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Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

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How good is the Australian Government, eh? No, seriously, what an excellent organisation, full of forward-thinking, intelligent, perceptive individuals doing a great job in a cohesive, logical fashion. So, so good.

I mean, just look at some of the decisions they enable. Like the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) and their recent “refused classification” ruling re: Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, effectively making it impossible for anyone with a console to play this popular RPG. Sure, the cynics among you will say, “isn’t it staggeringly short sighted to arbitrarily ban a game that has been available on PC since 2019, and if anything this decision just exposes the shortcomings of a blinkered, reactionary organisation that in an international online context lacks even the barest hint of relevancy?”

Further, you callous doubters might be moved to say something along the lines of, “and while we’re on the subject, what was the point of fighting so hard to finally attain an R-rating for games if the OFLC simply refuses to classify them anyway? It speaks to a system beset by inadequate planning and a fundamental misunderstanding of the various demographics who enjoy video games. Particularly in the case of Disco Elysium, which is a (mostly) non-violent game in which drug and alcohol use isn’t painted in a positive light at all, but rather used to explore a nuanced and intelligent conversation about self destruction and the nature of the self.”

And, finally, you grim misanthropes might be moved to utter: “And with Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, now fully voiced and with added quests and improved graphics and animation, this is the best version available of an already stellar game and it’s practically a crime that a cadre of unimpressive bureaucrats have been able to flex their tepid, inconsistently-applied powers and ban a deadset masterpiece.”

To which I, an ardent fan of both the Australian government and the revered OFLC, would say: “What’s your solution then? Create a fake account by using an American or UK postcode? Attach a credit card that can be used internationally (or borrow an overseas friend’s and pay them back) and then buy said game, download it and then switch to your Australian account to play it? Is that what you’re suggesting? An investment of time that would literally only take ten minutes and will ultimately have you playing one of the best RPGs ever? A tactic sweetened by the fact that you’ll be bypassing an absurd, alarmist and frankly embarrassing ruling?” Because if that’s what you’re suggesting, we of the FilmInk family could never condone such an action, no matter how quick and easy it may be.

In conclusion: thank you, OFLC, for saving us simple, easily-influenced Aussies from the tyranny of an all-time classic game with numerous paths, choices and consequences. And thank heavens it’s not actually staggeringly simple to circumvent your-definitely-not-borderline-farcical rulings. Cheers, ta!

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Mark Hartley: Ozploitation, Stone and Not Quite Hollywood

The revered local documentarian (Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films), features director (Patrick) and classic DVD extras producer (too many to mention) on his affiliation with Stone, and the re-release of both Stone and Not Quite Hollywood under Umbrella’s Ozploitation Classics label.
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Outriders

Game, Gaming, Home, Home Entertainment, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

Day leads into night, night into day and yet another looter shooter launches in a messy bloody state. The latest title to do so is Outriders from developers People Can Fly (Gears of War: Judgement, Bulletstorm), and it’s a testament to the quality of the actual gameplay that despite the many, many issues, this damn thing is fun as hell.

Outriders tells the story of humanity’s exodus from Earth, which is cactus, to the brand spanking new planet of Enoch which is meant to be a paradise and a new beginning for humankind. Of course, it doesn’t quite work out that way and after an engaging if cluttered opening, the player finds themselves in a very different world, harsh and brutal. A world where human fights human, roaming creatures fight everyone and a dark secret has dire ramifications for the continued existence of the species.

On the plus side, though, you’ll find yourself with newly minted superpowers and are now functionally immortal. So, you know, swings and roundabouts.

Outriders is a fast-paced, third person POV looter shooter playable solo or with up to two mates or randos. Although looking like a cover-based shooter, the action is far more frenetic and will usually involve you getting up in your enemy’s faces to ensure you gain health back. There are four classes including Pyromancer who can flame on, Technomancer who can spawn turrets and the like, Devastator who is your classic tank class and Trickster who can manipulate time itself. Each class feels completely unique and evidently a lot of thought has gone into the implementation of powers and how they affect gameplay.

