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Deadly Premonition Review

Deadly Premonition is a budget game.

Plain and simple.

Described by Destructoid as a “beautiful trainwreck,” Deadly Premonition is an open world/survival-horror hybrid developed by Access Games.

I first caught word of Deadly Premonition several months ago when I sat down to watch the first part of Spoony’s (Noah Antwiler) Let’s Play of it.

To my knowledge, that first hour or so of gameplay, is the only portion of the game that Spoony has posted any footage of.

Pictured: A man that has better shit to do than play a shitty game like Deadly Premonition.

After having played, and beaten the game over the course of 30 hours of gameplay, it’s easy to see why someone would so readily drop this game.

Deadly Premonition is a game that asks a lot from the player.

It has terrible graphics.

The soundtrack is extremely repetitive and is often times far too upbeat given the seriousness of the story.

The gameplay is equally repetitive, with controls approaching Resident Evil 1 levels of clunky-ness.

Knife vs. Zombie!? Not bloody likely!

For the most part, the only 2 saving graces of Deadly Premonition, are the strength of it’s writing, especially in regards to the characters, and the design of it’s surprisingly expansive map.

While the writing in Deadly Premonition is by no means brilliant, it has a a lot going for in that it’s just so damn quirky.

David Lynch’s Twin Peaks was a huge stylistic influence on Deadly Premonition, and it shows from beginning to end.

Numerous homages are made to the TV series in the form of the game’s setting, (a Pacific Northwestern town) as well as the unexplained abundance of cherry pie.

Oh yeah, and this kind of cryptic-ass fucked up shit:

"THE, SUIT, BURNS BETTER... LOOK!!! BURN'S SUIT! BURN'S SUIT!"

To call the characters in Deadly Premonition “odd,” is to discount the power of that word.

In the game, the player takes on the role of FBI profiler, Francis York Morgan, (his friends call him York) a facially scarred man that has a strong connection to the paranormal, smokes way too fucking much, has prophetic visions by looking into his morning coffee, and has a tendency to speak to an imaginary friend name Zach, often while in the company of others.

Well, looks like we caught him doing all of the above at once. His coffee is in between his legs...

If the above character traits aren’t intriguing to you even in the slightest, then congratulations, you are the snootiest high-brow motherfucker on the planet.

Pictured: You.

The game begins as York arrives at a fictional town in Washington called Greenvale.

Greenvale has recently played host to a gruesome murder/crucifiction, the investigation of which serves as the chief subject of the plot and gameplay in Deadly Premonition.

The closest thing to nudity you'll find on this blog. Except maybe the occasional dirty Donnie Yen photo...

The actual execution of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition, is that of a sandbox-style game, married with the over the shoulder shooting mechanic of Resident Evil 4.

Though I’m not much for sandbox games, I have to say, I was fairly impressed by Deadly Premonition’s take on it.

To be fair, I think most of my enjoyment of the map in the game springs from it’s impressive recreation of a Washintonian town.

Yup, a whole lotta' trees and little else...

As a life long, Seattlite, and one time Olympian, I can say with certainty, that the developers of Deadly Premonition really got the look and feel down pat.

The sprawling country roads, surrounded by evergreen trees, the big ass farms with seemingly nothing growing in them, the not quite picturesque lakes, it’s all there.

Haven’t you ever played GTA and wondered what it would be like if it was set in your hometown?

Then again, if you grew up in South Central, there's a good chance GTA strikes pretty close to home for you.

Well, if you’re from Olympia, Nisqually, or anywhere in Eastern Washington, Deadly Premonition; while not really possessing the vast breadth of sandbox-y goodness that GTA is known and loved for, absolutely gets the look just right.

If there’s any downside to the design of the map though, it’s due to the fact that it requires the player to drive around a little bit too much.

You see, unlike GTA, which offers a myriad of distractions while traveling from point A to point B, Deadly Premonition’s map is pretty sparse.

