Wednesday 30 June 2010

Real Bad Things...

There are two things I know for sure about True Blood Season Three: a) it’s going to be even more irritating and terrible than the previous two series, and b) I will still watch every single episode of it. The one thing I don’t understand is why I’ll watch it. It’s a hideous monstrosity of paper thin characters doing irritatingly stupid things, whilst set against an MTV/OCD flashbang of sex-scenes. I still hold out hope that one day they’re going to do an episode where Eric moves to Miami and sets up a detective agency with Steve from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but that’s not enough reason to put up with all this shit, surely?

Firstly, how the fuck does Tara still have any friends? This is a woman who spends all of the first season acting like a surly bitch to everyone around her, loses every job she has, and then spends the second season joining a cult, before ruining her best-friend’s house. Tara is the living embodiment of Douche. And this is a recurring problem with True Blood – most of the characters that I’m supposed to like are spectacular arsehats.

If you knew someone like Tara, you’d wish you didn’t. She’s surly, arrogant, and pretty much a complete cockpouch, even when her friends are bending over backwards to be nice to her. And all her friends accept it. Explain that to me, please.

Sam Merlotte probably strikes most people as a good guy. But he’s not. He spends every episode desperately trying to interfere with the personal lives of all of his staff, or just hiding in the back room being unsociable. Oh, and the less said about the time he turned into a dog so that he would watch Sookie get naked the better.

Sookie, too, is nothing short of douchetastic, for the most part. She’s either throwing her toys out of her pram because Bill doesn't agree with her one hundred per cent, or she’s being the dullest protagonist this side of Bella Swan. And what happened to her mind-reading powers? It started out as an almost crippling disability, and one that she had to work hard to be able control to lead a normal life, and now seems to be a super power she can switch on and off whenever she wants, to maximum advantage.

There are probably only three good characters in all of True Blood: Eric Northman, Jessica Hamby and – to a lesser extent – Bill Compton. I like Jessica because she’s actually got a personality and a character arc (something of a rarity in True Blood). I like Eric because he’s a Viking vampire who owns a pub. I like Bill because he’s not a complete tool, unlike the rest of cast. Bill usually has Sookie’s wellbeing at heart - something that can’t be said of her best friend, Tara.

So why the hell can’t I stop watching it? I never typically have difficulty with doing so. I loved both Dexter and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles for a while, but I didn’t have any difficulty jacking them in when they started getting dull and/or stupid. True Blood, on the other hand, has always been dull and why can’t I stop?

Maybe it’s because I foolishly believe it’s going to get better. After all, the concept is a pretty interesting one (vampires entering human society), and what I’ve read of the original books are pretty good (although they are more traditional mysteries, with vampires involved, rather than the sex and vampires flashbang of the TV show). True Blood is a mine of potential – potential that remains untapped, and will likely stay that way until they commission my True Blood/Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs crossover series.

Anyhoo, Season Three is currently showing over in the states, and it will be showing over here “soon”. So here, are my big predictions:

Jason Stackhouse will continue to be the dumbest character in the history of fiction being, as he is, a mixture of a Klansman and Jar Jar Binks.

Sookie Stackhouse will be able to use her telepathy to discover not only what people are thinking, but also what they will be thinking, in the near future.

Lafayette will continue to be a mincing wankpot.

Sam Merlotte will give up all pretence towards being one of the good guy crowd, and turn into a heron so that he can be intimate with waterfowl.

Bill Compon will continue his party piece of coming through a door quickly and saying “Sookie!”.

Tara will continue to be as ingratiating and likable as a Big Brother House full of clone Mrs Bennets.

Eric Northman will realise that he’s way too good to be in this show. He will pack up his things, and head off to Miami to the strains of a saxophone solo, to set up his own detective agency. Along the way he will make friends with Steve, a monkey who communicates through a Speak & Spell toy.

I will continue to watch it, without really understanding why.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Book Reviews

Star Wars: Fate Of The Jedi: Omen
Christie Golden
Arrow Books
Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Rob Wade

Forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke Skywalker is on a desperate mission to uncover the truth behind what's turning peaceful Jedi into raving lunatics. But finding answers will mean venturing into the mind-bending space of the Kathol Rift and bargaining with an alien species as likely to destroy outsiders as deal with them. Still, there is no other choice and no time to lose, as the catastrophic events on Coruscant continue to escalate.

But an even greater threat is looming. Millennia in the past, a Sith starship crashed on an unknown low-tech planet, leaving the survivors stranded. Over the generations, their numbers have grown, the ways of the Dark Side have been nurtured, and the time is fast approaching when this lost tribe of Sith will once more take to the stars to reclaim their legendary destiny as rulers of the galaxy. Only one thing stands in their way, a name whispered to them through the Force: Skywalker.

I'm generally a pretty big fan of the Expanded Universe when it comes to Star Wars, and there have only been a handful of books that I've found to be below the standard that some of the better ones have set. It is with regret that I say that this particular novel does little to distinguish itself from some of the more average novels among the Expanded Universe.

There are some positive points, as with all the novels. The chase scenes, involving some of the Jedi who have gone insane due to unknown reasons, necessitating Skywalker's exile into the Unknown Regions, are well done and exciting. The characters, like all novels in the series, are well-developed, and at no point is there any unnecessary emphasis on one character over another (beyond the sensible points anyway, this is after all about Luke and Ben Skywalker, as a series). The series is also doing a bang-up job of teasing what's coming next, as well as developing the timeline in the background.

However, this novel really does feel like a step in the direction of the story's ultimate conclusion, and a novel that really deals in filling in the story rather than a staggering story-based progression. The ending is really good, ending on a cliffhanger, but other than that the story sort of plods along, in particular with the Sith timeline, which doesn't really have much in the way of action going on. This is all designed to build to a big event, which I understand begins in the third book proper, but the book sort of has a pace problem as a result.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating :
Violence : A few action set-pieces, largely based around the escape and capture of crazy Jedi.
Sex/Nudity : None.
Swearing : Some of the traditional Star Wars language, but some of the characters have been known to swear, yeah.
Summary: A reasonable book, but at the same time feels like a step on the road to a big plot point rather than an action-packed instalment. 6/10
Star Wars: Fate Of The Jedi: Allies
Christie Golden
Arrow Books
Available Now - £18.99 (Hardback)
Review by Rob Wade

What began as a quest for truth has become a struggle for survival for Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben. They have used the secrets of the Mindwalkers to transcend their own bodies and speak with the spirits of the fallen, risking their very lives in the process. They have faced a team of Sith assassins and beaten the odds to destroy them. And now the death squad's sole survivor, Sith apprentice Vestara Khai, has summoned an entire fleet of Sith frigates to engage the embattled father and son. But the dark warriors come bearing a surprising proposition that will bring Jedi and Sith together in an unprecedented alliance against an evil more ancient and alien than they can imagine.

