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Friday, 30 November 2012

WC- Merlin: The Hollow Queen Review

Our thoughts on the second episode in the Morgana-Gwen arc...
Merlin's barrelling towards its conclusion now, with Episode 8- The Hollow Queen- having broadcast last week. We've got the full review of the latest instalment of the fantasy drama from yours truly over at WhatCulture now. In the episode, the possessed Gwen manipulated an old foe of Morgana's to attempt to assassinate Arthur, only for Merlin to return from a trip abroad with Deagal to save the day in nick of time. It was another great romp, earning the third consecutive strong 4* rating from me in a row in what has recently been a consistent run of adventures. Here's the link: http://whatculture.com/tv/merlin-the-hollow-queen-review.php

December 2012: Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases

Journeys, Jungles And So Much More Bring 2012 To Its Epic Climax!
Here we are, then: the end of 2012 has arrived. Unless we're unlucky, the fabled apocalypse should pass us by- what will be here without a doubt, however, are plenty of big new releases ready to keep our interests well and truly sustained until well after the dawn of the New Year. Yes, 2013 is sure to be another huge year for the entertainment industry, filled with surprises and masterpieces, but for now we can stay focused on one final month that will end the year with a big bang. Here's our round-up guide for the Top 5 Most Exciting Releases of December 2012...
5. LIFE OF PI- Bouncing back off the success of similar films like Slumdog Millionaire, this adaptation of Yang Mi's classic fantasy novel Life Of Pi looks to bring a touch of magic and wonder back to our cinemas. Tobey Maguire may have been axed from the flick due to his stardom, but that shouldn't stop this one being a bonafida Oscar contender that you won't want to miss. (Thursday 20th)
4. AN IDIOT ABROAD 3: THE SHORT WAY ROUND- Karl Pilkington and Warwick Davis made their small screen returns tonight with the premiere episode of An Idiot Abroad 3, and we've still got two more feature-length specials from the pair's international documentary to come. Sky1 haven't let us down in the past, so Karl and Warwick are sure to have plenty of hilarious antics for us to look forward to in the fornight ahead. Could this be the greatest season the show's had so far? (Friday 7th, 14th)
3. DOCTOR WHO: THE SNOWMEN- It's saying something for me and the entertainment industry when a new episode of Doctor Who doesn't reach the top of the list this month, but all the same The Snowmen looks like another epic adventure for the Time Lord. The Doctor finds himself turned Scrooge after the deaths of his companions the Ponds, but can Jenna-Louise Coleman's new companion Clara Oswin redeem his soul in time for him to thwart Doctor Simeon and the mysterious ice army threatening the Earth? And more importantly, just who is Clara really...? (Tuesday 25th)
2. MERLIN- What with the confirmation that Merlin will conclude this year in its current season, the final episodes of the show left to broadcast carry a certain level of franchise pathos. All the same, we've got exciting times ahead, as Merlin fights to free Gwen from his nemesis, runs for his life as Morgana searches for Emrys and witnesses the turn of Mordred that could very well fulfill his vision of Arthur's death in the imminent Battle Of Camelot. Prepare for the end- it should be a moment of television legend! (Saturday 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th)
1. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY- But at the top of the list had to come perhaps the most exciting release of 2012. Peter Jackson is kicking off his three-part film adaptation of The Hobbit with An Unexpected Journey, the first step of a truly momentous adventure. As Bilbo Baggins embarks on a quest with a band of dwarves to reclaim their treasure from an ancient dragon, while Gandalf convenes with the White Council to battle the rising threat of Sauron on Middle-Earth, could this be a Film Of The Year contender? Do not bet against it...(Thursday 13th)

November 2012: Best Release

The definitive science-fiction video game returns to sweep up this month's Best Release award!
Make no mistake, the choice for November 2012's Best Release has been the most difficult I've faced as an entertainment critic this year. Hitman Absolution, Halo 4, Merlin: The Disir and Argo all laid down solid claims to the title in the past few weeks, each bringing with them a staggering standard of consistent quality unmatched by much of the other ten months' of 2012 releases so far. In the end, though, I picked the game which finally managed to steal the crown of best First-Person-Shooter back from Call Of Duty with an alarming amount of ease the likes of which I don't think anyone could have predicted. Boasting an emotional blockbuster campaign, a thrilling series of upcoming co-op DLC missions and the best online multiplayer segment available for current-generation consoles, Halo 4 brims with potential for where the Reclaimer Saga can head on the next Xbox, yet maintains an incredible quality as a new series opener for the franchise. There are big changes afoot, that much is clear with the innovative narrative and new gameplay mechanics, to the point that while some of the classic Halo formula remains intact, it doesn't bring things to the stale level of repetition that Reach and particularly ODST bordered on as Bungie's story wrapped to a close. Despite getting a narrow victory due to the heavy competition, Halo 4 remains a firm contender for Game Of The Year, a staggering gaming masterclass that does for 343 what Combat Evolved did for Bungie, introducing the world once again to the best exclusive franchise there is!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

December 2012: The Release Dates

It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid- because there are still plenty of great releases ahead!
We've finally reached the big climax of 2012, entering its final month as of Saturday which should end the year with a spectacular conclusion. Yes, the Summer Of Film and Autumn Of Gaming seasons are well and truly over, but there are still a few exciting new instalments of entertainment heading our way before the year's out. As per usual, here's our monthly guide to what you can expect from the industry in the weeks ahead...
SATURDAY 1ST- TV: Merlin: With All My Heart
MONDAY 3RD- DVDs: The Dark Knight Rises; The Bourne Legacy; Step Up 4: Miami Heat
THURSDAY 6TH- TV: A Young Doctor's Notebook
FRIDAY 7TH- TV: An Idiot Abroad 3: The Short Way Round Episode 2; EVENTS: Spike Video Game Awards 2012
SATURDAY 8TH- TV: Merlin: The Kindness Of Strangers
MONDAY 10TH- DVDs: The Expendables 2; Keith Lemon: The Film; Ice Age 4: Continental Drift
THURSDAY 13TH- MOVIES: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
FRIDAY 14TH- TV: An Idiot Abroad 3: The Short Way Round Finale
SATURDAY 15TH- TV: Merlin Episode 11
SATURDAY 22ND- TV: Merlin Episode 12
CHRISTMAS EVE (MONDAY 24TH)- TV: Outnumbered Christmas Special
CHRISTMAS DAY (TUESDAY 25TH)- TV: Doctor Who: The Snowmen; Top Of The Pops Christmas Special; Downton Abbey Christmas Special; Call The Midwife Christmas Special; The Queen's Christmas Speech 2012
SATURDAY 29TH- TV: Merlin Finale

Assassin's Creed IV Hints Revealed

Could we now know the direction of the next side-story?
It's been barely a month since Assassin's Creed III's release, yet speculation is already rife as to where the franchise will head next. Today, we may just have learned the first teasers for the next instalment in the video game series via a leaked Ubisoft questionnaire. The survey asked fans whether they would like to see Connor or Desmond return in a new game, whether the idea of co-op would be of interest and whether Uncharted-esque scripted sequences in the American Revolution would benefit the gameplay experience. These first hints coincide with Ubisoft's statement in the survey that there is a new Assassin's Creed planned for the next year, so could it be that Desmond and Connor will return for a post-revolution adventure, or even that some events that occurred in that conflict for the Hathways have yet to be seen? Expect confirmation of what the next AC holds early next year. Assassin's Creed IV will hit in 2013.

