Wednesday, 22 May 2013


In the tradition of Jack Sparrow:
I am by no means a Star Trek fan (I refuse to call them 'Trekkies' since I've heard they hate the term) although if pressed I couldn't tell you why, given that the various TV series are built around using heavy sci-fi as a means to explore the human condition, something I find fascinating, and also they're full of spaceships, which I also find fascinating in a different sense.  My distaste for the series might simply be down to seeing the wrong parts of it; the one series I've been most exposed to is Voyager, which is apparently the worst of the lot by some margin, and after that I watched a bunch of The Next Generation, which I'm told swings sharply between great and awful.  So, maybe I don't know what good Trek should feel like.
Even so, I'd wager heavily that Star Trek, the pseudo-reboot movie released in 2009, wasn't hitting the sweet spot either.  Deploying a 'parallel universe' plot device to excuse a clean-sweep of the franchise's continuity and bringing back the original series' crew in their rookie years, Trek '09 was a competently made and usually exciting bit of blockbuster filmmaking that neither achieved higher plaudits nor made the effort to reach for them in the first place.  When it wasn't borrowing from the franchise's own history, it was borrowing from Top Gun as Kirk/Maverick gets told off repeatedly because he DOESN'T PLAY BY THE RULES and is a LOOSE CANNON until he (theoretically) gets his act together enough to impress Spock/Iceman.  And also there is a super-old clone of Iceman from the future who tells Maverick how to win because Maverick is too dumb to figure this out for himself.  That last part was omitted from Top Gun when the writers realised it needlessly threw the character under a bus, but the makers of Top Trek left no stone unturned.  Good work there, fellas.
Whatever the case, that film made enough money to warrant an immediate sequel, which became less immediate when JJ Abrams forgot he'd made a Star Trek film (fair enough, I forgot I'd watched it for a good while...) and wandered off to do something else.  Eventually though, Paramount dragged him back, and here we are with the ominously titled Star Trek Into Darkness.  "SHALL WE BEGIN?"

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Say Hello to my Future Favourite Show

I'm so used to disappointment with pilot season and most American TV networks' inability to pick things that are actually promising as opposed to just box-ticking bollocks that, on the occasions when they get something right, I fail to notice 'til much later.  This time?  Not so much.  ABC, smart people that they are, chose to greenlight what will doubtless wind up being my favourite TV show whenever it hits these shores.

And they greenlit 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' too.  What, you thought that was what I meant?  Nnnn-nope:

Killer Women, a.k.a. Tricia Helfer: Cowboy Cop.

Tricia Helfer.

Driving fast and shooting people.

Often wearing an awesome hat.

Sometimes wearing...very little (which is also awesome in a different sense).

Tricia.  Helfer.

Universe...however much stick I rightfully give you, for this I say thanks.  You done good.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

'SHADOW OF THE ETERNALS' Crowdfunding Drive

Okay, full disclosure, I didn't start doing this blog just to advertise things.  I'd like to think I'm 'above' that, and that I'm providing what readers I get with something more thought-provoking or entertaining, or at least distracting.  But right now, with this post, I'm straight-up just promoting something that demands money - your money, as well as my money and anyone else's money it can get - before it can be real.  Just so we're clear.

Shadow of the Eternals is a new survival horror title from Canadian start-up Precursor Games, targeted at an eventual release on PC and Wii U (and maybe other formats if it's a success).  It's also the spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, one of the ultimate "oh, you MUST have played that one" titles of modern gaming, a personal favourite of mine, and something I honestly believed I'd never see again.  Why?

Because the modern game industry is goddamn broken, that's why.

