Human Torch Rising From The Ashes!?

Ok, so lets backtrack. In January we witnessed the demise of Johnny Storm in “Fantastic Four” #587. I thought the issue was really well done, going out with a real (pardon the pun) blaze of glory with the Human Torch doing his best to hold off impossible odds which eventually take him sadly away from his family. This in turn led us into The Future Foundation which saw our friendly neighborhood Spiderman join Marvels favorite family in a new series “FF” written by Johnathan Hickman (who also wrote Fantastic Four up to Johnny’s death) and drawn by Steve Epting (also drew Johnny’s final story, as well as the death of Captain America in 2009). On a personal note I really like it when these two continue to work together on “FF” and “Fantastic Four”, it shows really good continuity to the stories. This now that brings us up to the present, where recently there’s been speculation that the worlds favorite hot head would be reappearing in a later edition of “Fantastic Four”. I kind of dismissed this as simple rumour. However, Marvel have decided to lay this little gem on their fan base around the world…

Thought? Personally I would like if when a major comic character gets killed off…HE STAYS DEAD! That in itself would be a totally original idea. It occasionally happens with some of the B-characters but example like Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Steve Rogers (Captain America) presumed dead but then DC and Marvel add more complexity by having them appear to be transported to a different point in Earths history, prove that maybe larger comic companies just don’t have the balls to push the envelope by making breaking changes with their products.

Now as usual, times going to have to tell with what this will pan out like, but I have to admit I’m curious to see if Torch will actually be making a return or if this is simply a promotional shot. Is Johnny coming back? Will it be permanent? Will Spidey continue with the team if Johnny comes back for good? So many possibilities and so much time to speculate! We’re just going to have to wait until November to find out. As always my fellow geeks…Watch this space!

The Dark Knight Rises Into An Official Trailer

Yeah I know bootlegs have been buzzing around since being aired with the release of “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2”. However, the official release of the Teaser has now been released around the world giving people a much more clear and steady view of what we can expect from Christopher Nolans final Batman installment. So let’s take a look at what’s in store…

I’ll admit, the first time I watched the bootleg, I geeked out. And it goes without saying that when I watched this official release I still geeked out, probably a little more than before!

The trailer itself is rather gripping, however all it does is pose more and more questions (don’t get me wrong, I think that’s a great way of doing it)! Why would Gordon be in the Hospital? Will Bane be affiliated The League of Shadows? Will Bane crack Batmans back over his knee à la Knightfall Saga? I’m rather frustrated that we have to wait another year before we get close to knowing any of these things!

There is of course, a boat load about the movie not addressed in the trailer. Items that we can only speculate on at the moment, biggest of all is whether or not Liam Neeson will be making an appearance as Ra’s al Ghul?! Now we know there is a young Ra’s cast but there are 2 possibilities behind this…Either it’s just a flashback to when he was younger…OR… (my personal favorite) The young Ra’s could be a result of old Ra’s being put in the Lazarus Pit, thereby having Liam Neeson as a cameo to introduce the younger incarnation. Plausible? God I hope so! Let’s not forget the rumors circulating that Marion Cotillard may actually be Talia Al Ghul (Ra’s Daughter), somehow I get the impression that this is going to have more layers than Inception!! This is a factor that is starting to worry me a little bit, throwing all this into the mix along with Anne Hathaway becoming established as Selina Kyle/Catwoman? I get the feeling this may be a rather long movie indeed, BRING IT ON!

But of course let’s not forget the supposed “big bad” of the piece…BANE! Played by Tom Hardy, I wrote a little while back about the release of a promo shot via Twitter of the Nolans latest villain. While awesome as it looked you couldn’t make his face out too well, if you blinked and missed the detail in the trailer, check this out…

Basically, the term awesome just about covers it at the moment. As for final product? Well we’re just going o have to wait for next summer to find out!

The Fire Rises Before The Dark Knight!

Two days ago (May 20th) the website for the third bat-installment “The Dark Knight Rises” (TheDarkKnightRises.com) went live. However, with no logos, pictures, release dates you begin to wonder what they could possibly be showing. Well it’s quite simple, all Nolan and the rest of the brains behind “The Dark Knight Rises” is this simple piece of audio:

If played through a sound program (I’m reliably informed Audacity doesn’t work) you can reveal an encryption which shows #thefirerises! Now most of you will realize that this is a Twitter reference, if you follow Twitter.com/TheFireRises, or use the hashtag “#thefirerises” you will be replied to with a link http://www.thedarkknightrises.com/image.html, it shows a mosaic picture of following Twitterer’s which THEN focuses into DCs very own super-steroid driven BANE! That’s right, we have now received the very first shot from the new movie and it’s the one I’m personally interested to see how he is portrayed by England’s own Tom Hardy! For those who don’t fancy going through so many steps to view what the movie is teasing. Take a look at THIS!!!