Pictured: Grand Theft Auto's definition of "distractions."

Sure, there’s fishing mini-games scattered about, as well as the occasional dirt road or hidden item, but for the most part, you really are just driving for minutes at a time.

Pictured: Deadly Premonition's "distractions."

Remember those country roads I mentioned awhile back?

Well, you better get used to them, ’cause if you start playing Deadly Premonition, your gonna’ end up driving up and down them like no other.

Let me put it this way:

The driving in Deadly Premonition is kind of like the sailing in The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker.

It’s boring, there’s altogether too much of it, but if you can force yourself to power through it, there’s actually a pretty good game beyond it all.

A pretty good game that I WILL beat someday...

Which brings me to the review proper.

Deadly Premonition is an okay game.

It’s not great, it has a shit ton of flaws, but if you’re willing to accept the game as being the best that it’s studio could manage with what they had, then it’s actually pretty good.

Trust me, it's a lot easier to appreciate Deadly Premonition when you grew up watching shit like Ultraman.

The murder mystery storyline is fairly well developed with some pretty cool kill sequences and red herrings thrown in for good measure.

The murders in the game involve a psycho-killer cutting out the tongues of young women, stuffing their mouths with red seeds, and then somehow rigging them in Saw-esque death traps for the main players to stumble across.

In all, while actually not very graphic or bloody, most of the murders are quite unique, and indeed even shocking due to the excellent voice work and dialogue.

Pictured: Why we always knock before we go into the bathroom...

The cast of characters is quite vast, with every character in town having a unique voice, personality, and even side-missions offer you from time to time.

Like York, most of the cast are endearingly quirky, such that I found I had no trouble remembering most by name.

The game is surprisingly long, with admirable pacing that sees the first half of the game being a largely sandbox style experience, with important story beats coming at the appropriate times, and the second half taking on a more urgent, and therefore more linear and focused style of progression.

That is to say:

The game allows you the freedom you desire from the outset to get to known the lay of the land, and collect all of those hidden goodies and side-missions, but just before you get tired of slogging through all of that, the game forces you get on track and follow the main storyline.

Deadly Premonition: A Story of Male Bonding.

The storyline has a few holes in it, such that you’re left scratching your head from time to time, but when focus is left on York, or any of the other main characters, it’s actually quite good.

I was particularly impressed by how they handled the explanation for York’s imaginary friend, Zach.

While the actual explanation was kind of muddled, I found it to be effective from a purely conceptual standpoint.

If there’s any one thing that I need to slap Deadly Premonition across the face about, it’s the game’s shooting mechanic.

About half of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition consists of Resident Evil 4 style shooting/adventuring segments.

During these sections, the player is confronted with goofy looking backwards walking ghouls that attack you by shoving their hands down your throat.

"GIMME' BACK MY TIC-TACS!"

There’s only a handful of enemy skins, and only about 2-3 different enemy types throughout the game, resulting in a bland and repetitive experience.

Worse yet, most of the enemies have horribly inflated lifebars, resulting in boring gameplay that takes forever to get through.

No joke, I put a third of a 300 round magazine into an enemy’s head one time, only to find that I had to stop to reload before I finally killed him.

That, my friends, is called padding one’s gameplay.

Pictured: About half of the total enemies in Deadly Premonition. I'm not even joking.

Being as all of these segments take place in a Silent Hill-esque “other world,” the creators of this game may as well have omitted the shooting segments altogether, as I think it would have been more efficient to simply force the player to run away from danger.

Anyone remember Run Like Hell? Shitty game, fun premise...

Which brings me to the quick-time segments of Deadly Premonition.

They were actually quite good.

While the button variations weren’t diverse enough, (B always dodges throwing axes) their frequency and difficulty level are pretty good.

I especially enjoyed the protracted chase segments, as they were actually quite tense, and made impressive use of a split-screen effect showing both York’s and the pursuer’s perspective at the same time.

