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Internet Censorship: Australia

I’m not one for screaming “Fuck The System” or causing a fuss, but when I live in a country that prides itself on being laid back and fancy free, and they impose censorship on me, I start to get pretty angry. Those who know me I’m rather passionate about the tough censorship laws on Video-Games in Australia. This is a law that desperately needs to be reviewed, and while every other Attorney General in the country agrees, one man holds the power to keep the law as it is. This is scary to think that one man holds so much power, but today’s news has me considering leaving this country.

The trial of the controversial Internet filtering system is over and the government are planning to implement it in full force. Basically an un-named third party will have the right to refuse websites classification, thus making them unable to be viewed within Australia.

WHO IS THIS THIRD PARTY? WHO GIVES THEM THE RIGHT TO DECIDE?

All I’m saying is this it total HORSE SHIT. I know one country that is just like this……it’s called CHINA!


Left 4 Dead 2 is out in Australia, but unfortunately to absolutely absurd censorship laws it was refused classification. The version of the game released here is lacking basically all gore, bodies disappear when they hit the ground, and the melee weapons don’t cause any form of dismemberment. If you are like the majority of the Australian Gaming community you are outraged by this and want to get your hands on an uncensored copy of the game. FEAR NOT! Here are two simple ways to do just that!

PC GAMERS
1> Open up your browser and go to the following link http://store.steampowered.com/?cc=uk
2> Purchase the game from the UK STEAM store. Input your credit card details and address, make sure you change your country to Australia in this section.
3> Enjoy your uncensored version of Left 4 Dead 2 🙂

For all you Xbox 360 gamers out there, http://www.playasia.com is your friend. The Asia release is region free, and I think the USA version is also.

Top Gaming Moments: Batman

The hype and excitement surrounding the pending release of Batman: Arkham Asylum has been getting a lot of coverage across the globe. Praise is being sung by the critics, fans are chomping at the bit to get their hands on the game this Thursday. To get you through the next few days, why not revisit some of Batman’s Greatest Video Gaming Moments from the years gone past?
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Batman: The Video Game
Released on the Nintendo Entertainment System 1989

In the early days the NES was filled with colourful platformers such as Ice Climber, Super Mario and the like, but Batman: The Video Game was a different kettle of fish. Praised for it’s dark graphics, it’s fantastic attention to detail, fluid animations not to mention one of the most kick ass NES soundtracks ever, it still stands the test of time as not only one of the best Batman games, but one of the best platformers of the NES generation. With a variety of weapons, classic cinematics, five stages based on locations from the Burton film, and a show down with The Joker himself, what more could a Batman fan ask for?
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The Adventures of Batman & Robin
Released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System 1994

A sequel to the NES title was released to little fanfare, some gameboy titles came and went, but Konami’s The Adventures of Batman & Robin revived the series with it’s stunning graphics and gripping gameplay. Based on the ever popular animated series, the game takes place over 8 stages with a boss fight at each one, with such favourites as The Joker, Catwoman, Two-Face and many more. Backed up with some amazing features at the time including Mode 7, Reflections on the floor, and a large arsenal of weapons, this is truly a standout title in the Batman series.
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Batman Vengeance
Released on the Sony Playstation 2 2001

Ubisoft tried their hand at making a Batman game that fans would love, and they did a decent job with an interesting story the furthered the series. Featuring third person platforming, combat and some sweet Batmobile sequences, Batman Vengeance deserves a mention for truly telling a story. The voice acting is top notch, and features the ever famous Mark Hamill reprising his role from the animated series as The Joker.
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Lego Batman: The Video Game
Released on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii 2008

Everyone loves playing games in the Lego universe. After the massive successes of the Star Wars Lego and Indiana Jones Lego series, Lego Batman was released using the tested formula of bringing a certain charm to our favourite stories. With heavy weight Danny Elfman providing the score for the game (he did the music on Burton’s original Batman movie) and with the ability to play as not only Batman, but the villains in the series, it’s hard to ignore the importance of this title re-invigorating the Batman series in the minds of gamers.

Batman: Arkham Asylum
To Be Released 3rd of September 2009
Will Arkham Asylum make it on this list when it’s released this coming Thursday? Guess you’ll have to wait until I release my review later this week.

District 9 Review

district-9-trailer District 9 was one of those movies that came out of nowhere for me. I didn’t look at any trailers, I didn’t investigate any of the hype that was surrounding the movie, and in the end I was pleasantly surprised by one of my favourite movies for 2009.

