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Sunday, 30 October 2011

November 2011: The Release Dates

I haven't covered October's Best Release or my Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases of this coming month yet, but before I do that I thought I'd outline pretty much everything you can expect to see in weeks to come. And my, is there a lot to look out for...
TUESDAY 1ST- Movies: In Time; TV: Smallville: Finale Part 2
WEDNESDAY 2ND- Games: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception; Grand Theft Auto V Trailer
THURSDAY 3RD- TV: Glee Episode 4; House Episode 4
FRIDAY 4TH- TV: An Idiot Abroad 2 Episode 7; Movies: Tower Heist; Games: Sonic Generations; GoldenEye 007: Reloaded
SATURDAY 5TH- TV: Merlin Episode 6; The Making of Life's Too Short
MONDAY 7TH- DVD: The Lion King Diamond Edition; Family Guy Season 11; TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 7
TUESDAY 8TH- Games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
WEDNESDAY 9TH- Movies: New Year's Eve
THURSDAY 10TH- TV: Life's Too Short Episode 1; Glee Episode 5; House Episode 5
FRIDAY 11TH- Games: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; Movies: Arthur Christmas; Immortals; TV: An Idiot Abroad 2 Episode 8
SATURDAY 12TH- TV: Merlin Episode 7
MONDAY 14TH- TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 8; DVD: Torchwood: Miracle Day; Bridesmaids; Larry Crowne; Kung Fu Panda 2; Stephen Merchant Live: Hello Ladies
TUESDAY 15TH- Games: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary; Assassin's Creed: Revelations
THURSDAY 17TH- TV: Life's Too Short Episode 2; Glee Episode 6; House Episode 6
FRIDAY 18TH- Movies: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One; Happy Feet Two; Games: Need For Speed: The Run; Mario And Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games; Saint's Row: The Third; The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7; Kinect Disneyland Adventures; TV: Children In Need 2011
SATURDAY 19TH- TV: Merlin Episode 8
MONDAY 21ST- DVD: Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series; Horrible Bosses; Cars 2; An Idiot Abroad 2; Outnumbered Series 4; TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 9; Books: Halo: Glasslands
THURSDAY 24TH- TV: Life's Too Short Episode 3; Glee Episode 7; House Episode 7
FRIDAY 25TH- Games: The Lord of the Rings: War of the North; Rayman Origins
SATURDAY 26TH- TV: Merlin Episode 9
MONDAY 28TH- DVD: Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Horrid Henry: The Movie; Merlin Series 4: Volume 1; TV: Two & A Half Men Episode 10

Coming Up This Week: October 31st-November 6th

From a caped crusader to a treasure-hunting one...with Batman: Arkham City and Battlefield 3 (both getting reviewed here this week) both hitting stores last week, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Autumn of Gaming would be about to calm down, but that's not the case at all, as Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Sony's biggest exclusive of 2011, is on the way. There's more to come, too:
NEW MOVIES- Inspired by Inception, the huge new sci-fi thriller In Time hits the box office this week. In it, Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried find themselves caught in a war for time where failure warrants the ultimate price to be paid: their lives.
NEW SHOWS- It's time for Smallville to reach its end- in Finale: Part Two, Clark must face his oldest friend and adversary before flying to new heights as the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, Merlin is turned into the ultimate assassin by Morgana in Merlin: A Servant of Two Masters, Walden gets a disturbing message in the post in Two & A Half Men: The Squat and the Hover, House faces a new dilemma in House: Risky Business, an Irish exchange student arrives at McKinley High in Glee: Pot of Gold, Karl climbs Mount Fuji in An Idiot Abroad 2 and Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Warwick Davis showcase their new series in The Making of Life's Too Short.
NEW DVDS- Fantastic superhero prequel X-Men: First Class, hilarious Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher, the fourth season of The Sarah Jane Adventures and the final season of Smallville hit stores this week. Plus, Fantasia and The Tree of Life come to Blu-Ray!
GAMES BLITZ- As I mentioned earlier, the Autumn of Gaming continues with a blast this Friday: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception; GoldenEye 007: Reloaded; Rabbids: Alive and Kicking and Sonic Generations all reach the shelves! We'll be getting the teaser trailer for Grand Theft Auto V as well on Wednesday, lest you forget.

Forza Motorsport 4 Review (9.5/10)

I'd started to lose faith in racing games recently- too often, developers have left an iffy storyline take too much precedence in their products, and this has resulted in a disjointed overall package. I was wrong. Forza Motorsport 4 is by far the best entry in its genre available on the market, packed with soul from its extensive Top Gear features (car bowling, test track time trials, car football, Jeremy Clarkson's comments in Autovista mode, the list goes on) and made more innovative than ever by the implementation of Kinect compatibility. Of course, the new stuff would mean nothing if the core gameplay experience was duff, but this is Turn 10 Studios we're talking about: as with its predecessors, the engine is virtually flawless, accessible to newcomers thanks to the optional racing line and brake assist yet great for hardcore fans in that these options are by no means mandatory. The World Tour mode really sucks you in this time, showcasing every track in the game and really taking you on a journey from the lower classes of vehicle to the Formula 1 racers, so that by the time you reach the professional stage you've got more than enough experience in tactics. I can't go any further without remarking at the sheer ambition of the visuals- this is what the next generation of video gaming graphics will look like, a stunning rendition of modern day cars and locales that is about as close to photo-realistic as the Xbox 360 has come in its seven years at retail. In fact, that photorealism applies to the whole experience- Forza Motorsport 4 is the definitive racing experience in all aspects, pretty much a 1:1 replication of what driving any vehicle feels like in this modern day world. There's still something lacking in the gaming department in that there's no plot to really make this Game of the Year, but it doesn't get much better than this in the racing genre!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

UK Film Charts: October 17th-23rd

Paranormal Activity 3 has hit the UK box office with a spooky bang, reaching first place in the charts after just three days. The other new entrants- Contagion, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Footloose- haven't done half bad either:

2012 In Entertainment: TV Preview

Next year features the arrival of the television event sure to shake up ratings big time- the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. But that's not all that's coming. There's plenty of other stuff to look out for- here's your guide to everything we know about so far...
OLYMPICS- Of course this is the big one. The BBC are spending a lot of cash to promote this global event phenomenally, so expect Olympics ads to be everywhere come next Summer!
COME FLY WITH ME- David Walliams and Matt Lucas return for more comedic escapades in an airport next Spring. The first series was hilarious stuff, which bodes well for the new run.
GLEE- We'll be finishing off Series 3 on Sky One in the early stages of 2012, then the fourth season of this musical comedy should be with us in the Autumn.
SHERLOCK- Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are back in Spring for three more puzzling cases involving Irene Adler, hounds and the deadly Professor Moriarty...
OUTNUMBERED- You can't keep a great comedy down. Hence everyone's favourite family returns for another round of mad-cap antics at home and abroad next Autumn.
DOCTOR WHO- Though Series Seven has suffered a slight delay to a) tie it in to the 50th Anniversary in 2013 and b) avoid the Summer ratings drought, we'll be getting at least seven or eight fresh new Who stories in the Autumn, as the Doctor tries to erase himself from myths and legends by pretending he's dead, all the while heading towards the Fields of Trenzalore where a Question will be asked- a question that must never be answered...
MERLIN- Arthur's servant returns for a final run of adventures, finally stepping into the light as the Knights of the Round Table begin to form and old friendships are tested to their limit next Winter!
MIRANDA- Miranda Hart is back on BBC One too, wild and peculiar as even in her latest batch of romps, hitting screens in Winter 2012.