X-Men Sequel Picks Up Another Returning Mutant

Everyone's favourite immortal slasher is back in 2014 too!
Earlier this year, fans were happily privy to Bryan Singer's Twitter reveals that James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult would be joined in their returns to the X-Men franchise by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Singer promised "more to come" on the front of this interweaving of two strands of the film franchise's continuity, and today we've got the first inkling of that, as another star of the classic trilogy has been confirmed to be in talks with 20th Century Fox for a role reprisal. Hugh Jackman is currently negotiating his contract for Days Of Future Past, set to reprise his character of Wolverine for a seventh consecutive time after his leads of X-Men, X-2: United, X-3: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, his cameo in X-Men: First Class and his upcoming portrayal in The Wolverine. As you'll likely have guessed, the actor is most definitely a series mainstay, so hardcore followers of the franchise will probably be pleased to see him back once again. We'll have more classic cast reveals for the superhero sequel in the New Year! X-Men: Days Of Future Past claws its way into cinemas on July 18th, 2014.

Who News: Jenna-Louise; Chris Eccleston Teasers Land

What does the future hold for Clara and Oswin, and will the Ninth Doctor be back next year?
We've got just over three weeks until The Snowmen airs on BBC1, but before that there are still new Who news snippets here and there. Here's a round-up of a few examples of these teasers...

  • JENNA-LOUISE ON THE OSWIN MYSTERY- The question left on everyone's minds after watching Asylum Of The Daleks was this- how the heck can Jenna-Louise Coleman return to the series after playing a deceased Dalek? Jenna wasn't willing to spill the full beans on the matter, but did have this to say when asked if the Christmas Special would deal directly with Oswin Oswald's connection to new companion Clara Oswin: "Uh...mmm...no. We're going to have what has been referred to as a 'soft mystery'. That's why it's so difficult. Because of the way it started with Oswin, it's really difficult to say much: where she's from, what period she's from, what planet she's from, even!" It seems the wait to discover Oswin's true identity will carry into Series Seven Part Two, then, yet that should at least help continue an intriguing new arc for the show next Spring.
  • CHRIS ECCLESTON ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY: Asked at a recent press event whether he was interested in returning to Doctor Who for its 50th Anniversary episodes, Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston replied "If I told you that, I'd have to shoot you." Could this imply that as with David Tennant's similar hints to a return, both modern Doctors will appear? I'm going to bet here that Chris, David and Matt will at least do a trio special reminiscent of The Three Doctors, with cameos from Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and/or Paul McGann not totally unlikely either. We'll have more news on this matter as we approach the New Year...
Doctor Who returns on BBC1 this Christmas Day.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dishonored Sequels Confirmed

Bethesda reveal there's plenty more Dunwall on the way...
Dishonored remains my personal Game Of The Year so far, so any news on a follow-up would obviously bode well in my opinion. And what would you know, such news has arrived today...! Bethesda have today been speaking on the future of the new IP. PR Boss Peter Hines had this to say: "I can tell you that Dishonored is far exceeding our sales expectations, which is especially cool considering it's a new IP facing a host of well-established titles this quarter. We clearly have a new franchise!" It's exciting news, and we'll keep you posted on all the latest developments as they come. Dishonored 2 will most likely launch in 2014.

Bungie Reveal First Destiny Teaser

'Destiny' concept art from BungieSee what's coming for the ex-Halo developer...
It's been two years now since Bungie departed the Halo franchise, leaving the reins of the Xbox-exclusive video game series to 343 Industries. While that series couldn't be in ruder health, with Anniversary and Halo 4 going down a storm, the question remaining is this- what have the ex-developers been doing since their departure in 2010? We've now got the first teaser image for Bungie's new project, Destiny, courtesy of IGN after a leak. The official synopsis reads: "Go ahead. Take a peek. It's alright. [Bungie] We weren't quite ready, but we will be soon, and we can't wait to finally show you what we've really been up to. This is just the beginning." Expect more official details very soon, then! Destiny is rumoured to hit the Xbox 720 exclusively in 2013.

Star Trek Into Darkness Synopsis Debuts

The Future Continues in 2013...
Paramount Pictures have this week unveiled the first full plot synopsis for Star Trek Into Darkness. The sequel to 2009's ace Star Trek film reboot, this second instalment takes place a number of years after the events of its predecessor, introducing a new conflict and a new alien menace for the SS Enterprise to tackle in the aftermath of its first battle.

Here's the synopsis: "When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organisation has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes, are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew."

It sounds like a ripping yarn, one that's got the potential to be among the greatest follow-ups and overall movies we see next year. Star Trek Into Darkness vworps into cinemas everywhere on May 17th, 2013.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Doctor Who: The Snowmen Media Blitz Arrives

Posters, synopses and clips for this year's Special!
We're edging ever closer to new Doctor Who now, with less than a month until the big day arrives for a brand new hour-long special starring Matt Smith and new companion actress Jenna-Louise Coleman. Following the wave of publicity that came at Children In Need, we've now got the shiny new poster you see here, a synopsis for the episode and a BBC Christmas trailer featuring new footage for The Snowmen.

Here's the plot brief: "Christmas Eve 1892 and the falling snow is the stuff of fairy-tales. When the fairy-tale becomes a nightmare and a chilling menace threatens Earth, an unorthodox young governess, Clara, calls on the Doctor for help. But the Doctor is in mourning, reclusive and determined not to engage in the problems of the universe. As old friends return, will the Doctor really abandon humankind or he will fight to save the world- and Christmas- from the icy clutches of the mysterious menace?"

It's sounding like an exciting set-up, and we've been promised the first hints in the episode as to how Jenna-Louise's Clara connects to her earlier portrayal of Oswin in Asylum Of The Daleks- could she be a woman fragmented across time, and if so, what caused her breaking? Check out the Beeb's trailer below. Doctor Who returns on Christmas Day on BBC1 at 7pm.

Merlin Finale Two-Parter Synopses Debut

What dark final days ahead for our infamous warlock?
Earlier this week, the BBC confirmed that this season of Merlin would mark the last run for the show. Following up on this rather sad news, though, they've seen fit to tease us with the synopses for the final two-part story that the programme will broadcast this Christmas season. Definitive airdates have yet to be announced, but if the two episodes aren't transmitted together, then we can probably expect the series to stick to its weekly format and culminate on December 29th. Here are those plot briefs, then...

  • EPISODE 12 (DECEMBER 22ND)- "High in the mountains, a great horde gathers; Morgana prepares for war with a vengeful Mordred by her side. Merlin feels the weight of his destiny like never before as the ancient prophecies play out with terrifying accuracy. But before he can save his beloved Camelot, he must save himself. For it is not just the kingdom that Morgana wishes to destroy- it is also Emrys. Do not miss this penultimate episode in the final epic season of Merlin..."
  • EPISODE 13 (DECEMBER 29TH)- "And so it seems that the Prophets did not lie. As the great battle rages on Camlann's mighty plain, Merlin faces his moment of destiny. Can he find the strength to save the man he made a king; the Camelot they fought to build; and the brotherhood they shared? Don't miss the very last episode of Merlin as the legend draws to a spectacular and emotional end."
Merlin continues with With All My Heart on BBC1 this Saturday at 8pm.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Gets Series Returnees

The sequel to 2011's hit prequel features familiar faces...
Pre-production on X-Men: Days Of Future Past has now commenced in full flow, with director and executive producer Bryan Singer today confirming the first casting details for the new flick. Set after the events of 2011's hit superhero prequel First Class, this much anticipated follow-up will focus on a young Magneto's tampering with the timelines of the planet Earth and the Sentinel takeover he initiates in doing so. Singer announced at first the rather obvious: James McAvoy will reprise his role as Professor Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lenshirr (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Nicholas Hoult as Beast. The rather more surprising additions, then? Singer also revealed that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen will return to the franchise to reprise their roles as the older versions of Professor X and Magneto respectively. Stewart and McKellen both appeared in the main X-Men film trilogy to great acclaim, with the former also returning for a brief cameo in the Origins spin-off. What with the crossing of timelines, you have to wonder if Hugh Jackman or any of the surviving X-Men from The Last Stand will be involved, although whether the series continuity could take such an uprising remains to be seen! X-Men: Days Of Future Past launches on July 18th, 2014 (and considering The Hobbit: There And Back Again hits the same day, we'll be seeing a lot of McKellen in that period!).

