Friday, April 30, 2010


Raptr is an interesting new service which is attempting to unify all the various gaming profile systems like Steam and Xbox Live. They're attempting to make a system where you can see all your friends and achievements all in the same place. If still only beta level software so there are some bugs and quirks but it's a fairly solid start and their online support staff are available and informed. I not sure if actually I need to track every second of all the games I play, I might be better off not knowing! However as Steam already does similar I guess it's inevitable. Here's my profile.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Avengers & The Justice League

As I've mentioned before I'm not actually all that knowledgeable when it comes to the world of comics. In fact everything I know about them has been picked up from second hand sources. Mostly it comes from the eighties and nineties cartoon versions and from various "pop culture" references in other TV shows and films. I may have to turn in some of my geek credentials after this but when it was first announced that Joss Whedon was going to direct The Avengers my first reaction was "What's that then?". When I hear the name Avengers my first thoughts go to Patrick Macnee & Diana Rigg but in this case that made no sense. Of course I have since found out that they are Marvel's answer to DC's Justice League, a team of their various superheroes working together in the same story.

I already knew about the Justice League and of the two teams they seem to have the most famous members. They've got Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern & Aquaman to name a few. There's been talk of a Justice League film for years now but nothing ever seems to happen. There appears to be a lack of organization in the DC universe, I mean there's only Batman who has got a current franchise going at the moment although Green Lantern is on the way. Most of my Justice League knowledge now comes from Smallville. It occurred to me while writing this post that Smallville would be a much better place to use the Justice League. They've already touched on the subject a few times. If they could just sort out the legal problems allowing Clark Kent to don the red cloak and get a young Bruce Wayne in there as well they could spin off in to a new version of the show and probably keep going for another ten years.

Now compared to the Justice League the Avengers don't feel quite as impressive to me. There's Captain America, Hulk & Thor but they have never really interested me as characters. Iron Man I like, but my only experience of him is the Robert Downey Jr. version. My favorite Marvel character has always been Spiderman but it appears for the most part he's not one of the Avengers. However Marvel do seem to be doing a lot better at adapting comics in to films than anyone else and are slowly tying all their properties together in one universe. Tony Stark has a small appearance in Hulk, Nick Fury appears in Iron Man and apparently there's some Thor information in Iron Man 2. Then there's the Thor and Captain America films both of which will be out before Avengers and will probably contain more links. Marvel creating their own film division was definitely a good idea and the fact that they're now part of the Disney empire probably helps too.

As the saying goes, Joss Whedon is my master now so I'll be sure to see The Avengers when it comes out pretty much regardless, but it's still early days so I'm not really excited yet.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Photo Enhancement

Earlier I was reading an article about HDR photography and it crossed my mind that I should give it a go. I looked up what was needed and found you need multiple shots of the same place with different exposures to do it, which is not some I have lying around. It's something I'll have to consider next time I'm taking photos while out and about. What this did lead to was me messing around in Photoshop looking at some of the editing features I never usually use. Most of the time I'm just using Photoshop to slice images for websites or to create a simple arrow or a button etc. I never really do anything more advanced than that, so I took a recent photo and tried to see what I could do to enhance it while still keeping it realistic looking. Here's a few examples (click to enlarge) the first one is the unedited original.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sins of a Solar Empire

Sins of a Solar Empire is a game which in the past I've never found enough time to play. I played it briefly when it first came out but that was only multiplayer and I never owned my own copy. The game is an interesting RTS which is space based. Having maps with a large number of solar systems to explore gives a lot of room for expansion and tactics but it can also make the game pretty epic in length. This is not a game you can have a quick thirty minutes play on. When playing multiplayer we'd rarely get though a game in a single session which is the main reason I've not played a lot of it. Then a couple of weeks ago I was browsing the Game website looking for something to spend a discount voucher on when I came across a special pack containing this game along with two expansions (which I didn't even know existed). I've started playing it again but I don't really remember many details from the first time around so I'm basically learning it from scratch again. It definitely seems better suited to a single player experience as it's a lot simpler to save and continue later when you don't have to organise people too. As usual I've got too much to play and not enough time so I've not played a lot yet and I've not even touched the expansion content, so I'll leave a full review of the actual game play for some other time.

