Thursday 30 June 2011

Gaming Reviews

Child of Eden
Q? Entertainment/Ubisoft
Available now on Xbox 360 (w/ Kinect support), Coming 16/09/11 for Playstation 3 (w/ Move support
Review by Rob Wade

Child of Eden thrusts the player into the center of a battle to save Project Lumi, a mission to reproduce a human personality inside Eden, the archive of all human memories. As the project nears completion, the archive is invaded by an unknown virus. The player's mission is to save Eden from the virus, restoring hope and peace.

Child of Eden plays unlike anything most people will have seen before, unless they’ve played a game like Rez. Those who haven’t, and hear the words ‘rhythm action game’, might be a little confused by it all. Players shoot targets on the screen to upbeat techno music. The bit that sets it apart from other shooters, though, is that the hits you make improve your score if they’re in time with the music, and indeed you’ll hear the snare fills and drum patterns as you play. Essentially, imagine if those metal guitar riffs hit in Call of Duty as you pulled off a headshot and you’re sort of along the right path. As a gameplay mechanic, it’s simultaneously thoroughly entertaining while at the same time incredibly difficult to put into words. Thankfully, Ubisoft made a trailer which helps.

The gameplay is done using one of two control methods. Either by using a traditional controller, or using the motion control capability of Kinect. players can move their cursor around the screen, in the case of the controller with buttons, or with Kinect by either using the left hand as a rapid-fire weapon which is less powerful, or by selecting multiple targets and then flicking the wrist pushing your right hand forwards. It’s a very intuitive control mechanism and it works really well, though there are occasionally issues when switching between hands with Kinect, which makes the cursor go a bit crazy.

Make no mistake, though. As a controller game, Child of Eden is playable and enjoyable enough, but all the time I was playing on a controller it felt like I was missing out. Kinect is so well integrated into this experience that it feels like the only way to play. It makes the game more enjoyable, it got me off the sofa to play, and I felt more immersed in the experience. If that’s not the point of Kinect, then why the fuck do I have one?

The music, too, is awesome. I played the levels a couple of times in a row, and at no point did the music get on my tits, and I’m not usually a fan of this style in the absolute slightest. Maybe it’s feeling like you’re in control of the music, maybe it’s that its effectiveness as ambient music is more subtle than it might appear on first impression. Either way, the music adds to the experience for sure.

See, the difficulty here comes in recommending it based on something you might already like. If you like shooters, but are getting bored of the standard cookie-cutter army model, then this may be worth checking out. If you like a lot of the quirkier stuff that comes out of Japan, then this definitely falls into that category. If you liked Rez, Lumines and stuff like that, then you will love it. Most importantly, if you bought Kinect early on and are looking for a fun game to make use of it, this is it. The Kinect implementation is seamless, and the game is more fun with it. This, in fact, may be the reason you bought that Kinect in the first place, a new gaming experience that a controller just can’t do in the same way.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: An absolutely stunning, fluid experience which looks amazing in motion.
Sound/Music: Techno music usually isn’t my bag, but I had fun with it when it was in-game and I felt in control. Go figure.
Gameplay: Kinect is the best way to play this, but it’s still a fun game without. At least with the controller, the game doesn’t get your hands confused occasionally. Ideally not, anyway.
Lasting Appeal: Plenty of levels, and potentially two ways to play each level (assuming you have Kinect).
Summary: A truly original game, and an absolutely engaging experience from start to finish. Bought a Kinect, but don’t have any games for it yet? Get this. You will thank me. 8/10

Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent
Telltale Games
Available now on PC, Playstation Network (Version Tested)
Review by Rob Wade

Nelson Tethers is a Puzzle Agent, often considered the lowliest of all the agencies at the FBI (it's even last on the building list). However, when an industrial accident shuts down the eraser factory in the town of Scoggins, Wisconsin, it's up to Tethers to figure out the cause of the accident the only way he knows how: solving puzzles.

The game is based on the art style of Graham Annable, a well known figure in the realm of geekery whom, I have to confess, I had previously not heard of. His is the art style used here, which suits a game of this type really well. One thing, however, that makes the game look really cheaply made (which I can tell you is not the case) is that when the action zooms in on a character or anything like that, the edges of the black lines blur and look oily. When the action pans out, the art style looks great, but at close range it looks like it's being looked at through a Vaseline-covered lens, which makes it look a bit shonky.

Gameplay-wise, the game is a good formula. A mix of Professor Layton (who, as loyal E14ies know, I'm quite the fan of) and a point and click adventure, it's a wonder that this game hasn't made it to Nintendo DS. It's also arguably an error, as the controller use on PS3 makes the game almost unplayable at times.

It's a shame, too, as for the most part the controls are quite intuitive. Selection is done with the X button, but you bring up the hotspot menu with R1. The problem comes when any puzzle pieces are on a diagonal plane to the ones next to them, as it becomes as difficult as it can possibly be to get the puzzle piece highlighted. This is particularly annoying on one particular puzzle, which involves the assembly of a gear from a fuckton of small pieces. I almost tore my hair out, a gesture which will only be worth less and less as I get older.

The puzzles, at times, leave a lot to be desired. At one point, I was required to find a "hidden number", but the puzzle was so obvious that they might as well have written the number "9" on the screen. Another one had me re-arranging pictures, but I was able to submit it without changing a picture. They'd already been put out in the right order on the page. There's other little things, like the "How?" section at the end of a puzzle not always, there's the issue that the in-game hint system ranges between shockingly vague and so much information that you can solve the puzzle too easily, and little things like that.

It would be easy to assume, therefore, that I hate this game. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the puzzles work, they work extremely well, and have you reaching for a notebook and pen in order to answer the questions as efficiently as possible. The story is compelling, the characters are rich and larger-than-life in a good way, making the game pretty funny generally. More refreshingly, especially after reviewing Hector a while back, the voice acting on this game is considerably superior to that of Hector.

Ultimately, the game is a great one if you really like your puzzles, and you like games to have a decent sense of humour. However, if you have the option to pick it up on PC or PSN, definitely pick it up on PC. A sequel is currently in the works, so hopefully they'll be revising the control method, or at least giving you proper analog control rather than the system that's currently in place. However, if you really like puzzles, the PSN version is good enough that you should try to get past the controls and enjoy the game, because there is plenty there to enjoy.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: A nice art style which is unfortunately let down a bit close-up.
Sound/Music: Brilliant, atmospheric music and sound effects.
Gameplay: A mix of great and alright puzzles, but the controller does not translate as well as one might hope.
Lasting Appeal: You might play it through twice but there's unlikely to be much more depth to it than two plays.
Summary: A good game, which falls short of greatness thanks to some awful controls. 7/10


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children", an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Thanks to our friends at Quirk Books, we've got two copies of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Thursday 7th July, making sure to put "Miss Peregrine" 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 "Miss Peregrine" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is out now, courtesy of Quirk Books.

