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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Zelda 3D In 2011, Mario Kart...Maybe

Since the relatively weak launch line-up for the Nintendo 3DS is done and dusted, gamers will probably be wondering when new Mario and Zelda titles will be arriving on their shiny new handhelds. Speaking to the Official Nintendo Magazine today, James Honeywell- manager of Nintendo here in the UK- noted that he knows the remade version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time confirmed for release on the 3DS last Summer is "the game that everyone wants to play", assuring fans that he remembers how "on the sampling tours the game everyone ran to was Zelda" and that he expected Satoru Iwata to make an announcement on the game's American and British release dates within the next month. On the Mario Kart front, Honeywell confirmed to CVG that the title announced at E3 2010 as Mario Kart 3D is still set for a release later this year, but did warn that "things can always change, and until we actually make a firm announcement about the release dates, it's good to wait and see what those dates might be". We have, however, been assured that both franchises will make appearances at E3 this June before their worldwide releases, along with the recently announced Super Mario game out for 3DS in 2012, plus Star Fox and Paper Mario too. Worried that the Wii isn't getting enough attention? Honeywell says Nintendo has realised its release schedule for the home console has very few big contenders for Game of the Year, and that "there's still lots to come that I'm sure you'll see at E3. For anybody who has a Wii, they can rest assured that we'll be bringing some fantastic new experiences to them..."

Thor Clip On The Web

There's only a month now until Thor hits the big screen, and here we have the first footage taken straight from the upcoming motion picture. It's only a brief clip, but we start to get a grasp on what, or rather who, caused the huge crater to appear in New Mexico at the end of Iron Man 2 (yes, true believers, this resolves that cliff-hanger!), while discovering that Thor doesn't take kindly to losing his hammer, but also that the humans who discover him aren't to be messed with either...see what you think:

Madagascar Spin-Off Movie Coming

Despite the lack of a fully fledged sequel since 2009, Madagascar fans have been kept busy in the past few years by the spin-off television series The Penguins of Madagascar and some seasonal specials, but today things have just got a little more exciting- a new movie based around the characters of the former is set for release in 2013! Best of all, this won't even halt production of the aforementioned TV programme, with the professional voice-over actors who portray the penguins continuing to record lines for the series and for the feature film too. Whether the spin-off angle will work for Dreamworks remains to be seen, however we can probably get a good idea of the quality of these side projects from upcoming prequel Puss in Boots, a new Shrek flick. Before the penguins get their own film, look out for Madagascar 3 next June...

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Confirmed

Confirming a sequel before the first one is out seems to be fast becoming the trend for film producers now- Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock Holmes was revealed to have more in store before his début adventure premièred, superhero films like X-Men: First Class, The Green Lantern and The Amazing Spider-Man are all but confirmed to have follow-ups, and now Pirates of the Caribbean joins the game, a fifth instalment having been confirmed today by director Jerry Bruckheimer ahead of the release of On Stranger Tides in May. To be fair, the series is no stranger to sequels, with the second and third films Dead Man's Chest and At World's End shot back-to-back, only to meet a lukewarm reception with critics, so it's relieving to hear from Bruckheimer that Pirates 5 won't be a direct follow-on from this year's entry, acting as a stand-alone story from the others and another entry Bruckheimer reckons will come not long afterwards. My only real question is whether Johnny Depp can keep up his bombastic duality between brilliance and insanity in even more sequels, especially if the majority of the cast will change each time now big names like Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are gone (thankfully, Gibbs and Barbossa are back though!), but if that turns out to be the case then I'll never say no to more Pirates! Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides releases in cinemas on May 26th.

Fourth Season Of Outnumbered Confirmed

After a great Comic Relief sketch featuring Andy Murray, the BBC have confirmed that a fourth season of hit comedy Outnumbered will air later this year. The show initially began in 2007, and although the channel was reluctant at first to comission it, soon enough they saw the huge viewing ratings and were eager to continue the mad-cap antics in the future. Series Four will consist of six half-hour episodes, this time dealing with "death, drugs, terrorism, getting old, food science, Top Gear, the joy of ventriloquism and the perils of Subbuteo". Those first elements sound a bit deep for a comedy, but as the latter examples of what's to come are mentioned we can already guess that there shouldn't be anything too visceral for primetime audiences this Fall! Claire Skinner, Hugh Dennis and the other cast regulars will all be back to film the new run, and a Christmas special has also been confirmed (could it take its rightful place as an annual festive treat alongside Doctor Who and Shrek on BBC One?). Until the show returns this Autumn, you can download the Red Nose Day special on iTunes now for £1.89, all of which goes towards Comic Relief's efforts towards ending poverty!

Spider-Man: Edge Of Time Announced

Beenox made waves last year as they produced Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, an ambitious and exciting new take on the Webbed Wonder that recieved an 8/10 here, so most fans were happy to hear the video game developer would continue to produce Spidey instalments on all consoles from now on. With the aforementioned team-up under their belt and a confirmed adaptation of next year's film reboot The Amazing Spider-Man already in development, Beenox had only to choose where they would take the comic book incarnation of Marvel's iconic web-slinger this year. Enter Spider-Man: Edge Of Time, set for release this Autumn on all formats. Once again, players will have the chance to become multiple versions of the protagonist, but this time things are different, as shown by the official blurb: "Edge Of Time is a focused, action-packed adventure set in two connected and evolving timelines, from the contemporary times of the Amazing Spider-Man to the corrupted future world of Spider-Man 2099, where the players must help correct a timestream gone awry and prevent a catastrophic future brought on by the untimely death of Peter Parker." In terms of game-play, Beenox say we can expect "cause and effect" to play a role, whereby players will see how "the immediate and sometimes unexpected effects of their actions as one Spider-Man change the timeline of the other Spider-Man". Irradicating the Noir and Ultimate universes (which both got repetitive fast in Shattered Dimensions) to focus more on two versions of Spider-Man was probably a good move by the developers, and we'll bring you the first screenshots and trailer for Edge Of Time this weekend!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

New Doctor Who Trailer Arrives

There's not too long until Doctor Who returns to our screens now- Episode 1, The Impossible Astronaut, is due to air on the 23rd of April. But before that, we've got a full trailer for the first half of the season (the second half is on its way in September), and if I do say so myself it's looking darker, more thrilling and interestingly more aimed at an older audience than ever. We see a heck of a lot in one minute, including (but not ending with) pirate ships, astronauts, space helmets, River in some cool new gear and, wait a minute, was that David Tennant's TARDIS console room?!?!? Sorry, got a little overwhelmed there, but- well- see for yourself...

