Saturday, 10 September 2011

Archive Game Review

Yeah I can go back to writing about a random old game if I want, this isn't just about comedy and podcasts. Also I realize Playstation 2 and Gamecube era, isn't really "archive" but I wasn't handed a nes and sega when I was 1 so I don't have much familiarity with that era of gaming.

Killer 7 is a game that defies genre categorization, combining action, puzzles and on-rail shooter elements and the most obtuse control scheme. It reduces your exploration of levels so that you hold a button to run up and down corridors, and you occasionally come to intersections that lead to other branching paths. The majority of the combat has you fighting the 'heaven smiles.' When you explore an area you may hear a sinister laugh, you then have to hold a button down taking you into first person mode,  you press a button to scan the area, and this reveals where the creatures you fight are hiding. They then slowly walk towards you and detonate themselves if they contact you. So you have to take them down before they reach you, they also have random weak spots, where if you hit them there you get “thick blood” which you can use for upgrades. In a way it’s an even more sinister take on resident evil’s combat and fairly remarkable subject matter for the time as the enemies  are essentially zombie-like suicide bombers.

The protagonist is an assassin with multiple personalities, except that these appear to be actual separate living people with their own lives, but seem somehow to be absorbed under the lead assassin Harman Smith, the older wheelchair bound assassin. These multiple personalities are often used for solving puzzles; you have to use a certain character in certain situations. There’s also other puzzles that share some similarities with early Resident Evil puzzles, but tend to be slightly more complex with a darker twist on them.

It’s worth admitting that the gameplay itself is full of flaws, it can be dull and frustrating and it just seems so impenetrable that it wouldn’t be surprising if someone were to give up on it. I myself gave up on it early into the game and then picked it up again, and eventually it just seemed to come together. The initially frustrating elements just become a standard you get used to, it’s just an investment that requires a little more effort on your part, but eventually it seems to pay off, because the complex  finger movements you make becomes all the more satisfying because you feel cooler for doing it.

The look of the game adds to the sense of cool as well, opting for a cell shaded noir-esque comic book, with an overly-stylised direction and editing style. When in 3rd person mode the camera angles all add to the visual design, opting for consistency within the look, even to the point where it isn’t always as practical from a gameplay perspective. Yet I can kind of forgive it for that.

You can’t talk about this game without taking the story into account; the problem is though I’d be hard pressed to say if it’s actually a good story, because I still don’t think I could explain what it actually means.

A lot of the elements don’t quite feel like they’re connecting in any way, there’s an overarching theme of the ‘heaven smiles’ terrorists, war brewing between the United States and Japan, but along the way you’re wrangled up various other stories, So you have levels for instance set in a restaurant, a Texan cult community, an area where you fight against a power ranger style team. These don’t often have a very clear connection from level to level, but it has just enough logic to it that in its creators head at least it probably makes sense.

So I’ve written 550 words, and I still don’t feel like I’ve made clear what the gameplay entails, why the story is so intriguing, I haven’t mentioned characters like Samantha, Harman’s abusive maid, Iwazaru the man in the gimp suit who offers you advice while suspended from the ceiling, or Travis, the ghost of the Killer 7’s first victim that talks to you about… well various stuff. I haven’t even mentioned the weird backwards talking vocal style some of the characters speak to you in. There are just too many baffling and incongruous elements that I can talk about in the game without spoiling things too much.

 It was released in 2005 on PlayStation 2 and GameCube and it’s quite remarkable how looking back now how much more experimental games could be then, now experimental, innovative games seem to have been downsized to quirky, budget PSN games and you just don’t seem to get mad big budget games like this anymore.

Sunday, 31 July 2011


In an idea in no way ripped off from The Onion A.V Club’s Podmass section
I give you Podmess:  A recap of the podcasts I’ve listened to in the last week.

25th July - 31st July

The Apple Sisters

A more high-concept podcast, three sisters who have a cabaret act in 1943 are given their own radio show. It certainly limits the ability to do any topical material which makes it unique among podcasts, and at only 20 minutes it has a tighter more scripted focus though certainly it is also heavily ad-libbed. This week the sister’s guests are The Banana Brothers who turn out to be pretty well developed characters in their own right for only having this one time appearance. This show does seem like it can only go so far with getting repetitious, but this episode certainly manages to keep things fresh.

