Enterbay RM-4 (Not-)Jason Bourne. Part 2: Finished!

Well, it took a fair bit longer than I had hoped, but here’s the completed update of the completed RM-4 Jason Bourne figure from a few posts ago. The vinegar did it’s work (I hope). I rinsed it out and dried his clothes again. Found him a backpack and a gun, then I dressed my little mandollie, and sourced some fishing weights for his backpack, to give it a decent “hang”.

Enterbay Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Flanked by my Michael Caine “Zulu” figure by DiD and Hot Toys Perseus.

A different angle. In the background is my kitbash of Joseph Fiennes’ character from Enemy at the Gates. More on that in another post.

A closer shot showing off the face.

An outdoor shot.

Another outdoor shot.

And my final shot, as the light faded…

I’m pretty happy with how this simple kitbash came out. I’m quite looking forward to using the other two of these RM-4 bodies to put together the two main outfits Matt Damon wore in Green Zone.

Review: Mafia II – 2K Czech – PC (Steam)

I’d heard good things about Mafia II, especially in terms of story, but I’d also heard that it severely lacked replayability – unlike most open world sandboxes – your Grand Theft Autos, Saints Rows, Red Dead Redemptions, Just Causes and even your Saboteurs and Red Factions that feature lots of side missions and random shit to do while entertaining yourself – Mafia II basically has none. Sure, you can crush cars to make a few bucks, but your purchasing power seems to be limited to buying more guns from a limited range (pointless as all the guns you’ll need are pretty much mostly supplied for free from fallen opponents or given on a mission), upgrading cars (again, pointless since they handle like junk, and again, you’re given what you need as you go for the most part) and clothes (purely cosmetic).

But back to the game itself. Well, it’s well done for a game story. One of the strongest that I’ve played through, in fact. However, despite the game press raving about it, it’s still no Goodfellas or even Casino, but for a game, it’s quite good. On the other hand, there’s the gameplay. And despite enjoying the game, or the experience – to perhaps put it a little better, (as I found the gameplay to be pretty average at best). It’s not exceptionally bad, but it’s not what I’d call good either. There’s some brawl mechanics that are seriously sub-par, not too far off what you’d find taped onto an Ice Hockey game from 10 years ago. (There are also no baseball bats if you enjoyed them from the first game.) Some cover shooting mechanics which are just standard “meh” quality. Not bad, but not exciting. (and the cover button is awkwardly mapped to L-Ctrl for PC). And then there’s bog-standard GTA-alike driving in a series of cars that mostly handle badly.

Drive carefully, or the police will come after you!

Throw in the other annoying GTA-alike trope where every 10th vehicle is a cop car for some reason – and in this game they will chase you down for speeding. After a few high-speed chases, I actually found myself driving like a semi-sensible citizen because these car chases are just annoying timesinks. Though again, like other games in related genres, if you get to a mission checkpoint it doesn’t matter what your wanted level is (was) or how many cops are after your arse, as it’s all instantly wiped. Regardless, Cop cars being seen every 100m or 1/10 of other cars is still fucking annoying and actually immersion breaking, since it constantly reminds you that you’re playing a game. I mean, how often do you see a cop car when you go driving? If you saw one every 40 seconds in real life, you’d think that some serious shit was about to go down, and you’d probably be right as well.  The game also features such wonderful innovations as needing to drive home and manually walk to your bed after completing a mission, I’m surprised that you don’t also have to manually take a shit, too.

So anyway, while the gameplay is honestly not much to get excited about, the game’s story is it’s strong point. I’ve always hated games that rely too much on long cutscenes between the actual gameplay, and Mafia II is a bit like that, but with the interesting twist that I found myself instead wanting to get through the next mostly-tedious patch of exciting “narrative gameplay” (press “E” to clean the floor/Press “E” to wash the window/Press “E” to call Fat Tony/etc) to get to the next bit of pre-rendered CGI story. I played on Medium, since as I mentioned, I find the gameplay to be workmanlike “good enough” but not especially good or fun. So I felt no need to “challenge” myself by making the gameplay more annoying/tedious/difficult/frustrating. I also found that there are quite a few missions where it’s simply down to chance as to whether you survive or not, particularly the car escape with your crew that has the cutscene with “more of them” as you drive past 2 more cars or the pub where you needlessly yack at the Irish before getting down to business. You can get shot and killed purely by chance by the AI with no chance of getting through, then eventually get a lucky run and go through unscathed, despite doing the exact same thing.

Fisticuffs. Less exciting then they look!

I had read about how linear the game is and how there pretty much are no side missions, but just how linear the game is wasn’t apparent until I played it, and I was also disappointed when I realised that I needed to divert from a mission (either before or afterwards) to collect more cars or tune them so they would get saved with the normal “end of day” gameplay.

