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Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Problems Facing The WiiU: Part Two

LAUNCH TITLES- Now, one bonus regarding the WiiU's potential launch line-up is that Nintendo seem to have learned from their past mistakes. Their initial offerings for the 3DS at launch this year were dismal at best, with Pilotwings and Nintendogs seemingly meant to provide the height of excitement at the time. The company are now dropping the price of the handheld by over a third, which has never been done before just five months after release (those who bought their 3DS at the hefty £230 RRP will at least get 20 free downloadable classics, but it's really not a good sign for sales). This shows that they know and regret not bringing us a successful launch batch, and actually bodes quite well for whatever first hits the WiiU. Sufficed to say, at their E3 conference Nintendo pleased plenty of hardcore gamers by announcing Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Batman: Arkham City, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Tekken and Darksiders. Shortly after the frenzy of anticipation came from fans of all those franchises, though, the developers of the majority of them revealed that they were toying with ideas to enhance the gameplay experience on the console, rather than planning to bring out the most recent instalments (Revelations; Infinite etc) at launch as was hinted by the video reveals. This, combined with Nintendo's confirmation that the demos of New Super Mario Bros Mii and The Legend of Zelda HD were nothing more than tech demonstrations and that the announcement of a Super Smash Bros title was in fact premature, with the game itself not set for release until at least 2013, leaves the quality and quantity of the WiiU's launch titles worryingly uncertain. Worse still, assuming Arkham City, out on 360 and PS3 this October, and Colonial Marines, out next Spring for other consoles, make the first line-up, they will both have been released elsewhere over half a year before. That means Nintendo are going to have to offer something very big and innovative in each of these to convince those of us (likely such as myself) who will already own one version of both, lest they want poor sales again for the console.
GRAPHICS- Let's be blunt: in this day and age of video gaming, graphics matter. No, they do not affect how a game plays or the quality of its storyline, but the realism of a locale, a character model or a weapon can easily prove the deciding factor for use of a gamer's cash. Although all of the games on show for the WiiU did look relatively impressive, as hard as it is to admit, there was absolutely nothing that surpassed the high standards of the 360 and PS3's graphics, and considering the next iterations of those popular consoles will likely be on their way just one year after this hits that's an ominous prospect. Nintendo managed to get away with cartoony visuals with the likes of Wii Sports and Wii Fit on the basis that their last console was aimed at casual gamers for the most part, but now the aim seems to be mainly on getting back hardcore followers who wanted COD and FIFA to look great, that the jump in graphics doesn't seem to be anything huge seems contradictory to the development targets.
IS THE WIIU DOOMED ALREADY?- Don't get me wrong, I cannot wait to see what Nintendo have in store for us next year, and welcome their decision to herald the next generation of video gaming by bringing us their innovative new console before anyone else debuts new hardware. That being said, it does worry me that there already seem to be so many dilemmas facing the WiiU based on its initial E3 reveal, and I haven't even covered the mishaps of what the console itself actually looks like (basically the same as the Wii, adding to the feeling that not much has changed) or the potential for the same cycle of bland third-party games to repeat. Perhaps these anxieties have faced every console launch, I wasn't really old enough to notice when the 360 released, but I can't help but think that when we see the next Xbox and PlayStation in 2013 or '14, the WiiU will (again) be percieved as the lesser console, and suffer largely in the race for sales as a result. Nothing would please me more than for me to be proved completely wrong, though!

The Problems Facing The WiiU: Part One

Last month, Nintendo unveiled their latest home console at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011. Called the WiiU, it will boast a new controller with its very own touch-screen, and therefore allow players to add a new dynamic of dual screen gameplay and more simply continue playing when the TV is turned over too. Add to that a camera, the return of the classic analogue sticks and new HD graphics and the games company are on to a surefire winner- right...? Perhaps not. Despite the glamorous unveiling it recieved at E3, laden with a wealth of big name franchises that would seemingly bring new instalments at launch, before a release date has even been set there are noticable dilemmas that Nintendo will face when they market the console in 2012.
WHICH GENERATION?- The Wii has had roughly the correct lifespan for an average console, first released six years back and now reaching the end of its time with a considerable lack of major new titles (not unlike the state of the PlayStation 2 shortly before the PS3 was introduced). That said, Nintendo made an elementary error: they released the Wii before the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, making its simplistic visuals seem shoddy in comparison to the hi-def Call of Dutys, Uncharteds and Halos that awaited gamers on the other two consoles. Once again, the company seem to have rushed their reveal of their new console so that its innovations and quirks seem revolutionary rather than waiting for Microsoft and Sony to announce their new hardware and coming off as lacklustre in comparison. With the other two gaming goliaths rumoured to be revealing the '720' and 'PS4' at E3 2012, history may be about to repeat itself, and it may go up to debate as to whether Nintendo have in fact released the last console of this generation, a stunning send-off for an age of true video gaming advancements, or the first console of the next generation, a neat showcase of potential that ultimately paled in comparison to its groundbreaking successors.
DEVOLUTION- When Nintendo unveiled their last home console at E3 2005, they initially dubbed it the Nintendo Revolution. And, at the time, they did so with justification- the idea of using a remote as a motion-based controller, capable of reproducing your gestures on screen with 1:1 accuracy, was an utterly new and thrilling one to us, the likes of which had never been conceptualised before. Much as I would love to have said the same of the WiiU, so far what we've seen- while impressive- has been nothing more than a slight expansion on previous game controllers, only with the added gimmicks of tilt-based control and an extra screen. Worst of all, the aforementioned motion wizardry that made the Wii such a smash hit (even if claims of 1:1 were misplaced until the MotionPlus arrived) appears to have been all but removed. You'll be able to use Wii remotes with the console, but how much their sensory capabilities come into play remains to be seen, and the initial signs aren't promising. If anything, many fans of the Wii may see this as a step back, and that the developers have stuck with a very similar name for the console to its predecessor adds to the feeling that it's more devolution than revolution this time around...

August 2011: The Release Dates

Want to know when a new film, game or TV show hits the UK this month? Here's a round-up of all the release dates you should be looking out for...
TUESDAY 2ND- TV: Smallville: Patriot
WEDNESDAY 3RD- TV: Sherlock: The Great Game
THURSDAY 4TH- Books: CHERUB: People's Republic; Torchwood: Long Time Dead, TV: Torchwood: Escape From LA
FRIDAY 5TH- Movies: Super 8
SATURDAY 6TH- TV: Camelot: Reckoning
TUESDAY 9TH- TV: Smallville: Luthor
WEDNESDAY 10TH- Movies: The Smurfs
THURSDAY 11TH- TV: Torchwood: Categories Of War, Movies: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
TUESDAY 16TH- TV: Smallville: Icarus
WEDNESDAY 17TH- Movies: Cowboys & Aliens; The Inbetweeners Movie
THURSDAY 18TH- Books: Torchwood: The Men Who Sold The World, TV: Torchwood: The Middle Men
FRIDAY 19TH- Movies: Spy Kids: All The Time In The World; Glee: The 3D Concert Movie
TUESDAY 23RD- TV: Smallville: Collateral
THURSDAY 25TH- TV: Torchwood: Immortal Sins, Movies: Final Destination 5
FRIDAY 26TH- Movies: Conan The Barbarian, Games: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
FRIDAY 26TH- Events: HaloFest (with news on anniversary and Halo 4, until the 28th)
SATURDAY 27TH- TV: Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler
TUESDAY 30TH- TV: Smallville: Beacon

