Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Doctor Who Plague of the Cybermen audiobook review





This audiobook is nicely times, being that the Cybermen have recently been redesigned and returned in the television series in a story written by superstar author Neil Gamian.
It beings with what, in retrospect, is a rather obvious idea for a cybermen story. We have The Doctor landing in a village in 19th century Germany, thus playing up the (as I say, obvious in retrospect) Frankenstein elements of the story. This even has a mysterious castle and all that…
The story is quiet slow in the first act, as all the pieces arebrought into play, but once it gets going it gets going – there is action and chase scenes aplenty. And conversely, after the slow first act, the final act feels a little rushed.
There are some great touches – I liked the Doctor’s ‘temporary companion’  here – a local teacher. It’s kind of a shame that we’ll not see her again, it would be nice to have a series of these novels running alongside the television show… but that’s wishful thinking. And also the cyberwolves were very cool. Or at least, the ones I saw in my head were.


But, and this is a big but… yet again we get a story that revolves around a crashed spaceship! Seriously, is there no joined up editing across this range? How many times are we going to see this trope used? It certainly helped to detract from what is otherwise a fun and exciting book.


It’s also worth noting that this audio version is read  brilliantly by the great David Warner – no stranger to the Whoverse.


Apart from the crashed spaceship – this makes for some splendid entertainment.

Plague of the Cybermen is released by AudioGo.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

MALTA COMIC CONVENTION 2013 - DATES ANNOUNCED

I was honoured to be a guest at the Malta convention last year, and they have just announced the dates for 2013!
If there is any way you can get to this convention, then get to this convention!


Do you remember how much fun you had at the Malta Comic Con 2012? How good it felt to meet all the awesome guests and creators that exhibited at our show? The rush you felt seeing your favourite creators sign and sketch? Do you remember how amazing it was to spend 2 days with so many wicked folk, discussing and doing the things you like most? Of course you do! How can you forget when we all had such a blast at the show? All those lovely people in costumes, all the buzz in the video game rooms, the thrill of tabletop and role playing games with the wicked folk at W.A.R.S, all those informative and entertaining talks, discussion panels and workshops! And what about all the free movies? The portfolio reviews, those impressive exhibitions and most of all, the fun filled atmosphere experienced during the whole 2 days of the convention!

You would all love to experience all these feelings again don’t you? And why shouldn’t you? Yep the Malta Comic Con is coming again and it’s going to be super!

And if you haven’t experienced the Malta Comic Con yet, this is your wake up call!

Wicked Comics are proud to announce that this year the Malta Comic Con (Good Vibes) will be happening on Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December at St. James Cavalier Valletta. So keep the dates free for 2 more days of fun for everyone! Fans can look forward to another killer roster of foreign creators who are not only gifted but are also really nice folks, more local creators and locally created comics, cosplay events and competitions, gaming events and competitions, free movies and animations showing during the whole duration of the convention, impressive exhibitions and a healthy number of talks, workshops and discussion panels. There will be something for everyone!

As customary Wicked Comics have designed a number of packages for fans wishing to travel to the Malta Comic Con from abroad, which include heavily discounted accommodation rates and local transport from hotel to convention. Similarly Wicked Comics have a number of packages tailored for foreign creators who whish to exhibit at the Malta Comic Con including heavily discounted tables.

Anyone wishing to know more about these packages, and local creators/retailers wishing to exhibit at the Malta Comic Con 2013 are kindly requested to email us for more details on info@maltacomic-con.com

For more details kindly visit: http://www.maltacomic-con.com

Friday, 26 April 2013

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Check out The Watch trailer

I love Assassin's Creed, so make no apology for posting this ad for the new game! Just check this out!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Doctor Who: Vengeance of the Stones



This being the 50th anniversary year of the greatest television show in history (note: may be some bias there), AudioGo have put together this ambitious series, which features a story thread that runs through a series of adventures, one for each of the Doctors incarnations.
This, as you can see from the picture, is the Third Doctor story. The first concern the casual listener may have is in picking up one of these without hearing the previous stories in the series. Will it be accessible and make sense?  I have not heard the first two, so I am in a position to answer that question.