Monday, April 26, 2010


This is a superb film in every possible way. It has a well crafted story which is expertly acted. The effects are brilliant and the music is pleasing. All the other stuff, direction, cinematography etc. that's good too. A sci-fi film but of the rarer mystery/thriller sort rather than the basic action/adventure this is about a lone man living in a moon base going a little crazy and having a bit of an identity crisis. Sam Rockwell in the lead role does an amazing job with only himself, a few video clips and the voice of Kevin Spacey to play off. While not entirely unique it's still an great example of film making, the first full feature for director Duncan Jones, he's going to be another one to watch out for in the future. Also major bonus points for the use of "I am the one and only" in the sound track!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I really enjoy this series, a computer animated show set in between episodes 2 and 3 of the films. It will be the end of season two next week so I though I'd take a moment to write down some of my thoughts about it. The CG work is extremely well done, especially considering the tight schedule they're probably on for a weekly TV series. While it's obviously not photo realistic the stylized look they've gone for works well enough for me. The stories are all exciting and fast paced probably helped by the 20 minute run time. It's understandable that very few of the actors from the films are responsible for voicing the show but that doesn't matter. The alternatives they've found all do a good job and most of the time you don't even notice. There are one or two moments that betray the fact this is aimed at younger children (other than it being aired on Cartoon Network). These moments usually involve Jar Jar or C3PO doing something doing something stupid or childish but luckily this doesn't happen too many times, it's more about big space battles and light saber fights. I'm looking forward to the season finale next week and I really should get around to buying the season one boxed set at some point soon. If you're a fan of Star Wars and don't mind the prequels then you should check this out if you haven't already.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


What can I say about this film that hasn't already been said by hundreds of other critics, amazing graphics and technology but a generic story etc. This film is one of the very small number I've seen at the cinema more than once. The first time was on the release day and the cinema was only around a quarter full, too soon for the buzz to have started. It looked absolutely fantastic, even better than I'd expected it to. The 3D was great too. I know some people have complained about motion sickness or not being able to focus on what you wanted. I didn't have any problems like that. The 3D aspect was brilliantly realized in my opinion, not used as a gimmick but simply there to enhance the picture. The second time I saw it the experience wasn't as good. It was about a month later and this time the cinema was packed. Also there seemed to be something wrong with the projector, the two images making the 3D were slightly out of sync or something like that. Having seen it before I knew something was wrong, but for the people I was with it gave a bad first impression.

Now it's out on DVD and BD I've had another chance to watch it, this time in 2D. I don't actually own it yet but I have seen a copy. As a collector I won't buy a version that only contains the film and is basically just a promotion for Earth day, not when they've already announced that there will be at least two more editions. A proper special edition with extras and features is coming in November and then a 3D version next year sometime. I'll probably get the special edition for my collection. In 2D the CG still looks great but it lacks that additional wow factor, it loses the one thing that makes it stand out above others. I believe in the future the 3D effects will be the main thing that this film is remembered for. What I'm more interested in at this point is information about the technical aspects of making the film. How long did it take to render? What kind of server farms were used? What's real and what's rendered? However as there are no documentaries or features on this version those questions will have to wait.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Editing Videos

Video editing is something I really enjoy, but as my nearly empty You Tube channel shows it's not something I often get a chance to do. I've got a couple of good examples online, one showing a mod for Neverwinter Nights 2 I created and another work related one for some software I wrote. I've been thinking I need a new project, my You Tube channel needs some new original content, but I don't have any good ideas yet. While I'm on the subject of You Tube let me have a quick rant about the new interface which I still don't like. It's not as organized, doesn't perform as well and it's harder to grab a video link as the address bar doesn't show the direct link anymore! It needs a lot of refinement in my opinion.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

South Park

South Park is still going strong after 14 seasons and now 201 episodes. It's had ups and downs over the years but overall it has averaged out to great. This season has been particularly good and the 200th episode special was a highlight with all sorts of fun call backs to past episodes. The controversy around it was completely pointless, how anyone can take the show that seriously is something I don't understand.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Upcoming Films

It occurred to me that there weren't a lot of films coming up that I was looking forward to and wasn't even sure what the summer blockbusters were going to be. I must need to find a better film news site or something because once I did some research I found there were quite a few.