Grand Theft Auto V Announced

Rockstar Games have announced Grand Theft Auto V, the latest instalment in their controversial open-world shooter series, this afternoon. Rumours of the game's existence have been circulating from as long ago as January, but Rockstar didn't even tease GTA V at E3 2011, so clearly they wanted to keep this big project close to their chests until now. The studio have yet to reveal any details about the game's plot, characters or features, but we're getting the first trailer on Wednesday November 2nd. Expect Grand Theft Auto V to ship in 2012 or '13 depending on which generation of consoles we're getting it (Perhaps both? Could we see the game come to 360, PS3, WiiU, 'Xbox Next' and PS4?).

Monday, 24 October 2011

UK Gaming Charts: October 17th-23rd

As pre-empted by the announced stock shortage in Britain on launch day, Batman: Arkham City has swooped to the top of the charts in its first 72 hours on sale. This turn of events is, in my opinion, more than justified- unless Battlefield, Skyrim, Uncharted, Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty pull something really surprising out of the bag, Arkham City is my surefire Game of the Year, a masterful lesson in how to bring a world-famous license onto the small screen. You owe it to yourself to check the Dark Knight's latest adventure out before the oncoming horde of big names start hitting...
2. FIFA 12

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Coming Up This Week: October 24th-30th

This week isn't as jam-packed with releases as usual, it has to be said, but we will at least see a certain shooter war kick off with a beautiful bang...
NEW MOVIES- A pretty slim offering here: The Adventures of Tintin, Steven Moffat and Spielberg's dazzling CGI adventure, hits the box office, while animated comedy Rio hits DVD and Blu-Ray. Yep, that really is it.
NEW GAMES- Kinect owners finally get new games to play after last November's launch line-up headed by Kinect Sports and Dance Central, and guess what they are? Well done- Kinect Sports: Season Two and Dance Central 2! Sigh...elsewhere, the tie-in Tintin title hits stores.
NEW SHOWS- Karl travels across Route 66 in An Idiot Abroad 2; our favourite wizard tackles a crisis of war proportions in Merlin: His Father's Son; Alan comes across an unexpected party at home in Two & A Half Men: A Giant Cat Holding A Churro and House doesn't know where to turn in House: Risky Business. Plus, it's the beginning of the end of the beginning as Clark meets his destiny in the epic Smallville: Finale Part One!
BATTLEFIELD 3- Before Call of Duty dominates the charts from November 8th to who knows when, we're getting a superb FPS from DICE Studios that threatens to topple that franchise off its lofty throne if Modern Warfare 3 is just a rehash of past CODs. Yes, prepare yourself for the ultimate battle, beginning this Friday with Battlefield 3!

Mass Effect 3 Demo Release Date Announced

Once the almighty glut of Autumn gaming is over, we move towards the year of 2012, a great time for video games if there ever was one. In the Springtime alone, we'll be getting Syndicate, Soul Calibur V, SSX, Kinect Star Wars, BioShock Infinite, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Resident Evil: Revelations, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier; Street Fighter X Tekken, XCOM, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 and Prototype 2, but they're not the titles I'm most excited about. Nope, it's Mass Effect 3 that should really get the boat rocking, and before its worldwide release, we're getting a fully fledged demo for the sci-fi RPG shooter! Those shooter fans who are buying Battlefield 3 this Friday from EA will be getting a special 'online pass' for the demo, whereby they can test out the multiplayer modes before anyone else, and this will guarantee them early access to the multiplayer beta. Those of us who opt out of that method can try the single-player campaign demo in January, and we'll get access to the beta soon after too. No details have been released yet as to what either the demo or the beta will encompass, but considering that they are both meant to 'sell' the game to uncertain players, expect them to be huge and brilliant! Mass Effect 3 launches March 6th, 2012.

Ezio Confirmed For Soul Calibur V

Ezio Auditore Da Firenze will feature as a playable character in next year's fighter game Soul Calibur V, it's been confirmed this week. The protagonist of Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and the upcoming Assassin's Creed: Revelations has been dubbed by developer as a perfect fit for the SC universe, especially wiht the latest instalment of the beat-em-up franchise taking place in the Renaissance era (that's where Ezio originates from, if you didn't already know). Soul Calibur V ships February 3rd, 2012, but if you want to catch Ezio Auditore before that, check out AC: Revelations on November 15th!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

EXCLUSIVE Batman: Arkham City Hands-On Impressions

So Batman: Arkham City is finally here- and I've played the first two hours of it! Just how good is it, then? Here are some thoughts...

  • The opening sequence is incredible, more than on a par with Joker's incarceration in Arkham Asylum and to an extent even going so far as to surpass it for sheer scale and ambition. Better still, the opening scenes change if you download the Catwoman online pass (I haven't, but will include her DLC and the Robin DLC at the end of the review).
  • First up after that is something you'll notice within seconds. Arkham City boasts a hugely thrilling narrative, sure to keep you captivated throughout. Even in the first couple of hours alone, there are mind-boggling and canon-twisting shifts that will shock fans in particular to the core!
  • Yet you don't necessarily have to follow the main storyline- a massive wealth of side missions are on offer for players to participate in. From Victor Zsazs's fatal pay phone calls, to a mysterious figure haunting the rooftops, to over 400 Riddler Trophies to find and hostages to save from the meddlesome trickster, there's always another distraction to take you off course, while the Bat Signal in the sky will always guide you to your next story objective.
  • What I haven't focused on yet on the gameplay- in a good sense, this won't take long. The combat and stealth formulas are refined versions of what we saw Arkham Asylum produce, accessible yet infinitely complex. Better yet, once you've got to grips with these, Arkham City practically dares you to take a challenge, throwing even more enemies at you than ever, but giving you new gadgets like smoke pellets to deal with them.
Batman: Arkham City is looking like a big contender for Game of the Year- I'll be reviewing it, the Catwoman online pass and the Robin DLC later next week!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

New Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows Trailer Unveiled

I can't wait to see what Robert Downey Jr and co have up their sleeves for the sequel to 2009 hit action-adventure flick Sherlock Holmes. Called A Game Of Shadows, the latest addition to the Holmes mythology sees Sherlock attempting to stop James Moriarty tearing civilisation apart with the help of Watson and gypsee fortune teller Sim. This new trailer shows off the key events that kick the plot off, and teases a return from Miss Irene Adler, Holmes' romantic crush who was played by Rachel McAdams in the original. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows arrives on December 16th.


First Star Wars: Episode I 3D Poster Released

Despite it being the worst film of the saga, I for one am looking forward to seeing Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D next February. Lucasfilm have released the first poster for the re-release this week, so I thought I'd show you how the studio are pitching this version to us innocent viewers. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace In 3D hits cinemas worldwide on February 10th, 2012.

