Philm – Harmonic

Ipecac

I’ve always quite liked Dave Lombardo. By which I mean I like the idea of him, having never actually met the man. I like the fact that in a band so unapologetically ‘metulz’ as Slayer, with its band members straining to look cooler than cool (and often just ending up looking like Kerry King), there’s a guy at the back who looks like the kind of plumber who’d drink five cups of tea then charge you an hourly rate for the time it takes to drink them.

I like the fact that although he’s one of the best metal drummers in the world, he’s equally at home making discordantly and joyously stupid noise with Mike Patton. I like that he has, according to Wikipedia, recorded an album of Vivaldi music, been a disco DJ, and recorded an album with someone called DJ Spooky, who played his record collection and let Lombardo improvise drums over the top of them. By comparison, the only thing my mind can imagine the rest of Slayer doing with their free time is trawling ebay looking for iron crosses, beating their chests ferociously or possibly eating kittens.

My admiration for the man has long since outstripped my love for the band he made his name with (which I believe had a similar expiry date to my virginity.) So when I get a press release heralding a new band featuring the good Dr Lombardo, I get marginally excited. When that press release says ‘upon hearing the musical direction that Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo has embraced with his new band, PHILM, fans are certainly in for a surprise,’ my interest piques a little more.

When I then see quotes from Dave Lombardo his very self that say ‘When people hear about my involvement in PHILM, they automatically assume that it will compare to Slayer’s sound. They couldn’t be more different,’ my mind is racing with possibilities. Is this a reinterpretation of the writing of Charles Darwin through the medium of the flugelhorn? Could it be nursery rhymes recreated from the sound a toad makes when its back is licked in just such a way? Could this possibly be the very sound of the breath of God?

No. Rather disappointingly, it’s a vaguely eclectic post hardcore album. This disappointment is in its own way disappointing, because it has rather disappointingly stopped me from paying much attention to it beyond that. Which is a shame (nay, disappointing) because actually, this is not a bad album, albeit nowhere near the groundbreaking shift in music that the hyperbole surrounding it would suggest.

Stepping back, it seems Philm are a three piece featuring the aforementioned Slayer drummer, War’s Pancho Tomaselli and Gerry Nestler of Civil Defiance. ‘Harmonic’ is their debut album, and is, unsurprisingly given the band’s genetic makeup, steeped in ferocious drums, old school hardcore vitriol and good old fashioned gusto. Opening track ‘Vitriolise’ lurches from punk rock riffing over blast beats to a chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place on a scratchy old Dischord vinyl. It’s good, it gets the blood pumping and the memory glands squirting snatches of my musical history into my brain ear. Second track ‘Mitch’ does exactly the same, throwing so many hardcore and post hardcore reference points at you that you don’t even realise that its finished and you’re listening to the next track.

For all of its supposed invention, the real problem with ‘Harmonic’ is that it is little more than a great big blender of American underground rock, 15 tracks of ‘ooh, that sounds like the Melvins, that sounded a bit like Fugazi, hey wasn’t that a Boysetsfire riff,’ that, while pleasant enough, lacks the songwriting punch of the bands that so inform its sound. It is too unfocused, too indebted to the collective accumulated musical knowledge contained within its constituent parts to ever become something that rises above them.

There are moments where it veers more into the oddball experimentation Lombardo has explored elsewhere, but without a King Buzzo or Mike Patton to marshal the sonic meanderings they find their way up blind alleys, lost and achieving nothing, until they peter out and are replaced by a more straight ahead number.

Which is not to say that it isn’t enjoyable, far from it. The vocals are at times quite arresting, Lombardo’s drums are of course sublime, and there is no point when I’ve found myself wanting to change what I’m listening to. It’s just I’ve listened to it six or seven times and have failed to find myself humming a single riff, or doing as subtle a head nod as I can manage without catching the attention of my boss. Instead, I’ve found myself making mental notes to go back and listen to albums long forgotten. With all the will in the world I doubt that was the band’s intention.

Perhaps I’m being harsh. So few bands managed to escape their influences, and in a world where Metulzcore bands ape Slayer endlessly through a Pro Tools sheen, this album stands as something of a monument against the tidal wave of excrement that his main job has unleashed on the world. But like any monument, it is too rooted to the past to be anything more exciting than a pigeon perch.

