Clan 404


Archive for March, 2007

300 times better than Gladiator

24 Mar 2007 by ShogZ

A very short review of 300 by me, your resident critic. I do not use the title film critic as that honor is unreservedly held by Dr Gonz, who's many fine works can be found over at for want of such prowess, I present my review below:

300 is the movie Gladiator could have been if they had followed the Roman army rather than one man. Sure it wouldn't have been the personal epic it was but it would have been a massive, historical work.
I'm not going to outline the plot, if you haven't heard of this battle, or read Frank Miller's novel, or any of the other million stories about it, or seen any of the advertising for this film then you're already dead and the world wanted it that way.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the film itself. There is no better argument or 'dont download compressed Divx copies' than watching this movie in digital at a cinema. The image was so crisp and clear, the sound clarity as clear as water ridden urine. It was, in short, beautfiul. I actually felt I'd been watching VHS tapes instead of DVDs recently. The grit, dirt and hues of colour gavwe a radiance and reality o the film that automatically killed the competition.
The acting was all round fantastic and bar, just a few tiny, misuses of the English language posing as dialogue it stood out. There were no moments when I literally shuddered at the language used and even the incredibly hammy speeches play well because of the sheer epic scope of the film.
The setup and intro are suitably powerful that you are hooked within about 5 minutes of the opening. Every camera angle and shot is milked for all it's worth, perhaps a little overstated on repeat viewing, but first time around it's visually orgasmic.
The combat effects aren't overused (The now ubiquitous matrix 'freeze and fly' camera) and none of the heroes or villians perform particularly outrageous feats of physical daring, being just slightly over the top in their exertions.
Favourite moments for me include the clash between the Spartans and Persia's immortals. Historically a 'who would win if' argument. Elite soldiers from the middle east / Asia versus those from Greece. Fantastic viewing.
There is a suitable amount of backing political intrigue with the role of 'warrior woman' played well by our hero's wife, queen of Sparta.
I defy any man not to feel that animal twinge of excitement at the first charge of the Persian infantry into the Sopartan line, sheer classic film making that plays on the emotional xylophone very well.
There are of course a few bits missing, the characters are perhaps a bit two dimensional, platying as they are an era of history rather than personalities of an age. But that's forgivable as it's what the film seeks, scope.
All in all 300 out of ten.


Mobile Games - Really?

22 Mar 2007 by ShogZ

Once, many a year ago I tried to play games on my then mobile phone. This was akin to trying to play the harp with my teeth. It hurt and there was no good to come of it.

Arguable the greatest invention that ever hit the original Nokia brands was the rise of snake. The first, green screen Anaconda style game was literally played by millions and enjoyed. Reason? Well my hypothesis is that, much like tetris, its simplicity lent itself to genuine human interest and it was perfect for its format. It was quick and could be played mobile as the good lord mobile technologies intended.

So what of mobile games in the 2.5G generation? My first gaming experience on my phone outside of the default, poorly drawn outrun style title was a game I downloaded and paid for. It was a 2d platformer, I forget the name, and it sucked the ass of evil dead clowns. This was unfortunate as I had hoped to find a new avenue for gaming. Having become bored of my GBA (Bored enough to leave it, a powerpack and 18 games on a train) I have been looking for that 'mobile gaming solution' that can follow me on my many travels.

At first I'd gone with PSP like all the other i-sheep out there. But even consistent badgering of Gonz and Shades to give me just one reason to buy one resulted in nothing. I cannot stress enough, I had already made up my mind, I wanted to buy the damn handheld, I really did. I spent hours on the net looking for screenshots, reviews or movies of anything that would excite me enough to actually go the shop and hand my money over. Nothing.

There had to be something, some hidden away title (Like evil dead pinball or Doom 2 on GBA) that would give me the incentive. ANYTHING. Please lawd, I WANT to give you my money, I already want your handheld, just give me a reason. Honest I would even email the launch sites "Please Sony, just give me a reason". When my prayers went unanswered and the small gaming people of my brain were slaughtered regardless of their piety I finally killed the religion of Sony in my head and decided never again to offer unto them the burnt calf of my cash.

So what then? GBA had failed me. Sony had died (And this is before they took an almighty shit on the gaming community, that shit being PS3 launch.) I was alone. I had only...My phone.

Could I? Could I really try? The golden days of Snake were long over, my last attempt at downloadable content had hurt me so much, was there a chance of return? Having a member of the clan who works for a major mobile games producer (SpiKe) whos recently been head hunted for an even better job in London meant I surely had to give it a go. This is when I discovered that mobile games had come along way, but that the format wars here were just as bitter as the console world, if not worse.

A mate and I were chatting about it over dinner and he showed me the content list for  his UK network, I was impressed. In fact I nearly shat my pants and vomitted when he showed me 'Street Fighter 2' on his phone. Now he doesnt have one of those all singing all dancing handsets, in fact mine's a tad more advanced but he had a decent conversion of SF2 (For the astute you will know that SF2: Turbo is my favourite game of all time) running on his damned phone. Well, his operators list of games included classics reworked such a Golden Axe and even...Final Fight. Therefore I connected my GPRS and salivated at the prospects for the games catalouge on my own (Leading and massive) international phone provider.

I was faced with crushing reality.

The 'store' was much like your average Games shop. I had a thousand EA Sports titles to choose from, mostly Fifa, Tiger Woods and Madden conversions. As a side note, can someone just fucking shoot Tiger Woods so he can't be in any more games. It's just golf for pitys sake! Just call it golf and dont pay him gozillions for the 'prestige' of having his pixellated face on a 7" phone screen in shite resolution. Damn.