Avenger Cameo Confirmed For Thor

So far, references to the 2012 Avengers film in the upcoming movies Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger have seemed few bar the latter using the team name in its title, but it's been confirmed today that Jeremy Renner will cameo as Hawkeye in Thor, the fantasy adventure due in cinemas next month (get my world-exclusive review here at On-Screen on release day!). Preview footage shown to the press included the skilled archer known to be part of next year's anticipated super hero team-up featured Renner, as reported by CinemaBlend. Odds are this will either mean Hawkeye helps Thor face off against the titanic monster teased in the trailers and/or his vengeful Nordic brother Loki towards the film's climax, or alternatively that we will see him recruit Thor for the team as Tony Stark technically did in The Incredible Hulk, though given that Iron Man's alter ego wasn't confirmed for an appearance until the aforementioned adaptation was out, it seems that the former possibility is more likely. Rumour has it a short preview of The Avengers has been recorded early in the production of 2012's big compilation for premiere before or after Thor and/or Captain America, so there might just be further surprises to come on April 27th...

Amy Adams Is Lois Lane

It's taken time and speculation aplenty, but now we have the name of the actress who will play Lois Lane in Zack Snyder's Superman reboot The Man Of Steel: Amy Adams. Admittedly, Adams isn't the first name we had expected for the role, only really having made her mark earlier this year as Charlene Fleming in The Fighter (for which she was nominated for dozens of Oscars, Academy Awards and Golden Globes), however if you look back she's certainly done her fair due in the film and television industries to get here- from Enchanted to Drop Dead Gorgeous, from Night at the Museum 2 to The Muppets later in 2011, she even made an appearance in an early episode of Smallville, the American drama starring Tom Welling as a Clark Kent who is still discovering his powers and learning the nature of his Kryptonian destiny. Zack Snyder, the director of the 2012 reboot that looks to just keep on giving, called Amy "perfect" in the role of Lois Lane, a reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper and love interest to Supes, also describing her as "smart, tough, funny, warm, ambitious and, of course, beautiful" in the press release by Warner Brothers on her casting. Superman: The Man Of Steel, starring Henry Cavill as Clark, Amy Adams as Lois, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Diane Lane as Martha Kent, is due to hit the big screen in December 2012.

Xbox 360 Discs Updated This Autumn

It won't be Blu-Ray, but Microsoft are testing an "updated Xbox 360 disc format" very soon on US members of the Live community, starting with a new version of Halo: Reach. What the major change will be in the new hardware when it ships to Xbox Live Gold subscribers over the next fortnight is unconfirmed by the developer, but reports are already suggesting that the capacity of the disc will be increased by 1GB (allowing for visual improvements and reducing the need for multiple discs to play one game- yes, Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII, we're looking at you) and anti-piracy technology will be implemented to make the Xbox Live experience less easy to hack into in future. Provided all goes well with the experiment, we should see games on these discs this Autumn (which wouldn't be surprising considering big titles like Batman: Arkham City, Forza Motorsport 4, Gears p War 3, Star Wars Kinect, Steel Batallion: Heavy Armour and Mass Effect 3 are all heading our way at the end of the year!).

New X-Men: First Class Details Revealed

It never ceases to impress me that alongside the two finishing pieces in the Avengers prequel saga (Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger), Marvel has managed to find time to produce a new X-Men film, First Class, for release in cinemas this June. Speaking to IGN on the set of the prequel, James McAvoy, who portrays a younger version of Charles Xavier, revealed some brand new details on the plot and characters in his latest flick: "It's not really a reboot this, it is a prequel really, but you have set it in a completely different time and you are also taking these people [Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast and Dr Moira McTaggert all return from the Bryan Singer trilogy, this time played by different actors] to a much earlier point in their personal and super development". On Xavier himself, McAvoy notes that now "he's definitely got an ego and a sex drive as well" (far apart from the far less subjective Patrick Stewart incarnation), and "we see why he can no longer walk and why he is in a wheelchair, and we'll find out why he lost his hair as well". Fans of the First Class comics best brace themselves though, as "[the script] messes with a lot of the chronology, it is utterly different from the comic". Will we see the split between Xavier's team and Erik Lenshrr/Magneto's brotherhood before the end of the film, though? The actor wouldn't say, but did reveal his own theory or hint- "I think Xavier thinks he can understand and fix everybody, which is ultimately wrong and proves the undoing for him and Erik." For the full interview, check out this link: http://uk.movies.ign.com/articles/115/1158473p1.html and until the release of First Class on June 1st keep checking On-Screen for new trailers, info and the full review!

Monster's Inc Prequel Coming In 2012

Last time we saw Sully and Mike in Pixar's Monsters, Inc, they were living happily at the top of their monster corporation, remaining friends with their human child (no, not literally!) Boo. That was ten years ago- boy, doesn't time fly- so it's high time Pixar Animation got to work on a sequel, right? Wrong. Instead, today the studio announced a prequel movie, Monsters University for release in 2012. John Goodman and Billy Crystal will return as James P. "Sully" Sullivan and Michael "Mike" Wasiokowoski in a new plot. According to vice president Dave Hollis, Monsters University is "a prequel that tells you a little bit about how Mike and Sully first met.", and while in the original it seemed like the pair of child-scarers "were the best of friends, as it turns out, that wasn't always the case! This story takes you through the ups and downs, and how they overcame their own differences." With any other animation studio at the helm, we'd be worried the next instalment would not do its predecessor justice, yet with Toy Story 3 and hopefully Cars 2 already having showcased Pixar's dedication to every film they make, fans can expect great things next December. Better still, the producers are also releasing a brand new animation, Brave, in June 2012, and even closer are two new Toy Story shorts set to air in front of Cars 2 and The Muppets later this year.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Batman Franchise To Be Rebooted?

"He's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs" Christopher Nolan has said that 2012's The Dark Knight Rises will be his final Batman film, leading to speculation as to what will happen to the critically acclaimed comic-book adaptation's franchise. Could the whole saga be rebooted? Jeff Robinov, the head of Warner Brothers, seems to think so: "We have the third Batman [Rises, due next July], but then we'll have to reinvent Batman". Pressed further as to whether he thinks this would mean restarting the modern series, Robinov said "I do. Chris Nolan and Emma Thomas will be producing it, so it will be a conversation with them about what the next phase is." Now, before any fans of the Caped Crusader get out their pitchforks at the supposed announcement of a reboot, bear in mind that since Nolan has previously called Rises his last work on the series Robinov's claim that the director and producer of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight will definitely produce the "next phase" seems more ambitious than it does true right now, and with Christian Bale and Gary Oldman each having said that they would be up for another instalment a full-on reboot seems a lot less likely. For me, if The Dark Knight Rises does its job and really finishes off the saga of Batman with a bang as Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand failed to do (hence the reason why we're getting reboots The Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men: First Class respectively), then it doesn't matter if a few years down the line Warner Brothers make a new incarnation, but let's wait and see how well the third flick performs first. In other interesting DC news, pressed on the possibility of a Justice League film, DC writer Geoff Johns said "we'll talk about it at Comic Con"...