Comedy Bang Bang

I’ve waxed lyrical on here before about Comedy Bang Bang. This week’s episode puts together David Wain, Ken Marino of Children’s Hospital and Paul Rudd of many Judd Apatow Movies.  The episode is largely themed around the movie Wet Hot American Summer, which is a bit of a cult success, but it’s a bit of niche episode, unusual in that there are no characters, but the dynamic between the guests is enjoyable as they clearly know each other well and the highlight of the episode is the rap contest. It's a very old improv game but one that’s new to Comedy Bang Bang. I was very tentative that they were using such an old game but in these circumstances it turned out great.

The Best Show on WFMU

Tom Scharpling host a weekly live radio show in New Jersey, featuring regular callers, many comedian guests and often semi-scripted phone conversations with Jon Wurster. On this occasion Tom has two co-hosts - regular callers to the show Laurie and Geneva. It’s a nice concept that fans of the show could be allowed to be involved to this extent on occasions. It makes for a slightly shambolic but fun episode. A running joke lately has been Tom’s running paranoia about where the episode will be placed in The A.V club’s weekly podcast review section. Here he threatens to sue them 80 million dollars if they review the episode. Well they reviewed it anyway but placed it at the top so who knows what’ll happen there.

Best Show Gems

Best Show Gems is a highlights reel of some of the best snippets of The Best Show.  Usually featuring a Jon Wurster call. This week Wurster is a lawyer calling on behalf of Robbie Robertson of The Band claiming to be placing a lawsuit against Tom for remarks he made against The Band. Tom then threatens to counter-sue for which the lawyer offers to represent Tom. This goes on to a long spiel of all the various double lawsuits and the various shady practices the lawyer is involved with. As is typical for the show it's a great concept that’s allowed to explore all sorts of directions, a strong episode as ever.

Who Charted

Howard Kramer and Kulap Vilaysack (wife of Comedy Bang Bang host Scott Aukerman) host this podcast that’s has various top 5 chat rundowns that allows a single guest to delve into discussion about that and other topics. Even without a very interesting guest Howard and Kulap’s rapport makes for enjoyable listening, but it’s a lot better when there’s a good guest having fun with the concept and this week Bob Odenkirk is fantastic on it. It features some enjoyable stories on his career, he makes some superb commentary on the movie clips, and has utter contempt for some of the mawkish songs on display of the UK singles chart.

How Was Your Week

Julie Klausner is one of the few female podcaster’s around, she’s a great storyteller and very engaging to listen to, it’s always remarkable how long she’s able to carry much of the podcast on her own. This week has one of the best female comedians around in Maria Bamford; she’s got a truly unique comedic mind and is very charming in discussing some of thoughts and anxieties.

WTF with Marc Maron

The live episode departs from the norm, rather than the very personal discussions Marc usually gets into with his guests, here Marc interviews various guest in a more comedic setting. The highlight being the earlier mentioned Tom Scharpling. Tom has a great ability for making fun of Marc though they don't have much experience together they make a really strong podcast, the episode was recorded shortly after Maron had appeared on The Best Show which also shows evidence of their skill when working together. Other fun is had where Wyatt Cenac takes issue with Marc because unlike many other comedians, they don’t have any issue’s with each other and Wyatt suspects the only reason Marc doesn’t treat him badly is because he’s black.

Greg Proops – The Smartest Man in the World

The Proopcast has become one of my favourite podcasts and one of the most impressive as Greg essentially performs an entirely new hour every week in front of an audience. It’s not as honed as stand-up, but it comes from a much more personal place, and is also more topical in its nature and he also takes questions from the audience. If you only knew him from Whose Line is it Anyway you won’t quite have any idea what he’s capable of. He’s a fascinatingly intelligent and well-read man able to pick through the huge depths of his knowledge and articulate himself brilliantly. This episode features stories of being at comedy festivals, tales of working with people from whose line is it anyway. Then later gets onto some territory he’s travelled before, namely his anger over the tax cuts for the rich, while the poor are charged more but he’s always entertaining when ranting about this.

Doug Loves Movies

Doug Benson hosts this podcast usually taking place in front of a live audience which changes the dynamic slightly as there’s a higher energy to the podcast and the guests perform more. The podcast usually gets away from the topic of movies, before he and his guests play “The Leonard Maltin game” In which guests compete to guess the name of a movie from hearing members of the cast in reverse in order and based on a few clues from Leonard’s reviews. Though this week’s was a studio bound episode which creates a different dynamic and feels more like any other podcast.