6/10

 

Torche – Harmonicraft

(Volcom Entertainment)

I vaguely remember being sent Torche’s second album, Meanderthal, for review about four (five?) years back or so. The memories in question are filed in the narrow and underused mental pigeonhole labelled “comedy doom-pop”, alongside a scribbled memo about a disappointing follow-up (which may only have been an EP or something).

So when the editorial team of this esteemed organ informed me that they’re such ardent hard-left anarcholibertarians that the thought of, y’know, assigning things to their writers smacked just a mite too much of hierarchy and oppression, and that I should “just pick something off this list here, for fuck’s sake, you’re making this a real chore”… well, what would you have done? Me, I reached out for the warm reassurance of the familiar amidst a hailstorm of bleakness and pain. Torche – yeah, they were all right. That’ll do.

Not a bad choice, as it turns out – though not a life-changer either. I still stand by “comedy doom-pop”, though I remember Meanderthal as being sillier than this. Harmonicraft, by comparison, is a little more straight-faced, more knowing, perhaps; noisy boys grown up a bit but still fond of the fun-times, that sort of thing. You know, just like pop-punk bands used to do around their third or fourth album, back in the days when you could still use “pop-punk” as a non-derogatory critical term and be taken seriously anywhere other than Punktastic.

There’s definitely some pop and some punk in the Torche DNA, though, and that’s fine. Not a great deal of riffing here, more four-chord progressions, the occasional catchy chorus, and hints of that classic FM rock architecture, like someone wandering through Desertfest carrying an old boom-box with Rainbow cranked to the max. Kicking in particular has a lingering anthemic flavour, though it’s out the back door and halfway down the street before the hook has time to stick; Roaming lurks a little longer, but sags somewhat around the middle, like a man too old for his skinny-fit jeans.

Elsewhere, Skin Moth brings bagsful of bright and ballsy momentum, and the bright melodic lines and cheery delay-drenched arpeggios of Snakes Are Charmed blur past you like the soundtrack to a fast drive down a long highway in some sun-drenched corner of the States you only recognise from movies; you’re on the way to the denouement scene, the lost members of your gang rescued from wherever the villains stashed them, and you’re following the sinking sun westward for the final showdown. (Your inevitable but nonetheless spectacular victory – after about another ten to twelve minutes of screen-time, to be punctuated by nail-biting cliffhanger escapes, a bit of callous betrayal and an act of pure and spontaneous sacrifice from an unexpected quarter – will be underpinned by a swelling coda/reprisal of the same progression played forte con orchestra.)

There’s more than a hint of late-model Biffy Clyro here, too – and not only that muted sense of melodic suss which always sounds like it’s just about to be subverted (but never quite is), but the stadium-reverb stylings of the guitar and vocal sounds, which lend an inescapable (if not always deserved) sense of epic chest-swelling gravitas to pretty much any mid-paced ditty played on cranked guitars. Torche seem to have nailed a tightrope-walk technique with Harmonicraft, in that it never sounds outright daft, and equally it never turns into the earnest Commercially-Viable Arena Rawk®, which it apes in a strange but endearingly respectful manner. This is an interesting and largely uninhabited corner of the musical map.

So, what’s good about Harmonicraft? It’s loud, it’s fuzzy, and it sounds like a record by a band who have a lot of fun when they’re playing: you can practically hear the shit-eating grins, practically see the comedy cod-rock axe-meister poses being pulled, practically feel the bruised knees from that drunken yet ironic powerslide across the studio floor. Harmonicraft does not take itself too seriously, and – going on past form – I assume the same applies to Torche themselves. Heck, there’s even some thumpity-splat Bow-Wow-Wow drumbeats in there; if you can get away with that, I figure you’re doing okay.

http://www.torchemusic.com/

My Brother The Wind – I Wash My Soul in the Stream of Infinity

(Transubstans Records)

“You leave the creative element of the process out of the recording, so you go in and basically just record a bunch of songs that you know inside out and upside down, and you don’t have to spend too much of your energy in the recording studio creating and thinking and analyzing and doing all that stuff.” — Lars Ulrich

I figured I was done with Metallica, because I’m not a fan of pissing in the same face too often. But it turns out that once you scratch the surface of Lars Ulrich’s shining dome, you unearth a seam of bullshit so rich you could power the internet off it for a decade.

