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Friday, 30 September 2011

Game Announcements Round-Up

This week, developers have been eager to reveal what the future holds for video gaming. Here's a round-up of some of the most exciting announcements from the last seven days:
  • A third Syndicate title is in development, and is set to be released in February 2012. The original isometric shooter (1994) was a huge hit with sci-fi fans, so this franchise reboot should gather a big following in the lead-up to its release.
  • Shank 2, a sequel to the popular XBLA/PSN side scrolling fighter released in 2010, has been announced as coming to consoles in 2012. It will feature offline and online co-op modes and other unannounced new features.
  • The release dates for the demos of racers Forza Motorsport 4 and Need for Speed: The Run have been announced by Turn 10 Studios and Activision respectively. The former will be released on Monday October 3rd (with the full game coming Friday the 14th) and the latter on Tuesday the 18th (The Run ships November 18th). 

First FIFA 12 Reviews Are In

One of the most anticipated annual video game franchise releases is always undoubtedly FIFA, and the hype for 2012's edition is testament to that. What do the critics think of the latest version of the game, though?
CVG (93%)- "A more charismatic, tactical FIFA that's finally taking steps in a new direction."
IGN (95%)- "FIFA 12 has not just innovated for the sake of it- the gameplay innovations greatly improve the way FIFA plays. Matches unfold with a realistic tempo, taking it much closer to the real thing. Revolution? Evolution? Who really cares."
GAMESRADAR (8/10)- "With a lean towards creating the most thrilling multiplayer sports title to date, FIFA 12 has overlooked those looking to escape into the world of football on their own. It looks amazing and still provides an authentic experience, but the single player experience is severely lacking."
NOWGAMER (86%)- "Still a worthy sports title, especially with friends, but the new control system is nightmarish in its learning curve and it's not that different to 11 when the old, superior controls are applied."
OFFICIAL NINTENDO MAGAZINE (80%)- "Plays a good game, but FIFA 11 owners will be annoyed at how similar this is."
So as good as ever really, if reviewers are to believed, but a title which is as ever sure to please its large fanbase. FIFA 12 is out now.

Who: Confidential Axed, James Corden On The Future

Three big news stories regarding the BBC's sci-fi drama Doctor Who have been released this week, and rather than rounding them up next week along with what's sure to be a huge announcement about Season Seven's rescheduling to 2012 and the 50th Anniversary in 2013, I thought I'd cover them now...
  • First up, some sad news: the BBC have chosen to axe the behind-the-scenes spin off Doctor Who Confidential, which was broadcast on BBC3 every Saturday after its respective episode. When Time Froze, which features a mini-episode written by school pupils and a comprehensive look at River Song's timeline, will mark the final episode, then, tomorrow, but you can sign this petition as I have (and as have nearly 20,000 other fans!) to alert the corporation of our disappointment and bring the show back: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savedwc
  • On a brighter note, James Corden has told Den of Geek that he would love to return to Who in Series Seven: "I've had some emails from Steven Moffat this week, actually, about trying to do something. It's just whether we can squeeze something in. But I would love to. I feel so proud to be part of it, I can't tell you." So perhaps we'll get returns from Craig and Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of All, in 2012!
  • Finally, Nicholas Courtney will be paid tribute to in tomorrow night's episode The Wedding of River Song (I'll be previewing that later tonight). The actor played Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart in over 100 episodes of the sci-fi, and passed away in February.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

October 2011: The Release Dates

Barely a day will go by next month where there isn't something on telly, at the box office or in stores to enjoy. Want proof? Take a look below...
SATURDAY 1ST- TV: Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song; Doctor Who: Death Is The Only Answer (On Confidential, of which this is the last episode- more on that later); Merlin: The Darkest Hour Part One
MONDAY 3RD- TV: The Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky Part One; Two & A Half Men Episode 2
TUESDAY 4TH- TV: The Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky Part Two; Smallville: Booster
THURSDAY 6TH- TV: Glee Episode 3; House Episode 1
FRIDAY 7TH- Movies: Johnny English Reborn; The Lion King 3D; Games: RAGE; Dark Souls; Just Dance 3; NBA 2K12; TV: An Idiot Abroad Episode 3
SATURDAY 8TH- TV: Merlin: The Darkest Hour Part Two
MONDAY 10TH- DVD: Doctor Who: Series Six Part Two; Senna; TV: The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Curse of Clyde Langer Part One; Two & A Half Men Episode 3
TUESDAY 11TH- TV: The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Curse of Clyde Langer Part Two; Smallville: Dominion; Games: Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster
THURSDAY 13TH- Books: The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who 2012; Doctor Who: The Encyclopaedia; TV: House Episode 2; Glee Episode 4
FRIDAY 14TH- Games: Forza Motorsport 4; Skylanders Spyro's Adventure; Spider-Man: Edge of Time; Ace Combat: Assault Horizon; Dead Rising 2: Off The Record; TV: An Idiot Abroad Episode 4
SATURDAY 15TH- TV: Merlin Episode 3
MONDAY 17TH- TV: The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Man Who Wasn't There Part One; DVD: Green Lantern
TUESDAY 18TH- Games: Rocksmith; TV: The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Man Who Wasn't There Part Two; Smallville: Prophecy
THURSDAY 20TH- TV: Glee Episode 5; House Episode 3
FRIDAY 21ST- Games: Batman: Arkham City; Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One; Dance Central 2; The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn; TV: An Idiot Abroad Episode 5
SATURDAY 22ND- TV: Merlin Episode 4
TUESDAY 25TH- Books: Harry Potter: Page to Screen; TV: Smallville: Finale
THURSDAY 27TH- TV: Glee Episode 6; House Episode 4
FRIDAY 28TH- Games: Battlefield 3; Disney Universe; Kirby Mass Attack; Kinect Sports: Season Two; TV: An Idiot Abroad Episode 6
SATURDAY 29TH- TV: Merlin Episode 5
MONDAY 31ST- DVD: The Sarah Jane Adventures Series 4; X-Men First Class

Coming Up For On-Screen In October

We're a month into the Autumn of Gaming, but despite Gears of War, FIFA and on the TV side Doctor Who being out of the way, October is without a doubt one of the biggest months of the year for entertainment. What's going on here at the blog then? Find out below...
FILM REVIEWS- Does Johnny English Reborn make the hilarious impact the 2003 original did? Plus reviews of The Green Hornet, X-Men: First Class and loads more exciting new DVD/Blu-Ray releases...
GAME REVIEWS- As I said, we're well into the Autumn of Gaming, and the next thirty days are going to bring loads of reviews of 2011's latest and greatest. I can promise I'll be taking Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Bodycount, X-Men: Destiny, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Forza Motorsport 4, Battlefield 3, Kinect Sports: Season Two and of course Batman: Arkham City, better known as my Most Anticipated Game of the year.
BOOK REVIEWS- My thoughts on Prisoner of the Inquisition, Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By, The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who 2012 and thrilling sequels Lorien Legacies: The Power of Six and Skulduggery Pleasant: Death-Bringer.
TELEVISION COVERAGE- Doctor Who's epic series finale The Wedding of River Song reviewed, the final season of The Sarah Jane Adventures examined, new instalments of Glee, House, An Idiot Abroad and Merlin rated, and a look at the best shows to watch in the Winter!
PREVIEWS/FEATURES- We're coming towards 2012- but what can we expect from the year in entertainment? I'll be providing an in-depth look at why The Woman In Black, Star Wars 3D, The Hunger Games, Mass Effect 3, The Avengers, Men In Black III, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, The Bourne Legacy, Halo 4 and Tomb Raider are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in weeks to come...
(Image: http://collider.com/wp-content/uploads/batman_arkham_city_video_game_image_01.jpg)

Monday, 26 September 2011

UK Music Charts: September 19th-25th

Dappy's done a wonder here, scooping up the highest place in the charts with his new single No Regrets. Meanwhile, there's a surprising comeback for 2002 Damien Rice song Cannonball and Jason Derulo enters the list at 4 with his It Girl.
10. Will Young: JEALOUSY
9. Damien Rice: CANNONBALL
8. Olly Murs feat Rizzle Kicks: HEART SKIPS A BEAT
7. Ed Sheeran: THE A-TEAM
5. James Morrison: I WON'T LET YOU GO
4. Jason Derulo: IT GIRL
2. Maroon 5 feat Christina Aguilera: MOVES LIKE JAGGER
1. Dappy: NO REGRETS

UK Film Charts: September 19th-25th

For the second week in a row, the star-studded Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has scooped up first place in the UK box office charts. You'll now see that any films in the list I've reviewed or have seen and will review soon are now marked with their score!