Video Game Announcements Round-Up

As ever for the end-of-year period, there are going to be a ton of new video game announcements coming your way in the next few weeks, so all of these are just the start...
  • Warner Bros have revealed their 2012 licensed line-up of titles, and it looks like there are a few surprises in store. A sequel to 2008's LEGO Batman: The Video Game is on its way, plus a tie-in to the first part in the Hobbit film duo, An Unexpected Journey, and an unrevealed DC hero will get to star in his own video game too at some point.
  • Microsoft have announced that a downloadable South Park game will hit Xbox 360 later this month. Titled Tenorman's Revenge, the XBLA release sees Eric Cartman having to defeat a crazed ginger student who he humiliated ten seasons back!
  • Beenox confirmed at the New York Comic Con that they will adapt the 2012 movie reboot The Amazing Spider-Man into a video game next Summer. Its storyline will take place after that of the film's, and like the much-loved Spider-Man 2 tie-in the game will feature an open New York to explore.
  • Pixar have codenamed an upcoming Kinect project allowing players to enter scenes from their favourite animated movies "Rush". More details on the game will arrive soon, and it will hit next Spring.
  • The PlayStation Vita has been confirmed to ship in the UK on February 22nd, 2012.
Finally, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is just under a month away, so rightly 343 Industries have released an absolutely stunning video to show their work on getting the visuals up to scratch for a 2011 FPS. You can see the video below...

Monday, 17 October 2011

2012 In Entertainment: Gaming Preview (Part 2)

Now we've covered up until the Summer of 2012, let's look at what the rest of the year is announced to offer...
ASSASSIN'S CREED III- This is it- the end of the world, and Desmond's story, is nigh. Can the Assassins finally best the Templars and discover the truth about the Gods' messages?
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 2- Treyarch are set to bring us a sequel to one of their best efforts- let's hope they keep it fresh!
DISHONORED- Bethesda are back in a dark, gothic RPG filled with choice- can it best Skyrim?
FABLE: THE JOURNEY- One of the first hardcore Kinect games, The Journey is an epic conclusion to the story of Albion. Let's sort out those controls, though, Mr Molyneux!
FAR CRY 3- Ubisoft should be on a roll with this and Creed, especially as this is set on a strange island where anything is possible...
FIFA 13- You know what to expect here- footie greatness!
HALO 4- The Chief blasts back onto the FPS scene for his first proper adventure in six years. What secrets does the strange Forerunner planet his ship is flying towards hold?
HITMAN: ABSOLUTION- The Deus Ex of 2012, filled with choice gameplay, Absolution should be a completely surprising new entry in the stealth series.
KINGDOM HEARTS 3DS- Before we finally get Kingdom Hearts 3, Sora and Riku must train to become true Keyblade masters in this handheld-exclusive side story.
THE LAST GUARDIAN- One of the biggest PS3 exclusives of 2012, and developed by the guys who brought us Shadow of the Colossus, this huge project promises a compelling fantasy world to explore.
LEGO CITY STORIES- Exclusive to the new Nintendo WiiU and 3DS, this'll be in a similar vein to past LEGO games, only with more of a focus on car chases and local services (police, firemen etc)!
LUIGI'S MANSION 2- Another 3DS exclusive, this time a sequel to one of the GameCube's spookiest romps- what awaits Luigi in this mansion?
MAX PAYNE 3- Fresh off GTA, Red Dead and LA Noire, Rockstar are rounding off one of the biggest action-adventure trilogies of the past decade with a bang...
METAL GEAR SOLID: RISING- Little is known about this MGS spin-off, bar that it will feature Raiden and be out for both PS3 and Xbox 360.
METRO: LAST LIGHT- The sequel to the average shooter Metro 2033- but this one has got a lot more promise already!
PREY 2- Another Bethesda adventure, this time exploring our darkest nightmares...
TOMB RAIDER- And what better way to round off the list with everyone's favourite gaming heroine? Lara's new treasure hunt looks darker and dingier than ever, yet I can't wait to see what we've got to survive this time.
AND MORE...Bear in mind that plenty of games will be announced for release in 2012 at the Spike Video Games next month, by developers in December/January and at E3 2012, so this massive list of gaming greats is just the beginning of what is sure to be an epic year!

UK Gaming Charts: October 10th-16th

The Autumn of Gaming is entering its exciting third gear now, and this shift in pace is more than a good analogy for Forza Motorsport 4 racing to the top of the UK video games charts this week. My review is coming soon, but I can assure you that it's the best racing title available, loaded with content and packed with heart and soul thanks to its integration of Kinect and Top Gear...
9. F1 2011
5. PES 2012 (NEW)
2. FIFA 12

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Coming Up This Week: October 17th-23rd

It's time for my most anticipated Game of the Year to hit stores- will it be everything we've hoped? I'll be bringing you my exclusive first impressions on launch day, but before that there's still plenty of stuff to get excited about this week...
NEW MOVIES- Three is the magic number, if this week is anything to go by- Paranormal Activity 3 and The Three Musketeers will both embrace cinema audience this week. Meanwhile, the rather average (but well-meaning) Green Lantern hits DVD and Blu-Ray.
NEW SHOWS- Sarah-Jane embarks on her final adventure, discovering the truth behind Sarif Industries in The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Man Who Never Was; Oliver must embark on an epic quest with Supergirl to save Clark's life in Smallville: Prophecy; Walden tries to cope with his love problems in Two & A Half Men: Nine Magic Fingers; House faces an unusual dilemma in House: Charity Case; Karl travels to meet a mountain gorilla in An Idiot Abroad 2 and Merlin attempts to protect a sacred dragon egg in Aithusa.
NEW GAMES- Other than the biggie, you can now get Forza Motorsport 4 (hint for the review: the best racing game ever), or coming out are Rocksmith, Dance Central 2 and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One.
BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY- Announced way back in November 2009, this huge sequel to one of the best games of the past decade promises everything we could possibly want- the Joker, Hugo Strange, the Riddler, the Penguin, Two-Face, Bane, Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy, Catwoman and so many more rouges vying for the control of a cordoned off section of Gotham, with the Dark Knight trapped right in the middle. Prepare for the ride of your life!
ON THE BLOG- SJA's final outing rated; Forza 4 reviewed; my verdict on The Green Hornet and my exclusive first impressions of Arkham City.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Kinect Features Detailed

Those of us who went out and bought Microsoft's Kinect peripheral last year have been waiting for a good reason to get it out again for what seems like forever. Forza Motorsport 4 is one such reason (my review's coming very soon), but it appears Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary may get us using our body as the controller once more next month. At the New York Comic Con this weekend, developer 343 Industries revealed the features of Kinect integration in Anniversary, and they're pretty extensive. The first basic addition to gameplay is voice control: instead of reloading or throwing a grenade using specific buttons on a controller, you'll just be able to speak specific commands to do so, and this will apply to the 'Classic' original Xbox mode switch available at all times in the single-player campaign. The other main feature is 'The Library', a huge plethora of Halo information that can be navigated via motions, and whose database can be added to by pointing your gun at an object of interest and saying 'Scan'. These changes to the original won't hamper the classic gameplay, yet I look forward to seeing how well Kinect integration works in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary when it releases on November 15th.

