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The Lost Coast Tapes [DVD]
The Lost Coast Tapes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Drew Rausch
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: 2.90

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Found Footage Film, 8 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Lost Coast Tapes [DVD] (DVD)
Lately it seems that the "Found Footage" style of horror film has become its own sub-genre and it's a style that seems to divide opinion. The Lost Coast Tapes is one of those films and basically, if you don't like films such as "Blair Witch Project," "Trollhunter" or "Paranormal Activity," then The Lost Coast Tapes isn't going to change your mind.

If you ARE a fan of the aforementioned films however, you'll find that The Lost Coast Tapes is one of the better films of the sub-genre.

The story follows disgraced documentary film maker Sean and his crew as he attempts to make his comeback with a documentary exposing a local Bigfoot discovery as a hoax. They meet up with Bigfoot "expert" Carl Drybeck, who has claimed to be in possession of an actual Bigfoot body and shortly after arriving, things quickly go south in typical fashion. Along the way are some interesting twists on the "found footage" style and the tension piles up right until the last seconds of the short(ish) runtime.

Lost Coast Tapes features all the usual "found footage" movie tropes - shaky cameras, lots of running around in the dark while screaming and "ooh, what was that?" glances at the spooky things lurking just out of shot. But it somehow manages to avoid feeling clichéd as those things are pulled off with a sense of self-awareness, similar to what "Scream" did for Slasher films. The main character Sean does grate a little bit but otherwise the other characters are quite likeable and as for the monster itself? Well perhaps due to the low budget there's no big reveal and we only ever see "something" moving around in the background or just off-camera which may disappoint some people, but I found that it leaves more to the imagination. There is also a great ending which leaves you with a chilling image even after the credits start to roll.

So, should you get it? It depends entirely on your opinion of "found footage" movies. As mentioned before, if you hate them with a passion, Lost Coast Tapes definitely won't convince you otherwise. But if you like them, you should be pleasantly surprised. It has a lot in common with "Blair Witch" and especially "Trollhunter." And while not quite being able to match the latter in terms of effects it's still an enjoyable film for what it is. Definitely worth either renting or waiting for a price drop, The Lost Coast tapes is perhaps a three star film made slightly better by a great ending, a decent plot and for bringing something fresh to the genre.

Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Strain
Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Strain
by Z. A. Recht
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Zombie Action, 31 July 2012
I decided to pick up a Kindle version of Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht after reading some of the good reviews and I wasn't disappointed. As a huge fan of the "Zombie genre" I did have some expectations and it really delivered.

The story wastes no time in jumping right into the action, starting in the early stages of an outbreak in Africa and the quick breakdown of society as the virus spreads exponentially. We are given a number of different characters and viewpoints as the story flicks between Red Cross medics and US Army stuck trying to effectively quarantine an entire continent to a Government Virologist as she attempts to uncover the truth about the titular Morningstar Strain. While seemingly separate at first, the plot threads converge as each group flee to safety and make it home. The story is completely packed full of action from the opening chapter to the very end and it makes for a thrilling read.

As far as zombie novels go, Plague of the Dead is one of the better ones. While not quite as well written as World War Z (Max Brooks), it is told in a similarly realistic style. The way the virus is described - how it spreads and works - feels very plausible and the comparisons to Ebola further makes the premise seem quite grounded in reality. Likewise the behaviour of the US Army characters feels very believable. I found myself genuinely rooting for them throughout the course of the story. Some people have commented on the incompetence of the Army group in the story, but from war correspondence I've read on the US Army in Iraq, it's sadly probably closer to the truth about how the current army operates in conflict.

There are a few negative points, namely that despite the large number of characters, they all feel a bit samey and you might end up re-reading bits to figure out just who has said/done what or gotten killed, but this improves over the course of the book. The Washington-based chapters tend to drag a little in comparison to the Army sequences despite still containing a lot of action and generally I feel that character development has taken a back seat to all out action. However, as the first book in a trilogy, the latter might improve over the series as a whole. But basically, I wasn't expecting a deep, philosophical journey into the minds of a survivor, I wanted a pulpy thrill ride and in this aspect, it delivers.

So if you like your zombie fiction with a bit more action and a bit less of the supernatural, Plague of the Dead should be right up your street. Its basis on real virology and Government/military behaviour gives the book a real plausibility that other zombie stories lack and the characters are all generally very likeable (if a little generic). It's not quite as good as World War Z but it's miles better than the Autumn series (David Moody) and Monster Island (David Wellington). I'll definitely be reading the subsequent Morningstar books.