UK Gaming Charts: September 19th-25th

Was this week's video games chart ever going to be won by anything else? Yes, Gears of War 3 has turned out to be 2011's biggest gaming launch so far, the 7th biggest launch of an Xbox 360 title and the 12th biggest launch on any console. Those are some pretty impressive credentials, but don't forget that with the likes of Batman, FIFA and especially Call of Duty on the way, Gears has got some tough battles ahead if it wants to maintain top spot...
2. F1 2011 (NEW)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Doctor Who: Closing Time Review (4/5)

Closing Time is a bit of a strange one: it's neither the first in a two-part finale (the structure previous seasons took with Episode 12), nor a standalone adventure with minor dialogue references to the arc. It seems to struggle under the weight of reintroducing Craig from last year's great The Lodger (4.5/5) and the Cyber-Men, then setting up the finale with what felt like a tacked-on scene at the end. First though, back to the main plot: the Doctor has to make one final house call before his death, meeting up once more with James Corden's hilarious Craig and his baby Alfie, only to discover that a nearby department store houses a spaceship full of Cyber baddies who he must stop before it's too late. Surprisingly, the Cyber force were actually more of a sub-plot, a backing narrative to the tale of Craig and Alfie working to build their love as father and son, with a little help from the Time Lord. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good 'love and family conquers all' storyline, but here this was as much of a shortcoming as a strength: a strength, in that Cyber-stories do sometimes beg the question of how to innovate past "We will convert everyone!", yet a shortcoming, as unintentionally Gareth Roberts finds himself placed behind The Curse of the Black Spot, The Almost People and Night Terrors, all of which saw the father/son bond used in some form to save the world in the episodes' denounements. It's no less effective and heartwarming this time around, however I do hope the writing panel for the show can stretch their climax boundaries a little bit further in Season Seven, lest Doctor Who become a little too repetitive on the eve of its fiftieth. I enjoyed Closing Time, but as it is when you've got stories like Let's Kill Hitler, The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex and The Wedding of River Song (let's be honest- that'll be brilliant) surrounding it, a story which rehashes elements from the series' past and attempts to set up the finale with a scene that, while effective, feels absurdly different from the fourty-five minutes that came before it, just doesn't feel as impressive as it should. A good episode, then, rather than a great one.
(Image: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Doctor-5.jpg)

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Coming Up This Week

Big week for entertainment, this one. Over in America, a Time Lord will walk to his death by Lake Silencio at the hands of River Song. Closer to home, yet infinitely further away, Merlin and Arthur must defend Camelot against the enraged Morgana in their kingdom's darkest hour. On top of that, gamers can head back to the football pitches and into the world of comic books starting Friday. Want more? Read on...
NEW SHOWS- Returning to an alternate reality, Clark faces the wrath of his ex-father in Smallville: Kent, while Karl travels on the Trans-Siberian railway in An Idiot Abroad 2: Trans-Siberian Express, Outnumbered reaches its penultimate story. After his death, the Doctor will also come face to face with an old enemy and a new friend in Doctor Who: Death Is The Only Answer, a short-story written by a school class set to air first in the Episode 13 Confidential. Oh, and two big episodes of major fantasy shows on the way too- more on them in a bit!
NEW MOVIES- Taylor Lautner returns to the box office scene in thriller Abduction this week, and better yet Shark Night 3D and The Debt are coming to cinemas too. In DVD and Blu-Ray, Summer flicks Attack The Block and Thor make their disc débuts.
NEW GAMES- Though they're hardly the biggest releases of the Autumn of Gaming, many fans will be eager to see how X-Men: Destiny and FIFA 12 turn out this week. Next month, I'll be bringing you a Review Blitz, featuring and comparing some of the most anticipated titles of 2011...
DOCTOR WHO: THE WEDDING OF RIVER SONG- Okay, so Closing Time was good rather than absolutely great (my review tomorrow), but it did at least set up Doctor Who's epic finale very well! Set in what appears to be an alternate reality, the climactic episode sees returns from Dorium, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Madame Kovarian, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, the Daleks, the Silurians, the Silence and River Song, the latter of whom seems poised to kill the Doctor...can the Time Lord make it out of this one alive?
MERLIN: THE DARKEST HOUR- As one BBC One drama ends, another begins- Merlin returns for a fourth season, and this time the stakes are higher than ever. Morgana opens the veil between worlds, bringing a deadly evil dragon to Camelot and threatening to destroy the kingdom if it does not meet her vengeful demands. It's time for this show to enter dark new territory...
PLUS: The Autumn of Gaming's second month preview; the best release of September 2011; our top five most anticipated releases of next month; and of course even more world exclusive coverage from GAMEFest!
(Image: http://seriable.com/wp-content/gallery/doctor-who-6-13-the-wedding-of-river-song-promo-photos/wed25.jpg)

Star Wars: The Old Republic Release Date Announced

Star Wars fans, the wait is finally over- BioWare have confirmed the release date for their much-anticipated Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, The Old Republic, at this weekend's Eurogamer Expo in London. The title, out exclusively on Windows and Mac PCs, takes place before the events of the film saga (also just released on Blu-Ray this week), focusing on the Galactic Republic's epic conflict with the villainous Sith Empire. Players can play as Jedi, Wookies and a host of other fan favourite fictitious alien races, utilising a one-month (£9), three-month (£25) or six-monthly (£40) subscription to log into the online world and continue their choice driven narrative. Star Wars: The Old Republic will release in America on December 20th, and worldwide two days later.