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

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Celebrity Twitters: The Predator

Landed safely. Looking forward to kicking back, getting back to nature, and adding a few skulls to the collection.

Pretty successful day, so far. Knocked down one of those ‘hellacopter’ things, and decided to try making some jerky.

You know one thing about making jerky? It’s really, really hard to keep the vultures off. Don’t teach you that in Home Ec, do they, eh?

It’s really hot down here.

Yeah, man, but it’s a dry heat! RT @acidforblood As hot as our place?

I’m pissed off, now. I went back to check on my jerky, and some insensitive pricks have chopped all the meat down. Heads shall roll.

Well, they won’t roll, but they will end up on my fucking shelf.

@acidforblood Will you let me deal with this my own way?

Man, these guys are pretty good. They just knocked over a whole village load of guys with guns. This will require cunning...

And guns, blades and an invisible suit.

Hey! That guy killed a scorpion and then just left it there! Skull-yoinkage!

Scorpions don’t have skulls, apparently.

Took down one of them already. Complete piece of piss. Boom, knocked him down like THAT. #imbatmanbitches

BTW, I upgraded my rifle this trip. It now has THREE red-dot laser sights, so it should be thrice as accurate!

You know, it doesn’t seem to make all that much difference. Weird.

These guys are getting crafty. Well...crafty meets hoping-I’m-going-to-get-crushed-by-a-giant-log. Nice try, guys.

I totally saw that net there, by the way. I just set it off because I didn’t want to dishearten them. I thought I’d be sporting.

Wow. Last time I saw a tree punch that hard I was watching “The Two Towers”.

Things have gone...*okay*. I’ve picked off three more of them – some well, some not so well.

Aw, man, I’ve got my suit all wet! These things never work properly after that.

Who designed these things? I mean, it’s not like we don’t have water back home.

Right, this massive, massive Austrian guy just disappeared. How does that happen?


He has. He’s totally gone. Ugly motherfucker.

There’s a big fire over there. I’m gonna go and investigate.

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.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Drive Angry Giveaway


Get ready for one Hell of a ride! In Drive Angry, the action thrill-ride from the director of My Bloody Valentine, Nicolas Cage star as Milton, a hardened felon who has broken out of hell for one last chance at redemption. Intent on stopping a vicious cult who murdered his daughter, he has three days to stop them before they sacrifice her baby beneath a full moon.

He's joined by Piper - a young, sexy waitress who liberates her ex-boyfriend's cherry-red muscle car in order to help Milton. Now, the two of them are hot on the trail of the deadly leader of the cult, Jonah King, who believes it is his destiny to use the baby to unleash Hell on earth.

But the bloodthirsty cult is the least of Milton's problems. The police are after him too. And worse, an enigmatic killer known only as "The Accountant" - who has been sent by the Devil to retrieve Milton and deliver him back to Hell. With wicked cunning and hypnotic savagery, the Accountant will relentlessly pursue Milton at high speed across the country until his mission is accomplished.

Fuelled by high octane and pure rage, Milton must use his anger to go beyond all human limits to avenge his daughter's murder, before his last chance at redemption is revoked.

Thanks to our friends at Lions Gate Home Entertainment, we've got two copies of Drive Angry on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Tuesday 5th July, making sure to put "Drive Angry" 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 "Drive Angry" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Drive Angry is out on Double Play Blu-ray and DVD on July 4, courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment

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

Monday 27 June 2011

Notes from an Unemployed Twenty-Something

I recently got fired. Not from E14, of course, because I probably wouldn’t agree to write an article for someone who fired me. I got fired from my “real” job; the one I do during the day, for money. The boring one, basically. Now that we’ve established which job I’m talking about, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I’m coping since I got the dreaded “sack”.

Well, being unemployed sucks. It’s not the “glorified couch potato, do what you want, don’t have to answer to anybody” life style that seems so appealing to our generation. It has, in fact, been the most soul destroying experience of my young life to date. There really isn’t anything positive to be said for being unemployed, and here is why:

1: You Are Now on the Lower Rung of Society, and People Really Like to Remind You

The human race really does have “being judgemental” down to an art. I have a friend who is on the dole. A day doesn’t go by without someone ripping it out of him for not working. No-one stops to consider the fact that it is almost impossible to find stable employment these days. I have discovered that people who have jobs love to pass judgement on those that can’t get jobs. I can’t have a conversation with anyone without them asking the details of my current employment status. When I tell them I still haven’t found a new job, they either change the subject, or say in a nice patronising tone “oh, that’s a shame” or “you’ll get there.” You’d find less vague sentiments in a Hallmark card.

You also become a charity case. You honestly would not believe how many people have put money in my hand and told me to “keep believing” in myself, or something equally cheesy. I recently had to swallow my pride and ask my mum to help me with my £30 phone bill. She gave me £100. “You’ve always got to have money in your pocket, chick." she said. She’s your average over-protective Irish “Mammy” who rushes you to the hospital every time you get a runny nose. To her mind, without that money I would die. What if I got stranded and couldn’t afford a taxi? You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s genuinely making sure I have money for the muggers so they won’t kill me. I love my Mammy.

2: Everything Inevitably Becomes Boring and Pointless

The weekend I got fired I sat on front of my boyfriend’s Xbox 360 and made my conversion from “Xbox widow” to “cool gamer girlfriend.” I invested in some games, I set up my gamer profile, and I gamed. For several days. Without stopping. My brain almost exploded with the intensity of it, my eyes dried up and I suffered from many, many migraines. I literally couldn’t think about anything except Xbox. When I was away from the house, I wanted to bring it with me.

Preaching to the choir.

However, I exhausted my enthusiasm within two weeks of my new addiction.

I moved on, watching all my favourite movies in a frantic attempt to give myself something to do. Within a few days I thought to myself, if I watch another film I’m going to die. As a writer for a site that reviews movies, I can’t seem to watch any film without dissecting it and criticising it. What should have been a fun escape from reality turned into more work than I was doing when I had a job.

I have loads of hobbies, and I’m sure I’m not alone. You may be thinking that this won’t happen to you, and that you would kill to have all the time in the world to do the things you love, but I’m warning you now, once you have been unemployed for more than two weeks you will have exhausted all sources of entertainment available to you and will begin to spend hours each day either staring into space, or sleeping.

On that note...

3: Your Sleeping Pattern Gets Fucked

Your sleeping pattern becomes vampiric, and the sun starts to really piss you off. You subsequently become irritable. All your boyfriend has to do is say “Good morning, sweetheart” and you’ll have him apologising for calling you fat and jobless. I’ve even started getting annoyed at the normal people who have the audacity to talk to me about their jobs.

“I’m off to work, chick...”
“Fuck you!”

I stay up all night. When you don’t have a job, the socially accepted sleeping hours become null and void. Unless all your friends and family are on the other side of the world and big into the Skype movement, you’re probably going to spend these nights horribly alone and feeling miserable. And, let’s face it, there really is only so much porn you can watch before that, too, neglects to give you any source of comfort.