Frank Skinner on Absolute Radio

Pretty much the only British podcast I listen to. Sorry we’re just not as good as the Americans at that or television the moment, I wish I could say otherwise. Frank usually has two co-anchors in Emily Dean and Alan Cochrane though this latest episode featured Steve Williams in his place. The co-hosts don’t usually add much themselves but they allow Frank to springboard into some fantastic one-liners and stories and this week even the subject of the difference between pelican, toucan and belisha beacon crossings is very entertaining.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

American TV Roundup Part 2

Jon Benjamin Has a Van

Jon Benjamin, first known to me as the voice of Ben Katz on Dr Katz and later Coach McGuirk on Home Movies has been getting busier lately. Popping up in more cameo’s including appearances on Family Guy and Parks and Recreation and is now starring in Bob’s Burgers and Archer. He hadn’t done a huge amount of live-action work until now but in this series he's proved himself to have a very funny screen presence to match his voice.

The show is a combination of quicker sketches/prank segments mixed with a longer short film narrative piece that makes up the bulk of the show. These have all been pretty good for the most part; the most interesting one featured a story in which the show’s sound man is kidnapped meaning the show plays out with no sound for several minutes. It was genuinely experimental and audience-alienating television so good on Comedy Central for allowing them to do it.

The general conceit of the show seems a little loose, the idea seems to be that Jon Benjamin is an investigative reporter, but it doesn’t quite stick to the idea, there are moments where it’s not quite clear if we’re supposed to believe in the reality that he’s always being filmed by his production crew, but of course there’s other times where he’s filmed talking to his production crew, so there isn’t quite a consistent logic, but it‘s not too much of a problem.

Ugly Americans

Ugly Americans follows the life of Mark Lilley, a social worker at the department of integration. The show takes places in a warped version of Manhattan inhabited by zombies, monsters, demons, mythological creatures and various anthropomorphic species.
Mark is a kind of stereotypical woolly-liberal, much of the humour derives from his naivety, hypocrisy or at his struggles to push a righteous agenda despite attempts by many to crush him. He has a relationship with Callie his superior at work, a half woman- half demon hybrid, their relationship seems to survive in spite of their conflicting moral viewpoints.

He also lives with Randall a zombie, who only became a zombie as part of a failed attempt to impress a woman. As a zombie he’s had to learn to curb his desire for human flesh, though if given the opportunity it seems he’d be very happy to eat Mark. He’s unemployed, and is generally a slacker that just does odd jobs to pay his rent to Mark.

The show has quite a few parallels with Futurama in how a lot of its humour emanates from the concept of different species living together in a city; it’s a metaphor in some ways for immigration. It’s generally got some darker and dirtier subject matter than futurama, with more callous main characters, but there’s still some warmth to them in spite of their at times incredible selfishness.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

American TV Roundup Part 1

So we’ve entered into the new season of some great American cable tv shows being back on the air here are some of my favourites.


The show took a little while for me to warm to, it seemed like it wasn’t quite sure if it was supposed to be narrative driven or if was a series of vignettes or sketches, and it just didn’t seem to be that funny. In fact I’d been a little disappointed because years before Louis C.K had made a noble attempt to show there was still potential in the format for the traditional, studio audience sitcom with Lucky Louie. It did this at a time when it was the height of un-fashion and people thought all comedy had to be like The Office, so it was cancelled after a season and was slightly misunderstood. It’s amazing that in some cases people still don’t quite grasp the difference between a show with a studio audience and a show canned laughter.

So what was needed was for me to get this show was for me to change my expectations and approach. It's best just to see each episode as its own self-contained short film or pair of short films, with Louie’s stand-up commenting on the themes of the episode. Once I got over that, my enjoyment of the show increased exponentially.

The tone varies from episode to episode with some taking on a more light-hearted approach and other being more dark and dramatic. On the whole it should be seen as a series about the isolation and alienation of a comedian and single father living in New York with some comedic, surrealist and dramatic elements. Louis C.K Writes, Stars, Acts, Edits and I’m sure does various other bits of production work on the show. It’s become a cliché  to say this, but it’s a true “auteur” project and probably the most idiosyncratic show on television at the moment.

Children’s Hospital

Starting out as an internet series the show then made the glamorous transfer to late night cable television. As creator Rob Corddry put it, the show was in a low stakes bidding war between comedy central and adult swim. As it turned out adult swim offered them slightly more creative freedom which was more important than money.

Even before the switch to television the show managed to look fantastic considering it was so cheaply made. Now in its 3rd series the cast has become increasingly impressive with some of the best American comics and television stars popping up throughout the course of the show.