Coming Up For On-Screen In August

As I've said before, this month is a great one for entertainment, so inevitably it's a great one for On-Screen too. There will be one more hiatus for the blog, but I'll let you know about that in advance, and in any case it should be the last break in updates for the rest of 2011! Below you'll find a summary of just about everything you can expect from us in weeks to come:
FILM REVIEWS- Super 8; Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Cowboys & Aliens; Rango; The Green Hornet and more.
GAME REVIEWS- Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be the main one to look out for here at the end of the month, but lots more to come from September onwards!
BOOK REVIEWS- Torchwood: First Born & Long Time Dead; Halo: Ghosts of Onyx & Contact Harvest & The Cole Protocol; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; Prisoner of the Inquisition and the new CHERUB novel rated!
TELEVISION COVERAGE- Reviews of the latest episodes of Doctor Who and Torchwood; the Camelot finale rated; and a look ahead to what's coming up in the Autumn/Winter months...
PREVIEWS- Doctor Who: Night Terrors, the second episode of the second half, plus all the coverage on the huge array of entertainment forcing its way into our lives very soon.
FEATURES- Why the Summer of Film has been underwhelming; the most anticipated remaining films and games of 2011; big entertainment events still to come and a possible exclusive first look at the Pottermore website!
NEWS- All the announcements from Halo Fest; new film trailers; the truth of Doctor Who's 2012 run and so much more, right here!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

August 2011: Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases

Hard to believe we're two thirds of the way through the year, not to mention into the last month of summer already! Thankfully, to comfort you after hearing that rather unpleasant reminder, I can let you know that August is promising to be a month packed to the brim with sleeper hits, or to be more specific, releases you likely have heard about rather than seen but that just may surprise you. In fact, I'd go so far as to warrant that we might see some of 2011's best entertainment over the next thirty one days, and given all that's come before, that in itself is quite a statement...
5. TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY- The series has gotten off to a mixed start, with the opening two instalments being predictable and the latter outright brilliant, but if we can get more of the seamless action, drama and comedy we did in Dead of Night then Season Four may soon be able to match Children of Earth, which would be quite a feat indeed!
4. DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION- A revolution in video gaming? Maybe- the original Deus Ex was met to critical acclaim eleven years back, a stunning RPG shooter with near limitless replay value, so there's a good chance its prequel Human Revolution can set some big standards when it hits stores. Keep an eye on this one.
3. SUPER 8- If there was ever going to be a sleeper hit, this would have to be it. Set in 1960s America, this intriguing film follows four kids shooting a homemade sci-fi flick, only to witness a freight train carrying cargo from Area 51 crash nearby, drawing them into a world of danger beyond their wildest dreams. Think it all sounds a bit low-key? It also happens to be directed by none other than Steven Spielberg, and going on his track record that could mean big things for it!
2. DOCTOR WHO- Those of you reading this who know me well as a dedicated fan of this sublime, fourty eight-year spanning science fiction TV show may wonder why its return with Episode 8, Let's Kill Hitler, isn't at the top of the list. Fair question. The simple answer would be that I don't like to place any show top in more than one month (Who placed first in April), but just to say that would be to discredit what's come top here. That said, I am really looking forward to the programme coming back, particularly with more on River Song, the death of the Doctor and the Silence confirmed to be revealed!
1. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES- However, it's got to be Rise which tops this list. The trailers for this one have been nothing short of stunning, showcasing the staggeringly realistic CGI, the emotive plot and the great A List of actors coming along for the ride in this exciting prequel/reboot. Best film of 2011? If director Rupert Wyatt plays his cards right, it just may be...

July 2011: Best Release

I have something to confess- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 wasn't everything I was hoping for. In order to make the transition into an action-packed war epic, the movie lost the brilliant character-led drama of Part 1, at which point Rupert Grint and Emma Watson had far less time to share on screen than they did before, a crime unto itself. That the opening was very slowly paced, packed with relatively pointless conversations that (barely) served only to move the plot to its first major setpiece, didn't help either. So no, I don't think Part 2 will be the Best Film of 2011- heck, I don't think we've seen this year's top film yet, and in actual fact for truly standout moments the Summer of Film has so far been quite underwhelming- but that said it is still one heck of a movie. The atmosphere of the final battle at Hogwarts is spot on throughout, primarily due to director David Yates' decision to keep the scenes of war primarily focused on the characters that this generation (myself included) have grown up with and loved for an entire decade now. And that's one thing this film certainly gets right- pay off! For all of us who have been eagerly anticipating an epic finale filled with action, romance, tragedy and ultimately much awaited closure on the story of the Boy Who Lived, Part 2 is the perfect fulfilment of our wishes. It's got its flaws, a shame when you consider how masterfully The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King concluded that trilogy of book adaptations, yet upon reflection of this phenomenal franchise the aforementioned shortcomings don't make much of a difference. It may not be one for the history books, but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the conclusion everyone wanted, a great send-off for a great series of films. Cars 2? Captain America? Nope, until whatever turns out to be 2011's best flick hits the big screen (I firmly believe it's still to come), this is the must-see movie. Nuff said.

Friday, 29 July 2011

EXCLUSIVE Captain America: The First Avenger Review (3.5/5)

Any superhero film was going to have a hard time following up on Thor (4.5/5) and X-Men: First Class (5/5) this Summer, as Green Lantern (2/5) found out the hard way, but what hurts most about seeing Captain America: The First Avenger is that had it not been rushed to screen, it might have avoided the elementary errors countless origin stories have made and become some of Marvel's best work. There's no denying that this is a hugely patriotic American film, a World War Two-set epic filled with references both visual and spoken to the Land of Prosperity which, while hardly excruciating, may quickly put some viewers off. That said, the setting really lends to the flick's appeal, with stereotypes and historical facts aplenty accurately used to portray the world as it was in the 1940s. Also contributing to the authenticity is lead Chris Evans, who brings us a well-hearted protagonist every bit as likeable as Chris Hemsworth's Norse warrior and Robert Downey Jr's arrogant buerocrat, and whose character arc progresses well opposite romantic interest Peggy Carter (portrayed superbly by Hayley Atwell). It's a real shame, then, that the aforementioned emotional journey Evans' Steve Rogers takes all but comes to a halt when we reach the film's midway point, making the climactic battles feel generic and predictable with no sense of real motive. Yes, we do get the arc beautifully brought up again in Evans and Atwell's final scene of the film, but I have a sad feeling that we won't be getting more of their great chemistry anytime soon (I can't spoil why, comic fans may have already guessed), certainly not in The Avengers next year. And speaking of that much anticipated team-up, as with Thor the set up required here for it detracts hugely from the feel and charm of The First Avenger, especially since the lead-in scene is almost completely at juxtaposition with the rest of the film. It was okay in Thor, as there was room for it to be cleared up, yet from here there's a sense of not being able to go back when the inevitable sequel arrives, and that's almost criminal given the rich world that's been left behind. Of course, there is a post-credits scene, or rather a post-credits trailer, for The Avengers, which is truly brilliant and makes the May 2012 release date feel far too long to wait for, but that isn't a part of the film so can't help ramp up the score. Captain America: The First Avenger features enough interesting setpieces to keep you watching, and certainly has a great period cast (since we may never see the majority of them again, though, that's a shortlived advantage), but that's all that keeps a completely predictable plot whose latter stages are mere filler to bridge it with the biggie. It's a world above the Summer's worst flicks, Pirates of the Caribbean and Green Lantern, yet it comes nowhere near to the quality of X-Men, Harry Potter or any other of the sleeper hits likely on their way next month.

