Thursday 31 March 2011

Eternal Rider Giveaway

The prophecies were there but no one listened. Until now. They are the Lords of Deliverance and they have the power to usher in Doomsday...or prevent it. His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too.

As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him. Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't - or won't - understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet.

For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.

Thanks to our friends at Little, Brown, we've got four copies of Eternal Rider, the first instalment in the new Lords of Deliverance series to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Thursday 7th April, making sure to put "Eternal Rider" as the subject. The first four names out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Eternal Rider" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Eternal Rider is available from Thursday 7th April, priced £7.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Greatest Games I Ever Played: Aliens

If there’s one fact that’s sure to unite men and women, geek and mainstream, gay and straight...from the richest king to the poorest old woman, the rockstar, the newsagent, the blogger, the Field-Marshall, the vicar and the hot-pants wearing Spice Girl tribute’s that the 1986 James Cameron movie, Aliens, is awesome.

Anyway, I saw Aliens when I was about six or seven, and totally fell in love with it for the same reason I enjoy it today: it has lots of monsters and lots of guns. Sure, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate it for its more subtle notes (generally regarding the nature of “big business” in the 1980s and Ripley’s surrogate daughter relationship with Newt), but – like all great art – it works on many levels. Big monsters and lots of guns being one of them. Okay? Okay.

Anyway, in 1986, the licence for the Aliens boardgame was given over to Leading Edge. They produced a table-top RPG, which is now a highly sought after piece of arse; and a table-top boardgame, which is now a highly sought after slice of fried awesome.

Movie tie-ins for boardgames actually tend to be of a slightly lower quality than their videogaming counterparts – which, for those in the know, is really saying something. Those picking this up expecting a roll-and-move “You get attacked by an Alien! Miss a turn” game would be in for something of a culture shock.

The base game comes with three scenarios: the initial battle against the Aliens under the reactor, the “Last Stand” (referred to as “Operations/Air-Ducts” in the rulebook) and the battle aboard the Sulaco between Ripley’s Power Loader and the Alien Queen.

The game manages to be a success because it’s exactly what you want from an Aliens game. There are tons of Aliens moving very fast, lots of bullets firing off, and lots of spontaneous killerising and screw-jobs. What’s more, the Aliens are all automated, with a very simple but effective AI. This means there’s no GM, Alien player or referee. It means that it’s you and your friends up against the advancing xenomorph menace.

The first scenario, The Reactor Room, sees nine marines (Apone, Hicks, Vasquez, Drake, Dietrich, Wierbowski, Hudson, Crowe and Frost) having to make their way across the reactor to the waiting APC, whilst each turn several aliens drop from the ceiling to random spaces on the board. Each of the marines has two action points (with the exception of Hicks and Apone, who have three each), with an action point being used to either move one space, or fire one round of ammunition. Multiple points can be spent on firing to either make several attacks at moderate-to-low chance of success, or one shot at a high chance of hitting.

The Aliens cannot fire, but if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in close combat with one, then chance are you’re fucked. Oh, and you don’t want to be too close to them when you open fire on them, because when they bleed, it can really hurt you. And don’t forget – Gorman issued the order for all pulse rifles to be slung! That’s three flamethrowers, two SMGs, Hicks has a shotgun...and everyone else has pistols.

The scenario runs almost entirely on action, adrenaline and luck – and you and your friends firing off more Aliens movie-quotes that you’d have believed physically possible. It’s surprisingly challenging to complete the mission with more than two or three battered marines surviving (if any get through at all), but it’s a hell of a lot of fun trying. Even when you do fail, it has that “just one more go” factor that makes you positive you can do it this time...

The second scenario is even harder.

This time, Ripley, Gorman, Hicks, Hudson and Vasquez make a desperate last stand as hordes of the Aliens begin dropping from the ceiling. The pulse-rifle fire comes thick and fast until it becomes obvious that the marines are being overrun. Then, when the order to fall back is issued, the marines discover that Burke has shut the door behind them, leading to a tense few turns as one of the marines has to try and cut through the door with his cutting torch. Then, there’s another desperate scramble as Newt tries to guide the marines through the ducting...with yet more of the monsters waiting inside for them.

This level starts off fun, but rapidly develops into what my gaming group (The Dengar Appreciation Society) refer to as “a bit rapey”. The cramped confines of the room mean that every move needs to be calculated quickly but effectively. The final crawl through the ducting is also tense right up until the last move. Truly great stuff.

The final game, the Power Loader versus the Alien Queen is a one-player affair, and feels like something of an afterthought – but this doesn’t stop the main game from being some of the best fun it's possible to have around the gaming table. If your group tends to fire off quotes, make sound effects and live for do-or-die moments, then you’ll have an absolute blast with Aliens.

There is also an expansion pack available, which features four more scenarios (Ripley rescuing Newt from the nest, and Spunkmeyer and Ferro’s battle aboard the dropship; as well as two “what if” scenes).

Aliens is long out of print, and whilst copies do turn up on eBay, they tend to go for very high prices (I paid just over £80 for mine, and that didn’t have the expansion pack in it). There are, however, a few people making up their own copies from various scans and files that have made their way onto the Internet, and there’s also a great Flash version on the Internet over here, if you fancy playing hotseating (do people still do that?), or solo.

Words: Brad Harmer
You can become Brad's "friend" on Facebook, or you can "follow" him on Twitter. Depends how creepy you want to sound really.


It's Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call 'Milk Sickness'. 'My baby boy...' she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, 'henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose'.

Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an axe, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House. While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon "The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln", and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of America's greatest president for the first time - all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of the nation.

Thanks to our friends at Constable and Robinson, we've got five copies of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Wednesday 6th April, making sure to put "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" as the subject. The first five names out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is available from Thursday 21st April, priced £7.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Book Reviews

Department 19
Will Hill
Available from Thursday 31st March - £12.99 (Hardback)
Review by Rob Wade

In a secret supernatural battle that's been raging for over a century, the stakes have just been raised -- and they're not wooden anymore. When Jamie Carpenter's mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government's most secret agency. Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can't stand up against!

The introduction to this book felt to me like the beginning of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Van Helsing, in that the introduction of pretty much every name you’ve ever associated with vampires is done before the protagonist even makes a decision on whether to join Department 19. By the time he’s been shown round their base, you’ve already heard the names Van Helsing, Stoker, Godalming, Harker, Seward et al, as well as the fang-toothed D-Man himself.

The novel as a whole is action-packed in all the right places, with a well-written narrative throughout. You rarely find yourself getting lost in what’s going on, and on the rare occasion it does happen, you’ll find that it’s a piece of piss to jump back on. The plot is engaging, and very cinematic in its presentation. The way in which this is done is pretty subtle, really, in that it is simply a case of organising the chapters well and choosing the set pieces carefully. Budding authors would do well to take note of this book.