Justice League Movie Star Revealed?

Rumour has it a star from TDKR could be heading back to DC...
Earlier this year, DC Studios confirmed that a film adaptation of their hit Justice League team-up comic-book series was in the works. Since then we've heard little but false rumours of directors and plot details, but one particular interesting potential cast member could well have substance here. Rumour has it that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will reprise his role as John Blake in the first entry in the new film franchise. What's the relevance of this? Batman fans will of course know that Blake took on the guise of the Caped Crusader after Bruce Wayne's faked death in Nolan's masterful trilogy closer The Dark Knight Rises (5/5) in the Summer just gone by. If Blake is to return, then it seems the movie will pick up after the events of Bane's capturing of Gotham City, which would allow for some interesting continuity points to be picked up upon. There are reports circulating too that Gordon-Levitt will make a cameo in Man Of Steel too to help segue towards the big team-up compilation flick, which should certainly help matters given that DC have no other comic adaptations between now and the release window. Justice League lands in cinemas in 2015.

Merlin News: More On The Axe & The Future

The end is coming for Merlin on BBC1, but is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
We got the sad news earlier today that Merlin will reach its climax as a show at the culmination of this season in December. Now, we've got further thoughts on the 'axe' from the writers and stars of the programme, as well as minor ruminations of where the universe and production team may take the storyline in future in other mediums. Here's the full round-up...
  • BBC CONTROLLER DANNY COHEN ON THE AXE: "Merlin's mix of magic, adventure and humour quickly became a hit with BBC One audiences and has continued to thrill families over the last few years on Saturday nights. On behalf of BBC One I would like to thank Shine and all those involved in the making of the show. I hope fans will tune into the spectacularly dramatic final episodes, and we have ambitious plans for new drama in the Saturday evening slot in 2013."
  • COLIN MORGAN (MERLIN) ON THE AXE: "From the beginning this was always going to be a five-year journey that we embarked on and I think the show has run its natural course. The show has grown and grown each year and we've now arrived at its strongest point and we've achieved what we wanted to do...I know this is goodbye, but thank you for being there for the journey!"
  • BRADLEY JAMES (ARTHUR) ON THE AXE: "The Merlin years have provided me with fond memories great experiences and beloved friends- my words won't do justice to the honour of being King Arthur so I shall just say that it has been an exceptional one and that knowing the show has been a part of so many lives, has been humbling."
  • KATE MCGRATH (MORGANA) ON THE AXE: "I have always said the success of the show has stemmed from our audience being able to relate to the characters on different levels...it's a story about acceptance and growing up. The breathtaking finale of the series leaves you with no doubt that characters have been on their journeys and had their stories told; it's completely the right time to draw our telling of the story to a close."
  • JULIAN MURPHY ON THE MERLIN MOVIES: "There is definitely ongoing talk and work on a movie, that's true. Will it to some extent be a reboot? Yes, inevitably- any movie would be. But will it be with the same or different actors? It's miles too early to tell."
We'll keep you posted on Merlin's finale and the details of its saga's continuation in other mediums during the weeks ahead...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Zack Snyder Talks Man Of Steel, Justice League

The world of superhero movies is now fraught with sequels, remakes and reboots in a realm that’s often one of steep competition. DC Studios are no doubt racking their brains even now as to how to regain the same success as Marvel’s The Avengers, what with The Dark Knight Rises having brought their Nolan Batman trilogy to a spectacular conclusion. One area in which they may achieve this is through Zack Snyder’s upcoming resurrection of their Superman franchise, Man Of Steel. Director Snyder had this to say on his first full superhero instalment and indeed its implications for DC’s own team-up Justice League
  •  ON MAN OF STEEL: “I heard one time that the Superman glyph is the second or third most recognisable symbol on Earth after the Christian cross- it’s this crazy responsibility. It’s very hard work!"
  • ON JUSTICE LEAGUE: “I don’t know how Justice League is going to be handled. Honestly, I don’t. But Man Of Steel exists, and Superman is in it. I don’t know how you’d move forward without acknowledging that.”         
  • ON WHETHER MOS SEGUES INTO FUTURE JL FILMS: “Um, how can I answer that. I can’t really say anything to that, because that’s a big spoiler. I will say, yeah, they trust me to keep them on course.”

A new trailer for Man Of Steel will debut with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on December 14th. Man Of Steel flies into cinemas on June 14th 2013 and Justice League in 2015.

Merlin- The End Confirmed

In a shock announcement released yesterday at midnight, the BBC confirmed to stunned fans nationwide that Merlin will culminate this year. Currently broadcasting on BBC1, the fantasy drama’s fifth season has focused on the titular Arthurian warlock’s battle to save his king from the threat of a hidden enemy glimpsed in his visions. The future of the show had seemed pretty uncertain for fans, as the stars who played Elyan and Leon confirmed on Twitter earlier this year that they were heading onto new projects, but we now know for certain the truth about what’s coming.

This fifth season will mark the last run of the programme, with five episodes still left to air including a two-part finale that will feature the fabled Battle Of Camelot. We’ve still got the Gwen possession arc to wrap up this week, but with Morgana on the hunt for Emrys’ identity in Episode 10 and Mordred’s allegiances tested to their greatest brink in Episode 11, it seems that the series really will not let up in its final moments. “This is the series where the storylines truly reach their apex,” says co-creator Johnny Capps, “We always felt the story of the legend was best told across five series, leading to a spectacular finale that draws on the best-known elements of this much-loved story and brings a conclusion to the battle for Camelot.”

All of these reveals don’t necessarily mean a definitive end for the world of Merlin­- the Facebook game has now been fully unveiled, and there could still be a proposed movie trilogy in the offing starting next year. We’ll have more details on those projects and more soon, but for now at least we’ll say a sad but well-timed farewell to one of the greatest family dramas of recent years. Merlin continues this Saturday at 8pm on BBC1 with With All My Heart, and runs until Christmas, with details of the two-part finale’s broadcast schedule still to be announced.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Game Of Thrones Season Three Teaser Debuts

Get your first look at a new season of mature fantasy adventure...
HBO Studios have this week unveiled a teaser trailer for the new season of their hit television show Game Of Thrones. The third series of the fantasy drama picks up where its predecessors left off, with the narrative ramifications and consequences of Season Two leading to big new battles and conflicts in the early episodes of the next run. Thrones is undoubtedly a hit show both in America and the United Kingdom, so its return to both US and UK channels will be a big crowd-pleaser, no doubt serving to maximise the appeal and ratings that were already strong before for George R.R. Martin's novel-to-television episodes adaptation. The trailer can be seen below. Game Of Thrones returns to HBO on March 31st, 2013 and Sky Atlantic on April 1st, 2013.