There's three obvious (to me) ones that were already on my list: Iron Man 2, The A-Team and TRON Legacy. All these look like they're going to be great. Though I think at the moment only TRON Legacy has the power to get me to go to the cinema. The others I'll wait for on BD.

Then there's Robin Hood and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, two which I've been vaguely aware of but don't really know much about. I'll probably watch both at some point but I'm not hugely excited for them.

The first one that really caught my interest was Splice. A small sci-fi film which apparently did well at the Sundance Film Festival. It's got David Hewlett in too which is a plus.

How did I not know that Robert Rodriguez was making a new Predator film? For me that's huge news at least I know now. Predators is coming in July and I've not seen any promotion which seems a bit odd, maybe I just missed it somehow. It's got Danny Trejo & Laurence Fishburne and looks like it should be fun.

Obviously Christopher Nolan is now famous for rebooting the Batman franchise but some of his other films are good too such as Memento. Now he's got a new one coming out before the third Batman called Inception. A sci-fi/mystery/thriller thing which should be interesting.

Finally there's Resident Evil: Afterlife coming later in the year. I've seen any enjoyed the previous three so I expect this should be good too. Paul Anderson is back as director too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Plants Vs Zombies

What a great little tower defense game! Plants vs Zombies is a game I've been meaning to try for quite a while and finally did this week. I guess you might call it an indie game but really if you're big enough to get on Steam then you don't count as an indie developer anymore. At that point you count as a successful company. Anyway the game itself is great fun pitting various plants against the incoming horde of zombies. The game play is varied depending on what plants you have available and what types of zombies are attacking. The art style is simple but fun and the interface is good, although a couple more resolution options would be nice for widescreen support. It's the perfect game for wasting a bit of time on when you're supposed to be doing something else. Braaaains!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'll miss the smell

Just found this article (thanks @therealcliffyb) about how Ubisoft are stopping to produce paper manuals for their new games:
I'll agree that this is probably a good thing for the environment. I only ever skim the manuals while a game is installing and then pretty much never look at them again. The 224 page epic Civilization IV manual is an example of going too far so I can see how much that would save. However there is one problem with this, the article begins with a question, "Do you like that new-game smell you get when first breaking the shrink wrap off of a new game and flipping through the manual?" For me the answer is most definitely yes! That's one of the best smells ever, along with petrol and freshly cut grass. Though I guess that with the increasing usage of digital distribution it won't be long before I stop buying disks altogether anyway.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One more ship

Got my new Amarr cruiser as I mentioned the other day. Not much else to say today, work and some Just Cause 2 having been taking all my time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stargate: Universe

I still can't decide where I stand on Stargate: Universe. On one hand it's an interesting sci-fi show but on the other it's just not Stargate-y enough. Sure it's got good production values and competent acting but it's missing the fun that SG-1 and Atlantis had. There's aliens, spaceships, strange planets and odd concepts but it's missing the team element which made the previous shows so great. SG-1 and Atlantis, for the most part, were about a small team of soldiers going out and exploring the galaxy, but in SGU they're just going where ever the ship takes them and even when they do stop they still don't get out very often. The whole thing feels very disconnected from the franchise as a whole. There's fifteen seasons of back story yet apart from the initial setup it seems to be mostly ignored. That's probably fine for people who have only just started watching but for Stargate fans it's a bit disappointing. The Ancients have ascended, the Asgard are all dead and the Nox don't get involved with anything but of the four great races from Heliopolis we still don't know anything about the Furlings. I think they should bring them in somehow. After that they need to bring the people together more. On Battlestar Galactica for example, they had many dysfunctional moments but overall still felt like a cohesive group. The camaraderie between the leads is what made the previous shows. SG-1 has Jack & Daniel and Atlantis has Shepperd & McKay but there's nothing like that in SGU. I hear that Michael Shanks will be back as Daniel Jackson for a couple of episodes in the future, I bet those end up being my favorites of the season. I'm still enjoying it as a series on the whole but there's definitely room for improvement.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Diabetes Week 2010