*Note for Kindle readers - While generally well formatted, the early chapters contain screenshot-style images of emails between characters. I found these images (and text within) really hard to read due to poor image quality. I'd recommend the hard copy instead*

The Walking Dead - Season 2 [Blu-ray]
The Walking Dead - Season 2 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Andrew Lincoln
Offered by rsdvd
Price: 11.85

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Corking Dead, 8 May 2012
At the end of my review for The Walking Dead (Season One) I concluded that "There is a wealth of potential in The Walking Dead and I hope it becomes realised in the second season." I had faith in the second series that it would be even half as good as the comics and how my prayers were answered!

Season Two of The Walking Dead is very much a series of two halves; firstly Episodes 1-7 - "The Search for Sophia" and Episodes 8-13 - "Rick vs. Shane"

The first half of the season kicks off with a frighteningly tense opening; our group of survivors are vulnerable and out in the open and have come across their first "herd" of zombies. And from here on in things get worse as one of the group goes missing and embark upon a long search to find her. A new setting is introduced in Hershell Greene's Farm along with new characters, each with their own motives. It's a slow paced start to the season, with nobody really knowing what to do and a palpable sense of dread and hopelessness growing. Admittedly it might seem a little drawn-out for those expecting all out action and gore but I feel it makes the thrilling conclusion that much more cathartic.

So far, so good. The second season deals with the aftermath of Episode 7 and the huge divide that has formed between the two alpha males of the group. On one side our hero Rick, desperately attempting to keep hold of order as well as his own sanity and humanity. On the other Shane, whose own methods of survival are much less subtle. This part of the season is very heavy on dialogue and stand-offs between all characters. There are other survivors on the loose and not all of them are looking for amicable living agreements... Events culminate with some shocking twists and turns and the finale brings things to a boil with an epic seige as the Farm is overrun by a herd of walkers.

As a whole Season Two has been a huge improvement on the first. Shane in particular has been a wildcard that as a fan of the comics, I have found fascinating to see how his presence has altered things. When it does what it does best, namely zombie attacks, action scenes, stand-offs and quiet tension, The Walking Dead is truly brilliant. There are at least four standout brilliant episodes and with a longer run than season one, more characters have been given time to shine such as the aforementioned Shane, Darryl, Dale, Glenn and Maggie. I feel that it certainly benefitted from a change in writing staff.

It does have some bad points which prevent me giving it the full five stars. The whole series seems to lack direction and could have been cut to about 11 or 12 episodes given that some aspects are repeated over two episodes where the same could have been said and done in one. Lori remains a blemish in an otherwise great cast; she flip-flops constantly over her feelings towards Rick/Shane and I feel she unintentionally steals Shane's thunder as the villain of the piece and prevents other characters like T-Dog to shine. And someone should really put a bell on Carl! However my main source of contention is that it falls into the same trap that most US dramas are guilty of - the cliffhanger ending. It feels that most episodes have very little happening until the very end and it really affects the flow of the story if you watch them back to back. TWD is great at doing slow-paced tension building but it does occasionally toe the line of "boring" until the episodes' end.

But otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed The Walking Dead (Season Two). Bad points aside, when it's on form, it's absolutely captivating and the melodrama of season one has thankfully been toned down in favour of more tense moments and uneasy stand-offs. The smaller budget means that it hasn't been everything it could have but with the teaser of the new Prison location and everything that entails such as Michonne and The Governor (confirmed to be played by David Morrissey) suggests that much like the undead themselves, The Walking Dead is starting to find its feet after a shaky start. I can't wait for Season Three and here's hoping to be giving 5 stars when it's released!

The Dark Tourist: Sightseeing in the World's Most Unlikely Holiday Destinations
The Dark Tourist: Sightseeing in the World's Most Unlikely Holiday Destinations
by Dom Joly
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.16

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but deeply flawed, 9 Mar 2012
It's been a while since I read any sort of "travel" book so when I saw the unconventional cover of "Dark Tourist" by Dom Joly on the library shelves I was intrigued. I am a fan of Trigger Happy TV, I like Dom Joly in general, I like unusual, quirky tales and I like reading war correspondence. "That's worth a look," I thought; right up my street.