New Who Episode Title Confirmed

I've been trying to keep away from spoilers about the latest season of Doctor Who for the most part, but the official reveal of the title of the fourth episode is a pretty big giveaway- it's called The Doctor's Wife. That they haven't saved it for nearer the airdate suggests there might be a twist, similar to the cunning ploys played out in The Doctor's Daughter and The Next Doctor, but with Steven Moffat at the helm of the new era of Who I'm sure the true meaning behind the name will be far more complex and exciting than anything found in the aforementioned stories by Russell T Davies. Even more surprising is that Moffat isn't even the man writing this: renowned children's author Neil Gaiman (see The Graveyard Book for a good example of his work) is the man who has penned The Doctor's Wife, and we know (once again officially confirmed, not a spoiler) that there will be some ties to Patrick Troughton story The War Games in the episode- speculating here, Suranne Jones plays Idris in the story, and back in The War Games there was a character called SIDRAT- yeah, I had to do some digging and rewatching for that- coincidence...? Doctor Who returns to the UK on Saturday 23rd April in The Impossible Astronaut, and a full trailer for the season is on its way tomorrow night!

Primeval Return Window Confirmed

After literally a month of waiting, fans of iTV's dino drama Primeval can now know when to expect the fifth season of the show to début on digital channel Watch. The finale to Series 4 aired on the 5th of February, ending on a big cliff-hanger as the team realised the scale of the anomalies was increasing by the day and perhaps could not be stopped. Today, Watch have confirmed Series 5 will begin its run exclusively on the British channel on May 24th, running for seven episodes over the next couple of months and eventually returning to iTV for a national première in Spring 2012. That's a tough sell to those who don't have Freeview or Sky, but it may yet convince some to make the leap over so that they can see how Primeval comes to a climax this year. Until then, from April 7th you can catch repeats of the fourth season on Watch every Thursday.

Merlin Series Four Premiere Window Confirmed

What with Doctor Who Series Six being split into two halfs to provide a larger narrative from April-June and September-November this year, the future of popular BBC One fantasy drama Merlin has been uncertain: although we know a fourth season is in production, until now we did not know whether we would see it air before 2012. However, actor Colin Morgan (who plays the titular wizard) has assured CultBox that we will see the programme return later this year. "It'll still air in the autumn [for the last three years, Merlin has aired as the prime Saturday night show over thirteen weeks in Autumn]," Morgan confirmed, "either in September or October". Going one step further, the star revealed that the cast had already read three episodes of the new run and that they were "hugely exciting", with "huge changes in store as the characters' arcs are starting to take place". With that in mind, expect full coverage from On-Screen in the run-up to Merlin's return this Autumn!

First The Hangover: Part II Poster Is Here

Everyone is already getting psyched up for The Hangover: Part II without even a full trailer to go on, but at least we have the promotional poster for the new comedy, promising antics just as crazy and daring as those found in the original. We can see the "wolfpack" mentioned in the flick's slogan at the top of the image sprawled out across a residence much more run-down than the Las Vegas suite they stayed in last time, now with the added 'bonus' of a monkey dressed in the colours of the Union Jack sat atop Phil. Look closer, and you'll also notice Alan has a significantly smaller head of hair in Part II, not to mention Stu getting a tattoo not a world apart from Mike Tyson's (the aforementioned boxer is making another cameo here, so maybe that would explain the sudden change of appearance for the husband-to-be). The Hangover: Part II is due out on May 26th, and there should be a longer video than the one-minute teaser trailer we got earlier this month in the coming weeks leading up to the film's release.

First Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Poster Revealed

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two isn't too far away now (15th July, in case you were wondering), and yet there's been little to no coverage on the climactic sequel by Warner Brothers so far. Thankfully, the company seems to have copped onto that, releasing the first poster which will soon be found in cinemas near you. Here, we can see a battle-scarred Harry staring grimly at a battle-scarred Voldemort, who is holding the Elder Wand, the most powerful of the titular Hallows which the antagonist got his hands on in the cliffhanger that closed Part One with an edgy bang. Right from the off, then, we can see that Part Two is being represented almost like a war film, with elements of fantasy, romance, action, thriller and horror all thrown in (don't worry, I'm sure it won't just be about the Battle of Hogwarts- this isn't Battle: Los Angeles, folks!). In case the poster isn't enough- and don't feel left out if you think it isn't, because the rest of us do too- we can expect a trailer for the HP finale very soon alongside the big movies out in May and June. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 releases in cinemas worldwide on the 15th of July.

UK Gaming Charts: March 21st-27th

After a month virtually devoid of video games releases, several big names burst onto the scene this week including the Nintendo 3DS, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (I said it would be a while before I review this, but there is a chance you can expect my rating a bit sooner!) and Crysis 2, so it's not a surprise that these topped the charts. Here's the top ten best-selling games in the last seven days:
10. FIFA 11

Smallville Finishes Shooting

Smallville has this week concluded filming on its final scenes. The drama, airing on the CW in America and set to return to the UK this Summer, follows a young Clark Kent as he takes his first steps towards becoming Superman, the iconic DC hero usually associated with the alias 'The Man of Steel' or the phrase "Up, up and away!". Currently in the United States, the show is on a mid-season break, but when it returns on April 15th viewers can expect to see alternate realities, the emergence of comic favourites Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, a return from Legion and a wedding, all culminating in the final two-hour episode 'Finale', where Clark (Tom Welling) must face his darkest demons head on, including the resurrection of his arch-enemy Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), with the help of returning allies like Martha (Annette O'Toole), Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) and Chloe (Allison Mack) on May 15th. I'd like to extend a huge thanks to the cast and crew of Smallville for providing such a brilliant drama, and look forward to seeing and reviewing their final work on the programme in weeks to come!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Empire Film Awards Announced

Today has seen the awards ceremony for Empire's best films of 2010, with a few surprises and some more anticipated by the general public. Here are the winners, and my thoughts on each:
BEST NEWCOMER: CHLOE MORETZ (I'd argue Andrew Garfield, too, but certainly in Kick-Ass Moretz burst onto the scene with a bang)
BEST THRILLER: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Haven't seen this, however I've heard great things)
BEST HORROR: THE LAST EXORCISM (Haven't seen it, the trailer was very creepy though!)
BEST COMEDY: FOUR LIONS (I would have preferred Get Him To The Greek or The Other Guys, personally)
BEST SCI-FI OR FANTASY: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART ONE (Dead on, such an epic opening to what is sure to be the perfect denouement)
BEST ACTRESS: NAOMI RAPACE (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) (Never heard of her, my choice would have been Emma Watson for Deathly Hallows: Part One)
BEST BRITISH FILM: KICK-ASS (Yes, mostly, but frankly I expected The King's Speech to get this!)
BEST FILM: INCEPTION (Tough call with Kick-Ass and The King's Speech as nominees, yet I can't deny that this complex action-adventure had me on the edge of my seat throughout.)

