Will Preston

Archive for July, 2012

The most brutal of all season finales

by on Jul.17, 2012, under Review, Television

Anyone with a working knowledge of drop F guitar tuning and octuple bass drum pedals would have come across the fictional band Dethklok by now. Like Spinal Tap, they started off a music genre in-joke, but ultimately contributed to the cultural movement they set out to lampoon. The adult animated comedy Metalocalypse follows the brutal exploits of the worlds heaviest rock outfit since Strapping Young Lad tried to take it far beyond metal.

Death metal grocery shopping

The show has already garnered a large – yet cult – following despite only being broadcasted late night on satellite channel Adult Swim – a plethora of child-unfriendly cartoons that get thrown back to the late at night slot for a bloody good reason. When it comes to Metalocalypse, think Spinal Tap meets South Park – lots of heavy metal in-jokes and seemingly improvised dialogue spread across scenes of crass humour and ultra violence. Sounds so niche that you can’t imagine it getting through a fourth season, let alone one, right?

To bring you up to speed as fast as a Malmsteen lick, Dethklok are a 5-peice death metal act whose success has led them to a level of such unimaginable hedonism that they live in a remote dragon shaped castle (“Mordhaus”), employ an entire workforce of servants, bodyguards and sound engineers, and travel everywhere in ludicrously metal-themed vehicles from a 5-seater motorbike to a 2-storey helicopter.

Dethklok are:

  • Nathan Explosion – The bands hulking frontman with a voice ranging from grunting to death metal grunting. Possibly based on George “CorpseGrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse
  • Skwisgaar Skwigelf – The world’s fastest (and tallest) guitarist. Alongside the other guitarist – Toki – Skwisgaar’s broken English and childlike intelligence is a constant source of hilarity. Possibly based on Eicca Toppinen from Apocalyptica
  • Toki Wartooth – An excited manchild from Finland who finds constant amazement at the simplest of things – usually uttering his catchphrase “Wowwee!” Possibly based on Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth
  • William Murderface – The typical ugly bass player. William’s self loathing and resentment of everyone around him tags him as the Eric Cartman of the band. Possibly based on Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath
  • Pickles – The drummer. Looks like Axl Rose with dreads and sports a Wisconsin accent. The only member of the band to have been in a previously successful band a la Dave Grohl. Was originally based on Devin Townsend.

The band finds fun with a defibrillator

The show follows the band and an Illuminati-style council – The Tribunal – that believes the successful career of Dethklok is part of an ancient prophecy that will bring the end of the world. This leads to a lot of cloak and dagger sub plots involving hired agents trying to bring down the band in order to stave off a heavy metal apocalypse (thus the show’s name). The members of this organisation are under command from a mysterious bearded wizard-like man called Mr. Selatcia – who slowly reveals his god-like powers.

After 3 series’ of plot twists, violent mass deaths and an episode where the band attempt to perform oral sex on themselves, Dethklok are set to finish recording their long awaited new album. However, Season 4 starts to show that maybe the prophecy isn’t the delusions of a paranoid mind. After a worldwide storm of nightmarish proportions, the copies of the new album never reach the market, causing worldwide panic and doubt over Dethklok’s future. Before the season reaches its shocking finale, a few questions are answered. What happened to the band’s previous guitarist? Who is Mr. Selatcia and what is he, exactly?

The Dethcycle

Series 4 included some hilarious moments, from the band’s ill-fated presentation on racial equality to Murderface’s brush with cheap plastic surgery. Even past its 60th episode, the show still riffs great chords of comedy and continues to unravel a fantastic ongoing storyline that reveals more about the prophecy itself. But just before every mystery is solved, it literally comes to an earth-shattering finish that leaves you wondering if series 5 is the last outing for Dethklok. Even if you’re not a fan of the many facets of heavy metal, the show is a great example of quick flowing dialogue in a comedy show and features some of the zaniest stage set ups seen outside of a KISS concert.

The last episode aired last Sunday with series 5 yet to be announced.

Series 1-3 are currently available on DVD and is regularly shown on Adult Swim.

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A man with nothing left to lose except time

by on Jul.10, 2012, under Review, Video Games

What does a man who has nothing left to lose have to lose when he kept losing things close to him over the span of 2 games? That was the poorly worded question diving in a slow motion blur through my head when they first announced the return of legendary constipated cop (with nothing left to lose) in Max Payne 3.