Coming Up This Week: November 26th-December 2nd

The next-generation of video gaming begins, the FarCry franchise returns and An Idiot Abroad hits its third season in the next seven days!
It feels almost impossible, but it turns out that we really are heading into the final month of 2012 this week. Again, the next seven days are rather jam-packed with big new releases, so although the Autumn Of Gaming is over, things won't quiet down anytime soon for the entertainment industry. As we run up to Christmas, there are still huge things to come, and thus you musn't lower expectations despite November's big blitz of releases. Here's the full round-up of this week's big releases...
NINTENDO WIIU- It's time for Nintendo to show their stuff, kicking off the next-generation of video game consoles with the epic WiiU hardware itself. Shipping with its evolutionary GamePad controller and a dual set of bundle packs, the following launch titles will all be out alongside this massive release: Funky Barn; Skylanders Giants; Call Of Duty: Black Ops II; Transformers Prime; Epic Mickey 2; FIFA 13; Mass Effect 3 Special Edition; Ben 10 Omniverse; Family Party; Tank! Tank! Tank!; Tekken Tag Tournament 2; Nintendo Land; New Super Mario Bros U; Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed; Warriors Orochi; Darksiders 2; Assassin's Creed III; Just Dance 4; Rabbids Land; Your Shape 2013; ZombiU; Batman Arkham City Armored Edition and Game Party Champions. This is perhaps the biggest and best line-up we've seen launch a console, so prepare yourselves...(Tuesday 27th)
FARCRY 3- Ubisoft are bouncing back after their hit success of Assassin's Creed III with another big Game Of The Year contender. FarCry 3 looks to provide one of the most stellar narratives in a video game in a long time, with plenty of open-world action and co-op missions to keep you playing until right at the end of this colossal year of entertainment. (Friday 30th)
AN IDIOT ABROAD: THE SHORT WAY ROUND- Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington are returning for a brand new series of European excursions in the third season of An Idiot Abroad. The twist this time around? Dwarf actor and celebrity Warwick Davis is tagging along for the ride, allowing for a whole different kind of realistic and geographic comedy entertainment. (Friday 30th on Sky1)
MERLIN: WITH ALL MY HEART- The Gwen possession arc reaches its devestating end this week, as Morgana leads Arthur on a wild goose chase that sets in motion her most dangerous plan yet. Mordred's alleigances are tested to the limit, Merlin must adopt a familiar guise to fight his battles and the worst twists in the tale could be yet to come...(Saturday 1st on BBC1)
AND THERE'S MORE- Ted, The Amazing Spider-Man, Brave, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 3 and Magic Mike are all headed to DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow; plus Arrow brings us more explosive action in its fifth instalment on Sky1 tomorrow night!
AND NEXT WEEK...A slightly slower week for entertainment, with a few major highlights- the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards bring us a host of surprising gaming announcements, An Idiot Abroad broadcasts its second instalment and everyone's favourite warlock comes under his greatest threat to his secret yet in Merlin! If next week seems a little quiet, then seek solace in this- the week after brings The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Downton Abbey Fourth Season Commissioned

The hit iTV drama returns to our screens for another run in 2013!
The successful period television drama Downton Abbey has been commissioned for another season of episodes, iTV have confirmed this week. The channel have announced nine new episodes of the show, the first eight forming a new season to air next year, and the latter a third consecutive Christmas Special. Obviously, true plot details are scarce, but the executive producers are at least teasing "drama, comedy, love, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, ambition, despair and romance", so we've got that to go on until we learn more. Downton Abbey returns to iTV on Christmas Day.

Hitman Franchise Gets A Second Developer

Absolution marks a franchise shift for Hitman...
It seems Square Enix are going to take a leaf out of Activision's Call Of Duty-shaped book. This week, the publishers have confirmed that from now on, new instalments in the Hitman video game franchise will be split between two developers. IO Interactive currently heads the series, having just produced the stunning Absolution, yet the next entry will instead be developed by Square Enix's own Montreal studio. When the directors of the franchise spoke to Official PlayStation Magazine on the matter, they essentially pronounced that this new move for the franchise would provide a "fresh perspective" on what Hitman is as of this decade and perhaps what it can become in the years ahead. This approach has worked well for the Modern Warfare and Black Ops divide for COD and the Gears 1-3 and Judgement divide Epic and PeopleCanFly have concocted, so there's no reason it can't work wonders here! Hitman Absolution is out now in stores everywhere.

First FarCry 3 Reviews Are In

Does FarCry have what it takes to end 2012 with a bang?...
Though it's hard to believe it, we're pretty much at the end of the Autumn/Winter Of Gaming season now. Yes, in two months' time things pick up again with new instalments of Metal Gear, BioShock, Gears Of War, Aliens and Tomb Raider, but until then it'll be a case of catching up on the flurry of titles we've seen head our way these past few weeks. That said, there is still one more BIG release to come this holiday season: FarCry 3. Critics have already given us a whole heap of verdicts on this exciting open-world shooter, and you can catch the best of 'em below...

  • IGN (9/10)- "With dynamic variables like agressive wildlife and roaming pirates, your stealth and aggression options in FarCry 3 open things up more than ever before for the pen-world franchise."
  • CVG (94%)- "Power through visual hitches and a strained finale to find a spirited gem with extreme pursuits, stunning scenery and hoards of savage animals- both man and beast alike."
  • OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE (9/10)- "This isn't too much of a departure; however, handily it's the best game in the series so far, and deserves to hold its head high among this winter's noisy crowd of sandbox offerings."
  • GAME INFORMER (90%)- "After two remarkable but uneven offerings, the third instalment finally pulls everything together with diverse open-world action, compelling story and an alluring environment that begs exploration."
  • EUROGAMER (10/10)- "It's a glorious anecdote factory; it's an astonishing technological achievement- FarCry 3 is all the best things about open-world gaming!"
FarCry 3 hits stores on Friday, November 30th, with our review to follow over the Christmas season in a games review blitz feature.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Merlin Episodes 10 & 11 Synopses Unveiled

What's coming next for Camelot? Find out here...
We're now moving into the back end of Merlin's final season, with just six episodes left to transmit between now and the end of the year. Naturally, that means there are a few more grand storylines to come. We've got the Gwen possession arc which'll be wrapped up by the end of Episode 9 (not this week's episode, the next one), and then judging by a new BBC press release we've got plenty of more relevant narratives to come in the weeks that follow. Below are the synopses for both Episodes 10 & 11...

  • EPISODE 10 (December 8th): "Morgana leads a terrifying manhunt in pursuit of her old foe Alator of the Catha, for she knows without doubt that he can tell her exactly where to find Emrys. Merlin's life has never been in more danger, so when the mysterious Finna offers to help him, is he right to trust her? Or will he find himself cornered with nowhere to run?"
  • EPISODE 11 (December 15th): "Mordred finds himself torn between loyalty and love, but little does he realise that the path he chooses will shape Camelot's destiny. As the drums of war beat ever louder, a desperate Merlin feels trapped by the cruel circle of fate- is he powerless to stop his dreams of Albion from crumbling to dust?"
It appears that the final four episodes of Merlin will heavily focus on this season's main arc, a welcome departure from some of the less-intrinsic jaunts we've been having recently! Merlin continues this Saturday on BBC1 and runs until December 29th.

Insidious Chapter 2 Announced

A sequel to 2010's hit horror flick is on its way next year...
FilmDistrict have this week confirmed that a sequel to 2010's horror film Insidious has entered production. Titled Insidious Chapter 2, the new flick will take place after the events of the original instalment, with Rose Bryne and Patrick Wilson both confirmed to be returning as the parents of a child who became the vessel for a host of demons and poltergeist-worrying spirits of the afterlife. The first film culminated with father Josh and his son Dalton returning from the land of demons, only for the implication that Josh remains possessed by an outerly force to remain, so no doubt there'll be some intriguing character arcs to pick up on in the second act of the saga. Will it still be a hit? We'll have to wait and see...Insidious Chapter 2 possesses audiences in cinemas everywhere from August 30th, 2013.