Anyway, my own range of classics was limited to Sonics various incarnations. Being a fan of sonic I duly oblidged. Now, Im thinking, seriously this is just a phone I'm gonna get like one level of awful graphical tomfoolery and a blue square representing my faouvrite hedgehog. This time my suprise was good.

For just £2.50 (Probably the equivalent of about $50,000 Zimbabwean dollars) I got a pretty decent phone conversion of Sonic. It doesnt have much replay value, but its a genuince conversion. Minus sound and with a lot of juddering when you scroll fast (Hint to the company that made this: Scrolling fast is what sonic does, optimise it) it was quite fun. LAcking sound and with the odd stagger it was hardto get my drunken garden mammal to perform proprely but it was still fun. Largely through nostalgia value I got immersed and missed my stop on the train this morning. Therefore, a difficult win for the Sonic phone game.

Next I'm downloading Rainbow Six: Vegas (No shit its really there, cant imagine its a faithful version but...)

Watch this space. Or handset. Or something.

Dirty Skinning

21 Mar 2007 by Dr_Gonz

As you can probably see (if not, hit the refresh button for a sexy new stylesheet), I've hacked about with theme so it's at least a bit 404y. It's still really quite ugly, but it's ever so marginally better than just using the default skin, and I'm sure when the Design Muse hits me it will be be rectified into a beautiful glowing ball of wonderful. As opposed to a slightly reeking ball of something else.

Victory In Europe

16 Mar 2007 by Dr_Gonz

Just when it really matters, we have acquired the domain. I'm still arsing about with registrars so it might not work properly yet, but the important thing is that we are MARGINALLY LESS INACTIVE* than the other clan404's in the world.

* Activity only measurable at microscopic levels


05 Mar 2007 by ShogZ - How not to be a geek rapper and internet celebrity. - 404's own record label (No joke). - Lots of pictures of a man called Ian Barber. - There is no cabal. - It isn't even there anymore. - The funniest webcomic on the internot.

Having an old console is good because...

05 Mar 2007 by ShogZ

I've been loving being behind the times in console terms recently.
One of my favourite moments of the weekend is my walk into my local Game store where, out of sheer desperation for the deposit on a PS3 pre-order or for a copy of Gears of War on the 360, people can pawn their once loved games.

These used and old titles are handed in, as reluctant sex slaves to the cashiers who part with mere pennies and duly stick a 'preowned' label on the cover and put them on display.

Some of these Xbox and PS2 titles don't run on the newer systems (Backwards compatible? Just like Windows XP SP2 right Sony?) So they're forced into the '3 for 2' bargain bins dotted around the Game store. In their hay days these glorious titles in glossy boxes would swank about the shop casually flirting with customers and demanding about £40 or 50 for those in Eurloand. Now these cheap harlots are the victims of progress. Their battered boxes and used code make them no longer vestal virgins but a trio of gaming goodness to be had at a snip of the price of one of the originals. Fair commerce indeed my pretties.

I've been playing a lot of 'Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse' on the XBox. I fucking love this game. Essentially you're a zombie and shamble around a 50's futuristic town designed to be a future eutopia. You're job is to make lots of other zombies, chase the wife of the towns mayor (Who it seems our lead is infatuated with, no pulse indeed...) and generally create zombie havoc. It's comedic and fun but doesn't feel 'light' which is a bonus. Lots of great moves such as controlling enemies via your severed arm, disabling armed guys with your zombie flatulance and bowling your own explosive undead head make the strategies for completion fun and varied. It's the first game that's had me addicted since...Well Since that particular RTS which put me in rehab and probably cost me a relationship. I speak of course of...

Medieval Total War. There is no greater strategy title on earth than this magnificent monster of a game. For once PC Gamers' weekly 'Best Game since Jesus' award was worth it. It's spawned two sequals, Rome Total War and Medieval 2. Now whilst I've seen Medieval 2 running on a friends machine and been much enamoured by it's glory I've held off installing it on my less impressive rig. The reason being is that being behind the times in consoles is great, being behind the times in PC's? Sucks the ass of flatulant dead zombies.

I can feel that time coming up. That critical mass of games that just demand I get a new computer. The joy of a clean install on a blazingly fast machine and even of replaying your old games in full 1280x1024 4xAA glory is an e-gasm without equal. Sadly with many more commitments than I used to have the PC upgrade will have to wait, either that or happen in painful stages like the seige of some ancient city with epic stone walls scalable only with towers and pounded by catapult fire.

Until then I get to listen to my girlfriend scream and throw the gamepad at me whilst playing Silent Hill 2. I also get to let her win at Monkeyball Deluxe and I've got to complete the X-Men age of Apocalypse 2 I just got. That plus I got hold of Doom 3 for the XBox...You guessed it, all in 3 for 2's.

Generally I don't buy FPS or RTS games on Consoles, I'm just too much of a WASD fan and you just can't do it properly on a keyboard. It's like a waterbed with satin sheets or a single hammock tied limply to a palm tree. That said HALO was the reason I bought the big black beast of the box in the first place. Consoles for me are about multiplayer games, third person titles and decent RPG's. I've got a slew of multiplayer games fomr the bargain bins, Serious SAm, X-Men, Marvel vs Capcom, Mortal Kombat (All 8000 of them) and more.

All I need now are some friends...