While the Skywalkers and their Sith allies set off on their joint mission into the treacherous web of black holes that is the Maw, Han and Leia Solo risk arrest and worse to aid the Jedi imprisoned back on Coruscant. Tyrannical Chief of State Natasi Daala has issued orders that will open a permanent schism between her government and the Jedi Order - a schism that could turn all Jedi into renegades and wanted criminals.

But it is in the depths of the Maw that the future of the galaxy will be decided. For there the Skywalkers and their Sith allies will engage a true monster in battle, and Luke will come face-to-face with a staggering truth.

This book is absolutely fantastic in terms of build-up, with the main premise of the book being the fact that the Jedi Ben and Luke Skywalker are forced to team with a Sith apprentice, all the while with an entire Sith armada of spaceships bearing down on them. Their trip takes them into the Maw, where they believe the source of the Jedi madness lies.

The characters and sub-plots are well developed in this book. You have the Jedi learning about the Sith, the Sith learning about the entire galaxy, Chief of State Daala trying to keep order without reverting back to the old Imperial ways, and a really intriguing sub-plot about an underground anti-slavery resistance building up across the entire galaxy. It's a really interesting addition to the series, and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

However, this book becomes a bit of a let down at the very end of the novel, with the event that the series has been building up to coming up very quickly, and being a little bit of a disappointment. The book even brings back a very old character from the Expanded Universe as one of the most pointless returns ever. On the plus side: Lando!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: A few scenes, especially the final battle, although it's slightly anti-climactic.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some Star Wars-specific bad language.
Summary: A great build-up building to a slightly disappointing anticlimax, but with some serious potential for future instalments. 7/10
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella
Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown Book Group

Available Now - £11.99 (Hardback)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the Newborn Army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Having read all of Stephenie’s other novels, I have the same unpleasant taste in my mouth that I got after having watch Chris Weitz’s film adaptation of New Moon. This book feels lazy and uninspiring - here was an opportunity for Meyer to shine, having gained so much more experience of being an author. When she wrote Twilight she had never written a book...she was hungry and excited, but still a novice. The Twilight Saga is her bread and butter; this is how she made her money, which makes this novella even more disappointing because it adds nothing to the books or a greater understanding of the characters.

I can understand why she was so attracted to the character of Bree in the first place, she is a brave young girl who the leader of her coven in order to stay alive. However I do not believe that novella really expands upon her as a character; it only really describes the nature of new born vampires - something that Meyer goes in to a lot of detail in Breaking Dawn. The style of writing that Meyer uses is different to the other novels and it is so much less emotive and descriptive. I know what you are thinking...all of the other books are written from the perception of Bella. Well you are wrong! Breaking Dawn was written through Jacob and Bella’s eyes and although the characters reactions are different, the style of writing is the same.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
To be fair to the book it was fairly violent.
Sex/Nudity: Some snogging, it’s always a PG when it comes to petting in Stephenie Meyer’s books.
Swearing: None.
Summary: In the words of Edward Cullen, this book “is like a human only eating tofu, it's filling but never quite satisfies.”. 5/10
The Dark King and The Lightning Tower
Dan Abnett & Graham McNeill
Black Library

Available Now - £10.00 (CD)
Review by Brad Harmer

The Great Crusade is ended. Mankind dominates the stars, but when the favoured son of the Emperor, Horus, falls from grace, brother will turn on brother and the galaxy will burn. This is the Horus Heresy. This is the death of worlds. This is the Imperium’s darkest hour.

In The Dark King, Konrad Curze begins his descent into insanity, attacking his brother-primarch Rogal Dorn and setting down the path that will see him become the Night Haunter.

In The Lightning Tower, Rogal Dorn must tear down the beauty of the Emperor’s Palace, preparing it for the coming armies of Horus. As he builds a fortress fit for the imminent conflict, he must face the prospect of confronting those he once called “brother” on the battlefield.

Atmosphere is the name of the game for this first audiobook-only release for Warhammer 40,000, and that it delivers in spades. The music, the sound effects, the production – everything is simply superb. Narrator Danny Webb turns in a simply awesome performance, nailing every character, and making them all distinctive, for ease of listening. If I didn’t already know different, I would have presumed that it was a full cast dramatisation.

The backing effects are obvious, but never intrusive, acting as sonic illustrations to the stories. Storm bolters fire, daemons gurgle, ships blast off, Terminator armour clanks, and it never seems overwhelming. This is how most audiobooks should be.

The stories themselves are hardly action packed, but as a duology of sombre mood pieces and character studies, they are superb. Fans of Warhammer 40,000, and The Horus Heresy series in particular, owe it to themselves to check this out. Well worth the price of admission. Casual fans may be less impressed by the lack of action – but I for one hope Black Library release more audiodramas (two more are already in the offing)...they have a lot of potential.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Grim Darkness. Far Future. One thing. You know the deal by now.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some very mild.
Summary: An impressively mastered piece of radio theatre. Fans of audiodramas and WH40K will be impressed, casual fans may want to wait for something with a little more kick to it. 8/10

The multi-award winning Beyond the Pole will make it’s highly anticipated U.K. DVD and Blu-ray debut on 5th July 2010.

Brian Tongue and Mark Bark Jones (Stephen Mangan - Green Wing) are setting out on the first Carbon Neutral, Vegetarian, and Organic expedition ever to attempt the North Pole. As a world first they have high hopes of getting into the Guinness Book of Records and, if all goes well, of saving the planet from Global Warming.

Unfortunately they have never done anything like this before, and they hadn’t reckoned on the polar bears, the cocky gay Norwegians, played by True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård and Lars Arentz-Hansen, or on Mark’s rapidly loosening grip on reality.

Packed full of sidesplitting adventures, Beyond the Pole is certainly a film not to be missed this summer and to celebrate its release we’re giving away a copy of the film on DVD.

To be in with a chance of winning, just answer the following question…

Stephen Mangan starred in which hit TV series?

a. Green Fluff
b. Green Wing
c. Green Zone

Send your answers in to before midday on Tuesday 6th July to be in with a chance of winning this awesome movie!

Monday 28 June 2010

E3 Announcements To Get Excited About

So E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is finally over for another year. There were plenty of announcements made by publishers, and this week I've decided to go through some of the games that drew our attention and will be available on your console of choice.

Codename: Kingdoms (Xbox 360: Crytek)

Announced within Microsoft's E3 keynote as the short trailer shown above only, Codename: Kingdoms is a previously unannounced title exclusive to Microsoft's console.

What's interesting about the game right away is the setting. The trailer only shows a brief glimpse of what to expect, but at the same time we have enough to know that the game follows some sort of Gladiator-style setting, and is published by Crytek. For those who aren't familiar with the developer, they have in the past been responsible for Far Cry and Crysis, two highly-regarded first person shooter games which were also known for pushing the limits of the PC. To put it in perspective, Crysis, in particular, has only just had processors released that will handle it on "Very High" settings comfortably, the new Intel Core i7 series.