4: You Are No Longer Independent

Instead of seeing this situation as a blank canvas, and an opportunity for you to become more independent and motivated, you will gradually begin to depend on everybody else and expect them to pander to you. Like being ill, you feel like you deserve sympathy because you’ve lost your job. But there’s only so long you can only sit in your pyjamas, forcing your boyfriend make you cups of tea before he snaps and becomes an axe wielding maniac. I’m tempted by a “Here’s Omer” joke here, but it’s just too easy, and most of you probably don’t know Omer.

Oh, we know Omer...

People expect you to be available all the time, because, let’s face it, it’s not like you have a job. People really don’t have any faith in the idea that you might have plans and responsibilities outside of a work environment.

5: You Suck

You no longer have bragging rights about anything. You no longer have the upper hand in conversations. I used to be a carer. If anyone had a dilemma regarding medicine or care, they would ask me. If I said being disabled meant you could fly, people believed me, because “Well, she works in care; of course she knows.” But now, my opinion counts for squat. It will happen to you, too.

Instead of being conscientious with what little money you have left after losing your job, you will probably fall into the trap of spending more money than you did before. I made some very radical purchases with my last pay check, including piercings and hair appointments. Why? Simply because it cheered me up. I also went into “Panic Mode” and bought things I knew I would need in the future, like toiletries and canned goods. It looked like I was stocking up for some kind of apocalypse. I did wonder why people started copying me in the supermarket...

There is, of course, one positive to all this “getting fired” business. You have way more time to write articles for the best website in the world...

Words: Kelly Prior


In the deep jungles of South East Asia a blood thirsty mercenary Sebastian (Gary Daniels - The Expendables) hunts for the thrill of the chase and victims to sell into slavery. In one operation he kills a peaceful local shaman Aroon (Danny Trejo - Machete, Predators, Con Air) and his family. Sebastian leaves with his catch, believing his mission has been successful, but he is about to find out that some men are hard to kill...

The Mercenary is a full-on thriller with an all-star cast that also includes Bai Ling (Crank: High Voltage) and Tommy 'Tiny' Lister (The Dark Knight) which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the action-packed climax.

Thanks to our friends at G2 Pictures, we've got three copies of The Mercenary on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to before midday on Monday 4th July, making sure to put "The Mercenary" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

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

The Mercenary is out on DVD and Blu-ray from Monday 4th July, courtesy of G2 Pictures.

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

Sunday 26 June 2011

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Joe Dever gamebook Highway Holocaust. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: You are about to take a closer look when Pop Ewell calls everyone to the bus. He has made radio contact with Big Spring.
Pop Ewell: Here, Brag...
Brad: He hands you the headphones.
Pop Ewell: Your ears are younger than mine. See if you can figure out what they're saying.
Brag: Errggh, dude, put those ones away.
Brad: You slip on the headphones and listem to a voice that is almost completely obscured by the hiss and crackele of static. You close your eyes and concentrate as hard as you can in an effort to undersand what is being said.
Rob: That's latin by the way, E14ies, it's an Event horizon reference!
Voice on paying you a with you the skies...
Brad: You relay the mesage to the others and they begin to laugh.
Hammer Harlan: I think the heat's finally got to you, Brag! Here, let me listen to those 'phones. Ain't nothin' wrong with my hearin'.
Brag: Fine by me, 'Hammer'. I bet you've got a tiny wang.
Brad: You pass him the headphones, but before he has had a chance to put them on, the insect-like sound of a small engine draws all eyes to the west.
Hammer: Well, I'll be...
Brad: High in the azure sky you see a tiny flying machine with fragile, bat-shaped wings. Spell-bound, the colony watches as the plane circles above the town and comes in to land on the stretch of freeway that approaches the bridge. Slowly the pilot extricates himself from the tiny, motorised hang glider and gives a friendly wave as he strides towards the group.

Pilot: The name's Rickenbacker.
Brad: He shakes Uncle Jonas by the hand.
Rickenbacker: I'm from Big Spring. I saw y'all while I was scoutin' the freeway and thought I'd drop by. Shame about the radio: 'fraid my set's seen better days.
Brad: Rickenbacker warns the colony that a large groupe of clansmen is riding towards the town from the east. They are less than five miles distant and closing fast. He also tells you about another gang of bikers, a clan called The Mavericks, who have been the bane of the Big Spring colony for the last six months.
Brag: Mavericks? I bet they play by their own rules...
Brad: They control the city of Lubbock, 100 miles to the north, and their raiding parties are in the area foraging for food.
Rickenbacker: I know the next thirty miles ain't gonna be easy for you folks, but there's a big welcome waitin' for y'all at Big Spring.
Brad: He gets ready to take to the air once more.
Rickenbacker: Don't delay now. We're countin' on you to make it through.
Brag: ...Okay...
Brad: As soon as he is airborne, the colony sets to work on the bridge with renewed vigour. The Lions are closer than anyone dared imagine and everyone is eager to get across the river before they show up. When Cutter announces that the bridge is safe, you drive the BragWagon across the platform and park it on the freeway ready for a fast getaway.
Brag: Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be roped into taking them on single-handed.
MCSPINDLE: Why aren't we just driving away, leaving them all to die?
Brad: The colony crosses over on foot, and Cutter drives the empty bus across the bridge. The platform creaks and shudders, but Cutter is able to cross safely to the far side. Together with Kate, the three of you return to help guide Uncle Jonas and the tanker across. Just as the front wheels are about to mount the platform, Kate screams a warning.
Kate: The Lions are here!
Brag: I fucking knew it.
Brad: You see a cloud of dust approaching, then the roar of a hundred motorcycle engines fills the air as the Detroit Lions come racing along the freeway into Colorado City.