Guitar Hero Tops The Ops

Here's something that absolutely nobody saw coming: just weeks after Call of Duty: Black Ops was announced as the highest grossing video game ever released in America, it has now been confirmed that Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock has just overtaken the shooter in sales to become the new highest grossing title! Of course, we should bear in mind that the former effort by Activision and Treyarch was released last November, whereas the latter (also released by Activision- clearly they're popular in the States!) was released back in October 2007. Legends of Rock, out now on PlayStation 2, PS3, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360, includes songs such as "The Metal" by Tenacious D, "Rock and Roll All Nite" by Kiss and "School's Out" by Alice Cooper, along with a storyline where your rock avatar attempts to go from performing at the Battle of the Bands at their school to gaining a guitar that can take on the Devil in a masterful performance of DragonForce's "Through The Fire And Flames". What with the phenomenal success of the game over in the US, and an equally large following of the Guitar Hero franchise here in the UK, Activision just might start to regret ending the franchise last month...

EXCLUSIVE Clone Wars: Wookie Hunt Review (4/5)

This season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been far more daring, taking risks with the continuity of the movie saga and treading on dark themes not usually covered in a show aimed at children. Wookie Hunt continues that bold trend for the most part, coming across as an edgy, well-paced adventure that should entice all fans of the show and the franchise as a whole. Still set on a mysterious unnamed planet, the episode showed Ahsoka's first meeting with the titular race of hairy aliens as Chewbacca was released from a prison ship accidentally, leaving the pair and the other Jedi younglings to attack the base of the evil Trandoshans and make their escape from the Outer Rim. All of that is typical Clone Wars fanfare, but what the story did do to deviate was use its status as a season finale to give the impression that everyone was in danger and that not everyone would necessarily survive, making for a half hour where viewers are really kept on their toes, wondering if Ms. Tano and her fellow comrades will be able to overcome the staggering odds. I won't spoil the epic conclusion, but sufficed to say that sadly the episode reverts to the typical, predictable reset button analogy in its dénouement, sacrificing a possible 4.5 or even a 5 in the process. This shouldn't detract too much from fans' enjoyment of Wookie Hunt, yet will definitely give the impression that as always this finale was a wasted opportunity by a programme that can't ever hope to raise the stakes properly at this rate.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Portal 2 Impressions

There's nothing I like more than an intense puzzle game, and the first Portal was that and so much more; initially just considered a bonus minigame in The Orange Box (a 360/PS3 set containing Half Life 2 and Team Fortress 2), the innovative physics-based title went on to gain a cult following, so expectations are obviously high for developer Valve to deliver with a larger, harder campaign and multi-player in upcoming sequel Portal 2. From what I have played of the next instalment in what could fast become a killer franchise, fans should have no cause for concern as to its quality or difficulty, but instead should mark April 22nd on their calendars as the day they should rush to their nearest GAME store. Having beaten the original with not too much angst, I was pleasantly surprised that my demo skipped tutorials and basically assumed my familiarity with how the game worked, as it meant that automatically the puzzles were a lot harder than the majority of the first one. Equally, another player was somewhat confused at the lack of guidance, so I taught him the basics too, but these levels definitely weren't the ones that will first present themselves to you when you get your copy, probably taking place a good half hour into the storyline. My only complaint with what I played was that some of the scenery and objects didn't look great yet, still seeming a bit too pixelly, yet we were told this was an older version of Portal 2 and that the final version is much more polished. Honestly, though, I couldn't help but think that if this is unpolished, gamers are in for one heck of a surprise next month!

Super Street Fighter IV 3D Review (7.5/10)

You remember Super Street Fighter IV, right? If not, let me bring you up to speed. In February 2009, the fourth full SF game hit stores and as per usual for the series was critically acclaimed. One year on, we got the Super version of that title, featuring new characters and locations and once again well-recieved by the gaming world. Last December, it was announced that Street Fighter VS Tekken, a compilation combining two of the best loved fighter franchises in one epic battle, due for release in early 2012. What you would expect, then, would be for Capcom to solely place their focus on that major new addition, but that's not the case at all! However, while Marvel VS Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (9.5/10) was a worthwhile endeavour by the developer, it's hard to shake the feeling that Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, released this week exclusively for Nintendo 3DS, is a step too far. The core gameplay experience is fine: everything from the 2010 version is here, the visuals are overwhelmingly impressive for a 3DS game and the soundtrack is as great as it ever was. Trouble is, the majority of gamers who will enjoy this instalment for all its complex button-mashing (there are touch screen controls, but these aren't a good substitute) and bizarro plots are likely to already have placed either the original or last year's update, or both, and so aren't going to find anything new here. I don't think there's much more I can say about this one- Street Fighter has always been and will always be a more fun experience when friends are gathered   around the telly to trash talk one another during a competition, and this 3D Edition does nothing to change that. If, for some reason, you missed out on Street Fighter IV, this is a good place to learn the basics of the gameplay, but it's still no substitute for the real thing on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Pilotwings Resort Review (6/10)

Way back in 1991, a new flight simulator called Pilotwings released on the SNES and took everyone by surprise, revolutionising the genre and adding a suitably less realistic twist on flying from Nintendo. That there is a huge legacy behind the original is no surprise, then, and so the notion of creating a sequel exclusively for their new handheld must have sounded like an instant 'Ker-CHING!' to the 3DS developers. Enter Pilotwings Resort, an accomplished successor that manages to put the 3-D tech to great use and will easily please fans of both the franchise and Wuhu Island (where it's set, the same resort as that found in the Wii Fit and Wii Sports series). No real story is included, but that's no problem as you are set dozens of inventive and varied missions like popping balloons and scoring points by performing tricks. The controls work well, with the addition of the 3DS' analogue stick allowing more precision than before. Even the graphics manage to wow, not falling too far behind those of the Wii in terms of how the Miis and the island look. Where Resort falters big time is in its value for your cash- twenty years ago (woah, doesn't that show how quickly time flies!) a simple mission mode and limited multi-player battles would have been enough, but the likes of Ace Combat and Flight Simulator have proved that far more is possible nowadays, making the £40 asking price for this very hard to justify. I would recommend Pilotwings Resort for some light hearted fun on the 3DS, but best let that RRP drop before heading out to purchase it.