Torchwood: Dead of Night Review (5/5)

Finally stepping away from all the build-up of the lacklustre opening episodes, Dead of Night was a brilliant action romp that really felt like Torchwood was before moving to the US, an exciting adventure blending sex, gunplay and gags in a way that mother show Doctor Who never could. The story saw Rex, Jack, Esther and Gwen form as more of a team unit, discovering that the sinister PhiCorp organisation knew that the Miracle was coming and that an eerie group called the Soulless marched on the streets to protest against said blessing. It was certainly the little touches that made this one such a hit: Esther teaching Gwen the vocab of America, Jack's jokes being a 'little too gay' for Rex, and ultimately Jack's captivating confrontation with Oswald Danes- Bill Pullman just seems to flourish more and more in his intriguing anti-hero role every week- all came together to keep the audience enthralled throughout. This time around, the acting from all involved (even Mykhal Phifer as Rex) was spot on, and that brings me hope that in future instalments Miracle Day may come close to matching or topping Children of Earth, even if its first two instalments were decent rather than great. Testament to how much I was enjoying this episode was that when we hit the sixty minute endpoint, I had not realised that an hour had passed and was itching to see more, despite the climax not really being anything but a lead-in point for Episode Four. Previously, I was ready to see the episode end as the storyline had been overdrawn and lengthy, but that that's not the case now bodes really well for this season of Torchwood. I'm not saying Dead of Night is the best piece of television of 2011 so far, as it isn't, yet in comparison to previous stories this was absolutely pitch-perfect. At one point, Esther says that lemonade is "fizzy in the UK, flat in the US", to which Gwen replies "that just about sums all this up". Sadly, before now I would have said the same of Miracle Day, however now the show is on very promising form, and I simply cannot wait to see what's coming up next.

New Year's Eve Trailer Arrives

A spiritual sequel of sorts to last year's successful ensemble comedy Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve is looking to be another great combination of guest stars. Ashton Kutcher, Zac Efron, Lea Michele (Glee's Rachel), Robert De Niro, Ice Cube, Sarah Michelle Geller and Jessica Biel are amongst the wealth of big names making appearances, so we're surely in for a great time. Below is the first trailer for the movie, boasting a few funny gags that should hopefully help develop it into a substantial source of laughs! New Year's Eve is (for some reason) out on December 9th- no, I don't see why they didn't just wait for December 31st either!

Games News Round-Up

Here are a few pieces of interesting games news you might have missed in the last week or so...
  • The Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3DS remake has been delayed to 2012 due to production delays.
  • And speaking of the 3DS, the console's RRP will drop by a massive third worldwide this August as a result of pretty underwhelming sales since its launch in March. Current owners of a 3DS will get 20 downloadable NES and Game Boy Advance games as compensation for having to pay extra- so a good move for everyone!
  • New DLC is coming for Red Dead Redemption. Out in September, the free 'Myths & Mavericks' pack will contain a host of new characters and locations from Wild West lore for you to battle in on the online multiplayer modes.
  • Finally, Mario And Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games has been given a release date. The Wii version will retail from November 15th, and feature loads of new sports, dream events and London locales (no fencing through the Houses of Parliament, though- shame!), while the 3DS edition will release in February 2012. The original Olympic Games was a great party affair, so there may yet be hope for this one.
For all the latest games news, keep checking back at On-Screen!

Battleship Trailer Released

Based on the classic board game, Battleship is hitting cinemas next Summer, and this week Universal have released the first trailer for the action movie. It doesn't tell us much, but with glimpses of Liam Neeson and Rihanna in the cast, it looks to be a pretty big project, and one that shows enough promise to be a great box office blockbuster. There may even be a chance it does well with critics if it isn't too overdramatic. Don't expect the next Avatar, though...Battleship releases on May 18th, 2012 in cinemas worldwide.

Resistance 3, Uncharted 3 Coming To GAMEFest

Sony have been announced as another headline sponsor of the GAMEFest video games convention coming to the Birmingham NEC in two months time, and they will be bringing with them the highly anticipated Resistance 3 and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. The former is a dark shooter that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, and the latter a visually spectacular platformer that looks to seamlessly blend narrative and gameplay. These exciting titles join Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Need for Speed: The Run, FIFA 12, Mass Effect 3, Saint's Row: The Third, NHL 12, Disney Universe, Dark Souls, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, Ridge Racer: Unbounded, Ben 10: Galactic Racing, Rayman Origins, Assassin's Creed Revelations, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, FarCry 3, Just Dance 3, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012, Driver: San Francisco, The Adventures of Tintin, WRC 2012 and Motion Sports Adrenaline (plus other big, as of yet unrevealed 2011 titles) at the promising convention, coming to the NEC from September 16th-18th. Resistance 3 is out here on September 9th, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception on November 2nd.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Game Review (3/10)

On a positive note, the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 video game tie-in is better than Part 1, learning from the mistakes of the weird cover shooting and implementing more useful cover and a fluent shooting system. However, that the developers chose not to shed the mechanic as a whole and only had a few months to make the game hasn't helped, and it still feels like a pretty empty title. The game follows the same story as the film: Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the hunt for the final Horcruxes, and must travel to Gringotts, Hogsmeade and ultimately Hogwarts Castle to bring the epic battle with Lord Voldemort to an end. That said, if you haven't read the book or seen the film, you'll be pretty lost as Part 2 moves from setpiece to setpiece (e.g. from McGonagoll battling a giant to Neville blowing up a bridge) with no explanation as to how the previous scene concluded or why what's coming next is happening, really hampering the overall experience. Once again, neither the graphics nor the soundtrack impress, merely serving to set the same tone as the film, a darker and visceral conflict, so don't really add or detract from the repetitive gameplay. This established tone setting does feel more faithful to the movie than all the running away that made up Part 1 (1/10), so I've given Part 2 a higher mark, but that is still saying nothing- even the most hardcore Harry Potter fans will struggle to enjoy playing this. It's mercifully short at just three hours, and there is a nice montage of clips from all eight games after you beat the campaign, yet all that really serves to show is just how wasted an opportunity the whole franchise of tie-ins has been, never surparssing the 'average', or in this case 'rubbish' mark.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Where Next For Gaming?

