Monday, 31 August 2009

Power Trip 7 - Flight

Well now that we've had a look at Mimic I feel satisfied in cranking out another Power Trip, looking at superpowers as they appear in Heroes and looking at where the ideas for these abilities come from, whether they are borrowed from other superheroes or an original creation of the show.

Well, no points for knowing that flight is a well established power within the superhero fratenity as it is a fascinating and clear way of showing that a person is 'something more'. When the show took us to a future where abilities where the norm, the quickest way of demoing this was by showing a bunch of people flying off.

The first character in the show to demonstrate this power is Nathan Petrelli, brother to Peter, discussed in the last power trip. Initially he vehemently denies his power, but is forced to expose it when his brother jumps of a rooftop convinced that he himself can fly. Nathan's power progresses over the series, showing that he can fly at near supersonic speeds, carry people over long distances and his landings improve also.

Flight powers tend to split into two categories: natural and self-propelled. Natural flight (my term) applies to flyers who have sprouted wings or other appendages, such as Angel from the X-Men. Another category I suppose is heroes who have built flying devices or suits, like Iron Man. Self-propelled is a more common category. The hero can, by an unseen force, simply lift themselves off the ground and fly away.

There is an iconic mythical reference to flight in the form of Icarus, who constructed wings for himself and could fly, his only flaw being in flying too high and melting his wings, ending his maiden voyage with a decisive crash back to Earth. Of course, at the time many of the Gods had domain over the air and had the power of flight as well as the superpowers of other legends.

The wish for flight is simple and powerful because it's one we've felt I think, who has looked at the birds and not once felt envy or never dreamed of soaring above the clouds. Men dreamed and put incredible energy into achieving the dream of flying machines that now take thousands of customers all across the world. It is a simple expression that really sums up all of the superpowers - the desire to be more than we are, to be able to do more than we can do. This is something of a selfish desire, ignoring the many great things humanity can already do and the accomplishments our race has made. Yet, perhaps it is right, to acknowledge that we could be much more - however I don't think the problem is a lack of wings...

As I said flight is common in the superhero world, with self-propelled flight becoming the norm and any number of heroes, old and new, possess the ability. I could mention some of the more famous names, but i think that would be insluting your intelligence so I'll just leave a picture if this guy, assume you were already thinking of him and leave it as 'nuff said.

Heroes has continued to exploit the flight power as mentioned and a few other heroes have exhibited the power, most notably West Rosen, a rather wooden character in my opinion, whose main reason for existence seems to be to fill the gap needed in each series of 'guy for Claire to snog' - he did come in to his own by the end of series 2 and they are making good use of the character in the comics at the moment. Peter frequently borrows the ability from his brother and 'Angie' a REBEL member (in the comics) also could fly away when needed.

It seems flight (self-propelled or not) will continue to be a common sight wherever superheroes are present. I think that's enough from me - a belated movie post coming soon, any high flyers we should know about Sam?

Friday, 14 August 2009

Doctor Who - New series, new species part 20

Wow! I've done twenty of these things now, whod've thought it eh? I'll also give a word out to Kelly, who'se now a follower on Blogger - thanks for reading Kelly!

With the next special still a bit of a way off we return again to the land of spin-offs, and the return of Torchwood to the small screen for a special mini-series detailing one event and shown (in the UK at least) every night for five succesive days. The nature of the show means I've only one beastie to talk about...but crikey, it's a good one!

From the snippets I saw from Comic-Con I'm assuming that this has already aired and that this post does not constitute spoilers for US fans, correct me if I'm wrong.

The 456

Wow! I'm not the biggest fan of Torchwood but they certainly delivered on this one - even the podcast boys agree! The show was excellent, delving into the depths the human race would go to if faced with ultimate crisis. Not only that but they introduced one of the best Doctor Who villains in the new generation, something original and truly terrifying and something the Who world has needed for a while. As referred to in an earlier post the main show in particular relies on recurring classic monsters for it's big moments and have failed to create original monster that have the same level of menace, or if they do they kill them off within an episode or two. This was something different, this was intriguing, terrifying, and it lasted more than two episodes. The ides of shrouding it in smoke most of the time and not even revealing it's true name was sheer genius, making it scary when the beast seemed to randomly puke up for no reason and made it's eerie demands - good on you Who team, now let's have one for the main show eh?

Actually, this monster wouldn't work on the main show because the doctor would just find his sonic screwdriver and find a non-lethal way to dispatch it, being just human the Torchwood team had to go through real sacrifice to take down this monster, which made thrilling viewing.