I've been thinking recently that I should get more involved with Diabetes related things. I don't know exactly what yet but something here would probably be a good place to start. More information here...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Butterfly Effect

Even when I'm busy with boring things like work I always try to spend at least a small amount of time in Eve, even if it's just 20 minutes asteroid mining or a quick courier mission. That means it often going to end up as my go to topic when I've got a lot on. Thanks to the passive training system you can continue to learn skill even while you're not logged in, but your character still needs some regular attention. In eight hours time I'll have all the skills to fly Amarr cruisers. Some (more hardcore) players say you shouldn't waste time cross training to learn to fly ships from races other than your own, but in a sandbox game you have to create your own goals and one of my personal goals is to own as many different types of ship as possible! Watch the video to see what Eve is like:

Join Eve here...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another Spaceship

I'm still a bit lacking in free time and don't have much new to post about, but I want to keep my one post per day streak going. So here's another short Eve related post. In addition to the frigate and destroyer I built a couple of days ago I've now trained some more skills and built a new industrial hauler too.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On my TV

I found myself lacking a topic for today. Lots of work over the last few days has left me with less free time and the time I have had has been used on things I've already written about. I'm still working my way through Mass Effect 2 and Just Cause 2, I've read all my comics and I've not finished my current book yet. However it occurred to me that one thing I've not written a lot about is TV. So here's a quick run down of what's been on my TV recently.

24 for me has never been the best show on TV. It's not the deepest or the most moving, but it's always been entertaining. Now they've decided to end it which is probably a good thing, to end on a high note. It has been on for eight years now after all. There's only so many times Jack Bauer can realistically save the day and we probably passed that point in season one!

House was a show I came to late. It was one of those I'd heard about and meant to try but never quite got around to. They were mid season five before I started watching it. I'm all caught up now and still enjoying it. Hugh Laurie is simply brilliant as Dr. House and the rest of the cast support him well.

This is a great murder mystery series which is not usually something I watch much. I think the biggest reason this works is Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle. He keeps it fun and interesting. It's great that he's finally managed to land a series which lasted more than one season.

If you'd told me a year ago that one of my favorite new series of the year would be about a high school glee club I would have probably just laughed. However the musical comedy angle seems to work really well and you can't help but want New Directions to win! Now Joss Whedon is lined up to direct an episode too which should be interesting.

I admit the only reason I started watched this when it began was to see if David Boreanaz could work as anyone other than Angel. It turns out that he could and I'm still enjoying the show five years later. Who would have thought crime fighting and forensic anthropology would go together so well.

Finally the big one, Lost. Now in it's final season and getting very close to the end, yet we still don't know what's going on with the island! I still enjoy all the mystery but I do hope we get a satisfying ending that makes at least some sense.

There's also some others, Doctor Who of course, V, Caprica, Flash Forward, Fringe and some I've been meaning to watch but haven't yet such as Spartacus: Blood and Sand. I'll save those for another time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shiny New Ships

Busy day today so just a quick short post. Moved into Amarr space last night in Eve to improve my standings with them. I bought and fitted some new Amarr ships to fly while I'm there. I try to blend in with the locals when I'm away from home and make it less obvious that I'm a Gallente spy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Top Ten RPGs

Trying to decide which was better between Mass Effect 1 and 2 made me start thinking about RPG ranking in general. So I decided to create a top ten. RPGs are the type of game I seem to play most these days and I have a huge amount of experience in them. I'll do the list in the traditional reverse format even though the top ones will probably be obvious. Also I'd like to give a shout out to Bioware, creators of five of my top ten RPGs, undoubtedly kings of the genre. For this list I consider expansion packs to be part of the original game so they don't get separate entries.

10. Diablo 2
This is the oldest game on the list. It's also probably the least story based and much more about the hack and slash. Still it's a great game which I've spent many hours on in the past, a lot of which were LAN multi player. I also replayed it more recently after Diablo 3 was announced and it can still hold it's own against the more modern games.

9. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
I've not checked but I suspect that this game has one of the biggest explorable worlds in RPG history. From the moment you step off the ship on to the island of Vvardenfell you're free to choose what to do and where to go. So you set off in your chosen direction then later check your map, it's at this point you realise "wow! this place is huge!". Now if the damn Cliff Racers would just leave me alone!