Friday, 23 September 2011

WORLD EXCLUSIVE- GAMEFest: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

GAME: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
OUT: November 18th (Wii)
IMPRESSIONS: Is it just me, or has the Zelda franchise really been struggling to stay fresh in recent years? Skyward Sword appears to the address this to an extent, mixing in loads of interesting uses for the frequently overlooked Wii MotionPlus, archery, swordfighting and free-falling included. Little was revealed of the story, but I played a part of a dungeon, and it seems the puzzles have stepped up a notch in terms of testing your creativity too. My problem with the series still remains: there's barely anything here you haven't seen before in some form. If Miyamoto and pals have managed to keep things interesting for the 50-100 hour duration of Skyward Sword, though, then perhaps the tide can turn for Zelda...
(Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/99/Legend_of_Zelda_Skyward_Sword_boxart.png)


GAME: X-Men: Destiny
OUT: September 30th (360, PS3, Wii, DS)
IMPRESSIONS: If I found Edge of Time mediocre, then X-Men: Destiny was utterly tepid. Silicon Knights have hastily attempted to shake things up by adding in a few role-play elements to their latest title, but from what I can see this concept of choice won't actually play to the franchise's favour, detracting more from the world of the comic books rather than adding to it. If you want the chance to play alongside your favourite mutants in a repetitive brawler, though, then look no further than this next week.
(Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/14/X-men-destiny-cover-890x1024.jpg)

WORLD EXCLUSIVE- GAMEFest: Spider-Man Edge Of Time

GAME: Spider-Man: Edge of Time
OUT: October 14th (PS3, 360, DS, 3DS)
IMPRESSIONS: My thoughts so far? If I'm being honest, Edge of Time came off as the lesser brother to last year's promising Shattered Dimensions (8/10), struggling to find many ideas bar a compelling time-travel storyline and a decent variety of mechanics. The demo was at least made bearable by some 'consequence' objectives and freefall sections, however right now I'm not feeling the love for Beenox's latest as I was for their 2010 effort.
(Image: http://ps3.gamezone.com/images/products/Spider-Man-Edge-of-Time-Box-Art-280x371.jpg)

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: GAMEFest: Eyes-On Impressions

So, we've just passed the weekend where Great Britain's new major video gaming convention, GAMEFest 2011, took place in the Birmingham NEC. I was there for a full day, and in the next few posts will encompass my findings on some of the biggest upcoming games this year and next. First up, the titles I saw for a brief time, getting some first impressions on a mixture of major and minor entries...

  • Forza Motorsport 4: Same old Forza but with snazzier graphics and Kinect controls, looking like the peak of video game racing! (October 14th)
  • Kinect Sports: Season Two: Enjoy last year's Kinect Sports? You'll love this- darts, golf, American Football etc round off a great package full of charm and humour, the perfect Christmas party starter. (October 28th) 
  • GoldenEye 007: Reloaded: Last year's Wii GoldenEye 007 shooter was ace- this is your chance to play it on 360/PS3 in dazzling high definition. Not much new other than the visuals, obviously. (November 4th)
  • Mass Effect 3: One of my most anticipated games of 2012, this epic conclusion to the sci-fi trilogy features a refined version of ME2's shooter engine, looking sublime in the opening level. (March 6th, 2012)
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations: The multiplayer modes (returning from Brotherhood) were on show at GAMEFest, and while there was very little notable difference fans should enjoy playing with the new characters and environments. (November 15th)
  • Mario And Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games: Predictably, if you played the 2008 Olympic Games version, you'll very much know what to expect here. All the events from the competition, and stadiums with a typically British theme. (November 29th)
  • Street Fighter X Tekken: This mash-up of two big fighting franchises looked surprisingly subdued in the demo, featuring little in the way of innovation or selling points. Let's hope Capcom can provide some real incentives for cash next year...(Summer 2012)
  • Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection: There isn't much I can say about this one you don't already know- the classic MGS PS2/Xbox games, remade with slightly better graphics (nothing groundbreaking, mind), complex and convoluted as ever. (November)
  • Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D: One of the HD Collection's games gone 3D for DS, nothing revolutionary yet a good one for the franchise fans to savour. (Spring 2012)
  • The Lord of the Rings: War In The North: Easily one of the goriest, hacky-slashiest games on show, War In The North looked like a decent RPG, but this year is going to struggle with the likes of Dragon Age II, Dead Island and Skyrim here to stay. (November 25th)
In the next few days and posts, I'll round up my hands-on impressions with the games I got better and longer looks at last weekend! (Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/ME3cover.jpg)

New Batman: Arkham City Trailer Released

Batman: Arkham City has just this week 'gone gold', meaning developer Rocksteady has completed the game in its entirety, shipping it off to publishers across the world. With just under a month to go until the title ships, the dev has released a new trailer to celebrate. It showcases Batman's arch-enemy the Joker, battered and ill from the events of Arkham Asylum but quickly recovering and plotting a deadly demise for the citizens of Gotham. In the original game, their age old battle encompassed the whole plotline, but that's a mere sub-story in the overall plot of the sequel shows just how big and thrilling it's looking to play. Catch the trailer below; Arkham City comes out here on October 21st.

Avatar Lands Coming To Disney World

The Disneyland theme park corporation and James Cameron have announced this week that lands based on the sci-fi fantasy film Avatar will be built in Walt Disney's global attractions in the near future. Originally released in 2009, Avatar was met with critical acclaim, and went on to become the best-selling box office feature film ever just months after its première. Disney president Rober Iger said of the upcoming collaboration: "James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible. With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James' talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney." It has also been hinted that the lands will feature elements from the two upcoming Avatar sequels, scheduled for release in 2014 and 2015. Work on the new lands will start in each Disneyland park in 2014.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Glee: The Purple Piano Project Review (3/5)

As the second season of Glee reached a mediocre climax, I got the sense that the programme was running out of ideas and gimmicks, that its charm and satire could only take it so far and we'd seen the best there was to offer. Having watched the premiere episode of Series 3, The Purple Piano Project, I'm sad to say that my mindset was not changed. Lea Michele, Chris Colfer et all were as ever on fine form, each adding a little bit of depth and substance to their characters in the realisation that high school doesn't last forever, but the performances were nothing special, and even Dianna Agron's reinvented Quinn didn't do her portrayal any favours. Choosing big numbers like We Got The Beat, Big Spender and You Can't Stop The Beat is typical of a series opener, mainly serving to peak newcomers' interest in the show, and yet even then the roster was hardly the most mainstream line-up, so it's not as if those who disliked the show will have been converted in any way. Basically, The Purple Piano Project was Glee at its most Gleeish, decent enough to keep the fans compelled but alienating enough to keep the wider world audiences away. Now it remains to see whether things can change over the course of the season, else this musical could end up being cut short!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Doctor Who: Finale Synopsis, Special/2012 Details Revealed

There are just two episodes of Doctor Who's sixth season left to air on BBC One, so in a fortnight's time the programme will be gone from our screens once more. Nevertheless, Doctor Who Magazine have provided some tantialising details on the finale The Wedding of River Song, this year's Christmas special, and when the next season will begin airing:

  • First up, the exciting synopsis for Episode 13 from DWM, who are more giving context to the story than telling us what to expect regarding River, the wedding or the Doctor's death: "The city of London, 22 April 2011- soaring buildings, glittering and mighty under a perfect blue sky, and life tumbling onto pavements below. And horse-drawn Roman chariots driving through the streets. And a Victorian steam train on a monorail...hang on, like in a sci-fi city, but with Romans and steam trains? And hot air balloons? And pterodactyls? And Charles Dickens appearing on BBC One's Breakfast? Something isn't quite right...In Buckingham Senate, at 5.02pm, Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill calls for his soothsayer to be fetched from the Tower. Greying, unkempt, older, tireder, but unmistakably- it's the Doctor. "Tick tock goes the clock," Winston tells him, "but they don't, do they? The clocks never tick." It's always 5.02pm these days. All of history is happening at once. "What happened to time?" asks Winston. The answer, it seems, is a woman..." The Wedding of River Song sees returns from Karen Gillian, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, and Frances Barber (all of whom will make their most recent appearances in this week's Closing Time), as well as Simon Callow's Charles Dickens (The Unquiet Dead), Simon Fisher-Becker's Dorium Maldovar (The Pandorica Opens, A Good Man Goes To War), Richard Hope's Silurian scientist (Cold Blood), Ian McNeice's Winston Churchill (Victory of the Daleks, The Pandorica Opens) and the Silence. All those cast names have been released by DWM, and we're assured by the mag all this tells us very little about the story in question's plot...
  • The new issue (439) also reveals the names of some of the 2011 Christmas Special's cast: Outnumbered mum Claire Skinner and comedians Bill Bailey and Alexander Armstrong will feature in the hour-long episode, focusing on a pair of children's evacuation during World War Two to a house with a caretaker sporting a bow tie and where their Christmas present is big and blue and box-shaped!
  • Finally, DWM Editor Tom Spilsbury reveals in the Editorial section that "the show will return in Autumn 2012", confirming Steven Moffat's plan to begin airing Season Seven later in the year to help tie-in with the fiftieth anniversary of the programme in 2013. It's unconfirmed whether an entire season and a Christmas Special will be shown next year, or whether we'll get a few episodes before Christmas, the Special, then the remainder of Series 7 and likely another bumper-season in 2013, but at least we now know some details about the programme's future directions.
Doctor Who's final two episodes air this Saturday and next Saturday, and meanwhile the fifth and final season of The Sarah Jane Adventures commences on Monday October 3rd.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Harry Potter DVD/Blu-Ray Release Date Announced