What’s also pretty effective is the use of surprise in the story. Now, with a narrative of this scale, inevitably there is always going to be a big storyline crescendo when you discover what it’s all been about until now. The way this process is handled in Department 19 is nothing short of spectacular, with just enough information teased to give you a reason to continue, and also to give you that point of reference for later, making you go “that was what he was talking about when he said ________.” It’s well-handled in this book, and as a result you’re drawn in much more effectively. What’s more, the last fifty pages or so have your heartstrings pulled taut on more than one occasion, and readers who enjoy surprise will be pleased with the outcome.

However, nothing is perfect, and the book does have the odd miss for what is otherwise a hit parade. The plot, although it’s done well, is at times predictable, and does get a little sappy and cheesy at times as well. Ultimately, when you read it you’ll feel like you’ve seen it in a lot of movies, and read it in a lot of novels and/or comics. However, what should be taken away from this is that this is most definitely an example of this type of novel that should be read at all costs, particularly as the ending leaves the whole series wide open as well as leaving some questions unanswered.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: The book is about slaying vampires, so have a fucking guess. Stakes a-plenty, blood everywhere.
Sex/Nudity: Nothing. Allusions to sex and romance, but nothing more.
Swearing: A little bit, but nothing particularly explicit.
Summary: With elements of The Matrix, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the like, Department 19 is an enjoyable read, and the beginnings of what promises to be a very strong series. 8/10
Samurai: The Last Warrior
John Man
Bantam Press

Available Now – £20.00 (Hardback)
Review by Brad Harmer

The name 'Samurai' is synonymous with the ultimate warrior. With their elaborate armour, fierce swordsmanship and code of honour, the samurai have become iconic figures whose influence can still be felt today. From Kurosawa's epic Seven Samurai to the figure of Darth Vader in Star Wars, to Manga comics and video games, the figure of the fighting samurai still inspires us today. In John Man's new book, we discover the truth behind the legend.

From his birth in the shadow of the great volcano Sakurajima, to his glorious death by ritual suicide and disembowelment, Saigo Takamori was the ultimate Samurai leader. His fall brought about the end of hundreds of years of Samurai tradition and in many ways marks the birth of modern Japan. Saigo was a man trapped by paradox: a faithful servant to the emperor, and yet a leader of rebel troops; a mighty Samurai warrior, and also a master of Chinese poetry. His life, and ultimately his death, offer a window into the hundreds of years of culture and tradition that defined the samurai.

Samurai: The Last Warrior is a pretty bare presentation of fact, and lacks that real “hook” that can get the reader truly involved with and interesting in learning about the era. Man’s enthusiasm for his subject is apparent, but not infectious. There’s also a pretty terrible sense of jumping around in history, with no real consideration for the ready. It’s like a really boring uncle at a family gathering, re-edited by Quentin Tarantino. There are crashes from formal to colloquial language in the same paragraph...we suddenly find ourselves talking about someone else entirely...

There’s a lot of good stuff, here – but it is in dire need of a better editor.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some detatched descriptions of mass battles, and some fairly gory up close and personal sections.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: An okay-ish, slightly wishy-washy history of the dying days of the Samurai. If you’ve already an interest in the era, then there’s probably some points of interest here. If not, then this isn’t the one to get you hooked. 4/10


2000AD #1727
Available from Wednesday 30th March

Judge Dredd’s little mini-story about talking vegetable parasites has some nice action scenes in it, and some pretty good artwork too...but it’s let down by the rather ham-fisted social-commentary gag at the end. Don’t ever do stuff like that, guys. If it’s a good joke/satire, then the reader has got it; if they haven’t, then it was a bad one and you’re doing yourself no favours by drawing attention to it.

Flesh – after a somewhat shaky start – seems to be getting better and better, though. The non-stop hyper-violent Saturday Morning Cartoon style action is tempered by a real, hard sci-fi core. It’s great, is what I’m trying to say. Still not impressed by the artwork, though. It still looks like badly photocopied Carlos Ezquerra.

Shakara finally disappears down the plug-hole (thankfully), but it still bangs on for far, far too long like some sort of terrible manga, full of pseudo sci-fi pretentious wankery. Hopefully this won’t be back for a while.

Dandridge is looking good. It’s picking up at a good pace, and there’s a sign of good, old-fashioned 2000 AD weird kicking up. That’s what we like to see.

A slightly above average issue...ruined by the fact that over half of it was given to Shakara. Things could be worse. 5/10


Crash landing on Earth from his dying planet, an alien humanoid traveling by the name of Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) uses his superior intelligence to build a vast business empire. As he takes on, and beats, every major US corporation, people can only guess his true purpose – to save his dying world from drought.

Newton’s ageless fall from grace, as he becomes prey to lust, alcohol, business rivals and the US Government makes The Man Who Fell To Earth not only a bitingly caustic indictment of the modern world but also a poignant commentary on the loneliness of the outsider. Also starring Candy Clark, Rip Torn and Buck Henry, based on the cult novel by Walter Tevis and directed by Nic Roeg

Thanks to our friends at Optimum Home Entertainment, we've got three copies of The Man Who Fell to Earth on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Tuesday 5th April, making sure to put "The Man Who Fell to Earth" as the subject. The first three names out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "The Man Who Fell to Earth" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is available on Blu-ray from Monday 4th April, priced £19.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Monday 28 March 2011

Gaming Reviews: Homefront

THQ/Kaos Studios
Available Now - £39.99 (PC) & £49.99 (Xbox 360 – version tested, PS3)
Review by Rob Wade

The year is 2027. The world as we know it is unraveling after fifteen years of economic meltdown and widespread global conflict over dwindling natural resources. A once proud America has fallen, her infrastructure shattered and military in disarray. Crippled by a devastating EMP strike, the USA is powerless to resist the ever expanding occupation of a savage, nuclear armed Greater Korean Republic.
Join the Resistance, stand united and fight for freedom against an overwhelming military force in Homefront's gripping single player campaign penned by John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn). Stand alongside a cast of memorable characters as an emotional plot unfolds in this terrifyingly plausible near-future world...

And plausible it most certainly is. I would go as far as to say that Homefront delivers the best story of any first-person shooter that I have ever played, certainly in recent years without doubt. It’s especially refreshing considering Call of Duty: Black Ops and its really over the top machismo-filled US-friendly bollocks. True, Homefront is similarly patriotic of course (after all, it deals with efforts to take back the United States from a Korean occupation), but it’s not laid on anywhere near as thick as in COD.

The game presents as a first-person shooter in the same vein as its inevitable comparison game, with the occasional vehicle-based section and plays in much the same way as COD. However, most of the game is spent behind cover, as at times it is pretty challenging even on the easier difficulty settings (incidentally, I roll with “Normal” as standard, in case you think I’m the type to go for “Very Easy” straightaway), which can be frustrating at times. In this regard, there’s my first small niggle with the game: the grenade indicator in single-player doesn’t seem to give you any indication as to whether you’re near enough to a grenade to die. Half the time, I would just get ‘winded’ (that thing in games where your screen goes a bit red and you’re about to die – I can’t think of another term for it), and half the time they’d be scraping me off the tarmac. In multiplayer, by contrast, the grenade indicator glows red when you’re right next to it.