I'm very glad to say that things can only go up in the world of video gaming for the remainder of this year. So far, we've had just Marvel VS Capcom 3 (9.5/10), Portal 2 (10/10) and LA Noire (9.5/10), and brilliant as each of those were, once we'd finished them there was little else to play between January and July. How can games publishers make up for this irritating lack of new titles? Bring us an almost intimidating onslaught of big names over the course of four months, ensuring that barely a week will go by where there isn't something new out to play. So, let's take a look at the very bright future for our consoles:
AUGUST- Bringing the bleak and empty Summer of Games to a somewhat satisfying end is Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a highly anticipated sci-fi shooter that allows a wealth of choice via RPG elements and may just sneak up into Game of the Year lists if it's varied enough. At 30+ hours, it should compensate for being the only major release next month when it hits on the 26th.
SEPTEMBER- And here we go...Dead Island, Resistance 3, Driver: San Francisco, Rise of Nightmares, Warhammer: Space Marine, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, StarFox 64 3D, FIFA 12, Resident Evil 4 HD, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, Gears of War 3 and X-Men: Destiny are all coming to stores near you in these thirty one days, and although only some of those are big names we may just get a few surprises among them.
OCTOBER- Another busy month, containing some of my most anticipated games of the year- Forza Motorsport 4, Battlefield 3, Batman: Arkham City- as well as a good few other promising instalments including Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, Dark Souls, Rage, Twisted Metal, Just Dance 3, Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, Rocksmith, NBA 2K12 and Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, which could well be a great kids' game for Kinect.
NOVEMBER- Ever the biggie, here is where you'll find some of the world's top video gaming franchises constantly competing to top the charts. Among them this time around: Raving Rabbids: Alive & Kicking, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Minecraft, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Need for Speed: The Run, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Rayman Origins, Saint's Row: The Third, Sonic Generations, Kinect Sports: Season Two, WWE 12 and Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3. In other words, brace yourself- it's going to be a bumpy, expensive, but undoubtedly brilliant ride!
DECEMBER- Not much has been announced for release here except the intriguing Kinect Star Wars and the family-aimed Kinect Disneyland Adventures, however you can be sure some of the games with unannounced release dates will shy away here too considering the danger of a November release (so expect the Mario 3DS games and possibly Zelda here).
2012- And just to keep you happy, we're in safe hands next year too! Look out for: The Darkness II, Inversion, SSX, XCOM, Mass Effect 3, Prototype 2, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Bioshock: Infinite, Brothers In Arms Furious 4, Fable: The Journey, Far Cry 3, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Halo 4, Hitman Absolution, LEGO City Stories, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Metro: Last Light, Resident Evil: Revelations, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, Soul Calibur V, SSX, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tomb Raider, Overstrike, Assassin's Creed III and the WiiU. All that, and with game announcements for 2012 sure to arrive at the Tokyo Game Show and Spike Video Game Awards this Autumn we're sure as heck not going to think ill of next year either!

Where Next For Film?

Tomorrow sees the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, pretty much the last 'big' release of the Summer of Film. Though you might think that would mean a lot less trips to the cinema in the remaining months of 2011, nothing could be further from the truth. Here are all the reasons why you'll want to be sitting in front of a big screen again very soon...
AUGUST- Packed with low-key releases that I'd like to think are potential sleeper hits, next month Super 8, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Cowboys & Aliens, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, Conan the Barbarian, The Inbetweeners Movie, The Change-Up, Final Destination 5 and Spy Kids: All The Time In The World hit cinemas, so think of it as a conclusion to the Summer of Film whereby you get the chance to see some brilliant new entries not tied to any one franchise or money-making target.
SEPTEMBER- Probably the least packed of the next five months, we've only got small comedies like I Don't Know How She Does It and horrors such as Fright Night and Shark Night 3D to look forward to. Keep an eye on the schedules, though, as there might be something to surprise you!
OCTOBER- There's a little more to see here, including The Three Musketeers, Paranormal Activity 3 and Johnny English Reborn, but as you'll see in a sec it's the concluding months of the year that boast the most for everyone.
NOVEMBER- Here we've got a few familiar sequels, both animated (Puss In Boots, Happy Feet Two) and 'real-world' (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One, Piranha 3DD), inevitably gearing up for the cold Christmas season where we all head back into the warmth...
DECEMBER- This is where the fun is at! Look out for New Year's Eve (a spiritual sequel to the hit 2010 comedy Valentine's Day, starring Ashton Kutcher and Zac Efron), Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked (though quite possibly its very own shipwreck), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, all making their way to the big screen to send off 2011 with a bang!
2012- Why I am mentioning next year already? Check out this list of its packed number of releases to find out: Underworld: Awakening, The Woman In Black, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Muppets, Dr Seuss' The Lorax, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Hunger Games, two action-orientated Snow White flicks, The Pirates: Band of Misfits, Wrath of the Titans, Titanic 3D, Scary Movie 5, The Avengers, Battleship, Men In Black 3, Madagascar 3, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, Ice Age: Continental Drift, The Dark Knight Rises, The Bourne Legacy, GI Joe: Retaliation, The Expendables 2, Resident Evil: Retribution, Dredd, Bond 23, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two, Life of Pi and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Excited yet?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Captain America: Super Soldier Review (6.5/10)

In this bleak period of video gaming, we're currently left with a shedload of movie tie-ins to either endure or ignore. Thankfully, in the case of Captain America: Super Soldier, should you choose to pick it up you'll be pleasantly surprised- there's a competent action combat system ripped from Batman: Arkham Asylum, basic yet quite effective rhythm platforming sequences akin to those in the Prince of Persia series, and neat door-unlocking puzzles not unlike those in detective games (Professor Layton, LA Noire etc). Notice something in that last sentence, though? Developers Next Level Games seem to have assumed that by stealing all of these fabled mechanics from other franchises, they can instantly garner universal praise from the respective fanbases of each 'victim'. It is actually a good move on their part, making for the most varied and altogether fun movie tie-in I've ever played, but that really isn't saying much, and Super Soldier then consequently suffers from being harshly predictable. There's absolutely nothing here you haven't seen before, and with new entries in the aforementioned franchises on their way later this year and looking to expand and refine the boundaries of their formulas, by year's end this one will probably seem redundant as a result. Graphics aren't everything, but Super Soldier sure doesn't do itself any favours with the blandly coloured environments or the brown sludge the Cap's shield becomes when thrown. The story takes place during Captain America's rise to fame in the film (reportedly shown by a montage), and is a very patriotic romp that you'd be hard pressed to relate to World War Two bar for a few dialogue references to the Nazis and/or the conflict. However, you should be kept entertained enough by the narrative to keep going for the respectable six to seven hour play time, and that again is more than you can say for other tie-ins. Captain America: Super Soldier marked a really nice surprise for me in that it's actually the best movie tie-in game I've ever played, but I can't help but think that when all the big name franchises return to our consoles later this year I'll realise how repetitive, dull and generally stale this title really is. BUY, RENT or IGNORE? Rent.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Smallville: The Final Season DVD/Blu-Ray Revealed

Here in the UK, we're not even halfway through the tenth and final season of Smallville, whereas over in the States the entire run has already finished. The cover art for the DVD and Blu-Ray boxset has been revealed today. Consisting of twenty two episodes, the set takes Clark from his brush with death in Lazarus to his ultimate destiny in the aptly named Finale, an epic climax which magnificently brings the story of Superman's training to its end (and his comic journey to its beginning). Special features on the package will include behind-the-scenes documentaries and footage from the show panel at last year's ComicCon, plus likely some sort of retrospective for the popular drama as a whole. Dedicated fans can alternatively buy Smallville: The Complete Series, a boxset of all ten seasons containing special exclusive gifts and extras, although seeing as most people did not wait to buy the individual seasons, I doubt that package will garner particularly high sales. Still, whatever way you choose to go about purchasing it, Smallville: The Final Season hits stores this November, and having been lucky enough to watch the whole run I must wholeheartedly recommend you save up your cash by any means necessary!

