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All reviews - Movies (1) - Games (1)

Casino Royale review

Posted : 12 years ago on 10 December 2006 02:19 (A review of Casino Royale)

Over the years, Bond films have become more and more focused not on the eponymous character himself, but rather on the Bond girls, the Bond cars, the gadgets and the over-the-top villains. So it's something of a surprise that with almost all of this paired down to its bare bones, Bond still doesn't take the limelight in this installment.

That honour goes to the man behind Bond: Craig, Daniel Craig. In the months leading up to the film's release, he's been thoroughly scrutinized, and everything from his hair and eye colour to his (apparent lack of) car driving skills have been criticized. And as this installment was very-much a character driven Bond movie, fleshing out Bond perhaps more than the previous 20 combined, many didn't believe Craig could pull it off.

But pull it off he did. Craig is not your typical suave, slick, one-liner spewing dark-suited hero - nor is he meant to be. This is something of a Bond Begins, as we follow a muscle-headed Bond being given 00-status, and face a series of character building exercises that eventually turn him into a character closer to the one we know and love.

I say a 'series of character building exercises', I mean: fights on top of moving cranes, high speed chases through airports, high-stakes poker games, torture scenes, brutal fights in public toilets and so on. For all its posturing as a more understated Bond film, there is still plenty of overblown action sequences to munch your popcorn to - they just dont feature INVISIBLE CARS this time round.

It's not all plain sailing though. The film struggles to maintain tension after the somewhat anti-climactic card-game on which the film is centered around, and there are shades of Attack of the Clones about some of the love scenes.

However, that's all very much excusable, in the face of otherwise stellar action sequences, and an excellent start from Daniel Craig. It may not be the best Bond film ever, but it's certainly the best blockbuster of the year.

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Posted : 12 years ago on 10 December 2006 02:17 (A review of Exit)

Gaming is a pretty unhealthy, not to mention dangerous, past-time, if you believe the media. At best, it turns you into some brain-dead idiot, and at worst into some psychopath ready to shoot up his local school and/or dual-carriage way.

It’s even more bad news for PSP owners, because not only does all the above apply to them, but, if you believe the naysayers, they also have to put up with shoddy ports, remakes and other ill-judged, half-designed games crow-barred onto their system.

Fittingly then, enter Mr. Esc, the hero of Exit, to the rescue.

The premise of Exit is golden, and one staggeringly underused in gaming. You play as the aforementioned Mr Esc, as he leaps into burning buildings, flooded subways, earthquake-stricken hospitals and other disaster areas, and attempt to rescue the victims trapped inside before the time runs out.

And not a gun, never mind a prostitute or lowrider packed full of thugs, in sight. In Exit, you don’t think with your fists, but you do have to think an awful lot with your head. You see, though the premise may sound all-action, in reality Exit is a game of thought and logic. Scattered throughout each level, of which there are one hundred, with more to download, are crates, planks, keys, pickaxes, flashlights and various other devices, each with a specific use. A pickaxe can only be used to hack your way through a frozen wall, a fire extinguisher can only be used to, err, extinguish fires, and so on. As you can only carry one at a time, the real challenge of each level is finding out exactly in which order to use these tools. Should you first open the door to the fire extinguisher in order to create a path to the kid, or do you need to pave a way for the fat guy so he can help you move the huge crate?

It’s those kind of conundrums that are central to Exit’s appeal, and while each level presents a difficult challenge, it almost never leaves you stumped for long – it’s usually pretty obvious that you’ve made a mistake just as soon as you’ve made it, leading to much head-slapping and cursing, and instilling in you a renewed vigour as you set about the level again, experience gained from your previous run in tow.

And how refreshing is it to see such a wonderful game appear on the much-maligned PSP? Taito should receive every award going for their approach to designing for the console. From the bright, crisp, 2D visuals, to the short, wide levels stretching across that screen, to the strict time limits on each level that make it ideal for a quick-fix play on the bus, it’s a real treat to gamers who’ve had to gorge on ports of PS2 racers amidst a famine of genuine innovative, tailor-made content.

Exit can easily count itself amongst the best games out on the system at the moment, and will hopefully encourage other publishers and developers to be more ambitious than simply porting their back-catalogues. And the fact that it does all of this without a gangsta rap soundtrack or an arsenal of licensed weapons, and manages to provide some of the most taxing cerebral challenges you’ll come across nowadays, is some achievement.

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