The 456 is a code name given to a species that had contatc with Earth on at least two occasions. The name was given based on a carrier frequency they used to communicate and the species adopted this as their name when they visited, choosing to keep their real identity secret. They were large and green in colour with three 'heads' that looked like scorpion tails and they lived in an atmosphere of deadly gases. In 1965 they communicated with the British government to offer the cure to a potential pandemic at the price of 12 children, Torchwood were ordered to comply and Jack Harkness made the trade. Decades later they returned, demanding 10% of all Earth's children and threatening to destroy the planet if the Government didn't comply, their technology allowed them to speak by controlling children, which frightened the governments of the world into submission. Despite being sealed in a tank containing their atmosphere they were able to counterattack and defend themselves against Torchwood and those who tried to stop them. It was revealed that they wanted the children because of certain chemicals they gave off and were essentially addicted to them. They nearly completed their scheme until Torchwood found how to reverse a deadly frequency through children to hurt the species - they quickly retreated and haven't been seen since.

Well with the events that went on who knows if we'll be seeing any more of the Torchwood team and the monsters they battle with, but with another special and more Sarah Jane Adventures upcoming it won't be long before I'm bringing you some fresh new aliens right here on Blogga

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Game Review: Too Human

I've got a few posts that need catching up on, Sam's helped me with our Power Trip posts and a new one of those will be on the way shortly, but for now I'm going to tell you about one of the video games I've been playing. I can't say recently as it's been a while since I completed this and I've gone through a few others since, but I'll get this one out of the way before getting on to more recent titles. I bought this game as a way to force myself to branch off from only buying franchise games such as Halo and Star Wars games and get into something original, and it's kinda worked, with a few more SF titles in my collection.

Rough Plot

So this game is an interpretation of Norse mythology, following the story of Baldur, the central character. An army of evil machines has been attacking the human settlements and it is up to the Gods to defend them. Baldur tracks one machine, Grendel, to a nightclub and battles it as it feasts on human flesh, eventually driving it away by severing it's arm. This leads to a wider conspiracy as Baldur leads his men deep into enemy territory, battling machine goblins and dark elves and even rogue Gods. Baldur must also journey into cyberspace to speak to the NORNS and solve puzzles to unlock doors and pathways in the real world. Most of this plot is being orchestrated by Loki, who has allied himself with his machines and plans to bring destruction to Asgard.


The game uses the controls in a different way than expected, which takes a bit of getting used to. The game plays as more of a 'dungeon crawler' than traditional fighting game, more akin to games like Diablo than your average RPG or shooter. You have a distant over the shoulder camera to give you a clear aerial view of your character as you battle hordes of monsters. The most unusual thing is using the stick for combat, an appendage normally resevred solely for movement or camera control, now you use one stick to move and the other to attack, which is confusing, but gives you the advantage of being able to precisely place your sword blows. There are plenty of tricks to learn by making wide sweeps, or 'juggling' - knocking an enemy into the air then keeping them suspended by shooting them with your guns.
However, while there is a variety of attacks, there are only so many ways you can use them and the levels are very long and linear, which can make for tedious gameplay. There is enough veriety in enemies, but the levels are so long you end up fighting the same type of baddie a lot towards the end. The scenery is immense and each level has a distinct syle, but again the sheer length of the levels makes it tedious towards the end. Death sparks off a cinematic of a Valkyire carrying you off into Valhalla, but then it drops you back into the action, meaning death has no consequences besides a short delay, which meant there was no incentive to stay alive so I'd just charge recklessly into a fight, use all my special attacks, take out as many enemies as possible, die, then come back and finish them off.

Sci-Fi stuff

Trolls and Goblins

Too Human's clever gimmick is reinterpreting the whole of Norse mythology as a Sci-Fi adventure. The Gods are cybernetically enhanced soldiers, Asgrad is a literally digital fortress and the goblins and trolls you meet are robotic enemies. The Goblins of the game are clever as they are truly goblin-like in form, skulking around and striking from the shadows, trolls are giant mechanoids swinging crushing hammers and dark elves are four legged monstrosities that are still strangely elegant and even have bows as their primary weapon.
I found this to work very well and created an exciting world and a great way to explore Norse mythology.


Another cool element in Too Human is that you visit Cyberspace, another SF interpretation of the Norse myths. The famous 'world tree' is now a giant server of sorts, with roots and branches comprised of immense data cables. Within this other realm lie the NORNS, artificial intelligences that store ancient data and can also provide access to the machinery and technology you encounter through remote interfaces known as wells. You are transported from an ice palace or tech noir citadel to green fields and rivers and consult the cyber witches for advice or solve puzzles to open doorways. In cyberspace you can move object with your mind, lifting them, pushing them and. later in the game, setting fire to them which makes for interesting gameplay and a break from the army of goblins that are sure to be around the corner.

Worth Playing?