HOLY SHIT YEAH! Now now all we have are questions until either next year or the next time they decide to viral something else from the film! Is Bane to be the soldier for the League of Shadows Bruce Wayne refused to be? Judging by this picture Banes Venom supply could be respiratory (judging by the pipes on the front of his mask), how big will it make him realistically? What the hell is that chanting about on the sound-byte!? Maybe something to do with the league, maybe it’s leading to something else in the future. I’ve replayed it slowed, reversed and used various tones…I’m totally out of ideas, so for the time being I’m simply just going to wait and see. Until then, look how bad ass Hardy looks in this picture!

Being Human – UK vs US

A Vampire, a Werewolf and a Ghost share a house together…Nope it’s not the beginning of a rather mediocre joke, it’s actually the premise of possibly one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen from the UK! “Being Human” has been highly favorable on both sides of the pond and grows strength to strength right through to its current third season. And after Comic Con in San Diego in 2010, fans of the UK show became slightly dubious as it was announced an American ‘Spin Off’ was on the horizon, it then came to air in America in mid January 2011. But how do the two shows compare with each other? Is one more superior to the other? Ah hell, Shakespeare said it best: “Let me count the ways”!

***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***

So lets talk about the English version for a minute, originally set and filmed down the road from me, we see Werewolf George Sands (Russel Tovey) and Vampire John Mitchell (Aidan Turner) moving into a quiet house in the Bristol where they meet resident Ghost Annie Sawyer (Lenora Crichlow). We see a very different spin on the supernatural genre with this show, for example: We discover Vampires can walk in sunlight, they image cannot be captured by ANYTHING not only mirrors, Ghosts can be seen by ANY supernatural beings and with practice by other human beings as well. At the start of the series we learn that Mitchells Sire Herrick is planning to raise the species into public eye and eventually take over the world, this then becomes the underlying story for the remainder of the first series; through this we also see new relationships bloom between George and Nurse Nina, Mitchell chooses sides of right and wrong, not to mention Annie discovers her death was not an accident! Series 2 sees further complications including a new supernatural addition in the form of Georges girlfriend Nina Pickering (played by Sinead Keenan), The trio are also subject to the growing attentions of a mysterious organisation looking to cure Werewolf symptoms, destroy the Vampires and exorcise Annie! Vampires going through group therapy led by Mitchell and his old friend Ivan, and not to mention seeing an absolutely unstable outburst from Mitchell which has lasting repercussions which echoes all the way into series 3! BBCs third installment sees the gang move to Barry Island while Mitchell secretly seeks penance for his sins of the Box Tunnel 20 by finding a way to get Annie back from Purgatory! Nina & George are faced with pregnancy and discovering more werewolves! we see old enemies, meet new and much older threats and tragically lose old friends!

On the American side of things it’s a little different but it’s pretty much the same. Is the American show not as subtle as the English? Perhaps, but it’s a different audience all together, seasons run for 13 episodes as opposed to Englands 6-8 episodes, so there is a need to spread things out and fill in the gaps to style it how they require.  This actually works pretty well so far as the USA and from what I can see it’s only getting stronger. The prime aspect for me is the universality, I think America will love it and the UK won’t resent it. This time around we have Vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer), Werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) and Ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath). The pilot episode is taken straight out of the original UK pilot, it delves further into the journey they take before they move into the house Sally died in/haunts, as well as the conflicts each of the character encounter, not to mention the usual vampire threat via Bishop (the US version of Herrick, played by Mark Pellegrino) The Vampyric aspect to this incarnation is slightly altered, a Vampires image can be captured but they can still walk in the sunlight (naturally they still wear sunglasses!). We also learn more about Joshs past and his family through his sister Emily (a recurring character), again a pretty American aspect to have a certain emotional attachment to a protagonist, especially as it took three series in the UK to see any of Georges family; this isn’t a dig in any way, it’s simply another device to allow the audience to connect, a device that consistently works. The major differences for the first season are staggering though, we see the Werewolf pregnancy story has just shot into play (albeit sadly not for long) when it took England 3 years to get to this point (certainly looks like America is going hell for leather in the drama department), Aidan executing Bishop, the Vampire Council from Boston, there is literally a whole new canon emerging from the States which looks to be growing even more so for the next season.

Character wise there have been some very subtle differences but overall the premise remains the same. I find this is was a good direction to go as it would keep things on an even keel for both sides of the Atlantic. Aidan and Mitchell comparisons are a rather interesting one, personally the Vampire in either series could be my favorites equally, there’s always so much more conflict they seem to deal with. US version appears to keep his personal conflicts away from his friends. Mitchell just relapses every so often, but when he falls off the wagon he does so in spectacular fashion; and yes I’m talking about the Box Tunnel 20 massacre which Mitchell and Daisy are responsible for in series 2. In spite of how good Sam Witwer is in the US version I honestly believe there’s more of a diversity from Aidan Turner. Could this be because I’ve watched him as Mitchell for longer? Perhaps, but it doesn’t make it any less accurate!