The show itself started out as a parody of various Hospital drama’s, its approach is similar in some ways to that of Airplane and other Zucker & Abrahams films. Despite the lack of much character or story consistency (which the show has commented upon) the series has also managed to build up its own running jokes over the course of the series; for example that the hospital is located in Brazil and everything about the show seems to contradict this idea until in a recent episode where two of the characters walked through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. You’ve got to love pointlessly expensive and time consuming jokes like that.

The show also frequently plays with its own format almost every week; it might parody a different genre, do a mockumentary episode or do an episode of the show set in the 70’s. 

Friday, 10 June 2011

Comedy Bang Bang

Podcasts are one of that strange phenomenon’s that the internet throws up, to those familiar with them, they can take up hours and hours of your week and inspire slavish routine obsession with them, but mention them to anyone else and you’ll get the reaction “What’s a podcast?”

 When I unthinkingly mentioned them in a class I got this very question and the best response I could instinctively give was they’re like pre-recorded radio shows on the internet that you download.
Of course they can be anything you want them to be as there’s no real set medium, no rules and regulations they’re bound by, So in a way its independent radio.
Comedy Bang Bang (formerly comedy death ray radio) has, over time become my favourite weekly comedy show of any medium. It’s hosted by Scott Aukerman who’s probably known best for his work on Mr Show. If you wanted to give it a description that wouldn’t quite be accurate, but would give you a good enough idea of the content; you could say it was like an American Monty Python for the 90’s. Although actually it was a lot better than that sounds.

 Guests from the world of comedy are invited on, the usual format is to have one or two people to talk about their work, and then another comedian comes on as a character but still with the conceit that it’s an interview show.  Along the way they’ll often have games such as “would you rather” “who said it” or just general improve scenarios. Despite how this may sound they usually end up subverting the usual clichés of improvised comedy. In the case of “would you rather” Listeners are asked to provide “would you rather” scenarios and the guests are then invited to ask further questions of this scenario. This is where it really excels as Scott’s responses usually twist around the original premise of the question by adding additional information that defeats the point of the original question entirely. And what’s great here is then you have guest appearing as themselves and characters bouncing off each other in creating surreal dialogue and ideas that spiral out of control.

There are many favourite characters on the show; Paul F. Tompkins is one former Mr Show alumni whom I rate highly in his own right as a stand-up, but his character work and rapport with Scott Aukerman on this show seems to have been a revelation. He usually appears performing warped portrayals of Ice T, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Buddy Velastro aka Cake Boss. (I assumed cake boss was a fictional character at first, but as it turns out it’s from a reality show about a chef who has to make unusually shaped cakes for his clients, and he’s always in a race against the clock to have it ready on time.) Other noteworthy guests are James Adomian for his performances as Huell Howser and Jesse Ventura he also made a superb one time appearance as Christopher Hitchens. I’m always endeared to Americans that can actually do British Accents that avoid the most obvious clichés of sounding like they’re in Dickensian London. Andy Daly and Nick Kroll also have a whole range of their  own original creations and Seth Morris has a character of Bob Ducca, who plays Scott Aukerman’s fictional ex-stepfather. He always brings something unique by putting more pressure on Scott to be more active in the scenarios rather than just asking the questions. He himself has a newly launched short daily podcast on where you can download comedy bang bang and many other podcasts.   A mention should also go to Jon Daly for his one-time character of Bill Cosby Bukowski. A strange combination of – as you may have guessed Bill Cosby and  Poet Charles Bukowski. It’s an inspired idea that works best of all when the character is probed by Scott.

You never quite know what you’re going to get each week but whether it’s just a pleasant comedy discussion programme or hilarious character-driven comedy it’s a delight to listen to. In over 100 episodes (of which tend to be around 75 minutes) I could probably count the number of bad episodes on one hand and even those still have their moments.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Live Blogging on The King of Limbs

Thought I'd be unoriginal and live blog on the album in a fairly stream of consciousness style that'll be uninteresting to read.

Ohh Bloom gets off to a nice start, little bit like backdrafts, quite a wintery feel to the song.

Builds to a nice epic crescendo in the middle of the song,

Nice rattling drums

Morning Mr Magpie 

Ahh think this is one that must have been knocking around for ages, a slightly funkier amnesiac track so far.

Nice kicking feel to the vocals

Again this has quite a building feel to it, like the nice kick to the lyrics.

Already I'm enjoying the more dynamic range to the songs, building and dipping down.

More guitary feel too Little by Little

Again though there's a real feeling of building to climaxes in this album so far.

