Friday, 16 March 2012

Halcyon and Tenderfoot launch!

Never let it be said that we're not nice!
How nice are we, you ask? Well, how about: we're so nice that we'll plug an event that's happening the same weekend as Hi-Ex!
Not that you'll be going to it of course, you'll all be in Inverness, right..? But Daniel and Lee are both enormously talented and brilliant individuals, so if you really can't get to Hi-Ex!, you should go to this!


Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes Vol 4 Review pt1




AudioGo have released another collection of ‘lost’ Doctor Who audios, and, as always, we shall review each of the stories separately.
This box set begins with The Macra Terror.

Folks may already be familiar with the Macra from their, if truth be told, largely pointless cameo in the David Tennant story Gridlock.
Here though, the Macra are a much more sinister monster, and I can’t help but think that they benefit from being left to the listeners imagination, rather than be seen in all their televisual SFX glory!
There are some problems with this story, foremost among them being the ill advised and embarrassing holiday camp singing.
But… when it is good this is among the very best Who tales ever. Like all great sci-fi, The Macra Terror is making a point. And I was amazed to read on the liner notes of the story that there is even a debate about what this story is saying about social control and individual freedom.
Surely when the Doctor says, “Don’t just be obedient, always make up your own mind,” the message of the tale should be beyond doubt?
As you can tell, I really loved this one – this story and others like it – is what makes Who the greatest television series ever (although The Wire has blurred that once clear line for me somewhat…)!


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Thorgal The Invisible Fortress review




This volume starts immediately where the previous one, The Sun Sword, left off, with out titular hero and his companion journeying across lands and, as is always the way with these things, quickly getting into scrapes and adventures.
As I said in the previous review, I was unfamiliar with this series, and maybe because of that, I find myself yet again amazed by the storyline in here.
Obviously I’ll not go down the spoiler route here and tell you what happens, but I will say that it is a storyline and theme that is as opposite from the story in The Sun Sword as could possibly be.
Yet again, Jean Van Hamme proves himself to be the absolute master of storytelling. I found myself reading this book and thinking that it shouldn’t work. That combining the events in The Sun Sword and what goes on here should make for a crazy and nonsensical mish-mash of elements, but it works. It works brilliantly, in fact.
Van Hamme’s superlative writing is complemented perfectly by the incredible art by Grzegorz Rosinski.
There are some amazing scenes in here, and he transforms what I suspect were some very complex panel descriptions in the script into easily understandable images. The contrast between scenes of extreme detail and others where he uses blank white space is jarring and powerful.
Yes, yet again it’s another Cinebook volume that I loved. One day I’ll read a bad one… one day, but not today.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Doctor Who The Twin Dilemma audiobook review




You will all (well, all the Who nerds reading this at least) know that this is the first broadcast story that starred Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor.
Now, as I have said here before many times, there were a lot of things wrong with Who during Baker’s run, but he was not numbered among them.
One of the major problems, in fact let’s be honest, the major problem, was the standard of storylines. It was as if nobody was trying sometimes. Or if they were trying, they were trying to produce the poorest piece of work they possibly could.
And to give them credit, they started as they meant to go on with The Twin Dilemma!
Now, here is a confession of sorts. I don’t think I have seen this story since it was originally broadcast, but I still have a lasting impression of how poor it seemed to be.

It was either this or a picture of The Doctor strangling Peri

I was also puzzled when listening to this audiobook, because it was quite unlike the story I remembered watching on television all those decades ago. And then, upon reading the liner notes, I discovered that the author of the book, Who script editor Eric Saward, had rewritten the original story extensively for this adaptation.
However, while the book is, in places, very good, it also falls flat a number of times. Saward seems to have a love for ludicrous similes. “With the vitality of a lecherous stallion” is one that sticks in the mind (well, it would!).
There are also lots of examples of poorly turned phrases that should not have made it passed the editing stage. “Moribund carcass” for example.
Having said that though, there are flashes of wit and cleverness. Saward is clearly going for a Douglas Adams vibe in this book, with his frequent digressions as he pauses the story to explain some piece of background information, usually with an impressive degree of imagination and skill.
The book is read by Colin Baker, who attacks the often purple prose with great gusto.
Yes, I know I bang on about it all the time, but Baker really is a very fine actor, and arguably he is worth the money for this audiobook alone.

The Twin Dilemma is released by AudioGo.