Well, I did like it. Sort of. It starts off strangely - Joly opens with a short introduction, presumably for the readers who have never heard of him but it almost reads like "Excuse me if this is a bit crap but I don't usually do this." He rattles off all the stuff he's done and it's all a bit self-indulgent, more so considering I already knew most of these things about him already. But thankfully his first stop; Skiing in Iran delivers pretty much everything promised in the blurb. It has danger, comedy, quirkiness and above all, it actually shows Iran in a way I'd never seen before - news coverage isn't exactly favourable regarding the country after all.

So far, so good. Next stop, USA on a tour of major assassination sites. A little disappointing given that America is a relatively "safe" place but it proves entertaining nonetheless. It doesn't offer much beyond things you've probably already read a thousand times about the country but Joly makes up for it by having a bit of fun at the expense of a few jobsworthy security guards and curators.

And so on to Cambodia for a visit to the Killing Fields. Easily the highlight of the book, it is the first time Dom Joly ever seems to be in any distress and he seems genuinely moved by the people he meets and the history of the bloody places he visits. You really get a sense of being there and I was also moved by the stories of the survivors. If only the previous chapter had been this good.

Next stop, Pripyat and Chernobyl. I was looking forward to this, hoping it would be similar to the Cambodia chapter and I'm fascinated by ghost towns. Alas, it only marks the downfall of the remainder of the book. Joly basically walks around Ukraine making fun of the locals before going on a guided tour of Pripyat. In the deserted town he pretty much becomes the typical British Tourist and is generally very disrespectful of the very real tragedy that happened there. He offers nothing useful beyond a couple of photographs of him pulling stupid faces which is a theme throughout the book it seems. Sadly the North Korea part of his tour is equally as bad. Worse in fact. I very nearly gave up after the "Brit Mode" kicks in roughly after the second page and he continues to describe how boring he finds everything. And finally Beirut. Joly's homecoming seems promising initially as he attempts to tracks down Osama Bin Laden as a former schoolmate. But this little side-quest fizzles out with Joly more-or-less shrugging his shoulders and saying "yeah, Osama probably did come here." Well done, Dom. Fine investigate journalism there.

Overall it's not a terrible book. It is funny in places, moving in some and when it is good, it's very good. But the bad parts far outweigh the good - Joly is mostly disrespectful wherever he goes and while his joshing around is funny at first is soon grates and the North Korea chapter is particularly dreadful. He offers nothing insightful but then I don't know why I was expecting such from a TV presenter. Loan it if you must but better travel writing can be found elsewhere.

Misfits: Series 3 [DVD]
Misfits: Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Iwan Rheon
Price: 6.75

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and Misfits, 5 Dec 2011
This review is from: Misfits: Series 3 [DVD] (DVD)
After an absolutely amazing second series, the third season of Misfits was always going to be difficult. Especially after the writers made the dubious choice of stripping the main characters of their powers in the Christmas special. Add to this the fact that the actor playing Nathan decided to leave then I was slightly worried what Misfits series 3 had in store.

Sadly it seems Channel 4 are continuing their current trend of disappointing third series syndrome (Here's looking at you, Inbetweeners). If there was one bad point about series 2, it's that it was starting to dip into "Killer of the Week" territory and this seems to have continued in series 3. However whereas there was a strong overall story arc with Simon going back in time to save Alicia, it feels like this season has been compiled of standalone, one-off episodes and has been very disjointed. And despite everyone having new powers, the "Superhero" aspect seems to have taken a back seat to everyday drama such as relationships, STDs and getting drunk.

It does have some highlights though. The effects are great, as ever. Some of the new villains, such as "Coma Girl" and "Comic Book Nerd" have been very interesting and put a good spin on Misfits' general theme of "With great power comes irresponsibility." And despite perhaps being given a little too much gurning screen time, I actually prefer Rudy and his (literally) split personality make him a much more human character than Nathan ever was. Similarly Seth is a nice new inclusion and Kelly is given more time to shine with a great performance by Lauren Socha. Likewise the gang's probation worker is comedy gold every time he appears on screen.