Brag: A hundred? For fuck's sake...
MCSPINDLE: It might not be that bad. Some may have more than one motorbike each.
Brag: ...Think about what you just said.
MCSPINDLE: I think we'd all be happier if we didn't.
Cutter: You gotta hold 'em off until we've got this baby across!
Brad: Cutter waves frantic signals to Uncle Jonas who is having to fight to keep the tanker in a straight line. The sight of the makeshift platform sagging under the weight of the heavy vehicle makes your stomach turn. As you reach the end of the bridge, you notice two ideal defensive positions. One is a three-storey factory that overlooks the freeway; the other is an auto-wreck overturned on the approach ramp to the bridge.
Rob: I hide behind the auto wreck. I don't really have the weaponry to justify a sniper point. I'm quite sensible really. When it comes down to it.
Brad: You crouch behind the wrecked car and watch as Kate disappears into the factory. Minutes later you see her face at a window on the top floor and notice the barrel of her gun resting on its ledge. Nervously you count the passing seconds, your eyes fixed on the road ahead. The first of the Lions appears: it is a motorcycle and sidecar. A lion's head flag flutters from an aerial fixed behind the rider's saddle, and a heavy-caliber machine gun is mounted in front of the chair.
Brag: See, McS? Some of these bikes are carrying two people! Your maths was doomed from the start!
Brad: As soon as they see the tanker they open fire, sending a stream of tracer bullets arcing towards your position. As the fiery shell rip through your covers, you fight the urge to throw yourself down on the ground, and take aim at the approaching vehicle. You know that you must make your shot count, for if just one of the tracer shells were to pierce the tanker, it would ignite the fuel and blow it sky high. You rest the butt of your pistol on the side of the auto wreck and, as the enemy vehicle speeds nearer, you cock the hammer and focus your aim at the driver's head.
Brag: Hammercock!
Brad: You have aimed too high: your gunfire passes over the driver's head, alerting his partner to your position.
Brag: Fucknuggets!
Brad: He returns fire, sending a hail of bullets into the wreckage that shields you. They strike with devastating effect, the deadly tracer shells blowing the rusty metal to pieces.
MCSPINDLE: I'm over here!
Brag: Sorry, I saw rusty metal and assumed you'd been shot!

Brad: You throw yourself to the ground. Your speedy reactions save you from being cut in half by the deadly tracer shells. The air is alive with bullet fragments and pieces of twisted metal, and you dare not raise your head for fear of being hit. Out of the corner of your eye you see Kate aiming her rifle from the window of the factory. She shoots and immediately the machine gun fire ceases.
You look up to see the rider clutching his fave with both hands.
Rob: Were they dumbstruck by her terrible marksmanship?
Brad: He swoons, falls backwards, and then tumbles from the saddle. Before the sidecar rider can jump free, the speeding machine careers off the road into the wall of an office building, and explodes in a searing ball of flame.
Rob: Swoons?! Sorry, was this gamebook written in the 1920s?!
Brad: Yes.
Rob: Hunh.
Brad: With a smile you signal a thumbs-up to Kate and she returns your salute with a wave.
Rob: Of her tits?
Brad: A few minutes later a column of motorcycles - the main body of the clan - rides into view. They are now less than a mile from the bridge.
Cutter: C'mon, you two! It's time to go!
Brad: The tanker has made it across the platform and is now parked with the other vehicles on the far side of the river. Kate is running towards you from the factory and, as she reachers the bridge, you call out to her to set the bomb. Tensely, you watch the clansmen as they gun their bikes along the freeway, and you glance repeatedly over your shoulder, praying for Kate to signal that the bomb is ready. Then the front line of bikers open fire with their machine pistols, and suddenly the air is filled with the whine and whistle of bullets.
Kate: It's ready!
Brad: She takes off across the bridge at a run. You spring to your feet and run towards the platform, weaving back and forth in order to present the Lions with a difficult target. Kate and Cutter are screaming encouragement, inspiring you to greater effort when you reach the centre of the bridge. Bullets are flying everywhere: whistling, singing, smacking into the asphalt on either side of your feet as you sprint the last few yards. As you pass the tanker, Cutter steps in front of you and grabs your jacket to slow you down.
Brag: Don't do that! I'll get hit, you pillock!
Brad: He points to the ruins of a nearby church and tells you to follow him there. Inside, the colony are huddled on the ground with their hands over their heads, waiting for the bridge to blow. A few seconds after you enter the church and take cover next to Kate, there is a tremendous flash, followed almost immediately by a deafening roar like a violent earthquake that shakes the walls and floor. Dust and debris fall from the rafters but miraculously no one is injured, and when finally the tremors cease and you go outside to survey the scene, all you can see is a vast cloud of dust hanging over the place where the Colorado City bridge once spanned the river.

Brag: Haha! Taste river from a height, bitches!
Brad: Debris from the explosion lies scattered across the ground for hundreds of yards. Cutter is worried that the vehicles may have been wrecked, but after a thorough check the damage is found to be superficial. As soon as the colony are back on board the bus, you slip behind the wheel of your roadster and lead them awa from Colorado City. You have been driving for no more than twenty minutes when you see in the distance a small cluster of weathered buildings shimmering in the heat.
Brag: Aww, man, Sniper Village!
Brad: A sign informs you that you are now approaching the town of Westbrook. The fatigue of your journey and the glare of the afternoon sun prevent you from noticing the shiny metal spikes that lay strewn across the highway. As you enter the town, there is a loud bang and your steering wheel shudders violently.
Rob: Mines!
Brad: You pull over to the side of the road and give an emergency signal to the convoy to stop immediately and not to follow you into Westbook. The tyre on the right-side front wheel is completely flat. Wearily you climb out of the driving seat and go to inspect the damage.
Rob: Highway code regulations dictate that you must always carry a spare, so I must have one.
Brad: As you stoop to remove the spike, a shot rings out.
MCSPINDLE: This...really...hurts...
Brag: Shut up whining, it's no worse than a thorn in the paw. You didn't see that lion in The Bible pussying out.
Brad: Instantly, you drop to the ground and take cover behind the engine compartment of your car. A glance over the hood invites another shot; it passes within inches of your scalp and makes you duck, but not before you notice the muzzle flash of the sniper's gun. The ambusher is hiding in the doorway of a diner on the other side of the highway.
Brag: Probably interrupted his sandwich with our noise.
Brad: Two motorcycles are parked at that side of the building, indicating that he is not alone.
Rob: Could be up to three more people then...
Brad: You pull the CB transceiver out of your backpack, flick the power switch on and key-on the frequency that Pop Ewell monitors aboard the buss.
Brag: Breaker breaker, this is ManAndWhineyCar, we're pinned down by the diner by a sniper. The chicken is off, repeat, the chicken is off!
Brad: The tiny speaker crackles into life.
Cutter (on radio): Hang in there, Brag. I'll circle 'round the back and flush 'em out.
Brag: Good stuff. I'll just keep attracting fire from this increasingly powerful sniper.

Saturday 25 June 2011

DVD Reviews

Season of the Witch
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Claire Foy, Ron Perlman
Director: Dominic Sena
Momentum Picture Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Brad Harmer

A heroic crusader (Nicolas Cage) and his close ally (Ron Perlman) return home after decades of fierce fighting to find their world destroyed by the Plague. Believing a witch to be responsible for the devastation, they are commanded by the church Cardinal (Christopher Lee) to transport the girl to a remote monastery where monks will perform an ancient ritual to rid the land of her curse. But they soon discover the girl's dark secret and find themselves battling a powerful and destructive force that will determine the fate of the world forever.

It’s hard not to love a movie that has Ron Perlman and Christopher Lee sharing screen time, even allowing for the massive drag factor of Nicholas Cage, but I’ll be damned it Season of the Witch didn’t at least drag me down to ‘indifferent’. The first twenty odd minutes are nice, entertaining action/historical fiction scenes, but then the pacing drops off to a excruciating crawl.

