Thursday, 29 September 2011

Trackmania 2 review

This review comes courtesy of Richard McAuliffe from the Everything Comes Back to 2000AD blog and podcast - go check it out!
Unless your very young, in which case - wait until you're older!

Some of you may have played the first Trackmania game so to you I'll just say its more of the same but WAY better looking and polished. Actually it probably doesn't matter what the hell I say. If you played the first you've probably already bought this. So I'll just write this for the newbies.

Trackmania 2 is a driving game in which you get two basic modes, offline and online. So looking at both in order :
Offline is basically time trials. You get dozens of tracks to choose from and opening each you are presented with three medals to race for, gold down to bronze. Depending on which you choose a ghost car also appears on the track and in order to win the medal you have to beat it across the finishing line. Easy as that. If you fail to win and replay the track again there is a second ghost car which is your best performance so far so you race the computer and yourself.

This might sound slightly dull on paper but it really isn’t. For one thing there are the tracks themselves which are insane. Totally impossible physically with crazy jumps, twists and drops so it’s more like you are racing over a huge tarmaced rollercoaster than a racetrack. Then there's the rankings. I've never been much of a person for leader boards but after putting in my details and playing a few tracks I'm told "Well done, you are 250,496th in the world (or whatever) and 327th in Wales". That's what gets you. The need to be 326th locally. Then 325th. That "I'll just have one more quick try" factor to try and shave a quarter second off your best time.

Then there's the immediacy and pure arcade style fun of this. Going through the tracks four out of every five have something around 30-40 seconds as your target time. It’s this short burst element which gives it an Angry Birds style addiction and you'll find your "Just one more go, it'll only take half a minute" will suddenly turn into two or three hours. To compliment this rapid play, at any time you hit the backspace button and the track resets without even the slightest hint of a delay. While this is fun though the real meat of the game is online.

Online runs through its own server which works really well but to be honest I would have preferred it personally if, like the first game, it ran through Steam. As you'd expect you log in, select one of the hundreds of running games and are thrown in with 20 or so other players. Here though you are given a set time per track, usually five minutes, and its down to you to get the best completion time during that period. The fact the other cars are intangible did seem a bit of a shame at first but due to the complexity of most tracks it would be fairly impossible to put that many impactable cars on without it being total chaos. In game banter is generally done in text, but I did join a few servers which were giving channels of a game chat add on should you prefer. The game allows you to upload an icon to represent yourself and these are shown as little floating tags above the other cars for indentification in-race which does make for some fun competition when transferred to the leader boards between each track. Knowing you only need to complete a lap a second faster to go from 20th to 10th is some serious incentive.

The last factor of this game is the inbuilt level designer. I'll admit I only dabbled with this slightly but it did seem very straightforward and intuitive and having raced on some custom home made tracks in the online mode I can attest that it’s possible to make some seriously hardcore levels of your own. What I did spend some time with though, was the car designer. You can only manually paint onto a dozen or so basic car shapes but I did quite enjoy doing this. As a result if you do get this game and see a jet black car with a black and red rear spoiler and the Batman symbol on the doors and bonnet that’s me. And yes I know its childish and NO I don’t care because it looks AWESOME in-game. Even if the "Oi Batman... last again, eh?" chants got a bit old quickly  :(

So in summary this game rocks. I'm not usually a big driving game fan (exluding the insanity of Split Second : Velocity) but I'm totally hooked on this. The offline mode is a fun distraction for when you have 10 minutes to kill and the online is insane fun. Even when I was invariably coming in at the tail end each time I was still eager to play the next track and try and do a bit better and the online community seemed surprisingly idiot free and were more about the fun of the game than abusively lording it over newbies. Add to this the fact that the level designer means new tracks are constantly being uploaded and you're getting a LOT of game for your £20.
Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes Vol3 review pt3

Next up in our review of the latest box set from AudioGo is The Power of the Daleks.

First impressions are very important. 
Moreso if youre an actor taking over the lead role in a major television series from a well loved incumbent.
Here, half a century later, we are well used to the notion of the Doctor regenerating, but it is hard to imagine what viewers back then must have thought when they saw Hartnell change into Patrick Troughton at the end of The Tenth Planet.
In this respect, Michael Craze and Anneke Wills, playing companions Ben and Polly play and excellent role here as the voice of the viewer. Their cries of, “Who are you?” and “He’s not the Doctor!” are all to obviously echoes of what people would have been saying at home at the time.