But for all the great moments, there seems to be twice as many mediocre ones. I always felt that the powers being tied into each characters' individual personality flaws, lifestyles or desires was a really strong point so to change the powers of the original four feels like a huge cop-out for the sake of a few "What if we did this?" moments. There are some bizarre plot twists that don't really work in the overall Misfits timeline and the less said about the utter paradoxical, plothole-ridden tripe that was the Nazi episode the better (I refuse to acknowledge it ever happened in the context of the series any more). I don't know a huge amount about the rules of Science Fiction but I know that you can't just explain everything away with the characters going back in time to change the future as it leaves too many paradoxes. Similarly the Zombie episode might as well have not happened as absolutely nothing had changed by the end. Luckily the final episode is brilliant and ties up pretty much all of the loose threads.

So overall season three of Misfits has some quality moments, great acting by all the cast involved but unfortunately is let down by some dubious writing, plot holes and lack of direction. The whole series feels like it has been rushed and could have benefit greatly without the events of Series 2's Christmas special. Nazi/Zombie episode aside, the bad points are never really terrible (certainly not enough to warrant 1-2 stars) but they far outweigh the great parts. Maybe a fourth series will help it return to form but for now, I fear Misfits has strayed off course.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2012 10:13 PM GMT

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
by Ransom Riggs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.87

4.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Start..., 9 Aug 2011
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is unlike any book I've read for a long time and yet it seems quite familiar. I really had no idea what genre the book was, what it was about, or even who it was really for - my local library has it under "Adult Fiction", other shops in "Fantasy," other places "Teenage" and some even "Children's Fiction." Well, the reality is a bit of all of them.

Whether it's for teens or adults, as a 25 year-old I very much enjoyed it. Its main selling point; the vintage style photography and illustrations compliment the text really well. I was sort of expecting a Gothic Horror but instead it is more like a fantasy adventure along the lines of "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" or "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." To be honest, the less you know about the story before reading, the more you will get out of this book. The plot is wonderfully weird, it twist and turns but is never confusing and the characters themselves are a highlight.

The main character, Jacob Portman is described as being 16, but he feels very adult in the way he speaks, acts and interacts with everyone else. I found him to be a very likeable and sympathetic protagonist and as for the other characters, particularly the "Peculiar Children," I really loved them all. In this respect MPHfPC is like a Tim Burton animation - beautifully realised characters and settings and you will probably remember them for a long time.

I also really enjoyed the setting. Taking place largely on a remote island off the coast of Wales gives it a sense of brooding atmosphere much like the moors in "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and despite not being a horror story, at times it does feel like an old gothic tale. If you like the ghost stories of Susan Hill, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this too. Hell, even if you liked Enid Blyton's "Five at Smuggler's Top" you'll get a kick out of it.

There are a few criticisms I have which prevent me giving it 5 stars however. While the plot is great, Ransom Riggs is not the greatest writer in the world. I spotted a few typos here and there and some of the dialogue is a bit clunky. For every dark, adult part in the book there seems to be a bit of juvenile banality just around the corner and I just found the writing slightly inconsistent; it's not too childish to be a kid's book, nor is it adult enough to stand up amongst adult books. Some of the later revelations are lifted straight out of X-Men as well and it was a little disappointing. Unfortunately I did see some of the other plot twists coming a mile off, where others were genuinely surprising. Moments like these just prevent such a good book becoming great.

But really, "Miss Peregrine's..." is a wonderful book that was a joy to read. It made me feel like a child again and being witness to magic for the first time. I'm glad that I took the time to read it and if you're a fan of Tim Burton, Susan Hill, Enid Blyton, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling or Roald Dahl, you will love it too. It might have a few clunky moments but on the whole it's a promising debut novel by Ransom Riggs. I would definitely read a sequel or trilogy and with 20th Century Fox already buying the film rights, I'd definitely recommend giving "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" a read before Hollywood inevitably messes it up. I loved it, you will love it and your (older) children will love it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2011 10:56 AM BST

Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor
Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor
Price: 10.96

23 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great album but very overhyped, 29 Jun 2011
Firstly I'd like to say I really enjoyed this album the first time I heard it. I work in a bar where a bit of 40's music and jazz on a Monday and Tuesday is very much appreciated so when I saw the TV ads for this I thought I'd give it a go. So what to make of Caro Emerald's debut (UK) album...

On the whole the album is very good. A lot of new Jazz artists release a great song and then their albums are sometimes dreary (Melody Gardot and Madeleine Peyroux spring to mind), however "Deleted Scenes..." is largely a very lively, upbeat album. It takes a lot of influences from swing and big band but with a more bluesy sound and an almost RnB modern edge. So yes, as far as the songs go it's a good album and especially playing it at the aforementioned place of work a lot of our customers agreed.