Very up and down guitar rhythm to it, nice drums but maybe the blandest so far

The title to Feral seems appropriate to the feel so far, a little bit reminiscent of pulk/pull so far, in a good way.

Certainly feel the more electronic direction is a good way for them to go at this point.

Well already halfway through the album.

Things starting to feel a little samey now with Lotus Flower 

Not really sure what to make of this one so far, can see it growing on me

Ahh nice to have Thom showing more of a vocal range again.

Just feels like this one is missing something, but I can see it growing on me.

It strikes me that having more compact albums means you get less wildcards on the album which I think I prefer.

Odd start to Codex but now seems to be revealing itself to be the ethereal piano track of the album

Yeah this is nice, real warmth to the vocals.

There have been some very nice strings on the album, are they strings, and I’m not even sure? (This is why I don't write so much about music)

Very chilled sort of wish it had been longer and went to other places. Odd fade out.

But it fades in to give up the Ghost

Ooh acoustic guitars and a choir feel, just what it needed to do at this point. Very nice

Certainly been a consistent feel throughout this album, there's been a very dreamlike feel to the album, even for Radiohead. Just right for listening to around midnight.

And onto Separator the final track already.

Drums have somehow felt more live and more electronic than on in rainbows for a while.

Feels quite a lot like lotus flower so far

Nice use of vocal harmonies

Oh a nice rhythm coming in to contrast with the bass, it's needed more things like this throughout the album, more contrasts.

Back to a nice building feel again, it's built to a more upbeat feel, getting more complex and hypnotic as it goes along.

In Summary then

I like it a lot more than In Rainbows, it does all feel more like a strong e.p than an album, it’s consistent though with a few weaker spots, but maybe they'll be growers. It still feels like we're never going to get anything truly adventurous from them again, like they're past doing anything truly surprising, since Amnesiac they just seem to have taken their influences and blended them together.

I completely understand why they'd want to go in the direction of shorter albums, with more consistent themes, after HTTT was a bit of a mess, but I think that still remains my favourite post-amnesiac album on first impressions, I like a bit of variety to albums, for them to take you to different places throughout, as it is all the songs on this album tend to feel a little too samey, you don't get any real jolts as a song takes you out of the trance you were in. But maybe it's good for them to do a few albums like this.

 It certainly does have a dreamlike feel throughout, and it still takes you through different emotions throughout, through excitement, tension, reflective, sad but it surprised by ending on quite a happy, upbeat note. At least it felt that way to me, so I'll certainly be looking forward to any B-sides that come out and be interested to see what they do next. This is good because I had got to a point where I’d thought they weren’t really for me anymore.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

True Grit

I recently went to see the latest Coen Brothers film True Grit, the 2nd time a film based on the novel of the same name has been made. Western Films are a genre that had never really taken my interest, yet some of their themes and ideas are so etched in western pop culture and so often parodied in shows like The Simpsons that it almost feels like one could claim to have already seen in essence all the classic western films.

 In viewing the film It does still clearly follow the conventional structure, but one of the things that makes the genre more interesting in this case is the lead character, the person that’s out for revenge is a 14 year old girl, eventually setting on his trail with the hire of Rooster Cogburn believed to be the toughest of the U.S Marshalls and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, despite their attempts to dissuade her from joining them.

It’s a beautifully shot film well worth seeing on the big screen, something that seems to be true of many of the Coen’s films, the landscapes in the film really are beautiful and it’s a film with many subtleties of facial expressions that wouldn’t translate so well to a television screen.

The scores and songs used are also very effectively, The Coens have a long running collaboration with Carter Burwell who has almost always produced great work for them.

The performances are one of the strongest aspects of the film, Hailee Steinfeld, gives a fantastic debut performance in the role of Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges really manages to nail the grizzled dialect for Cogburn, it’s a bit of a challenge to understand him at times but it’s done very well.

But even though the story is consistently engaging, it never quite takes light; there are some fairly superfluous elements to the story along the way, scenes and characters that probably could have been edited out without really affecting anything. The journey to finding Chaney just seems to be missing something, it feels as if something else may have been cut out, but it just doesn’t quite seem to get going.

The climax to which the film has been building to just eventually happens by chance, which though a deliberate choice just feels underwhelming, we’re also suddenly introduced to a new gang of characters late in the film, and it’s hard to have any emotional investment in characters that have been introduced so late.

One does have to be careful, of applying ideas you have about screenwriting structure, doing classes on the topic, can make you look at things in a way that could almost be too systematic and rigid but nonetheless, it does make you look for things you imagine a lecturer a would be saying to you, if it was your work.

