Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Dental Power!!

Oh yeah!

I've wanted to talk about Sci-Fi clichés for a bit, and in a brief, ill researched way, I'm going to talk about one that always tickles me as a way to add a tad more diversity to the ol' blog.

OK, what I want to talk about is the power of a main character in a film/tv show to overcome any odds by gritting their teeth - honestly it's like their Hollywood-whitened pearlies have some kind of superpowers.

Seriously, it doesn't matter whether the hero has had a building fall on them, been injected with elephant tranquilizer or had a hypnotic blast that is absolutely guaranteed to make them fall in love with the slug warriors of Varlgacb that cast it (that last one's mine, and it's copyright OK?) all they have to do is look at their comrades, maybe give their head a thought0clearing shake and then grimace for all their worth and they're bound to come through.

My favourite example of this is in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where the eponymous warlord chucks some Ceti eels down the ears of a few cast members. One is an admiral, but not from the Enterprise - the other is Chekhov. The thing about Ceti eels is they get into your brain, cause you a lot of pain and kill you - guaranteed. The creepy thing bores into Admiral Redshirt's cerebelum and does it's thing, resulting in a dead admiral - one goes to work on Chekhov, but all the plucky lad has to do is grit those teeth and...

...pop goes the weevil! (eeewww grosss!)

Who knows, maybe as humanity slowly blazes it's trail across the stars what we really need to survive in the depths of space is a decent dental program - that or we only send recognizable Hollywood stars with the right training to fight the horde of terrifying beasts that await.

Friday, 25 September 2009

SF at the movies - September 09

It's getting late, but I've had a few other posts to churn out so I hope you don't mind this post turning up now - at least it's in the right month for a change!!

Anyway - here's what's on your geeky big screens this month

District 9

Released 4/9/09

The 'one to see' undoubtedly. District 9 introduces fresh director Neil Blomkamp, once slated for the Halo movie, with his original masterpiece. The story mixes up a documentary style to begin with, gradually building into a full on action thriller. In the story an unknown alien race, dubbed 'Prawns', arrive on Earth in a damaged spaceship above Johannesburg. The authorities quickly establish 'District 9' a housing settlement to keep the aliens away from the general population. But District 9 hold a lot of secrets and as a special agent travels into district 9 and comes into close contact with the aliens he travels down a dangerous journey and finds more answers than he was looking for.


Released 16/09/09

An interesting concept this one - a near future where video game players can experience the ultimate thrill, controling and playing with a real human being in an ultra-violent shoot 'em up. The characters in this new game are all death row convicts, so their loss won't exactly be mourned - but they play for the chance to win the ultimate prize - freedom. If you think you've heard it before it's because you have, it's not a new plot line, but it is being done in a somewhat original manner. The hero is a 'character' who wants to get out of the game to be reunited with his family. There are meant to be extreme violence and sex references in this film, intriguing as a way of exploring how deep we will go for the ultimate thrill, but making it not quite my cup of tea.


Released 25/9/09

Again an interesting concept, running on similar lines to Gamer in the 'what will we do to ourselves in the future' kind of thing. In this world, most humans plug into robotic 'surrogates' to live out their lives, leaving them free of disease, the danger of accidents and able to pursue any lifestyle they want without harm. When a successful homicide occurs, the first one in years, a detective must unravel the secrets behind surrogacy to find how it happened and unravel a bigger mystery as he does so. I'm not completely convinced, but I am intrigued.

OK that's it, I'm not sure if 'Whiteout' has Sci-Fi elements to it, but it may be worth a watch - more movies soon

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Dark Forces - Steam Powered!

Quite possibly the greatest games related news to reach my screen, rivalled only by the words 'your order has been dispatched' (in relation to Halo:ODST).

Many of you will not remember the DOS era, but of that time, one game stands out for me and that is Star Wars: Dark Forces. At the time pretty much every game I had was a Star Wars title and pretty great fun they were too. I never managed to buy this one, but my cousin lent it too me and I played the game (which was old, even by the standards of the day) all the way through and it was one of the most thrilling experiences I've ever had on a computer and I can still remember the levels vividly.