The only real complaint I really have with the single player component of the game is that it’s really *really* short, at around 5 to 7 hours of gameplay across 7 chapters. As a game package overall, it’s not so bad when weighed around the multiplayer (which I’ll get to), but if you’re a gamer who doesn’t do the whole playing online thing, then this game is pretty much a rental at best. It’s a shame as well, because the game is really strong in the single-player, with a great mix of guns and some decent melee combat. What’s nice as well is that all the guns come with some sort of scope variant, giving you a chance to see exactly which ones you like and don’t like for when you get to multiplayer.

As the multiplayer goes, I come into this one from the point of view of someone who doesn’t really do much in the way of gaming online with strangers. Sure, I’ll jump into a game of Borderlands with a friend or work colleague, or I’ll join a group of friends partying up on Halo Reach, but ultimately when I go online I otherwise have the headset in the muted position. Not so much because I don’t enjoy chatting to most people, but for the small percentage of people who either:

Shout and scream like a fucking ten year old child (compounded even further when they actually *are* a ten year old kid) or
Take it really seriously and pretentiously and start dishing out orders as if they’re fucking Rambo. Look, dickhead, you play on a TV the same as me, and I’m willing to bet that you’re better than me because you know nothing of female contact. Grow up.

Anyway, maybe it was one of those early adopter things, but I had a great time with this game online. The game is divided initially into three main modes (with other game modes and all sorts of unlocks available as you progress through the ranking system) and plays similarly to other games of the same ilk, but with a few additional modes to make it more interesting.

Team Deathmatch is your standard blast-em-up fare, with one side of up to 12 players taking the role of the KPA and one side playing the US Army. Ground Control is up to 32, and sees you vying for control of territories across the map, with points being given the longer that soldiers stay in the areas. Battle Commander, though, is the game’s strongest idea, with both capture points and targets of interest, be they players who have killed a large number of people, or simply vehicles that are causing lots of bother. It’s a really well done, dynamic mode that adds an extra layer of depth to an already solid multiplayer mode.

As I said before, the range of guns in single-player is great, and you get a decent choice of guns as you progress as well, with options for scopes and stuff like that. What makes Homefront cool is the addition of these things called Battle Points. You get a certain number for a kill (130 points to be precise), with bonus points awarded for things like revenge kills and streaks.

You can spend those in-game only (although you do gain experience points as well, which counts towards the level increases), but they can be used to purchase upgrades for your character (flak jackets and rocket launchers for example) which can only be kept until killed. That can make for some frustrating incidents, where you get killed a second after spending the points, but still. Also of note is the fact that you can spend large amounts to spawn in a vehicle instead of on foot, which is pretty nifty.
In technical standpoints, however, Homefront is a mixed bag. The levels are absolutely enormous, which is brilliant, but at the same time the game sometimes gets a little sluggish on the bigger matches. That, or 14 out of 24 players in all my games had a bad internet connection, which would be conceivable if that many people on average were with Virgin Media and all based in Brighton. Otherwise, it seems a little suss.

This one’s a genuine challenge, but here goes. If you’re into the single-player element of the game ONLY, then this game should be considered as a rental, and you can knock two points off my review score. If, however, you’re after both a single AND multiplayer experience, then you are unlikely to see many better examples done this year. Definitely worth picking up if you like both aspects.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Rough around the edges. Probably the only bit of the game that could be better, really. Aside from the campaign length.
Sound/Music: Great music, and satisfying bullet and explosion noises. Voice acting is pretty good as well, which makes a nice change.
Gameplay: First-person shooter of the highest quality gameplay-wise. Just don’t expect it to last you a long time. A little buggy, but good.
Lasting Appeal: If you don’t play multiplayer, this will not last you long, unless you’re into playing a number of difficulty levels one after the other. Otherwise, not really worth it at the RRP.
Summary: A really strong game, let down by a short single-player campaign. It’s a shame, as otherwise the game does more for me than Call of Duty ever has. On the whole, a really strong game and hopefully the beginning of a really strong franchise. 8/10


THQ on Friday announced that Homefront has already sold-through an estimated more than one million units across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific markets, on shipments of 2.4 million units to date.

In addition, according to UK Chart Track’s March 21st weekly report, Homefront’s reported first weekend sell-through ranked the game as #1 for the week, as well as the best-selling week-one new console release in 2011 in the UK.

“We are very pleased with strong worldwide shipments and sell-through for Homefront, and we continue to fulfill new retail orders for the game across the globe,” said Brian Farrell, THQ President and CEO. “Homefront is clearly resonating with gamers and we are certainly pleased with our initial sales results.”


When we last saw Elizabeth Bennet and fitzwilliam Darcy - at the end of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - they were preparing for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Yet the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the only acceptable course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be sage). But when she learns of a miracle antidote being developed in London, she realises there may be one last chance to save her true love - and for everyone to live happily ever after.

Complete with romance, heartbreak, martial arts, cannibalism, and an army of shambling corpses, Dreadfully Ever After brings the story of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to a thrilling conclusion.

Thanks to our friends at Quirk Books, we've got four copies of Pride & Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Monday 4th April, making sure to put "Dreadfully Ever After" as the subject. The first four names out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Dreadfully Ever After" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After is available from Friday 1st April, priced £8.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Saturday 26 March 2011

DVD Reviews

Starring: Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Danny Trejo
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 28th March - £17.99 (DVD) & £17.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

A bad-ass, star-studded action-thriller from Robert Rodriguez (Desperado), Machete is an over-the-top homage to 1970's exploitation movies, starring Danny Trejo as a Mexican Federale seeking revenge against a vicious drug lord (Steven Seagal), a ruthless vigilante and a power-mad politician (Robert De Niro). He is helped by a savvy immigration agent (Jessica Alba), revolutionary “She” (Michelle Rodriguez) and by his brother, a priest (Cheech Marin), and finds solace with a drug addict (Lindsay Lohan) along the way. Viva Machete!

Machete is a really great action/exploitation movie. It’s not just about the action and the’s about the fact that the characters are all awesome, and the pacing is absolutely incredible. The characters are all well rounded and likable – sure they’re comic-booky, but that’s not a bad thing. They’re larger than life and you identify with them. I call that awesome.

The action scenes are exactly what you’ve come to expect from Rodriguez. They’re fast, bloody, over the top, and underpinned by a great sense of humour. Watch out for the “small intestine” scene, and you’ll know what I mean.