So what do we know about this game for sure? Undoubtedly, it will make the most of the Xbox 360 hardware, which as we've seen is capable of some extraordinary things when pushed properly. However, the style of game that we can expect is still completely unknown. Knowing Crytek, the game is likely to be a first-person game, possibly a melée game with swords and whatnot. However, one thing that intrigues about the game is the following possibility that doesn't seem to have been thought of in great detail. Microsoft no longer has a real-time strategy division on consoles, with their Ensemble studio closing after Halo Wars. The game is called Codename: Kingdoms, which has an element of RTS to it. Unlikely though it is, could we be looking at Microsoft's next big strategy franchise?

Rage (Xbox 360, PS3, PC: id Software)

Remember id? They were the makers of Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein 3D. Their previous game before this was Doom 3, a big budget production that despite its hype really didn't deliver much more than a series of 'monster cupboards' that didn't really make for the most exciting gameplay experience. Despite this, everyone knew that id were capable of, and in Rage they seem to be attempting to reclaim that reputation of greatness.

Significant jumps have been made towards a post-apocalyptic environment in gaming as a staple part of shooters, with games such as Fallout 3 or Borderlands gravitating towards that Mad Max type of environment. It seems to be a popular thing as well to make the enemies realistic with elements of the surreal as well, with mutants and so forth usually appearing within the otherwise realistic setting.

Rage is no exception, but takes the familiar corridor shooting that the studio is known for and blends in some driving sections as well as some elements more commonly found in role-playing games such as the aforementioned Fallout 3. What's most impressive based on journalistic impressions and play testing is that the AI of the game's enemies is nothing short of impressive. A particular highlight from events was an incident where the guy playing the game set up sentries and turned to talk to the audience, only to find that the enemies had flanked him and dismantled the sentries while he was talking about something he'd be doing next. It's just a sure-fire sign that if nothing else, the game will attempt to break some new ground in the shooter genre.

Epic Mickey (Wii, Disney Studios)

I know exactly what you're thinking. Why, Rob, why? It's a Disney game, for a start, and your love of Castle of Illusion notwithstanding, what possible reason could there be for getting particularly excited about this game?

First things first, let's get one thing clear on this: I think that for their mileage, Nintendo had a much better E3 press conference than the other two companies. Sony and Microsoft revealed far too many of their top level titles before their keynote, and as a result a few of their announcements really felt like old news. Granted, I think the Internet is one of the worst things to happen to the element of surprise, but in this case I feel I'm justified. So Nintendo released a few new announcements, many of which I feel would deserve their rightful place in this list of upcoming titles. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the first Wii-exclusive title in the franchise, their announcement of the 3DS console, which according to early impressions is excellent, and the one I'm pretty damned excited about, the new instalment of Donkey Kong Country.

Why then is Epic Mickey the one I'm excited for? Well, the answer is simple in this case. Firstly, as I previously stated, I like the Mickey Mouse games I've played, and I find them to be immensely playable. Secondly, there's a personality attached to the game that I feel suggests a certain level of quality to the project. Warren Fucking Spector.

For those who aren't familiar with his work, Spector is responsible for such classic works as Wing Commander, games from the Ultima series, System Shock, Deus Ex and the first two games in the Thief series. In terms of profile, Spector is among the greats. Now, I have some vague experience with Deus Ex. Granted, my experience was limited to blowing both my legs and one of my arms off in the tutorial level, but I enjoyed the game nonetheless simply for the depth involved in the game.

Epic Mickey looks like a sleeper hit, with Spector's attachment a further demonstration of the quality that we can expect in the development of this game. Furthermore, the idea of going through classic film reels as levels has a suggested level of fun to it along the lines of the Lego games. Making it for the Wii seems like a good fit, as this year's theme for Nintendo seemed to be making the announcements that 'hardcore' gamers hadn't been forsaken like they seem to think.

Ultimately, the winner in this year's E3 was the gaming community. The Wii has a few extra 'hardcore' games on the way to keep the dedicated Nintendo fans happy. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have their own motion controllers on the way to attract new gamers, while at the same time are busy on new franchises and instalments to the great franchises that gamers have come to know and love. Even the advent of 3D gaming seems to be on the way, though it's difficult to say whether Sony's 3D support for PS3 or Nintendo's 3DS will prove to be more successful at it. Life has never been sweeter if you're a gamer. Enjoy it, because things can only get better.

Saturday 26 June 2010

DVD Reviews

Solomon Kane
Starring: Jason Flemyng, Alice Krige, James Purefoy
Director: Michael J. Bassett
Entertainment In Video

Available from 28th June - £19.99 (DVD) & £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

As a mercenary of Queen Elizabeth I fighting in Africa, Solomon Kane encounters a demon and realises he must seek redemption or have his soul condemned to hell. He returns to England and lives a life of peace but soon the doings of an evil sorcerer upset his plans and he must take up arms again.

Sounds a bit like Solomon Kane, right? A little? He’s got a big hat, so that’s enough, right?

Okay, no. This has fuck all to do with Solomon Kane, really. But is it a good movie in and of itself?

The action scenes in this are certainly worth a watch. They’re brutal, stylish, and just plain entertaining. The ropey CG should really be forgiven considering that it’s hardly a high budget movie, but that rather unfortunately doesn’t stop it from being more than a little distracting at times.

The story is pretty much generic fantasy-revenge-movie, with no real surprises along the way. Everything from major plot points to supposed “surprises” in a particular scene are telegraphed miles in advance – to say it’s predictable is an understatement.

With these points covered, it’s still not that bad. When it doesn’t rely on its CG, it looks fantastic, with the cinematography calling to mind a darker, grimmer Lord of the Rings. The acting is pretty good across the board. I just can’t shake the notion that it would have been a lot better if they’d spent their time and money know...a movie based on the stories of Solomon Kane.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Near constant acts of violence. Stabbings, slashing, shootings, blood, gore, evisceration and crucifixion.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: A fun enough action movie, but it’s hard not to be stung by the wasted potential. The action scenes are excellent, but the narrative brings no real surprises. 6/10

Clint Eastwood: The Director's Collection
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Clint Eastwood, Sean Penn
Director: Clint Eastwood
Warner Home Video

Available Now - £34.99 (DVD) & £49.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Released in a special five disc set, Clint Eastwood: Director’s Edition pulls together five of his finest movies into one not-so-little package, and at a bargain price, too. We love Clint, you love’s hard not to love the man who gave us Every Which Way But Loose. So, how does this collection measure up?