Josh and George, now this is tricky, both Russel Tovey and Sam Huntington do excellently at their respective roles. As I mentioned before, we learn a lot more about Josh past a lot quicker than we do about George, I was a little surprised at how much of a difference Syfy instigated for their US version of George. Having said that, there is a distinct darkness in both of them, the conflict they face in any instance is brilliant. It does seem sometimes though that Huntingdon can be less whinny than Englands own Tovey in some respects but that tends to bring out the weakness and conflictions more than Huntingdons slightly more angry equivalent. Mind you, it could have been a lot different if the original UK pilot had anything to do with it. Here’s a little snippet from possibly the only decent thing about an average first attempt at the series…

Now we come to the neighborhood Ghosts, UKs Annie and USAs Sally! Again, decent performances between the two versions; however, the only thing I don’t really like is that Sally is a more of a weaker character in comparison to Annie. I think Lenora Crichlow is very talented and has had some brilliant moments in the show, but Meaghan Rath doesn’t really seem to have the spirit (I’m really sorry if you saw a pun in there) that Crichlow has blessed the UK with. Once again I can see why they would string out the progression of the story, makes for a longer season run, but in UKs first season Annie kicked ass taking down the Vamps in the Funeral Home, so far Sally has only just been able to step outside the house, the potential hasn’t quite been reached as of yet. Yes I’m probably being a little premature with my outlook, but with season 1 having just aired, I have to be rather curious as to what the powers that be have in store for a resident poltergeist.

In conclusion, I have to say I find it tricky to decide which has been my favourite version. Gun to my head, I’m going to have to side with the BBC on this one though. primarily because it’s the original, it’s where it all started! Creative characters portrayed by an ever impressive cast. Syfy have done a commendable job at keeping everything they needed to and expanded very well on their own ideas to expand the canon and I’ve been nothing but entertained by everything and everyone involved. With a second season officially sanctioned in March this year, what could we possibly see in future? will we see lab experiments via Kemp and/or Lucy in the US version? How about the Box Tunnel 20? Will Aidan make the same sacrifices Mitchell has had to? Who is the Vampyric ‘She’? I’m not going to lie, I cannot wait to find out!

Will The Man Of Steel Be A Super – Reboot?


Over recent weeks there has been a great number of rumours and speculation as to what Zack Snyder has had in mind with his next major project, one of the more anticipated comic book reboots starring Detective Comics Patriotic Extra Terrestrial entitled “Superman: Man of Steel”! However, now there are more and more facts coming to light, mainly involving casting but it’s still looking promising enough to talk about. Will it rise up to the ranks of Christopher Nolans Batman franchise? Or will it crash and burn like many cast members and set of that god forsaken Spiderman musical!?

Let’s take a look at the Man of Steel himself. Superman (AKA Kal El) is being portrayed by Britains own Henry Cavill, who is more known from playing Charles Brandon in “The Tudors” with Johnathan Rhys Meyers and also played the pompous upstart Humphrey in “Stardust”. I have to admit I’ve never heard of this guy apart from when I found out he was in “Stardust” (for those who may be judging me…I care not, I love that film!), but I really think he has the right look, I stumbled across a photo online a couple of weeks back which rendered him in the old blue and red…

Of course there is one factor that defines Superman and the path he takes for truth and justice around the world, and that is his adopted human parents Johnathan and Martha Kent. The pair will be played by Diane Lane and Kevin Costner! Diane Lane has been long-established for many years, unfortunately, being the geek that I am, the only film of hers I take true note of is her performance of Judge Hershey in Stallones classic version of “Judge Dredd”! Still, never the less from other footage I have seen in the past I honestly believe she will do right by the part. Now, let’s get to possibly one of the best castings I think Snyder has made for this film, Kevin Costner! Johnathan Kent is a very All-American character, and you don’t really get more All-American than this legend! “Untouchables”, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”, “JFK”, “Bill Durham”, “Field of Dreams”! OK, we can forgive him for “Waterworld” and MAYBE “The Postman”, and why I hear you ask? Because he is Kevin frickin’ Costner!

So let’s talk about Lois Lane, yes she’s never really been that bright in noticing that all that stood between a secret identity was a pair of NHS spectacles, but this is such a sought after role and gained a lot of attention. Natalie Portman (too small), Anne Hathaway (playing Catwoman), Dianna Agron (maybe a little young), Kristen Stewart (yeah I know…that would have sucked), Malin Akerman, Rachel McAdams (favourite of mine), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (awesome in “Scott Pilgrim” but may not be right for her), Kristen Bell, Lake Bell, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis (voice just doesn’t gel) and Jessica Biel were considered for the part. But after all that Zack Snyder made an INSPIRED move recently and cast Amy Adams as the Daily Planets number one reporter! I love Amy Adams work, and I think she’s going to be great for the part and will no doubt open up a whole new fan base for her.