Season of the Witch eventually evolves into a road movie (for the most part), but not an especially good one. The action scenes are badly cobbled together, and it’s often hard to tell just what the hell is going on at any particular time. The tone smashes from fantasy to historical fiction to horror back to fantasy to road movie with as much concern for genre as a Sam Raimi film.

Also, when directing a movie set in a fictionalised medieval England, try and give everyone English accents. If you can’t do that, give everyone their normal accent. What you should certainly not to is encourage all your actors to change accents from English to American willy-nilly. The Girl’s (Claire Foy) accent crashes all over the place literally from scene to scene. It’s a little thing, but that’s the problem with Season of the Witch. It’s a lot of good ideas brought down by the sheer weight of numbers of all the little botches.

There’s a lot of good ideas in Season of the Witch, so I’d hate to leave you with the impression that it’s complete and total toss. The script is good, the acting is excellent (when they can decide on an accent), but the pacing, editing, continuity, lack of identity and direction all cling to it like a petulant toddler, dragging it down from big name contender to bargain bin fodder.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Swordfighting, mass-battles, blood, gore, scuffling, kicking, references to torture, murder.
Sex/Nudity: Full female nudity, but you don’t see any bits. Claire Foy looking hot. Also, to be fair, Ron Perlman looking hot.
Swearing: Mild.
Summary: Several good ideas, executed badly. Let down (amongst other things) by poor editing and a lack of identity. 4/10
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2
Starring: Philip Brodie, Josh Myers, Alex Wilton Regan
Director: Michael Bartlett & Kevin Gates
Metrodome Distribution

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Blake Harmer

Following shortly after the events of the original The Zombie Diaries, this sequel follows a group of soldiers who have survived the viral outbreak and who now take refuge in a rural military barracks. With the future looking bleak, hope appears when a communication is received from a military base on the coast, telling of Europe coming to rescue any survivors. However, shortly after hearing this, the base is overrun with zombies and now a handful of surviving troops must make their way to the coast in time to be rescued.

Unlike a lot of zombie movies these days, I enjoyed the original The Zombie Diaries as it kept to the core, traditional values of zombie movies, rather than keeping to the new ideas of fast zombies action-fests. Instead it kept things slow, tense and showed that human behaviour can be worse than the zombies. World of the Dead: The Zombies Diaries 2 retains that feel and makes good use of the hand camera to keep up the suspense. The acting is also good considering the films obviously low budget.

The film does suffer by keeping a bit too close to the conventions of the zombie movie; some scares were way too predictable. Also whilst World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 retains everything that made the original movie great, I felt that it didn’t really expand and build upon it like a good sequel should.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Lots of gunfire and plenty of people being eaten alive by zombies.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of rape scenes, but you don’t see anything except for boob.
Swearing: A fair amount but used in fright or anger, pretty typical for horror movies then.
Summary: Whilst not as strong as the original The Zombie Diaries, and whilst it doesn’t ramp up the scares as much as [REC], World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 still maintains its roots and tells a good zombie yarn. Zombie fans should check it out if they liked the original. However, those who are more into the post-28 Days Later zombie films should probably look elsewhere. 6/10
Starring: Eoin Macken, Anna Skellern, Tereza Srbova
Director: Andrew Hull
Matchbox Films

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Brad Harmer

A group of friends escaping the city for a weekend away have a simple plan, to tour the coast for a relaxing weekend. Things hit a snag when one of the friends spots a seductive, sultry young woman waving for help off the shore of one of many secluded islands along the coast. Reaching out to rescue her turns deadly and they risk everything to get off the island alive.

I try my hardest to be a good horror fan; to stick up for my favourite genre and to try and defend it against its detractors, as well as in the face of its sparkly vampire fancying supporters. Recently, I’ve been proud to do so. The past twelve months have seen horror be the strongest it’s been for years – possibly since the 1980s, or even the 1920s. It’s because of this, that I really hate Siren.

Siren is a step backwards for all the progression the horror genre has taken recently. It markets itself as horror, but then the first thirty minutes is basically softcore porn, and just as artistically viable. Any tension or surprises that may have been intended are blown after the viewer metaphorically bruises himself on the lump of foreshadowing dropped in before we even get out first whiff of the mysterious island.

And then, after it realises that it hasn’t got a good idea in its running time, it turns to artistic pretension to try and cover up its shortcomings. Sorry, Siren, but you’re not Dario Argento, and you’re not Lucio Fulci and we’re not going to cut you any slack here. This is pretentiousness to cover up the fact you have nothing to say.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some blood and gore, if you have the patience to reach that far.
Sex/Nudity: Frequent and strong.
Swearing: Average for the genre.
Summary: A terrible mess of a movie, that seems far more concerned with disappearing up its own bottom than actually having anything original to bring to the table. 3/10
The New York Ripper: Fan Edition
Starring: Alexandra Delli Colli, Jack Hedley, Andrea Occhipinti
Director: Lucio Fulci

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Blake Harmer

Rejoice Fulci fans, as The New York Ripper is now being re-released in its most uncut form yet in the UK. For those of you who are unaware of the plot, it is a crime slasher movie, which follows Police Lt. Fred Williams and psychoanalyst Dr Paul Davis as they attempt to track down a murderer who talks in a grotesque Donald Duck style voice and butchers women with razorblades, knives and even a broken glass bottle.

As this is the most uncut version released in the UK, it’s hard to see what was so bad to have been cut from movie; especially seeing as it is essentially violence and nudity for ninety minutes. That said though, the plot is strong for your average crime slasher flick and keeps you guessing who the murderer is right up until the very end. Also, the special effects still look good considering the film’s age, and still raise the odd wince, such as when the ripper cuts into one of the girl’s eyes and straight down her face.

There are some drawbacks to this release, though. There are not many extras on the disc and I felt that the film could have been cleaned up better (this may be better on the Blu-ray release, but this was not available at the time). That said though: if you are a fan of Lucio Fulci’s movies, then you will be very happy to have this in your collection until it finally does come out uncut in the UK.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Lots of stabbings and cutting with plenty of fake blood to keep the gorehounds happy. The effects still hold up as well and haven’t dated too badly because of the use of prosthetics.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of scenes of a sexual nature, and full frontal nudity throughout.
Swearing: Quite a lot, but it does pale in comparison to the amount of violence and nudity on display here.
Summary: Whilst not quite as strong as Zombie Flesh Eaters, The New York Ripper is still one of Lucio Fulci’s best films. Well worth checking out if you like your serial killer crime movies, or if you are a fan of Lucio Fulci in general. 7/10


Exactly one year after his debut in TNA Wrestling, Mr. Anderson faces off against "The Blueprint" Matt Morgan in a main event to determine the #1 contender to challenge Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship title!

TNA Home Video presents TNA Genesis, shot live in Orlando, Florida, January 9, 2011.