The DVD overhaul isn’t good. It auto-starts from a bland menu, and the picture is VHS quality. The film itself, however, still shines. The violence is brutal and uncompromising, and the acting is fantastic all round...hardly surprising considering the talent on display! Gene Hackman is a genuinely nasty bad guy, and Clint is still the best heroic cowboy in cinema history. The best western ever made, and a great modern tragedy. Essential viewing. 10/10

Mystic River
Mystic River won a few Oscars when it came out, but one thing you will notice is that they’re all for acting. Tim Robbins in particular is fantastic in this dark and heavy crime drama. The direction here is competent, but the general story is unfortunately dull and unengaging. It’s worth watching for the quality of the acting, but this is the disc you won’t be revisiting as often. An overlong and rather unengaging crime drama. Far from the best in the set. 6/10

Flags of Our Fathers
Clint, we love you. Tense when it needs to be, slow when it has to be, and engaging through and through, Flags of our Fathers is a war movie that tackles the same questions, but in a very original way. This is one of those films that is so good that you want to show it to someone else straight away. A genuinely moving war movie that provides an excellent satire on war in the media. Superbly put together – do not miss. 10/10

Letters from Iwo Jima
Dodgy subtitle mastering on this issue. Unless you actively click the subtitles on, you’re going to be watching the movie entirely in Japanese, with no clue what’s going on. An easily corrected mistake, of course, but one that should not have even been an issue on a release of this calibre. Despite its length, the movie just flies by. The action scenes are earth-shaking, and all of the characters likable – to one extent or another. One of the finest war movies ever made. A wonderful blend of the painfully touching and the highly explosive. Essential, and the best movie in the set. 10/10

Gran Torino
Clint Eastwood plays this lead as Walt Kowalski, a grumpy, racist, gun-toting son of a bitch. An endearing and passionate modern western, brilliantly performed. The acting is good, the story is good...but the real thing that holds this together is an untouchable X factor. Asked to explain why I loved this movie so much, I’m afraid I can’t. As a reviewer, that’s an Epic Fail, I’m aware...but those who have seen it will know what I mean, those who haven’t should see it, then agree. Clint Eastwood is the best thing ever to happen to cinema. 9/10

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Slashing and stabbing, punching, kicking, mudhole-stomping, shootings, bull whipping, evisceration, immolation, suicide and torture.
Sex/Nudity: Several references, including some to paedophilia and rape.
Swearing: Mostly swearing, with some clean dialogue. Some of it is in Japanese. Gran Torino contains 82 variations on “fuck”. At a running time of 116 minutes, that’s pretty good going.
Summary: A great compilation of a great movies by a great actor/director. Some minor technical flaws hamper a couple of the discs, but considering the price, this is near essential. We love you, Clint. You are the Patron Saint of Emotionally Fourteen. 9/10

Caligula: The Blu Edition
Director: Tinto Brass
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole.
Arrow Films
Available now, RRP £19.99 (Blu-Ray only)
Review by Rob Wade

Caligula tells the story of the emperor of Rome of the same name. Based on Suetonius’ Lives of the Twelve Caesars, the film is the stuff of legend – originally released in 1979, the film was censored until 2008 when the film was finally granted an 18 certificate by the BBFC.

When the people responsible for the promotion of the film describe it as an ‘insane pornographic orgy of a film’, they’re really not kidding. This film is possibly one of the most E14 films ever devised in many ways. Violent, unapologetically pornographic, with a plot that ultimately takes the titular character through from a bumbling incestuous prince to the Emperor of all Rome, all the while teaching on the subject of death and power.

One of the first things that struck me about this film was how phenomenally soothing the voice of John Gielgud really is. If he was never a radio host, it was a waste. The film begins with Caligula (played by Malcolm McDowell of Star Trek: Generations fame) as the heir to Emperor Tiberius, who fortunately for McDowell snuffs it within the first forty minutes of the film. He is then the next in line for the throne and becomes Emperor. However, he finds it difficult to hide his contempt for Rome and the system, and begins making ludicrous judgments in courts as well as having the previous Emperor’s assassin arrested.

There were some silly bits to this film; for instance, Caligula has checked Tiberius for breathing a number of times, and puts on his Emperor ring in order to see how it looks. He looks at himself in a mirror, and fails to see Tiberius sit up behind him. Just saying.

This film ultimately is a dramatically over-the-top masterpiece of decadence, with a superb performance from Malcolm McDowell in the role of Caligula, depicting fantastically well the transition from prince to Emperor, and the gradual madness that he descends into over his efforts to attain the status of a God.

It really is hard to know how to rate this movie. On the one hand, it’s a cinematically superb movie starring a whole cast of actors who perform their roles admirably. On the other hand, it’s a really long and at times overly long-winded film that runs at 156 minutes. Sometimes it means that there are considerable periods of very slow-paced narrative flow. All said, though, the film is very well done, with excellent performances from the cast.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Stabbing, people carrying around bits of horse, heads in cages, beheadings, Caligula twatting his sister in the face, a child’s head getting smashed against some stairs (I didn’t make any of these up); there’s absolutely bucketloads of blood during the course of the film as well.
Sex/Nudity: Absolutely tons of it, from nude girls and guys running around to explicit (and I do NOT mince words here) hardcore sex. Incest, homosexuality, fisting, rape, threesomes, orgies, blowjobs, lesbian 69s and fucking, when there’s sex and nudity in this film, they don’t fuck around.
Swearing: None. Surprising really, but there you go. Can’t have everything.
Summary: A tremendous cinematic achievement, with a superb cast of characters and performances. It is, I have found, slightly over-long in places, but a good film nonetheless. 8/10

American Dad: Season Five
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Rachael MacFarlane, Wendy Schaal
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £27.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

American Dad, whilst not having the same success as Seth MacFarlane’s other popular adult cartoon (Family Guy) should not be underestimated, as in some ways (dare I say it), American Dad is actually a better show.

For those of you who no nothing about it, American Dad follows die-hard republican and CIA Agent Stan Smith and his crazy family, including house wife Francine, geeky son Steve, rebellious daughter Hayley, Roger, an Alien who’s living in the house to be kept under wraps, and Klaus, a German who has been transported into the body of a Goldfish due to a CIA experiment gone wrong. Series Five of the show has Francine becoming a businesswoman, Steve writing a porno, Stan becoming addicted to Trans Fats and Roger dressing up as the Phantom of the Opera in an attempt to ruin a CIA telethon organised by Stan.

American Dad is awesome for several reasons. Firstly, each episode is self-contained and doesn’t rely on a series of random sketches of varying quality as more recent episodes of Family Guy have become. Also, in places American Dad is slightly more cringey and risqué with it’s humour than the likes of Family Guy - but has managed to do it without being cancelled or getting into too much trouble with Fox or the FCC. In fact it is these gags that get the biggest laughs.

The only real downsides to American Dad is that because each episode is more about plot there may not be as many gags per minute as Family Guy whilst also suffering from Family Guy’s problem of having jokes that are a too American to be got over here in Blighty.

However, despite these problems, American Dad is a show that has gone from strength to strength with each new series (rather than Family Guy’s gradual decline), and Season Five is no exception. Fans of the show will love it, and I highly recommend it to newcomers, especially if they want to see something that’s a little bit different to Family Guy, but still just as funny.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Lots of chase scenes and violence but nothing too gratuitous as this is just a cartoon at the end of the day. Imagine the violence in Family Guy and you pretty much have it to a tee.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of references to sex, but as this is a cartoon, nothing is really shown [I'm gonna have to give you some of this anime... - Brad].
Swearing: Lots of swear words, but used for comedic purposes.
Summary: A great show that deserves to be out of the shadow of its sister programme Family Guy. There are lots of great laughs to be had here, and I highly recommend it to anyone, but please please please, don’t compare it to Family Guy. 8/10

Top Gear: The Challenges 4
Starring: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May
2 Entertain

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

Another Top Gear bundle has hit the shelves. Top Gear is usually entertaining, and sometimes even downright hilarious, but it seems with this fourth compilation of the “Challenges”, the barrel scrapers are starting to pick up a few splinters, along with the goodies.