Naturally the Last Son of Krypton needs a nemesis to square off against, but who? No one has mentioned the name Lex Luthor at all, maybe “Smallville” has stolen that particular thunder, maybe no one wants to follow Kevin Spaceys great performance in “Superman Returns”, the film is a little underrated but I enjoy watching maybe once every year or two. There are many other smaller enemies they can bring to the table, Brainiac, Bizarro, Darkseid, maybe even the Suicide Squad, however there is one that shines above all others…Still can’t piece it together? Ok I’ll back track a little, a couple of months ago a series a actress’ were auditioning for what the public believed to be Lois Lane. However, it later transpired it was actually for the role of Ursa, for those that don’t know who this is, Ursa is the hench-woman of one of the greatest ranking member of the Rogues Gallery and my personal choice for main movie villain…GENERAL ZOD! The Kyptonian outcast made famous by Terrence Stamps performance in “Superman 2”, this is the perfect choice to bring to a new generation of fanboy; it’ll give an intense progression which can embody a single film rather than have to build up over another movie or two. And the rumour is there are two people in the running to play him, they are Viggo Mortensen and Daniel Day-Lewis!!! Either choice would just be awesome!

Although no aspects of the plot have actually been announced yet I still think the movie is starting off very strong, with David S Goyer (writer for “The Dark Knight”) attached to writing duties I think we could be in for one hell of a ride. And with an estimated budget of $175,000,000 (roughly £110,000,000) there is no limit to the possibilities for this movie are endless. And I for one have never been let down by Zack Snyders vision via “300” and “Watchmen” and I highly doubt he’s going to start letting fans down now!

Dark Knight Rises: Possible Leaked Plot Line!?

A couple of days ago a supposed plot line had been leaked for Chris Nolans “The Dark Knight Rises”, the swan song to his amazing vision of the Caped Crusader Batman! Let’s paint a little backdrop for the scene…Since they announced Nolans Batman would become a trilogy there was a horrendous amount of speculation with regards to villains, storyline etc, at one point I remember reading a random rumour that David Tennant was in line to play The Riddler (have to admit I thought that would be pretty cool). In January of this year we were informed by Nolan that Anne Hathaway had been cast to play Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) but we weren’t sure if Catwoman herself would show, only Ms Kyle had been named; However, in an interview on Oprah this week she was referring to her character casting as Catwoman, slip of the tongue or was she just using the character reference as its more well-known than the alter ego? We’ll find out next year but I think Hathaway will be a great addition to the cast. Prior to this casting it had become common knowledge that the UKs very own Tom Hardy (Inception/Bronson) had been tipped to play a part in the movie, although it was unknown who he would be portraying; most speculated it to be Dr Hugo Strange, but it soon became apparent that Chris Nolan had other grand ideas and cast him in the role of the super steroid enhanced, criminal mastermind BANE! Those of us unlucky enough to be scarred by Joel Schumachers take on one of DCUs best villains (in my mind anyway) this quote from Hardy will hopefully put your mind at ease in assuring us this will not happen EVER AGAIN:

“Christopher Nolan will revisit the character, so I wouldn’t go by that at all. I’m going to need to bulk up a lot for it. That’s a lot of weight to put on and I’ve got to start shooting in May. I’ve got to go up to about 13 or 14 stone. I’m 12 and a bit now, so I only have a few months to do that.”

The fact that Hardy, a talented actor, is willing to put himself through this sort of regime shows nothing but promise for the quality of the film. On thing that you can never be sure of is if Nolan would be accurate with regards to the costumes of various characters. So would Bane where his trademark (what some heretics believe gimp-style) mask in the new movie? Hardy simply had this to say:

“Only if I feel like it.”

OK so let’s get to the theorized plot…As mentioned before Catwoman will be appearing (possibly as a villain to begin with) but by the end of the film she is meant to be teaming up with the Bat to go up against…The League of Shadows! Fans will recognise Nolan has used The League before in “Batman Begins” with Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul; however this time around it will be headed by his daughter Talia! The Leagues purpose is unknown right now but what we do know is Bane is meant to be in her corner (muscle or love interest?), also another Nolan favorite Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be joining their cause, no idea what part he’ll be playing yet but my hopes are on either Hugo Strange or the Black Mask!

Once again I can’t stress enough this is not written in stone! Merely rumours and speculation, not to mention the fact that Nolan is known for using misdirection in his movies, why not utilise those talents to misdirect the public to make the unveiling so much more awesome! Personally, I would really like to see the venom-enhanced Bane break the back of Charlie Sheen across his knee à la Knightfall Saga…Yeah I know that’s got nothing to do with the film but the visual alone is rewarding enough, who would be winning then Charlie?! Pushing the imploding star to one side, filming for “The Dark Knight Rises” should be starting in May of this year and I personally am on the edge of my seat already in anticipation of what could be coming our way! Yeah sure, Tom Hardy may not be the first vision of Bane, BUT people damn near condemned Nolan for casting Heath Ledger; until of course we heard the teaser of the Joker, watched the trailers, hell I’ve watched “The Dark Knight” over 10 times and it never gets old! It’s with occasions like this that I’ve some to put my trust in Chris Nolans casting decisions and I’m pretty sure Bane is going to be awesome. One thing you can guarantee, the second I hear anything else, it will be getting posted!