Some of my highlights include "Just One Dance," "That Man" which are catchy and have that 50's quality and "I Know He's Mine" which for my money is the best track on the album as it's stripped down and has a more sultry, blues tone.


After hearing this not only at my place of work over and over again, I've started hearing it everywhere else. Out shopping, on the radio, at other pubs. It seems I cant get away from it now and I'm just a bit sick of it. And the more I listen to it the more I can find fault.

I think the main problem is that Ms. Emerald is nothing special. Her voice is totally perfunctory and sometimes falls flat. She seems to be riding a wave of 50's/burlesque revival but the problem with this is that there are other artists doing similar stuff and doing it far superior. Her closest rival in terms of style is Imelda May but Caro can't belt out the lyrics as well, nor are the songs as well written. She is quirky and "poppy" but outshined by Paloma Faith. Her vocals are jazzy but nowhere even close to Melody Gardot. Even when she goes into blues and RnB territory she doesn't do it as well as Amy Winehouse. It's sort of a Jazz album for people who aren't really that into Jazz. A "My First Blues Album."

So if you want some decent songs and a pleasant voice that are alright for background music then this is the album for you. Just don't expect it to stand up to repeated listening. If you like your Jazz, Swing, Blues or even just pop music then go elsewhere. I'd recommend the above artists; Imelda May and Melody Gardot especially, over Caro Emerald before wasting your money on this lounge music.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 12, 2013 8:15 AM BST

L.A. Noire (PS3)
L.A. Noire (PS3)
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: 17.58

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution of the Point 'n' Clicker, 13 Jun 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: L.A. Noire (PS3) (Video Game)
A word of warning at the start: LA Noire is NOT just "GTA 1940s." Anyone expecting such will be sorely disappointed. LA Noire has more in common with Broken Sword or Heavy Rain than it does with GTA.

Here's my breakdown of the game:

Graphics: There was a lot of hype over Team Bondi's technology behind LA Noire's facial animation, but I feel a lot of it was justified. The graphics in LA Noire are incredible. Every nuance and facial tick are present in the characters and the city itself is a joy to drive through. I'd have liked more varied weather patterns and some of the textures look iffy up close but otherwise 5/5

Gameplay: As the title of the review points out, LA Noire is very much like a modern day Point 'n Click adventure game in the style of Broken Sword or Monkey Island. You will spend a lot of time poring over lots of scenes scanning for any clues or evidence and is more suited to the patient gamer. The same can be said for the conversations; as said before, the facial animation is so good that you will need to spot even the slightest break in eye contact to determine truth or lie. This starts off easy enough but in later missions is very difficult. Missions have a very definite structure and it's usually pretty simple to progress if you're stuck. 4/5

Story: The story in LA Noire is surprisingly mature for a video game. It is firmly in the "Film Noir" style in the sense that things don't necessarily always have a happy ending and the tone is extremely grim in parts. The Homicide desk is a real highlight and the Arson desk ties the whole game up nicely. It also alludes to real crimes of the '40s so anyone with an interest in True Crime will love it. 5/5

Longevity: LA Noire's story clocks in at approximately 20-25 hours with more stuff to do and collect in free roam. There is also DLC planned so this should add a bit more lifespan. It's also worth replaying story missions to see what happens where you may have gone wrong or if you charge a different suspect. Or to get trophies of course! 4/5

Complaints: Very minor complaints really. Some environmental textures look a little iffy up close on investigations and sometimes road and building textures are blurry if you're travelling at top speed in the cars. The game is also quite linear and repetitive. However I don't mind the repetitiveness as I imagine being a real detective you would have to deal with a similar methodical approach. However some of the dialogue branches do seem arbitrary - you have to catch someone's lie with evidence that would be purely circumstantial in places and occasionally you can be incorrect if you use evidence that prove the same thing as another piece that you were meant to say. I found a lot of the vehicles to handle quite clunkily as well so it's a good job you are in control of a speedy, responsive police car for most of the game or even skip driving altogether.

Overall: Altogether I feel LA Noire is Rockstar Games' best game to date. It doesn't have the variety of Red Dead Redemption or the sense of humour of Grand Theft Auto but instead is its own complete entity. Those expecting all out action and explosions will be disappointed but anyone who's ever played and enjoyed an adventure game, crime novel or film noir will love it to bits. You owe it to yourself as a gamer to buy this game. Five stars.