By the time Metallica entered the studio to record Death Magnetic in 2007 they’d already been playing around with the ideas on it for a good three years. Then they and producer Rick Rubin got to work with a deliberate, agreed mandate to perform the record as robotically as possible, apparently. A drive, seemingly, to chase all spontaneity out of the work, to transmute it from ‘art’ into ‘product’; to silence the insouciant snare buzz, and to dampen the errant cough in the vocal booth. We can inject the energy back in later, lads. There’s a soundfont for it.

And this was supposed to be the ‘return to form’. Explains a lot, no? I pick Metallica merely as an obvious (and clichéd) example, but one feels the same could be applied to many of the bands roosting in the highest branches of the rock ‘n’ roll tree.

You tell me, what sort of serious musician wants to ‘leave the creative element…out of the recording’? It’s fortunate that not all music is made this way – in fact, most of it isn’t. This album isn’t like that, it’s all improvised and recorded reel-to-reel in a couple of hours, and mixed in the back of the car on the way to the record company office. And it seems so much more interesting for that. No riff-charts, no endless permutations of structure, no cutty-pastey draggy-droppy in Pro-Tools, just some blokes with some instruments and a tape recorder and bags of ‘creative element’. Let’s go, and see what happens. That’s how every musician starts out, right?

It’s a well-known axiom – at least among all the bands I’ve ever been in – that you don’t publish or perform your self-indulgent, faux-prog, jazz-blues odyssey jams, because nobody else will enjoy them like you do. My Brother The Wind  have said cobblers to that (only in Swedish) and instead put out two albums of lovely, groovy, stoned psychedelia, representing only a handful of hours’ work between them. So what you’re left with is a slice of frozen time, in essence. A place, a mood, a particular moment produced the sounds on this record. As such, it is unrepeatable.

If you approach this album with an ear for a toothsome pop hook or a big chord change, you’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to have to put in some spade work and dig down between the beats to find the joy you need, and it gives up the goods slowly. But persistence pays off. It’s in the intricate lattice of rolling drums and active up-tempo bass in opener Fire! Fire!, that carries the song almost seamlessly from ambient rustling treetops to the limits of the atmosphere across 13 minutes. It’s in the boy-oy-oing of the tape head picking up a guitar note halfway through the lifespan of its sustain at the beginning of The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart or Under Crimson Skies. It’s in the gentle clean-picked riffing and sparse snares-off groove of the gorgeous title track, bracketed by sounds of running water.

It’s 50 minutes of improvised experimental psychedelia, and you already know if you want to bother hearing it or not. You probably don’t, do you? That’s okay, I’m used to it.

So that’s the review. What else is there to say? (Fuck Metallica.)

http://www.facebook.com/mybrotherthewind

Wormrot

The Old Angel, Nottingham, Saturday 2nd June

What is a Wormrot? Before Saturday, I couldn’t have told you. Today, I still can’t really tell you. Their chief purpose in life appears to be to write songs that sound like exploding slurry vats, and inspiring exceptionally daft behaviour in apparently otherwise-sensible men.

I walk into the Old Angel, a favourite haunt of my completely uninteresting youth, thinking I’m going to see a death metal band. This meaningless genre appellation is immediately snatched away from me by a more informed compatriot and replaced with ‘grindcore’, which presumably has much richer and more subtle associations in the addled mind of the metalhead. Wormrot sound more or less like all the death metal I’ve ever heard except maybe a bit quicker, so I dunno.

Before that, though, I catch the dying moments of Pine Barrens’ set. I elbow my way to the front, noting the especially strong reek of sweat in the venue. I watch the band play out and get off stage, then realise that this guy walking past me through the dispersing crowd is actually the vocalist. I’d brushed right by him vocalising from the middle of the crowd and, distracted by an incongruous necklace bass guitar, had not even noticed his absence from the stage. Cool. No wonder he fucking stank.

And actually standing in the crowd proves to be an immediate mistake, as I am clouted unceremoniously off to one side by a frantic mosh that explodes as soon as Wormrot strike their first dischord, and I go spinning off into a corner. I’m not used to this, because at most of the gigs I go to it takes a song or two to warm up to that sort of pitch; by which time – when you’re my height – you’ve squashed yourself against a barrier or secured yourself to the leg of a nearby giant.

