game review: LICHDOM – Battlemage

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Lichdom: Battlemage (2014)

Lichdom: Battlemage (2014)

LICHDOM: BATTLEMAGE
Developer: Xaviant Games
Released: 26th August 2014
Website: Official

Score: 5/9 Hammers

Lichdom: Battlemage (from here on called Battlemage, because why the hell wasn’t it?) launches entirely on its premise to “make the mage feel like a badass” which, frankly, doesn’t seem like it should need any help. Being the avatar of the obviously nerdy fantasy of “guy reads a lot of books, becomes god” might make him the focus of whispered gags between the fighter and the rogue, but it’s not like they’re going to muster the balls to say them out loud. Not if they value remaining invertebrates, that is.

Battlemage as a game is entirely focused on its combat, and thus on its crafting. You craft spells to throw them at your enemies, to make your enemies softer so they splat harder when you throw spells at them, or to keep them still so they’re easier to throw spells at. It’s a good system, in that it’s exactly as deep as it needs to be to provide a useful change of pace without requiring years of intensive study to get right. There’s a lot of math involved, meaning calling fire from the sky or transforming your enemies into hosts for swarms of locusts plays frighteningly similarly to filling a tax return, but it’s not hard to avoid all that once you know how it works. You’ll likely only end up crafting six or seven spells a level when you get access to the higher level gear and your old stuff stops disintegrating zombies like it did. Continue reading

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album review: DRAGONFORCE – Maximum Overload

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Dragonforce - Maximum Overload (2014)

Dragonforce – Maximum Overload (2014)

DRAGONFORCE
Album: Maximum Overload
Released: August 18th, 2014
Label: earMUSIC
Website: Official

Score: 4/9 Hammers

First of all, I would like to note that I am about to criticize a worldwide known band, if not one of the most well known contemporary metal bands. Literally, my opinion means nothing when compared to the fame this band has earned through near brilliant marketing techniques. I am just some asshole on the internet. With that said, it is surprising to see Dragonforce’s stock rise and fall throughout this decade.

DragonForce have as many things going for them as they do strikes against them. Here is a band whose breakout success with “Through the Fire and Flames,” the lead single on 2006’s Inhuman Rampage, has both benefited and hindered this British power metal act. Because of this song’s inclusion on the Guitar Hero soundtrack, DragonForce has both enjoyed the success of a new audience of video game consumers and been the band that was on that video game that no one really plays anymore. Despite being a competent band aside from the rumor of studio enhancement, this connection to Guitar Hero potentially robbed DragonForce of receiving the full fledged respect they probably deserve. Things have been made worse by the band never really putting themselves in an important position in contemporary heavy metal, aside from being included in the massive surge of metal interest in the mid 00’s. This is sort of disappointing as the band has always put out decent, if not predictable, power metal albums. Continue reading

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album review: DARK FORTRESS – Venerial Dawn

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DARK FORTRESS - Venerial Dawn (2014)

DARK FORTRESS – Venerial Dawn (2014)

DARK FORTRESS
Album: Venerial Dawn
Released: September 1st 2014
Label: Century Media
Website: Official

Score: 7/9 Hammers

The concept album is basically my white whale – an ancient and fantastic thing that I irrationally hate for its rarity with the same passion I seek it out. Dark Fortress have been something of a salve for me over the last few years; a band that occasionally releases some of the most interesting and unique death metal in the world before disappearing again, locking the ancient oaken doors to their doom fortress and returning to their ritualistic contemplations. Continue reading

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album review: ASTRAL DOORS – Notes from the Shadows

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ASTRAL DOORS - Notes from the Shadows (2014)

ASTRAL DOORS – Notes from the Shadows (2014)

ASTRAL DOORS
Album: Notes from the Shadows
Released: August 28th 2014
Label: Metalville
Website: Official

Score: 7/9 Hammers

Astral Doors, as the name indicates, are a band that focuses on old-school cosmic mysticism; the steel tones of heavy metal tempered by the lighter tones of folk. For twelve years now, they’ve looked back, showing through unashamed and single-minded energy that old school metal isn’t dead. The first thing a new listener will notice though is just how much the lead singer sounds like Dio.

Because he sounds very much like Dio. The vocal range, the pitch, the energy is very much in the Ronnie James spectrum, which is incredible all by itself. I mean, regretfully, almost nobody sounds like Dio anymore. It’s the first thing about this band that everyone notices and there was a danger that these guys would eventually go down in history as little more than a Dio tribute act that, for whatever reason, happens to sing entirely their own songs. Give them a moment more of your time, though, and you’ll realize there’s much more to it than that. Continue reading

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film review: THE MUMMY (1932)

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The Mummy (1932)

The Mummy (1932)

THE MUMMY (1932)
Directed By: Karl Freund
Starring: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners
Website: IMDB

Score: 5/9 Hammers

The Mummy is interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all, it continued Boris Karloff’s reign as the horror heavyweight in yet another memorable film. Secondly, it began a series of unrelated films that featured an ancient Egyptian corpse as the central villain. Last, and probably most importantly, it has little to do with what we think of as the Mummy monster. While the 1932 film undoubtedly has references to the still wrapped corpse brought back to life, stalking around present day, the actual trope of a white bandaged Mummy would not be established until decades later with a series of 1940’s B movies and the 1959 Christopher Lee film of the same name. At this point, the Mummy was less a lumbering monster with arms at Akimbo and more a creepy eyed old man who loves to stare. Continue reading

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game review: RISEN 3: TITAN LORDS

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Risen 3 Titan Lords (2014)

Risen 3 Titan Lords (2014)

RISEN 3: TITAN LORDS
Developer: Piranha Bites
Released: 12th August 2014
Website: Official

Score: 3/9 Hammers

The Risen games (as we’ve said before) are always pretty lacklustre affairs. They seem to exist exclusively in that space where other, better RPGs don’t – a kind of poor person’s Skyrim, posing as a brief distraction from the fact that we’ve still got a couple of months to go before The Witcher 3.

At least, that’s what they always used to be. This new one is, paradoxically, priced higher than Skyrim was at launch, and the same as the third Witcher game. At first I didn’t know what to expect from that. Does that mean it’s made the same transformation The Witcher did, from clunky but promising to honest-to-god decent experience? Continue reading

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