The truly hilarious segments are the boys trying to make their own eco-car to rival the G-Wiz – which leads to them holding up traffic, cooking Richard Hammond’s head in a box and – astonishingly – actually being reviewed in Autocar magazine. Another “Challenge” in which they have to devise their own, cheaper, alternative to the standard Vauxhall Astra police car is brilliant – and leads to some genuinely unexpected and hilarious moments.

The rest of the set is however – either middling, or just plain dull. Richard Hammond races some skiers down the side of a mountain. The team go on a Time-Trial rally in an okay show. The second disc however, is where most of it falls apart. It holds your interest for sure, but there’s no real substance, sense of cohesion or – sad to say – consistency to really warrant forking over the cash for some that, let’s be honest, will be on Dave in a couple of months time.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Some minor car collisions.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some mild British slang (damn, bugger, etc.).
Summary: An entertaining enough compilation, but one you’re unlikely to view more than once. Worth a rental. You could get a similar effect by watching Dave for an afternoon. 6/10

Friday 25 June 2010

Console Wars

Brad: Fuck.
Rob: What's up?
Brad: I think my Xbox got the Green Light of Senility.
Rob: Ah, balls. Did it start trying to look up stuff on Teletext for you? That's usually a sign of senility.
Brad: I try and get it to play a disc and it'll either ignore me, and stare into the middle distance - or it'll run for about fifteen minutes, lose all sound, and then lock-up five minutes later. It's adding more than a little realism to the Terry Funk career mode on Legends of Wrestling II, granted.
Rob: What are you going to do then?
Brad: Upgrade, I guess. The missus is making noises about a Wii.
Rob: Oh. Right.
Brad: I'm more drawn towards a Neo Geo Pocket. Or one of them Barcode Somethings.
Rob: I've never understood your phobia of contemporary consoles.
Brad: I never understood your phobia of frogs.
Rob: Yeah. Thanks for that article, by the way.
Brad: I don't have a "phobia", anyway. I bought a PS2 a while back.
Rob: How long ago?
Brad: were working in Game when I bought me out here.
Rob: You've possibly not bought a console since 2006?
Brad: I want to say 2007.
Rob: 2007 would be the full year that I worked there. It was November 2006 to February 2008.
Brad: It was with my annual bonus, which I get in yes - 2007. Still works, though. I picked up a game for it at a boot fair the other day.
Rob: Man, your annual bonus is just enough to buy a PS2?
Brad: In 2007, yeah.
Rob: I take back what I've said in the past man, you're underpaid.
Brad: I say "underpaid", the company says "underefforted".
Rob: Potato, Potato...
Brad: That doesn't really work written down.
Rob: Po-tay-toh, Po-Tah-toh, I guess.
Brad: How many consoles have you bought since 2007 then?
Rob: Uh...technically three, if you count my brief ownership of a PSP. Soon to be four, hopefully.
Brad: Oh, wait! I bought a BlackBerry. That counts, right? It comes with Sudoku, and Word Mole. It's not as good as Punctuation Badger, but there you go...
Rob: Or Simile Vole.
Brad: We have to stop there. If you mention a British wild animal in a punchline three times, Bill Bailey can sue you.
Rob: Fine, let's weasel out of it.
Brad: I might just buy another Xbox. They still make them, right?
Rob: Uh, dude...No. Xbox has been discontinued, you can only get them from pikey shops like CeX now.
Brad: You can get them at Sex Shops?
Rob: C-E-X.
Brad: That's not how you spell sex.
Rob: I know!
Brad: Hunh. So what would you recommend I do, to cex up my console collection a little?
Rob: I dunno man, how about I show you a couple of exclusives to each console, and let you make your mind up?
Brad: Why not? After all...we have a gap where Friday's article should be.
Rob: ...
Brad: We need to get that hole in the wall fixed.
Rob: Which wall?
Brad: The fourth one.
Rob: Anyway, which one do you want to start with?
Brad: Um...which one is which?
Rob: Well, which did you play more, PS2 or Xbox?
Brad: PS2. I think.
Rob: You think? Hunh, that's a surprise to me.
Brad: More frequently, I mean. I owned the Xbox for longer, so in terms of hours logged that...averaged out...probably the PS2, yeah.
Rob: Shall we start with PS3 then? Or shall we go with the 360, the PS2 of this generation?
Brad: What makes it the PS2 of this generation?
Rob: The volume of games, I find. In terms of depth of software, I think the 360 has more available in general
Brad: what's its USP?
Rob: Do you mean in terms of games or features?
Brad: You're the salesman. You tell me.
Rob: In terms of features, the main difference between the two now is that on the new 360, the wireless is better, and the online service is better. On PS3 the online is free, but you get what you pay for. Plus it's a Blu-ray player. The 360 upscales DVDs on a compatible TV, but only streamed video content is output in 1080p. Everything else is 720p I think.
Brad: Ah, Woman's HD.
Rob: Is that a magazine?
Brad: I hope so. If not, it should be. So, the Xbox is more aimed at online gaming, the PS3 is more for hermits.
Rob: Definitely, if the reactions to motion control are anything to go by. Xbox 360 has one device that reads multiple players, and everyone's saying it's going to be overpriced compared to Sony's single player setup. Well d'uh! It's like complaining that a PA costs more than a guitar.
Brad: So, if you're socially active and into energetic things, you want a 360 - if you hate people and moving more than necessary, you're a Sony kid, right?
Rob: Yeah, I'd say that's a pretty sensible logic.
Brad: I'll have one of them PS3s.
Rob: Really? I thought you were more of a social gamer.
Brad: Hmmm...for gaming, I guess you're right. It's not a lot of fun playing Battleships on your own. So what's the game you're gonna recommend?
Rob: Well, what's your favourite Xbox game?
Brad: Um...
Rob: J00 li3k t3h h4l0z?
Brad: I'll give you the ones I probably logged the most hours on: Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, Max Payne and Enter The Matrix.
Rob: Okay. So if you like Max Payne, it'd be a good bet to show you their latest project right?
Brad: Go for it.