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. You probably haven't heard of it, and how could I blame you? It's only the third best-selling film of all time, and one of the better flicks released in the Summer of Film 2011 to boot. It wasn't perfect, losing out to Super 8 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes' daring to innovate and surprise us a little bit more than Radcliffe and co did, but it still earned a 5/5 here (more on the basis of being just about as good as Part 1 rather than a filmic masterpiece) and remains many fans' favourite flick of the eight-part franchise. Now, what was the point of this article...oh yes, the DVD and Blu-Ray release date! Right, we're getting these three versions (also there's a Limited Edition Full Series boxset with a 48-page photo album) of the film on Friday December 2nd worldwide. Just in time for Christmas- funny that! Extras on the release include How To Become A Goblin, The Women of Harry Potter, Deleted Scenes, A Look At The 2012 Harry Potter Studio Tour and a feature, When Harry Left Hogwarts. Expect this one to sell by the bucketload...best selling film on disc ever?

Michael McIntyre Quits Britain's Got Talent

It has been confirmed that British comedian Michael McIntyre will not return to the judging panel of UK talent show Britain's Got Talent for its 2012 run. McIntyre was a judge in this year's season for the auditions and live shows, but will instead host a new live tour next year, thus stopping him from being part of the new series. An iTV spokeseman said of his departure: "We wish him all the best and look forward to working with him again." Fellow judge Simon Cowell remarked that it was "amazing working with Michael", stating he "[doesn't] need to wish him luck with the tour because it's already gigantic!" Britain's Got Talent returns next Spring, and Michael's tour will open later in 2012.
(Image: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_l6ENAPXOLg/TaMD3FvUkuI/AAAAAAAAAxM/HpCSgGaQcDk/s1600/michael-mcintyre02.jpg)

Who: Closing Time Preview

This year's penultimate episode of Doctor Who before its big season finale marks a departure for the series. For the first time since the sci-fi's return in 2005, Episode 12 is not the first part of the finale, but a standalone episode. In fact, Closing Time is nothing less than a fully blown sequel to Gareth Roberts' excellent 2010 story The Lodger, and so once again stars James Corden as Craig Owens and Daisy Haggard as Sophie. Plus, an old enemy returns...
TIME TO SPARE- The first thing you should know is that some time has passed since last week's story, The God Complex- 200 years to be precise. You know what that means...the Doctor is at the age and time for his death by Lake Silencio in Utah. He's making one final stop, though, to see his old friend Craig, who's now had a baby and is living happily with Daisy.
TIME TO WORK- As with playing football and working in an office in The Lodger, the Doctor's going to try something new on his house call, which happens to be working in none other than a toy shop. Why's he there? If you ever watched the classic series, you may remember the Cybermats, mobile accomplices of the Cybermen who look quite toyish. And speaking of the Cybermen...
TIME TO FIGHT- Back after their brief cameo in A Good Man Goes To War, the Doctor's old adversaries have a new evil plot for the Time Lord to save the Earth from before he tries to save himself. But what have the Cybermen got planned?
TIME TO TRIGGER THE FINALE- No, that's not as good a sub-title, but still! Although Steven Moffat has chosen to do a one-part finale, there are still going to be major elements to lead us into Episode 13 here in Closing Time. Hints? I don't know much, but the Radio Times have revealed the cast list features Karen Gillian as Amy Pond, Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams, Alex Kingston as River Song and Frances Barber as Madame Kovarian (the Eyepatch Woman), and they've told us to expect some questions to be answered at the episode's end, so perhaps we're going to be just as surprised as we were at the Ponds' departures in The God Complex...?

Two And A Half Men: Nice To Meet You, Waldon Schmidt Review (4/5)

You know the deal- Charlie Sheen made a dramatic departure from Two And A Half Men earlier this year, fired for insulting the show's writers, and so his character has been killed off and Ashton Kutcher has stepped in as internet billionare Waldon Schmidt. Was the first episode of Series 9 a good sign of things to come? I'd say yes, even if thirty minutes is hardly enough time to make a full judgement. We opened with Charlie's funeral, filled with his family and the countless vengeful old flames in a great scene-setter filled with laughs, especially as Rose made the hilarious revelation that she tripped Charlie in front of a train when he cheated on her in Paris. Soon enough, though, we were back in familiar territory (the Malibu beach house to be precise), discussing what was going to become of the Harpers now and eventually revealing Kutcher's character. To be honest, Kutcher came off as a pretty strange and exaggerated character- more so than the comedy stereotypes we usually get- until the final scene where he wandered down casually after a night in bed with two babes, claiming he wanted to buy the beach house, his portrayal then showing far more potential to build on in future episodes. The trouble with comedy shows is episodes are unlikely to rank at much more than a 3 or 4/5 unless they really make great use of their running times, and Nice to Meet You, Waldon Schmidt didn't really do that. I won't be ranking every episode of this season, but I can say this was a really solid foundation for Series 9 to develop, and I didn't feel losing Charlie Sheen had done the programme any harm!

Gaming News Round-Up

With the Autumn of Gaming in full swing (Gears of War 3 likely set to break some more records today), developers are keen to reveal updates on their big upcoming titles. I've rounded up here some of the biggest announcements that have hit recently for major 2011/12 titles...

  • The first trailer for Rockstar's story-driven thriller Max Payne 3 has been released. The game sees its titular protagonist on the run from his enemies, desperate to find answers to an assassination attempt, and will utilise many of the features found in its 2001 and 2003 franchise predecessors. Catch the trailer below; Max Payne 3 retails in March 2012.
  • Travellers' Tales have announced they will release LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 on November 18th on the 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSP and DS here in the UK. The title features adventures in iconic locations from the fifth, sixth and seventh books and the final four films, including Grimmauld Place and Godric's Hollow, but will that be enough to save it from being forgotten, seeing as it's released just days after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Assassin's Creed: Revelations...?
  • After Kaos Studios were shut down earlier this year, many wondered if their Homefront franchise would continue. Today, publisher THQ has revealed that CryTek, acclaimed developer of the Crysis and FarCry series, will now helm the series. Exec vice president of THQ Danny Bilson said the choice of dev "underscores [their] strategy of working with the industry's best talent", and that THQ is "supremely confident that the next Homefront will deliver that AAA-quality experience players demand." Expect the next entry in the series to be announced in 2012, as the current fiscal year for its targeted release is 2014.
  • PS3 owners who missed out on the original Assassin's Creed when it first released in 2006 are in luck- the title will be packaged in with Sony's version of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, out November 15th.
  • And now for the bad news: the PC version of Batman: Arkham City has been delayed to November 15th. Sorry 'bout that. The 360 and PS3 versions will still be out October 21st.