The film follows the story of Wikus van de Merwe, who is put in charge of evicting Aliens from a government run refugee camp in Johannesberg to another one south of the city.

The film is filmed like a documentary, with interviews, surveilance camera footage and retrospectives. The live action sequences are filmed on the ground as if a camera man is following the action. It can be compared to Cloverfield, but I found it was executed in a far more effective and engaging way.

The big thing for me was that the CGI wasn’t overdone. Obviously the “prawns” were fake, but they weren’t overstated and really blended in with the picture. You didn’t sit there thinking that they were simply fake CGI, infact you could find yourself relating to them.

The film obviously has ties to the ghetto situation in South Africa, the ever increasing worry of Private Military Corporations, and manages to touch on these issue in a compelling way, without bringing an obvious political agenda with it.

While it did run a little long, District 9 is easily the most original, and the best film I have seen in 2009, except of course Inglorious Basterds

OVERALL 9/10

transformers_revenge_fallen_2 Michael Bay brought us one of the biggest movies, both at the box office and pure scale with Transformers back in 2007. It was a true showcase of modern day CGI, not overdone featuring a fun and action packed adventure. Two years later we see the release of the sequel, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen but can Bay make another compelling movie with the Autobots and Decepticons?

I found Revenge of the Fallen to be a mixed bag. Some parts of the film were a vast improvement and really fleshed out the characters, especially Sam’s parents who really provided some of the best humor of the movie. New character Leo really stood out on screen, and even managed to steal some of the limelight from LaBeouf.

On the other hand one thing that really let the film down in my opinion was just how over the top it really was. I know many of you are sitting there thinking “how can Transformers be anything BUT over the top?” but during the first film, I never once thought to myself “wow, the Transformers look fake”. This time round there is simply TOO many transformers, hell EVERYTHING becomes a transformer in this film. Instead of having a compelling story with meticulously choreographed action scenes, this is just a blur of close up metal shots and a bunch of yelling. A lot of the time you will find yourself not even knowing who is who, and ultimately it lets the movie down.

The story is ok, Sam discovers that a sliver of the All-Spark has been residing in one of his jumpers, and upon touching it he gains the knowledge that the cube contained. The Decepticon leader plans a full scale assault on Earth and resurrects Megatron to find Sam and gain his knowledge, which will lead them to a device buried on Earth thousands of years ago. This device was built to harvest our sun, so the Decepticons can have the lifeforce to keep their race alive.

It’s a strong enough story to keep it going, with a cast that provides a lot of comedy, and manages to keep you on the edge of your seat for a portion of the movie.

The movie has a long run time, 147 minutes. I’m all for long running movies, but I constantly found myself wondering WHEN this film was going to end. It just never wound up and ran way too long.

Overall if you are a fan of the first movie you will enjoy this, but ultimately it’s just missing some of that energy that made the first movie so great.

6/10

Killing Floor Review

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It seems Zombie Shooters are back in fashion this season, going hand in hand with tight situations, big guns and tension at an elite level. We’ve already seen what kind of tension can be brought out of this situation with Vavle’s smash hit Left 4 Dead, but Tripwire Interactive has tossed their hat into the ring with their latest FPS Horror title Killing Floor.

Killing Floor is set in London where the city is overrun by flesh consuming “specimens” courtesy of a biotech firms experiments. These frightening creatures have decimated the city and have killed a majority of the public. You will be filling the shoes of one of six survivors, either a soldier or police officer, as you fight for your lives and try to clean the streets of this evil one at a time. Each of the characters has a short profile trying to explain their story, but it feels forced and doesn’t contribute to the gameplay whatsoever.

The Final Verdict

It may lack that style and flair that Valve’s Left 4 Dead had, but it makes up for it in content. Killing Floor is an excellent online experience, offering a co-op experience that is just as good, just as terrifying and with more classes of enemies than its competitor. If you are sick of Left 4 Dead this is the game for you, it has enough gameplay options to keep it fresh on your hard drive for years to come.

9/10

In-depth review with scores can be found here

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TellTale return a month later as promised with another serving of everyone’s favourite claymation duo in Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures: The Last Resort. While it goes forward in leaps and bounds over the last episode, the story tends to get a little lost among the large cast, despite the episode being played out within the confines of a handful of rooms.