And the answer is that you do not need to have heard the previous stories to enjoy this one. I’m sure that if I go back to this having heard the rest of them, I could probably pick up clues here and there, but this is very much a stand-alone story, albeit with a scene towards the end that is obviously there to lead into the fourth Doctor adventure.
As for the story itself, it is one that would be hard for Hi-Ex! to ignore, being that it is set here! It concerns RAF pilots flying out of the base at Lossiemouth, and name checks a lot of familiar locations in and around Inverness. It’s always a treat to hear places you know mentioned in a story, and gives it a nice added ;Easter Egg’. It is a well told and well read story. There is also a nice treat for long time Who fans, as it serves as something of an origin story for a fan favourite character from the Pertwee UNIT days. If I had one complaint, it would be the same one I have mentioned in a lot of reviews for Who adventures. And that is that I don’t know how we move on this island for all the crashed spaceships that seem to be on it… But if you can see through that complaint, this is a very good story indeed.

PS, if you’re reading this– congratulations on having got this far! You may have noticed that reviews and posts here have been thin on the ground for a while, and for that I can only apologise! It is proving to be difficult to write and post here regularly as I’m just one guy, so if you as sensible and competent and would like to write reviews or posts for the blog, please drop me a line!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

MANIAPLANET ARRIVES ON STEAM


Today, Ubisoft and Nadeo announced that ManiaPlanet games and services, including the upcoming multiplayer first-person shooter, ShootMania Storm, will be accessible via Valve’s Steam service. TrackMania² Stadium, the racing game phenomenon with more than 12 million registered users also makes its debuts on Steam. BothShootMania Storm and TrackMania2 Stadium open betas can now be accessed via Steam. Steam users can also download the full TrackMania2 Canyon game via Valve’s platform.


ShootMania Storm is currently in open beta, inviting gamers of all levels from around the world to have a try the fast-paced competitive shooter. The open beta will allow Nadeo to fine-tune and refine the experience thanks to the feedback of the open beta testers, as well as to test servers and progressively introduce additional features and possibilities. Several updates are already planned until ShootMania Storm reaches its final version on April 10, 2013.

This partnership with Steam’s worldwide publishing platform allows us to introduce ShootMania Storm and all of theManiaPlanet games and services to an even wider audience of PC gamers in the world. As a matter of fact, it is key to us that as many players as possible join the actual growing community so that everybody gets maximum fun with the game” said Anne Blondel-Jouin, Nadeo Publishing Managing Director.

Through Steam, we’ll make "competition for everyone" a dream come true for more gamers and map-and-mod makers who all create the user-generated content and activity that make ShootMania Storm so attractive and innovative on the FPS PC competitive field,” Anne Blondel-Jouin added. "I want to take the opportunity to thank whole-heartedly the players who have already joined ShootMania Storm frenzyness and to welcome warmly the new comers: we're looking forward to seeing all of them on the servers."

Both ShootMania Storm and TrackMania² Stadium are now available to pre-order on Steam with a 10% discount until release, as well as on the official website of the ManiaPlanet platform: ManiaPlanet.com The games can also be downloaded and played right away in their Open Beta versions on http://www.ManiaPlanet.com/download

Developed by Ubisoft’s Nadeo studio, ShootMania Storm is a fast-paced, multiplayer first-person shooter designed from the ground up for online and eSports competition.  With multiple game modes and diverse play styles, ShootMania Storm is an innovative twist on familiar multiplayer gameplay that focuses on skill, speed and strategy.  The game also offers stout community support and interaction, with an easy-to-use map-maker and sharing elements that to date have produced more than 15 player-made game modes as well as more than 20,000 player-made maps.

ShootMania Storm, TrackMania² Stadium and TrackMania² Canyon are part of the ManiaPlanet system and follow in the footsteps of TrackManiaTM, Nadeo’s successful arcade racing game.  ManiaPlanet is a flexible and robust development, gaming and community platform that pushes cutting-edge graphics, enables limitless game types, and encourages incredible community participation and user-made content.  

New from Commando!