Pictured: The Bad-Ass Pursuer. Playable at one point in the game!

In all, Deadly Premonition is an impressively detailed game for a budget title.

While it lacks polish in virtually every area, it’s easy to see where the developers had good ideas, but lacked the resources to act on them.

Requiring the player to eat, sleep, shave, and clean their wardrobe regularly was a nice touch that went well with the game, being as it forces you to play out every minute of every day in-game.

Pictured: My favorite suit in the game.

Well, that is unless you’re smoking to speed up time.

I enjoyed the deadline system for the story missions, as I found it fun to cruise around town all day doing side-missions, only to take a look a the clock and discover I only had 5 minutes before I had to be at the old mansion for an important story event.

Despite all of my praise though, Deadly Premonition is definitely only for those who, like me; can find it within themselves to play the game and accept it’s problems.

I picked up the game because I was intrigued by it’s characters and story.

I accept that it’s hideous, often times boring, and only has about a half dozen tracks of music.

Because of this, I simply cannot recommend Deadly Premonition to anyone but myself.

It’s not a game for everyone, but I happened to enjoy my time with it.

I’ll probably never touch it again, but it was fun while it lasted…

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The Expendables Review

*SPOILER ALERT!* ZERO spoilers ahead in regards to plot details/major events, but most of the match-ups in the fight scenes are revealed below.

If you don’t wanna’ know who’s gonna’ be fighting who, stop reading NOW. *SPOILER ALERT!*

Let it be known, The Expendables is just about the most meat-head centric films I’ve ever seen.

Rest assured, The Expendables is all about suped-up cars, guns, tattoos, armbars, stupid one-liners, and one very gratuitous T&A shot.

Meat-heads of the world unite, the film that shall be your gospel has arrived.

ALL SHALL BOW BEFORE BROCK CHRIST!!!!

Despite my general disdain for the UFC crowd and their, how shall we say, “sensibilities;” I came away from The Expendables feeling pretty good about the whole experience.

The Expendables is, of course; a product of the master of facial paralysis himself, Sylvester Stallone.

Best caricature, EVER.

From what I remember, Stallone pounded out a script for The Expendables almost immediately after his previous film, Rambo; was proven to be a financial success.

The premise of the film is that of the “men on a mission” sub-genre of yore.

Think, The Dirty Dozen, or The Wild Bunch, or if you’re a total pussy; Ocean’s 11 (with guns).

Let me just say, The Wild Bunch is one of the best films I've ever seen.

Basically, the plot boils down to a group of heartless mercenaries being sent on a suicide mission to liberate a fictional South American nation, only to discover, through the beauty and courage of a lady freedom fighter; that they do in fact give a shit about something in this world besides money.

"You not EXPENDABLE Rambo!"

While this describes the plot for just about every film in the genre, the one major difference between Stallone’s version and the rest is, of course; the fact that the “heartless mercenaries” in his version, are all played by noteworthy “faces” of action cinema, past and present.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for some time, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, and (unfortunately) Randy Couture all star alongside Sylvester Stallone to make up The Expendables.

"You got your peanut butter in my chocolate! Oh wait, this is a good thing..."

Not only that, but Eric Roberts, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and even former opponent of Jackie Chan, Gary Daniels; serve to round out the film’s cast of formidable villains.

That's right, THAT Gary Daniels...

Oh yeah, and Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the twin MMA Nogueira brothers, Antonio Rodrigo and Antonio Rogerio, all make single scene cameos.

On paper, this would make The Expendables just about the greatest action film ever conceived, right?


Just take a look at Stallone’s own Tango and Cash.

If only it had been a live-action adaptation of Lucky and Wild... Look it up, it's a sweet ass arcade game.

Sure, that movie had Stallone, and Kurt Russell AND Jack Palance to boot, but that doesn’t mean it was even remotely good.