8. Neverwinter Nights 2
I've never been particularly knowledgeable about the Forgotten Realms. I've done role playing in the past but never actual D&D. My first introduction to the world was the original Neverwinter Nights (I didn't play Baldur's Gate until later). The sequel along with it's expansions are very nice games so long as you have the hardware to run them due to demanding system requirements. A generally interesting story with varied locations but a bit too linear at times.

7. The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
While the game world in Oblivion is not a big as the one in Morrowind, it's packed with a lot more detail and looks absolutely stunning (screenshots). At times it's fun just to simply walk around. The Oblivion gates can be a bit annoying sometimes unnecessarily side tracking you, but once you learn you can blitz them it's not too bad. Not quite up to the Bioware level of storytelling but the Bethesda guys come a close second.

6. Knights of the Old Republic
I already talked about this one once on this blog having replayed it recently. It's an almost perfect recreation of the Star Wars universe. Various planets to visit, fun & interesting companions and light saber battles combined with great graphics and a good story. I don't usually play a lot of MMOs but when The Old Republic is released I'll be there on day one. Although part of me still wishes they'd do KOTOR3 instead.

5. Neverwinter Nights
As I already mentioned this was my first introduction to the Forgotten Realms. I've played many hours of this game with the different roles and classes. I even did some modding for it. I also now own the D&D 3.5 source books as a reference for modding this and NWN2. A great game for it's time but it's beginning to show it's age now.

4. Fallout 3
There are not enough good non-fantasy RPGs in my opinion but Fallout 3 is one great example. I'd not heard of the Fallout series until the first trailer for Fallout 3 was released. I thought it looked very interesting so I bought and played Fallout 1 & 2 right away. I was hooked from the start. Fallout 1 was the best of the two but it's first impressions that count. I've still only played though Fallout 3 the once but it's a huge game that takes a long time. Based on the same engine as Oblivion this is another one which looks awesome (screenshots). The whole concept of a post-apocalyptic fifties is a brilliant setting. Now I just have to wait for Fallout: New Vegas.

3. Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age is completely new IP but it's one I expect is going to be with us for a long time. Bioware have taken all the best elements of other games (many of which are their own) and managed to put them all together in one place while keeping it all balanced. Graphics, game play, story, characters, I don't really have anything bad to say about them at all. The one thing that keeps this game off the top spot is it's yet another fantasy RPG. Which means the top spots go to...

2. Mass Effect 2
I talked a lot about this one yesterday but I'll cover the basics again. This is probably the best looking game I've ever played (screenshots) though you have to take into account that it's also one of the most recent. The one thing that isn't an improvement on it's predecessor is the story, which didn't feel quite as coherent.

1. Mass Effect
When Mass Effect came out it had many innovations and was a brand new non-fantasy setting. It was everything I was looking for. The 7 month wait for the PC version due to the Xbox360 exclusive was a bit annoying, but at least that trend seems to have stopped now. You got to be commander of a starship visiting planets and shooting up aliens. The graphics were great though less impressive now compared to Mass Effect 2. The new conversation system was inspired and had excellent voice acting to go with it. It had real-time combat system which was intuitive but not too simple and an excellent range of powers and weapons. Memorable characters and an involving story helped to immerse you in this new and rich universe. Salarians, Asari, Turians and many other aliens all with their own culture and back story, there's a lot of information. As Bioware say they have a trilogy planned I suspect over time that these games will start to be considered as one and when people replay them in ten years time they'll play all three together as a single story.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mass Effect 2

I played though Mass Effect 2 once before already but that was before I'd started writing this blog. With the recent release of some new some new downloadable content I decided it was time for a second go. The ability to import your character from Mass Effect 1 is probably one of the best RPG sequel implementations I've ever seen. Many decisions and achievements from the original game carry over but then though a story mechanic you're reduced back to level one but in a continuing universe. It probably took a fair amount of planning to do, even more considering Mass Effect 3 is on the way, but I really appreciate that the effort was made. It helps increase the immersion in the universe.