UK Film Charts: July 18th-25th

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two has predictably managed to hold its position at the top of the UK Film Charts for a second consecutive week, earning over £8million in the fortnight since its release and remaining undeterred by new entries Cars 2, Horrible Bosses and Beginners. Will Captain America: The First Avenger or Super 8 shift the Boy Who Lived from his pedestal? We'll find out in the next fortnight...
2. CARS 2 (NEW)

UK Gaming Charts: July 18th-25th

I'll make this one quick: Zumba Fitness has dominated the UK Games Charts for six consecutive weeks in a row now, doubtless due in equal respects to Mums wanting to slim down before their Summer holidays and the quantity of new games releases being at an all time low recently. Hopefully with Deus Ex: Human Revolution on its way late next month the tide might change, but for now the world of video gaming remains bleak. Any games newly released that entered the charts are highlighted as such. Surprisingly, the likes of LEGO Star Wars III, FIFA 11 and Black Ops have managed to maintain chart positions for at least four months each now, so that's certainly something!
9. FIFA 11
8. CARS 2 (NEW)
7. DIRT 3

Kinectimals Now With Bears Announced

An expansion pack to last year's popular kids game Kinectimals has been announced today. Creatively titled Kinectimals Now With Bears, the upcoming release (if you hadn't guessed already by now) adds bear cubs as pets for you to play with. This will beef up an already considerable line-up of eleven feline playmates available to adopt in the game, so it's a good move by developer Frontier that those of us who already own the original can simply purchase the pack via Xbox Live. For those of you new to Kinectimals, a package of both the game and its DLC (alone called Bear Island) will be available to purchase at retail for a price of around £40. It's a risky move by Frontier bearing in mind that new games for Microsoft's Kinect like Kinect Star Wars, Kinect Sports: Season Two and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, recently announced to be compatible with the camera peripheral, are on their way too this year, so we'll just have to wait and see how popular the new version turns out to be. Kinectimals Now With Bears will release in stores and on Live this Autumn.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Torchwood: Dead Of Night Preview

This week, the action on Torchwood starts to pick up as the population begins to grow to disturbing numbers, protestors march on the streets and dub themselves the Souless, and the team investigate PhiCorp Headquarters shortly before Jack confronts Oswald Danes himself. Here's a few hints of what to expect...
1. A sneaky TARDIS reference gets thrown in.
2. Old friends discuss lost friends in a time of remembrance.
3. The triangle we saw on the phone last week? It's back.
4. Jack gets raunchy, not for the first time on Torchwood, and definitely not the last.
5. Jilly Kitsinger makes a move.
6. Oswald becomes stronger, in the public eye far more than before.
7. "People aren't just not dying, they are so alive!"
8. We discover more about Rex before his fateful accident.
9. The team have to find new ways of incapacitating their foes.
10. "It's the perfect drug for the new world order."
Torchwood: Dead of Night airs this Thursday at 9pm.

ComicCon: Fifth Series Of Merlin Confirmed

The Merlin panel at ComicCon saw the release of a brand new trailer for Season Four, showing highlights like an epic battle between Arthur and Merlin and their friend-turned-foe Morgana, an evil dragon rising from the depths to destroy Camelot and a fight for the crown between Arthur and his father Uther. Better still was that at the panel, the team behind the show confirmed another series had been commisioned by the BBC ahead of this year's run. Consisting of 13 episodes as each of the other seasons has, Series Five will apparently be more focused on "slow-burning character arcs" that bring each of the protagonists ever closer to their legendary destinies. Hopefully, it won't be too long until Arthur takes his rightful place on the throne, namely because the series finales have been getting quite repetitive of late, possibly due to the fact that their writers cannot press the format forward enough. We should have a new trailer for the series very soon, but for now you can remain sane in the knowledge that Merlin will return this October and again in Autumn 2012!

ComicCon: Doctor Who Panel

To bring ComicCon to an epic conclusion, the Doctor Who team took to the stage yesterday afternoon to answer questions about the second half of this season and unveil footage of the new episodes. To the left you'll find an image showcasing the return of the sinister Silence, the mysterious spaceman glimpsed throughout the USA two-parter, the Doctor's new costume and a strange pyramid in the distance. Below is the sensational first trailer for Series Six Part Two. And without further ado, here's what was said at the hour-long panel...

  • Matt says what we've seen so far (the little girl regenerating, the flesh Doctor, River's reveal et all) is nothing compared to what's coming up, teasing "huge cliffhangers" that will be resolved by the finale.
  • A clip from Episode 11, The God Complex, was shown, featuring Minotaurs, mops, fish bowls and David Walliams! The story, written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse, is a creepy adventure of nightmares taking place in a locked hotel.
  • Next up was a trailer for the remaining episodes of Season Six. Weeping Angels, Hitler, Churchill, Cyber-Men, James Corden, River donning Kovarian's eyepatch, the Doctor's death and the Silence were just the start! Take a look below at the preview if you haven't already.
  • One member of the audience asks whether the Daleks will return, to which exec producer Piers Wenger teased: "There is only one word I can use to answer that questions, and that's 'spoilers'!" Don't worry though, Steven Moffat has confirmed if the Doctor's overused enemies do return it is only likely to be a brief cameo in flashback or in Episode 13.
  • Matt says he'd like to see returns from the Doctor's dark side and the Dream Lord (played by Toby Jones in last year's peculiar Amy's Choice) in the future, and says the former does crop its head up again in Episode 10, The Girl Who Waited.
  • Did Matt predict the popularity of the Fez? "That's one of those things you have no idea about. All testament to Steven Moffat for having the ingenuity there. It's all about the stetson now, though!"
  • Why does Rory keep dying? The team wouldn't be drawn on whether this repeating motif of sorts bears relevance later this series, but producer Beth Willis did say that the character "learns a lot every time he dies"...
  • Finally, Matt asked everyone to give Beth and Piers- who have now departed the show after two years working with Steven- a big round of applause (which they did)!
Doctor Who is confirmed to return on BBC America on Saturday, August 27th with Let's Kill Hitler, and we should get the episode on the same day, so not long to wait now!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Coming Up This Week

Another pretty decent week for entertainment, rounded off by a big superhero movie to please Marvel fans. Yep, it's none other than Captain America! There is some other stuff to look out for, too...
NEW GAMES- Always wanted a game based around the Smurf cartoon characters? Now it's here, or rather they're here. Not one but two movie tie-ins are on their way to 360, PS3 and Wii: The Smurfs and The Smurfs: Dance Party. Sure to be great titles...cough, cough. Nothing else really, except if you didn't try Red Dead Redemption (9.5/10) first time round there's now a bargain 'Classics' edition out.
NEW MOVIES- Rango, The Eagle and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never are all coming to DVD tomorrow, so I'm hoping to bring you a review of Johnny Depp's weird animated western in the next seven days. Plus, Captain America: The First Avenger hits the box office, sure to cause waves with Marvel fans wanting to see the resolution to the Avengers prequel story arc. Or there's Zookeeper, Kevin James' new kid comedy, but considering the trailers are making it look pretty rubbish I'd probably recommend seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 instead (if you've seen it already, do what I have: see it again!). You could, of course, see Horrid Henry: The Movie in 3D, but despite my nostalgia of reading the books as a youngun the footage so far hasn't been promising, so be very weary...
NEW SHOWS- Your standard TV additions- new instalments of Smallville and Torchwood, the penultimate episode of Camelot and a rerun of Sherlock Episode Two. If you're looking for a bout of much-needed nostalgia after the trauma that came with realising the Harry Potter series is over, you can check out ITV1 on Wednesday for the Top 50 Moments from the films, handpicked by fans.

