive. You would think that something that cost that much, you would get keep wouldn’t you? The story does not really seem to be needed either. The game’s plot is provided in a similar form to an old shoot-em up game, where there is a lot of written text, no voice over dialogue and when it actually comes to a level, you don’t really know why they gave you any plot. But then things get weird as the game provides you with random missions and the story just appears to well: disappear…altogether. But the crazy thing is, is that you don’t really care about the plot, as there is so much fun in its gameplay you just want to get past the written word and just start shooting aliens. It’s a bit wasted if I’m to be honest.

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Altogether I think this is a fun game. Yes its shop is convoluted and un-usable and its story is pretty much not wanted and at least a bit wasted; but everything else that this game provides is on the surface near perfect. It’s not overly long, you can play it in long and short bursts, it’s relatively easy to pick up and play, and its design is really nice and colourful (compared to say a mysteriously abandoned ship in space lacking a carpet). Overall I would say this is just a nice little game if you fancy a break from a heavy laden triple A game or if you just have a little time to play something diverse, in-depth, but also very light.

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GENEPOOL





Taking A Break

22 07 2015

Tea

For the past few weeks I have been working hard on producing a series of film reviews to be posted over the space of a week. For such a task, I chose one specific film series, the name of which I intend to as secret as possible to be a surprise when it finally happens. Writing a series of film reviews though does take time and at best I am able to write about 1 a week. So 7 films should take about 7 weeks. Well, not really. It took me close to 2 weeks to get the first one written before I then put myself onto a proper schedule. I am currently (at time of writing) 3 films in, with 4 to go. Due to having a fully booked week last week due to my Graduation and a day out at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, I took something of a week off from writing with a plan to restart the following week with a plan to get straight back into the reviewing process as soon as possible. Watching the same film series and writing about it over a series of weeks, (particularly when the series is more than 3 films long) can get a bit tiresome and eventually you can find yourself craving to watch something else. During my Graduation week, I thought I could take the opportunity to watch some other film entirely in order to break the cycle, I did not however take such an opportunity and found myself about to restart writing film reviews again, and it’s not helping when the next film is the worst in the series.

A Game Of Thrones (George R. R. Martin)

I am finding writing a series of film reviews quite hard/daunting as so far I am not even half way through yet, and most of the reviews can be 7 pages long. While I thought number 3 was going to be a little quicker due to it not being bad as such, but definitely a weak film, it was about as long as the others. Ideally I would like to complete the series before I go on holiday, as it would mean that they are finished, and I can enjoy my holiday without thinking about them. Most of the time (when I am in the zone) I can just write away and get it done, but I am finding it hard to even think about how it’s progressing when it still feels like a long time away until it’s done. It makes me think of it as being like a film review version of A Song of Ice and Fire (although I am confident that it will be finished well before The Winds of Winter gets released).

TMNT (Imagi Animation Studios - 2007)

So with the next film in sight, I was feeling a little low (well, more like a lot) about getting back into it. Then one of my best friends suggested I watch something else before continuing; which was a Fantastic Idea. You see the thing is, that while you are doing such a project as this, you do want to watch something else as the week goes one, but you feel like you can’t because you should be watching the other film’s in the series. With me not doing anything related to that series though during graduation week, I went along with my friend’s suggestion, and instead of watching the next film in that series, I watched something else entirely, and it felt nice. I watched a film I have not seen in years, maybe not since it was first shown on Sky Movies. I watched TMNT, the 2007 CGI movie starring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I rather enjoyed it, I have always liked that film since seeing it at the cinema, but seeing it again after so long was the breath of fresh air I needed. I also noticed how short it was, I thought it would be about industry standard 90 minutes long, but in fact it was about 1 hour 20 minutes long (plus a little more including the credits), coming altogether to 87 minutes long. That was not all I watched though.