No, The Expendables is not the greatest action movie ever, nor will it remembered alongside any of the true greats of the genre, but that doesn’t make it a bad movie.

On the contrary, I felt it was quite good for what it was.

While the script is utter crap, with most of the one-liners coming across as strained and almost painfully weak, like any good action movie the script is secondary to the action.


Thankfully much of the dialogue in the film is brief, although sometimes the “man speak” quotient can seem a bit overwhelming at times.

Seriously, everyone in the cast of this film make this guy seem straight-up femme:

Anyway, we’ve established that The Expendables, a dumb action movie; has a shitty plot and script.

It’s probably about time I got to talking about something we didn’t know, right?

Let’s talk about how The Expendables fared on the action front.

The action in The Expendables is quite good by modern standards.

It’s violent, chaotic, and often over-the-top, and after the awesomeness that was Rambo just 2 years ago, it’s just about everything I was hoping for in an American action film.

The gunplay is especially over-the-top, with terrific sound editing, and a wonderful sense of “oomph” that is rare among action films.

Trust me, from the first time someone is shot in this film, you know just what kind of movie you’ve gotten yourself into.

Kind of like saying, "From the moment Swayze layed down on the floor and stared longingly at Jennifer Grey, you KNEW what kind of movie you'd gotten yourself into."

Oh yeah, despite it being less brutal and gory than Rambo, the violence level is right up there in Steven Seagal territory in terms of blood-letting.

It should be noted however, that virtually all of the bullet hits are done, not with squibs, but through digital effects.

While this saddened me to some extent, as I figured that if anyone was going to do things “old-school,” it would be Stallone, admittedly it doesn’t do much to effect ones’ overall enjoyment of the film.

Yup, that's violent!

The cinematography in The Expendables is vaguely Greengrass/Bourne-esque throughout i.e. lots of intentional camera jitter, rapid-fire edits, and shakily framed shots, though personally I didn’t have a problem with this.

Bear in mind, I’ve been watching dumb action flicks from the cradle and on, so MTV style editing, and, well, MTV style camera work are nothing new to me.

I think a lot of my non-issue with the cinematography in The Expendables, stems from the fact that I’ve not just been watching action movies my whole life, but boxing, and kung fu movies.

My eyes are trained son, ain’t no tricks out there my eyes can’t see…

It's in the middle, dumbass...

I will say this though, the cinematography in all of the vehicle-based action sequences in The Expendables, is fucking atrocious, and downright frustrating to follow.

Outside of that though, my eyes are trained son…

While I hate to make such a big deal about this one point, I encountered several reviews, including one by a vlogger I happen to trust and admire, Noah Antwiler AKA Spoony, that took offense to the cinematography in this film, so I figure this particular argument deserves some special attention.

Google "special attention," and this is what you get: Red Panda cuteness...

The Expendables is a typical American military action flick.

While there are in fact a handful of protracted brawls between major players in the cast, (which we will get to in a minute) the vast majority of the action in the film is choreographed in such a way that death is dealt swiftly and often.

That is to say, there is not a whole lot of depth or drama to the choreography of the action, both armed and unarmed in The Expendables.

In fact, most of the shots of violence in the film are arranged in such a way that we really aren’t shown a whole of the detail in the various battles that are taking place, but rather just the deathblows in each engagement/exchange.

A movie where every hit is a fatality? Works for me...

Think of it as taking a highlight reel approach to editing a number of fight/action scenes together as opposed to putting a premium on drama or continuity.

The Expendables is a film that often has several skirmishes happening parallel to one another, a fact that necessitates overlap between most of the action in terms of editing, resulting in a film that simply cannot stop to do the proper dramatic justice to any one of said action set-pieces.

While I generally disapprove of editing multiple action scenes together, (see Cradle 2 the Grave and virtually every Michael Bay film ever made) I found the last 30 minutes of The Expendables to be a fine example of how to implement said technique effectively.

Yes, these 2 things go together like Jet Li and DMX. Oh wait...