But the Doctor he is, and for my money, possible the best, until Matt Smith came along at any rate.
Troughton is never anything less than magnificent. His performance is a whirlwind of manic energy interspersed with bouts of knowing and even sinister lucidity.
It was also a canny idea by the producers to start the second Doctor’s life with a Dalek story, thus giving the disorientated viewer something familiar to hang onto among all the newness.
And what of this story? The first thing that struck me about it was the similarities to the recent WWII set Dalek tale Victory of the Daleks. As with that story, this has Daleks that are apparently subservient to humans, and has the Doctor being the only one who can see them for what they are. This leads to some powerful interchanges between characters, with the Daleks in particular coming out a lot better then they normally do. The repeated Dalek line, “I am your servant” grows with menace and even sarcasm as it is used and used again.
Things build to an inevitable and exciting climax and the viewer/listener is left with no doubt that Troughton is the Doctor and that things will never be the same again.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Empire of a Thousand Planets review

This one is interesting.
It is a bit of an oddity in many ways, but it is a good one.
First published in 1971, this sees space adventurers Valerian and Laureline land on the planet Syrte – capital of the titular Empire, and through an innocent transaction in a local market, become embroiled in a tale of political intrigue that may just spell the end of an empire…
So, why do I say this is odd?
It is a tale very much of its time. The art, while very good and full of incredible imagination and dynamism, is somewhat old fashioned. Design and general aesthetic wise, it is generally in the pre-Star Wars camp (more of this later).
The story too is somewhat dated. Or in particular, the story telling. It suffers, again to the modern eye, from too many speech bubbles with too many words, and too much of the tale is told as exposition in caption boxes.
I don’t want to read that, “'X', through some daring do, managed to escape to the ship” – I want to see it happen!
Having said that though, the story is not a bad one, and while the twist may be not too shocking to the 21st Century audience, it may have been revelatory back in the day!
And back to the Star Wars reference.
While it is true some of the look is old fashioned, there is a decidedly modern feel to the story. The main characters in particular are not the usual staid or cynical spacer farers one would expect in Sci-fi of this era, they are a couple of attractive looking young adventurers. And as the editors point out at the back of the book, there are a number of occasions throughout this series of books where creators Mezieres and Christin were ahead of the curve with character and ship designs, as some of them seem to bear a resemblance to some aspects of Lucas’s behemoth.
So is this worth reading?
Of course it is, it is from Cinebook, after all. I don’t think it will be for everyone, for the reasons given above. I would like to think that this would be ideal for younger readers, but I fear that the large amounts of text may put some of them off.
So, one for the die hard sci-fi buff instead!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes Vol3 review pt2

Audio Go have just released a third box set of Lost TV Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Doctor Who where the video has been lost but the audio remains. There are a few stories included in the set, so rather than post one big review, I'll be breaking it down and review each individually.

Next up is The Tenth Planet.

I know I say this about a lot of these AudioGo ‘classic’ Who releases, but this one really is important.
Why, you may ask?
And if you are asking that, then immediately deduct twenty nerd points.
Because The Tenth Planet is notable for two things.
The first is that it introduced the world to what are, for my money, the best Doctor Who villains ever: the Cybermen. The second is, of course, is that this was William Hartnell’s final Who adventure.
I suppose the big question is: is this a suitably notable tale for him to go out on?
For the most part, yes it is.
The setting, an Antarctic base, owes much to Hughes’s The Thing from Another World, but plotwise they could not be more different.
There are many stills of this adventure out there, and as far as I know there is at least one episode still in existence, because I’m pretty sure I have seen it, or at least some of it.