My first play though followed the full paragon path, so this time I'm playing with my full renegade Shepherd. In some games I don't have as much fun playing the "evil" path. I always feel bad when I'm mean and nasty to people. I suppose I'm projecting myself into the character too much rather than playing the role. However in Mass Effect the paragon/renegade system works much better than a straight good/evil one. It's all far less black and white decision making and so the alternate path I personally find much more enjoyable, much more than Knights of the Old Republic for example where I always prefer to play light rather than dark. Really there's more than just two ways to play but this should give you the basic idea.

The big question is, is it better than Mass Effect 1? That's a really tough choice. Overall I have to say I think not. The graphics are a huge improvement, Unreal Engine 3 does wonders for the Mass Effect universe. The game play is improved along with the controls and interface. The one exception being the addition of ammo which was not necessary. It also suffers a little (on PC) for the fact it's obviously been designed with consoles in mind first and PCs second. It's a shame but the biggest problems are with the story. While still good it's not as great as the first. This one feels much more disjointed, like lots of smaller unrelated stories rather than one grand tale. It's a close call but all that gives Mass Effect 1 the edge over 2.

Friday, April 9, 2010


While writing about Jennifer's Body I said I don't often buy DVDs without having seen the film first, which is usually true but right after I bought two more. This time some new sci-fi was calling, Primer and Moon. I first heard about Primer in this xkcd strip of all places. Primer is an extremely low budget indie sci-fi film which is one of the best I've seen in ages. It's an intelligent film that's heavy on the science side of things like The Andromedra Strain while also being a huge puzzle like Momento. There's a press quote on the back of the case which says "I immediately felt the desire to watch it again", I know that feeling. There's far more here than could ever be picked up in a single viewing, I'm still not sure I know exactly what happened. I'm not going to mention any of the details as I believe anyone that does watch the film should know as little as possible about it beforehand in order to get the best experiance. Writer/Director/Actor Shane Carruth will definitely be someone to watch in the future. Although a genius first film such as this can be a tough act to follow I'm sure his future projects will be great in some way.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Can I have my bases back please?

I've been thinking about this for a while and after playing some Cnc4 it's come to mind again. The simplification of real time strategy games is a problem which needs to be addressed and sooner rather than later. I found this article on the subject ( and that pretty much covers all the issues. With the exception of Starcraft 2 there are no current or forthcoming RTS games that include the core concepts of base building and resource management. All the most recent games seem to only be focusing on the combat, which for me is not enough. The challenge of micro managing everything is part of the enjoyment. There has to be a developer out there who understands this. I think the timing is perfect for a brand new franchise, all the sequels at the moment are just not cutting it. Hopefully someone out there is working on something in secret and details will be released soon.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tiberian Twilight