UK Film Charts: September 12th-18th

It seems you can't keep a good comedy top forever- The Inbetweeners Movie has finally lost the lead in the British box office rankings after three weeks in first place. The new champion? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the much-anticipated adaptation of John LeCarre's detective thriller novel which arrived at cinemas last Friday. Also entering the list are crime heist flick 30 Minutes Or Less, Sarah Jessica Parker's new comedy I Don't Know How She Does It and Jason Bateman/Ryan Renyolds body-swap romp The Change-Up. I'll be bringing you a full review of Tinker later this week...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Doctor Who: The God Complex Review (4.5/5)

I read a description of this second half of Doctor Who recently stating that the show is going through something of a "golden age", and once again based on this episode I'm more than inclined to agree. Toby Whithouse gave us a barnstormer with The Vampires of Venice (4.5/5) last year, yet rightfully takes The God Complex off in a very different direction, entering more thought provoking territory as the Doctor, Amy and a bunch of unlikely allies face their personal nightmares in a shifting hotel as they are stalked by a fearsome minatour. There are creepy moments aplenty throughout, with cackling puppets, Weeping Angels and mind control elements adding to the suspense of the silent corridors, and although these scenes could hardly be placed in the same region of fear as Blink or Paranormal Activity, they're every bit as chilling and effective as the earlier Mark Gatiss episode Night Terrors. It was great too to see Steven Moffat allowing his fellow writer a chance to expand and develop upon the main season arc in a way that didn't feel as shoehorned in as it did in Matthew Graham's clone two-parter: the denoument featuring Matt's Doc leaving Amy and Rory on Earth with the haunting message "What's the alternative- me standing over your grave, over your broken body?". I'm sure the Ponds will return to help the Time Lord solve his impending death in the finale, not least as Amy seems intrinsic to the plans of the Silence, however it was a dark scene to end on that really left a harrowing impact. I did have a couple of gripes, my main one being that Whithouse seemed to (perhaps unintentionally) steal from Richard Curtis' Vincent and the Doctor and Steven Thompson's The Curse of the Black Spot with his use of a monster acting not out of anger but instinct and a location turning out to be a sci-fi program respectively, which made parts of the story feel rehashed. The other problem I had was that Murray Gold's soundtrack seemed a bit too upbeat at times for what could have easily been the scariest episode of the season, detracting from the dark visual atmosphere somewhat. I haven't mentioned David Walliams yet, but it goes without saying that his casting (despite a more restrained portrayal for a PG/12 audience) makes for comedy gold, icing on the cake for another great Who romp!
(Image: http://media.avclub.com/images/articles/article/61/61730/doctor-who-the-god-complex-promo-pics-4_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85.jpg)

Dead or Alive 5, Crysis Announced

Video game developers CryTech and Team Ninja have announced new projects they're working on at the 2011 Tokyo Game Show. CryTech plan to bring us a console version of Crysis, the infamous PC shooter which for a time required very high-end computers to run, and which spawned a popular sequel on 360 and PS3 (the hardware getting the DLC release) in the Autumn. The guys at Team Ninja, meanwhile, intend to release Dead Or Alive 5, the latest entry in their innovative fighter franchise, so far confirmed to feature old favourites Hayate and Ryu Hayabusa, next year on the current generation consoles (no news yet on whether it'll come to WiiU, the first 'next generation' console since the PS3 arrived in 2007, though).
(Images: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a9/Doa5logo.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e9/Crysis_Cover.jpg)

Deadshot Announced For Batman: Arkham City

The October 21st release date for Batman: Arkham City nears ever closer, with just a month to go before the superhero action-adventure title hits consoles. Developer Rocksteady Studios have announced that DC Comics classic villain Deadshot, a brutal assassin, will feature in a side-mission storyline in the game, focusing on his own targets in the cordened-off section of Gotham and the Caped Crusader's desperate efforts to stop him. The announcement came from GameTrailers last Monday, and also confirmed were 'Ice Bombs', allowing Batman to freeze his enemies in place, and combined with his grapple hook a potent gadget for water-based physics puzzles. Everytime I see Arkham City in action my anticipation only rises, and my world exclusive half-hour eyes-on demo with the game at GAMEFest (coming later this week) has sent my excitement levels through the roof! (Checks calendar) Nope, still not time to get it just yet...(checks calendar again)...

UK Music Charts: September 12th-18th

X-Factor runners-up One Direction will definitely be happy, seeing as their new single What Makes You Beautiful sold over 123,000 copies in its first week, attaining the quite prestigious status of 'No 1 Top Selling Single' of 2011 so far. The charts remain pretty similar to last week other than that addition, although Pixie Lott and Ed Sheeran (#12 and #14!) aren't exactly doing bad either with their new singles...
10. Leona Lewis feat Avicii: COLLIDE
9. Will Young: JEALOUSY
8. Christina Perri: JAR OF HEARTS
7. Calvin Harris: FEEL SO CLOSE
6. Example: STAY AWAKE
5. The Saturdays: ALL FIRED UP
4. Olly Murs feat Rizzle Kicks: HEART SKIPS A BEAT
2. Maroon 5 feat Christina Aguilera: MOVES LIKE JAGGER

UK Gaming Charts: September 12th-18th

Another week on top for Dead Island, everyone's favourite controversial zombie survival RPG. This is hardly a surprise, really, with very few new titles reaching the market in the last week, but will Gears of War 3 (out tomorrow) change Techland's fortunes...?
10. CARS 2
(Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/43/Dead_island_PC_packshot.png)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Coming Up This Week

Things have been a little quiet here on the blog recently, I'll freely admit, but that's because outside life gets busy sometimes! What I can, however, promise you is that the next seven days will be jam packed with cool new stuff both here on the blog and in the world of entertainment as a whole. Without further ado, here's what to expect in the week ahead...
NEW SHOWS- This is a big week for TV, with Two & A Half Men (now starring Ashton Kutcher), Glee, Modern Family and An Idiot Abroad all returning to our screens via Sky One and Comedy Central. Plus, the Doctor makes one final trip to see his old pal Craig and face off against the Cybermen in Doctor Who: Closing Time and Clark discovers the legacy of his DNA with an old enemy in Smallville: Scion. Reviews on as many of the new shows as possible, plus last week's Who, very soon!
NEW MOVIES- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is now out in cinemas- will it top the charts? Entering the box office this week are Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive, The Killer Elite and the 3D re-release of Steven Spielberg's classic dino adventure Jurrasic Park...
NEW GAMES- Xbox 360 owners know what to look out for: Gears of War 3, the hugely anticipated shooter finale, hits stores this Tuesday. Not much else to report on here this week, but as promised I'll bring you as the full scoop on this week's charts.
GAMEFEST- And even more promised, a bunch of WORLD EXCLUSIVE pieces covering everything I saw (loads!) and played (not so much, but seeing the stuff was great enough) at the Birmingham NEC this weekend, including Forza Motorsport 4; Kinect Sports Season Two; GoldenEye 007: Reloaded; Spider-Man: Edge of Time; X-Men: Destiny; Mass Effect 3; Assassin's Creed: Revelations; Mario & Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games; Street Fighter X Tekken; Metal Gear Solid HD Collection; The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D; Mario Kart 7; Super Mario 3D Land; The Lord of the Rings: War In The North; Sonic Generations; Batman: Arkham City and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7!
(Image: http://www.mjbstar.com/wp-content/uploads/Two-and-a-Half-Men-Ashton-Kutcher-Taken-Charlie-Sheens-Spot.jpg)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