This leads to most of the fights/gunfights seeming fragmented, and somewhat lacking in coherence, given that much of the cast in this film is past their physical prime, do you really think you’d want to see what these guys looked like without the help of the guy in the editing room?

Speaking of which, let’s take a moment to talk about the fighting element of The Expendables.

The Expendables had a number fight scenes in it, most notably Dolph Lundgren vs. Jet Li, Jason Statham and Jet Li vs. Gary Daniels, Stone Cold vs. Sylvester Stallone, and finally, Stone Cold vs. Randy Couture.

In order, here are my thoughts:

Dolph looked surprisingly spry despite his age.

Sure, the fight was edited to shit, and the framing was frustratingly “off” at times, but the sheer novelty of seeing fuckin’ Ivan Drago go toe-to-toe with Jet Li was enough to keep me engaged.

Dolph employed a fairly linear boxing/kickboxing fighting style of sorts, with most of his punches coming in at straight angles, and more importantly, in bunches.

While the drama of the fight is virtually non-existent, largely due to a few (intentionally) giggle-inducing beats, the scene was good for what it was:

A novelty.

That being said, Jet Li’s performance in the film is rather odd.

Oh wait, this wasn't "odd," this was just "shitty."

His character is legitimately funny throughout, and his physical presence is impressive, but sadly limited.

While industry great, Corey Yuen, is credited as a choreographer for Li’s scenes, sadly the pair isn’t given much screen time to deal with.

Despite this, Jet Li’s performance possesses the grace and flexibility he is known and loved for, though the rapid-edits have the side-effect of obscuring his speed.

Jason Statham’s performance was largely similar to that of Jet Li’s, in that he looked good, but with the “A to C” as opposed to “A, B, C” style of editing, we really couldn’t tell just how good he was.

Oh yes, he's good... NOT GAY.

Having worked with Corey Yuen before, in The Transporter; it’s no surprise that Statham’s movements and execution are pretty much spot on for the demands of his character.

Speaking of “execution,” his character, who displays a penchant for knives in his fighting style, allows Statham ample opportunity to wow with his close-quarters knife work.

Seriously, I haven’t been happy with any of Jason Statham’s performances, physical or otherwise, since the first Transporter movie, but his work in The Expendables, particularly when armed with knives, was downright impressive.

That’s a pretty big fuckin’ compliment coming from me.

ME.

Anyway, Jet Li and Jason Statham’s tandem battle with Gary Daniels was legitimately impressive in a brutal sort of way.

Bear in mind, at this point in the film, (which was easily the highlight of the whole thing for me) Stone Cold vs. Stallone, Gary Daniels vs. The Dudes from The One and War, and Randy Couture hiding behind a bunch of sandbags, are all happening simultaneously.

While it makes me sad to see a talent like Gary Daniels as criminally under-used as he was in The Expendables, I have to admit it was pretty neat to see him be on the receiving end of a martial arts double-team in a military action flick.

The reason I keep emphasizing the word military, is because it implies severity, life and death stakes.

When people fist fight in this movie, it’s not for honor, or glory, it’s simply to make the man standing before them stop breathing and get out of their way.

That being said, Gary Daniels fares about as well as any human would when faced with the prospect of taking on 2 men at once.

That is, unless you’re the Undertaker…

The fight is not so much a fight, as it is brutal beatdown, but like every Steven Seagal fight in existence has taught us, sometimes that’s a good thing.

Moving on, Stone Cold vs. Stallone was probably one of the most glorious “big man” fights I can recall in film history.

Think Matrix vs. Bennett in Commando, or Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Keith David in They Live, or failing that, Zangief vs. E. Honda in the live-action Street Fighter.

*GASP!* "You remember that!?"

With Stallone being over 60, and Stone Cold turning out truly horrendous fighting performances in The Condemned and Damage, I was expecting a sluggish bar room brawl of sorts, but color me surprised when this unbelievable masterpiece of beefy old-guy fighting cinema came rolling around the corner.