I've played all of the games in the Command & Conquer franchise at some point. Some I've played more than others but I've at least tried all of them, including Renegade. I was hooked from the beginning already being a fan of Westwood Studios after Dune 2. That was fifteen years ago and it's been a long road in between. Of the three sections of the franchise (Tiberian, Red Alert & Generals) I've played the most of Red Alert or perhaps actually Generals. With Generals I played a lot more multi player than the others which are more single player oriented, or at least they were. Commander & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight was released the same day as Dragon Age: Awakening so it hasn't really got a look in until now. I knew based on the previews that I was probably going to be disappointed but at some point I had to try the "Epic conclusion of the Tiberian saga". My first issue was with the installation. Nothing technically wrong but it look a very long time. I don't know if they're using heavy encryption or high compression but either way it's excessive and after all that I was forced to download and install a patch. My second issue is with the cast. One of the things the Command & Conquer series has always been known for is the live action cut scenes which tell the story in between missions. So much so that they've been able to get some fairly well known actors on board in recent years. Tiberian Wars has Billy Dee Williams, Michael Ironside, Josh Holloway, Jennifer Morrison, Tricia Helfer & Grace Park. Red Alert 3 has Tim Curry, Jonathan Pryce, Peter Stormare, George Takei, J.K. Simmons & Jenny McCarthy. The Uprising expansion adds Malcolm McDowell to that list. Even as far back as Tiberian Sun they had Michael Biehn & James Earl Jones. I suppose a lot of those people might be considered "genre" actors but they're all people I'm aware of. Tell me who on this list you've heard about? Iona Morris, Natacha Roi, Chris Wolfe, Tim DeZarn. It seems like they weren't willing to spend the money on some big names for the "epic conclusion" which feels a bit lame to me. The most known person in the cast is Joe Kucan and he's only famous for playing Kane in the Command & Conquer games! On the subject of Kane, he's working with the GDI now?! He's supposed to be their enemy. I've only played the first couple of missions so far but I can't help but feel there will be a "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal" moment at some point in the future, which is a bit of a cliché. Then on top of all of that they've completely changed the game play to the point that it doesn't feel like Command & Conquer anymore. Base building is gone and now you "level up" to get new units available from an MCV that walks about! Some of these changes might be interesting in their own right but under the Command & Conquer name just feel wrong. How do you justify making the final game in the saga completely different and ignore almost everything that came before? Sure the developers probably wanted to try something new, but I'm sure this is not what most people were expecting. I think this would have done much better if it were "Generals 2" rather than "CnC4". Generals always was the odd one out of the bunch. I did enjoy that fact the opening cut scene took place in Manchester (UK), as that's my hometown, also it was raining! So that's where GDI headquarters will be in the future. One last minor annoyance is the public chat channel on all the menu screens. That's totally unnecessary for someone like me who's just here to see how the story will end. I've got other games to play multi player with, that still have base building! Bring on Starcraft 2 I say.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I read Buffy season eight volume six last night and I must say it was a huge improvement on the last one. A major reason for that is probably Jane Espenson, the writer of the five issues in this volume. She's been a key part of Joss Whedon's team for a long time spending time as story editor and producer on Buffy as well as writing for Angel and Firefly. She wrote some great things for the TV series (Band Candy, Doomed & Storyteller come to mind) and she continues to work on series I like having worked on Battlestar Galactica and now as executive producer on Caprica. I looked her up on IMDb and I see she even wrote an episode of Deep Space Nine which I wasn't aware of. So with all that it's no wonder that this is a great installment in the comic series. This is the big beat down and defeat before our heroes can fight back. Teleporting submarines, werewolves verses tanks, Dawn and Xander!, giant demon genie things and an appearance from Oz. It's all awesome stuff. The only problem now is volume seven isn't out yet and doesn't even have a release date yet. There is one thing that reading these comics has made me decide and that is it's time for another watch through of the TV series, it's a been a couple of years since I last went through them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Duke Nukem Forever

I can't believe this game is still limping along. Some new footage has been released/leaked on You Tube ( and although some people are claiming it to be fake I'm inclined to think it's real. The big question is do I care? I was a big fan of Duke Nukem 3D. I played it a lot and even created a bunch of maps for it. It was my first real taste of map editing. I was excited when Duke Nukem Forever was announced, way back in 1997! Now thirteen years later and that's all they've got? A poor version of the originally great music, bad voice acting and the nuke logo slapped on everything. Though if they do ever release it I'm sure I'll still play it. It would one of those things you always remember, where were you when DNF was released?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Just Cause 2

This game seems to the the wild card so far this year. I'd never heard about it or the original before. When the banner advert appeared on Steam I saw a generic guy standing on a plane I thought "generic action shooter" and didn't give it any further consideration. It was about a week later that the video of the Lost Easter egg hit the web. As a Lost fan I was intrigued but in that video the game play still didn't look very interesting, seemed to be lots of floating though the air with a parachute or just running through an empty jungle. It wasn't until this week that I saw some other videos and realized that it actually looked quite fun. It's basically Grand Theft Auto on a tropical island with a grappling hook or as the game website puts it: "Base jump onto helicopters, surf planes, tether soldiers to each other, to vehicles, to bridges, barrels, trees, cars, buildings or commercial airliners". It's a huge open world in which you're extremely free to do what you please. Jumping from building to building and blowing stuff up and yanking people of high ledges to their death can't help but be fun. Obviously there's some American guy with a bounty on his head who you're supposed to be looking for, but there never seems to be any rush to seek him out. There's too much fun to be had tethering people to cars and then driving off! However it's not perfect, there are times when it could be considered a bit too open. More than once I found myself unsure what to do next. Of course wanton destruction is always an option but that lacks purpose. The other biggest problem I've faced so far are the plane controls, either they suck or I do. I can't fly the planes well at all and keep crashing! I've only played for about five hours so far and my save game file tells me that's only 4% complete, so still a lot to do. I can see me playing this one more in little bits at a time rather than mammoth sessions, otherwise I think it could get frustrating.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Silence will Fall