The Cybermen are a brilliant creation, and Kit Peddler does not get enough credit for what he unleashed on the world. Most people have, I am sure, heard of Terry Nation, but what of the writer who created a creature equal to the Daleks? Maybe we should start a campaign…

Anyway, back to the subject in hand. The story is pretty tense, but there are one or two moments in there that have always stuck out like a sore thumb to me. 
Chief among them is the moment when companion Ben attacks one of the Cybermen. 
What the Cybermen should have done then was simply kill him - this would be the most logical course of action, but instead they order one of their number to take him into another room and watch him! Yes, I know this is because he is a cast regular, but it is something that should and could have been addressed in the writing. Still, too late now, eh?
Like Peter Purvis did with great skill in the previous set, Anneke Wills, who played Polly in this story, provides the linking narration.
As for Hartnell, there are mixed feeling listening back to this. He is clearly a man who is tired. This comes across loud and clear in his performance, but whether he is tired with the series or through ill health, I do not know (although I’m sure some of you do).
Either way, it makes his final moments all the more powerful and poignant, and in turn sets us up nicely for the next story in this set…

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Space Marine game review

There have been many previous attempts to get the world of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 into computer game format. Many years ago we had the rather good, but by today’s standards very primitive, Space Hulk, which was based on the boardgame of the same name.
Best among the spin offs though was the brilliant strategy game Dawn of War.
Which brings us to this latest release: Space Marine.
As the name suggests, you take the role of one of these military superheroes. 
And for those of you who are totally lost or did not grow up as a teenage nerd boy, I shall tell you what a Space Marine is.
They are the elite soldiers of humanity in the far future, in a universe that is defined by conflict. Genetically engineered and encased in a suit of power armour, Space Marines defend humanity against the slavering hordes of aliens and Chaos demons that constantly threaten it.
Or they are horrible fascistic bully-boys destroying anything different to them… depending on your point of view!
You are Captain Titus of the Ultramarines, who are the premiere Chapter in the 40k universe, appearing in countless novels and comics. You are crash landed on a planet with a few of your men and swiftly become embroiled in an Ork invasion… but of course, everything is not as it seems and there may be other forces at work behind the scenes…
The story is good, but not brilliant, there are no real surprises in the twists in the narrative. But it is exactly the amount of story the game needs to take you from one action scene to the next.
And boy are there action scenes!
There is an undeniable thrill to be had as you stand alone on a battlefield and watch as a horde of 100 or more screaming orks charge towards you. But you just grip tighter on your bolter and, For the Emperor, let rip.
The combat, which is of course the backbone of the game, is great. Blood flows. Lots of blood. And to begin with, the combat is surprisingly difficult. I fouind myself getting killed quite quickly a number of times before figuring out that while Space Marines are tough, they are not indestructible, so running headlong into the middle of an ork attack is a Bad Idea.

As your life goes down, you can build it up again by performing a finishing move on an opponent in melee combat. These are Fun, but not for the faint hearted, as they are invariably gory in the extreme and there are different, but equally over the top, ones for the various melee weapons you pick up during the game.
I’m not the best person to judge the length of a single player game, as I play pretty slowly -  but to me the campaign mode in this game is a healthy length, certainly when compared to the likes of Call of Duty. And the range of weapons and out and out feeling of fun will have you returning to levels again to have another go. This was certainly the case with me, and I usually never play a level again once completed.
Of course, the campaign is very much half the story, as games today will stand or fall on the standard of online play.
In this respect, Space Marine is very much hit and miss.
The mechanics of the online game are great. Character design and tweaking is always fun, and you can do a lot of this - choosing armour colour and patterns, or just opting for an existing Marine chapter.  And as is usual, new weapons and armour are unlocked as you progress up the ranks.
The games play well and are fast moving. First few times out are a bit daunting though, so expect to be killed quite a lot before you get into the rhythm of things.
The biggest problem with online play though is the lack of variety.
There are only two races to choose from: Space Marines or Chaos Marines. It would be nice to see some orks up there, they are in the main game after all, so the skins already exists. And the addition of Eldar and some of the other races that populate the 40k universe would be most welcome. As well as a limited number of characters, there are also only two different game modes: a team battle and a seize ground one.
Again, while these are great to play, it would be nice to see more options up there.
I am hoping that this will be addressed in future patches and downloads, or else the online experience will be a decidedly limited one.
However, don’t let that put you off! If you’re a Warhammer fan, you’ll probably have this already, but if you’re not and are maybe unsure or just a fan of shoot ‘em ups, then it is well worth a look.
Gameplay is great, graphics are superb and there is a lot of highly entertaining highly bloody violence to be dispensed to the enemies of Mandkind.
Get to it!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes Vol 3 review pt1

Audio Go have just released a third boxed set of Lost Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Who where the video has been lost, but the audio track still remains. There are a few stories included in it, so rather than post one big review, as with the previous collection, I’ll be breaking it down and reviewing each story individually.