Rob: Meet Alan Wake.
Brad: A psychological action thriller, huh? How does that work?
Rob: Well, it works like an action thriller, but with psychological elements.
Brad: That's the second least helpful thing you could have said.
Rob: Think Hard to Kill mixed with Frasier.
Brad: That's...the first...Ooooh! I just remembered! I played a fuckton of Morrowind as well!
Rob: Well, Oblivion is out on both consoles.
Brad: I have a thing for RPGs that sound like archaic names for indegestion. I kid you not. I own a boardgame called Runebound that always makes me think of constipation.
Rob: That does work, actually. Scary. Anyway, so Alan Wake then.
Brad: What about him? Isa it a bit like Max Payne, then?
Rob: Similar, yeah. The story goes thusly: Alan Wake is a famous writer who, experiencing writer's block, goes to a rural town with his wife. Things start to take a sinister turn when he finds pages from a manuscript he doesn't remember writing, and his wife disappears...
Brad: That does actually sound pretty cool. How does the game itself play? Like...Tekken?
Rob: It's a little like Max Payne, but there's smatterings of Silent Hill in there. You weaken enemies by shining torch light on them, then shooting them once their health is low enough. Then you start getting chased by the FBI, and light becomes your enemy. That level in particular is awesome.
Brad: I would rent that movie. Or buy that audiobook.
Rob: Watching me play Alan Wake? Listening to Alan Wake?
Brad: You kid but there's a market there: "YES! You can hear the actual sounds of E14's Robert Wade grunting his way though Baldur's Gate II!"
Rob: I never played that game, have you been doctoring audio again?
Brad: So...the Xbox is mostly for people who like group gaming, and this Alan Wake thing, which uses motion controls to help you shine a light on monsters with a guitar?
Rob: There's no motion controls on that game.
Brad: Wasted opportunity, there.
Rob: It's not really been talked about whether there's likely to be any stuff like that in new games. They're suggesting that maybe first-person shooters may in future allow you to throw grenades with a gesture.
Brad: what does the PS3 have to rival Mr Wake?
Rob: Right, for PS3...

Rob: Heavy Rain.
Brad: Ah. The hoover thing. Blake has nothing but good things to say about this. Of course, Blake has nothing but good things to say about most of that hardcore punk he listens to. And that all sounds likes a war correspondent spitting gravel down a drainpipe.
Rob: Despite that, this game is really good.
Brad: Okay...what's it about. Does it involve hoovers?
Rob: Nope.
Brad: Damn.
Rob: In a city on the US east coast, sons are mysteriously going missing, only to be found five days later, drowned in rain water, with an origami figure on their chests...The public is gripped by fear and paranoia. The authorities seem no closer to a credible suspect. And now another son has disappeared - Shaun Mars.
Brad: Can I ask a question?
Rob: Yeah.
Brad: Where do the writers get these dumb names from? Does anyone in video game land have a real name?
Rob: How do you mean?
Brad: Shaun Mars..Alan Wake...Max Payne...I don't think real people have those names.
Rob: I've never met an Alan Wake, true. Let me think about this.
Brad: The most realistic name in video game land appears to belong to the blue hedgehog. The rest all sound like the sort of names Dolph Lundgren or Rutger Hauer would have in a bad straight-to-rental movie.
Rob: Rico Rodriguez in Just Cause?
Brad: "Rico Rodriguez", really? Why not just call him "Mexican Stereotype"?
Rob: Or there's Soap MacTavish from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Brad: I've never met anyone called Soap, but I hope to someday. I've got these super duper consoles to play with my friends with, harnessing motion based peripherals...and the best games available for each are grim and dark thrillers for one player, and with no motion controls.
Rob: Uh...yeah.
Brad: I really don't think the video game industry can decide on who its customers are.
Rob: It's pretty true in general, to be honest. I find that though the motion controls aren't really aimed at gamers like me, I want them just because the technology's impressive.
Brad: So, what are the best multi-player, social gaming stuff you can offer me?
Rob: Both consoles have got Rock Band, Guitar Hero, their own singing games etc. Xbox 360 has Scene It, PS3 has Buzz. 360 has a series of motion control games on the way. PS3 hasn't really announced any party stuff for The Move, as it's called.
Brad: Okay. Can, I show you something in return?
Rob: Am I going to need therapy?
Brad: I've got a game that's grim, dark, narrative heavy, has innovative controls and is multiplayer.

Rob: That would make a great game on Xbox Live Arcade.
Brad: It would save me having to clear off my table each fortnight, that's for sure.
Rob: They've released Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan and Magic: The Gathering.
Brad: Ah, Carc. "You drew a tile! Awesome! Put it anywhere! It's all the same! Ha! There is no God!"
Rob: I'm trying to think of other board games that have made it to Arcade. They're doing Yu-Gi-Oh! Oh, they did Ticket to Ride, but I never played that.
Brad: They should do like a Matrix-style virtual reality for Arkham Horror.
Rob: That would rock.
Brad: So...what we're saying is that best next gen console out there at the moment is a hypophetical one which has a hypothetical version of a board game on it?
Rob: I...Well...If...
Brad: ' know..I already have a dining table. And Arkham Horror.
Rob: All right, so you've got Arkham horror...I bet I can show you something that will make you want a console.
Brad: If it's Dark Corners of the Earth, I already have it.

Brad: Hunh. Yeah, I have to admit...I had the tradeable minatures game for the original, and that really didn't cut it.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Book Reviews

Warhammer: Bloodborn
Nathan Long
Black Library

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Ulrika, a female warrior, has recently been turned into a vampire, and she now finds herself attempting to adjust to her new way of life. But when a fellow vampire is killed in Nuln, Ulrika and her mentor, Gabriella, are sent to investigate. Soon they find themselves facing danger from all sides as they attempt to solve a mystery that threatens the very existence of the Lahmian bloodline. How can they hope to destroy something with the power to kill a vampire?

Taking the Gothic fantasy sentiments of Ravenloft and smashing it with a Warhammer, Bloodborn is a rivetting read from the off. All of the characters – especially leads Gabriella and Ulrika – are fantastically conceived and portrayed. They’re vampires that manage to be rounded characters, full of their own motivations and idiosyncrasies, and they can also rip people into shreds without thinking.


Bloodborn’s greatest strength is its merging of three styles: Gothic horror, swashbuckling fantasy, and Takashi Miike style ultraviolence. Whilst a story containing those three elements sounds like “a bit of a chuckle”, let me assure you that in Bloodborn it’s not played for laughs, and it actually works. It calls to mind the styles of the old Penny Dreadfuls from the mid nineteenth century, in the best way.

Combined with a hard-hitting, explodey and unexpected ending, Bloodborn has the potential to become a great ongoing series. In any event, this is best vampire story so far this year.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Frequent, hyper-violent and gory. Bitings, eviscerations, stabbings, slicings, guns and explosions.
Sex/Nudity: Some references, and sexual undertones.
Swearing: None.
Summary: An excellent fantasy/horror novel. The characters are awesome, the set-pieces are exciting and the blood flows frequently. 10/10

Wednesday 23 June 2010

So You Want A "Badass" Pet...

Cats? Pfft. Dogs? All right. Snakes? Now you’re just overcompensating.

Picking the right pet can be hard. You want something interesting, maybe? Something you can cuddle and stroke? Those are all perfectly viable reasons for getting a pet, sure. But what if you want something a little bit different? What if you want a Leonidas of a pet? Something that’s capable of seriously fucking something else’s shit up? What if you want...a badass pet?