Mass Effect 4 Continuity Discussions Begin

BioWare Montreal kick off the forums on where to take the series next!
We've been inundated with news from BioWare of late- from the announcement of Dragon Age III: Inquisition's release in 2013 to more Star Wars: The Old Republic DLC to come, it's been hard to know where to turn. One big confirmation was that Mass Effect 4 is in development, something we learned earlier this month. Well, now we've discovered a little more! "Parsing through your thoughts on the next Mass Effect game," producer Casey Hudson has said, "Would you be more interested in a game that takes place before the trilogy, or after?" It seems that the developers want to get our own input on where the franchise could and should go next, and while I'm all for things moving ahead to events post-ME3, if your thoughts differ then you'd be well advised to head to Hudson's Twitter account to give your comments, as they just might be shaping things around what we all have to say! Mass Effect 4 is set for release in 2014.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Review

Will this 'epic' finale really 'live forever' in the hearts of viewers?
I'm not sure any film has faced up to as much of a challenge this year as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Coming off the back of the immensely dull Part 1 (2/5) last Winter, this much-anticipated conclusion to the franchise of novel-to-film adaptations had its work cut out proving to fans and sceptics alike that the series is still relevant in 2012 as it wraps up. Have Lionsgate sent Robert Patterson, Kristen Stewart and company out with a bang, or a whimper, then?

The answer is simple- thankfully, the former crescendo has been made possibly by a vastly superior sense of narrative pacing, a varied-but-likeable cast and above all fantastic performances from the lead stars. As you'd expect, the action picks up straight where Breaking Dawn Part 1 left off, with Bella now transformed into a femme fatale Dracula and her daughter 'imprinted' on by werewolf pal Jacob (best not to read too far into that one, eh?). Whereas Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 struggled to pick up the strands of its superior predecessor at first, Stephenie Meyer and Melissa Rosenberg do a great job of rolling with what they've already got and pushing forward in unexpected ways.

Slowly but surely, things build to the inevitable confrontation between the Cullen clan- along with a group of unashamed stereotypes from nations abroad- and the evil Volturi, yet where Deathly Hallows simply threw itself into a prolonged final battle, Breaking Dawn pulls a number of shocking twists that divert from what happened in the book! Yep, you read that bold text right- the anti-climax of the original novel has been transformed into something far more meaningful, a transition which I am assured by fans actually makes the storyline better, which is certainly saying something!

Better yet, the central cast in particular give performances that shine above anything and everything you may have seen in Twilight (3/5), New Moon (2/5), Eclipse (4/5) or last year's instalment. Kristen Stewart isn't the soulless vessel of romance we once knew, instead flourishing in her take on a flesh-eater, while Robert Patterson bounces back with an empathetic portrayal of Edward and Taylor Lautner does a brilliant job of making Jacob more than a model contracted to rip his shirt off every five minutes. They're backed by a familiar but mostly effective supporting cast, particularly highlighted by Micheal Sheen's near-iconic villain Aro, who provided a good number of positive laughs from the audience.

Part 2 isn't perfect by any means- the pacing is much improved but still lags between the various plot arcs in the first half, and not all of the American teen angst drama is wiped away by the wars and emotions. Even with that in mind, though, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, to the point that we get the best entry in the series as a whole, a fitting finale that deserves to revel in its franchise's successes come the credits, because it does the saga proud in the end. Lionsgate were right to end the saga here, yet I'm so glad to say that they managed to do so on a big high.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Hobbit Gets Summer 2013 Trailers

Find out which entries in next year's Summer Of Film get previewed in An Unexpected Journey!
As if it were not enough for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to provide just under three hours of quality cinema entertainment next month, it has been revealed today that two new trailers for big upcoming blockbusters will feature alongside the fantasy instalment next month. The previews in question? A pair of grand superhero flicks, firstly the Superman reboot from Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan- Man Of Steel- and then the next instalment in the X-Men franchise, The Wolverine. These two flicks promise to be amongst the most successful of the Summer Of Film 2013, and if trailers for them are coming, then you can be sure we'll see previews for movies including The Hangover Part III, Fast Six, Scary Movie 5, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness and Kick-Ass 2 pretty soon as well. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey launches on December 14th, Man Of Steel on June 14th and The Wolverine on July 26th, 2013.

Bond 24 Gets New Writer

James Bond will return, but with a new screenplay writer on board!
The writers of Skyfall have today confirmed that they will not return to pen the twenty-four instalment in the James Bond film franchise. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade wrote every film for the series since the Pierce Brosnan 1999 flick The World Is Not Enough, so it seems apt that such a ground-breaking instalment in the saga marks an end to their reign as head writers for the series. Who'll be next on board, then? Wade had this to say: "We're very happy to have done five Bond films, I think we've gotten it to a good place. I know that John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with a plot for another one, which takes the pressure off because these films take up a lot of time. We were going to stop with Quantum, but it's good to go out on a high with Skyfall." The twenty-fourth Bond film is in need of a writer, then- no doubt we'll get confirmation soon as the project moves ahead. 'Bond 24' is set for release in 2014.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Coming Up This Week: November 19th-25th

Another killer week of entertainment as we race towards November's end!
Can you believe it? We're already just a week away from moving into the final month of 2012, which means developers and studios are kicking their tails into high gear to get their big releases shipped in time for November's climax. With that in mind, we can see why this week is jam-packed with more great entertainment, and indeed why things show no signs of slowing down after this either! Here's the full round-up of what's to come in the next seven days...
NOW! THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC 83- EMI are known for giving us fantastic compilations of the best instalments in recent music, yet with Now! 83 they've possibly given us their finest album yet! Packing hits such as Gangnam Style, Don't You Worry Child, Candy, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, I Found You, One More Night, Let Me Love You, Good Time, Beneath Your Beautiful and Hall Of Fame, this really is a grand showcase of music's best additions for the final quarter of the year, and at least an essential Christmas present you'll want! (Monday 19th)
GAME OF THRONES SERIES 1 RE-RUN FINALE- For those of us who've been catching up with Game Of Thrones on Sky1 in its Season One re-run, things come to a head tomorrow as the series reaches its finale. Season Two's re-run will commence in January 2013, so make the most of the battles, revelations and creatures to come, as it'll be a little while before we discover what happens next! (Monday 19th)
HITMAN ABSOLUTION- Agent 47 is back. Fresh off the hit antics of secret agent James Bond in the recent Skyfall, the Hitman video game series returns with Absolution, a title so brimming with innovation and replay value that it could well be a Game Of The Year contender. You will not want to miss this! (Tuesday 20th)
LEGO THE LORD OF THE RINGS- The Fellowship Of The Ring is building itself this week, as with the success of LEGO Batman 2 earlier this year TT Games are bouncing back with an adaptation of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson's movies were always epics, but this new rendition should cast them in a totally innovative new light. (Friday 23rd)
NATIVITY! 2: DANGER IN THE MANGER- With Martin Freeman busy in the world of Middle-Earth, David Tennant takes the helm of this festive follow-up to 2009's hit British charmer film Nativity!. This time around, the kids and their eccentric teachers must travel across the British countryside to arrive at the ultimate Nativity Show competition in time to make their mark. The perfect Christmas film? It's time to find out...(Friday 23rd)
MERLIN: THE HOLLOW QUEEN- Gwen's possessed plots reach deadly new heights this week on Merlin. While our warlock hero is distracted in his quest to aid an druid boy outside of the Kingdom, Gwen takes her opportunity to use a new force of evil to kill her betrothed. Quickly, Merlin realises that leaving Camelot was a big mistake...(Saturday 24th)
AND THERE'S MORE- Arthur Christmas, Red Dwarf X, Peter Kay Live 2, Coldplay Live 2012 and Dr Seuss' The Lorax all arrive on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow, plus Arrow continues on Sky1 tomorrow night!
AND NEXT WEEK...The Nintendo WiiU launches across the UK on November 30th, plus we get another Game Of The Year contender in FarCry 3, Karl and Warwick travel across Europe in the new season of An Idiot Abroad and Merlin's monarchy-possession three-part arc reaches its epic climax in the ninth episode of Season Five!