ComicCon: Assassin's Creed Panel

Ubisoft ran their very own Assassin's Creed panel at ComicCon, unveiling new details on their upcoming animated movie AC: Embers and their highly anticipated game AC: Revelations, as well as answering questions about their successful franchise as a whole. Here's what you missed:
  • Asked what the core elements are that define the other types of Creed media, for example books and comics, the team said that these expansions posed new ways of exploring the series' science-fiction aspects (i.e. the Assassins shaping events throughout history, and the mythical war between their creed and the Templars.).
  • A trailer was shown for Revelations, and although we do not yet have details on what the audience saw, the team assured us that we'll get the trailer released publicly soon, and that it is intrinsic to the game's plot.
  • Revelations was revealed to open with a "journey" of sorts- perhaps that's what the E3 demo was leading up to. It was also confirmed that Ezio now has children, a son and a daughter no less!
  • The short film Embers takes place in the course of the Revelations storyline, but Ubisoft recommend you watch it after you've played the game as by that point you'll have a better understanding of what's going on.
  • Apparently, recruiting Assassins and training them will be a lot more varied in Revelations than it was in Brotherhood.
  • The parkour elements and multiplayer modes will be expanded big time in this year's game, too. There are even plans set already for Assassin's Creed III, likely set to hit in 2012.
Keep checking back for all the latest news on the franchise...

Torchwood: Rendition Review (4/5)

Like The New World, Rendition is a story with a lot of potential that just fails to develop far enough. That doesn't make it a bad piece of television necessarily, but it does highlight the key problem Russell T Davies and his team of writers seem to be having with carrying a single story over a ten episode format- there can't be major developments until later on, so you have to tread water somewhat at first. This week saw Jack and Gwen taken unwillingly to America, with the former being poisoned along the way and the latter in a race against time to save him. Surprisingly, the scenes featuring the series regulars weren't the episode's best: that credit goes to Bill Pullman, who gave a strangely pitiful turn as Oswald when confronted with an image of the girl he murdered on live television. Worse still, since we know Danes will become one of the main 'villains' of this season, that we know he must also be lying through his teeth at this point makes the utterly convincing Pullman all the more a disturbing presence that I hope can be developed in future episodes. Alexa Havins and Lauren Ambrose seemed to be having great fun in their roles as Esther and Jilly, which is more than I can say for Mekhi Phifer, who seems to be having a hard time fitting into his role as mouthy CIA agent Rex. My main problem with the series so far is bar the main cast, there's no one as memorable in their portrayal here as anyone was in Children of Earth, and unless something changes in the second half of the run Miracle Day will come off far more average than its predecessors. For now, lines like "I'm Welsh!", action setpieces like the helicopter chase in Episode 1 and Jack's narrow escape from death here, and the dark intrigue of what's to come built in several references and glimpses of a green triangle calling the shots from the Director's phone manage to keep things interesting enough that I want to see what happens next, but mark my words: if the pace does not pick up within the next fortnight or so, Torchwood is in trouble.

ComicCon: Prothemeus, Ghost Rider, Jurassic Park Updates

At ComicCon, we've seen updates on a host of exciting new 2011 and 2012 films, but seemingly forgotten amongst some of these are the intriguing new details we've had on a few of the biggest names in cinema. So without further ado, here's what you may have missed...
  • The first image of Ridley Scott's epic sci-fi horror Prothemeus has been revealed (you can see it above). Scott told us that the link the film has with Alien won't be clear until its climax, which sadly makes it seem unlikely that the Aliens themselves will make any fully-fledged appearance. That's not to say this isn't one to look forward to, though, quite the opposite: when Ridley Scott thinks up a new world of scares and thrills, it should rank high in your Most Wanted list.
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance got its first trailer here too, and although it has yet to appear online, those in attendance said it had a much darker, grittier and more realistic tone than the panned original film. Let's hope they're right...
  • Finally, director Joe Johnston has announced the existence of a fourth Jurassic Park movie: "the most important thing I can tell you is that it starts a new trilogy that will go off in a very different direction- a completely different direction that is very exciting, and is different to anything done before."
For all the latest news on these films and other ComicCon reveals, stay with On-Screen.

Kirby Wii Title Announced

Announced at E3 2011 under the title of Kirby Wii, Nintendo's latest game featuring a charming pink blob has now been given a proper name ahead of its release. The game is called Kirby Returns To Dreamland. Dreamland has been in several entries of the franchise already, with a whole segment of the series called Kirby Dream Land, so the idea of a return to said world should prove no surprise for hardcore fans of Kirby. We know very little about the title other than that it will feature Kirby platforming his way through a number of colourful environments, but that's the same amount of foreknowledge we seem to have had with every entry in the series so far, no need to worry! Kirby Returns To Dreamland is out this Autumn exclusively for the Wii.

ComicCon: Hellboy 3 Still Could Happen

Despite their flaws, Hellboy (4/5) and its sequel The Golden Army (3/5) went down well in my books, and like many other fans I wouldn't mind seeing the planned trilogy reach its conclusion at some point in the near future. However, the existence of a third instalment has been oft denied by director Guillermero De Toro, so whether we'll get our wishes fulfilled is another thing entirely. We have, though, got an update from De Toro on the possibility of Hellboy 3. Speaking at ComicCon, he said: "The reality is each of these movies has been an incredible ordeal to make. [Hellboy] was an $89 million (£54.6 million) movie [but] I wound up making it for $50 million (£30.6 million) because nobody wanted a red guy. The third one is the hardest one because it's the darkest one and not necessarily has a happy ending. The third one is epic. It's gigantic." De Toro wouldn't be pressed further on whether he would decide definitively to make or not to make the film anytime soon, so we're no closer to Hellboy 3 than we were before, but this statement is at least a start, a small update of sorts explaining why we've heard so little on the matter. More news as it comes...slowly.

ComicCon: Marvel News Round-Up

Marvel have had a huge presence at this year's San Diego Comic Con convention, bringing a wealth of new trailers for their films and games, as well as revealing some new details about their comics along the way. Here's a round-up of all the stuff that may affect our screen entertainment in the future...
  • Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Caper is coming out on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and 3DS later this year. The first three versions will use the uDraw tablet, with players creating cover for their favourite heroes as they battle the evil Dr Doom, while the latter will make use of its three-dimensional technology to add depth to the confrontation.
  • The 2012 Ultimate Spider-Man series was previewed during a TV panel: we'll be seeing the teenage Spidey facing off against Venom, Dr Doom and other new foes as well as teaming up with the likes of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. A new series called Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H was announced too to be in production, set to feature the titular green beast and friends including She-Hulk and the Red incarnation of the character.
  • Hugh Jackman confirmed that X-Men film spin off The Wolverine will begin shooting this October for release in 2012, and that the villain his character will fight in Japan is the Silver Samurai, a powerful mutant ninja.
  • There was also some more games news: X-Men: Destiny will feature cameos from both Emma Frost and Iceman; Marvel Pinball will hit the 3DS, PlayStation Vita and WiiU in Autumn 2012; those with a Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions save on their consoles can access ten exclusive costumes immediatedly in the upcoming Spider-Man: Edge of Time, and Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3 will feature new stages based on (but not limited to) 'Shadowland' and the X-Men comic 'Days of Future Past'.
That's all for now, but for all the coverage of the final hours of ComicCon (there's not too much going on today, yet there should at least be trailers for Merlin and Doctor Who) keep checking back right here!