The cast is absolutely brilliant (even - and it pains me to say this – Seagal). There’s a smattering of 70s trash movies mixed in with the character and flair of 80s action movies and it works really well. I guess you’d call it a beer and pretzels movie. Check it out.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
A fuckton.
Sex/Nudity: A fuckton.
Swearing: A fuckton.
Summary: A great, retro, action flick with some great belly laughs and action sequences. Well worth picking up. 8/10
The Reef
Starring: Gyton Grantley, Zoe Naylor, Adrienne Pickering,
Director: Andrew Traucki
Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment

Available Now - £12.99 (DVD)
Review by Blake Harmer

Based on a true story, The Reef follows Matt, Suzie and Kate, who visit their friend Luke and decide to go on a sailboat with a fellow Sailor named Warren. However, whilst on their trip, the boat hits an underwater rock and capsizes, leaving them twelve miles away from land with no contact with the outside world. With the boat sinking and the current taking them further and further away from land, the quartet decide to make a swim for the island and leave Warren on the boat due to his fear of the water’s inhabitants. Will they make it to the island, or will the sharks get to them first?

Those of you who are expecting plenty of shark related action and death, a la Jaws will be disappointed with The Reef, as it probably has more in common with the likes of Open Water than the granddaddy of shark movies. That isn’t to say that there isn’t anything to enjoy here. The plot is engaging with realistic characters and some good acting. I specifically liked the idea of having the characters attempt to swim to safety as it literally was their only means of survival, as it shows a race for survival as well as trying to avoid the various hazards (ie. sharks).

However, one of the fundamental problems with The Reef is that the pacing is very poor, it takes a large chunk of the film in order for them to get stranded and decide to swim for it, and it is almost an hour into the film before you actually see any shark related action and death (which is probably the reason you want to watch the film anyway right?). However, even when you actually see sharks, the scenes spend too much time trying and failing to build up tension, and the end result is over way too quickly considering the tension they were trying to build up.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Plenty of blood, but nothing is really shown when it comes to the inevitable shark munching.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some uses of "fuck", but nothing over the top considering some horror movies.
Summary: Some nice ideas ruined by some poor pacing, more enjoyable plot wise than Open Water, but still not likely to trouble Jaws anytime soon. 6/10
Operation Valkyrie
Starring: Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
Director: Jo Baier
High Fliers

Available from Monday 28th March - £9.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

July, 1944. As WWII raged on, a group of conspirators, led by Claus von Stauffenberg, plotted to assassinate Hitler and end his reign of terror. Using rare color footage, painstakingly recreated dramatizations, detailed CG reconstructions and exclusive interviews with leading historians, this thrilling documentary presents the definitive record of what happened before, during and after these pivotal events.

Operation Valkyrie is exceedingly well acted, and the horrors of the Holocaust are presented in a stark – although not overstated manners. The production and direction are pretty good, too. It’s a shame, then, that bugger all happens for most of the movie, sending it hurtling into the realms of “quiet boring” like a fast but surreptitious mole.

See, the main part of Operation Valkyrie – the placing of the rigged briefcase – is remarkably tense and well done...but that happens about fifty minutes into the movie – leaving another forty odd minutes of bugger all happening still to come!

There’s a lot of wasted opportunity here (not to mention some eye-achingly bad CG), but ultimately they’ve tried to make a ninety minute movie out of a ten minute thing.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some warfare.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Some, mild.
Summary: A well produced and will acted biopic, let down by some truly terrible pacing. Only of interest to WWII buffs. 4/10
Summer Wars
Starring: Sumiko Fuji, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Ayumu Saitô
Director: Mamoru Hasoda
Manga Video
Available from Monday 28th March – £17.99 (DVD) & £19.99 (Blu-Ray)
Review by Rob Wade

When timid eleventh-grader and math genius Kenji Koiso is asked by older student and secret crush Natsuki to come with her to her family's Nagano home for a summer job, he agrees without hesitation. That's when Kenji discovers his "summer job" is to pretend to be Natsuki's fiancé. As Kenji attempts to keep up with Natsuki's act around her family, he receives a strange math problem on his cell phone which, being a math genius, he can't resist solving. As it turns out, the solution to the mysterious equation causes a hijacking of the social networking site through which most of the world's social and business traffic flows…

Summer Wars could easily be viewed as a satire on the modern world, and the way the world seems to be going, in that the world is almost brought to its knees by a dependence on social networking and Internet gaming. At the same time, it’s worth knowing that this movie is also a really good, engaging story which keeps you going all the way through.

Visually, the movie is absolutely stunning during the Oz (the name of the social game) sections. The virtual world is colourful, bright and vibrant with some really good CG effects. This is particularly well utilised during the final third of the movie, with the section being set almost completely in Oz, as Kenji attempts to right the wrongs his solution has caused.

Another thing that the movie does really well is emotion, in particular one of the characters dealing with a death in the family. The music’s really good in the movie, and during the emotional scenes these are particularly good.

It’s not perfect, by any stretch, however. The movie is cheesy at times and has some immensely predictable moments. For instance, when you see one character, you realise how they’re going to be connected to the events of the story, and turn out to be completely spot on! What a surprise, eh? Unreal. Also, there’s a side plot with a baseball game which doesn’t really need to be there, but at the same time it’s interspersed reasonably well.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: Some avatars bash the shit out of each other.
Sex/Nudity: Some side-boob. No more than that.
Swearing: “Bullshit” gets used once, and “Bastard” is chucked in as well.
Summary: A stunning movie well worth checking out. 8/10
WWE - Tagged Classics: Wrestlefest '88 & Wrestlefest '90
Starring: Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior
Clear Vision

Available Now - £19.99 (Double DVD)
Review by Omer Ibrahim

WWE has slapped together two shows from it’s golden era in the late eighties/early nineties, showcasing such superstars as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, The British Bulldogs and Bret Hart.

Wrestlefest ‘88

Wrestle fest ‘88 is a selection of ten matches from a weekend-long event in an American Football stadium. The match list looks good, but the wrestlers seem to be phoning it in.

First up, The Killer Bees take on The Rougeau Brothers in a blah tag team match with plenty of stalling.

Bret Hart makes Bad News Brown look good in their match, but forgets to look good himself. Jim Neidhart makes a run-in on Hart’s behalf, as a good guy. Remember that...

Next, The Honkey Tonk Man and his ringside fucktard Jimmy Hart defend the Intercontinental Championship against “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Kicky punchy, unimaginative Memphis-style shit follows.

Time for another tag match as the Russian team of The Bolsheviks take on The Powers of Pain in a match that must have been fantastic, because I don’t remember what happened.

Wait, Jim Neidhart is back. And he’s bullying Lanny Poffo like he’s a bad guy...wait...but he just saved Bret...but he’s a good guy...but that means...if he’s...I really don’t care.

Match of the card goes to “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. They both work the crowd perfectly and enter the most energetic match on the disc...

...which is the opposite of The Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, as they have a Weasel Suit Match. Yup, the loser has to wear a weasel suit. Heenan is comedy gold here; he’s a lot better in the ring than people think.

The British Bulldogs outclass Demolition in another tag match that brings the crowd into a frenzy.

Canadian strongman Dino Bravo throws Ken Patera around a bit in another forgettable match.