The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Curse of Clyde Langer Review (5/5)

Every once in a while, an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures comes along that really begs the question of why the BBC choose not to put more money into the show- The Curse of Clyde Langer is one such example. The opening half hour sets it up as typical SJA, with Lis putting in a great performance as ever, shunning away Clyde under the curse of an ancient Totem pole (seriously? Could we not have got the Trickster here?), but the show is stolen throughout by Clyde actor Daniel Anthony, who brings us a hugely believable protagonist in love with a homeless girl and ensures that the story as a whole is not hampered by its predictable opening in his realisation that he won't be able to find her again. Indeed, after all the action is done in Part 2, the denouement of Sarah-Jane realising that she can't put an end to the most basic evils of our world is haunting, especially for teatime telly, but thus all the more effective. I don't think this season as a whole will go down as the best run yet (Series Four was always going to be hard to beat, and the episodes feel disjointed due to their original placing in the line-up), however on the plus side it contains one of the best stories to date, a masterclass in emotional drama.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Final Muppets Trailer Released

We've got to wait a whole extra three months to see The Muppets in cinemas, but by the looks of this final trailer, this experience will be worth the wait. The film sees a couple (Jason Segel, Amy Adams) head to Los Angeles for their honeymoon, only to find themselves helping young Walter (Peter Lintz) to bring back the Muppets Telethon for one night only. There's a big cast list to this one, including Jack Black; Emily Blunt; Zach Galifinakas; George Clooney; Ricky Gervais; Sarah Silverman; Selena Gomez; Ed Helms; Mila Kunis; Katy Perry and Danny Trejo, and although the majority of them are only likely to be making one-scene cameos, all of those should add up to make one big spectacular come February 14th, 2012!

First Avengers Trailer Released

There's just over half a year until The Avengers, the hugely anticipated team-up movie for Iron Man, Captain America and plenty of other Marvel heroes, hits cinemas here in the UK. Do you know what that means? It's time for the first teaser trailer! As you'll see, there are explosions, laugh-out-loud dialogue gags and epic battles aplenty, and we get a brief understanding as to what the plot of the movie might actually encompass. Can The Avengers top Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises in next year's superhero movie line-up, though? We'll find out on April 27th, 2012.

New Hitman Absolution Footage Debuted

Next year isn't as packed with video games as this one has been, but you can be sure that the marginally smaller line-up will feature a host of gaming classics to remember for months to come, and Hitman: Absolution looks to be one such example of those. Set some time after its predecessor Blood Money, the game sees Agent 47 facing a blast from his past on his latest, deadliest mission. It will allow players to take virtually any route they want, from using disguises to killing silently or not killing at all! This newly released 16-minute gameplay video shows why it's one of my most anticipated titles of 2012, and why it should be one of yours too...


Friday, 14 October 2011

More Batman: Arkham City Reviews Are In

As we move to the 'one week to go!!!' slot of our anticipation for Batman: Arkham City, the critics on online video game review sites have begun to bring out their verdicts of the title- and it's quite a result for Rocksteady's latest! So far, the game is averaging at a whopping 96% on Metacritic, and here are all the reasons why...
IGN (95%)- "Batman: Arkham City isn't perfect, but listing the little things I didn't like gets in the way of all the things I adored. The voice acting, the challenges, the amazing opening, the unbelievable ending and the feeling of being the Dark Knight- these are the things that standout looking back. I've beaten this thing twice and I still want to call in sick and chase Riddler trophies. It isn't just better than Arkham Asylum, it's better than most games on the market."
CVG (95%)- "It's a belief in the character and, most importantly, a belief in itself that has seen Rocksteady deliver one of the greatest Batman interpretations of all time. And you know what? Maybe even one of the best games ever."
OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE (90%)- "Arkham City is a brilliant Batman game but not in exactly the same way as Arkham Asylum. The story's not as finely tuned, but there's far more to explore outside of it."
OFFICIAL PLAYSTATION MAGAZINE (10/10)- "Outside Uncharted, it's the most breathlessly exciting game on PS3!"
GAMESRADAR (10/10)- "Batman: Arkham Asylum was the best superhero game of all time. The sequel os five times bigger and about a billion times better. You do the math."
1UP (A)- "Arkham City serves as one of those sequels which renders its predecessor wholly obsolete. From its memorable Bourne Identity-esque opening to its shocking ending, it secures its place as my favourite superhero game since Freedom Force."
GAMEINFORMER (10/10): "Arkham City not only lives up to the standards set by Arkham Asylum, it bests its predecessor in every way and stands tall as one of Batman's greatest moments."
I'll be bringing you my exclusive first impressions of the game from GAMEFest next week, with hands-on on release day (Friday October 21st) and a full review (that'll need some time!) in half term.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mass Effect: Galaxy At War Detailed

As if things couldn't get any more exciting regarding Mass Effect 3, BioWare have now teased a huge co-operative multiplayer mode, Galaxy At War, unveiling exciting new details about how the side campaign can affect your single player experience. You and up to three friends create your own soldiers (of any alien race), and must work as a team to take back planetary territories from the sinister Geth and the Reapers. While this campaign is going on, you fight as Shepherd in the main campaign to best the Reaper menace as a whole, but if you have friends to play then with Galaxy At War you can increase your 'Galactic Readiness' level to improve your chances of the majority of the universe's civilisations remaining intact when the war is over. It's an intriguing concept, and one I hope is utilised fully by the developer for both offline and online gamers. Mass Effect 3 hits on March 6th, 2012.

The Simpsons Renewed For Two Seasons

Despite recently stating that the show could not run under its current financial model, Fox America has elected to renew The Simpsons for another two seasons. These new runs will mark the twenty fourth and twenty fifth sets of episodes so far, and many critics have predicted the hit comedy could even run to thirty seasons before its climax! Executive producer Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly: "Our mood is elation- we don't look at this as these will definitely be the last two. We just want to keep fighting and go as long as we can. We really feel this isn't an end but a beginning." The Simpsons returns to Sky1 next Spring.