Star Wars: Clone Wars Series Four Details

Star Wars: The Clone Wars will return to the small screen later this year, and at ComicCon fans got their first glimpse at what to expect from the fourth season...
  • A three-part underwater story opens the season, featuring a battle between the Mon Calamari (i.e. "It's a trap!") and Quarrens.
  • AT-RTs from Revenge of the Sith will feature this series, so we may yet be getting closer to the timeline of Episode III...
  • Umbara, a planet long mentioned in the lore of the saga but never seen, will be the centrepoint of one battle in the war.
  • One scene between C-3PO and R2-D2 will be very remniscent of their first appearance in the original Star Wars, with clever dialogue references!
  • Clone Troopers now pilot Headhunters, early versions of X-Wings.
  • The Nightsisters will return, suggesting the feud between Dooku and Asaji Ventress will become deeper and more dangerous.
  • A new Jedi called General Krell, of the same race as bartender Dexter Jetster, will appear.
  • Ahsoka may find out about Anakin's marraige to Padme...what will be the consequences?
  • The events of the Mortis trilogy were just the beginning for Anakin's turmoil this season.
  • We got a glimpse of someone who may yet be a ressurected Darth Maul, and Savage Oppress will find the truth behind this very soon!
  • The risk of Jedi attachment will be explored further.
With the War nearing its fictional end chronologically, hopefully Clone Wars Series Four will exploit its darker tones and if necessary send the show out with a bang. Look out for its return this Autumn on Sky Movies.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)

Amy Winehouse died today aged 27. Winehouse was famous for her musical career, producing memorable hits like Rehab, Stronger Than Me and Just Friends amongst her two albums Frank, Vale and Back to Black. She also worked with Mark Ronson to produce Valerie and Mutya Buena in B Boy Baby in 2007. The talented singer passed away in her Camden flat this afternoon at 3.54pm due to as yet unexplained causes. I'm sure none of us will forget the true dedication Amy had for her music and her overall influence on the industry as a whole. I would like to send my deepest wishes to her family and friends in this hard time.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Mass Effect Movie Details Revealed

As hoped, we've recieved a few details from Legendary Pictures on their highly anticipated Mass Effect movie adaptation today at Comic Con...
  • The exec from Legendary on the ME panel said that he understands video-game to movie adaptations haven't gone down well in the past, but since the film team are working with many of the BioWare (the developer of the games) team to get the script right, the distributor is confident they can do the series justice.
  • The screenwriters of the film understand that there is a rich mythology akin to that of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings which could easily be drawn on in later instalments. However, for now the team are focusing on bringing the first game to the big screen, so that mean we'll see Commander Shephard's taking of the Normandy spaceship and his first battles against Saren and the Reapers.
No director, cast or release date have been set for the movie just yet, but as soon as they are we'll let you know!

First Halo: Combat Evolved Gameplay Demo Arrives

If you've ever had any doubts about whether to put Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary on your gaming radar for the coming months, this newly released gameplay trailer should put them to rest. From the offset, what's on offer seems like a great sci-fi experience harkening back to the classic days of the franchise, but it's when the developer switches to its 'Classic Mode' that things get really interesting, as you're reminded firstly that you can play the entire game with the original 2001 engine, yet more importantly that the innovation and thrills found here were actually first presented to us in a whopping great package a whole decade ago. It's no wonder that so many FPS games strive to copy and/or best Combat Evolved, seeing as it still holds up amazingly today both with the original visuals and the impressive HD overhaul. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is out November 15th.

Gaming News Round-Up

What with ComicCon prompting a host of video game announcements, new reveals or sad confirmations of delays, it's hard to keep up with everything (even for me!), so sometimes it's best just to try and get as much of it into one place as possible. Here's my best shot at doing just that:
  • Aliens: Infestation has been announced for release on the Nintendo DS. Developed by GearBox Studios alongside next year's Colonial Marines, this one takes a lighter approach to the franchise, having you play as one of nineteen marines as a special force is recruited to explore derelict spaceships in order to hunt down the galaxy's deadlist Xenamorphs, aka the Aliens. We'll get Infestation this September!
  • Intriguing Batman FPS spin-off Gotham City Impostors has been given a definitive release window of Winter 2012 (the dev is clearly in no rush to get it onto the Xbox Live or PSN networks) and a projected price point of around £10.
  • As predicted, some video games just aren't able to make their predicted Q3/Q4 2011 release dates or want to actually garner some sales at a later point rather than be swept up in the oncoming swarm of shooters. Amongst these are The Darkness II, a promising horror-thriller romp now set to release early next year, and Final Fantasy XIII-2, the epic Japanese RPG fantasy sequel now confirmed to hit in the UK in January of 2012. The 3DS Assassin's Creed: Lost Legacy game has now been confirmed to have been cancelled, as the initial story ideas for the spin-off were realised as being too similar to Revelations, and thus the project was ended.
  • One game that will definitely make this year is X-Men Destiny: that's on it's way on September 27th. I can't really comment on how good this is looking until a demo is released or I play the full game, but critics seem to have mixed views on it right now. Take a look at the trailer below!
  • A big online game for kids, Disney Universe is coming this Winter, and it's now been confirmed that one world full of activities and mini-games to try will be that of WALL-E (3.5/5), the fun Pixar animation that took robots into space back in 2008.
More games news (and being ComicCon, a lot of it) is on its way to the blog very soon!

Sonic Generations News Round-Up

Although with so many big-hitting FPS, RPG and sports games on their way in the coming months there hasn't been much room for people to notice it amongst the hype, I have a nagging suspicion that Sonic Generations may turn out to be a real treat for platforming fans, an unsung hero that could really have a positive impact on the notably hit-and-miss franchise. It's being used to celebrate SEGA's iconic hedgehog's twentieth anniversary in video gaming, an impressive hallmark that warrants, but perhaps won't get, a much-deserved round of applause. Here's a round-up of all the latest news on the game:
  • A new zone from the classic Mega Drive era has been unveiled. Players can race through the dangerous Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in both a faithful side-scrolling adaptation of the original course and an exciting 3D version with gameplay akin to recent titles like Unleashed and Colours. The boss for the zone will be Metal Sonic.
  • Tails will be making more than one appearance in Generations in a way you might not have expected: both the 'modern' and smaller classic incarnations of the spritely yellow fox will have a series of cameos throughout the game, though in what capacity has not been revealed. Worry not, though, as the two Sonics are the only playable characters in the game!
  • The Nintendo 3DS version's cover has been revealed: it's a shot of both Sonics running out of the Green Hill Zone, not dissimilar to the current 360 and PS3 covers.
Sonic Generations is out this November. Below you'll find a nice nostalgia video celebrating the timely anniversary of SEGA's mascot.

Man Of Steel Delayed To 2013

Upcoming Superman film Man Of Steel was, until recently, set to premiere in cinemas next year, however that is no longer the case. The reboot, starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Kevin Costner, sees an up-and-coming Supes meet the last surviving members of his race when the evil General Zod and Faora invade his new home, the planet Earth. Filming has yet to begin, but is expected to do so later this year. Previously, Man of Steel's release date was a tentative December 2012, yet for unknown reasons Warner Brothers announced this week that the flick has slipped back to a June 4th, 2013 target. More news from ComicCon as and when it happens...