Darwin's Diaries 2: Death of a Beast review




You may recall that we reviewed the first volume of this Cinebook series here.
Part 2 picks off almost immediately where the first one ended, dropping the reader right into the aftermath of the incredible events that were the climax of Part 1.
We follow Darwin as he continues to investigate the mysterious beast that is hunting in the Yorkshire countryside.
And in that investigation you will get shocks aplenty in Sylvain Runberg's script. There is a lot of blood shed during the course of this volume, including one particularly powerful and memorable scene with a couple of unfortunate fellows on horseback.
I should mention the art by Eduardo Ocana here. It is, if anything, even better than it was in volume one. There are a few sections in there that are silent which really help the reader slow down and drink in the enormous detail and subtle colour in the book.
Ocana also excels in one particular scene, but one which I cannot talk about too much for fear of spoilers. But I will say that his creature design is genuinely the stuff of nightmares.
You’ll also remember me hinting at some surprising behaviour from Charles Darwin in the first book. Well, he’s at it again here, but this time we get more of a hint as to why he’s doing it, and along the way get one of the best cliff-hanger endings I have encountered in a long time.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Ubisoft Ignites the American Revolution with Assassin’s Creed III

Well, colour me unbelievably excited about this game!
 Assassin’s Creed III will hit store shelves on October 31, 2012, encouraging gamers to experience the American Revolutionary War not written about in history books.  The largest project in Ubisoft’s history also introduces a brand new hero.

With a development cycle of over three years and twice the production capacity of any previous Ubisoft game, Assassin’s Creed III is set to release on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, Windows PC and is also in development for Wii U from Nintendo. Assassin’s Creed III is developed by Ubisoft Montreal in collaboration with six other Ubisoft studios.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution in the late 18th century, Assassin’s Creed III introduces a new hero,Ratohnak√©:ton, of Native American and English heritage. Adopting the name Connor, he becomes the new voice for justice in the ancient war between the Assassins and Templars. Players become an Assassin in the war for liberty against ruthless tyranny in the most stylized and fluid combat experiences in the franchise to date. Assassin’s Creed III spans the Revolutionary War, taking gamers from the vibrant, untamed frontier to bustling colonial towns and the intense, chaotic battlefields where George Washington’s Continental Army clashed with the imposing British Army.

Assassin’s Creed III is powered by Ubisoft-AnvilNext, a revolutionary new game engine that delivers breakthroughs in visual quality, character models and artificial intelligence. Assassin’s Creed III will feature a ground-breaking level of stunning graphics that bring Colonial America to life.

“Assassin’s Creed III features the franchise’s most expansive setting so far, along with an exciting new hero and exponentially more gameplay,” said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer at Ubisoft. “Whether you’re a longtime fan of Assassin’s Creed or if you’re new to the franchise, you’re going to be blown away by the scale and marvel of Assassin’s Creed III.”

Assassin’s Creed III also can be pre-ordered at UBIShop by visiting: http://shop.ubi.com/assassinscreed3

Additional Assassin’s Creed III details can be found in exclusive cover features in the next issues of Official Xbox Magazine (20thMarch), Official Playstation Magazine (20th March) and Nintendo Gamer (23rd March).

New artwork from Assassin’s Creed III also will be featured in Assassin’s Creed Recollection, the real-time board game for the iPad.

For more information on Assassin’s Creed, please visit the Assassin’s Creed Official Website (www.assassinscreed.com) andfacebook.com/assassinscreed.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Available at Hi-Ex!: Anthology

Cover by Colin MacNeil (Ex DJCAD Graduate)



Coming soon, a new comics series, Anthology, published under the imprint UniVerse, will showcase the best creative work that emerges from the new comics courses at the University of Dundee and DJCAD.

Anthology One, is the first issue, and features work from the students on Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design’s (DJCAD) Comic Art and Graphic Novels Module. Module Leader Phillip Vaughan said, "We have created an imprint called UniVerse to promote and publish up and coming work from the next generation of comic creators! This is the best of the work from the first cohort of the module, which (staggeringly!) was run over 12 weeks for one day a week during Semester 1 of Communication Design Level 3 (encompassing Animation, Graphic Design and Illustration undergraduates). This year we plan to roll the module out to other undergraduate areas of the art college. We hope you will be as impressed with the diverse and professional results as we are!" 

Dr Chris Murray of the School of Humanities, course leader of the Comics Studies MLitt, and director of the newly formed Scottish Centre for Comics Studies, helped to deliver the course, and said, "It is an exciting time for Comics Studies at Dundee, and the DJCAD module has been even more successful than we'd hoped - the results are impressive, and the students clearly benefited from workshops with industry professionals such as Frank Quitely, Cam Kennedy, Colin MacNeil, and others". He added, "we are looking forward to Anthology Two, and further publications from UniVerse".

You lucky people will be able to buy this at Hi-Ex! Make sure to pick up a copy!