The choreography is sharp, with the punches being swung fiercely and often, and Stallone routinely busting out impressive takedowns, and, in particular; one hell of an agile flying armbar.

Yes, one of these.

In fact, my only gripe with this whole fight, is that, again; most of the drama is lost due to the highlight reel style editing.

More specifically, while Stallone’s takedowns and submission holds are impressive to behold in execution, unfortunately there really is no “why” in regards to his implementation of them.

In Flashpoint, Donnie Yen’s grappling and holds had a purpose in the choreography in that they smothered Collin Chou’s superior offense, and thusly turned the fight in his favor.

This man wouldn't do something simply for the sake of flash. No way...

Stallone’s grappling in The Expendables, is the equivalent to watching Jean-Claude Van Damme do a series of his famed slow-motion aerial kicks.

There’s really no practicality to it in the context of the fight, it’s just flash for the sake of flash.

Or in this case, Butt for the sake of Butt...

While it’s a minor gripe, seeing as this has already spiraled into a much more technical and in-depth review than I was initially expecting, I figured I should bring it up.

In one scene, Stallone managed to defy Father Time, and Stone Cold made a believer out of me in regards to his career as an action movie guy.

Which brings us to the last major sequence of manly fisticuffs in The Expendables, MMA legend Randy Couture vs. modern WWF legend, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

I’ll just say this:

This fight was made for UFC and wrestling fanboys, and no one else.

First search for "UFC fan," and I got just what I wanted. Thanks internet.

After the terrific spectacle that was, well, pretty much every other fight in this movie, it brought a tear to my eye to see the final brawl in the movie be such a let down.

Randy Couture should not be in movies.

More specifically, Randy Couture should not be in this movie.

Seriously, I’m not even hating on the UFC stuff right now.

I'm not. I swear...

Randy Couture, and more importantly, Randy Couture’s character, could have, and should have been excised from the script, as neither has much of anything to offer.

Regardless, Randy Couture, though a nice guy, and a terrific athlete, is a truly terrible actor, and barely adequate screen-fighter.

Throughout the movie we bear witness to Couture body-slamming and, well, fiercely body-slamming bad guys, sometimes with a mean expression on his face, usually without.

Pictured: Randy Couture's "mean face."

To say that the choreography given to Couture in this movie is limited is like saying Hulk Hogan’s repertoire of wrestling moves was limited.

It’s an indisputable fact.

That was 1 of 3 moves Hulk Hogan possessed over the years.

Personally, I preferred seeing Couture body-slamming people as opposed to, well, just about anything else he did in the movie.

Especially speaking.

Anyway, I don’t want to go into the details of Couture vs. Stone Cold, but I will say this:

It’s not half as good as Stallone’s fight, and Randy Couture is as stiff as mother fuckin’ Frankenstein.

And I'm not talkin' the Bobby D Frankenstein either...

Alright, well I’m officially spent.

I’ve honestly got more to say, but I’m starting to fade, so I think I’m gonna’ try to call it quits for tonight.

The Expendables was a good time, if mayhem, testosterone and explosions are what you’re looking for.

It’s not a classic in the making, but it’s definitely fun for what it is.

The script is ass, though Mickey Rourke manages to carve a soul into the film with one gut-wrenching scene of apparently improv-ed ACTING.

The gunplay is tops, with comparisons to Stallone’s own Rambo in terms of entertainment value,”oh shit” factor, and spillage of bodily fluids of the sanguine (look it up, dumbass) variety, being entirely warranted.

The fighting is difficult to follow for some, (not me) but surprisingly rewarding despite the relatively advanced ages of the majority of the performers.

In all, I had fun with The Expendables, and I’m pretty sure that was the point.

Have fun with The Expendables, ’cause if you can’t, then chances are you’re just being a dick and need to lighten up.

End Transmission

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