So I take up position against the wall, and some burly bloke’s back utterly obscures my view of anything but the goonish antics of the moshpit. But I find I’m okay with that, because they’re probably far more interesting to watch than the band, no offence intended.

Fat, balding men in their 30s and a smattering of geeky hipsters make up this vanguard of drunken clowns. One guy is enacting the aggression signal of a silverback gorilla, complete with hooting. Over there is a dude pushing people over and then helping them back to their feet. This guy is trying to make his neck keep up with the beat. He looks like a woodpecker who’s found a tree made of solid amphetamine. There’s about four women in the place altogether; one of them is dispensing the wristbands and the others are admiring my beard and face.

The band itself has no bass player, which makes perfect sense in context. And from just a guitar, a drum kit and a larynx, they’re wringing out one heck of a distressing noise. It sounds like exactly what you’d expect; someone with a sore throat barking sweary encouragement at two baby chainsaws fighting to the death in a sack.

Every so often it all slides down-tempo towards what I would call ‘actually heavy’, and thus begins to sound like something somebody bothered to write, with actual riffs and grooves and fills and variation and tune and things. Naturally those bits are there for contrast and never last very long, but the crowd fucking love those bits, they do. They go mental for those bits. And I’m stood there all like ‘what.’ Because if that’s your bag mate, I’ve got entire fucking albums of that. Days’ worth.

The energy of the crowd is infectious, so it’s hard not to grin – even if I do have to constantly fend off sweaty bodies from crushing me against the Old Angel’s pissy wall – and they’re all about whatever it is Wormrot are doing. The best moment is when the singer declaims ‘BIRMINGHAM YOU NEVER LET US DOWN’, which raises the most confused and unenthusiastic Nottinghamian half-cheer I’ve ever heard. I considered a Nottingham Forest joke to go here, but that would have been dishonest of me, as I have no idea what Nottingham Forest are for.

A song or two later, he’s realised his mistake and amends this sentiment to ‘FUCK BIRMINGHAM’, and that’s all good with us. Wormrot are Singaporean and touring the world in a rock ‘n’ roll band has to be confusing work, bless ’em. Nottingham, Birmingham, what’s the difference? (One is a city, the other is merely a realistic mock-up of one.)

There’s barely even an instant’s pause at the first set’s end before they launch into their encore. Altogether we receive forty minutes of frantic clattering, if that, and they’re gone. Wormrot just blur into a soupy mess of horrible noise and play-fighting.

I’m still kind of baffled by the music of Wormrot, and thus by ‘grindcore’ or death metal or whatever the fuck in general; but as usual, it all makes sense when seen live. The crowd all goes a bit savage and unhinged and the music sounds like a tropical downpour of spiralling insanity, so you can see how it fits together.

Why you’d ever put it in your ears outside of that context, I’m not quite certain. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to these 90-minute stoner-space-prog-doom jams featuring no more than five notes or three chords at a time and a tempo that never rises above ‘celestial’.

http://www.facebook.com/wormrot

Prometheus

Meh.

The most disappointing thing about this film is that it began beautifully, teased me into thinking that it was going to be excellent, and then descended into a confusing tangle of okayblehmurrrggfppfft. Pfft. Pfh.

In essence, Prometheus is a film about a bunch of stupid humans trying to find out answers, and coming to an end in a spaghetti tangle of questions. Within this bunch of stupid humans are some disappointing but expected science-fiction archetypes: Inept Nerd, Swag Asshole, Twitchy McTriggerFinger, Neutral Black Guy, Minority Supporting Character(s), Replicant, and of course the (three!?) women: Sentimental Tree-Hugger Lady, Strong Female Frigid Boss and Scottish.

So the tree-hugger and the swag asshole find a bunch of letters from the aliens on their archaelogical digs, and a decade later, having not aged one bit, they’re suddenly on a spaceship travelling to the outer edges of the galaxy. It isn’t explained why they’re doing that besides “meeting the aliens” and I’m not sure why anybody thought that was sufficient. The thing that frustrates me about writing like this is that surely there should be a bigger purpose for an expedition like the one at the centre of this film. Surely it isn’t that hard to give the characters of the expedition an impressive and daunting goal to work towards – that might have helped to keep my attention for a little longer.