We will begin with The Smugglers.

One of the things I don’t like about modern Who (and in that I include stories from the late ‘70s onwards) is there treatment of the historical stories.
I like the fact that, in these older tales, the Doctor and his companions would turn up in an historical setting and have an adventure there. There would be no crashed spaceships or mysterious alien visitors to deal with, just a contemporary problem to be solved.
And this is one such story. Here the Doctor, along with new companions Ben and Polly, land in Cornwall in the seventeenth century and quickly become involved in an adventure that sees them encountering pirates and buried treasure in creepy old church yards.

Hartnell is brilliant in this one. There are other episodes when you can sense that his heart is not in it, or that he is too ill to muster the energy to make the effort, but he seems to be enjoying himself in this one. Perhaps it was the fact that they got to do some proper location work that lifted him a bit..?
Companions Ben and Polly, played by Michael Craze and Anneke Wills (who also provides the splendid narration), are a strong addition to the cast, and both are entertaining as they go through the familiar not-quite-believing-they have-travelled-in-time thing at the beginning.
Good as the cast are, and as exciting a premise as this is, the story is not quite up to scratch and does dip in places.
However it ends on a strong note, with the TARDIS heading off on a new adventure, and one that I can only imagine was supremely shocking to the poor unsuspecting public at the time…

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Broadcast graphic novel review

When first I saw this book I knew exactly what to expect.
After all, it is a tale set around the famous (and possibly mythical, but that’s another story) panic that arose when folks out there in radio land mistook Orson Well and the Mercury Theatre’s adaptation of War of the Worlds for a news report.
So here, I figured, we have a small group of country folks who were going to watch huddled in a barn for most of the book, terrified by the radio reports, jumping at shadows and possibly accidentally killing one of two of their number.
Yeah, I had it all figured out.
Trouble is, I could not have been more wrong.
While Wells himself makes a few appearances in this book, it quickly became clear that the broadcast was almost incidental to what was going on here, and that everything would probably have happened, or something close to it, eventually anyway.
There are a number of story strands running here, each expertly interwoven by writer Eric Hobbs, who has a formidable talent, and an ear for dialogue that is second to none.
The story of Marvin, a black factory worker, is particularly effecting and as it unfolds throughout the book in flashback. The reader finds their sympathies for the character veering wildly about the scale as each new revelation unfolds.
The only sticky point in the book, and it is a big point, is the art. I suspect, not having read any other reviews at the tie of writing this, that it is something that will divide readers.
Now, Noel Tuazon is a good artist, he has undoubted skill and an ability to conjure images with a few vague brush strokes- witness his depiction of New York, for example. However sometimes the art veers too much into the realm of the sketchy and the reader is left puzzling over what they are supposed to be looking at.

When it works, however, as with the page above, that art is masterfully atmospheric and oppressive and he can paint a characters expression with a few small pen strokes.
All in all, this is a very good book.
I am passionate about comics that show just what the medium is capable of. That can demonstrate just how clever and intricate and moving a tale can be told with comic pages, and this is one such book.
The Broadcast is published by NBM Comics.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Doctor Who Recorded Time and Other Stories review