Lucasarts Star Wars Games: Retrospective

Over the last couple of years I’ve been immersed in the prequel stylings of “The Force Unleashed” parts 1 & 2. Which, to be honest I have found to be entertaining but at the same time the challenge diminishes and the second outing seemed all too short in comparison to its predecessor. Having said that , courtesy of Steam, during the Christmas break I was fortunate enough to grab all 5 of Lucasarts Jedi Knight series (releases spanning from 1995-2003); for those of you unfamiliar with these little gems they are as follows:

Dark Forces

Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight

Jedi Knight: Mysteries of The Sith

Jedi Knight 2 (AKA Jedi Outcast)

Jedi Academy

***WARNING – CONTAINS SPOILERS (if you’re unfortunate enough not to have played this awesome series yet!)***

The Dark Forces games to me are kind of like the “Rosencratz & Guildenstern are Dead” of the Star Wars Universe, it fills in a couple of blanks for the original trilogy and even a little beyond. As the protagonist Kyle Katarn, your first mission in the game is to steal the plans of the original Death Star, which of course, in theory, starts the chain reaction which is episodes IV-VI. As an FPS (first person shooter) it’s very cool, right in the running coming after “Doom II” and before “Quake”. The general premise of the game is that a year later the Rebel Alliance hires Katarn again, this time to investigate an assault on one of their bases by a new type of Imperial soldier soon exposed as the Dark Trooper. This has always been one of my favorites, granted it’s very dated but in my eyes it can be seen as nothing more than a classic. And without doubt one of Lucasarts most successful games, seeing as the game went on to sell 952,000 copies over its first five years of release, it became the eleventh highest selling game from 1993 to 1999.

After Dark Forces Star Wars fans were left gagging for more for a further two years! But when it finally happened we were forever thankful for what became Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight! When I first played it I couldn’t believe my luck, not only had I the opportunity to play in the Star Wars universe as a character, but to be able to play a Jedi seemed just a stroke of genius! A major plus for the game was that they filmed live action cut-scenes to give the effect of a new film within this great game. General plot for this episode in Katarns saga is set one year after the events in Return of the Jedi. The player controls Kyle Katarn, who made his first appearance as a mercenary in Dark Forces. Katarn meets with a droid named 8t88 who tells Katarn that his father, Morgan Katarn, was killed by a Dark Jedi named Jerec. Kyle retrieves a disk from the droid that can only be read by a droid belonging to Morgan at his home. The disk’s message, coupled with the droid giving Kyle a lightsaber, compel Kyle to undertake a journey to confront his father’s murderers and to discover his own latent Force abilities. While on this journey, Kyle learns that seven Dark Jedi are intent on finding the Valley of the Jedi, a focal point for Jedi power and a Jedi burial ground. Katarn retrieves the Valley’s location and travels with Rebel agent Jan Ors to Ruusan, the planet on which the Valley is located. Jerec captures Ors and offers Katarn the decision to execute her or die. This decision Katarn makes depends on the player’s actions within the game to this point. If Katarn kills Ors he turns to the dark side, but if he lets her live then he goes on the light path. With both paths, Katarn has a final confrontation with Jerec in the Valley of the Jedi’s core. If the player chose the dark path, the game ends with Katarn becoming emperor; if the player chose the light side, the game concludes with Katarn being reunited with Ors and carving a monument to his dead father. This is the absolute favorite for me! I was 14 when this game first came out, one thing I got swept up in was not only the cinematic adventure of the game, but the multi-player facet of the game. This took off in a huge way, and was my first time playing a game online with other people. The original content itself was awesome enough, but then people started creating further avatars, MODS and levels. I swear to God there was a Jedi Nightclub level which was created which when you hit the dance floor “Breathe” by The Prodigy would be on a loop, it was genius! For a good two years my friend Lee and I used to play JK online with a clan named LDB (Lord of Despot Boyz) and we would meet online every Sunday evening to play with other clans, it was always so much fun. And sooo long before the days of ‘pwning noobs’!

A year later an expansion disc was released entitled “Mysteries of The Sith”, set five years after JK, the story begins with Kyle Katarn training Mara Jade as a Jedi. For those who don’t know, Mara Jade first appeared in the Timothy Zahn novel “Heir to The Empire” (first book of the Thrawn Trilogy). You’re in control of Kyle for the first couple of levels, after that he goes off to investigate a Sith Temple on a planet named Dromund Kaas and you then run the rest of the games challenges as Mara. She then completes her missions for the New Republic, but hears that Katarn has broken contact. She heads to Dromund Kaas to try and find out what has happened to him. At the temple she discovers that Katarn has been corrupted by the power of the dark side located within the temple. Failing to convince him to turn back, Mara battles him in a lightsaber duel which finally turns him away from the dark path, as she disengages her lightsaber and Kyle finds he cannot go through with killing her. Unlike JK, MOTS has only one direction for the story to go, as opposed to the 50/50 outcome of JK depending on your actions in the game. I never minded this fact, it just meant that there was a simpler level of playability. Also, the AI was seen as a slight improvement from JK; whenever an enemy had a weapon taken away via ‘force pull’ they would just wander around, in MOTS they would then just punch you instead which would mean a better level of defense on your part. One of the high points of this pack was 20 new creatures from the SW universe including a Rancor you must defeat! A pretty decent addition to the saga, not necessarily my favorite but always got time to play it.