In Memory Of The Nintendo Wii- Top 10 Best Games

With the WiiU out in America and its UK release just around the corner, we count down the greatest titles on its predecessor...
It's hard to believe that we've truly come to the end of the Nintendo Wii's reign in the video gaming industry, yet there's proof staring us in the face that's just twelve days away. Yep, the WiiU is headed to our shores on November 30th, ushering in a new generation of HD adventures for Mario, Zelda, Samus and a host of third-party hardcore franchises that are finally making their way into Nintendo's world.

Before that, though, let's take a look back at what the Wii has accomplished. The best way to do this? Recapping the Top 10 Best Games released for the console since it first shipped back in 2006. A lot can happen in six years, and that's most certainly the case here. Here's our full list of the games you should have played on the Wii...

10. RED STEEL 2- Although the Wii MotionPlus was in my opinion an underused peripheral, its potential was exhibited hugely in this brilliant sequel to the sub-par launch title. Red Steel 2 boasted beautiful cel-shaded visuals, a short but intelligent campaign and 1:1 motion controls, a true motion landmark.
9. WII FIT- For all the skepticism surrounding this fitness project, Wii Fit turned out to be a real masterpiece. The Balance Board worked a charm for the price, and there were plenty of realistic exercises employed to provide a great work-out.
8. METROID PRIME TRILOGY- The Metroid Prime games were always sure-fire classics, with the Wii exclusive third entry Corruption no different in this respect. What was so masterful about this package, then? It combined three masterpieces into one ensemble compilation that will never be forgotten.
7. SUPER MARIO ALL STARS- For Mario's 25th Anniversary came a beautiful compilation packed with classic entries in the side-scrolling franchise. From the original Super Mario to the colossally huge Super Mario World, the number of award-winning hits on offer here was too great to ever truly match. All Stars was a near-perfect Wii package.
6. GOLDENEYE 007- Well, I did not see this one coming. Rebooting and remaking the classic Goldeneye adaptation from the Nintendo 64 era was never going to be an enviable job, so it stands testament to Rare's greatness as a developer that they could make this classic title feel amazingly modern while retaining the best elements of its original gameplay and narrative.
5. SUPER PAPER MARIO- The Paper Mario games before Super Paper Mario had been varied at best, struggling to attain a consistent standard of quality. Thankfully, this was where everything changed, as Nintendo let the player switch between 2D and 3D perspectives at will to solve complex and intelligent puzzles. This really was a genuinely underappreciated platforming masterpiece.
4. MARIO KART WII- While it was rare that the Nintendo Wii truly flourished with its multiplayer segments, Mario Kart Wii and the next entry on this list stand as happy contrasts to this fact. There were tonnes of new characters, brilliant homages to classic locales and above all a near-perfect set of online systems to give this near infinite replay value. How about a single-player storyline too next time, eh, Nintendo?
3. NEW SUPER MARIO BROS WII- Expanding on the hit DS game New Super Mario Bros, this Wii sequel built on its mechanics in just about every way. The campaign was longer and more challenging, the integration of multiplayer a success, and the platforming just as accomplished as ever a Mario game was. There was only one platformer that could possibly top this on Wii, and you'll see it in a moment...
2. WII SPORTS RESORT- How do you top a launch game so original and innovative as Wii Sports? Why, by launching a sequel with the Wii MotionPlus peripheral a few years later! Resort featured 1:1 motion control and massive replay value in its variety of realistic and diverse sports games that will not soon be left behind.
1. SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2- If you're wondering where the original Super Mario Galaxy is on this list, both it and its sequel are kind-of merged at the top. It was Super Mario Galaxy 2, though, that really pulled out all of the stops to be the perfect Mario game. Dare I say it, with its completely innovative physics and massive replay value, Galaxy 2 actually managed to acquire that title, standing right at the top of the Wii's best offerings these past six years.

The Nintendo WiiU ships on November 30th, so you've still got twelve days to check these gems out if you haven't yet. Make 'em count...

WC- Merlin: A Lesson In Vengeance Review

Can comedy antics in Camelot provide another winning instalment for Merlin?
Over at WhatCulture, I've just posted a review of Merlin's seventh episode of the fifth season, A Lesson In Vengeance. This new instalment used more humorous tactics as it bombastically opened the three-part arc of Queen Gwen's possession by Morgana, and for the most part it made for a great adventure. The return of Emrys onto the scene was welcome, and although it was light on overall arc developments, there was plenty of fun to be had! Here's the link to the review: http://whatculture.com/tv/merlin-a-lesson-in-vengeance-review.php#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=merlin-a-lesson-in-vengeance-review

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Who News: Christmas Special Detail Overload

Festive adventures galore are coming our way next month- but can Clara save the Doctor's soul?
When we last encountered the Doctor, we left him in a dark place- Amy and Rory were lost to him after a devastating final battle with the Weeping Angels, and his own wife refused to travel as his companion in the TARDIS for fear of having two psychopaths regularly on board. As we saw on Children In Need last night, the effects of The Angels Take Manhattan on the Time Lord are not understated, forcing the once jovial hero into retirement and depression. Where next, then? Well, that's what we're here to find out, as BBC America and the BBC's British branch have unveiled the first proper details on Christmas Special The Snowmen...

  • THE BBC AMERICA SYNOPSIS: "A new companion, a new look for the Doctor, plus a new monster will all be introduced in this movie-scale episode. Starring Matt Smith as the Doctor and introducing Jenna-Louise Coleman as new companion Clara, The Snowmen follows their adventures as they embark on a mission to save Christmas from the villainous Doctor Simeon (Richard E Grant) and his army of icy snowmen."
  • STEVEN MOFFAT ON THE SNOWMEN: "The Doctor at Christmas is one of my favourite things- but this year it's different. He's lost Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels, and he's not in a good place: in fact, he's Scrooge. He's withdrawn from the world and no longer cares what happens to it. So when all of humanity hangs in the balance, can anyone persuade a tired and heartbroken Doctor that it's time to return to the good fight? Enter Jenna-Louise Coleman..."
  • MATT SMITH ON THE SNOWMEN: "For this year's Christmas Special we have the wonderfully villainous Richard E Grant as Doctor Simeon As well as lizards, Victorian assassins and deranged warriors from the future, who all return to convince the Doctor that he should board the TARDIS again and save the world. Add to that Jenna-Louise Coleman and so begins the Christmas Special 2012. I hope everyone enjoys it!"
Expect more details, images and trailers for the episodes in the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Doctor Who: The Snowmen airs on Christmas Day.

Thor: The Dark World Loki Details Arrive

What will the follow-up to 2011's hit flick hold for its villain?
We already know that Tom Hiddleston's Loki will play a secondary villain role in superhero sequel Thor: The Dark World, sitting on the sidelines while Hemsworth's Thor dukes it out with the evil Malkeith The Dark Elf (played by Christopher Eccleston). This week, though, Hiddleston has offered a snippet of info on how he has moved his role forward for the second instalment in the solo-Avenger series.