Here are five potential candidates...

Disclaimer: All of the following are genuinely available to purchase as pets in the United Kingdom, and none require a licence or proof of competence to do so. If you decide that you do want to own one of these animals – that’s great - but please behave responsibly. Do your research, consider all aspects of ownership carefully, and only buy them from specialist exotic pet suppliers.

5: Tailless Whip Scorpion

The Tailless Whip Scorpion looks like what would happen if someone had jogged Giger’s arm whilst he was designing the Alien.

Technically neither a scorpion nor a spider, but rather its own order of arachnid, more often referred to as Ohmyfucking-jesuschrist-whatthefuck. The Tailless Whip Scorpion does several things that make it genuinely nightmarish. For starters, it climbs up walls, sideways like a crab. It uses those two giant claws to grab food, and stuff it – still living – into its mouth.

The thing is, though, despite looking like something that dropped out of Shub-Niggurath’s nose, the Tailless Whip Scorpion is surprisingly docile. It generally keeps itself to itself, and never attacks anything larger than, say, a cricket.

Tailless Whip Scorpions are easy to keep as pets, requiring a small vivarium (height is more important than floor area), some mild humidity and temperature control, and relatively little feeding – although their food must be live. They are generally nervous at first, but can be handled safely.

4: Praying Mantis

Praying Mantids (AKA The +1 Insect of Fuckening) are the ninjas of the insect world. Their chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise. Their two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency. Their three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and what essentially works out as chitinous katana blades on their front legs. If a Praying Mantis was a video game character, it would be Baraka.

A Praying Mantis is a biological hunting machine. It’s capable of standing perfectly still, highly camouflaged, for hours on end. When prey comes by, it moves at the speed of lighting, trapping, stabbing, and beginning to eat its prey in one swift movement. It’s a Venus Fly-Trap on legs.

Here’s one fucking up a mouse:

If you get a hardy species – something like a Giant Asian or Dead Leaf Mantis, then they’re relatively easy to keep. They need a small vivarium, something to climb on, and regular feeding (food must be live). They can be handled without danger, but they can be careful, for their sake.

3: Assassin Bug

If the grumpy and quiet Tailless Whip Scorpion was a human, it’d be Red Forman. If the silent and deadly Praying Mantis was a human, it’d be Chuck Norris (Internet ROFL). If the Assassin Bug was a’d be Ed Gein.

An Assassin bug eats much like a spider does. It stabs its prey with its sharp proboscis, and then drains their fluids away. The Assassin Bug, however, goes one further. It has been known to cover itself in the dead skins of the animals it has killed, as camouflage. Here’s proof:

There. That’s one of nature’s most depraved predators, disguising itself under a mountain of things it has killed. Jason Voorhees has got nothing on this three centimetre long bastard.

Assassin Bugs can make pretty entertaining and educational pets, if handled with care. They’ll need only a small tank – something like a cricket tank – but they need it quiet warm, so a heat mat and thermostat is essential. They can be fed on virtually any live invertebrate, and size isn’t too important. They have been known to take down prey twice their own size. Take great care when handling, as they can spray their venom quite some distance, and have a very painful bite.

2: Cobalt Blue Tarantula

I wasn’t going to put normal stuff in this list, as everyone knows you can have tarantulas, scorpions and snakes these days....but the Cobalt Blue Tarantula deserves a special mention. Even its Wikipedia entry pretty much just states KEEP THE FUCK AWAY FROM THIS.

Here’s one of them looking fucked off.

An expert tarantula keeper commented: “One of the most aggressive, most beautiful, and high[ly] strung tarantulas in the spider world...Only recommended for advanced keepers”. Chances are if you found an exotic pet shop with one of these in stock, they wouldn’t sell it to you, anyway.

If you do get one, you’re need a terrarium with a lot of earth, because it likes to burrow, like a trap-door spider. Also, you’ll need chain-mail gloves.

1: Pacman Frog

"A frog?", you're thinking, "After dead insect wearing, foreleg katana wielding hot spider death you're giving me a fragging frog? What the hell, Harmer?". Well, most you would think that. The thing is most people forget one thing about frogs. We're so used to seeing cartoony, playful or even dopey frogs in popular media that it's easy to forget that the real-life things are actually carnivores. they are a species that has evolved as a killing machine not only on land, but in the water as well.

The Pacman Frog is not particularly attractive. Nor is it especially active. What it does do – like no other amphibian does – is layeth the smacketh down on anything you care to throw into its tank. Let’s take a look at a Pacman Frog giving a cheery “Good morning, my dear!” to its loving owner.


Pacman Frogs are basically a huge mouth, an arsehole, and a bit in the middle that looks like a frog. If you pick one of these as your pet, then you’re not only taking home an invertebrate disposal’re getting a handy-dandy vertebrate disposal system to boot. They will eat virtually anything that wriggles in front of them. Crickets, roaches, mice, worms, rats, spiders, fish and even other frogs.

Let’s see another Pacman Frog in action:

Okay, they also eat you.

If you want a Pacman Frog, you will want a smallish tank (they’re big, but don’t move around much, so about 10 gallon will do), as well as a good sizes heating mat, as they like it warm and pretty humid. Food is easily obtainable from either pet stores, your garden, or – at a pinch – I’d imagine you could use elderly relatives.

As a mercenary of Queen Elizabeth I fighting in Africa, Solomon Kane encounters a demon and realises he must seek redemption or have his soul condemned to hell. He returns to England and lives a life of peace but soon the doings of an evil sorcerer upset his plans and he must take up arms again. Based on the pulp magazine character created in 1928 by Robert E Howard.

Thanks to our friends at Entertainment In Video, we've got three copies of Solomon Kane on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Wednesday 30th June (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Gaming Reviews

Judges' Handbook
Judge Dredd RPG Player's Guide
Mongoose Publishing

Available Now - £14.10 (PDF) & £20.00 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Uncover the secrets of the Justice Department in Mega-City One. In the Judges’ Handbook – the lastest offering in the Judge Dredd RPG line from Mongoose Publishing, you will find all the methods, technologies and procedures the judges use to track down criminals. From the forensics of Tek-Div to the Manta Prowl Tank, there is a tool to solve ever crime, and your judges had access to them all.

Mongoose Publishing may actually be the best publisher of licensed gaming material. Unlike some companies who acquire the licence, use to it road test their own system, milk the cash from it, and cancel it...Mongoose continually support all of their lines with free material, and provide some of the best supplements out there.

In here is a fantastic system for rapidly sending your character for special division training, whether permanently, for a special assignment, or even to create a character for a one off adventure. It does with a few handy rolls judging your level of success in training, any particular events that happen to you (which may alter stats, or – even better – give your character a nice anecdote to relate!). The tables are massive (often spreading two or more pages), so the replay potential is massive!