It took 4 years for the next chapter of the Dark Forces series…FOUR YEARS! I’ll admit, when I found out there was a Jedi Knight II coming out (AKA Jedi Outcast) I geeked out 100%, these games were awesome and could only get better! Outcast didn’t disappoint, absence did in fact make the heart grow fonder, as well as the gameplay, graphics, hell just about everything came on leaps and bounds, not to mention the fact it spread across a number of platforms including games consoles Xbox & Nintendo Gamecube! Outcast improved by being powered by the Quake III: Team Arena game engine, the game primarily revolves around ranged and melee combat. The player can wield classic Star Wars weapons such as blasters, lightsabers and Force powers. This was actually set 2 years after MOTS, Kyle is back in his usual garb assisted by trusty friend Jan Ors, we also the return of such loved characters as Luke Skywalker and the legendary turn coat Lando Calrissian. The game starts with Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors investigating a supposedly abandoned Imperial outpost on Kejim, which proves to be crawling with Imperial forces. Kyle and Jan fight their way through the base, discovering research in lightsaber crystals. Following their link on cortosis crystals, Kyle and Jan travel to Artus Prime, a mining colony turned into an Imperial stronghold, where miners are enslaved and even experimented on. Katarn thwarts the Imperial operations, but not before Jan is captured by two Dark Jedi: Desann and Tavion. Having forsaken the ways of the Jedi, Kyle is easily bested by Desann, who orders Tavion to kill Jan. Believing Jan dead, Kyle first travels to the Valley of the Jedi to regain his Force powers, and then to the Jedi Academy to get his lightsaber. There, he learns of Desann’s origins from Luke Skywalker. Luke offers Kyle his lightsaber back if he can complete a set of trials. Katarn completes the trials easily – too easily, and Luke quickly deduces that Kyle has charged himself at the Valley of the Jedi. Warning Katarn that his path is a dangerous one, he nevertheless gives Kyle the information he seeks, linking Desann to Reelo Baruk, a Rodian crime lord on Nar Shaddaa. Reelo proves to have little information, but Kyle nevertheless stumbles upon Lando Calrissian, who was kept imprisoned in Baruk’s dungeons. From Lando, Kyle learns that Desann is a part of a huge operation of smuggling cortosis crystals through Cloud City on Bespin. Escaping Reelo, the two make for Bespin in Lando’s ship, the Lady Luck. Lando drops Kyle off at the bottom of Cloud City. Katarn works his way upwards, where he first encounters Dark Jedi known as Reborn. Kyle fights several Reborn, and, on the upper level, stormtroopers until he finds Tavion, who is about to board a ship headed for Galak Fyyar’s Star Destroyer, the Doomgiver. Losing to Kyle in a duel, Tavion pleads for her life, telling him that Jan is alive and on board the Doomgiver. Jan’s faked death was just a ploy to trick Kyle into going to the Valley of the Jedi – in order for Desann to follow him there and tap its power. In exchange for her life, Tavion lets Kyle use her ship to travel to the Star Destroyer. After fighting his way past some stormtroopers at Cairn Installation – an Imperial base hidden on an asteroid in the Lenico Belt where the Doomgiver is docked – Kyle meets up with Luke Skywalker. From him, he learns that Desann, having found the Valley of the Jedi, has used its energy to empower an army of Reborn, which could number in thousands. After battling several Reborn together, they part ways. Kyle then sneaks across the Cairn base and finds out it is also a large assault ship construction facility, which is preparing for a full-scale planetary assault. Kyle confronts more Dark Jedi, including a new kind of them, known as “Shadowtroopers” – Jedi, equipped with armor, which is both lightsaber-resistant, and also allows some measure of invisibility. Kyle manages to sneak into the Doomgiver before the ship leaves Cairn, but Luke is left behind. After the Doomgiver completes its jump to hyperspace, Katarn uses the ship’s communications array to contact the Rogue Squadron. Though he manages to find Jan in the detention block, Kyle’s joy is short-lived. In a nasty surprise, he learns that Desann was not as interested in the Valley of the Jedi as he was bent on invading the Jedi Academy, located on the satellite Yavin IV. Kyle destroys the Doomgiver’s shield reactor, and kills Galak Fyyarr, in spite of the latter’s use of an armored suit that is both lightsaber-resistant and ray-shielded. Narrowly escaping the ship’s destruction, Katarn and Jan use an escape pod to land on Yavin IV. Crossing the misty swamps and windy valleys, Kyle travels to the Jedi Academy, while Jan heads to a hangar to assist in the aerial battle. Kyle soon finds the academy overrun with Imperial forces, but with the help of the New Republic troops, he fends them off. Together with other Jedi Academy students, he fights against Reborn warriors and Shadowtroopers. After crossing underground tunnels, Kyle finally confronts Desann. Katarn reveals the Dark Jedi of the Doomgiver’s destruction as well as the defeat of the Imperial forces, but Desann rejects Kyle’s offer to rejoin the Jedi and a duel between them begins. Kyle prevails and kills Desann. Emerging from the tunnels, Katarn reunites with Luke and Jan. Kyle politely turns down Luke’s offer to safeguard his lightsaber, saying that he isn’t ready to forsake the Force again. A great factor for this game is that it places a strong emphasis on lightsaber combat, an aspect that showed a lot more thought in combat. The game offers three lightsaber styles, each style is different in terms of the speed of attacks and damage dealt, also there are a number of combos which can be used, often unique to the selected saber style. Downside is that they still kept the gameplay as a straight forward ‘upgrade the force’ kind of game, no light side/dark side aspect like the original JK which allowed you to show more thought during your journey. However, the be all and end all is this game has and forever will be AMAZING!