According to the interview with the director of this Big Finish audio, it has been almost a year since The Demons of Red Lodge. Doesn’t seem like it! In fact, if I was a lesser man, I would do a Who related joke like ‘time flies’ or something, so be thankful that I’m better than that.
As with the aforementioned Demons of Red Lodge, this is a collection of four short stories, each in a slightly different genre and has a different Doctor and companion- this time we have the Sixth Doctor and Peri.
The first, Recorded Time, is an historical Who. I’m always surprised when I find an historical story like this, because I find it incredible that Who has not visited this time already. You’d have thought that Henry VIII would have been an obvious one to have been done before, but not so.
This is a good story with a good cast. It revolves around a clever plot idea and does not outstay its welcome. My only complaint is the same one I have with all ‘modern’ Who historicals: I would like to see an historical adventure every now and then it is just an historical, with no sci-fi elements thrown in.
Next up is Paradoxicde. As the name suggests, this one has a lot of fun with the idea of time travel and paradoxes, something which is strangely rare in Who. There is also a really nice full-blown sci-fi feel to this story, and we get to see the darker, more ruthless side of the Sixth Doctor, something that Baker does very well.
These two were good, but they have saved the best for last and second last.
A Most Excellent Match should, in theory be really stupid. It should be a mess of cliché and lazy jokes, being that it pastiches 19th century literature by way of a dangerously tired sci-fi plot device.
But it is so well written and so well performed that it easily rises above any danger of being rubbish. Baker and Bryant seem to be having an absolute ball in this one, and if I had to pick one of these shorts that I would like to see expanded into a full length adventure, it would be this one.
The collection ends with Question Marks. Again, this one starts with cliché: the cast, the Doctor and Peri included, begin the story suffering from amnesia. As one would expect, intrigue ensues as suspicions and paranoia grows.  
What wasn’t expected, by me at least, was the gut punch of a twist at the end.
All in all, this is a great collection, better, I think, that Red Lodge, and that’s saying something.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Driver San Francisco review

The original Driver and Driver 2, more so I would argue, were stone cold classics. You remember Driver 2? You remember how amazing it was to actually be able to get out of your car? You remember the impossible final mission?
Such a small thing as opening a door and standing up seems no big deal now, in this post GTA world, but it was back then. In fact, There’s a good argument to be made that GTA and the like would not be what they are today without the first couple of Driver games.
Of course, as we know, the series went off the rails a bit with the not so good Driver 3 and slightly better Parallel Lines. Could San Francisco be the thing that would breathe new life into the franchise?
On the face of it, the central premise of this game is utterly ridiculous.
It starts with Charles Jericho, Tanner’s mortal enemy, making a bid for freedom while being transported in a prison van. During the course of the chase, you (that is, Tanner) crash and end up in a coma. Don’t worry about spoilers, this is the first couple of minutes!
After that, things get a bit… unusual.
You see, from your hospital bed, you are able to ‘shift’. That is, jump from car to car and take control of the driver of that vehicle.
Like I say, ridiculous.
It is a credit to Ubisoft Reflections that this gameplay element works so well. In fact, it works brilliantly, and adds a much needed extra layer to gameplay that helps lift this release well above other driving games.
For example: you shift into the body of a police driver as they are chasing a criminal. As you pursue them, you can shift between yours and other police cars and wear them down, or shift into a car further up the road and use it to block your targets path.

There are loads of side missions like this – like scaring a driving instructor or taking on the roll of a movie stuntman among them, and the make great use of the shift system.
The player has a choice to take these on or to pursue the main story arc, although some of these missions need to be unlocked by playing side missions.
I should also mention the environment here too. It is huge. I have never been to San Francisco, so cannot comment on how accurate it is, but it certainly feels realistic. And did I mention just how big it is? Well, it is. Huge.
Graphics are astonishing, with some of the cut scenes being almost CG movie in quality. Voice acting is very good too, and the banter between characters is fun and funny.
I also loved the control system. The shift element is surprisingly easy to use, and the cars all handle well. The physics are not too realistic, making it fun for the casual player like me who isn’t a hardcore FORZA nut!
And as well as all this, we have online play.
This is fun too, although being the aforementioned casual player, I am sometimes out of my depth with the more… serious players out there. But there are some nice online missions and the developers have obviously given a lot of thought as to how they can utilise the shift ability to the greatest extent.

So, can this breathe new life into the franchise?
It can indeed, if you have time to catch your breath.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The home of Horror... Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd presents...