First Gears of War 3 Reviews Are In

So, the critics' verdicts on Gears of War 3, the highly anticipated end to the epic 360 shooter trilogy, are in- is it any good? Judging by the reviews so far, the familiar campaign stops it from being a surefire Game of the Year contender, but the masterfully designed variety of multiplayer modes more than compensate for the campaign's shortcomings. Find out more below...
OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE (9/10)- "Same Gears-y goodness; Horde 2.0 is a great expansion; occassional AI let-downs, and the online modes stand a good chance of making you forget about Battlefield and Call of Duty. Bravo, Epic."
CVG (90%)- "Original or not, the solo campaign is sold in every department and brimming with class, while the ambitious DLC plans should see Gears live on for years- even if this is the last time Epic has to use that chainsaw gun."
GAMESPOT (95%)- "Gears 3 concludes an excellent trilogy with engrossing cooperative play, taut competitive action, and a masterful campaign."
EDGE (9/10)- "The degree of refinement and technical polish across every facet of Gears 3 is enough to make most other games look tatty. A few head-scratching nitpicks exist, but they don't chafe much."
IGN (90%)- "The noted hitches, design decision and 'been-there, done-that' feel of much of the content colors the overall experience, but it certainly didn't keep me from having one hell of a good time."
LOADS more posts are coming to the blog this weekend, and I'll be rating Gears myself later this month. Gears of War 3 arrives next Tuesday, September 20th.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Coming Up This Week

This coming week, you perhaps won't find as many big-name releases as usual in stores, cinemas and/or TV sets, but there's still A LOT to come at the blog, especially in terms of a certain big event to really kick-start the Autumn of Gaming...
NEW MOVIES- If you're looking for a Freaky Friday-style comedy starring Ryan Renyolds and Jason Bateman (The Change-Up), a rom-com where people just don't know how Sarah Michelle Geller does it (I Don't Know How She Does It), a crime heist thriller featuring The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg (30 Minutes Or Less) or an intriguing detective Brit romp where Gary Oldman apparently gives an Oscar-worthy turn as John LeCarre's creation Smiley (Tinkor, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), then the cinema is just the right place for you this week! No 'Best Film' contenders here, with the possible exception of the LeCarre adaptation, but all of them will provide some great nights out for guys and gals.
NEW SHOWS- 71 Degrees North and medical comedy Doc Martin return to iTV1, and meanwhile Clark faces a disaster of Hangover proportions (literally) in Smallville: Fortune, the Doctor faces Weeping Angels, a minotaur and his worst fear in Doctor Who: The God Complex, and Jack and the team fight to end the Miracle in the episode season finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day, The Blood Line! (Next week, tons of new shows- Two & A Half Men, Glee, Modern Family and An Idiot Abroad all return...)
NEW GAMES- Pretty darn quiet on this front to be honest, which is surprising given the extent of releases out last Friday, but if you feel the need to play the HD Splinter Cell Trilogy on PS3 or- even better- Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension on DS, now's your chance. Can't say fairer than that, eh?
GAMEFEST- It's here where the fun is really at, though! Taking place in the Birmingham NEC from Friday-Sunday, this video games convention provides a huge showcase of some of the biggest titles coming to us this Autumn and next year, including Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Forza Motorsport 4, Uncharted 3, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, X-Men: Destiny, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Sonic Generations, Street Fighter X Tekken, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Batman: Arkham City, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and FarCry 3. I'll be bringing you as many world exclusive hands-ons direct from the showfloor as possible, so keep an avid eye on the blog over the weekend!
(Image: http://www.randomprodinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/gamefest-2011-logo.jpg)

Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited Review (5/5)

At its heart, The Girl Who Waited is a magnificent revelation of what modern Doctor Who has been ever since the show returned in 2005- a character-orientated drama which more than ever focuses on the lives of humans, swept up in a mysterious alien's adventures across time and space. Previous 'Doctor-lite' efforts have been mixed, ranging from the rancid Love & Monsters to the terrifying Blink, but you barely notice Matt Smith's confinement to the TARDIS set this week, thanks to the brilliant work of Karen Gillian as Amy Pond in both her current and elde timestream. Writer Tom McRae poses a question to us here that we rarely ask during Steven Moffat's fiddling romps of timey-wimey goodness- if the Doctor goes back and changes the timeline of someone he meets, what happens to the potential future version that person would have become had he not interfered? This basis of a storyline works absolutely superbly, to the point that the viewer is compelled throughout to discover how Amy, elder Amy and Rory can reach the TARDIS, and inevitably why the latter incarnation of Mrs Pond stays behind instead of departing with her husband and counterpart. When we do discover the latter, it's a genuinely heartbreaking moment, one perfectly performed by Karen and Arthur that for those who easily shed tears will have quickly forced the tissues out for fear of a colossal flood consuming their household. Brilliantly realised, too, by director Nick Hurran is the distinctly alien world of Apalapucia, which despite unmistakably Welsh sets (was the corridor Amy ran down the same one used in A Good Man Goes To War? If not, the resemblence was uncanny...) really helped to showcase the brilliant production values this season of Doctor Who has to offer. I cannot fault The Girl Who Waited- it's a wonderful character piece that balances emotional dilemmas, philosophical questions steeped in sci-fi and beautiful action perfectly, and features Karen Gillan's best performance of her time on the show so far, along with brilliant despair from Arthur Darvill's Rory and strangely disturbing forcefulness from Smith's Doctor in the final moments. Leaving us with the haunting question "Where is she?" as the younger Amy awakes expecting to see her older self and Rory at her side, only to find only her husband is there, is a very effective move rather than shoehorning in a reference to the main season arc (Curse of the Black Spot, The Rebel Flesh, I'm looking at), rounding off a story which is so much better than McRae's past Cybermen two-parter effort and will be remembered as one of the best episodes of the season/

Battlefield 3 'Operation Guillotine' Teased

A new single-player level in the main campaign of Battlefield 3 has been teased by developer DICE with a brand new trailer. 'Operation Guillotine' sees a group of soldiers attempt to enter a city placed on a faultline, only for them to find their position completely bombarded by enemy forces, bringing with them a host of explosions and gunfire. It's a stunning video to watch, but it does bring up one shortcoming that worries me with the shooter- it looks very linear, not unlike Call of Duty, and I just hope that EA haven't risked the franchise's open-ended integrity by trying to make it more similar to its competitior simply for a few more sales. See what you think...Battlefield 3 is out October 28th.