AKIRA (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1988)

With still maybe a couple of hours to go until midnight, I did ponder about watching that 4th film, but instead I decided to watch a few clips from a film that I saw for the first time back in November, and couldn’t stop thinking about: AKIRA. It’s a film that, like a few others that come to my mind is one I really want to write a film review for. When I watched it again, I did not watch it all the way through, I just wanted to see a few moments. From the Bike Chase at the beginning, to mentions of the mysterious AKIRA, to Tetsuo’s dream and eventual rampage, all the way to the film’s grotesque end. I loved watching it again, even if it was not all of it.

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Watching these 2 films has been a real breath of fresh air in my movie watching. While I will have started the next film review in the series by the time this gets posted, I am thankful for my friend’s suggestion and advice, plus the opportunity to watch two completely different things to nourish my film tastes. While the end of the film series is still some time away, I am confident I will get it finished, and that it will be worth it in the end. First I just need to deal with the tricky 4th film, then onto the even trickier task of reviewing 3 really good films in a row, and then I can take a break from my reviews until I decide to do another one.

TMNT Statues

GENEPOOL





Is It Possible To Write A Film Review In 100 Words Or Less?

4 02 2015

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Michael Wiese Productions - 2005)

A few months ago I had this idea of trying to write a short film review. The idea being to write a short film review that more or less got to the point quickly without analysing the film in detail as I think that my monthly film reviews are more of analyses than reviews. Originally the idea was inspired by the Blake Snyder book; Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. Snyder talks about the situation we have all been when we want to go to the cinema but have to decide what we see.

“We’ve all had this experience… It’s Saturday night. You and your friends have decided to see a movie. One of you is picked to read the choices from the newspaper while the others listen and decide.“ – Save The Cat! (2005)

Snyder goes on to describing the situation similar to pitching a movie. Snyder was what is called a Spec Writer who would write a script then attempt to sell it to a big studio. Snyder though points out an important problem which both you as someone who wants to see a film and as a writer faces in a pitch.

But what’s it about? If you can’t answer that question, you know it pretty quickly. If what the movie is about isn’t clear from the poster and the title, what are you going to say to describe it?” – Save The Cat! (2005)

This is where the idea of a 100 word film review spawned. As point of a blog post possibility as well as a Creative Writing exercise. To get a full review within such a strict word count would be hard, but it would restrict me to how much detail I went into. It would basically come down to what happens in the film, who’s in it and is it any good, as well as any additional footnotes regarding who made it, soundtrack and effects. After a few months wavering over this idea I finally sat down to attempt it.

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Originally I was thinking of using the film AKIRA as the first one as I saw it a few months ago for the first time, loved it and is one of the film reviews I want to do the most. When it came to it though, I didn’t want to spoil a bigger post of it later on as I feel a full-blown analysis (of the kind I produce) would be better off as there is a lot I want to cover. So I did a film I have reviewed once before and know pretty well: Batman Begins. When writing it however I discovered a problem, at least a problem for my writing style. The word count of 100 words was not enough. The problem was that despite me trying to get to the point quicker, my style of writing was still a bit too detailed. Even with some cutting I struggled. So I upped the limit, sounds like cheating, but it gave me options. I raised it to 250 words and only kept that to the blocks of text reviewing the film and not the quick references at the top of the review stating who directed it, who’s in it, who composed the music for it, who was the cinematographer and which studio produced it (and the film title also). Also, originally I was going to give it the title ‘100 Word Film Review’ followed by the title. Due to the increased word count I changed it round to ‘250 Word’. In the end however I gave it the title “A Bite Size Film Review” as I thought it was a much better title. While in the end I was not able to produce a review in 100 words; I feel like I have managed to accomplish the original intention however. Thus managing to produce a film review template that allows people a quick source option when wanting a quick guidance on whether or not they want to watch a certain film (that reads like an essay at university level). I now just have the uphill task of doing it for many more films.

Batman Begins Poster

GENEPOOL (The film review in question will be posted up tomorrow).








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