This episode see’s Wallace’s plans to visit the beach shot down by bad weather, so he has this fantastic idea to open up a beach resort in their own basement. Building beach resorts in your basements, albeit fun, is not cheap so the loveable duo open their house up to customers to help pay the costs. The episode can be split up into three gameplay components, the beginning will have you collecting items for the resort, the second will have you keeping the paying customers happy and finally a ridiculous mystery needs to be solved, which ensure hilarity.

The Final Verdict

Telltale has stepped out with another great episode for their new series, yet it seems to be lacking what the first episode had to offer. Stuck in only a few rooms, and with minimal interaction between Wallace & Gromit, who seem to take a backseat to the supporting cast, it seems a little lacking. Regardless it’s well worth the price of admission and a must have for fans or adventure gamers alike!

Overall
7.8/10

Wallace and Gromit Episode 2: The Last Resort is available from http://www.telltalegames.com/wallaceandgromit or the STEAM store. It will launch on Xbox Live in the next few weeks

Full review can be found here with screenshots/in depth review points and scores

24 crime wave
Regardless of the fact I’ve grown up a Victorian citizen, I have had the pleasure of visiting every capital except Darwin in the grand country we call Australia. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with the quaint feelings of Adelaide, the relaxed atmosphere of Brisvagas or the hectic community that is Sydney. Still nowhere feels quite like home than the streets of Melbourne, filled with a thriving artistic community, a pumping local music scene, and just an atmosphere that I can’t seem to find anywhere else in Australia….or at least it used to….

A series of senseless acts over the past six or so months has made me, and some of the general public terrified of the once familiar and safe surroundings of one of the greatest cities in this fine country.

Constant street brawls have become a ritual weekend event around the nightclub hotspots, largely contributed to the local “Lock Out” trials that were running last year, another initiative from a naive government who believe “binge drinking” and late nightclub hours are to blame for the issues. Rising prices of “Alco Pops” have not done anything to tackle violence on our streets, well done Rudster, we are forever in your debt for that smashing idea!

Luke Mitchell was a 29 year old upstanding citizen, who helped a fellow Melbournite avoid being kicked to death, just to be assaulted a few hours later and stabbed to death. Three suspects have fled the country to Thailand, and with the tough laws on extradition in place, I’d be surprised if we ever see any justice come out of that.

Follow this with a house in the ever safe community of Melton being shot at last night, leaving it’s elderly residents scared shitless, and that’s just a mere cherry on-top of recent stabbings, bashings, shootings and murder that has been carried out over the past six months.

I’m not naive enough to think that these crimes weren’t appearing before these last six months, but there is no question that things have seemed to elevate to a new level. Is it the work of a corrupt police force? Increased gang activity? Perhaps it’s those renegade motorcycle clubs causing all the trouble, or maybe it’s the recent news that Johnny Farnham is planning a comeback tour?

review_CPXE95The year 1988 saw the release of Capcom’s Bionic Commando on the revolutionary Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to both critical and commercial success. It was innovative for platform/action titles in the fact that you couldn’t jump, and you needed to make use of a Bionic arm to swing your way across ledges and destroy enemies in certain ways. It stood aside from other games in similar genres and has stood the test of time. That was over twenty years ago, does the same premise offer enough to stand ahead of the pack in the current generation?

2009’s Bionic Commando takes place ten years after the events of the NES title and places the gamer back into the shoes of Bionic Soldier Nathan “Rad” Spencer. In the course of these ten years, Bionic Soldiers have been outlawed in the military and society and have either slipped through the cracks or have had their bionic augmentations removed, or worse, executed. The game jumps right into the action as we witness the detonation that obliterates Ascension City, destroying buildings, streets and of course the main population. Spencer – who has been imprisoned due to the outlaw on Bionic Soldiers is released – is sent into the combat zone to discover who is responsible for such an act.
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What sets the scene for a potentially sound storyline is let down by pure B-Grade cheesiness with some of the dialogue and cutscenes. Regardless of these shortcomings, voice acting work is delivered superbly through all the characters with the stand out being our hero Spencer who is voiced by Mike Patton of Faith No More fame. Characters are brought into the story to connect it back to the original title, yet more often than not they feel forced rather than detrimental to the story progression. Overlooking all this, Bionic offers some interesting plot twists. It’s not the amazing story some might find in other games, but it’s certainly strong enough to keep you compelled to continue the adventure.