In the Main event, Andre the Giant clambers into a tiny cage with Hulk Hogan to have a Hulk Hogan match with Hulk Hogan. Yawn.

Wrestlefest ‘90

Wrestlefest ‘90 is a rather confusing collection of matches from all over the place, in no apparent order, stuck together by random interviews and segments. The format is so frustrating that I cant really run through the matches as I normally do, because as I was watching it, I couldn’t keep track of where it was going. There were three Hart Foundation matches, but all three of them had screw job finishes, as did every single match on the disc. Yup, not one match has a finish that ends without disqualifications, run ins or count outs. This collection is what we in the wrestling industry refer to as a “completely infuriating pile of arse-dribble”.

There’s also Hulk Hogan.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Hokey ‘80’s punching.
Sex/Nudity: Pants!
Swearing: The announcers actually apologise when one wrestler says “damn”.
Summary: A couple of good matches punctuate a dire collection. Wrestlefest ’88 is better, but its still far from decent. 3/10

Fraggle Rock: Series Two
Starring: Dave Goelz, Terry Angus, Jerry Nelson
Director: Jim Henson
Lions Gate Home Ent. UK Ltd

Available Now, RRP - £12.99 (DVD only), Series 2 £29.99 (DVD only)
Review by Rob Wade

Want more Fraggley fun? Return to where it all began with the complete second season of Fraggle Rock, filled with even more favourite Fraggle moments. So save your worries for another day and experience frag-tastic fun in the ultimate Fraggle Rock collection! Get down with Fraggle Rock!

In Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series, the fun-loving Fraggles - Gobo, Red, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and all their friends - explore new horizons, frolicking about in the wondrous maze of colourful caverns that make up the fantastic, fairy-tale landscape that the Fraggles call home.

When I reviewed the first season of this show, I attested that the appeal of Fraggle Rock was not something that was going to draw in people who’d never watched the show and thus had no nostalgia associated with the show. I stand by this, and have further evidence in the form of the second series and the animated series. Ultimately, this is more of the same for those who enjoy the series and retain fond memories. They haven’t moved the group of Fraggles to a top-secret military base, nobody on the team has been killed in the season cliff hanger.

Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Fraggle Rock has always had that cutesy kind of appeal to it where it’s a little out of the ordinary, not quite the standard Jim Henson fare and a lot better than a lot of the dross that was on kids’ TV in those days. Fraggle Rock is still just as fun and cutesy for those people who remember it well and have good memories of it. The animated series, too, adds a certain extra depth to the series, with new adventures based around the characters. In a way, I suppose, an animated series allows you certain extra freedom from a design perspective.

Anyway, the DVD transition has been kind to Fraggle Rock, with none of the dingy looks that accompany some DVD translations (or indeed the bootleg kind which still has “Challenge TV” in the top right corner), and the episodes are as entertaining as they ever were. The characters are entertaining enough, and the episodes represent a decent amount of value in that the series both come with a good number of episodes on them.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: If you thought there was going to be violence, nudity or swearing, you know what you can do?
Sex/Nudity: Get fucked, that’s what.
Swearing: There’s nothing for you here.
Summary: Non-fans of the series need not apply. 6/10


Welcome to sunny Burnistoun! This fine Scottish city is not anywhere near as bad as anyone makes it out to be! Here you can say 'Hello!' to Burnistoun punters like the Burnistoun Butcher, pop starlet Kelly McGlade and Burnistoun's favourite son, Biscuity Boyle! Why not buy some sweets from those charming ice cream van boys, Paul and Walter? And then pay respects to their dead mother.

Try some freshly baked rolls from our many newsagents. Discuss buffet etiquette with Peter and Scott. Stop at the traffic lights on the Dekebone roundabout! And travel up and down in one of Burnistoun's amazing working voice-activated lifts! Come to Burnistoun! Bring the whole family!

Thanks to our friends at 2entertain, we've got two copies of Burnistoun: Series One on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Saturday 2nd April, making sure to put "Burnistoun" as the subject. The first two names out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Burnistoun" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Burnistoun is available from Monday 4th April, priced £19.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Friday 25 March 2011

E14 Exchange

Rob: Did you watch the superbowl?
Brad: No, I didn't. I've inadvertently managed to avoid any football this season. Any good?
Rob: No idea, I just figured you're one of the few mates I've got who would be likely to watch it. I was gonna ask you, to be honest.
Brad: I hear Aguilera screwed her lines up.
Rob: Yeah, she said "Green 42" when she meant "Blue 45". The Running Back is in a coma.

Brad: Right, I'm off. Gonna get an early night for once.
Rob: Ten to one is an early night for you?
Brad: Yeah, I run this website...2am is my normal bedtime these days.
Rob: Jesus.
Brad: Well, I aim for between 1-1:30...but you know how it is.
Rob: Yeah, sadly I do.
Brad: How do you think I get so much done compared to everyone else?
Sure, there's the time machine, but that only works on wrestlers.
Rob: Are you now counted as a wrestler?
Brad: I don't think knowing one move technically labels me a wrestler. Especially seeing as I botched that as well.
Rob: Works for Great Khali.
Brad: Did it twice, hurt myself twice...I'm not risking myself through the Time Gate. Could end up in a parallel dimension where you're the funny one.
Rob: Ah, but your MSN status (“Overrated half of an underrated double act”) betrays you, unless this new project with Omer has gone superbly well very fast.
Brad: As with any co-writing/performing team, people are going to prefer one or the other, but it really bugs me when people think or tell me I'm the better one. You'd think I'd be "yeah, I'm great", but my first reaction is always "Huh? What? But Wade's awesome!"
Rob: I'm a similar way; people tell me you're great, but I think "Huh? What? But Wade's awesome!" Great minds...
Rob: It draws ever closer. Who's in attendance for this one?
Brad: Um...everyone bar Kelly, I think. Liz in?
Rob: She's hoping to be, depends on how productive she is able to be for university this week.
Brad: Girl's too hard on herself.
Rob: She does put a lot of pressure on herself, no doubt, but she turns in good work in the end, and until that technique doesn't work she'll continue doing it. :P
Brad: See, I do that, and I get told I take the site too seriously. It's one rule for them, another rule for us.
Rob: She gets a Masters out of it though, so there's an endgame.
Brad: Fine. One rule for someone working towards something worthwhile that will improve her prospects for the future, another rule for the caffeine dependent man-child with no direction or purpose in his fat, pointless, prematurely balding life.
Rob: Scathingly unfair isn't it?
Brad: I don’t know about these rats I bought. I mean, they say rats are intelligent, but mine haven't beaten me at Scrabble, yet.
Rob: You've had them a week. Give it time.
Brad: To be fair, last night was close.
Rob: What was the word that won it for you?
Brad: Ubiquitous.
Rob: That'd do it. Rats can't recognise 'qu'.