The Justice Department provides new rules and options for judges as they patrol the streets of Mega-City One, and allows them access to the more elite divisions and promotions, allowing them to become Exorcist Judges, join the Holocaust Squad, or even the SJS! It’s packed full of every weapon your characters or campaign could ever need...and I think it has every vehicle too. The supplemental equipment here is great for both players and GMs. Essential. 10/10




One man's journal as he strives to survive the greatest disaster to hit mankind - - the zombie apocalypse!

May 16th. 1201 hrs. We are now under siege. Beyond the silo access doors, we have a small army of beaten and battered undead to contend with. They only want one thing...

Day by Day Armageddon is the handwritten journal of one man and his struggle for survival. Trapped in the midst of a global disaster, he must make decisions that could mean life, or which could condemn him eternally to walk as one of them. Enter, if you dare, into his world. The world of the undead.

Thanks to our friends at Simon and Schuster, we've got three copies of J.L. Bourne's Day by Day Armageddon to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Tuesday 29th June (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

Monday 21 June 2010


Welcome once again to Newsfalsh!, a closer look at some of the stuff you might have missed in the news over the last couple of months.

Woman changes name over Thomas Cook dispute

I hate people sometimes. Articles like this just justify my ire. The story goes that a woman had booked up a honeymoon for her and her future husband, but had booked it under her married name, Mrs Leeks, in anticipation of the blessed event. Unfortunately, legally the name on your passport must match the name on the booking, and she had not been able to change her name to match her married name of course. However, it sort of goes without saying that she over-reacted a touch. Just a touch.

Well, maybe more than just a touch. After being told by Thomas Cook that it would require payment of a fee in order to amend the booking so that the name on the passport matched the name on the booking, she flipped out like a motherfucker and decided that the better course of action was to change her name by deed poll. What did she change it to, you ask? Mrs Leeks, her married name, in anticipation of the big event?

Nope, she went for the slightly more verbose "Mrs Lorraine Darla I Hate Thomas Cook And Its Associates Big Shot Company Treading On The Little Guy Leeks."

Never mind, first of all, that this is not a case of a big corporation 'treading on the little guy'. This is a case of someone not reading the terms and conditions, or even exercising a little common sense when making a travel reservation. The company treading on someone would be enforcing a luggage limit incorrectly and making someone pay incorrectly despite the fact that the customer had insisted that the company were in the wrong.

It's distinctions like this that irk me, especially given that I've spent a few years of my life in retail and have heard most of the common misconceptions in their thousands, especially "Oh, well this one is priced ten pounds cheaper than the others, so you're legally obliged to do it for that price". If you believe that misconception, I hate to tell you this, but it's wrong. Something shops do to get money through their tills, yes; legally binding, no.

Anyway, I'm struggling to work out how this affects anyone in a negative way except for her. Firstly, at her wedding, she has to listen to the vicar and her husband repeat her new ridiculous name, but she apparently finds that funny so heaven help the poor gimp. Secondly, it's important to remember that she had to pay £14.99 for the name change by deed poll, and that she would have had to go out of her way in order to get the name changed in the first place. Also, I've done some research (which incidentally she could have saved herself money by doing in the first instance) and it would have only cost £20 to change the name on the booking as long as she did it in enough time.

Thirdly, and most importantly, she changed her name by deed poll, but it still doesn't match her name on her passport, so she still can't take the honeymoon.


Psychic joins search for missing cat in Lincolnshire

Wait, I stand corrected. It's articles like this that do it. So the story in this case goes that a four-year-old tabby cat went missing in Hertfordshire in October of last year, and that the search has become so desperate that they have enlisted the help of a psychic in order to find the cat.

First things first, I find it annoying that the owner had £1,000 to piss away on the search for a cat. I realise that some people get attached to their pets, but let's be fair: if you care that much about the animal you go out when you can and look for it yourself. Having £1,000 to spend on a search is strange, but I find it stranger still that there is a company called Animal Search UK and that they make a business out of finding lost cats and presumably dogs.

So they bring in a psychic to find this cat, as according to the owner money is no object when it comes to searching for the animal. Apparently the search has gained some publicity (yeah, no shit) and they are building up a good picture of where the cat might be. According to the psychic, the cat has been adopted by a new family who aren't aware that it has an owner. That's one possibility, although it's more correct to state that the cat is simply being fed more by someone else. The other possibility is that its back legs are poking out from underneath a Fiat Uno.

The most terrifying thing about this news story is that there is such a thing as the Merseyside Skeptic's Society. Surely the concept of this isn't really logical, in the same way that an Antisocial Society makes no sense. What's the selection criteria for the Skeptic's Society, anyway?

"Want to join?"
"What's the point?"
"Now you're getting it."

Not very E14 of me, I realise, but....awwwwww. Kitty!

Priest develops Mass app for iPad

God, there's not an article this week that doesn't make me angry in some small way. It's not to do with my feelings on iPads - we all know my feelings on those, or at least you can do by going here. It's more to do with how much people have come to rely on these novelty items in order to get through their daily lives.

Other iPad applications that make you wonder 'what the fucking fuck?' include an app that allows you to frost and bake your own virtual cookies. I'm not quite sure why this app serves a purpose. Recipe stuff I can understand, although I think the days of recipe books shouldn't be dead and gone so soon as they undoubtedly will be, mostly because then how will I get my Nigella fix in Waterstone's?

Back to the app we're talking about here, it'll be available in five languages come July, and will be a free application. I would sincerely hope that the application would be a free download, as I can't see how the church could justify it otherwise. Interestingly enough, this priest is not making his first foray into software development, as two years previously he developed an app that allowed priests to bring the book of daily prayers onto their iPhones. Of course, the importance then becomes not accidentally loading up the fart noise suite that's also available for the Apple products. Apparently these iPads are revolutionary and magical devices. I guess that must be true of anything you can program a fart noise for.

Freaks have overrun the streets of Pacific City; panic and disorder reign supreme, danger lurks on every corner. The time has come for action. Using the age of method of "picking on the weakest member" Blake Harmer was chosen to join an elite crack team of recruits hand-picked to jump into the fray ahead of the masses, and take a look at the Crackdown 2 demo out now on Xbox Live.
Crackdown 2 is shaping up to be massive fun. You have a large game world to play in, superhuman strength and agility, and a whole army of criminals and mutants to destroy! What more could you want? The game is currently looking to be a worthy successor to the original, and with the inclusion of online co-op (currently untested at time of writing) is looking likely to be barrels of fun as you and your friends work together to tear up the city in the name of justice.

The only gripes at the moment lie in the game’s lock on feature, which seems to like selecting targets directly in front of you (even if it’s a mere speck in the distance), rather than your nearest threat. The current demo also has you "powered down" so the full potential of the super powers has yet to be seen - but as you only have to level up a bit before you can start hurling bus shelters at bad guys, the sequel is looking like it will have lots of potential. Sure it’s not the prettiest looking open world game, nor does it look like it’ll have an award winning storyline; but seeing as the emphasis is on causing as much chaos as possible with superhuman powers, this is shaping up to be one of the funnest games this year.
The official demo of Crackdown 2 is out now on Xbox Live.