As a sci-fi loving Brit there's only one thing I can post about this evening, new Doctor Who! I'll come right out up front and say I thought it was great. I had my concerns about Matt Smith as the eleventh doctor but to be honest I'd had similar thoughts back when David Tennant started, same as I had done when Paul McGann took over. It's just a gut reaction to change and once we've had a few episodes with Matt Smith I'm sure he'll settle in nicely. The main reason I'm confident about this is Steven Moffat new executive producer and head writer. He's already written some of the best episodes in the new generation of the programme and in all the interviews and behind the scenes stuff he just seems like a man who knows what he's talking about, both about Doctor Who and life in general. I think the series is in good hands. When I first saw the new logo at the end of the Christmas special I wasn't sure I liked it, but now it's back after a break I've changed my mind, I do quite like it actually. It reminds me of the eighties version particularly from Sylvester McCoy's time and of course he'll always be my Doctor. Amy Pond seems like she'll be a great companion, Karen Gillan did a good job as did Caitlin Blackwood (The young version). The one thing I wasn't so sure about was the new theme. I think I need to hear it again, but my first impression was not so good. There's a copy on the BBC website, actually that sounds better than I remember. Updated TARDIS also looks great for the most part, with the exception of the centre console to me some parts of that looked a bit silly. Definitely still looking forward to the next one though.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Steam Powered

For those of you that don't know, Steam is a PC platform for the digital distribution of games. You pay online and then download the game rather than owning a disk. For some major releases from certain companies I still like to own the physical disk but more and more I'm buying digital only copies of games these days. Steam has been around quite a long time now. There were a lot of issues in the early days but those days are gone now. Steam has become a solid system for downloading and playing games. Most of the games I own through the system are only single player games or ones I've only played the single player part of. It wasn't until today that I'd fully explored it's multiplayer options. I was amazed at how smoothly it all went. In the past being a game host always needed extra tech work to open router ports and things like that, which always fell to me. However none of that was necessary on Steam for Supreme Commander 2. I hosted the game, set it to only allow friends to enter and that was it. It all just worked. Having the same friends list available across multiple games and integrated chat in and out of game through all of them just makes things so much easier. If you're still holding out on Steam due to the problems that occurred way back when it was first released then now is probably the time to give it another go. There's even some games now that even though they're available on disk it basically just installs the Steam software. There's a link to my Steam profile on the right if you want to add me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jennifer's Body

There are only a few films I've bought without having seen them in some way beforehand other than trailers. Jennifer's Body is one of those. I somehow knew the combination of ritual sacrifice and teen girls eating people would make a good film and in my opinion it did. It was fun, entertaining & creepy, while also being well made. A lot of people seem to be ripping on Megan Fox's acting abilities when you read up on this film. For me I don't see a problem with it though I'm not really a good judge of acting ability. I see it like this, there's a line and if you go below it the acting is so bad it takes you out of the film but if you're above it then it's fine. I don't really see the levels. Megan Fox is above the line as far as I'm concerned therefore she can act. Amanda Seyfried is good too as best friend to Megan Fox's character and does a great creepy look. I've not heard of her before, although IMDb tells me she was in an episode of House, I don't remember that. Writer Diablo Cody hasn't done a lot before but I did see and enjoy Juno which is another reason I was willing to buy this without seeing it first. For a second film this is quite a change in genre, could be interesting to see what comes next. Director Karyn Kusama was a complete unknown to me till today. Very few credits to her name but one that I've seen, Æon Flux which while entertaining enough was nothing special really. So it seems this is a film from lots of people still early in their careers. Hopefully the bad press this film got won't kill all their prospects. Only 43% on the Tomatometer so there are others like me that enjoyed it, probably depends on what you're looking for in the film. Dark comedy with suspense and horror is good in my book. Oh and a cameo by Lance Henriksen too, nice!