Put simply, Outriders is a bloody hoot. The shooting/powers/looting loop never gets old, even if the story – which starts promisingly enough – ends up feeling a little limp. Under ordinary circumstances, this would be a pretty hearty recommendation, but at time of writing the game is a mess with server malfunctions, errors that delete your gear and numerous other little joy-sucking gremlins lobbing about the place.

Here’s our recommendation: give it a couple of months for all the kinks to get ironed out, and then give Outriders a go. It’s the game equivalent of a B-movie that punches well above its weight and a gory, bombastic blast to boot. It’s rough around the edges, and occasionally fairly stupid, but you’ll likely be having too much fun to care.

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The Outer Worlds: Murder on Eridanos

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The Outer Worlds was released in 2019, and on the whole, it was received very favourably. Developed with more attention paid to character and story depth than recent Bethesda entries – which was apt considering developers Obsidian created the much-loved Fallout: New Vegas in 2010 – the game sold well and was a decent-sized hit.

The problem with The Outer Worlds, though, is that it makes a great first impression and then starts to feel a little samey. Enemy variety, mission design and combat are all actually quite shallow, so by the time you’ve reached the end of the game you’re pretty much done and dusted.

About a year after the main game, the first DLC was released, and it was… okay. Called Peril on Gorgon, the unambitious yarn was oddly designed, quite repetitive and didn’t add anything of note. It was received with considerably less relish than the base game.

Now the second, and final, DLC has arrived and while Murder on Eridanos is an improvement on its predecessor, it still feels a bit like cut content flogged as DLC.

Murder on Eridanos has the player character (and crew) investigate the brutal murder of actress Ruth Bellamy, who played the iconic Halcyon Helen character on the space tellies of millions. You’ll lob over to Eridanos, investigate Rizzo’s beverage distilleries, check out the Purpleberry Orchards and get involved in some weird stuff involving mind controlling slugs, exploited workers and narky insects.

The DLC features the game’s ubiquitous snappy sense of humour, and a crime scene investigation device adds light puzzle solving mechanics, but other than that, it’s basically mildly reskinned enemy encounters between sections of a mostly entertaining story in the classic whodunnit vein.

If that sounds like we’re damning it with faint praise? Well, we are. Murder on Eridanos is a perfectly adequate bit of gear, but its lack of impact on the overall game means that it’s more of a diversion than a revelation. Considering the quality of Fallout: New Vegas DLC back in the day, it feels like a missed opportunity, albeit one with a few chuckles along the way.

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Trailer: The Mosquito Coast

Time to revisit Peter Weir's under-appreciated 1986 adaptation of Paul Theroux's novel (by Paul Schrader!) starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix!!
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The Mauritanian

Home, Home Entertainment, Review, Streaming, This Week 1 Comment

Mainstream films about real-life gross miscarriages of justice – especially American ones – have a tendency to end up contriving some sort of tribute to the essential decency of the system. Not this one. It’s scathing, it’s extremely powerful in places, and it never cops out.

The titular Mauritanian here is Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim), a young man who is arrested by the local police in November 2001 (2 months after 9/11). Before you know it, he’s in Guantanamo Bay. The action shifts briefly at various points to Washington D.C., Albuquerque, New Orleans, even Afghanistan… But the ‘guts’ of the story unfolds in the hellish Cuban prison. It starts off rather understated – wry, even – but be assured that it becomes deeply disturbing: the stuff that nightmares are made of. Waking ones, in the case of Slahi himself.

Jodie Foster plays Nancy Hollander, Slahi’s defense attorney, and Benedict Cumberbatch is Stuart Couch, his chief (military) prosecutor. The allegation is that Slahi was one of the organisers, and the chief recruiter, for 9/11. Allegation, that is, as opposed to charge – because he was NEVER charged with a crime. This is in spite of being imprisoned for many years, and interrogated for three of those years for eighteen hours a day.

Rahim is excellent in the role and everyone else is fine too, but what you’ll probably remember more vividly will be the depictions of the savage abuse – or “special measures”, to use the official euphemism – which he suffered at the hands of his captors. That said, the more subtle detail about Hollander’s dogged struggle to get access to unredacted records is quite interesting in itself, and so are the interactions between her and the deeply scarred, tough and inevitably wary Slahi.

Recommended.

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