Creepy Who Prequel Arrives

With The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon- the opening two-parter to Doctor Who Series Six set in 1960s America- less than a month away, it's time for the BBC to step things up a notch in terms of publicity for the seven-episode run, starting right here with a mini-episode that is a prelude to the aforementioned USA story. It takes place in the White House as the President of the United States picks up a strange telephone call in the Oval Office- and apparently not for the first time- urging him to "Look behind you"...and unbeknownst to said leader, we get our first glimpse at what the Silence, presumed to be the main adversary this year, might look like. The prologue should be enough to set the darker, creepier tone of this year's run for any fan, and makes April 23rd seem that much further away...

EXCLUSIVE: LEGO Star Wars Final Impressions

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is out now at all good retailers, so it's time to take one final look at the game before my full review next week. I played the opening level, 'Battle of Geonosis', taking place in the titular conflict at the climax of Attack of the Clones. The first thing that became apparent was that the scale of the major setpieces has been significantly ramped up from previous instalments, with dozens more enemies appearing on screen and the visuals improved noticeably too! As ever, the opening and closing cutscenes were hilarious to watch, highlights including bets being placed by the Geonosians on the stadium fight and bounty hunter Jango Fett melting Mace Windu's ice cream (yes, really!). If there was one major thing I had to criticise what I've seen so far of The Clone Wars, it would probably be that with so many adversaries and allies on screen at once it occasionally was hard to keep track of everything going on. However, as long as that doesn't continue to plague the game constantly, I can see no reason why LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars won't be the best LEGO entry yet!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Writer Hired?

Before there's even sign of a teaser trailer for 2012's reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, it's been reported that a writer has already been hired for a sequel that would be shot shortly after its predecessor's release provided the new version goes down well. The screenplay author in question is James Vanderbilt, a well-known name in the world of film for his scripts like The Rundown (2003), Zodiac (2007) and The Losers (2010) who also worked on a script for Sam Raimi's cancelled Spider-Man 4 and subsequently has written the screenplay for Amazing. Sony Pictures certainly wouldn't be the first studio to jump the bandwagon and start work on a sequel before the first flick premières: Warner Brothers did just that with 2009's Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr (the second instalment, A Game Of Shadows, is out this December) and is believed to be doing the same with Ryan Reynolds' The Green Lantern (due out in June). Let's just hope that all goes well when The Amazing Spider-Man arrives in cinemas next July, or all this might be for nothing...

EXCLUSIVE: Nintendo 3DS Review (7/10)

It's here- the latest handheld console from Nintendo, the 3DS, hit stores across the country today. The pressing question, of course, is does it actually work and should you shell out £230 right now for the new hardware? Yes and no: the technology is most definitely glasses-free, requiring just a brief adjustment from your eyes before the gameplay experience begins; however, that price tag is quite a hefty one for any console (the 360 shipped for £250 and the PS3 £300, and those are far more powerful), let alone a handheld one. Adding to this obvious misstep in product retail is the inevitable fact that after only ten or fifteen minutes, your eyes will most probably get tired, forcing you either to turn off the 3-D using the built in slider on the 3DS's rear or take a healthy break for a while- that's okay in theory, but once we get onto The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario later this year (said to be at their best when all three dimensions are put to use), and heck, even with launch titles like Splinter Cell and Rayman, this just isn't good enough, and will likely be a deciding factor for many gamers. If you can overlook the irritable flaws, the 3DS hits the mark at a dead-on bullseye with great new entries in big franchises, a much-improved camera that includes its own three-dimensional minigames and high quality visuals now up to the standard of the PSP, then this should be just the right handheld for you! If the price seems too much, though, wait it out and give the tech a go first.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Nathaniel Parker Heading To Merlin

Digital Spy has revealed today that actor Nathaniel Parker will join the cast of Merlin in this year's series to play a pivotal role in the future King Arthur's life. The star of British drama The Inspector Lynley Mysteries will apparently play Agravaine, known to be the uncle of Arthur and brother to Uther Pendragon. Far from just appearing in one episode, though, it looks like Parker will be here to stay, further sending his nephew towards a reign over Camelot as Uther begins to crumble under his attempts to deal with his daughter Morgana's turn to the dark side and her recent invasion of the kindgom. Other credits Nathaniel has on his list include cameos in St. Trinian's (2007) and Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010). The news should come as a welcome surprise to those who are fans of Parker's work and the fantasy drama, a nice additional piece of information regarding Series 4 after the recent announcement that the season will run for the full thirteen weeks, not ten as previously reported. Merlin is back for its next run this Winter.

Captain America Trailer Arrives

Fans of The Avengers have just a little bit longer left to wait for the next instalments in the growing Marvel franchise of prequels to the big compilation flick next year: Thor is out on April 27th, while Captain America: The First Avenger hits on July 26th. Now, as much as I'm looking forward to sitting through two hours of hammer-wielding fantasy madness for more developments in the overall plot arc, it's the latter superhero movie I'm most excited about, the full trailer for which has arrived on the web today and will probably start showing in cinemas alongside/after said fantasy next month. Why's there no sign of the actual Avengers team in the trailer? Apparently, instead of placing Cap in a cryostasis unit at the beginning of The First Avenger (the event that takes him from World War Two to modern day), more time will be spent in the 1940s as Chris Evans' incarnation takes on Nazis and the Red Skull, then the ending will bridge the gap. See what you think:

Smallville: Kent Synopsis Revealed

Smallville returns for its final run of episodes in America on April 15th, so it's no surprise that the synopsis for the next story in the tenth season has now appeared online. Titled Kent, the seventeenth episode returns Clark to the parallel world where Lionel Luthor found him before the Kents, this time prompting a return from past series regular John Schneider as an evil version of Jonathan Kent. Here's what US viewers can expect next month: "Clark is shocked to find a mirror box in the farm. Clark Luthor surprises him and sends him back to the alternate reality where he runs into a very angry Jonathan (Schneider). Meanwhile, back in our reality, Luthor visits Tess and tells her if she doesn't side with him he will kill her! Lois asks Emil to help her bring Clark back..." There probably won't be much in terms of Michael Rosenbaum's return as Lex Luthor (despite that the last story ended with Darkseid appearing to Lionel when he prayed for his son's return) or Clark's ascension to his destiny, but at least Mr. Schneider is back again and there will definitely be some major plot developments since Smallville is now so near its end! Expect my full review of Kent and the other remaining episodes of the show on the weekends they air.