After years of Katarns exploits in the stories, it would seem like Lucasarts were running low on platforms for him so a year later in 2003 they moved onto the next generation through “Jedi Academy”. This is the only game in the series I have very little experience playing. I must admit I really liked the ability to create your own character (gender, appearance and also lightsaber design and blade colour) for the purpose of the storyline (making use of the same Quake III Team Arena engine used in Jedi Outcast), gives a bit more involved I suppose. You take the role of Jaden Korr, new student arriving on Yavin IV to join Luke Skywalkers Jedi Academy, you are then assigned as apprentice to Kyle Katarn, you are then sent on various missions as part of your training. As the game progresses the main plot unravels as Jaden encounters the ‘Disciples of Ragnos’, a Sith cult who are stealing Force energy from various locations across the galaxy. The player learns that the cult is led by Tavion, the former apprentice of Kyle’s nemesis Desann from Jedi Outcast. Tavion has recovered the Scepter of Ragnos, which has the power to drain and release Force energy. She plans to restore the Sith to power by using the stolen Force energy to resurrect an ancient Sith Lord, Marka Ragnos. What I do like about this game is that they went back to the popular idea of the light side/dark side choice which dictates the ending of the game depending on the players decision; After learning that Rosh has betrayed the Jedi and joined Tavion, the player can choose either killing him and turning to the dark side or letting him live thus staying on the light side. If the player follows the dark side, Jaden kills Rosh but refuses to join the Sith or help resurrect Marka Ragnos. Jaden kills Tavion to steal the power of the Scepter of Ragnos and, after defeating Kyle in combat, embarks on a campaign of conquest. Kyle, who is found to have survived the duel with Jaden by Luke Skywalker, laments losing both Rosh and Jaden and vows to hunt Jaden down. Luke, wishing Kyle good luck, notes that though Jaden has turned to the dark side, there is always hope and Jaden is not beneath redemption. On the light side, Kyle and Jaden rescue Rosh. Jaden goes to the Tomb of Ragnos to confront Tavion. After besting her in a fight, her body is possessed by Ragnos’ ghost. Jaden defeats Ragnos and destroys the Scepter, banishing Ragnos’ spirit back into its tomb after defeating it. Good fun to play but I guess it jars me a bit being the only game with a different character solely at its base, but the gameplay is as fun as it ever has been!

Bottom line is this saga began at a time when games were games. A time when strategy guides were completely absurd unless the were given to you by a sponsored magazine or somebody would publish a very forgotten art form…CHEAT CODES! What the hell ever happened to them?…So much fun! The greatest cheat code I ever encountered was when I started playing Jedi Outcast, there was a code that meant when you struck an enemy with a lightsaber it actually struck off whatever part of the body you hit (God bless the Quake III Engine!). Granted this sounds a bit disturbing, but any Fanboy worth his salt wouldn’t have it any other way! Playing these games have instigated a great feeling of nostalgia for me. I dream of a day that old flight sims from Lucasarts like X-Wing, Tie-Fighter and X-Wing Alliance will be added to Steam just as the JK Saga was. That would be such an awesome addition! Since the early 90’s the development of Lucasarts has move forward enough to give us titles such as the “Force Unleashed” series, and soon the Star Wars game for Xbox Kinect being released later this year. However, my heart will always lay with this series which added another great dynamic to Lucas’ already flawless universe.

First Class Trailer X-Plosion!