Prometheus doesn’t hesitate to inform the audience that “billions and billions” have been invested into this big space project, and there’s some strange plot running through the film about a family feud at the top of the company running the expedition, but whatever! We’re meant to be taken in by the idea that these characters are off on an adventure to the edge of the galaxy for a laff and a bit-o-banter with t’aliens.

If it seems bizarre that the entire adventure begins on an indistinct and uninteresting idea, it’s even more frustrating when they finally get there, and they’re told by Strong Female Frigid Boss they shouldn’t even give the aliens a wee nod of acknowledgement if they find them. What? Then what was the point of travelling out there? Why didn’t you say that before these characters spent two years asleep, hurtling through a vacuum?

There are instances where a discernible plot seems to be emerging, only to be smothered out by one layer of subplot, then another. There’s a moment where we’re told something fundamental to the main character Dr. Shaw – something that is meant to develop her as a character and maybe even (God forbid) make us care about her – but it’s skimmed over so quickly we don’t get enough time to digest it. Then there’s a little splash of sex scene and something else happens and something else happens, and that piece of information we got about Shaw is suddenly completely irrelevant. It’s washed away in a sea of HOLY SHIT ALEINEZ!!! BABY ALIENSE! GROASE!!!

As the film progressed, I was sitting on the edge of my seat gripped with frustration rather than tension. Oh your dad died? Ebola? Woah hang on; something else is happening – but wait – why was that anecdote even relevant? Do we ever get a mention of him again? Woah, woah, woah hold on. Who’s this guy? Why is he here? Why are you here? What’s going on? Why are you hundreds of years away from Earth on a whim? What the fuck are the questions you are even going to ask these aliens? How do you know their language? WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT. WHAT’S HAPPENING. What the fuck is this, LOST?

And then it was over. The credits began to scroll, the lights went up and I was surrounded by a bunch of bleary eyed people shrugging and looking at one another as if they’d been stealthily lobotomised.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t hate Prometheus. It’s a visually stunning film, clearly shot with love. The set designs (particularly those of the inside of the ship and the opening scenes in the Scottish highlands) really capture that powerfully vast atmosphere found in the original Alien and in films such as Moon and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. There’s some cool H.R. Giger-inspired bits and pieces. Pretty lights and holograms and shit, you know, the usual science fiction stuff. But for every whimsical CGI starscape there’s a frustrating black hole in the plot.

Did you see what I did there? I’ll bet you fucking did, didn’t you.

I think Prometheus does try, bless it. It works hard to impress the audience but the lack of substance to the plot is difficult to overlook. It’s a lot like the space it wants to depict: big and empty. And complicated.

Using the whole ‘not-answering-questions’ thing every now and again in a narrative isn’t a problem: it’s good for those internet foruming people with the clicking and typing about theories and endings and the symbolism and the metaphors and whatever. However, after it became apparent Prometheus would never supply any answers, only question after question after Fucking Question, I ended up pretty unsatisfied.

Max Payne 3

Rockstar Games

I watched a film recently, which isn’t a thing I make a habit of. It was called Man on Fire and it was about a washed up drunk former soldier working as a bodyguard for a wealthy 11-year-old girl in Mexico, and completely fucking it up. It was a decent enough yarn, and minimally engaging on an emotional level. Apparently it was based on, or inspired by, or vaguely resembled a true story, which gave it an extra little kick. Nothing special, but it passed the time.

It made me wonder, though: If you’re going to rip off the premise of a film for a computer game, why not just rip off the plot as well?

Max Payne 3 represents the rebirth of a series which many computer gamers would consider ‘old skool’, but they’re idiots and children. It’s a third person shooting game about killing thousands of people in a balletic and nonchalant manner; and it’s responsible for the explosion of tired bullet-time mechanics in every computer game released since 2000.

For all its imitators, Max Payne’s recipe has never quite been replicated, so it’s with happiness I can report that Rockstar have managed to bring the series into the 2010s without losing its particular essence. Max is a bit older and balder and more grizzled and less well-written, but when you command him to fling himself headlong at a gun-wielding (dark-skinned and poor) maniac, he not only does so, but he flashes you his hairy, brown, puckered arsehole in slow-mo as he goes, saying ‘you like this don’t you? Pervert.’