The info on the latest issues from the award winning Commando comic have been released. These issues are on sale 28th February 2013

Commando No 4579 – The Regimental Spoon


Soldiers’ lucky charms and mascots come in all shapes and sizes — from medallions to pet goats and all things in between. But surely one of the oddest objects to become a talisman of good fortune was a spoon. Yes, that’s right, a humble spoon.
   Don’t believe it? Well, between these covers is the story of how this kitchen utensil went to war with generations of the same family — and returned home safely every time.
   Make up your own mind if the tale is true.

Story: Mac MacDonald
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page


Commando No 4580 – Burma Vengeance


In the dense Burmese jungle, British troops were being driven back towards India, their spirits sapped by a series of defeats at the hands of the advancing Japanese.
   Corporal Dan Farley had been left in command of a group of fearful survivors. They expected to be killed at any moment…but then a grizzled veteran Sergeant – ruthless and tough – came of out of nowhere to save their skins.
   Dan wanted to be like this lethal newcomer, but the mysterious NCO was on a mission of his own. He had a score to settle with a brutal Japanese Colonel. This quest was personal and it could only end in death…but whose?

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak


Commando No 4581 – Hero From Hollywood


Almost every man has a hero…the one bloke in all the world he’d give his right arm to be like. Corporal Joe Brent’s number one he-man was the big, granite-fisted American film-star – Chet Marvin.
   In the days before the war, Joe queued up to see every movie he made, and marvelled at the sheer guts of the man.
   Then, one day in 1941, against a background of exploding German bombs and throbbing aero-engines, Corporal Joe Brent and his celluloid hero met face to face. It should have been the greatest day in Joe’s life.
   But this was no Hollywood film set. This was war! And when the shot and shell are no longer blanks, it’s easy to sort out the men from the boys…

Introduction

A little bit of “conspiracy theory” never goes amiss in Commando and author Eric Hebden takes full advantage here with his invasion that never was. The main thrust of the story, though, is a hero with feet of clay — or a bad case of the jitters — and he manages that with equal aplomb.
   The art is strong, inside and outside, by two men who handle the drawing of horses with the same skill as Hebden handles the story. And horses, as the best of artists will tell you, are tricky beasts to capture.
   Giddy-up and get reading!

Calum Laird, Editor

Hero From Hollywood originally Commando No84 (August 1963), re-issued as No559 (June 1971)

Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Jones
Cover: Alvaro


Commando No 4582 – The Secret Tanks


The French Char-B tank was one of the best fighting vehicles of the Second World War. But France had surrendered in 1940 so why were there a lot of them in the desert in 1943? And why did they have enemy markings? It was a secret which the Germans were determined to hide but which the Allies were equally determined to uncover.

Introduction

This solid tale features a story-telling device that works well in Commando – the linking of World War II with the Great War which had ended a little over twenty years previously. Here, the connection is a fighting father and son, and the dependable sergeant that served alongside them both.
   Then, of course, throw into the mix the “Secret Tanks” of the title – great, clanking French Char Bs – and we have a classic in the making.
   Commando legend Gordon Livingstone’s art is up to his usual high standard here, and shows his versatility in drawing action and adventure, whatever the conflict.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

The Secret Tanks, originally Commando no 2210 (August 1988), re-issued as No 3708 (April 2004)


Story: David Heptonstall
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Jeff Bevan

Monday, 25 February 2013

Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges review



Review by Steve Hargett
Writers:John Wagner & Alan Grant
Artists:Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, Cliff Robinson, Ron Smith
Letterers:
Tom Frame
Previously published in Progs 149-151, 224-228 & 416-427
The most widely known villains outside 2000AD fandom, Judge Death has been an inspiration for many things. Most notably Dredd and his deathly nemesis have appeared on many Anthrax albums and t-shirts.
This collection brings us the stories Judge Death, Judge Death Lives and Four Dark Judges. These stories are reprints so I am assuming most readers will be aware of the general thrust of the stories. There are spoilers below but due to the fact they are reprints I’m tagging them as light. If you have never read these stories maybe they are medium. There is only one heavy spoiler if you haven’t read Judge Death.
I’m reviewing the Kindle version of this book and all pages are black and white. It does suffer slightly from the fact that famous double spreads are cut in half. However the story is still easily read and brought back good memories.