Monday, 10 October 2011

2012 In Entertainment: Gaming Preview (Part 1)

We as gamers have been a little spoilt for choice this year, especially with the wealth of high-profile releases coming out in the Autumn and Winter, but that's certainly not to say that 2012 is lacking in big name titles- quite the opposite! In fact, some of the biggest franchises around are making their anticipated returns in the upcoming twelve months, and if you take a look below you can get a good look at what's coming up...
PLAYSTATION VITA- Sony's much anticipated handheld console will finally debut in UK stores early on- keep an eye on the blog for full coverage of the launch line-up!
SSX- EA's snowboarding franchise gets a reboot with daring new boss battles taking place down a treacherous mountain!
FINAL FANTASY XIII-2- RPG fans are hoping that this sequel can right the wrongs of the original FFXIII. A huge new story and refined control system should help it along the way.
THE DARKNESS II- 2K Games return to the terrifying world of their 2007 title- now, Jackie must use his powers to save his friends and escape his worst enemies...
RESIDENT EVIL: REVELATIONS- A Resident Evil game on Nintendo 3DS is something to get excited about for sure- expect scares and thrills galore!
TWISTED METAL- Another reboot, this time of the epic PS3-exclusive racing franchise.
SYNDICATE- And another reboot- Syndicate opened a shooter franchise in 1994, and now it's an FPS at the height of its potential.
STREET FIGHTER X TEKKEN- The first of two compilation games mixing Capcom and Namco's big fighting series, Street Fighter X Tekken takes us on a whirlwind tour through the companies' best moments.
GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER- This has been constantly delayed by Ubisoft, but with Kinect support and ace graphics Future Soldier is a big shooter to watch in 2012.
XCOM- A bizarre sci-fi reboot taking place in 1930s USA.
DRAGON'S DOGMA- An absolutely massive roleplaying game, Dragon's Dogma looks to rival Elder Scrolls: Skyrim in terms of fantasy action, scale and ambition!
MASS EFFECT 3- Definitely the biggest release of the first quarter of the year, Mass Effect 3 finally brings BioWare's grand science-fiction trilogy to a close, and features Kinect integration and co-op modes too...
TRUE CRIME- This project was originally dropped, but Square Enix have got the publishing rights, so we'll see this vintage free-roaming shooter hit stores with a bang next year!
PROTOTYPE 2- Get ready to go crazy with super powers as Alex Mercer roams New York Zero bent on destruction and revenge in a thrilling action RPG.
NINTENDO WiiU- Batman: Arkham City; Battlefield 3; Marvel Pinball; LEGO City Stories; Assassin's Creed; Darksiders; Aliens; Sonic- they're all coming to Nintendo's new console, the first hardware in the next generation of video gaming. Now, isn't that an enticing thought?
KINECT STAR WARS- Finally, a true reason to own Kinect: battle through the biggest events of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, fighting droids, Sith and the evil Darth Vader in your quest to save the galaxy using your own body!
ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES- Another biggie, Gearbox are hoping to provide us with a full Aliens sequel in gaming format, and based on what we've seen so far the signs are very promising!
BIOSHOCK: INFINITE- And another biggie- BioShock: Infinite looks like the one to beat in the first half of 2012, so get ready for a psychedelic trip through alternate realities and timelines!

2012 In Entertainment: Film Preview (Part 2)

Time for a look at the second half of 2012's film line-up, which is every bit as packed and exciting as the first five months...
ROCK OF AGES- A Broadway Musical now touring the West End, Rock Of Ages' big screen adaptation features Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMEN- As dark and crazy as it sounds, with Twilight's Kristen Stewart.
MADAGASCAR 3- The gang are all back for another animated adventure, this time in a huge concluding quest to return to their New York Zoo.
PROMETHEUS- Ridley Scott returns to the sci-fi horror genre with a massive romp set on a distant planet in the Alien universe!
I HATE YOU, DAD- Very little's known about this comedy, but we do know it'll star Adam Sandler and newcomer Andy Sandberg.
BRAVE- Pixar's latest animated flick takes young Fergus on a big adventure to stop a beastly curse...keep your eye on this one!
GI JOE: COBRA RISES- Another sequel to a terrible film, eh? Great...
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN- The big reboot of 2012, Andy Garfield takes up the web-slinger's threads from Toby Maguire, facing off against Rhys Ifans' Lizard and attempting to woo Emma Stone's Gwen Stacey.
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT- The animations just keep on coming next summer; here, Scrat manages to rip the prehistoric world apart, forcing Manny and pals to adapt to a strange new environment...
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES- Easily one of the biggest films of the year, this exciting finale to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy sees the titular Knight battle against Bane, Catwoman and the League of Shadows as he tries to become the hero that the war-corrupted Gotham City deserves. Will Bruce make it out alive?
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS- This series never seems to stop, but as ever this is looking like hilarious school stuff for the kids.
THE BOURNE LEGACY- Another reboot, this time with Jeremy Renner at the helm, Legacy continues on from The Bourne Ultimatum to see what consequences Jason Bourne's faked death in the 2007 film has had on the world of spies.
STEP UP 4- Who authorised another one of these repetitive dance movies? Moreover, who actually wants to see this?
THE EXPENDABLES 2- Don't get me started on how a sequel to what was nearly the worst movie of 2010 is coming.
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER- A pretty quiet time for film, although you can catch Resident Evil: Retribution and comedy Frankenweenie at cinemas in this period.
BOND 23- Reported to be called Skyfall, Daniel Craig's new movie as Agent 007 finally arrives- is it going to continue the Casino/Quantum storyline, or be a standalone mission?
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2- This is where one of the biggest movie franchises of the last few years reaches its heartbreaking conclusion. Catch Part 1 this November!
LIFE OF PI- A bonkers novel may just be a surprise hit in its film adaptation, if Tobey Maguire and a great up-and-coming cast have anything to say about it.
THE GREAT GATSBY- One of the all time classics, F Scott Fitzgerald's original text is rife with potential, and here's hoping that Leonardo Di Caprio, Tobey Maguire, Carry Mulligan and co do it justice.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY- This should round off 2012 in style: the first part of a hugely-funded adaptation of Tolkien's inspiring prequel to The Lord of the Rings. Combined with Part 2, this should make waves in the 'Best Selling Films Ever' list very soon!

Steven Moffat Confirms Who Future Motives

The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who 2012 is out this week, promising to be a hugely comprehensive guide to the sixth season of Who. Den of Geek has revealed that one article featured in the hardback is a big interview with showrunner Steven Moffat, where the executive producer chats about this year's run, but more importantly the future of the programme. I'll post more coverage of the Brilliant Book later this week...
ON THE LATE RETURN FOR WHO IN 2012- Doctor Who Magazine has recently revealed that Who will return next Autumn rather than in the springtime, but why? "The truth behind the delay next year is: why are we killing ourselves and risking comprimising the show, in order to go out in the middle of Summer? I'm sick of it. I'm sick of standing in the blazing sunshine, with a barbecue fork in my hand, knowing that Who will be on any minute. Six'o'clock on a sunny Saturday is the middle of the afternoon, whereas six'o'clock on a Winter or Autumn Saturday is dark and exciting."
ON DOCTOR WHO IN THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY YEAR- Doctor Who reaches its fiftieth anniversary in 2013, so what can we expect after the slightly reduced episode count in 2012 (it's likely Season Seven will be an Autumn 2012/Spring 2013 split, but might we perhaps get some more specials or a whole second series in 2013 too?)? "It'll be epic, huge, massive, indulgent...all your treats at once. I guarantee you it's going to be the best year ever to be a Doctor Who fan. We're going to be in production longer than ever, just to do everything we intend to do."
Steven also revealed that Amy and Rory won't feature as full companions in this year's Christmas Special (although the production team have filmed at their home, so expect cameos from them), but they will return next year at various points in the season. Expect much more coverage of The Brilliant Book later this week!

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Confirmed

Australian video games magazine PowerPlay has confirmed that Mass Effect 3 will feature a multiplayer mode. BioWare's epic finale sees Commander Shepherd return to Earth, only to find his arch foes the Reapers enslaving humanity, forcing Shepherd to rally an army of intergalactic soldiers to take back his planet. PowerPlay says their next issue will feature a cover article under the heading "Multiplayer Comes To Mass Effect 3- Fight Alongside Your Friends As The Galaxy Goes To War!". It is unknown yet whether this will be a fully fledged co-op mode, as has been rumoured these past few months, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a blend of offline and online missions akin to Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. Expect more news from BioWare very soon on the enhanced options of play available to us! Mass Effect 3 is out on March 6th, 2012.