Torchwood: Miracle Day US Airdate Set

While there's no sign yet of when Torchwood: Miracle Day, the anticipated fourth season of the Doctor Who spin-off, will air here in the UK, we do at least know the airdate for Episode One in America and can assume we will be getting the new drama just days before or after the US première. The first instalment, currently titled 'Episode 1', will air on July 8th at 9pm on the Starz network, and seeing as Russell T Davies knows the show heralds from a forever-British science-fiction drama it's likely that we won't have to wait much longer than that over here. Miracle Day opens as humanity discovers that is has become impossible to die, and although in theory the newfound immortality sounds great, when population booms occur and the fight for food and shelter becomes global, CIA agent Rex Matthews discovers the name of an organisation that could hold the key to unlocking the secrets of Miracle Day and fighting those who seek to use the chaos on Earth to their advantage- Torchwood. There's just one problem: the last remaining team under that name disbanded over a year ago, and now Captain Jack Harkness; Gwen Cooper and Rhys Matthews are nowhere to be found. As the darkest strands of human nature begin to emerge and the planet becomes a ticking time bomb (hence the new poster), Rex must find Torchwood and build a new team to face the terrible new threat that awaits them. It all sounds as if Children of Earth (2009's week long five-parter) was just the start of the programme's depiction of humans at their worst, and with Doctor Who Series 6 airing from April 23rd-June 3rd, Torchwood hopefully from July 8th-early September, DW then returning in mid September-late October and The Sarah Jane Adventures taking up the remaining weeks before we head towards the 2011 Who Christmas Special, fans of the Doctor and pals are in for a treat starting next month!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Doctor Who Prequel/Trailer Revealed

Trailers for the new series of Doctor Who have been scarce these last few weeks, but with just one month to go until The Impossible Astronaut airs, a new teaser for a full Coming Soon trailer expected to première this weekend and a glimpse at what the first prequel mini-episode will encompass are here. Not much can be said of these brief looks at Series 6 but only because they're so brief, and on the bright side the full prequel to The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon (the 1960s US two-parter that opens the series) will arrive on the official website this Friday at 4pm! Doctor Who returns on 23rd April.

Clash 2 Enters Production

Fresh off being regarded by many viewers as the worst film of 2010, Clash of the Titans is definitely getting a sequel, which entered production today in London. Speaking on the next instalment in the remade franchise, Warner Brothers said in the press release: "A decade after the Kraken's defeat, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is attemptiong to live as a village fisherman. But he cannot ignore his true calling when Hades (Ralph Fiennes), along with Zeus' son Ares (Edgar Ramirez), switch loyalty and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. As the Titans' strength grows stronger, hell is unleashed on Earth and enlisting the help of Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) and Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), Perseus embarks on a quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus, overthrow the Titans and save mankind." No sign of Gemma Arterton this time, which is a shame, but with any luck the tentatively titled Wrath of the Titans can right Clash's wrongs and make the next battle of the Titans one to remember when it releases in March 2012.

Next Narnia Is The Magician's Nephew

The Chronicles of Narnia came back on a high last November with Voyage of the Dawn Treader (4.5/5), so it's no surprise that producer Michael Flaherty has today confirmed that another book from the seven-part series will be adapted onto the big screen. What has come a little unexpected, though, is that the next film will not follow the chronological order of the Narnia timeline and move onto The Silver Chair, but instead return to the origins of the series and look at the prequel novel The Magician's Nephew. Taking place half a century before the events of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (the most famous of C.S Lewis' fantasy series and the first to be released as a film), the book focuses on two children called Polly Plummer and Digory Kirke, showing how the land of Narnia was created by the lion Aslan and how seeds of darkness began to emerge with the treachery of the White Witch Jadis. How 20th Century Fox hopes to promote a film that takes place so long before the movies kids grew up with and focusing on completely new characters (perhaps have Lucy and Edward voicing over, telling a story they were taught in their monarchy? It could be named Narnia Origins: Digory! Maybe not...), but Flaherty also said he's aiming for a Christmas release in 2013 or '14; that might be a tad risky when Avatar 2 and 3 and the final part of The Hobbit are set for those festive seasons, yet given the quality of Voyage I'm sure the flick could hold its own!

Warhammer: Space Marine Release Set

Details on THQ's first next-generation Warhammer 40,000 game are still pretty scarce, but it's now been confirmed by the developer that Space Marine is set for release in August. The plot of the title is still shrouded in secrecy, but fans will already know that you'll play as Captain Titus as he tries to stop the Warboss getting hold of a massive tank capable of winning the ancient fictional war that players of the Games Workshop-based strategy role-play game have depicted via their painted models for years now. Titus will also have to fend off invasions from evil Orks and a group of creatures that call themselves the Chaos. And...well, that's pretty much it, but undoubtedly this looks like a promising addition to the vast library of science-fiction shooters on Xbox 360 and PS3, so we'll do a full review of Space Marine this August.

Spider-Man Game Reveal On Its Way

Spider-Man fans won't have to wait much longer for the revelation as to what the next video game based around the Marvel superhero will be: the new title will be announced next weekend at the WonderCon in San Francisco. On April 2nd, publisher Activision and developer Beenox are promising "exclusive details, screenshots and videos of the next Spider-Man game" at their conference in the comic convention, where they will also look back on last year's well received Spidey entry Shattered Dimensions (also developed by Beenox, who as a result of its success have been chosen to develop games based around the Webbed Wonder from now on) and the fan feedback they received/the results the feedback will have on the development of their next entry. Nothing more was revealed, save for "acclaimed Marvel writer Peter David [who writes the Spider-Man 2099 comics] and voiceover talent Josh Keaton [who voiced the Ultimate incarnation of the web-slinger in Shattered Dimensions] will play a part in the new title". Check back next weekend to see if we're getting a sequel to last year's game, or if it's something new entirely!