Yes and no. I enjoyed this game and I'm glad I bought it. You can probably pick it up quite cheaply now and at resell price it probably is worth a punt, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.
The story and setting are excellent, with great cinematics and a very novel idea for the game. The gameplay is intriguing, but gets very tedious and you get quite detatched from the action as if you're fighting your way to the next cinematic, which then reminds you what the story's about and gets you excited for a while until the next long, combat-laden road. The cinematics are epic and well worth seeing, but the gameplay in between them is a little too long in my opinion and finally getting the movie is a great reward, but it sometimes comes too late - unlike say Halo Wars which has brilliant cinematics and well paced varied levels so you're not waiting too long for the next movie.
So if you dig cool technology, norse gods and interesting gameplay pick it up, at a reasonable price of course!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Sam's Power Trip Follow Up - Empathy, Power Acquisition

Firstly, I apologize for the delay in writing this post.
Aside from Rogue, there are a multitude of comic heroes with this power. I'll leave her out as she seems to be fairly well known. Instead i'll go through the history of a lesser known charater, who is quite familiar to me as the first X-Men comics I read were collections of the original series.

As you can probably tell from the image and his name, Mimic mimics his fellow heroes' powers. He was the first X-Man to be added to the original line up, however he didn't stay long. After being expelled after a fight with Cyclops he still managed to save the team from death in a battle against some roboty plot device character that robbed him of his powers.
However, his powers returned, but began draining the life force out of those he mimics, thus putting a hold on his hero activities for a while.
He had his chance again in a fight with the Hulk, but as the Hulk is a source of limitless energy it overloaded him and put him into a coma which lasted for years. This ended when Wolverine walked past him and gave him his regenerative powers. He is now a member of Norman Osborns' Dark X-Men.
His powers are limited to range, unlike most. However this means he can absorb and use a huge amount of powers if his opponents are within around a mile radius. He also absorbs their knowledge of their powers, meaning he can use their powers with the same level of skill instantaneously. Wouldn't that be fun to see in Heroes? Proximity to powered heroes for long periods of time results in him absorbing their powers permanently, thus he has the powers of the original X-Men and it could be argued Wolverine's. The New Dark X-Men contain some very powerful mutants, including Namor, Daken (Son of Wolverine), and Emma Frost.
Interestingly, Weapon Omega is also on the team, who also has power mimicry (I smell a Sitcom!) which should give us an interesting fight when Mimic realises he's not on the good team, and that "Professor X" is actually Mystique.
There's a multitude of other heroes with Power Acquisition etc. such as Meggan (Captain Britain's wife), Awesome Andy, the Impossible Man and an anti-hero called Terror, who absorbs powers and talents through his victims' dismembered limbs. I won't go through them all, but you get the idea. I like how most of the writers (and most of them are Marvel, there's not as many in the DC universe) make good use of these characters, there's a high chance of their appeal going stale, but using them sparingly is working so far. And the use of Weapon Omega as the Collective after Decimation made a pretty good read.
Well, sorry for holding up all the follow up posts Aled, 'till next time.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Matrix: Retirement

Tyndall wants you to join the fight!

Or rather she did. As of Today, The Matrix Online is now closed and players from around the world can no longer log on and jack in to fight for the Machines, the Merovingian, New Zion, The Cypherites or E Pluribus Neo. It's been a great, four year journey, but due to internal difficulties and lack of revenue (I presume) the game has had to close.

It never was the dream it should have been, for whatever reason uptake was not as high as initially planned for, this meant cutbacks and reductions in the amount of mission and epic events that were planned.

But the reduced team persevered, restructuring the way the program went so that we got regular mission updates and a rolling programme of "Live Events" featuring key characters from the Matrix and involving anything from large scale battles to diplomacy. The dedication of the team was evident, when after funding ran out for cinematics, the lead developer drew and animated new ones himself for two chapters.

There were moments of great excitement - a rogue Sentinel army led by a program known as the General kidnapped Sati, and her absence of weather control turned the sky red permanently. The machines eventually defeated him by attacking his base 'Stalingrad' with a huge army of Sentinels and Sati was recovered.

Seraph was infected with a code and began attacking redpills, it was eventually revealed that these people had been 'overwritten' by machine programs, used to spy on Zion and other organizations.

The Machines discovered the hidden human city of New Zion and declared war on humanity once again. They attacked Zion, but the new city is much better defended and far harder to penetrate.

A group of humans, calling themselves the Oligrachs, arrived on the scene, possessing the power to override and control the Machines and seeming to have some kind of agreement with them as equal powers. Unfortunately we never got to find out what happened next and so the story came to an abrupt close.

A key developer had to leave, and this stalled all stoyline progression - the main element of the game, interest declined, no new progress was made and eventually the decision was made to call it a day.

There was some fun to be had on the way out - they turned on the normally seasonal Halloween and Christmas events allowing us to participate in zombie hunts, sinowball fights and obtain cool costumes. They bumped every player to level 99 (the normal max is 50) allowing easy access to a number of missions and quests. And set off a number of event related items such as code bombs, which was cool for me as I'd never seen them before. I stuck around to the end, partying on top of one of the monuments in the city and then, with a final server crash, it was over.

Thanks for the memories MxO!!