Still in spite of some of these flaws it was a consistently enjoyable film and without wanting to spoil the film, it had an ending I found more satisfying than some of the more recent Coen films.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Parks and Recreation

 Parks and Recreation is a sitcom from some of the team behind the U.S version of The Office, a sort of spiritual spin-off it takes the format of the naturalistic mockumentary sitcom and places it into a new setting, in this case the Parks and Recreation branch of the local government for Pawnee – a fictional small town in the state of Indiana.


Leslie Knope played by Amy Poehler is in the sort of role played by Steve Carell and Ricky Gervais , but she’s really developed into her own character over the course of the 2nd season Poehler’s character is far more likeable than Carell or Gervais . She's certainly capable of some very selfish, careerist moves but it'll usually be motivated by good intentions, and if she does the episode will usually end with her humiliated and having to apologise for what she's done. She actually loves what she does, she has higher political aspirations and has delusions she could be President someday but she'll never make it, because she's far too moral to step on people's toes and lie and cheat her way to the top and so is destined to spend her entire life working in local Pawnee government. It's a perfect sitcom trope of a character being stuck in their situation but done through a modern naturalistic aesthetic.

It has some similar character arcs and love triangle relationships going on, but with enough different twists on it to distinguish it, and the characters really bring it to life, Most notably the relationship between Andy (Chris Pratt) who has to be one of the funniest and most endearingly childish and stupid characters in a sitcom I’ve seen in years. And April (Aubrey Plaza) the cynical college intern, comes out with the one liners, and ironic looks to the camera, but she’s slowly developed a more human and vulnerable side over time. The way their relationship has developed has been incredibly well written and likeable.

The thing that’s been surprising to me over the series is how broad some of the humour is, fairly slapstick moments, almost cartoonish levels of stupidity in characters, and I mean all this in a good way. One of the downsides I’d found in recent years with The naturalistic/mockumentary format was that they weren’t ever quite as laugh out loud funny as the best traditional sitcoms that had more heightened dialogue. Parks and Rec gets more of a balance between the two, delivering huge laughs, and having big broad moments, but still getting to do some of more subtle understated jokes of the mockumentary format. It’s also able to take a few liberties with it, as whoever the documentary crew are, they seem to be able to follow multiple characters around at once and through more personal moments.

Thoughts so far on Dead Space 2

I've recently been playing through Dead Space 2, which oddly enough is the sequel to Dead Space, it’s essentially a horror game set in space involving shooting lots of weird alien-like creatures on board huge spaceships. Though the actual story behind what's happening is a little more complex than that.

It's world has certainly had quite a bit of thought put into it, but it just isn't all that interesting, there’s an interesting device in the 2nd game in which the lead protagonist is going insane possibly due to having all sorts of experiments performed on him causing him to have weird hallucinations, and it leaves you questioning how much of what you’re seeing is real. It’s the unreliable narrator idea but unfolding before you in real time.

The game certainly brings some interesting ideas to the genre, most notably the convention of the zombie horror genre, and indeed any game where you have a gun, that says you shoot enemies in the head is done anyway with for the idea that for these creatures, you have to shoot of their limbs until they stop moving. And even they may get up again until all of their limbs have been removed. You can do this oddly enough by stomping their limbs, quite how you can crush people limbs off quite so easily, is something we'll just chalk off to a bit of artistic license.

There's certainly an intriguing atmosphere to the game, creepy use of music and distant sounds of screaming and squealing of aliens, but it fails to truly be scary by hitting you with too much too soon. There's no building of suspense, there's no silence, right from the start you’re running away from the creatures.

To compare with Silent Hill 2 - the often cited master of the video game horror genre has you wondering empty streets and alleys for 10 minutes before you encounter a single creature.

Now it's fair enough that DS2 is more of an action game, it's not aiming for the more abstract psychological scares of SH2, but there's still something to be said of the ideal that less is more. It just needs to let things build a little more to allow suspense to build. Even in the quieter moments of the game, there's still too much noise constantly going in your ear as the game throws a series of Clichés at you, the “hearing a noise and it turns out to be the cat type things, these have a place, but when it's doing it all the time it loses its impact.

The use of silence is something that would really benefit this game, there's nothing creepier than a sudden prolonged section of silence when you've been conditioned to expect noise.

In spite of all this the game manages to be a great deal of fun because all the game mechanics are well-designed and well-paced, but it's a shame the horror elements just don't manage to really get under your skin though.