Doctor Who News Round-Up

With Torchwood: Miracle Day currently airing on Thursdays, the wait for the next run of Doctor Who to begin broadcasting seems to have been made marginally more bearable for its diehard followers. That being said, news on the next season and/or new releases in the Whoniverse never comes as anything but a welcome surprise for the fanbase, and as such this week has been a pleasant one. Here's a round-up on all the latest in the world of the cult sci-fi show:
  • The first of four new Adventure Games will be uploaded to the official Who website this October. Titled The Gunpowder Plot, the interactive story sees the Doctor, Amy and Rory head to the year 1605 in an attempt to stop old foes disrupting the timeline of one Guy Fawkes. Kids should certainly have a great time learning about the history of the titular failed plan, and teachers will be provided with information packs on the famous event as supplementary material for education if they so choose.
  • A trailer for the second half of the sixth series will debut at ComicCon this Sunday. There are six more episodes to come, including opener Let's Kill Hitler, as well as romps involving James Corden, David Walliams, Ian McNeice and something called The God Complex. We'll have the video online courtersy of the official website at around 9pm that evening.
  • Fresh from her work on Five Days and upcoming drama The Fades, Caroline Skinner has been appointed the new executive producer of Doctor Who. The move comes after Beth Willis announced she would return to Kudos Film & Television when production on the current series concluded. Now that is the case, Skinner will take over for the Christmas Special and the foreseeable future, working with Steven Moffat and Piers Wenger on the festive episode before Wenger leaves and the programme gets another exec.
  • Episode 8, the Series 6: Part 2 opener Let's Kill Hitler, will be broadcast for the first time at a public screening in the British Film Institute on the 15th of August...if you're back from trying to purchase tickets and wondering why you can't, it's because they sold out within hours of the announcement yesterday. With another screening set for critics on the 26th, it's likely we'll get the episode either on the August Bank Holiday Saturday (27th) or early in September.
  • Finally, details on the classic DVD release Day of the Daleks have been announced. The set will consist of two discs, one with the original broadcast version of the story and the other with a revamped version (in terms of CGI and effects), with special features including segments from Nationwide and Blue Peter at the time of filming in the 80s, plus a look at the making of the story. The DVD is out on September 12th.
For all the latest news on Doctor Who, Torchwood: Miracle Day, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sherlock, Merlin and other hit BBC Dramas, keep checking back at On-Screen.

Kinect: Star Wars 360 Bundle Announced

At their ComicCon panel, LucasArts announced a bundle of the Xbox 360 and Kinect with upcoming video game Kinect: Star Wars. The 360 and its recently added peripheral, along with the controller, will be themed around the popular science-fiction saga. The console itself features R2-D2 style faceplates, the camera is a unique white shade and the controller is gold, similar to iconic robot C-3PO. Of course, at a £350 RRP you'll probably be hoping for something else to sweeten the deal- enter Kinect: Adventures and Kinect: Star Wars, both packaged free in the bundle. The former was the title shipped alongside the titular camera, and while it isn't exactly rich in replay value there is some fun to be had for a time. The latter, announced at E3 2010 and then further developed on by this year's E3, sees players take on the role of a new Jedi character a year after the events of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, whereby they face off against evil Sith Lords and even pilot such memorable vehicles as podracers, speeder bikes and X-Wings in a pitstop tour of the film series' greatest moments. Critics seem to be debating whether the on-rails nature of Kinect: Star Wars and the supposed lag that comes with the fluid motions of a lightsaber will hamper the galactic experience, but I'm confident that it will be a real incentive to buy Kinect come Christmas time. Kinect: Star Wars and the 360 bundle are due for release this Winter.

Kinect: Gunslinger & Fruit Ninja Coming To Retail

Two Kinect games previously planned for release on the Xbox Live Arcade have now been confirmed to be bundled together as a retail title. The Gunstringer, a shooter combining side-scrolling and open world elements to give an authentic Wild West experience, and Kinect Fruit Ninja, a port of the popular iOS app that saw players slicing as many pieces of fruit as possible with their fingers, were both originally set at a price point of £5-10 on XBLA, but the increased demand for the motion video games has prompted developer Twisted Pixel to transform them into a fully fledged package. Of note is that Fruit Ninja will, in fact, be available via a free download voucher rather than being available immediatedly online, so buyers should take this into account before pressing any charges for misleading cover art! The pack will be available for around £35 this October.

New Doctor Who Classic Novel Announced

Fans of Doctor Who in its earlier era, i.e. its original 1963-1989 run, have been asking BBC Books to reinstate its novels based around past Doctors for sometime now, and now the publisher has responded with the announcement of Harvests of Time. A hardback publication, the sci-fi adventure will feature the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee. No plot details have been confirmed yet, bar that the Doctor will face off against the Master on 20th century Earth and in the far future, and in doing so face a terrible moral crisis, but that’s to be expected really as the author has only just been announced. Author Alistair Renyolds said: "I am delighted and honored to have the chance to write a novel featuring not only one of my favourite Doctors, but the single greatest villain imagined: the Master." Doctor Who: Harvests of Time will retail in 2013.

New Zelda: Skyward Sword Trailer Released

There’s still no definite release date for the Wii’s final big game, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but we do have a new trailer. The video sheds a little bit more light on what the fantasy plotline may encompass, and shows off some of the nifty 1:1 accurate Motion Plus features like sword fighting and archery. My worry for this is that it’s coming too late in the current Nintendo generation to be noticed, especially with the promotion campaign already shifting towards 2012’s WiiU and moreso with the likes of COD, Battlefield, Batman, Halo, Assassin’s Creed and Resistance surrounding its Q4 2011 release. However, it’s certain that Zelda diehards will want to get this one on release date, and the secrecy suggests there may actually be content worthy of Game of the Year being hidden from us to maintain a big surprise. Skyward Sword is set to retail in November.

New Rayman: Origins Trailer Released

A new trailer for Rayman: Origins has been released this week in the midst of ComicCon. We get to see a bit more of the beautifully animated platforming action from the upcoming video game, and it’s all looking to be very nice Paper Mario-esque stuff. Will that be another to lure gamers away from Call of Duty? Of course not, but for fans of the Rayman series this should be a great new instalment to sate their appetites with the lack of new entries in recent years. Origins is coming on November 15th (the same day as Halo and Assassin's Creed and just a week after Modern Warfare 3- I wish it good luck!)

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 437 Cover Revealed

The cover of the next Doctor Who Magazine has been revealed on the publication’s Twitter account. Themed around the most recent episode of the sci-fi, A Good Man Goes To War, Issue 437 features interviews with the cast of the story including Matt Smith, Karen Gillian and Simon Fisher-Becker, along with a preview of upcoming episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day, which continues on Thursdays for the next eight weeks, and news about Series 6: Part 2, which is set to begin airing in September. All the regular features (comic strip, debate, letters etc) are present too, so it's your usual fun monthly dose of Who while the show's away! DWM 437 is out on Thursday July 28th.

Sherlock: A Study In Pink Retrospective

I’d forgotten just how accomplished a drama Sherlock was even in its first season, but the recent repeat of the first episode, A Study In Pink, on BBC One has reminded me that Series Two can’t come fast enough. Unlike writer Steven Moffat’s other hit drama Doctor Who, the show is firmly hitched on twenty-first century Earth, making regular use of the advanced technology we now possess and playing on classic traits of Arthur Conan-Doyle’s characters. Quite possibly the best part of the programme is the instant chemistry between leads Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, a genuinely believable and empathetic relationship that brings out the best in both actor/character. That’s not to say that the rest of the cast detract from the show’s quality, though: Phil Davis is excellent as the disturbing psychopathic taxi driver, and Mark Gatiss’ cameos as brother Mycroft Holmes remain some of the most memorable scenes of the first season in its entirety. Moffat is on absolutely fine form here too, providing an utterly genius plot for us to unravel in the course of its ninety minute running time, and easily setting up the thrilling series arc just as well as he does with Who. On a closing note, watching A Study In Pink feels like watching an entirely new series, and I can’t wait to watch the weekly repeats of the other two stories. There really is amazing drama going on here, and in some ways it’s criminal we only get three doses of Cumberbatch a year!