Also on this DVD release: Does Immortal reach their goal of obtaining all of the title belts and does Eric Bischoff have plans for Anderson and Morgan that will change everything?

Thanks to our friends at TNA Wrestling, we've got three copies of TNA Genesis 2011 on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to before midday on Saturday 2nd July, making sure to put "Genesis" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

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

TNA Genesis: 2011 is out on DVD now, courtesy of TNA Wrestling.

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

Friday 24 June 2011

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Joe Dever gamebook Highway Holocaust. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: When you reach it, she could thrown the containers to you, and then help you with them when you climb back out. The idea does not impress her.
Kate: It's been so long, I can't remember the last time I took a dip in some real water. I'm sick o' washin' in sand. If you think I'm gonna hang around up here while you splash about down there, you've got another think comin', buster!
Brad: With that she grabs two of the plastic containers and lowers herself over the edge.
Brag: Feisty...I like that...
MCSPINDLE: You're going to try and bang her, arent' you?
Brag: She doesn't know, but I've already tried twice.
Brad: Seconds later you hear her scream and you rush forward to see her tumbling head-over-heels towards the lake. She hits the water with a loud splash and disappears from view. Briefly she surfaces, thrashing her arms and shouting.
Kate: Help, Brag! I can't swim!
Brag: Why the fuck did you come down here with me?!
Brad: You drop your containers and slide down the slope, riding the loose shale feet first. As you near the bottom you dig in your heels, using the speed of your descent to lever you forwards into a perfect dive. You reach Kate in a matter of seconds, but she is struggling so fiercely that it takes many minutes before you are able to get hold of her and swim towards the shallows.
Brag: Stop struggling, you stupid bitch!
Brad: Eventually, breathless and bedraggled, you crawl out of the water and collapse side by side on the muddy shore.
MCSPINDLE: So...that's meatbag courtship, is it?
Brag: It's usually a bit less wet. A bit. Looks like you got your bath sooner than you expected! Bitch!

Brad: You gently brush aside a few tangled strands of blonde hair that are hanging down in front of her face.
Kate: That's the second time you've saved my life. It's getting to be a habit.
Brag: What, this? I suppose I can make you a nun outfit, it was going to be a jumper.
Brad: She smiles, holding you with her eyes as she kisses her own hand and touches it to your cheek. You feel drawn towards her and, as your lips meet and you feel the tenderness of her touch, it is as if nothing else in the world exists.
MCSPINDLE: Wa-hey!!!!
Brag: Leave it out!
Brad: The illusion of peace is shattered by a burst of gunfire.
Brag: I swear it's not usually that fast.
Brad: You jump up as bullets slap the water and punch a line of holes along the muddy shore.
Kate: Clansmen!

Brad: She points across the lake at two figures silhoutted against the cloudless sky. Quickly you grab her by the arm and run towards the cover of some rocks topped with thorny foliage, growing less than twenty yards away. The clansmen snigger as they raise their machine pistols to fire at your fleeing forms.
Rob: Why do they snigger? Are they five?
Brad: You seen Kate dive safely into cover and are about to follow her when suddenly the dust erupts around your feet and you feel a sharp pain cut across the back of your right calf. You hobble the last few yards to cover, your wound making you grit your teeth.
Rob: Have I got any medkits?
Brad: No. Another burst of fire cuts through the bushes within inches of your skull. Fear blocks out the pain, making you concentrate on finding a way out of the ambush. Carefully, you raise your head and peer through the foliage. One of the clansmen is beginning to move around the edge of the hollow while his partner kneels and waits to give covering fire.
Your fear turns to indignation when you realise that he is going after your car.
Rob: Use the pistol. Nobody touches the car.
Brad: You keep your eyes focused on the clansman as you unshoulder your weapon.
Rob: It's over my shoulder? That seems inefficient.
Brad: He is now less than 100 yards from the roadster and drawing closer with every passing second. You take aim at the widest part of the clansman's torso, and hold your breath as you get ready to fire. Your bullet hits the clansman in the chest and knocks him clean off his feet.
Rob: Ouch, so his feet are just attached to stumps?
Brad: As he disappears from sight, his partner unleashes a long burst of fire that powders the screen behind you. When the firing stops, you raise your head and peer through the bushes, expecting to see your enemy reloading. Instead he discards his empty magazine and turns to run away. He has exhausted his ammunition and has decided to make his escape before you have a chance to return fire. As soon as you are sure that the coast is clear, you rise cautiously and help Kate to her feet.
The sound of a motorcycle riding away into the distance reassures you that your ambusher has fled, and confidently you scramble up the slope and go to examine the body of the one who did not get away. You turn out the pockets of the dead clansman and empty the leather satchel that he carried over his shoulder. Among his person effects you discover the following items:
9mm pistol
9mm Machine Pistol
+2 Knife
Two meals
Water Canteen
1/2 pint of drinking water
5 Medi-kits
Cigarette lighter
HE Grenade
Gold Nugget
Rob: Fucking hell.
Brad: Do you want to take any of those?
Rob: I'll take the meals, the water, the knife, the medi kits. Ooh, and the lighter could be handy.
Brad: Anything else?
Rob: Gold nugget!
Brad: Anything else? You'll need to start dropping items if you want to take anything else.
Rob: I'll leave it there.
Brad: You are sifting through his possessions, trying to decide which ones to keep, when you hear Kate calling to you to come and look at the dead man's motorcycle.
Brag: Is it awesome?

Brad: Its fuel tank bears the same lion's head symbol as those two scouts you encountered on the freeway, but it is what Kate has found inside the saddle-bag that is of greater interest. Carefully, Kate examines a package she has removed from the saddle-bag. It is about the size on a man's shoe, covered with a shiny black plastic wrapping, and has a keypad and time attached to the side.
Kate: Well, it looks like we got ourselves one mighty big fire-cracker, here.
Brad: She passes it to you.
Brag: I don't just take gifts from people who can't swim, what is this?
Kate: About seven pounds of military grade Zevatec explosive; enough to make a hole the size of this lake.
Brag: Zevatec? Who wrote this shit?
Kate: Don't worry, it's safe.
Brag: Like swimming?
Brad: She takes the explosive back.
Kate: I saw the Lions use this stuff in Oklhama. It's as stable as clay until you prime and time it, then...boom! I think I'll hang on to it. It could come in useful.
Brad: She slips the Zevatec into her bag and then walks back towards the lake.
Brag: All right, as long as you carry it. My inventory's fit to burst.
Kate: C'mon, Brag. We'd better hustle that water. When that scout gets back to the Lions, Mad Dog's gonna be hot on our heels.
MCSPINDLE: And Alcatraz.
Brag: Don't remind me.
Brad: You fill the containers and hurry back to Sweetwaters.
Kate: What's the story with you and Alcatraz, anyway?
Brag: Not while there's a lady present.
Brad: When you tell Uncle Jonas what has happened at the lake, he cancels the food search and recalls everyone to the bus. As soon as all are safely aboard, you head back on to the freeway and begin the sixty-six mile journey to Big Spring. As you cruise along the deserted freeway you glance frequently to the north, on the lookout for a dust cloud that would herald the arrival of the Detroit Lions. But no matter how hard you try to concentrate on your role as convoy scout, you cannot seem to think of anything but your growing affection for Kate.
Brag: It's the pleats. On the pants.
MCSPINDLE: Brag's got a girlfriend! Brag's got a girlfriend!
Brag: Gay off, murderer!
MCSPINDLE: I took a bullet through that memory. I couldn't care less, now.
Brag: How do you know what I'm talking about then?