Brad: Fucking Biggs Darklighter at the next Con!
Rob: But...he got killed above Yavin 4...
Brad: No, you misunderstand: I'm fucking Biggs Darklighter at the next Con!
Brad: Hmm. Are challenging wanks ones that require more thought? I mean...wanking over Thatcher would require some serious mental effort, right? More than - say - Nicole Kidman.
Rob: Indeed. I'd do her. Kidman I mean.
Brad: You ever tried a challenging wank?
Rob: Depends on your definition of "challenging". I've had one while expressly thinking about baseball. Does that count?
Brad: : That'
Rob: I like to think of my baseball wanks as 'The Red Sox Diaries'.

Omer: E14 should review boobs.
Brad: I'm up for that.
Omer: Awesome. A reason to look at boobs. We should make it monthly. Weekly. Daily. Streaming updates. Boobs. Boobs14.
Brad: In fact, forget the website.
Brad: Man, the Internet really is the best place for our comedy, isn't it?
Rob: Yeah. By far.

Trapped Dead is a tactical real time strategy game in the tradition of classic evergreens such as Commandos and Desperados. Players control their characters in a 3rd person isometric view through a mature Zombie survival scenario, paying homage and gaining inspiration from the hugely popular Zombie Horror movies of the early 80s.

Our story takes place in the early 80s in a small town named Hedge Hill near Kansas City, Missouri. The sowing of a new genetically modified type of corn caused the existence of a new virus which mutated through the natural food chain. A dog bite of an infected animal caused a local outbreak of the virus which rapidly infected the inhabitants of the idyllic provincial town.

Mike and Gerald, two college boys, are thrown into the middle of a terrifying horror scenario. Having pulled over to a gas station near Hedge Hill during what was meant to be an enjoyable road trip, they are unaware of the virus which has already reached the gas station and its staff...

Thanks to our friends at Iceberg Interactive, we've got three copies of Trapped Dead on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Friday 1st April, making sure to put "Trapped Dead" as the subject. The first three names out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Trapped Dead" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Trapped Dead is available now, priced £29.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Gaming Reviews

Fallout - New Vegas: Dead Money DLC
Available Now - £7.49 (PC & PS3)
Review by Blake Harmer

In a bold experiment from Bethesda to prove that there is still life in the old engine yet, Dead Money is an expansion pack that challenges your normal expectations of Fallout by giving the new mission a more survival-horror vibe, whilst knocking your level cap up to thirty-five. Some of the ideas on display here are great and work well, but sadly, others do not.

Stripped of all your weapons, items and caps, and forced to wear a slave collar that can blow up should you fail, you must work together with other characters to raid the Sierra Madre Casino and get the large amounts of wealth inside. However, should one of your colleagues die, you all die as the collars explode.

The lack of weapons and food available to you throughout the expansion pack means you will have to be very careful and take it slowly, especially as there are loads of traps, toxic areas, and nails bad guys such as ghost people, which can only be killed by dismemberment or decapitation, it also gets you to use your equipment wisely, much like in survival horror games, and sneaking can be very handy to save your munitions and avoid combat at all. This works very well, as well some great characters and a very well thought storyline that goes to show that Fallout is still one of the best RPGs around, despite its aging engine.

However, this expansion pack is not without its flaws. It does very little to fix any of the bugs or flaws inherent in Fallout: New Vegas. Also, while the characters are great, I feel they are not really used to their full potential in the game, and would have liked to rely on them more as we worked together to survive the casino. Finally, there is a large increase in difficulty where you are forced to have a huge firefight against waves of ghost people. Whilst this may be a slight reward for the Fallout fans that wanted more stuff to blow up, the lack of ammo and equipment makes it very difficult to overcome, unless your character is nails in the unarmed skill.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
The initial cut scene before the expansion mission is quite nice, but nothing special considering it uses the same engine as the rest of the game.
Sound/Music: Nice dialogue and sound effects, as with the rest of New Vegas. The characters you come across in Dead Money are really well done.
Gameplay: A decent expansion to New Vegas that focuses on stealth and managing your resources than pure gun-ho action.
Lasting Appeal: A fairly lengthy mission that is well worth the price of admission. The extra 5 levels added on to your level cap, increases the longevity of the rest of the game provided you haven’t seen all the Mojave Desert has to offer.
Summary: An interesting and different experiment that may not succeed in everything it set out to do but is still entertaining nonetheless. Don’t go buying it if you are expecting some all out action and explosions though. 7/10
Hard Corps: Uprising
Available Now - Xbox 360 (1200 Microsoft Points)
Review by Blake Harmer

Before we begin, I would like to let everyone know that this game is nails. Incredibly nails, and unless you are a severe glutton for punishment, it is likely that this game isn’t for you. However, if you do like your old school 2D run-and-gun scrolling shoot ‘em ups, you won’t be disappointed.

Playing in the same vein as Contra and Metal Slug, Hard Corps: Uprising has you as a one (or two, if you are playing co-op) man army against the world (or so it seems). The biggest draw over other shooters here is the games “Rising mode” which gives you points after each game, which you can then spend on better weapons, more health, continues etc, thus making the game more bearable, and allowing you to access bigger and better guns from the start.

Hard Corps: Uprising works well with some very nice graphics and animations at its disposal, and looks very pretty as you dance around the screen firing hot death in every direction at your enemies. The variety of weapons are good, the boss battles varied and fun, and the inclusion of moves such as the dash can be very helpful when in a tight squeeze.

The biggest problem with the game, as mentioned before, is the difficulty. This is made worse by some poor restart points when you use a continue. These can sometimes place you in an area a good five minutes before you died, forcing you to re-fight through an entire area of bad guys, only to be killed by the same boss that killed you previously, which can become very frustrating. Also, it just doesn’t offer the large amounts of fun and OTT explosions like the competition (ie. Metal Slug) offers. But, if you want the challenge over outright destruction, then Hard Corps: Uprising is for you.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Pretty 2D visuals with nice 3D backgrounds. The animations on show here are also top notch.
Sound/Music: Plenty of explosions and sound effects; some of the bad guy voices can become very repetitive though.
Gameplay: An enjoyable blaster with old school difficulty made harder by some unbalanced restart points.
Lasting Appeal: If you are willing to persevere to the end by playing again and again until you can master every bit of the game, then this will last you ages. Most people will be put off by the difficulty long before this though.
Summary: Fans of old-school blasters such as Contra will find this a tight and enjoyable blaster, albeit one that doesn’t bring much new to the table (aside from the Rising mode). However, only the most hardcore of gamers will persevere with it to its conclusion. 7/10
Systemless RPG Scenario
Three-Fourteen Games

Available Now - £3.37 (PDF)
Review by Brad Harmer

Awakened is a scenario with an unusual premise. It starts with something already having happened to the characters, something they can't change. The characters were convinced by an unknown person to do him a favour, and awaken in an unfamiliar place the next morning, without any memories from the previous night's events. Actually, the scenario begins with the characters that very next morning, and with no recollection of the evening before. They will have to investigate their surroundings and find the clues to fill in the events from the previous night...

