Captain America: The First Avenger – Review (Film)

I am very excited about the upcoming Avengers movie. Joss Whedon is one of my favourite creative people in the industry and the fact he is helming such a huge blockbuster fills me with confidence.

Having only seen the first Iron Man film I figured I should start making my way through some of the other Avengers character films, starting with Captain America: The First Avenger.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Captain America, having had a toy figure of him when I was kid as part of a Marvel playset. Still, I have no idea what his story is or where he comes from.

Fortunately for me Chris Evans is on hand to relive Captain America’s genesis story. He plays Steve Rogers, a scrawny kid who is desperate to join the army and fight for his country. Unfortunately he’s too small and has lots of illnesses which prevent him from doing so.

Eventually his persistence pays off and they accept him… but only as part of a top secret government project that involves trying to create a ‘super-soldier.’

The film has just the right balance of comedy and action – even after Evan’s transformation the film doesn’t immediate follow the path you would presume it would take, which was a refreshing change.

And that transformation is seriously well done – the CGI making Evans appear smaller than he really is had me impressed and it makes a huge difference than if they had just had him go from normal to having super muscles.

Unfortunately I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that this film was just a set up to the franchise and that Captain America’s real adventures will begin in his next film (as well as being a part of The Avengers).

A lot of the battle/action sequences felt like ‘action-by-numbers’ and I didn’t feel that the story was anything special – although the filmmakers have to go by the story that exists so you can’t complain too much I suppose. The ending was great though and is a¬†cool set up for them to take the character forward.

Overall Captain America is an average, if enjoyable, action romp that has some decent character CGI and does a nice job of setting up the franchise. Worth a watch but there is nothing ground-breaking here.

Rating: 6/10

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Infamous 2 – Review (PS3)

The original Infamous wasn’t without it’s problems but ended up being one of my favourite single player games on the PS3.

Having only heard good things about the follow up I was excited to step back into the shoes of Cole McGrath.

Cole was just your everyday, run of the mill, package courier at the start of the first game before a series of events saw him take on electrical superpowers.

So at the start of this game Cole is fully powered up and preparing to take on The Beast, a huge multi-storey enemy who is wreaking havoc on the east coast of the USA.

The first thing I noticed about the game was how fluid Cole’s movement is. Dodging feels a lot more natural and taking cover is quick and efficient (for the most part).

The game itself is a more polished version of the original – if you’re looking for a vastly different game then this isn’t it. But with the first game being so enjoyable why change the formula?

My one gripe with Infamous 2 is, at times, the positioning of enemies all around you. While no doubt more realistic than other games it can be tough when surrounded to survive, even with the powers Cole has.

The Karma system returns and for the big choices is as obvious as before but it’s a nice touch to have the choice of approaching a handful of missions as either good or evil, regardless of your current karma level. I must say the final choice of the game had me sitting there for about 5 minutes fighting with myself over what to do.

I thought the story was excellent and the characters feel a lot stronger than the original. As before you can upgrade your powers depending on various factors and there are certainly some fun ones in there.

There is also the ability to create your own missions, using the assets from the game, that you can upload and let others play. These appear as green missions icons on your map and while some are fun, a lot of them are fairly poor. Thankfully you can switch them to ‘recommended by the game developer’ or even turn them off completely.

If you liked the first game you will love this. If you haven’t, you don’t need to have played the original (though I’d recommend it) to get the sequel. One of the stronger single player games I’ve blasted through this year.

Rating: 9/10

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Watchmen: The End Is Nigh – Demo Impressions (PS3)

I’ve thought all along that Watchmen: The End Is Nigh looked like a nice little beat ’em up in the vein of the Streets Of Rage series.

After playing the demo my initial impression has been proved correct.

With the huge hype surrounding the Watchmen film it was unsurprising that a game would accompany the movie however this isn’t your standard game/movie tie-in.

The End Is Nigh is a specially written prequel that leads right up to the events of the film version of Watchmen. The game is being released episodically on the PSN store although I suspect a full retail version will follow later in the year (perhaps around the time the DVD comes out :grin:)

You control either Rorschach or Nite Owl, two costumed vigilantes, as they attempt to help out at riot at a prison.

Rorschach is slightly more powerful and certainly has the more agressive move set, in keeping with the character. Nite Owl seemed to be a bit slower but had faster combos so both characters are fairly evenly balanced.

The graphics were very impressive and the makers seem to have caught the mood of the novel/film. The demo is dark and dank, the prison on fire and chaos ensuing – with Rorschach giving a running commentary along the way it’s easy to get swept away with inflicting violence on the inmates.

The demo covers about 20 minutes of the level and as well as fighting there are a few ‘puzzles’ – I use the term loosely as it’s more just both of you pulling levers etc. However it does break up the fighting and there is the chance things will get a little more challenging as the game progresses.

The fighting, for me personally, didn’t get too repetitive but I imagine it could if they didn’t vary the type of enemies coming your way as the game moves on.

One thing that made this a most enjoyable experience was the split screen co-op mode as I often find a human sidekick a lot more helpful than an AI one!

Overall I think this could be a welcome distraction from how deep some games are. As brilliant as say, Fallout 3 or GTA IV were, they were not the kind of game you’d chuck on for half an hour. Or even a few hours if a mate came over.

Watchmen: The End Is Nigh appears to fit that brief perfectly – some throwaway, violent, fun which fans can play to get more backstory on Watchmen and others can blast through for some casual but enjoyable gameplay.

P.S Alternatively you can try the excellent 8bit style viral game that was created to accompany the film (see below picture) here: http://www.minutemenarcade.com/uk/