Visually the game is nice. Really quite nice. Aurally, the it features changing-period music in what feels like a bit of a nod to Scorsese, and the game can be nice just driving along under the speed limit listening to the radio on a rainy night. Atmosphere is something this game does well.

I was waiting for this to drop to AU$30 or less on the 360, since I’d heard good things about the story but that it lacked anything else to do, but with the recent Steam sale, even the US$20 price thet Aussies were expected to pay over the US$12 that the Americans got was enough to swing it in the end, with a bunch of US.99 DLC added which swung it. Apparently the PS3 got the first bit of DLC, as an exclusive freebie, while the other two, apparently more arcade-oriented DLC packs are available on PC and 360. But this isn’t a DLC review, it’s for the core game.

There’s no multiplayer, but there are collectables – Some incredibly-(un)exciting Playboy Magazines that give you a cheesecake pic of a period-approriate centrefold – which feel completely tacked-on, since many of them appear to be hidden in locations within missions that you only get one chance to do or go to per playthrough – and in a game with no reason to play through the game multiple times, since the story is the hook and the gameplay is average at best. It was shortly after I found the Playboy in Derek’s office when I started to think that maybe you had to effectively know where they are in the missions in order to collect them all, and this was confirmed when I found the next one inside the sewers. Methinks that perhaps they were just added as a cross-promotion thing. Mafia gets some press coverage, and some teenagers buy their first Playboy magazines out of curiosity instead of just downloading internet porn.

Character design is quite good, though.

I realise that I may sound overwhelmingly negative about this game, but the fact is that while the story isn’t great when compared to a good Cinema Gangster tale, it is a good story for a game, and the story is good enough to keep me interested enough to play through a couple of a few chapters every day since I picked it up.

If you approach it with low expectations as far as the gameplay goes, but are happy to play for the story – and you can pick it up cheap – the Steam sale price would seem perfect, then I say go for it. If you can rent it, you can probably finish it in a weekend without too much trouble. If you do so, you’ll enjoy it and since there’s no real reason to replay it aside from collecting Playboy pics (you have the internet for that!), you’ll have gotten your money’s worth.

Wasn’t using a gamepad because I prefer PC-aiming controls. KB+M. The lack of save points is annoying, and the game truly does feel as linear as any FPS. The story is better than most games and is in fact the best thing about Mafia, but it’s still pretty predictable, and nothing special compared to a halfway decent gangster film. The missions are quite repetitive, particularly their introductions, which the game itself parodies/acknowledges in one of the last few mission introductions of you getting woken up by the telephone I’d recommend that anyone playing who also owns DLC pimp the shit out of their cars as soon as they can afford to, since they stay with you through the inevitable “reset” the game throws at you, unlike your cash. And there’s nothing else to do with your cash anyway, since you’ll always get enough weapons, and clothing is next to pointless.

My Ride, I am Pimping her.

Definately a Steam Sale game, a mid-price or bargain bin console game, or a rental. it’s a it of fun, but not an especially good game.

I picked up all the DLC with the steam sale. I’ll play through them at some stage and either review them as well or append them to this one. The DLC packs with cars and outfits were somewhat pointless, I only used a few outfits or cars, most never even came out in the course of my playthrough. For 99c each via the Steam Sale I’m not too broken up, though.

Jimmy’s Vendetta and Joe’s Story are the more involved ones. I played a bit of Joe’s story right after finishing the main game but it starts with one of those multi-part missions where you do the first thing then they send you to do “anudder ting” right afterwards, so I quit to take a break. No idea if it saved any of my progress. I’ll get back to it.

Right after playing it, I re-watched Goodfellas. Haven’t seen it for a few years now, so always a good watch. I was wanting to watch it when I was playing through Mafia, but as it happens, my wife picked it out to watch. It really brings home the “good story, for a game” thing and even makes you think about the “games as Art” arguments again. Comparing any game to Goodfellas isn’t exactly fair, but then again they share a genre, and so the “one of the very best in genre” thing can be valid to an extent, and clearly Mafia 2 draws some inspiration from Goodfellas.

Dunno, I’m not here to piss on Mafia. And it certainly does atmosphere reasonably well, though that’s also in large part due to the audio and period music. Story though.. it’s a whole other ballgame.

The PC version is pretty much the same as the 360 or PS3 versions.

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Verdict: Rent it.

Review: Timeshift – Saber Interactive – 360

Another shooter that got decent-to-good reviews which doesn’t actually deserve decent-to-good reviews. I picked it up cheap both on PC and months and months later for like $12 on 360 (yes, I’m a sucker), and have ended up playing it on the 360, partly because big screen and can’t be arsed installing, but mostly because I was looking for something semi-disposable I could put on and shoot away through while watching DVD commentaries for Goodfellas on the other TV.