Judge Death

Dark Judges 01
As well as Judge Death this sory introduces us to Judge Anderson and the Psi Division.
Judge Death is an inter-planar travelling mass murderer  A Judge on his home world, where Judges were more brutal than they have been in Mega City One at all times other than perhaps Chief Judge Cal’s tenure of office. They were brutal in life but when Judge Death took charge of their world they descended into madness sentencing the whole planet to death.
Death is a psionically powered spirit creature  able to take possession of a living person or enter a specially prepared corpse to take physical form. His hand pass through flesh without damaging it, only to squeeze the heart within the chest cavity until it bursts. He is stronger than a living human and able to sustain a large amount of injury without affect.
His Judge uniform is a macabre version of Dredd’s own. We later see that is less different to the Judges of his own world in ‘Boyhood of a Superfiend’ (published in Judge Dredd Megazine first volume issues 1-19).
Dark Judges XX
Death embarks on a rampage through the city and is ‘killed’ by Dredd. Anderson interrogates the corpse and is later possessed by possessed by his spirit but due to her own strong will is able to resist him enough to keep other Psi Judges aware of Death’s plans.
Anderson gives the Judges her own plan to defeat Death. Dredd and a team of Judges follow the information Anderson has managed to get to them without the knowledge of Judge Death. Death’s body destroyed, he re-enters Anderson and she sacrifices herself for the good of the city and was sealed in Boing! (see prog 136) and was put on display in the Justice Department Hall of Heroes for all to show their respects.
This story is well crafted and the creation of Judge Death is a masterstroke. Though he is later misused in some people’s opinion as a more comedic character this strip set him up as a very chilling creature.
The art of Brian Bolland is amazing and gives real menace to the villain and true charm to the heroine.

Judge Death Lives

The first episode shows a tourist in the Hall of Heroes leaving a tour and later cutting open the Boing! sarcophagus that housed Anderson and Death. Death possesses the man and he returns to his apartment where we find he had agreed to free Judge Death to safe his wife, though he had been double crossed and she was dead. Who had made this deal with him? Three allies of Judge Death.

Dark Judges 03

Judges Fear, Fire and Mortis all drawn for the first time by Brian Bolland so there is a clear connection between the uniforms of these three and Death. Only Fear’s uniform is devoid of the pterodactyl, though Fire’s isn’t obvious in the picture opposite. I’ve always assumed this mean Fear was not a Street Judge on his home-world but that is mere speculation.
The three Dark Judges prepare their erstwhile Human accomplice and Judge Death again has physical form.
The four Dark Judge soon embark on a Judgement-spree. Killing all those that break their law; Life is a crime and the sentence is death. They seal themselves within a block with a psionic shield that fries anyone trying to cross it.
Anderson, freshly out of the Boing! sarcophagus warns Dredd that there are three others with Death. Anderson can get herself and Dredd through the shield but they have to destroy the shield generator to get more Judges inside.
Dredd famously resists the powers of Judge Fear and they destroy the generator. The Dark Judges retreat to their home-wold but with Fear’s body vacant his corpse is left behind and Anderson and Dredd can follow.
Reading this story in 1981 I was transfixed from Prog to Prog. The artwork again is very powerful. The script is excellent, it was a joy to read.

Four Dark Judges

This was the first strip to be given the title of Anderson Psi Division and was published in 1985. This was the last appearance of Judges Fear, Fire and Mortis until their return in Chaos Day.
The Dark Judges lure Anderson back to Deadworld and force her to help resurrect them using mummified Judges. Though she had been able to partly resist Judge Death’s control she was unable to fight the combined Psionic power of the four Dark Judges.
We learn that their Grand Hall of Justice had been re-named the Necropolis, Brett Ewins’ version of the building created a much more perverse structure than we had seen Bolland draw. Within that building they had access to all of their equipment and returned to Mega City One leaving Anderson presumed dead.
Dark Judges 04
Anderson however had shielded herself from them enough to feign death and returns to the city. Chief Judge McGruder suspends her for unleashing the Dark Judges on Mega City One. Anderson considers her fate.
The Dark Judges again went on a killing spree. This time they had teleport devices so that they could leave any place where Judges were attacking them and continue their mission.
Again Anderson puts together a plan that sees the Dark Judges vanquished.

More to come…

Not part of this book but it has been revealed that Death is coming back…