Here's what the actor had to say: "Everyone upstairs in space is going to have an opinion on what happened over the course of Avengers Assemble. Thor and Loki were gone from Asgard for a time, and to all intents and purposes hell broke loose and they were both responsible! Within one moment, within one scene, within one hour, within one day, Loki can do these huge 180 degree turns, where he can be enjoying himself, and completely in control, and then the next moment he's completely lost control, and the truth of his broken heart is plain for all to see."

It's still hard to tell, then, how much screen-time Hiddleston will rack up here, but we probably shouldn't be surprised if Thor's main foe makes a proper comeback in The Avengers 2 when it rolls around in 2015! Thor: The Dark World hammers into cinemas worldwide on November 8th, 2013.

Doctor Who Christmas Special Prequel/Trailer Unveiled

The build-up to Episode Six begins...
Children In Need 2012's Appeal show proved to be a real televisual highlight for this year, featuring plentiful great acts and brilliant looks ahead to things still to come. One such preview? Well, two- we got a brand new prequel for the Doctor Who Christmas Special and a full trailer for it too. The special forms the seventh episode of the fifteen that make up Series Seven, spanning from The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe to Steven Moffat's upcoming season finale. The prequel is titled The Great Detective, focusing on Vastra, Jenny and Strax's attempts to convince the Doctor to leave retirement after the deaths of the Ponds. It's an intriguing set-up for the new adventure, which we can confirm will be titled The Snowmen. As with the past two Christmas Specials, that title is a play on a classic Christmas tale- The Snowman, in case you were wondering- but once again it's likely to be just a minor detail in a bigger overarching epic festive yarn. Check out both videos below. Doctor Who returns on Christmas Day, and then Series Seven Part Two (Episodes 8-15) transmits in Spring 2013.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

New Oz: The Great And Powerful Trailer Debuts

A brand new glimpse into an exciting new filmic world for 2013...
Walt Disney Pictures have this week released a brand new trailer for their upcoming fantasy film Oz: The Great And Powerful. This new instalment is a prequel to the classic tales of Oz, with James Franco taking the titular role as a man who travels from Kansas to a mysterious new land, where he is tasked with battling the Wicked Witch Of The West and overthrowing her rule. As you'll see from the new video below, Oz is looking mighty pretty, capable of reviving the likes of Star Wars and Avatar for visual spectacle. Mila Kunis, Zach Braff and a host of other stars are on board for the project too, so you should be in pretty damn safe hands when Disney unveil the fully-fledged movie in four months time! Oz: The Great And Powerful is set for release in cinemas on March 8th, 2013.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Synopsis Unveiled

2014's biggest sequel is handed its first plot details!
20th Century Fox have today released the initial narrative brief for the follow-up to 2011's hit action thriller Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Titled Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (yep, it's no less of a mouthful!), the sequel is confirmed to once again star Andy Serkis as intelligent ape leader Caesar with Matt Reeves directing the project.

Here's the synopsis as it currently stands: "Dawn continues the story of how ultra-intelligent simian Caesar presides over the fall of human civilization. After the apes break out of their facility, a virus break-out causes the collapse of human society. The new project is taking the story to the next level, with the apes on the path to emerge as society's new rulers."

There's no mention of James Franco here, but no doubt we'll have more star talent to replace the accomplished actor if he can't make it this time around. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes will hit cinemas on May 23rd, 2014.

Mass Effect 4 Gameplay Details Revealed

See the first hints for the future of everyone's favourite science-fiction saga...
We've had some exciting news tidbits these past few weeks, but this one pretty much tops the lot- Mass Effect 4 has been confirmed to be in development at BioWare's Montreal studio. The new instalment in the science-fiction video gaming franchise will take place after the events of this year's brilliant trilogy finale, but it seems the studio are just recruiting right now. Sadly, that means a 2013 release is off the cards, but on the plus side with the confirmed help of DICE's Frostbite Engine, it seems more and more likely that this'll be an early next-generation title for the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4. Expect more details on this ambitious project next year! Mass Effect 4 will ship on consoles worldwide in 2014.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Grand Theft Auto V Second Trailer Released

Get another full look at the most exciting game of 2013 right here!
Rockstar Games have today revealed the second full trailer for their big new project Grand Theft Auto V. The title's been in production since the culmination of development on GTA IV back in 2008, and thus rightly it's looking absolutely stunning so far. This time around, the storyline places a focus on three central protagonists, all of whom seem both diverse and in a positive light a lot more comedic than those we saw in Rockstar's last fantastic effort. You can check out the trailer below, and share your thoughts on the usual social networking ports as always! Grand Theft Auto V hits Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Spring 2013, with a PC release window yet to be confirmed for the sequel.

Who News: News Roundup (November 7th-14th)

Doctor Who, featuring Matt Smith, will bring viewers an extra special 'prequel' to its Christmas special, with a bespoke storyline made for Children in NeedThe Doctor is back this Friday- prepare with exciting new teasers!
Friday's Children In Need 2012 live show will bring with it two exciting new Doctor Who offerings. First up, there's a prequel for the Christmas Special starring Matt Smith and a new familiar faces and written by showrunner Steven Moffat. After that? Well, there's a fully-fledged promotional trailer for the episode, featuring our first proper look at Jenna-Louise Coleman's companion character Clara Oswin in action in the upcoming adventure. Before that, though, we've got a few news snippets of interest...

  • CHRISTMAS IS COMING: To the left, you'll see the first teasing image of the CIN Christmas Special prequel revealed. Here, we've got what looks to be a more melancholic Eleventh Doctor, clearly suffering after the events of The Angels Take Manhattan, so perhaps the old faces who are back will be on the recieving end of his anger?
  • A JOURNEY TO DIE FOR: We've got an exciting announcement fresh from the pages of DWM this week. Stephen Thompson wrote the pirate episode The Curse Of The Black Spot in Series Six, and now he's confirmed the title of his anniversary-year episode (set to air in Spring 2013)...it's Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS!
  • GAIMAN GOES CYBER-CRAZY: Hot on the heels of the BBC's official announcement of his Cybermen episode for the 2013 run, Neil Gaiman has been revealing why he's back for more. Initially, Gaiman apparently deemed himself too busy to help out in the anniversary run, but when the Moff asked him to "make the Cybermen scary again", he came on board. The episode is currently titled The Last Cybermen, and will feature a redesigned version of the famous enemies of the Time Lord. It's a sleek redesign of the 2006 incarnation of the foes with more than a hint of Tomb Of The Cybermen about it- see what you think below...
The prequel and trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas Special will air as part of Children In Need on Friday from 7pm, while the episode itself broadcasts on Christmas Day on BBC1.