UK Gaming Charts: October 3rd-9th

The world of football remains dominant this week, as FIFA 12 has managed to trump newcomers Dark Souls and RAGE. Elsewhere, though, little has changed- see for yourself...
5. F1 2011
1. FIFA 12

Sunday, 9 October 2011

2012 In Entertainment: Film Preview (Part 1)

Did you think this year has been a big one for the world of movies? Well, then, prepare to be amazed, as the 2012 line-up for blockbuster films looks bigger and better than ever! There is so much on the way for every movie goer next year, it's a wonder we haven't all booked our seats already (so get to it!) really...so without further ado, let's look ahead at the next twelve months:
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D- Another Disney classic returns to the big screen. This time it's the heartfelt romance of Belle and her hairy captor. Seriously, they don't make 'em like this anymore.
THE MUPPETS MOVIE- We're getting this big comedy two whole months after America, but at least we'll know whether to shell out our cash or not when the time comes around.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK- An adaptation of a West End horror starring Daniel Radcliffe- definitely one to keep your eye on!
STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D- The first 3D re-release of the saga, also of my least favourite entry. Still, if we support this, we get the rest (ranging from good stuff to filmic masterpieces)!
GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE- The first of a good few superhero flicks coming our way next year, this sequel to the 2005 Nic Cage flick sees the Rider facing the Devil and his immortal army.
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS- Not the title you might expect, I know. Not a huge cast list either. However, we do get Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton playing the ramped-up fairy tale heroes, so this one does show some promise.
THE HUNGER GAMES- Sure to be one of 2012's greats, this adaptation of Suzanne Collins' sublime teenage fantasy stars a wealth of up-and-coming names and could easily be an early surprise hit.
THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS- Packed with big names, this animation is: Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Russell Tovey, Selena Hayek, Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton should propel this one to stardom. Well, possibly.
WRATH OF THE TITANS- Who doesn't want a sequel to the worst film of 2010, turned around in just over a year? Erm...let's see how this goes.
TITANIC 3D- A pretty self-explanatory piece really, another money-grabbing release. Not as presumptious as the Avatar: Special Edition re-release, but still quite a big ask for even the most hardcore fans!
MOVIE 43- Bringing together loads of comedy sketches, Movie 43 also boasts a huge ensemble cast. Kristen Bell, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Chloe Moretz, Anna Faris, Kate Bosworth, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Long, Gerard Butler, Stephen Merchant, Liev Schreiber, Kate Winslet and Jason Sudeikis are all here to make for a great comedy flick!
SCARY MOVIE 5- From a sketch compilation to a class parody- the ...Movie franchise isn't laden with quality, but this one is guaranteed to provide more than a few sick gags and laughs galore.
THE AVENGERS- The biggie for superhero fans, The Avengers sees Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Black Widow and the Incredible Hulk team up for a battle of galactic proportions against the treacherous Loki. DO NOT MISS THIS!
BATTLESHIP- Your typical popcorn summer blockbuster, and an adaptation of the strategy-based board game, no less, Battleship looks like a weird one, but there may be potential for a good'un here.
MEN IN BLACK III- There's always risk with comedy sequels filmed a decade after their predecessors, yet I'm holding out hope that Tommy Lee-Jones and Will Smith give us a great comeback next Summer.

Coming Up This Week: October 10th-16th

With the Autumn of Gaming in full force, you can expect many more big releases this week. Course that's not all, though- shows continue, films debut and entertainment thrives in mid-October, as you'll see below...
NEW GAMES- Ace Combat: Assault Horizon; Spider-Man: Edge of Time; Just Dance 3; Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record all hit stores this week, plus some online reviews for Batman: Arkham City will surface too.
NEW MOVIES- Horror flicks finally make a comeback in fantasy thriller The Thing, and Jack Black works with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson to conquer his bucket list in The Big Year.
NEW SHOWS- Speaking of the bucket list, Karl heads to the Arctic to train a pack of huskies in An Idiot Abroad 2 this week. We'll also see Clark return to the Phantom Zone to face off against Zod in Smallville: Dominion, an Irish exchange student moving to McKinley High in Glee: Pot O' Gold, Merlin make a dangerous transformation into his older self in Merlin: The Wicked Day, Clyde face being turned upon by the whole world in The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Curse of Clyde Langer, Alan and Jake move back into their old Malibu residence in Two and a Half Men: Big Girls Don't Throw Food, and House finally gets out of prison in House: Transplant.
FORZA MOTORSPORT 4- And to top it all off, this year's biggest racing video game hits the Xbox 360 this Friday. Forza 4 boasts Kinect compatability, Top Gear integration, dozens of new tracks and vehicles and a huge World Tour mode, so I'm looking forward to providing a big review here at the blog!
ON THE BLOG- Merlin Episodes 2 & 3 rated; Forza 4 reviewed; a huge look at 2012's entertainment line-up and much, much more...

Johnny English: Reborn Review (3/5)

Rowan Atkinson managed to give us a hilarious spy parody eight years back with Johnny English, but should his character really have been Reborn in a sequel? That's really a matter of opinion, but it's a shame there weren't a few more laughs packed into this one. Atkinson gives it his all, from breaking the movement knob on a chair to being controlled by a secret drug, yet we really seem to have lost the key ingredient that made the original such a hit- the rest of the cast. Dropping Ben Miller's Agent Bough, Natalie Imbruglia's Agent Campbell and John Malkovich's Pascal Savage (although the latter departure was perhaps inevitable) really hits the comedy hard, seeing as Atkinson struggles to maintain chemistry with newcomers like Dominic West and Gillian Anderson. Of course, the plot is typically cheesy, and the movie boasts an opening sequence that feels ripped straight out of a Bond flick, but last time the quality of the comedy and the star-studded cast helped to flesh the feature out, whereas here these elements make it feel rather cheap and lacklustre. It's not terrible by any strech of the imagination- you'll undoubtedly feel like your cash was well spent- yet when we've had The Hangover: Part II and The Inbetweeners in the past few months, it's hard not to feel disappointed that a little more effort didn't go into Johnny English: Reborn. Over and out...

UK Film Charts: September 26th-October 2nd

When there's barely anything new hitting cinemas, it's no surprise that a well-advertised flick reigns top of the charts for a few weeks. Trust me, I've got nothing against Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy (3.5/5), but I'd hardly call it anything revolutionary, certainly not the Best Film of 2011. Still, Abduction, What's Your Number, The Debt, Shark Night 3D and the big screen broadcast of The Phantom of the Opera from theatres have managed to make the top ten, and hopefully something new will arrive soon to change the tide...