Brad: An hour later, as you reach Colorado City, your romantic day-dreaming is brought to an abrupt end as a serious problem looms into view.
Rob: How can a loom be a problem?
Brad: The apex of the bridge that carries Freeway 20 across the Colorado River has collapsed, leaving a gap nearly eight feet wide. You stop the convoy and Cutter examines the damage. He returns to report that the bridge is not beyond repair.
Cutter: It's gonna take at least three hours, maybe four, to rig a ramp across that gap strong enough to support the tanker.
Brag: How the fuck were you even fathoming that?
Brad: At length it is decided that you should scout along the river for another place to cross, while the colovy sets to work building a ramp.
MCSPINDLE: Oh, what a fucking surprise.
Brag: I'm starting to think we should go travelling without them, McS. We pretty much are, except this way my sense of grammar wouldn't be getting raped every other hour.
Brad: Then, if your search proves fruitless, at least the repair of the bridge will be well under way.
Rob: I scout along the river to the south.
Brad: You follow the Colorado River as it wends its torturous course south. The level of the water is very low, but the sheer banks dash all hope of fording this once-mighty river. All the smaller bridge south of Colorado City are no longer standing. An hour slips past, and you are just about to turn around and rejoin the others, when you happen upon a section of the bank that slopes gently towards the river. You stop the car and start walking towards it, hopefully.
Standing at the water's edge, you see that the river is unusually dark. You decide to test its depth and begin to wade across, but you have taken less than a dozen steps and the water is already up to your chin. Sadly, you return to the bank. As you emerge from the water, you notice that your boots are covered with mud and you stop to scrape them clean.
Brag: Wait, that's not mud!
Brad: Unfortunately, you are standing directly in front of a nest of scorpions, and it is not until you are stooping to pick up a stick that you spot the danger. Swiftly you withdraw your hand just in time to save yourself from their deadly sting. You climb back into the BragWagon and return to the convoy. On your arrival at Colorado City you discover that the colony has been busy during your absence. Using materials salvaged from the ruins of nearby factories, they have managed to put down a platform that spans the gap in the middle of the bridge.
Now Cutter is supervising the strengthening of this platform to ensure that it will withstand the weight of the loaded tanker, the heaviest of the convoy vehicles.
Rob: If it doesn't and they drop, this is the biggest fucking anticlimax ever.
Brad: You tell everyone that you were unable to find an alternative way across the tiver, expecting the news to be met with disappointment.
Brag: Go the other way!
Brad: But most of the colony greets your scouting report with a nod of approval, a reaction that baffles you until Kate offers an explanation.
Kate: That explosive we found at Lake Sweetwater is now under the bridge.
Brad: She points to the newly laid platform.
Kate: Once we're all on the other side, I'll trigger the timer and two minutes later...boom! No bridge! It might not stop the Lions chasing us but it should keep 'em off our backs until we reach Big Spring.
Brag: Your timing is okay, right? Only I don't want to be falling suddenly and cursing your face.


Five strangers face the unthinkable when they wake up and find themselves trapped. With no idea how they got there they frantically try to figure out how to escape. The disoriented group quickly realise the truth about their situation when they discover another room containing enough water to survive for 30 days... and a razor sharp surgical knife.

The intention becomes quite clear. Whoever put them in this place wants to see just how long it will take before the hunger makes them commit unspeakable acts and cross a very deadly line.

Thanks to our friends at Lions Gate Home Entertainment, we've got two copies of Hunger on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to before midday on Friday 1st July, making sure to put "Hunger" 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 "Hunger" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Hunger is out on DVD on June 27, courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment

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

Thursday 23 June 2011

Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent

In Puzzle Agent, players take on the role of Nelson Tethers, the lead (and only) agent in the US Department of Puzzle Research, sent on a rare field assignment to Scoggins, Minnesota to investigate why output at the town's eraser factory - the factory that supplies the White House with all its erasers - has come to a screeching halt. The game combines brainteasers that include mazes, puzzles, logic and riddles, intertwined to tell an engrossing, twisted mystery story - all presented with Graham Annable's unique narrative and visual sensibilities and the distinctive Telltale style.

Puzzle Agent combines generous doses of Nordic folklore, and an X-Files style mystery along with major influences of Professor-Layton inspired puzzling, David Lynch, the Coen brothers and a dash of Stanley Kubrick. And gnomes.

Thanks to our friends at Telltale Games, we've got five free copies of Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent on PS3 to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to before midday on Thursday 30th June, making sure to put "Puzzle Agent" as the subject. The first five entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

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

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

Wednesday 22 June 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed


This, then, was the roaring wave of fear sweeping through London just as Monday began. By ten o'clock the police, and by midday even the railway, were losing coherency, losing shape and efficiency, guttering, softening, running at last in that swift liquefaction of the social body. Because before we had an alien invasion, the police and the railways were nothing but the model example of efficiency and helpfulness. And there were also pixies and fairies dancing in the trees, and everyone was paid in donuts.

All the railway lines had been warned by midnight on Sunday, and trains were being filled. People were fighting savagely for standing-room in the carriage. Indeed, one man was seriously hurt, until he knocked over a waste-paper basket that turned out to contain a roast turkey. After consuming this, he felt inexplicably better.

As the day advanced and the engine drivers refused to return to London, the pressure of the flight drove the people in an ever-thickening multitude away from the stations and along the northward-running roads. By midday a Marsian had been seen at Barnes, and a cloud of slowly sinking black smoke drove along the Thames and across the flats of Lambeth, cutting off all escape over the bridges in its sluggish advance.

After a struggle to get aboard a train at Chalk Farm - the engines of the trains that had loaded in the goods yard there ploughed through shrieking people, and a dozen stalwart men fought to keep the crowd from crushing the driver against his furnace - my not-fucknut brother, Mycroft, emerged upon the Chalk Farm road, dodged through a hurrying swarm of vehicles, and had the bastard luck to be foremost in the sack of a cycle shop. Of course, he did. Jammy fuck.

The front tire of the machine he got was punctured in dragging it through the window, but he got up and off, notwithstanding, with no further injury than a cut wrist. Haverstock Hill was impassable owing to several overturned horses, and my brother struck into Belsize Road.