Which is to say that the game feels Max Payne-y. It is also pornographically violent. What we’re offered is a combination of the acrobatic gunplay inimical to the series, and the sense of real weight and impact seemingly only found in the latest generation of Rockstar computer games for children. Bullets strike in furious explosions of gore, and the crazy old physics engine sends bodies spiralling to the mat. Slow motion is deployed to graphic effect, allowing you to ponder in detail the fountain of bloody chunks spunking out of your recently-vanquished foe’s now-hollow eyesocket.

You can even continue to pump rounds into an obviously already dead enemy and watch him twitch about in slow-mo agonised death throes; and thus begin a serious investigation into where your life has ended up, because you’re somehow unable to resist the lure of this extra bit of virtual bloodshed.

Unfortunately this weightiness can sometimes stumble into clunkiness, and Rockstar games’ typical problem of trying to wrangle a recalcitrant bloke into a bit of cover, or running around in confused circles trying to get through a tight gap while being plinked to utter bits, is fully present and correct. You’ll likely retry a few levels due to no fault of your own, but aside from loading times (covered by largely unskippable cutscenes which quickly become grating; frankly, i’d prefer a loading screen), it’s never really a chore. And when you do pull off a perfect chain of exploding skulls, frozen in time, there’s a sense of satisfaction to be had.

The levels mostly feel like realistic places that could potentially exist, and each sets up interesting circumstances for Max to engage his foes from. Be it narrow rickety quays that limit your ability to shootdodge, or arenas that force you to beat feet to avoid getting flanked or grenaded. And the levels get completely fucked up by the one-man war Max is waging, as windows shatter and cars explode. They’re all linear, and each contains one or more cool set-piece moments where Max flings himself heroically off a roof or through a window or something, giving you a fixed amount of slow-mo to waste every fucker you can see before you land. It’s a lot of fun.

Naturally, the plot is bollocks. It all makes a kind of sense, but it’s still bollocks. It seems to be a concession to topicality, taking kidnapping and organ harvesting for its plot drivers. But as noted above, it’s hard to understand why Rockstar didn’t steal more than just one idea from Man on Fire. Nobody would have blamed them.

Max Payne 3 is a game about a washed up drunk former cop working as a bodyguard for a wealthy family in Brazil, and completely fucking it up. Max, you see, is a haunted man, his life in ruins at the hands of demons he unknowingly unleashed upon himself. The only way Rockstar can think of to portray this is to show Max stumbling about his crummy apartment, doing nothing but washing down pills with belts of whiskey, to a soundtrack of TV static. As if anyone lives like that, then gets up to do lots of highly-efficient murder against dozens of superior foes the next day. It’s a lazy cliché at best, but I could have lived with it had they not missed the golden opportunity that was before them on a plate.

As the game stands, it’s populated with unsympathetic characters straight out of Grand Theft Auto, and it’s hard to see any personal reason for the bleak and cynical Max to give much of a shit about his charges, who he doesn’t even seem to like very much. We’re told he’s completely numbed by his addictions and his pain so it’s hard to grasp why he gets so heavily and murderously involved in the sick underworld of late-capitalist Brazil.

The reason Max is such a fuck up is due to the death of his wife and baby daughter at the hands of drug-crazed gangsters years prior; a pulpy and simplistic character motivation that perfectly meshes with the bodies-hit-da-flo action. Imagine, then, if instead of protecting trust-fund babies while they party and do cocaine, Max had been charged to guard the body of a young girl about the age his daughter would have been, had she lived. And then he fucked it up. That drug-addled asshole would probably forget who she was half the time anyway. It could lead to some cool ideas, and Max’s frustration as he struggles to put right what had gone wrong would be all the more engaging for it. We could have spent less time watching Max smoke tabs and puke into his sink and more time learning about who he is.

There’s always been an element of the psychological in Max Payne, firting with notions of paranoia and mental breakdown. What a way to probe the wounded psyche of a man who has nothing left to care about but the wreckage of his torched past. If they could have pulled off the ‘adorable little girl’ cliché, and made us care about this hypothetical kid even a fraction as much as Max would, we might have had something with a bit of an emotional punch, as well as good gameplay.

Sadly it was not to be, and plot is largely irrelevant to computer games in any case, but it would have made a big difference. It’s still worth playing, and hideous workplace abuses aside, Rockstar still make good computer games.

*flies backwards out of this review at 30 per cent speed, firing at you with bullets*

www.rockstargames.com/maxpayne3/