Xbox World, PSM3 To Cease Publication

A sad day for British magazines as we lose two brilliant gaming editions...
Future Publishing today confirmed that their UK Xbox World and PSM3 magazines will cease publication as of the end of the year. These two magazines were brilliant 'indie' unofficial publications, providing more opinionated and diverse takes on some of the year's most anticipated games than their sister 'Official' publications of OPM and OXM, so it will be a true loss to see the teams of both forced to disband. Future cites the reasoning for this move as being intended to place more of a focus on Official PlayStation Magazine and Official Xbox Magazine as we move towards the next-generation of video games consoles. It's an understandable move, but for fans of the current editions it really will be hard to foresee a time when any magazine can really replace them without a reprisal from the original teams. Our thoughts go to both editorial teams, as do our best wishes for the future. The final issues of Xbox World and PSM3 will ship to retailers in December.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

October 2012: Best Release

Assassin's Creed III scoops up the Best Release award for October...
I've already sung the praises of Assassin's Creed III in my 10/10 review of the game earlier this month, so this recap will be fairly brief. The reasoning behind the title earning the 'Best Release' award for October 2012 is rather simple- it provides perhaps the most authentic rendition of the American Revolution ever in the history of entertainment. Intermingled with a beautiful time-twisting storyline, strong gameplay expansions on the Creed franchise and a compelling multiplayer component, this new entry in the five-year saga that essentially finishes 'Season One' closes most of the doors we've had opened so far while opening new ones entirely. Connor and Desmond are equally intriuging protagonists to see develop once again, and indeed it'll be great to see if the former Assassin returns in next year's side-story before the inevitable build-up to AC4. Keeping in the present, though, Assassin's Creed III is a big contender for Game Of The Year 2012, and although the competition is stiff, I'm sure we'll remember this game vividly for years and future console generations to come!


WC- Merlin: The Dark Tower Review

Did Elyan's death and Gwen's turn to the dark side help out this sixth instalment?
Merlin's fifth season has been something of a mixed bag so far, with lacklustre episodes such as The Death Song Of Uther Pendragon and Another's Sorrow dragging down the overall quality despite brilliant instalments like Arthur's Bane Part 1 and The Disir. How does the new episode The Dark Tower fare, then? Thankfully, it's ended up on the positive side, with the game-changing shocks in its climax aiding in providing another quality adventure worthy of a 4* ranking from me. Here's my full review at WhatCulturehttp://whatculture.com/tv/merlin-the-dark-tower-review.php

Halo 4 Review

Does the Master Chief's return live up to the series' legacy? The final verdict on 2012's biggest shooter right here...
How do you follow on from perhaps the biggest science-fiction shooter trilogy in the history of video gaming? It's a question that 343 Industries no doubt asked themselves in the early days of development of Halo 4. Their answer, however, proves wholeheartedly that the developers know exactly where they hope to take the franchise in the Reclaimer Saga, providing us with a powerful sense of confidence and enthusiasm for future instalments.

If last year's sensational HD remake Combat Evolved Anniversary wasn't enough to prove it, 343 show off the utmost respect and passion for both the Halo lore and gameplay instalment in their first new entry. As you'll have definitely seen in the trailers, the Master Chief is woken up four years after the events of Halo 3 as the Forward Unto Dawn's wreckage is sent hurtling into the Forerunner Shield World of Requiem. Here, the Chief will face an all new kind of enemy, the Prometheans, commanded by a force who will stop at nothing to gain revenge on humanity, while dealing with his AI companion Cortana's impending Rampancy along the way. As ever, the core narrative of the main campaign is handled masterfully, filled with tension, action and raw emotion that remains a constant source of compulsion and excitement in the 8-10 hour set of eight huge missions. The Chief has never been run through the mill as much as he is here, and yet there's a lingering sense that things can only get darker here, a welcoming thought if ever there was one.

Elsewhere, Halo 4 finds itself with additional narrative elements in the form of the UNSC Infinity storyline. Split across the War Games online modes and the Spartan Ops co-op DLC campaign, this spin-off narrative gets introduced in the main campaign with a few thoroughly compelling characters who'll definitely be back for more in Halo 5 and the trilogy finale. We'll have to see how the Spartan Ops pilot season plays out for a full judgement on these extra offerings, but the signs on this matter are very promising so far, so it'll be great to watch it all develop!

Fans worldwide will undoubtedly recall the classic Halo gameplay which made the first three instalments, ODST and Reach such a joy to play, and this is heavily intact here. Thankfully, though, the addition of the various Promethean classes to the enemy AI allows for some strong variation in the battles ahead of the Chief, something we really couldn't say in Reach in particular and which gives the sense of a true overhaul to the difficulty level. Whereas a playthrough on Normal in past entries would be a breeze for veterans, the AI feel a lot more intelligent this time around, which adds to the challenge of the whole experience in ways we might never have expected. No longer is it safe to merely hide behind cover until your health bar regenerates, allowing us to get cleverer in order to match and adapt to the new threat. And trust me, there's no surprise Flood-riffing enemy to get on your nerves midway through the campaign, either- those infectious enemies only appear in the War Games modes this time around.

It's safe to say that 343 have made a stunning first impact on the Halo universe. Their initial storyline here is deeply compelling and emotional, taking the Chief to new levels of empathy and feeling in ways that Bungie simply never could in the Covenant War. It's multi-layered stuff, with just a few hints at what's to come (stay after the credits!), but on the whole this is a standalone adventure, a fact that really works in the title's favour. Meanwhile, the gameplay is at its absolute best and better still, with the new and improved AI classes helping to add a sense of innovation to the engine that's felt lacking since Halo 3 in 2007. Truly, there has been no better first-person shooter on the market in quite some time than Halo 4, a stunning reclamation of the sci-fi saga from 343 Industries that ensures the series is in very safe hands for the future. Do we really have another Game Of The Year contender within the space of a month? You'd better believe it.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Assassin's Creed Movie Coming Next Year?

Will we unearth the secrets of the Animus on the big-screen in 2013?
Earlier this year, Ubisoft's film studio confirmed they had a big-screen adaptation of the Assassin's Creed games franchise in the works. Later on, we then got confirmation that Michael Fassbender would star in the (currently unannounced) lead role for the motion picture. And now? Now it seems that we know just when the film will arrive, and it's sooner than you think: 2013. As staggering as it may seem, the promotional team for the flick are indicating that it will either release in cinemas late next year or early in 2014. If it's that the former, then it's pretty damn impressive for a feature film of this calibre, but to be fair The Muppets 2 is doing the same thing, so perhaps it's possible? The Assassin's Creed movie will get plenty more details revealed here at On-Screen very soon...

Merlin Episode Nine Synopsis Unveiled

The secrets of Gwen's true deception will be revealed...
Anyone privy to the broadcast of Merlin: The Dark Tower will know that Morgana has secretly turned over the Queen, Gwen, to her way of thinking, setting in motion an arc of deception and betrayal. Well, today we've learnt more on this matter, with the synopsis for the ninth episode of the fifth season unveiled for viewers to divulge. Here's the synopsis: "Merlin knows he must act fast before Morgana's twisted control over Gwen gets out of hand. But only the most powerful magic can save the Queen and this will not be easy, even for Merlin. As the High Priestess tightens her grip on Camelot, one thing is clear- she will not give up her puppet queen without a fight." It's good to know that in two weeks' time this story arc will be resolved, as it should allow for the final instalments of this climactic season to wrap up the Mordred storyline neatly too. Merlin Episode Nine airs on December 1st.

First Transformers 4 Plot Details Debut

Michael Bay provides the first hints at what to expect in 2014...
Hot on the heels of the confirmation that Mark Wahlberg will feature as one of the movie's new stars, Michael Bay has today confirmed the plot continuity of Transformers 4 to his fans. This narrative will most definitely take place within the context of the original Transformers film trilogy's storyline, four years after the events of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. What with the momentous battle that wrapped up that trilogy finale, the effects of the plot arc are going to be felt in the next entry, but a new set of characters will be on Earth to tackle the next world-shattering problem conquering the planet. We don't know much more on the story, but it seems likely that the Dinobots will be involved this time around given their success in Fall Of Cybertron and the repetition of the Decepticons in past entries. Transformers 4 releases in cinemas everywhere on June 27th, 2014.