As part of their seemingly unstoppable campaign at creating gaming perfection, Rockstar decided to dust off one of their iconic characters for one last squeeze of the trigger. After losing his wife and child to a drug fuelled conspiracy – before losing his sort-of grief girlfriend – Max Payne is now living alone in Hoboken, New Jersey. Now a retired cop, Max stumbles across an opportunity to work as a bodyguard for a rich family living in the poverty slapped Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

All while wearing a flowery shirt

Moving away from a dark and gritty New York City and into the vibrant setting of a location where the wealth divide could fit 5 luxury yachts doesn’t feel like an expected move for the Max Payne saga, but it doesn’t feel like such a dramatic departure. The game opens to a Max several years past his prime, drunkenly stumbling around his new South American flat, voicing his problems in a pathos-ridden soliloquy over the backing of the series’ dreary theme tune. Yet again, he has set the tone for the rest of the game.

Working as a bodyguard, Max is in charge of the safety of the Branco family – a pound shop Dallas cast for the 2010’s with the only one with any dignity being the patriarchal older brother, Rodrigo. After defending the family from the ambushes of a highly armed street gang, Fabiana – Rodrigo’s trophy wife – is kidnapped, putting the knife of regret firmly into Max’s shoulder once again. Alongside his compadre – Raul – Max gets embroiled in another explosive conspiracy where trouble has a GPS tracker.

Wrinkled from constipation

The adventure takes place across swampland, high tech offices and even a football stadium complete with floodlights and heavy snipers. It’s a very cinematic affair, but one that doesn’t put theatrics in the way of arcade-style gameplay. Thankfully, there are no quicktime events and the boss fights don’t bring the action to a difficult halt. The level of difficulty curves at a good swoop, but is never too easy. However, there are times when you have to listen to the same scripted lines over and over again due to lack of manual saving and easy death. But these hurdles are few and far between and don’t spoil Max Payne 3’s brilliant gameplay.

The gun fights play out in the most flowing style you will ever see. Rather than the invincible torpedo of bullet flinging death in previous games, if Max dives into something (say, a rusty filing cabinet), things go from Chow Yun Fat to Chow Yun fell over. An element of care is required when pulling off the devil may care stunts that define the character. Max’s movement bears the lumbering trademark of Rockstar’s Euphoria engine, but still responds well to your command. Rather than running in a small Nico Bellic-esque semi circle to simply turn around, Max is far more direct, making the gruffly voice drunk a much better gunfighter than expected. He’s not looking too bad either.

Laser sight gets pretty pointless

It’s been nearly 10 years since the release of the last Max Payne and the leap in graphical improvement is astounding. The level of detail matches LA Noire in terms of realism, but not to the point where you’re hypnotised by peoples realistically yapping faces. This even extends to the violence, which doesn’t hold back at all. It goes all the way from juicy exit wounds exploding from the back of a fresh kill’s head to the grisly remains of someone who lost a fight with a pipebomb – not to mention most of his limbs and organs, too. Supplementing the superb gun battles are the potentially overused slow motion shots that trigger after killing the last guy in the room. In a breathtaking 3 seconds, you see the bullet swoop from your barrel and straight through your target. Alongside the gore, it’s pretty gratuitous to strap yourself headfirst into the violence. Not that it’s a bad thing of course.

The single player will take a casual week to complete, but it is worth going over again on the more extreme difficulties. The good folks at Rockstar were even kind enough to bestow an arcade mode – for those of us who just want to dive right into some no-nonsense action – and a cookie-cutter multiplayer – for those of us who want to dive right into a pre-pubescent shouting match online. Somehow, the multiplayer mode isn’t too bad. It takes on board the framework of a basic Call of Duty upgrade system and lets you run wild. Oh, and bullet time is included, but be warned: If you can see things in slow motion, so can everyone else.

Once again, Rockstar create a cinematically sound outing that really drags you from reality and into a realistic fantasy world. Although Max is showing his age, the presentation – from the quirky faux-comic panel shots to the Max’s drunkview – is astounding. Even the soundtrack avoided the typical nuances that plague just about every other action game. A co-op mode would have been nice, but now I’m just being spoilt.

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