But of course they stopped selling it a long time ago, and it's hardly compatible with modern tech anyway. So I was content to live with just the memories of a great game.

The legacy lives on, of course, in the creation of Kyle Katarn, the protagonist of the game. Kyle went on to star in a sequel Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight where he picks up a lightsaber and takes on a host of Dark Jedi. An expansion and two more titles followed in the modern PC Gaming era, cementing Kyle's popularity as a Star Wars figure and one of my personal favourite expanded universe characters.

Well, you might have guessed it - he's back. Lucasarts have teamed up with Steam, a games download service to bring back all the Kyle Katarn titles. You can buy them as a bundle with Kyle's other titles or if, like me, you have every other title you can lay your hands on you can buy each game individually. I bought and downloaded Dark Forces with ease and am reliving the memories big style thanks to Steam and possibly the best move Lucasarts have made since The Force Unleashed.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Stuff: Star Trek

Well I've decided to do something new as I'm fast becoming predictable, though this will end up likely being another series of semi-regular postings, that or fading into obscurity - time will tell. I also decided it was time to be a bit more geeky!! I've made my attempts to be a bit more analytical with some success and I think there's definitely room for that, but not at the expense of going "wow that was sooo coool!" and so I'm resorting to this post, which I'm labelling 'Stuff' to celebrate the amazing new ships, tech, aliens etc. that appear in new media focusing, for the time being, on movies. These posts will focus on movies a few months old so as to allow the relevant wikis and fan sites the time to get decent images and facts.

First up is the new Star Trek film, which recast the original crew and has 'rebooted' the series with a time-travel induced series of plot twists. It also introduced us to a great bunch of new spaceships!! By the way this will constitute spoilers for people who are waiting for the DVD.


This image is concept art, but I can't find many images of the full ship and I guess you've seen the promo images from the film anyway. With the Federation ships beinbg designed in 'classic' style this was a great way to put something new and alien into the movie. The long, spiky tendrils just screamed menace and the sheer size of the thing made me gawp first time it appeared. The later revelation that it was a mining ship - but a super advanced mining ship from the future made it fit even better. It set up the conflict well, even with the Enterprise in command, this was way out of their league. I love seeing original designs that can be cooked up be creative teams and don't stick to what we expect in ship design, this definitely pushed the boat out in creativity I felt.
There isn't much in terms of technical information on this ship other than what you see in the movie - one source claims the ship was upgraded with modified Borg technology, explaining it's appearance.

USS Kelvin

The team did create some great new Federation starships too. The USS Kelvin, commanded by Kirk's father was prominently featured at the start and was a fun mix of old and new. There was the classic round disk, but it featured 'top and bottom' nacelles, which marked it out from previous ships. Seeing new Federation designs is always a treat, from the first time I saw Voyager or Enterprise - E and then spotting my first Akira class in a movie was fun and so to be treated to a new class of ship right at the start was fantastic.
For geeks like me who love to know in-universe info: This ship is a Kelvin - class starship (presumably making it the first of it's type) which has a crew of 800 and used primarily as a survey ship.


Another ship from the future, belonging to 'Spock Prime'. It was a smaller, one man craft and had gryoscoping sections that rotated as it glided through space like it's namesake. I thought this worked well, like the Narada as it just yelled 'other' at you and could not be attributed to the designs of Federation or other ships from the present era. It had an interesting set of weaponry and proved a decent match for the enemy vessel despite it's size. I enjoyed this innovative spaceship design.
Not much info on this one either. It is a prototype designed by the Vulcan Science Academy and described as their fastest ship. It was designed to be able to transport 'red matter' to create black holes and stop dangerous supernovas.

And that's enough on spaceships for now, before moving on I'll just leave you with two images, one of a spacedock and one of a Federation fleet.