Sometimes it takes a game like Timeshift to show just how well done something like Treyarch’s shooting mechanics are done on a game like CoD:WaW, which were criticised somewhat at the time. Seriously, this game’s shooting is shitty compared to WaW. A not-especially-intuitive control scheme doesn’t help either. The plot, such as it is, is told initially using some confusing and badly-paced and written cutscenes involving a magic suit, some scientists, a facility that becomes exploded, and you putting on the suit and being sent back to an alternate-reality 1939. Once there, you’re greeted by Orwellian viewscreens of the glorious leader guy doing his best Half-Life 2 impersonation while you hook up with a resistance group (how do I know they’re not the terrorist insurgents?) and proceed to begin to murder your way through about 9 million near-identical guys for the rest of the game.

This looks pretty unique, doesn’t it?

Yeah, there are only about a half-dozen different enemies. Soldier Guy (with and without helmet, in a few skintones). Worker Guy in jumpsuit (in a few skintones – identical to soldier guy but dies faster), then much later you meet Speedy Guy, Electric Shield Guy, Flying Guy and that’s it unless I’m about to meet some other slight variation on a theme. It’s pretty repetitive.

The 1939 thing is clearly to invoke an allusion to WW2 and the Nazis, and the bad guys you kill a lot of occasionally have a banner with a single Sig Rune on them, so that makes them clearly as bad as Hitler, though tyey also appear to be American, and have full racial integration in their army. Their gear in this alternative-1939 is a mixture of Starship Troopers armour (Verhoven version), Modern M4/203 type rifles, plasma guns, Chewbacca’s Boltcaster which fires explosive sniper bolts, jet packs, laser shields, giant walkers, quad bikes and so forth. You know, just like they had back in ’39. There are a couple of badly-designed airships and a silly looking seaplane, so I guess that’s the Steampunk nod.

Anyway, the gameplay. It’s mostly just a long-feeling very linear repetitive shooter. The game has 24 levels, and I have 6 to go. There’s repetitive shooting in tunnels, industrial areas, that warehouse that’s in every FPS game, several interchangable endless building complexes, some outdoor areas, and some train tunnels. There are pretty frequent puzzles that utilise the game’s point of differentiation, or gimmick – the timeshift device. Basically, you can use it to freeze time, slow it down, reverse it, or heal yourself (!?) Since your character isn’t some indestructible Marcus Fenix-type, you need to pretty much constantly use the slow and freeze abilities while in shootouts, or die. The puzzles aren’t too hard, and range from “Ok that was decent” to “Oh god, boring but tricky but painful.”

Brown, with some grey and some grey-brown to round things off..

Anyway, this is a bog-standard, completely-forgettable shooter with a dog’s breakfast of a plot (I turned the sound off after awhile to better hear the commentary tracks). It’s not short, but due to it’s generic nature, I’m both finding it overlong and wishing it was long-over. This is married to an interesting idea that has potential if it were done by someone like Valve. It’s not a terrible game – I did actually finish it – but by the same token it’s really not worth your time to bother playing when there are so many better things out there. For me, it’s served it’s purpose, as I’ve gotten through 3 DVD commentaries with it. Now it’s done, I’ll probably never look at or even think of it again. In a year or two’s time I might see this post and remember “oh yeah, I played that thing.” Ah well, at least I can say that I started and finished it within a few days!

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Verdict: Don’t bother. There’s better stuff to play.

Realm of Chaos – “Oldhammer” Part 2

So after the positive feedback I received for the first batch, I thought I’d put up some more of my old Realm of Chaos models for perusal.

First up is a Champion of Slaanesh. This guy is counterpart to the Champion of Khorne (3rd from the top) posted last time, and like the Khornate fellow, was sculpted by Mark Copplestone. This was one of my early attempts are painting properly pastel armour, and I’m still happy with it to this day. When I rebase this guy I’ll have to paint his mouthparts with gloss, though!

His shield has a decal – not freehand on this guy.

This guy isn’t especially amazing, but he’s bloody old – predating the RoC books. I’ve included him here partly because of that, and partly because of the freehand on his shield and tabard/groin protector. Funny – even back then, I’d often rise to a good sculpt with one of my better paintjobs, and just try to get it done when on a lesser sculpt.

Technically, this guy isn’t a chaos model at all. it’s actually the Troll figure from the Talisman series. Given his small size (he’s on a 25mm square base) I painted him with flesh tones and called him a beastman, since they had a lot of flexibility of appearance back then. Goat-heads were just one of many types…

Again, not strictly speaking a Chaos model (well, sometimes but not always, depending on packaging over the years!) This familiar was a quick and easy paintjob. and I still have an affection towards the little blighter all these years later.