Max Payne 3 Release Window Announced

Not content with having released Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes of Liberty City, Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire in the last four years, Rockstar Games are already hard at work on more projects, one of which is the highly anticipated third-person shooter Max Payne 3. Set in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the game sees its epenomyous hero on the run as he is double-crossed by a criminal mastermind deep within the city, forcing him to resort to the most extreme of measures to confront his enemies and find the truth. It could truly be one of 2012's greatest games, and Rockstar are really going to have to pull out all of the stops to put it up with Mass Effect 3, BioShock Infinite, Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3 (let's be honest, that's got to be on its way next year) and Tomb Raider for sales and critical acclaim. Max Payne 3 has been confirmed to release next March on PS3 and 360.
(Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3b/Maxpayne3.jpg)

First Batman: Arkham City Review Coming In GamesMaster

My anticipation for Batman: Arkham City knows no ends with just a month and ten days to go until its release, so any new news comes as a great thing to me and should do too for Bat fans. The British video games magazine publication GamesMaster has confirmed that their next issue will feature the world exclusive first review of Arkham City before any other mag or website in October. Issue 243, featuring the review, will be released on Thursday, October 13th, rating the game a whole eight days before its worldwide release. GamesMaster previously got an early review in of Batman: Arkham Asylum a good fortnight before its release, and while many gamers disputed whether the mag awarding the original game at 96% was just WB Games bribing them or a way to build hype, many more scores of that magnititude came on release day, so it's safe to say that whatever GM gives the sequel you can trust it'll be a just and fair score (I'd wager it could go even higher if the game remains innovative throughout and develops enough of its storyline to still make it surprising). Issue 242 will feature a final preview of Arkham City, as well as a new look at BioShock Infinite and the world exclusive review of FIFA 12, and is out this Monday, while Batman: Arkham City will retain in stores nationwide on October 21st.

First Rise Of Nightmares Reviews Arrive

It's been almost a year since a proper bunch of games for Kinect were released as part of its launch line-up last November. SEGA's horror hack-and-slasher Rise of Nightmares, then, should come as a relief then, leading in front of the likes of Kinect Sports: Season Two, Dance Central 2, Forza Motorsport 4 and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (all exclusive to Kinect or using motion comptability) in spectacular fashion- right...? Sadly not, if you read into the reviews released by games critics these last few days. Here's a round-up of what the press are saying about Rise of Nightmares so far:
IGN (4/10): "Rise of Nightmares is an ambitious title, and it's even function for the most part (aside from the most basic of actions, walking). But ambition and basic functionality alone don't make a game good. The control scheme is so basic it comes off feeling like a game for kids, when it tries so damn hard not to be."
GAMESPOT (5.5/10): "Awkward motion controls and shallow combat make it a frighteningly unremarkable adventure in zombie killing."
CVG (5.5/10): "Rise feels like an experiment, a small first step on the way towards proper action games for Microsoft's motion senser. Horror fans could consider this a worthwhile rental, but for those holding out for Kinect's truly killer R-rated app, the wait goes on."
OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE (3/10): "The lobtomised, slash-block combat is the final straw- it offers nothing in the way of action, puzzles, intelligence or maturity. It's a heartbreakingly lame way to kick off the adult Kinect genre."
So, not quite perhaps what were hoping for then. Will Kinect Sports 2, Forza 4, Dance Central 2 or Halo fare any better? I'll find out and rate them all for you in the months to come! Rise of Nightmares is out now for Xbox 360.
(Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/RiseOfNightmares.jpg)

Schwarzeneger, Willis Confirmed For Expendables 2

Bruce Wills and Arnold Schwarzeneger have been confirmed to make appearances in 2012's ensemble shooter movie The Expendables 2. The pair of Hollywood cameos both made disappointingly brief cameos in last year's lacklustre romp (2/5), but Deadline is reporting that their roles in the sequel will be far more "substantial" than before. Here's the synopsis for the film: "The Expendables are back and this time it's personal! After Tool (Mickey Rourke), the heart and soul of the Expendables, is brutally murdered on a mission, his comrades swear to avenge him. They're not the only ones who want blood. Tool’s beautiful young and wild daughter Fiona embarks on her own revenge mission, complicating matters when she is captured and ransomed by a ruthless dictator plotting to destroy a resistance movement. Now Barney and the Expendables must risk everything to save her and humanity." The Expendables 2 is out in cinemas on August 7th, 2012. (Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/76/Expendablesposter.jpg)

Torchwood: Miracle Day- Is It Better Than...

SERIES ONE? Yes. In its first season, Torchwood slowly struggled to find its way, boggled in a world full of sci-fi dramas like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactia, and as a result there were episodes in the initial run where the show seemed simply to tread water. The finale was handled quite well, serving as a good indication of this spin-off's potential, but overall Miracle Day had a more solid and consistent line-up of stories to tell. However, if you started watching the programme at Series Three or Four, you might want to return here to find out more about Torchwood Three's Welsh origins.
SERIES TWO? Yes, but only just! Captain Jack Harkness' many long lives were explored in further detail during the improved new run, with episodes like Adam and Exit Wounds really doing a good job of filling in back story on the Boeshane Penninsula, and really helping us to engage with the immortal legend more than usual. Miracle Day attempted this (and failed miserably) with Immortal Sins, but once again the majority of its episodes were consistently average or good, whereas here again the quality could drop considerably in 'non-arc episodes'. (Image: http://www.cheapbluraymovies.co.uk/boxset/images/torchwoodseries2dvd.jpg)
CHILDREN OF EARTH? No, and sadly this was by far the easiest choice to make. Children of Earth effortlessly managed to make Torchwood accessible to a more mainstream audience, throwing in deep psychological drama as the world's youth were converted into mindless transmitters for an alien force which intended to use them as eternal drugs, and going the full mile to bring us the huge emotional ramifications for the human race as its governments decided to simply hand over 10% of the Earth's young to the extraterresterial drug-addict. Miracle Day only had one core, powerful moment of terrible ramifications psychology, which was at the end of The Categories of Life when Dr Juarez was burnt alive as a supposed 'Category One' patient, a disturbing thought to take away with us at the end of a chilling episode. If we'd had more examples of the Miracle's drastic effects on human nature, and whisked along at a better pace than it did over the ten lengthy episodes, then it might have fared a little better with fans, but as it is the tightly-packed, thrilling Children of Earth remains the best drama Torchwood has given us so far. If Series Five returns to either the five-episode format that made this such a hit, or the 'case of the week'-style 13 episode structure, we might end up with a stronger dose of alien fighting...oh by the way, what happened to alien species (bar one) in Miracle Day? And why doesn't the Doctor notice that everyone on Earth is immortal when he visits us for his death in April 2011? I hope the latter question gets answered in Who Series Six (alternate universes, perhaps?) very soon...

EXCLUSIVE Torchwood: The Blood Line Spoiler-Free Review (5/5)

Torchwood: Miracle Day has rested a lot of fans' hopes on its finale, building up very slow-burning plot threads throughout the ten episode season, and quite frankly I was worried the finale The Blood Line wouldn't live up to our expectations, even with showrunner Russell T Davies back and sharing the writing limelight with Jane Epenson (who's already given us Dead of Night, The Categories of Life, Immortal Sins and End of the Road, the former two amongst my favourite episodes of Torchwood so far)...turns out my fear was unnecessary. Episode 10 is by far the best instalment of this year's run, never letting up the ante in its fifty minute running time and providing perfect closure for every character who's either been with Torchwood since its inception or was introduced this series. It's thrilling (Davies' huge globe-spanning setpieces that helped him revive Doctor Who in 2005 are back in full force here), disturbing (wait until you hear Oswald's final speech of the season), heartbreaking and so much more, taking the best elements of Miracle Day and combining them for a huge and masterful piece of television. You won't necessarily be happy with all of the character resolutions, but what's great about that is it won't be because the resolutions are shallow and unfulfilling, rather because you will have grown so accustomed to seeing the menagerie of main characters (Jack, Gwen, Rex, Esther, Oswald) that when more than one of them bites the dust in spectacular fashion, you'll be so attached you just won't want to see them go. I haven't been able to say that about many on-screen deaths in a drama for a while, and it certainly wasn't a statement I thought I'd be levelling at Miracle Day anytime soon! I shan't say anymore for fear of spoiling things for you all next Thursday, however I can tell you that Russell T Davies intentionally sews seeds here throughout for the inevitable fifth season, even going so far as to end on a classic cliffhanger which simply begs for more Torchwood to be commissioned by Starz and BBC Worldwide. I wouldn't have said that based on last week's episode the show deserved a new lease of life, but now based on The Blood Line, I don't want to live in a world where there's no more Torchwood on the way! Here are a few teasers of what you've got to expect in five days time...
1. "The nicest man in the world- and today's the day I kill him."
2. Jack's blood is, as you'd imagine, vital to the entire episode!
3. Jilly Kitsinger plays a bigger role than usual...
4. ...as does Oswald Danes- Bill Pullman is without doubt the star of the show for the season as a whole, but Eve Myles and John Barrowman match him stunningly this week.
5. What must Jack do to stop the Blessing? What will happen to Rex, on the verge of death but kept alive by the Miracle, when death returns? Can Gwen's father be saved? All is revealed...