As the world is completely aware by now, on Friday the 11th of February we witnessed one of the most anticipated movie trailers for some time go live on the internet. It is of course “X-Men: First Class”! For those of you that haven’t had the privilege of catching it yet, I invite you to observe

With this we go back to what is supposed to be the very start of the X-Men saga. From the budding friendship of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, to funding their school for the gifted culminating in the birth of two of the greatest figure heads in Marvel History…Professor X and Magneto! Whilst the main synopsis hasn’t really been divulged, we are led to understand that along the way we are introduced to some very familiar characters from the Marvel universe and educated on some not so familiar ones, this is nicely accomplished by utilizing such talent as “Shamless” and “Wanted” leading man James McAvoy (Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Lensherr) from Inglorious Basterds, Mad Mens January Jones (Emma Frost/White Queen), along with Jason Flemyng and Kevin Bacon. Flemyng is actually playing Azazel who is you look closely is red-faced mutant in the trailer that is teleporting during a fight scene; for those who don’t know Azazel, he later becomes father to a little blue faced german named Kurt Wagner (AKA Nightcrawler)! However Matt Vaughan (director) is making use of some very talented younger performers to play Xaviers Progeny such as Winters Bone actress Jennifer Lawrence (Raven Darkholme/Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult (Hank McCoy/Beast).

OK, now we’ve established the set-up, let’s get down to the meat of the trailer with the most notable points seen….

  • The cuts between old and new for Xavier and Lensherr was very cool, nice build up.
  • Had to look a bit closely at this, but in the library scene of the trailer I swear Lensherr has a semi-auto pistol in his hand! Can’t wait to see what that’s about.
  • Emma Frost detained, but where? Why!?
  • The montage of introductions to the gifted youngsters of the school was nicely done, although unless you’re familiar with them it doesn’t really give too much away. BTW, still can’t quite get my head around the fact that the little kid from “About a Boy” with Hugh Grant has grown up into the character of beast! Feel I’m showing my age a bit! Also, the makings of a very provocative scene as we see Raven turn to her ‘Mystique’ in bed, but who is trying to entice?
  • Loved the shot of the Mark I Blackbird flying over (supposedly to save the day and prevent another world war). And I will admit, I geeked out a bit when I saw Beasts hairy face pop up piloting the plane, looks great!
  • First of two favourite scenes of mine from the trailer. Magneto emerging slightly when Lensherr attacks a Russian soldier invading the school by making him stab himself with his own knife, I can’t describe how cool that looked, Fassbender looks like a bad-ass in that shot, and something tells me that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
  • Hank becoming the Beast!
  • Sebastian Shaw (Bacon), leader of the infamous Hellfire Club with Emma Frost!
  • Hank discovers he can flip out in more ways than one…Alright that line sounded better in my head!
  • Raven appears to be digging on Hank as they share a tender lovin’ moment. Could that be who she’s waiting in bed for!?
  • Havoc appears! Yes I know he’s meant to be Cyclops’ brother. However, I think we’re going to have to see this film with a clean slate.
  • Another Magneto immersion! He’s like a pissed off Jedi, this is going to be great!
  • Cerebro is built
  • Azazel is revealed as a very kick-ass character. Flemyng looks great made up for this role. Awesome actor as well.
  • The first reveal of Magneto! This was one of the first promo images released before the trailer went live and the buzz was HUGE! The more deductive of you will have noticed that he’s in the same room Frost was being detained in. So I’ll ask again…WHERE IS THIS ROOM!?
  • BOOM! My other favourite snippet, Fassbender hits us with what could be one of the best taglines for th film, “peace was never an option”. This gives me the impression that whatever he gets up to on his journey into being a supervillain it has been a long time coming and he knows it. Seriously, I honestly believe Fassbender would make a great James Bond!
  • Final shot, Lensherr pushing the limits of his abilities by levitating a frickin’ submarine! Not the strongest end to a trailer, I think they should have ended on Fassbenders line then hit with…
  • THE LOGO!

Throughout all of this, I truly think we will see several things come to light, things that were never addressed in the original trilogy:

  1. Why Cerebro was created
  2. How Xavier lost his hair
  3. What sends Lensherr over the edge and become Magneto?
  4. How does Xavier end up in a wheelchair?

Over the last couple of days I have noticed that for some reason this trailer has kicked off a riot about the film, even going as far as attempting to rally people to boycott the film based on its content and lack of accuracy to the original Marvel Comics Canon. To them I say this…The way I see it you have two options: 1) GROW UP, 2) F**K OFF, or secret option number 3) Just don’t see it and keep your opinions to yourself! I always prefer a diverse view of these kind of things, it springs debate. But there is a huge difference between debating banter and full on slating what looks like a perfectly good entertaining film.

I thought this was a great teaser for the movie. It gives just enough without giving too much away. Let’s be honest, we all know where the story is headed but it’s the journey that’s always the worthier part. And with the awesome vision of Matthew Vaughan and his amazing script genie Jane Goldman I have no doubt this is going to be well worth the wait. Don’t believe me? Go and watch “Stardust” and “Kick Ass” then get back to me! Very eclectic work with the two of them but ultimately driven by fantasy which is something I can definitely get on board with. Bottom line, I know what I’m going to be doing on June 2nd, how about you?