I don’t recall exactly which range this guy came from, and until I rebase him down the line I don’t plan to pry him off the base to find out. I suspect that he might be from the old Night Horror line. The Night Horror figures were a Citadel Fantasy figure sub-range that included all of the typical Hammer Horror-type figures – vampires, mummies, werewolves, etc – as well as tombstones and gargoyles and other odds and ends, both scenic and character-based. I drilled into the base of the decapitated guy’s head and left a pin hanging out, which I put some droppy gloss PVA onto, along with some segmented paint to represent spinal column, and of course, some blood.

Aside from all that – he makes a fine beastman!

An actual Beastman this time. I’m still happy with how his face and teeth turned out and still mildly annoyed at how his shield hides it all. The drybrushing on his chest is a little rough, but I’ve never noticed that before posting up this picture. Isn’t it wonderful how large photos magnify all the minor flaws in our painting and make them look huge and hideous?

One of my favourite beastmen of the day. I still really like the figure and sculpt, the paintwork I did, and the freehand on his shield (no decals involved at all here). If I had to criticise my own work here, I’d perhaps point out how the clean and bright shield doesn’t quite gel with the more grungy figure holding onto it.

Lastly for this round, an old Champion of Nurgle, sculpted by Jes. It looks a little shitty in the picture, but the armour is deliberately corroded and messed up looking – and it looks quite decent in person. Note the early version of the symbol of Nurgle on his gutplate and helmet. I always wondered about that, and wasn’t in the slighted bit surprised when it got changed to three circles/flies/etc.

Review: 007: Quantum of Solace – Treyarch Invention, LLC – Xbox 360

My wife picked this up for me out of the bargain bin at an opening of a new branch of a well-known Australian Hi-Fi, music, games, computers, etc chain. What I knew about it was that it was built on the COD4 engine, but wasn’t nearly as good.

But hey, it was cheap.

Awhile back, someone asked me why I play trashy games instead of the good stuff, and while what I said then was valid, he did have a valid point. After all, I’ve got a pile of games I know are better than QoS sitting unplayed. I guess it’s in part because I’m “saving” the good/best ones, while the less good ones can be played and disposed of without caring if I really savour them properly. So anyway, I threw this on today since I’ve been in a bit of a Bond mood recently, and, yeah, a short, disposable game was what I felt like playing, since I can probably/hopefully finish it over the weekend, inbetween a couple of DVDs and WoW-dailies.

So anyway. Based on the plots of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. CoD4 engine. Treyarch – before they got good with Black Ops. Slightly-crappy Gears-wannabe cover-shooter mechanic bolted on. Bond plays through a series of vaguely-based on the films scenarios, mostly using a series of various high-powered weapons just like he didn’t use in the films in an odd sequence vaguely related or not to the actual plots of the two films. I guess many of the weapons did cameo in the films while other people were using them. And James has the famous cover shot with the HK UMP-9.

This is what Parkour looks like. Apparently.

I’ve in fact just paused the game after having acquired an M60, and shot up a building with it, while slowly fighting forward while taking cover against waves of heavily-armed goons armed with AKs. You might remember this scene from Casino Royale as the parkour chase from the beginning of the film. Which puts me at the 1/3 of the way through point according to GameFaqs.

There are cell phones scattered about, which fill in little bits of intel. They’re vaguely interesting, but nothing to worry about if you miss any.

Anyway. Is it fun? It’s alright, actually. It’s nothing like the films, of course. But it’s an alright shooter. I’m not even going to bother checking out the multiplayer, since it’s an older game at this point, and let’s face it, every FPS/3PS of the last decade has a half-assed MP shooter aspect tacked onto it, but most people just play one of the better/more popular ones, and anything shy of that tend to be a ghost town.

So, yeah. As I said, CoD4 engine. Treyarch. Slightly-crappy cover system. Still a decent enough game. Not an awesome one to pick up at full price, but perfectly okay as a weekend rental, or something to fish out of the bargain bin and then either inflate your games collection or pass onto a friend.

Gears of Bond.

After another hour of play, including the exciting rooftop helicopter battle and exploding elevator shaft sequence that you may not recall from Casino Royale since they never happened in the film, I do have to reiterate it’s definitely not a bad game. I’m enjoying myself well enough, with of course the bargain-bin price caveat. The cover mechanics aren’t bad either, they just don’t really add anything to the FPS formula or this FPS title. At least they did make an effort to replicate the final section of the parkour chase, and while it wasn’t awesome, it was playable.

Final remarks – finished it. Had fun enough, though the I found the wild deviations from the film(s) to be annoying. It also features one stage where you get to play as drugged-cardiac-arrest-Bond from CR, which is almost as little fun as the Nightmare stages in Max Payne. At least it’s faster and you can see. Overall though, it’s still an ok game. Better as a rental rather than a bargain bin buy, since there’s not much to do with it once you finish it in 10 or so hours, unless you want to play through all the difficulty levels or achievement whore, since the MP is a ghost town.

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Verdict: Rent it. Or buy it cheap. Or don’t – It’s all good.