Glee: The Sue Sylvester Shuffle Review (4/5)

When Glee was announced to have an episode scheduled in a post-Super Bowl slot, I'm sure more than a few heads turned- would the show, renowned for its comedy and great covers, pull out all the stops to appeal to a wider audience in The Sue Sylvester Shuffle? The answer is a resounding yes, but this week's romp made a few stumbles along the way that likely cost it instant acclaim from those watching after the major US sports competition. As expected, this was one of the most expensive episodes of the programme yet produced, with highlights including Sue's attempted use of a cannon to ensure victory at a cheerleading championship and the awesome mash-up of Michael Jackson's Thriller and Yeah Yeah Yeah's Heads Will Roll, however that didn't help shake the feeling that the episode as a whole just went on for too long, doing its best (in vain) to take Finn forward from his late relationship with Rachel in a way that hopefully irritated others as much as it did myself, looking to drag Glee back to the same repetitive place it found itself in when Finn and Quinn dated in Series One. On the plus side, Jane Lynch was on fine form as the titular coach, showcasing all that's fun and diverse about the show as she took out her rage at having her cannon idea refused on the school reception and the locker room. If anything, this week's story could simply have been named 'The Best of Glee': all the excellent covers and gags fans know and love were present, yet there was barely anything substantial or promising enough to win over new viewers at Super Bowl. A missed opportunity, then, but it certainly didn't leave a sour taste.

First Crysis 2 Reviews Are In

Crysis 2, one of 2011's earliest yet most anticipated first-person shooters, is out in stores now in America and is due for release on March 25th here in the UK, and as such the critics' reviews of the title have come flooding in, the majority of them overwhelmingly positive. The official Xbox magazine rated the sequel to the graphically-advanced PC video game at 9/10, praising the online modes as "some of the most exciting, angry and satisfying action you'll ever have" and the single-player campaign containing loads of missions that are "great fun". As with many other reviewers, OXM criticised the AI for being "inconsistent", but otherwise loved the newest instalment in the science-fiction franchise. Meanwhile, the official PlayStation magazine docked Crysis 2 one extra mark (8/10) for a "bungled opened section" and the fact that supposedly it takes "maybe five hours of persisting through a thorny, poorly signposted shooter" before things improve, yet still admitting that "Crytek pushes [the PS3] to the brink" with "not just good, but different" visuals to the bog-standard graphics found in most modern shooters. The warm reception continues, too, with IGN ("It manages to deliver a more focused experience while retaining the building blocks of what made the original unique"), CVG ("As close to an interactive disaster movie as we've ever come") and GamesRadar ("We didn't believe it could be done, but there's no question the tech is a success) all handing the title 8s and 9s out of 10 as well. From what everyone is saying, Crysis 2 is well worth your cash, and you can catch my full review of the sci-fi sequel early next month.

Microsoft To Focus More On Core Franchises

Microsoft are going to be placing more emphasis on their exclusive Xbox 360 franchises in the future, senior director Kevin Unangst has revealed. Speaking to Gamustra, the head of PC and mobile gaming noted "There always has to be a balance- you don't want to just [do] sequel, sequel, sequel, you have to be pushing the envelope". What does that means for owners of the home console in years to come? "You're going to see us do more with Forza, with Halo, with Fable; all the franchises, but of course we're also of course looking to bring new things like the integration between Kinect and the phone [Microsoft recently announced the new Windows Phone 7 to be compatible with the Kinect camera]." As if that weren't enough, Unangst then went on to say that "[The current 360 line-up for 2011] is not the sum total. There's games that we've revealed [Gears, mainly!] but not yet talked about coming this year, games like Forza Motorsport 4 and Kinect Star Wars. Those, and some other surprises you'll hear from us at E3 about". If anything, the studio looks to be defending itself now after criticism that Xbox exclusives were lacking in 2011, promising more revelations on announced and unannounced titles at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June. Frank O'Connor, creative director of the Halo franchise, took things one step further: "The core game mechanic and strength of the Halo universe doesn't need to be changed- Bungie tried to reinvent the series every time- it just needs to be taken deeper. We want to make Halo, not Call of Duty or Ridge Racer because we understand what's special about the saga". For that reason, O'Connor says that the next instalment, reportedly a HD remake of the original title set for release on its tenth anniversary this November, will include "dramatic innovations" but also "slight tweaks". In other words, so long as they start announcing more exclusives, 2011 should become a brilliant year for Microsoft!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Book VS Film: Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Askaban

Choosing the best version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban has proved far more troublesome than its predecessors: both the novel and film are the franchise at its most impressive so far, the tiresome restrictions of opening the tale and keeping to an age rating of PG cast aside. Better still, the big screen adaptation makes far less concessions with regards to the source material, packing a far darker edge present in the book too, so there are less opportunities this time around for fans to complain that the adaptation changes the text too much to be regarded as a faithful incarnation. For example, the Dementors are disturbingly realistic despite their phantom forms, surely one of the scariest monsters ever to grace the film franchise (although their inception, of course, is all thanks to J.K Rowling's vivid description). Less time is wasted in the movie on Hermionie's new pet Crookshanks, and thank goodness as that was one of the worst elements of the book. What really sets the pair apart surprisingly sends the competition into the adaptation's favour is the quality of the acting here- Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson evolve their protagonists to fit the much more harrowing tone of Prisoner, and newcomers Gary Oldman and Daniel Thewlis do wonders as the insane but quickly relatable Sirius Black and the moonlight-fearing Professor Lupin. For once, it is the flick, not the book that triumphs here, setting a precedent that, while not truly lived up to until Deathly Hallows (definitely in Part One, hopefully in Part Two) will be remembered by Potter fans like myself forever more.

Thor/Captain America Release Dates Revealed

SEGA's track record with adapting Marvel films isn't exactly the best, with neither The Incredible Hulk nor Iron Man 2 going the extra mile to bring a superhero to the big screen in style, so all eyes are on the developer this Spring and Summer to see if an old dog can learn new tricks in Thor: God of Thunder and Captain America: Super Soldier. The former, taking place before the events of the film, is set on Thor's home planet of Asgard as his kindgom finds itself in the midst of an invasion and the hammer-wielding Norse hero must fight to defend his friends and family. God of Thunder will be released on May 3rd, just a few days after the April 28th début of the movie in the UK. Meanwhile, the latter title will be out on July 19th (one whole week before the flick, Captain America: The First Avenger, hits cinemas), its plot set during the WW2 patriot's rise to fame as Cap fights the Red Skull's minions in a Nazi-ruled castle that if left standing could mean the end for the Allies. Both tie-ins star their respective flicks' main actors, with Thor's Chris Hemworth at the head of God of Thunder and Chris Evans as Captain America in Super Soldier. The plots sound promising, but as I said SEGA aren't on the best terms with gamers for their past adaptations so you can await my reviews with trepidation in May and July...