What set the first title apart from the rest was the implementation of the Bionic arm and GRIN have excelled at making the arm an integral feature of the gameplay mechanics and not just a tacked on gimmick. Spencer has been separated from his arm since his incarceration, meaning he needs to remember all of his abilities, which are taught to you along the way via checkpoints and training exercises. It’s easy to learn, but takes a little to master which is a tie back to the original game. There is a sense of accomplishment when you chain together a series of precision placed swings followed by a zip kick.
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The targeting reticle turns blue when Spencer is able to use the arm to grip onto something and once you have mastered the art you will be firing off your pistol before swinging via a ledge onto a platform and then taking a moment to assess your next move. Having said that the ability to swing and grapple your way across Asscension City isn’t all roses. Falling to your doom, landing in deep water or hitting some nasty radiated spots will result in you respawing at a checkpoint, minus all the equipment you have collected along the way. This will be frustrating for some, but for fans of the original title (or last years Re-armed remake) it will be familiar territory.

The arm is used for much more than swinging around like a not so friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Spencer has an arsenal of attacks ranging from the effecting light or heavy punches, zip kicks which will have you attaching your arm to an enemies chest and then retracting it to kick them in the chest, kiting enemies into the air and throwing objects such as cars, blocks of concrete and even trains! All the attacks work seamlessly with the controls being accessed with some careful timing and some quick button presses.
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In addition to these awesomely cool Bionic Arm attacks you will also gain access to weapons throughout your journey. Spencer is armed with a standard issue pistol which is accurate and deadly, but through weapons drops in the field you will come across grenades, shotguns, sniper rifles and the like. Unfortunately while these weapons are fun, ammo is so sparse for said weapons that the fun is short lived. It’s not a deal breaker as the arm attacks more than make up for it, but it would be wise to conserve your ammunition for when you need it.

Bionic Commando provides us with a seemingly huge concrete jungle to frolic through yet due to it’s linear gameplay it doesn’t offer enough opportunity to go exploring. Once you have passed through a section of the game there is no going back, so if you are wanting to collect all the collectable items and the like, you better check, and then check again before you move onto the next point. It’s sadly disappointing as Asscension City offers a terrific landscape to explore, yet we are constricted to the contraints of a linear pathway. It doesn’t ruin the experience as such, but it makes you wonder what we are missing out on, or what a less linear path would have provided us with.
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Multiplayer is a rather forgettable experience. Featuring sixteen maps to fight with up to seven other opponents on, you’ll soon put it down after a few rounds. It’s not ground breaking, it’s no engaging, it’s not fun, it’s just there. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with it, it features your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes, it’s just not at all compelling like the single player experience. It’s a fun time waster, but we won’t see it hitting Call of Duty or Halo online status anytime soon.

Graphically Bionic Commando is up there with the best. Assension City is littered with papers blowing in the wind, dust and particles from fallen buildings, and fantastic lighting effects at the sun sets down across the town. The game camera is rarely ever annoying and feels just right, and little features like dust covering the camera as buildings fall is a nice touch. Character models are a bit cartoonish, but that’s the setting of the game. It’s not a mega realistic title ala Gears Of War. The game manages to keep a consistent frame-rate, which is emperical to the swinging element of the title. Lagging as you were swinging at fast pace through the city would totally ruin the experience. The only time you will even notice the tiniest bit of frame-rate dip will be during some of the larger battle sequences, but it’s not enough to even really notice that often.
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The city feels like it’s actually a city, not just a landscape created for the game. Buildings look tattered and used, everything is coated in dust after the explosion, buildings, the ground, cars and transport literally are crumbling all around you. My one gripe is the blatant advertising that is present throughout the city. Pepsi, nVidia, Alienware and other signs from companies litter the city, and while it has been seen before, in this pertiular title it really takes away from the experience.

As I mentioned before the voice acting is top notch, and Mike Patton provides yet another memorable character in the video game realm (See: The Darkness). Musically the title will strike a chord with veterans who will recognize some of those eight bit sounds jazzed up a little during the musical score that just suits the title perfectly.
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The Final Verdict

So has twenty years been too long for Bionic Commando to have any relevance in the modern day video game world? Capcom have proved that an old classic can be turned into something modern day. While the story isn’t taken to it’s full potential and the title is extremely linear, Bionic Commando offers enough innovative, and stylish gameplay mechanics to make it worth your while.

Full Review can be read here
http://www.myps3.com.au/FeaturedReview.aspx?id=390