  This Autumn almost 100 years since the studio made its very first horror films; Universal unveils some of its iconic titles in a new collection of Blu-ray and DVD releases – available from 3rd October 2011.
·         cid:image002.png@01CC6CA3.2BA82290The Best of Cult Sci-Fi
·         The Best of Cult Sci-Fi is a collection of some of the most instantly recognisable and most-watched cult horror films on this planet. From alien invasions to radiation disasters, this four film box set is designed to entertain and will make you jump! To coincide with the hotly anticipated theatrical remake of The Thing this December, this box set includes the original 1950s Sci-Fi classic The Thing From Another World (1951), plus other must-own moviesCreature From The Black Lagoon (1954), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and It Came From Outer Space (1953).The box set comes packed with a wealth of bone chilling bonus features including commentaries and featurettes. RRP: £19.99
·         The Best of Classic Horror
·         cid:image004.png@01CC6CA3.2BA82290Some of the greatest horror actors of all time appear in this incredible gothic gore DVD collection. The great Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and Elsa Lanchester, as the mesmerising and beautiful bride of Frankenstein, appear as some of the scariest characters on film.  A must for every fan, this boxset of four iconic horror films is a nail-biting round-up of some of Universal’s most memorable all-time horror movies – Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Wolfman (1941). With an array of special features spread across the discs the Best of Classic Horror is the perfect Halloween purchase.
·         9032359-11_3d Packshots_R0 Also available as single DVDs is a range of newly released Classic Universal titles including House of Dracula, Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman and The Creature From The Black LagoonBOX SET RRP: £19.99, SINGLE DVD RRP: XXX

Doctor Who The Companion Chronicles - The Rocket Men

This, the latest in the Big Finish Companion Chronicles, is a strange beast.
I could not help but thinking while I was listening to it that it really shouldn’t work.
The story is set somewhere in the second series, with companions Barbara, Vicky and Ian, who is the narrator. In fact, I was somewhat surprised to hear William Russell doing this. I had assumed that he had long since retired from the acting game, but he does a sterling job here, and you can sense him warming to the story as it goes along.
Anyway - why it should not work. As I said, it is set within the second series, but the location here is so very far beyond anything the BBC budget could have grasped for.
Here, the Doctor and the TARDIS crew visit a holiday resort that is situated on a series of hovering platforms within the mantle of a gas giant planet, and while they are there the resort is attacked by an army of rocket pack wearing space pirates.
But even though it is well outside what would have been achievable on the TV series, this, amazingly, feels like something from those early days of Who. The atmosphere is palpably Hartnell era, which is helped in no small way by Russell’s narration.
And the tale itself, while being a good one, plays second fiddle to the clever structure, as the story flits backwards and forwards along its timeline, and in doing so provides the listener with a rather nice twist that, in retrospect, I should really think of as cheating, but in reality cannot help but admire the writer’s cheek at using it!

Monday, 5 September 2011

H2G2 Complete Radio series review

I should really start this review with a confession. One that will appal and shock you to the core.
I was, before listening to these, rather unfamiliar with Adams’ work Yes, I know, I know!
I had read the first novel and watched the TV show all those decades ago and had enjoyed both, but for one reason or another I had never got around to exploring the rest of the series. Upon listening to these I could not help but wonder just what the hell I was thinking.
That Douglas Adams: he was a bit good at writing, wasn’t he?
Yes, you all already know this, but let me continue anyway. Who knows, there may be other strange folks like me out there who haven’t listened to this yet.
The writing. The breadth and depth of the ideas that Adams throws out are simply breathtaking. He’ll sometimes throw out an offhand idea that another writer (me included) would have based an entire book around.
The plotting is clever and intricate. The characters are outstanding. We all love Marvin, right?
I’m not going to break each series down into their own review, but will give an overview of the entire box set. Oh, and the box from this AudioGo release itself is a gorgeous artefact in itself too.
The first series is brilliant, and I think that the second, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, is even better.
The third, ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ was, on first listen, not as satisfying as the previous two. But on a subsequent listen it is actually much better as Adams pulls into play seemingly offhand and throwaway jokes from the earlier volumes and turning them into major plot points.
The final two, ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish’ and ‘Mostly Harmless’ are the weakest of the volumes. That is not to say that they are bad. They are far from that. They merely suffer from the fact that what has come before really is some of the funniest and most clever writing ever committed to the English language.
My main problem with the final two stories is that by this time it was obviously a ‘big’ thing to be on the show, so there are a distracting number of celebrity cameos in there that serve to distract from the cleverness of the writing.
The set is rounded off with a disc containing a couple of radio documentaries about the series. The best of the two shows is the second, hosted by the brilliant Barry Cryer which looks at the character of Arthur Dent and uses clips from the other show ion the disc, which is a bit strange if you listen to them back to back.
However, it is churlish to complain. This really is an honest to goodness essential purchase for anyone who has any love for comedy, sci-fi or literature.