So, he reached Edgware about seven, wearied but well ahead of the crowd. Along the road people were standing in the roadway, curious, wondering. He was passed by a number of cyclists, some horsemen, a misguided badger, Sean Bean and two motor cars. A mile from Edgware the rim of the wheel broke, and the machine became unridable, which I would have paid good gold to see happen. Leaving the bike by the roadside, he trudged through the village. There were half-open shops in the main street, and people crowded on the pavement and in the doorways and windows, staring astonished at this extraordinary procession of fugitives that was beginning. He succeeded in getting some food at an inn. Of course, he did. Mary-Sue cuntwipe.

For a time he remained in Edgware not knowing what next to do. The flying people increased in number. Many of them, like my brother, seemed inclined to loiter in the place. There was no fresh news of the invaders from Mars.

At that time the road was crowded, but far from congested. Most of the fugitives at that hour were mounted on cycles, but there were soon motor cars, hansom cabs, and carriages hurrying along, and the dust hung in heavy clouds along the road to St. Albans.

He had a vague idea of making his way to Chelmsford, where some friends of his lived, and so he struck into a quiet lane running eastward. Presently he came upon a stile, and, crossing it, followed a footpath northeastward. He saw few fugitives until, in a grass lane towards High Barnet, he happened upon two ladies who became his fellow travellers. He came upon them just in time to save them. Of course, he did. This amazing hero, with no supporting evidence or witnesses.

Hearing their screams, he allegedly hurried round the corner, saw two men dragging the two ladies out of the little cart in which they had been driving, while a third held the frightened pony's head. One of the ladies, a short woman dressed in white, was simply screaming; the other, a dark, slender figure, slashed at the man who gripped her arm with a whip she held in her disengaged hand.

My brother immediately grasped the situation, shouted, and, of course, boldly leapt towards the struggle. One of the men desisted and turned towards him, and my brother, realising from his antagonist's face that a fight was unavoidable, and claiming to be an expert boxer, went into him forthwith and sent him down against the wheel of the chaise.

There was, he claims, no time for pugilistic chivalry and so he laid him quiet with a quick series of kicks to the neck, and gripped the throat of the man who pulled at the lady's arm. He heard the clatter of hoofs, the whip stung across his face, and the third antagonist struck him between the eyes, and the man he held wrenched himself free and made off down the lane in the direction from which he had come.

Partly stunned, he found himself facing the man who had held the horse's head, and became aware of the cart receding from him down the lane, swaying from side to side, and with the women in it looking back and giggling. The man before him, a burly rough, tried to close, and he stopped him with a punch in the face, and absolutely no crying or forced oral sex. Then, realising that he was deserted, he dodged round and made off down the lane after the chaise, with the sturdy man close behind him, and the fugitive, who had turned now, following.

Suddenly he stumbled and fell; his immediate pursuer went headlong, and he rose to his feet to find himself with a couple of antagonists again. He would have had little chance against them had not the smaller lady come to his rescue. It seems she had had Desert Eagle on her all this time, but it had been under the seat when she and her companion were attacked. She fired at six yards' distance, narrowly missing my brother. The robbers ran back, stopping down the lane, where the third man lay insensible.

"Take this!" said the slender lady, and she gave my brother the gun.

"Cheers." said my brother, pocketing it.

They went back to where the lady in white struggled to hold back the frightened pony.

"I'll sit here," said my brother, "you need a man to help you with important things."; and he got upon the empty front seat. The lady looked over her shoulder.

"Give me the reins," she said, and laid the whip along the pony's side. In another moment a bend in the road hid the three men from my brother's eyes.

So, quite unexpectedly, my brother found himself, panting, with a cut mouth, a bruised jaw, and bloodstained knuckles, driving along an unknown lane with these two women.

He learned they were the wife and the younger sister of a surgeon living at Stanmore, who had come in the small hours from a dangerous case, and heard at the railway station on his way of the Marsian invasion. He had hurried home, awaken the women, packed some food, put his Desert Eagle under the seat, and told them to drive on to Edgware, with the idea of getting a train there. He would overtake them, he said, at about half past four in the morning, and now it was nearly nine and they had seen nothing of him.

Mycroft promised to stay with them, at least until they could determine what to do, or until the missing man arrived, and professed to be an expert shot with the revolver. This was, of course, out of the goodness of his heart, and not just because he detected breasts in the vicinity.

They made a sort of encampment by the wayside. Mycroft told them of his own escape out of London, (modestly, of course) and all that he knew of these Marsians and their ways. The sun crept higher in the sky, and after a time their talk died out. Several travellers came along the lane, and Mycroft and friends gathered such news as they could. Every answer deepened his impression of the great disaster that had come upon humanity.

"We have money," said the slender woman, and hesitated.

Her eyes met my brother's, and her hesitation ended.

"So have I," said my brother. “although not very much. At all.”

She explained that they had as much as thirty pounds in gold, besides a five-pound note, and suggested that with that they might get upon a train at St. Albans or New Barnet. My brother pointed out that she was just a woman, and therefore could hardly be expected to think, finally broaching his own idea of striking across Essex towards Harwich and thence escaping from the country altogether.

Mrs. Hotpants - that was the name of the woman in white, at least according to Mycroft – finally agreed to my brother's suggestion. Designing to cross the Great North Road, they went on towards Barnet, Mycroft leading the pony to save it as much as possible. As the sun crept up the sky the day became excessively hot, and underfoot, thick, whitish sand grew burning and blinding, so that they travelled only very slowly. The hedges were grey with dust. And as they advanced towards Barnet a tumultuous murmuring grew stronger.

As my brother's party went on towards the crossroads to the south of Barnet they saw a woman approaching the road across some fields on their left, carrying a child and with two other children; and then passed a man in dirty black, with a thick stick in one hand and a small portmanteau in the other. Then round the corner of the lane, from between the villas that guarded it at its confluence with the high road, came a little cart drawn by a sweating black pony and driven by a sallow youth in a bowler hat, grey with dust. There were three girls, East End factory girls, and a couple of little children crowded in the cart.

"This'll tike us rahnd Edgware?" asked the driver, wild-eyed, and white-faced* ; and when my brother told him it would if he turned to the left, he whipped up at once without the formality of thanks.

My brother noticed a pale grey smoke or haze rising among the houses in front of them, and veiling the white facade of a terrace beyond the road that appeared between the backs of the villas. Mrs. Hotpants suddenly cried out at a number of tongues of smoky red flame leaping up above the houses in front of them against the hot, blue sky. The tumultuous noise resolved itself now into the disorderly mingling of many voices, the grind of many wheels, the creaking of wagons, and the staccato of hoofs. The lane came round sharply not fifty yards from the crossroads.

"Good heavens!" cried Mrs. Hotpants. "What is this you are driving us into?"

My brother stopped.


* And, apparently, South African. Nice one, Wells, you master of dialect.

Words: Brad Harmer & H.G. Wells
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