Everything about the industry has grown so bloated and driven by marketing excess that new ideas simply don't get the chances to succeed like they did even only 1 console 'generation' ago.  The major publishers swallow up promising developers and handcuff their performance to sales stats, telling extremely talented artists and crafters to follow the Generic Shooter Blueprint to the letter, time after time.  If you're not Call of Duty or World of Warcraft, you'll be expected - nay, demanded - to perform like them and heaven help you if you don't.  If any devs out there really do want to make something different...well, they could keep it cheap and try for an indie release on Steam or XBLA, which is great if it's a retro-styled platformer with a minimalist 'arty' visual style, but for anything more elaborate, they'd have to get desparate.

As it turns out, we're living in a world where something as awesome on paper as Shadow of the Eternals needs to get desperate.

You can visit the game's website or its YouTube channel and browse around if you want an in-depth understanding of what it's all about (and a better explanation as to why it's doing crowdfunding), but the short of it is, you start off playing as a detective trying to get to the bottom of a cult-related mass murder, and as you scratch away at parts of that story you're taken back in time to fill the shoes of another person tangled up in a presumably related series of events, which involves much puzzle-solving, running away from monsters, and if its predecessor is any indication, the game turning heel on you and pretending to break down just to wind up your nerves a little more.  The first planned 'episode' pits the player as a handmaiden in the court of Erzebet Bathory, long the historical inspiration behind many a vampire tale.

Look, I'm as leery of crowdfunding as you no doubt are, especially in the wake of the Veronica Mars/Zach Braff nonsense; I think I've previously contributed to a whole whopping 2 Kickstarters, only 1 of which succeeded.  But in this case, I fully sympathise with the reasons behind the choice to use it, and...and I'd just really like to play a well-made, smart horror adventure that doesn't devolve into a co-op shoot-em-up.  Can we all agree this is a thing worth fighting for?

If you're interested, pledges can be made through a PayPal portal on the game's main site (no Kickstarter since there's apparently some kind of restriction on non-US/UK companies opening one) (UPDATE: They sorted things out with Kickstarter, and I've added the relevant link to the bottom of the post!).  I'll put the links up again at the bottom of the post.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013


One day Warners will give the general public a reason to care
about a DC property that isn't Batman.  This is not that day.
Released April 2013.
Published by Warner Bros. Games.
Developed by Netherrealm Studios.
Version played:  Wii U
Fighting games and superheroes really ought to go together like peanut butter and, wait, I hate peanut butter...and most jams...okay, better turn of phrase: they ought to go together like convenient DNA-altering lab accidents and losing a relative/guardian/love interest.  Given that basically every traditional cape comic in existence eventually boils down to a simple good guy versus bad guy showdown, translating those stories into a beat-em-up sounds really simple on paper.  But in practice, I can't recall ever being fully satisfied with the results.  Yes, I know, Marvel VS. Capcom has a large, long-lived fanbase, but it''s a Capcom fighting game through and through, so irrespective of appearances I have never been able to convince myself, in any incarnation of the series, that I'm really playing AS Spider-Man (or whoever).  No, I'm controlling someone from Street Fighter that kinda looks like Spider-Man.  Superheroes don't just stand 4 feet apart and throw rapid punch-kick combos at each other, they fly, they flip, they shatter the ground with every footfall, hoist 80-ton weights above their head and blast lasers from every orifice!  The only game off the top of my head to try and nail that style of battling was EA's Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, which unfortunately falls under the heading of 'A for effort, D for execution'.
And now the artists formerly known as...whatever their team name was at Midway are taking their second stab at Marvel's 'distinguished competition' after Mortal Kombat VS. DC Universe (a game we DO NOT TALK ABOUT EVER except when we mention it like I did just there) with Injustice, which if nothing else has seen a publicity blitz vastly beyond the reach of any other fighter in recent memory.  The ads were everywhere, there's a tie-in comic series, there's a whole line of 4" action figures (which I'm sorely tempted to sample, especially since Green Arrow and Deathstroke are pack-buddies) - this is the kind of media saturation normally granted only to AAA shoot-em-ups of the most boring variety, and I've no doubt it'll reflect well on the sales figures.  But the question is, will the game prove good enough to keep on rotation for months to come...?