Awakened is a pretty unique set-up – I don’t think that I’ve ever seen an RPG set up like this before. The bizarre, dream-like quality of the piece makes it feel like what would happen if David Lynch ever GMd a game of Call of Cthulhu. If you’re looking for something that has a pretty solid blend of mystery solving, and some pretty weird (although not necessarily supernatural) horror, then you should certainly check out Awakened.

The game will likely be a challenging one to GM, though, as a lot of the scenarios success runs around maintaining the correct pace, and ensuring that the players are comfortable in their roles. This is a really role-playing intense scenario – you can go all the way through it without ever rolling a single dice.

The lack of a strong ending may prove something of a problem for some groups, but if you’ve got players who are willing to give it a bash, then Awakened could prove to be scenario that you never forget. 8/10


Join Admiral Harriman Nelson, Captain Lee Crane and the crew of the Seaview, as they venture through a breathtaking undersea world in Irwin Allen's action-packed TV classic, where science-fiction adventure meets espionage thriller!

Welcome aboard the Seaview, 'the most extraordinary submarine in all the Seven Seas!' From the outside, the ship appears to be a high-tech research vessel, but it's actually the mightiest weapon in the Cold War arsenal of the US, sent on perilous, top-secret missions to battle the enemies of mankind.

Thanks to our friends at Revelation Films, we've got a copy of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: The Complete Series One on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Thursday 31st March, making sure to put "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: The Complete Series Oneis available from Monday 28th March, priced £39.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed


As the dawn grew brighter we withdrew from the window from which we had watched the Marsians, and went very quietly downstairs.

Ginger, Speccy and Orlando agreed with me that the house was no place to stay in - apparently my cutting edge games console was more cartridge-driven than they were used to, and my iPod too full of W.A.S.P.. Orlando proposed to make their way Londonward, and thence get aboard the Hogwarts Express. My plan was to return at once to Leatherhead; and so greatly had the strength of the Marsians impressed me that I had determined to take my wife to Newington, and bog off out of the country. I already suspected that the area about London would become the scene of a disastrous struggle before the Marsians could be destroyed.

I wasn't scared for myself, you understand, but Enid's a bit weird.

Between us and Leatherhead, however, lay the third cylinder, and the monsters of uberfuckening it had spawned. Had I been alone, I think I should have taken my chance and struck across country; but Speccy's fevered weeping dissuaded me. In the end I agreed to go with them, under cover of the woods - for while, at least.

I ransacked the house for a flask, which I filled with Red Bull, and we lined all our pockets with biscuits and meat. Why? I'm not really sure. We had loads of Tupperware. Then we crept out of the house, and ran as quickly as we could down the road by which I had come overnight. The houses seemed deserted. In the road lay a group of three charred bodies close together, struck dead by the Heat-Ray; and here and there were things that people had dropped: a clock, a slipper, a silver spoon, a candlestick, a rope, a lead pipe...

None of the houses had suffered very greatly here, apart from the orphanage, which was blazing hilariously. The majority of the inhabitants had fled - escaped by way of the road I had taken when I drove to Leatherhead.

We went down the lane and broke into the woods at the foot of the hill. We pushed through these towards the railway without meeting a soul. The woods across the line were but the scarred and blackened ruins of woods; for the most part the trees had fallen, but a certain proportion still stood, dismal grey stems, with dark brown foliage instead of green.

After a time we drew near the road, and as we did so we heard the clatter of hoofs and saw three cavalry soldiers riding slowly towards Woking. We hailed them, and they halted while we hurried towards them. It was a lieutenant and a couple of privates of the 8th Hussars.

"You are the first I've seen coming this way this morning," said the lieutenant. "What's brewing?"

Ginger jumped down the bank into the road and saluted.

"We've been hiding. Trying to get back to London, you see. You'll come in sight of the Marsians, I expect, about half a mile along this road."

"What are they like?" asked the lieutenant.

"Giants in metal plate armour of rapening, sir. Hundred feet high. Three legs and a body like aluminium, with a mighty great head in a hood, sir. They carry a kind of box, sir, that shoots fire and strikes you dead."

"Do you mean 'a gun'?"

"No, sir," and Orlando began a vivid account of the Heat-Ray. Halfway through, the lieutenant interrupted him and looked up at me. I was still standing on the bank by the side of the road.

"What?" I asked. "Do I look like I'm in charge of these fuckwits?"

"Look here," said the lieutenant, "we're detailed here clearing people out of their houses. Go along and report yourself to Brigadier-General Marvin, and tell him all you know. He's at Weybridge. Know the way?"

"Yeah, sure." I said; muttering "Dick." under my breath as he turned away.

By Byfleet station we emerged from the trees, and found the country calm and peaceful under the morning sunlight. We were far beyond the range of the Heat-Ray there, and had it not been for the silent desertion of some of the houses, the stirring movement of packing in others, and the knot of soldiers standing on the bridge over the railway and staring down the line towards Woking, the day would have seemed very like any other Sunday.

Several farm wagons and carts were moving creakily along the road and, through the gate of a field, we saw six twelve-pounders standing neatly at equal distances pointing towards Woking. The gunners stood by the guns waiting, and the ammunition waggons were at a business-like distance. The men stood almost as if under inspection.

"That's good!" said I. "They will get one fair shot, at any rate."

"Bows and arrows against the lightning." said the Orlando. "They haven't seen the Heat-Ray yet."

Byfleet was in a tumult; people packing, and a score of hussars, some of them dismounted, some on horseback, were hunting them about. The soldiers were having the greatest difficulty in making them realise the gravity of their position. We saw one shrivelled old fellow with a huge box and a score or more of flower pots containing orchids, angrily expostulating with the corporal who would leave them behind. I stopped and put him in a headlock.

"Do you know what's over there?" I said, gesturing at the pine tops that hid the Martians.

"Eh?" said he, choking. "I was explainin' these is vallyble."

"Death!" I shouted. "Death is coming! Death!" and leaving him to digest that if he could, I hurried on after the Hogwarts kids.

No one in Weybridge could tell us where the headquarters were established; the whole place was in such confusion as I had never seen in any town before. Carts, carriages everywhere, the most astonishing miscellany of conveyances and horseflesh. The respectable inhabitants of the place, men in golf and boating costumes, wives prettily dressed, were packing, river-side loafers energetically helping, children excited, and, for the most part, highly delighted at this astonishing variation of their Sunday experiences. In the midst of it all the worthy vicar was very pluckily holding an early celebration, and his bell was jangling out above the excitement.

The kids and I, seated on the step of the drinking fountain, made a very passable meal upon what we had brought with us. We saw as we crossed the railway bridge that a growing crowd of people had assembled in and about the railway station, and the swarming platform was piled with boxes and packages.