Friday, 9 September 2011

New Johnny English Reborn Clip Released

A new clip of comedy sequel Johnny English Reborn has been released by Universal Pictures via Digital Spy. Reborn, starring Rowan Atkinson as the titular spy, focuses on Agent Johnny English's return to MI5 when a group of assassins threaten to provoke international anarchy. The clip shows English in typically funny territory, attempting to face off against trained martial artists to regain his status as an MI5 agent! Johnny English Reborn is out on October 7th.


Microsoft Confirm GAMEFest Titles

Heading to GAMEFest next weekend? Well, you should know that if you are, you'll get the chance to try out anticipated titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Saint's Row: The Third, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Super Mario 3DS, Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Need for Speed: The Run, FIFA 12, Batman: Arkham City and Assassin's Creed: Revelations months before anyone else, which is quite a selling point for the British video games convention. What...you want more?!? If that's the case, you may be pleased to hear that Microsoft have announced their full line-up for GAMEFest a week ahead of its opening. Here it is...
  • Gears Of War 3
  • Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Multi-Player
  • Kinect Sports: Season Two
  • Forza Motorsport 4
  • Dance Central 2
  • The Gunstringer
Add those to the list of already announced titles, and we've got every game on my 'Top 10 Most Anticipated Games' list at the convention. Expect tons of world exclusives on as many titles as I can manage next weekend!

Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Season DVD/Blu-Ray Announced

As per their annual release schedule, DVD and Blu-Ray distributor 2Entertain has announced the upcoming release of Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Season. The boxset will contain the 2010 Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol, along with the thirteen episodes of this series which will have finished airing as of October 1st: The Impossible Astronaut; Day of the Moon; The Curse of the Black Spot; The Doctor's Wife; The Rebel Flesh; The Almost People; A Good Man Goes To War; Let's Kill Hitler; Night Terrors; The Girl Who Waited; The God Complex; Closing Time and The Wedding of River Song. There have already been two disc packages of these episodes, Series 6: Part 1 and Part 2, but this new set will include both the special features found in those releases and bonus extras exclusive to it. The bonus content on The Complete Sixth Season is as follows:
  • Doctor Who at the BBC Proms 2010- A video recording of the 2010 Who prom, which saw Matt Smith's Doctor pay a visit and a little boy saving the Royal Albert Hall! (Originally available on the Christmas Carol DVD, TBC by 2Entertain)
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurettes for all fourteen episodes
  • Additional Scenes- Five scenes specially shot for the package that help bridge the gap between episodes, and range from 2 minutes to 15 minutes in length. These are titled Good Night; Bad Night; First Night; Last Night and Up All Night, the latter starring James Corden and the other four starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillian.
  • Prequels: We've seen most of these, but you can now watch the prequels to selected episodes of the season and watch their corresponding stories directly afterwards. The prequel stories are for The Impossible Astronaut, The Curse of the Black Spot, A Good Man Goes To War, Let's Kill Hitler and The Wedding of River Song.
  • Monster Files: Special Confidential-style mini documentaries focusing on the baddies of Series 6. There are files on the Silence, the Flesh, the Antibodies and the Cybermats here.
  • Audio commentaries for selected episodes.
  • Trailers & Ads- Selected previews of the new season released to the media in 2011.
Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Season is out on DVD and Blu-Ray this November.

Torchwood: The Gathering Review (3.5/5)

The Gathering, the latest episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day, succumbs to all the shortcomings this long, frankly overblown fourth season of ten episodes has been plagued by since its premiere: far too much time is spent building towards next week's finale, be it with teasing lines of dialogue or glimpses at the so-called 'Blessing', which seems to be some sort of...alien hole thing. Yep, that's really what we've been waiting eight hours for, a chasm that I at first mistook for being the crater in the Earth, yet which actually turned out to be a giant mouth for what ever extraterresterial force lies at the heart of Miracle Day. On the bright side, the acting is superb all round, with Bill Pullman still managing to prove this season's best casting as the disturbingly empathetic paedophile Oswald Danes, Mikhel Phifer at least coming into his own when Rex was at the heart of a CIA investigation, and Lauren Ambrose managing to take PR history-maker Jilly Kitsinger to new heights of eerie confidence as she meets the Three Families' ultimate weapon deep in Shanghai. Were the plot so solid and consistent as the performances, then I'd have a much happier outlook on the penultimate instalment, but as it is we basically just get Gwen's father being taken back to the concentration camps, Jack and the team including Oswald being led to Shanghai, and ultimately Jack's blood drawing a line to the Blessing (funny how the finale's called The Blood Line, isn't it?). Time and time again in this run, we've had simply very minor plot developments instead of the proper advances a strong drama should each week, and unless Episode 10 can really surprise us with some huge revelations and twists (I doubt it), then Starz, showrunner Russell T Davies and BBC America need to ask themselves a question when taking the next season back to the drawing board- should Torchwood revert back to its standalone 'case of the week' format? That is, of course, providing Starz choose to pick the show up again...based on Miracle Day, I'm not sure what decision I'd make in their shoes...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

An Idiot Abroad, Glee, Spooks Return Dates Announced

September is always a busy time for both new TV shows arriving on our shores and returning favourites making more appearances on national channels. As if it weren't enough to have Doctor Who, Torchwood, Outnumbered and Smallville already airing each and every week, Sky1 and the Radio Times have announced the broadcast dates for the second series of An Idiot Abroad, the third seasons of both Glee and Modern Family and the final season of Spooks. An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List, starring Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, has been confirmed to air its first episode on Friday September 23rd at 9pm on Sky One. Meanwhile, musical comedy Glee will return to our screens for new numbers and drama on Thursday September 22nd at 9, just two days after the United States get Episode 1, and exclusively on Sky 1 to boot! Modern Family bursts in with all the calibre, vigour and general laughs it's known for on Friday the 23rd, while Spooks begins its tenth season a little earlier, on Sunday September 18th. All of these airdates will be added to the 'September Release Dates' list I wrote earlier this month, and I'll repost that piece on the blog's official Facebook page.

UK Film Charts: August 29th-September 4th

What with the end of the Summer of Film signalling a two-month long slump for new blockbuster movies, the great recent comedy TV-to-film adaptation The Inbetweeners Movie has been doing itself proud as a Brit franchise going big, reigning dominant for three consecutive weeks. New releases like One Day, Fright Night, Bodyguard and Apollo 18 have done their best to make it into strong positions this week, but can anyone best The Inbetweeners before Johnny English Reborn arrives in early October and the likes of Twilight, Happy Feet, Alvin & The Chipmunks, Mission Impossible, Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo come in force from November throughout the holiday season? There's only one way to find out- be right back here this time next week...
8. APOLLO 18 (NEW)