UK Gaming Charts: September 26th-October 2nd

The world's love of football remains strong, if last week's charts are anything to go by! FIFA 12 was pretty much the only newcomer, with X-Men: Destiny debuting only at the #18 position and Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection at 7, but with Forza, Ace Combat, Spider-Man, Dead Rising, Skylanders, Batman, Dance Central, Battlefield and Kinect Sports all on their way before month's end, that's all set to change very soon!
3. F1 2011
1. FIFA 12 (NEW)

Doctor Who Experience London Run Extended

BBC Worldwide have announced this week that the stay of the Doctor Who Experience in London has been extended until next year. The attraction, which got a well-deserved 5/5 here, opens with a brilliant walkthrough show where goers fly the TARDIS, witness a Dalek battle in space and escape the Forest of the Weeping Angels, and after that there's a huge exhibition spanning all fourty eight years of the show's monsters and memorobilia. Who Experience was originally set to move venues from the London Olympia Two into Cardiff next month, but thanks to popular demand (never underestimate an attraction being sold out in the majority of the annual holidays) it has been confirmed that the Experience will stay at the Olympia Two until February 22nd, 2012. Check it out if you haven't already, the tenner is a real bargain given all that's in store for you! Doctor Who, meanwhile, returns next Autumn after this year's Christmas Special.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Announced

A sequel to the popular 2010 shooter Transformers: War For Cybertron has been announced. Developed by High Moon Studios, Fall Of Cybertron will chronicle the final days of the Autobot-Decepticon war, and the Autobots' eventual escape to find the All-Spark on Earth. In their exclusive cover article, GamesInformer magazine have revealed that High Moon see the title as a "natural successor rather than a true sequel", but that a "darker tone" is carried throughout the adapted storyline. Fall of Cybertron is out next Autumn.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Critic Game Reviews Round-Up

This month is a very busy one for video gaming, so it's no surprise that games critics have been cracking on with October's biggest releases and bringing out their reviews by the bucketload recently. Here, I've compiled some of the verdicts about the biggest titles you'll see in the next fortnight...
DARK SOULS:IGN (90%): "It's not a game you play to relax, but if you're interested to see the limits of videogame form, Dark Souls is unmissable."
NOWGAMER (9.1/10): "For those that buy into the master and slave game mentality (and you shouldn't have to ask which role the game will be playing), Dark Souls is a sprawling and beautifully built role-player from which there is no escape."
GAMESPOT (7/10): "Though plagued by technical issues, Rage creates an engrossing world full of thoughtful detail and solid shooter action."
GAMES RADAR (8/10): "Rage is many things; it does all of these things well...it ends just as the party really gets going, but the pre-party is fantastic."
OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE (9/10): "Car bores will be delighted with the fetishistic detail, Top Gear fans will be happy to just try and beat Rowan Atkinson on the test track. Forza Motorsport 4 is a racing game that tries to be all things to all people, and you know what? It actually pulls it off."
DIGITAL SPY (5/5): "Forza Motorsport 4 is authentic yet accessible, educating, entertaining, occassionaly spectacular, but most importantly, faster and more thrilling than riding a V12-powered rollercoaster with no restraints."
GAMESMASTER (97%): "The sequel is immeasurably the superior game (Arkham Asylum got 96% from GM); slink back and revel in one of the greatest games ever conceived. Brave, brutal, brilliant- the gold standard by which all future videogames should be judged."
NO METACRITIC AVERAGE- More online reviews of the game are coming later this week, and I'll be bringing you my full hands-on impressions on launch day and the full review (no one will be able to complete this on the first day!) shortly after.

Merlin: The Darkest Hour Part One Review (4.5/5)

For the first time ever in one of his season premieres, Merlin managed to come back with a bang in The Darkest Hour: Part One, an episode which really played on the BBC drama's strengths despite a few minor shortcomings. Taking place a year after the events of Series Three, the story showed that Morgana had had to sacrifice her sister Morgause in order to awaken the Veil Between Worlds, unleashing a series of floaty skull ghosts to terrorise the people of Camelot. I'm making that sound less effective than it was, though- there was a general vibe of tension and fear throughout the forty five minutes, and it's been a while since I've been able to properly admit that about any television shows except perhaps Doctor Who. The acting was, as ever, on top form, with Colin Morgan and Bradley James in particular giving their best performances yet, especially as the former lead donned his aged make up once again for an omnious look at where Merlin's destiny will take him in the future. My one main gripe with Part One was that at times, it seemed to only serve the purpose of setting up the events of the next episode, especially apparent with the cliffhanger that felt rather shoehorned in considering the 'Next Time' trailer showed Merlin alive and well next week...well at least until he bit the bullet again at the end of the preview. Some deus ex machina is probably going to be required next week for Merlin to be revived (twice), but whatever the resurrection I'm glad to see the young boy wizard back, and look forward to spending at least another two seasons with him.

X-Men: Destiny Review (5/10)

Marvel haven't had any good video game releases so far, and judging by X-Men: Destiny (and Spider-Man: Edge of Time, the reviews of which haven't been favourable either), they're not going to get any anytime soon. Destiny takes place in the near future, with Professor X dead and three new mutants being discovered by the titular heroes and the evil Brotherhood of Mutants, with the main strength of the game being your ability to choose your path. Sadly, this sounds better than it actually plays: the amount of choices you get to make which will affect the game deeply is a pretty small number, so the majority of your five-hour playing time will be spent button-mashing in dull combat sequences that merely serve to lead you to another pointless choice. The visuals don't do the series justice either, looking akin to a PS1 or Nintendo Gamecube title rather than a 2011 blockbuster video game, and it's this feeling of the release being rushed out for the major Autumn window that really holds Destiny back from being anything other than sub-par. I'd only recommend this one to the hardcore fans of all things X-celsior (but not X-Cellent, which tragically, this isn't).

Fruit Ninja Kinect Review (5/10)

The iPhone application Fruit Ninja is a nice diversion from everyday life, allowing us gamers to take out our anger on animated fruit pieces by slashing them in half with our fingers. It's one of those neat diversions that need never not be taken any further, yet that's exactly what Microsoft decided to do with Fruit Ninja Kinect, and it really hasn't worked in their favour. The modes on offer are exactly the same as those on the original (a one-miss mode, a challenge mode with varying difficulties, and a mode where you can hone your skills), the only real difference being that you're using your arms and body to slash the fruit rather than simply your fingers. Don't get me wrong, the Kinect implementation is a dream, and if this costed the same as the iPhone app (59p), then I'd recommend it to you instantly, but you're looking at a good fiver's investment here, and there just isn't enough to play here to make the investment worth it. If you're really desperate to try it, go and get the retail Gunstringer bundle when it hits the half price mark- £15 for this and the Wild West Kinect shooter isn't as bad a deal.

Bodycount Review (5/10)

After years of letting major flaws slip in favour of a solid FPS formula, I'm finally drawing the line with Bodycount: no longer can a shooter fall back on the strengths of the Call of Duty franchise and expect its lack of innovation to be compensated by its traditionally wacky setpieces. Codemasters appear to have dished out this one as an after-thought for their 2011 line up, as F1 2011 is a much more well-rounded release with loads of interesting new features. Bodycount involves your character running through a wealth of favelas, jungles and cityscapes...just like in Black Ops and Modern Warfare. Funny, that. The plot makes no more sense than COD, even stepping below the comprehension mark of its inspiration, a pretty unexpected feat by any game's standards given how little sense COD stories usually make in their initial playthrough. If you rent this one out for the weekend, you'll probably find it was worth your fiver- the shooting mechanics work well, there are some cool bonus points for inventive kills, and the online mode is robust enough to last for a while- but I'd wager Bodycount is worth little more than time, and little more than those two days of your time. And that's if you'd rather play an average shooter than Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3. Would you rather that? Thought not.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Review (5.5/10)

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine tries its best to bring across some compelling setpieces, and is likely great fan service for those who spend most of their time at Games Workshop, but aside from those perks it's a fairly average hack-and-slasher. The visuals are impressive to an extent, but don't do anything to push the consoles (PS3, 360 and PC) to their limits, making it seem a wonder why the team didn't hold this back to the next generation and try a little harder to excite. The soundtrack, meanwhile, is repetitive guff, hardly exhilirating stuff that you'd want a war movie to set to. There isn't much to praise or detest in the convoluted plotline, simply because it only really consists of a few nicely-animated cutscenes that lead you to the next repetitive bout of slashing enemies to gain points and using 'executions' to hastily regain repeatedly lost health. It just feels like there's very little logic to this one, and worse still that very little effort has gone into the project in general. With the likes of Arkham City, Uncharted and Super Mario 3D Land on the way, I can only hope that this release signals the worst parts of the year in gaming being out of the way!