Dispatches (Picador)
Dispatches (Picador)
by Michael Herr
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars An Intense Journey, 13 Jun 2011
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
It's easy to see why Michael Herr's Dispatches is hailed as one of the greatest pieces of war reporting of all time. From the very start you are placed at the front line of the Vietnam war and it very rarely lets you go.

Initially Dispatches is quite difficult to get into. The opening chapters seem to start very suddenly, as mentioned, right at the deep end. There is no explanation as to why Michael Herr is there, nor to exactly where "there" is. There are moments of first-hand experiences in the war followed by near poetic musing by Herr himself and without a bit of context it is a bit draining.

However once you've adjusted to the way Dispatches is written, those first moments of confusion make sense. It's one of those books you need to persevere with to get into. From the day to day conversations with the marines to life as an outsider Dispatches pulls no punches in terms of content and graphic imagery. Herr is not really there to give his own opinions and while there are segments where he will contemplate the nature of war, the book is generally very impartial.

There are a few standout moments for me - the Battle of Hué City and the entire section of Khe Sahn spring to mind. But really it's the lives of the marines that kept me hooked. You are taken from one extreme to the next - a cannabis-fuelled philosophical rant, a chopper gunner operator that seems to be straight out of "Platoon," and a particular partnership that crops up in Khe Sahn and the horrible realisation later of their fate.

Dispatches is a book that really demands to be read. Whatever your feelings about war in general it is a real eye opener and still feels relevant today with regards to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Duke Nukem Forever: Balls of Steel - Collectors' Edition (Xbox 360)
Duke Nukem Forever: Balls of Steel - Collectors' Edition (Xbox 360)
Offered by UKGameSource
Price: 36.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come Get Some, 12 Jun 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
"But what about the game Duke, is it any good?"
"After 12 f**king years, it should be..."

Those immortal words spoken by Duke near the start of the game pretty much sum up everything about Duke Nukem Forever. It's had 12 years of development and has gone through multiple development teams. So was it worth the wait?

Well firstly, the Balls of Steel Edition is absolutely crammed full of goodies. Art book, comic, playing cards, Duke Nukem dice, Poker chips, decal sticker, postcards and a very good quality, sturdy Duke bust are all packed into the box and upon opening I couldn't believe how many Duke-related bonuses there were. Top marks for that and better value for money than the Fallout: New Vegas collector edition.

Now onto the game:

DNF is a strange mix of old and new. It plays very much like an old school FPS in the style of Doom and Wolfenstein, but has Call of Duty moments such as big flashy set pieces and regenerative health. It doesn't really hold your hand and tell you where to go (although flashing doors and waypoints help), and it has the sort of difficulty spikes that I remember from gaming in the 1990s. It's a blend that feels like it shouldn't work, but it does.

And playing as the man himself is like playing the original Duke Nukem 3D for the first time again. The one liners are all present, the babes and beer are plentiful and the environments are mostly interactive. Secret rooms and homages to other games are also abundant and it really feels like a joy to explore everywhere to see what you can find. The guns also feel pleasantly meaty and powerful, much like the Duke. Even the crappy generic rock soundtrack feels satisfyingly old-school.

Unfortunately it's rocky development has taken its toll. The graphics are good for say, an Xbox 360 launch game but seem dated by today's standards. The character models are fine but a lot of the environments are very blurry and pixellated at even a medium distance, let alone up close. The animations are clunky and sometimes it feels like you are controlling a tank. The load times are excrutiatingly bad and are even more noticable during respawns in the campaign mode. It can take more than a minute on some levels and it really disrupts the flow of an otherwise fast-paced kill 'em all shooter.

But personally I feel an otherwise 3 star game is made up for by being so much fun to play. From finding a fully functioning pinball machine in Duke's gym, to downing a beer and punching alien scum in the teeth, from zooming around in an RC car as Mini Duke to "Quit bleeding, p*ssy!" DNF is full of laugh-out-loud moments. It's completely tounge-in-cheek and a salute to when games were about having a good time and kicking ass. It has tons of personality and hopefully now that Gearbox Software has bought the rights to Duke Nukem we will see more of Duke, and maybe it won't take another 12 years to do it this time.

It might be a relic from the past, but as the saying goes, the old ones are the best.

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