We remained at Weybridge until midday, and at that hour we found ourselves at the place near Shepperton Lock where the Wey and Thames join. Part of the time we spent helping two old women to pack a little cart. The Wey has a treble mouth, and at this point boats are to be hired, and there was a ferry across the river. On the Shepperton side was an inn with a lawn, and beyond that the tower of Shepperton Church—it has been replaced by a spire—rose above the trees.

Here we found an excited and noisy crowd of fugitives. As yet the flight had not grown to a panic, but there were already far more people than all the boats going to and fro could enable to cross. People came panting along under heavy burdens; one husband and wife were even carrying a small toilet between them, with some of their household goods piled in the bowl.

There was a lot of shouting, and one man was even jesting. The idea people seemed to have here was that the Marsians were simply formidable human beings, who might attack and sack the town, to be certainly destroyed in the end. Every now and then people would glance nervously across the Wey, at the meadows towards Chertsey, but everything over there was still.

"What's that?" cried a boatman, and "Shut up, you fool!" said a man near me to a yelping dog. Then the sound came again, this time from the direction of Chertsey, a muffled thud — the sound of a gun.



Debuting in 1968 and lasting just two all-too-brief series, Land Of The Giants, the original science-fiction/adventure series created by sci-fi visionary Irwin Allen has far outlived its initial run.

Taking on a remarkable life of its own, the show maintained an astonishing degree of popularity, spawning worldwide fan clubs, newsletters and convention appearance.

Now, for the first time in the UK, the first series on this cult classic comes to DVD in a wonderful 7 disc set, which includes some fantastic Special Features!

Thanks to our friends at Revelation Films, we've got a copy of Land of the Giants: The Complete Series One on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Wednesday 30th March, making sure to put "Land of the Giants" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Land of the Giants" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Land of the Giants: The Complete Series Oneis available from Monday 28th March, priced £39.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Book Reviews

Star Wars – The Old Republic: Deceived
Paul S. Kemp
Titan Books

Available from 25th March - £17.99 (Hardback) & £29.64 (Unabridged Audio CD)
Review by Brad Harmer

The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic ramps up the action and brings readers face to face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order’s Dark Lords – Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular Deceived and Hope trailers.

Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Corsucant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous – something Malgus would never want to be, but cannot stop, any more than he can stop the rogue Jedi fast approaching.

Her name is Aryn Leneer – and the lone Knight that Malgus cut down in the fierce battle for the Jedi Temple was her Master. And now she’s going to find out what happened to him, even if it means breaking every rule in the book.

Darth Malgus is the real star of Deceived, and what a great character he is. He’s a double-hard bastard when it comes to the fight scenes, and he’s a scheming, sharp-minded politician when he needs to be. What’s more, his motivation and the source of his power has be to one of the most unique ever – and it’s amazing that it hasn’t been tackled before.

The action scenes are clear, exciting and really easy to follow. Lots of Star Wars type explosions and action here!

There are a couple of downsides, though. All of the characters who aren’t Malgus are pretty weak, and it’s hard to take an interest in anything they do. This is more of a shame when there are plenty of characters who just aren’t giving enough time – and this brings me on to my second point. Deceived is Force-Unleashed-Twoingly short. It runs in at a mere 255 pages in hardback. It’s a story that could have stood at least another hundred pages. One can only hope that there will be more books to cover the characters and territory this one left unexplored.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
An entire Jedi Temple is massacred, explosions, lightsaber wounds, blaster fire, Force Push, Force Lightning, Force Choke and (one of E14 lesser used categories) explosive decompression.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Stang and Kriff.
Summary: An enjoyable Star Wars novel, but possibly the darkest since the Darth Bane series. Darth Malgus is a great character and I certainly hope that we see more of him. Deceived is somewhat on the short side, though – so, if you’re not an Old Republic nut, it may be worth saving the pennies and waiting for the paperback. 8/10

True Blood – Volume One: All Together Now
Alan Ball, Mariah Huehner, David Messina, David Tischmann
IDW Publishing

Available Now - £18.99 (Hardback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Blood and passion mix on a hot rainy night at Merlotte’s as Sookie and the usual suspects settle in for the long haul. Until, that is, they find themselves unexpectedly trapped by a vengeful, vile creature, one who feeds off the miserable shame of others – and none will survive until morning unless all their dirty little secrets are revealed. So Sookie, Bill, Eric, Sam, Tara, Jason and Lafayette are forced to dig deep and tell painful tails of their pasts – the kind you never willingly reveal!

This is a real wasted opportunity. It just doesn’t feel like True Blood. None of the characters feel like themselves – especially Bill Compton and Eric Northman – and their dialogue is truly atrocious, frequently coming across as stilted and hard. This feels like botched fan-fiction, and not what you expect from a professionally released tie-in.

The artwork is pretty good, to be fair, and all of the characters look like who they’re supposed to be. It's just a shame that they don't act like it.

The story picks up a little after the half-way mark, but it’s just too little too late by that point. A tragically wasted opportunity. Let’s hope it can pick it up again in the next volume.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Vampires, blood, stabberising, scuffling.
Sex/Nudity: Frequent depictions of and references to sexual acts.
Swearing: Frequent and strong.
Summary: A relatively strong ending doesn’t manage to save the mess of poor characterisation that precedes it. One for real obsessives only. 3/10
Comics Corner

2000AD #1726
Available from Wednesday 23rd March

Review by Brad Harmer

A new Judge Dredd story kicks off this issue and, so far, it looks to be a good one. Good sense of humour, lots of action and a sarcastic undercurrent. If that isn’t what Judge Dredd is all about, then I don’t know what is!

Shakara is still grinding ponderously to a halt. Frankly this dreary coda has been banging on for far too long now, and the ending can’t come quick enough.

Flesh, on the other hand, is actually improving. The story showcases Pat Mills at his action packed, dark humour filled finest, and the framing of the panels is really creative. Whilst I’m still not a fan of the style (it looks like Tesco Value Ezquerra), the use of long vertical panels for some of the flying combat scenes really lends it some dynamics. It’s fun.

This week’s Future Shock continues the trend of bland and barely acceptable sci-fi tales. This one is well drawn, but the story is piss weak once again. There have to be better amateur submissions than this, surely?

New series Dandridge looks to have some real promise. It raises your curiosity with the 2000AD quirk that you know and love.

All in all #1726 is a relatively solid issue, and not bad jumping on point, to boot. 7/10


A remote Island, located just off the coast of the British Isles - population under five thousand. At first sight, Peyton Island is the perfect setting for a quiet life. Unspoiled by the decadence of modern living, Peyton is guided by 'old time' values and a solid community spirit. However, when the sun goes down, 'Peyton' is a victim to the night. A strict curfew prohibits any residents from going out at night - the curfew was established by the Major and is enforced by the Patrol Men.

Patrol Men is a grungy and grimy British horror film where only one thing is certain: Bad things will happen.

Thanks to our friends at Crabtree Films, we've got two copies of Patrol Men on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Monday 28th March, making sure to put "Patrol Men" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Patrol Men" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Patrol Menis available from Monday 28th March, priced £12.99.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.