Disney Sets 2012/2013 3D Re-Releases

Fresh off the success of their recent re-release of The Lion King in 3D (which went down well in the States, and has just debuted at our box office), Disney have announced four more classic movies which will get the three-dimensional treatment over the course of the next two years:

  • Beauty and the Beast (Original Release: November 1991; Re-Release: January 2012)
  • Finding Nemo (Original Release: May 2003; Re-Release: September 2012)
  • Monsters, Inc (Original Release: November 2001; Re-Release: January 2013, just before prequel Monsters University arrives that July)
  • The Little Mermaid (Original Release: November 1989; Re-Release: September 2013)
3D rehases seem to be becoming the trend right now, with those, Star Wars and Titanic all returning for big-screen re-runs in 2012 and '13, but we'll just have to wait and see whether fans flock to watch their favourite movies again!

iPhone 4S Announced

Apple announced their iPhone 4S at their 'Lets Talk iPhone' event this week. The device will support high-definition video recording, A5 chip technology (so the phone will run 4 times faster than the iPhone 4!), and a 'Siri' voice control system that allows users to access data with their specific questions on individual topics. It's not much of a step up from the last model, but as a precursor to the legacy the late Steve Jobs will leave, it's a suitable revelation by Apple. The iPhone 4S launches next Friday at prices starting at approximately £200.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Arkham City Pre-Release Round Up

Batman: Arkham City is very nearly here. Just two weeks away from its global release, the anticipated superhero game has been recieving a plethora of coverage on the web this week. Here are the important revelations you'll want to know:
  • As well as Official PlayStation Magazine Australia's glowing 10/10 review, Play3 has awarded Arkham City an impressive 92%. The German magazine dubbed it "huge, beautiful and exciting", and once again "the best superhero game ever made." It shouldn't be long till we have Brit mag GamesMaster's verdict and the scores of the online press too!
  • Play3 revealed that bonus Catwoman missions and the use of Catwoman in Challenge Mode can be unlocked by an online pass code included with the retail copies of the game. These extra missions will add around 3-4 hours of gameplay. It's a shame for those of us who usually play offline (myself included) that we need to find a way to get online for this and the Robin DLC, or wait for the Game of the Year edition in 2012, but it's at least a good way to ensure players buy it on day one rather than getting it preowned.
  • Finally, GameStop have released an awesome trailer for the Robin DLC that comes with pre-orders of Arkham City; see for yourself below.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Assassin's Creed Franchise To Return In 2012

Want more Assassin's Creed after Revelations hits next month? Turns out you won't have to wait too long. Speaking with Eurogamer, creative lead Alexandre Amacio revealed: "In Assassin's Creed we set up a timeline with this whole end of the world plot in December 2012. That's fast approaching, and the story we have to tell, we obviously need to do it before we arrive at that point. It would be stupid of us to be centering a game on a semi-reality and then have that conclusion happen after that date in real life. Assassin's Creed is all about cycles. We have the Ezio cycle and the Altair cycle, both set to conclude in Revelations. Then we have the Desmond cycle, which is set to end on December 2012. But there's many cycles within the brand- that's the whole point. History is our playground!" However, Amacio did hint that the regularity of instalments released would decrease after the 2012 Creed, allowing Ubisoft Montreal to focus on innovation for wherever the franchise heads next. Assassin's Creed: Revelations ships November 15th.

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky Review (4/5)

One of the saddest losses this year was Elisabeth Sladen, the talented actress who played Sarah-Jane Smith in dozens of episodes of Doctor Who and starred in her own spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures. This opening story to her final season was very by-the-books SJA, struggling to deviate from the 'raising a child alien' formula set down in the pilot episode Invasion of the Bane. The acting from the new co-stars isn't much less cheesy than it was in the aforementioned series opener, still bordering on pantomime at times and only redeemed by the superb portrayals of the protagonists by Sladen, Anji Mohandra, Daniel Anthony and newcomer Sinead Michael (Sky). The CGI certainly seems to have improved, though- the Metalkind didn't look too dissimilar to something we'd see in the parent show, an impressive feat considering this is CBBC rather than the more mainstream BBC One. My personal highlights of the episode were Sky's emotional acceptance of her role as a weapon to commit genocide and the shock appearance of the Shopkeeper (it'll be a shame if we don't discover his true nature, but that may be the case as only three of the six planned Series 5 episodes were filmed), but it did feel a shame that Sky couldn't branch out a little more from the boundaries of a kids' show, like many of the Series 4 stories managed to surprise us with. Oh well- still a fun start to what is sure to be a fitting tribute to Ms Sladen!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

First Batman: Arkham City Review Released

The Australian Official PlayStation Magazine has provided us with their world exclusive first review of Batman: Arkham City. What's the verdict? Unless the team has lost it, this is going to be a very important contender for Game of the Year. Giving it a full 10/10, OPM says Arkham City is "not only the best superhero game ever made, it's one of the best games ever made full-stop." That's pretty high praise for a games critic who was probably there when the original PlayStation revolutionised the world of video gaming in 1994. Here's what the mag had to say on each aspect of the game...
PRESENTATION: "Endlessly creative, perfectly moody, and technically flawless. This is Epic's Unreal Engine pushed to its absolute limit."
SOUND: "Alternatively foreboding and frantic, the game's orchestral soundtrack matches the on-screen action perfectly. Voice acting is brilliant."
CONTROLS: "Complex and initially overwhelming but also logical and responsive. It'll take a while to get used to them, but once you do it feels perfectly natural flinging Batman around."
REPLAY VALUE: "Immense. A massive main quest, dozens of side missions, Riddler challenges, secondary game modes and DLC will keep most people occupied for months."
VERDICT: "We can't imagine how a superhero game could be better than this. Absolutely sublime."
More reviews should be on their way in the next fortnight; Batman: Arkham City is out Friday October 21st.

UK Music Charts: September 26th-October 1st

Somehow, Sak Noel's tepid Loca People has reached the top of our charts. I don't know whether listening to it has become some kind of weird craze, but those are the breaks I guess- sometimes a goodun comes top, others not so much!
10. Bad Meets Evil feat Bruno Mars: LIGHTERS
8. Olly Murs feat Rizzle Kicks: HEART SKIPS A BEAT
7. Jason Derulo: IT GIRL
6. James Morrison: I WON'T LET YOU GO
4. Dappy: NO REGRETS
3. Goo Goo Dolls: IRIS
2. Maroon 5 feat Christina Aguleira: MOVES LIKE JAGGER
1. Sak Noel: LOCA PEOPLE