New POTC On Stranger Tides Trailer Arrives

Whatever your opinion of Johnny Depp, there's no denying that his upcoming motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is one of the most anticipated films due for release this Summer. The sequel, taking place after the cataclysmic events of 2007's At World's End, sees Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) in search of the Fountain of Youth, battling against old enemies like Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and new ones such as the villainous Blackbeard (Ian McShane) while finding new shipmates in Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and Scrum (Stephen Graham) along the way. A second full trailer for On Stranger Tides has been released today, further showing the dangers of Jack's quest, the return of series regular Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and showcasing Mr. Depp's haphazard antics out at sea that will no doubt place him right in the middle of a swashbuckling sword battle come the film's climax. Have a look and see what you think- On Stranger Tides is out on May 18th, with a LEGO video game based around the Pirates franchise due out on May 13th...

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol CD Review (4/5)

I love the annual Doctor Who soundtrack releases as much as the next fan, not only to relive some of the latest season's greatest musical moments but in many ways just because Murray Gold is such a superb composer and even without a spoken plot it is so easy to get immersed into the worlds created by each of his pieces. That said, the Christmas Carol album seems a tad pricey considering it covers just a one-hour special, and begs the question of why the songs weren't held back for the inevitable Series 6 compilation we will probably see hit shops this Winter. Certainly, the festive tones of the soundtrack won't fit particularly well into the everyday lives of customers seeing as the next December 25th is over nine months away! What I can credit this compact-disc for, however, is as always the quality of the music on offer, since while it can become repetitive on a second or third listen for the first time in the history of these releases there's a real sense of a flowing, cohesive narrative lacking from its predecessors, which instead take one or two songs from each episode and thus can't feel totally seamless in transition between tracks. A mixed bag, then, yet if fans don't mind spilling out extra cash for a release that is way out of its festive timeframe, this is Murray Gold's music at its absolute best, and Katherine Jenkine's Abigail's Song won't leave a dry out in the house if you get this out when the sleighbells start ringing.

Production Begins On The Hobbit

Few motion pictures have gone through what The Hobbit has: location issues, script delays and a hospitalised Peter Jackson are just some of the problems that arose for the upcoming two-part fantasy in years gone by, however today New Line Studios have confirmed the latest instalments in the Lord of the Rings trilogy have entered production in New Zealand. The film...well, we'll let the press release speak for itself: "Set sixty years before The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining a company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their journey will take them into the Wild, through lands swarming with Orcs and Sorcerors. Although their goal lies to the East, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever-Gollum (Andy Serkis)-and also gains posession of a single, gold ring tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth..." Returnees from previous films include Elijah Wood as Frodo and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, with more casting announcements expected in the coming months. The Hobbit is set for release in two parts in December 2012 and '13 respectively, and Peter Jackson couldn't feel more at home if the above photo of his return to the set is anything to go by!

UK Gaming Charts: March 14th-20th

Most people would have expected Dragon Age II to stay top on the British video games charts for another week with only a handful of new titles released elsewhere this month, but it turns out that more than a few shooter fans were won over by Homefront's extensive marketing campaign, and regardless of its mixed reviews the aforementioned FPS was the best selling video game of the last week. Next week may bring even more interesting news, since LEGO Star Wars III, Crysis 2 and the Nintendo 3DS are all out this Friday, but for now here's the list:
8. FIFA 11

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance Is A Reboot

Speaking to Total Film, Brian Taylor has revealed that Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance will be "100% different" from the 2007 original, in all but name "pretty much a reboot". The director said that "the first attraction was Nic[holas Cage, who plays the anti-hero in both the first film and this one] and the second was the character and just how cool it could be." Taylor said he wasn't too happy with the previous take on Johnny Storm and his alter-ego, and thus in Spirit he hopes "to make the Ghost Rider movie that he wished he had seen before". Not much is yet known about the next instalment, which Taylor jokingly called a "seboot" or "requel" due to Cage signalling continuity between the two films, but so far we have been told that the tormented Storm has gone into hiding with the burden of his powers, yet must return into the wider world to save a young boy from Deadshot, an adversary ripped straight from the comics and here born by the Devil's work. Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance is due for release in cinemas in February 2012.

2011 Game Review Predictions #2

Now, onto the big part of 2011- the end! From September onwards, things are going to get very busy for video gaming, and as such it's worth seeing all the titles that are coming out and predicting their quality out of 10, so let's go...
GEARS OF WAR 3- Beautiful visuals, typical yet effective sci-fi plot and the game-play GoW is renowned for will probably make this pretty good. 9/10
BATTLEFIELD 3- It's an FPS, so don't expect big change, but the graphics are awesome and the explosiveness is just plain cool! 9/10
ZELDA: SKYWARD SWORD- Zelda is back with a bang, and while the cartoony visuals are divisive the game-play is solid, if predictable. 8.5/10
FORZA MOTORSPORT 4- It looks realistic, it plays realistically, and the Kinect compatibility adds more fun and depth than ever. 8.5/10
STAR WARS KINECT- Fun for everyone, and fans will get a hoot out of wielding a virtual lightsaber with their body. Slight lag sometimes, but that doesn't detract from how impressive this is. 9/10
STEEL BATALLION KINECT- The tech is still coming on, but a solid indication of Kinect's future. 8/10
TOMB RAIDER- Lara Croft is on fine form once more, and the free-roaming island is great, although replay value is sorely lacking and nothing particularly new is present. 8/10
CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3- It's COD, so my hopes are no longer high for this. 5/10
BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY- Ace stuff, a true tribute to the world of the Dark Knight. Essential for all fans of the Caped Crusader, and perhaps newcomers too. 9.5/10 (or 10?)
UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE'S DECEPTION- A PS3 exclusive to be proud of, boasting the best visuals around, blockbuster game-play and a plot that would fit right in with a movie! 9/10
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM- One of the most technically advanced titles in 2011, Skyrim adapts brilliantly to your play style and deserves attention by all...couple of glitches, though! 9.5/10
SAINT'S ROW: THE THIRD- A blatant GTA clone, but still bombastic fun while it lasts. 7/10
MASS EFFECT 3- Closing 2011 with a bang, and tying up all the trilogy's loose ends perfectly (that is provided it makes it out this Winter and isn't delayed until early 2012) 10/10
Now it's time to see whether all these games and so many more live up to expectations as the year continues!