OK one more thing before I ramble on too long - aliens!! Now I wouldn't rank Star Trek the highest in alien race creation, most species look like humans with funny bone structure, but they have put real effort into the personality and background of each of their races...and they also make some pretty darn good monsters!!


This monster had everything you need, big teeth, large limbs and a way of catching you even after you think you've gotten away. Again the creature had a fairly original design with a pink body unusual for it's snowy domain and large gangly limbs. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was designed by the guy Abrams hired to create Cloverfield in his hit movie and you can see some similarities. But it was no copy of Clover and made for a good chase sequence across the snow.

I hope I wasn't too rambly here, I hope it was fun anyway. Possibly more 'Stuff' on the way soon!

And I'd also like to thank Memory Alpha the Star Trek Wiki for the info and some images as well as Ex Astris Scientia a Star Trek fan site which had a lot of good ship info.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Star Wars Legacy: The Moff Council

Well there's gonna be a fair bit of Legacy content coming up as I'm a few story arcs behind with my reviews. Also I can confirm that, after posting the 'Cade's Journey' post, Legacy series artist Jan Duursema has actually read this blog - oh yeah, you're among the greats here on Blogga!!

Well it'd be nice to draw a bit more attention with a project like that, but for now I'll return to my usual run of introduction, with thanks and borrowing from Wookiepedia. I'm going to introduce you to some more characters from Legacy. I'm focusing for a while on the Empire loyal to the Sith which rules the galaxy. While Krayt sits on the throne, the running of the Empire is still done by the old Moff Council, though they now serve the Sith's commands, albeit very grudgingly.

The Moffs

The structure off the Moffs has changed several times during the reign of the Empire. At the current time the council has six members, including one High Moff who rules the council. As per usual each of the Moffs governs a sector (as do lower ranking Moffs) but the Council Moffs are also responsible for an area of the Imperial rule.

Morlish Veed
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: High Moff, Grand Admiral of the Imperial Forces
First Appearance: Legacy # 1 (Broken, part 1)

Morlish Veed is High Moff of the council and is as ambitious as he is cunning. He rose through the ranks of the Imperial Navy until he reached the rank of Grand Admiral and became a Moff, earning his place on the council and becoming High Moff. He was an active figure and lead the fleet that defeated the Galactic Alliance navy at Caamas, winning the war for the Empire. He expected to be named Emperor, but the Sith claimed the throne for Darth Krayt. Veed has grudgingly served his new masters, but the council are eager to regain power and he is always looking for ways to undermine the Sith and become Emperor. He is involved with Moff Calixte, who is often the driving force behind his schemes and is happy to be 'the power behind the throne' while he seeks power. He indirectly aided the plan to free Cade Skywalker to deny the Sith his power, though he would have preferred him dead. He is continually looking for ways to gain power.


Species: Human
Sex: Male
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: Moff, Head of the Imperial Army
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)

Geist is a 'hardliner' Moff who looks back to the glory days of the Empire. He was a war-hungry Moff, who tired of the 'Victory without War' programme to peacefully bring planets to the Empire and was sick of Emperor Fel's manipulations and wanted the Moffs to have superiority. And so he supported the Sith-Imperial and stands by his decision, though he regrets the Sith rule that has come into place and further weakened their position as Moffs. He was irritated when the Sith dismissed the council after capturing Skywalker without telling them what happened, he argued with his fellow Moffs, even accusing Konrad Rus of being a spy.

Rulf Yage

Species: Human
Sex: Male
Position: Moff, Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)

Moff Yage was once a lead fighter pilot in the Imperial Navy, commanding the elite Skull Squadron tasked with protecting the Imperial Capital and key personnell as well as take on special missions. His skill was such that he rose within the navy, becoming responsible for co-ordinating starfighter tactics and eventually becoming Grand Admiral and Moff. He was involved with Moff Calixte who bore him a daughter, Gunn, shortly before leaving him for Moff Veed. His last act in the war was to lead the atack on the Jedi temple, for which he was named 'hero of Ossus', however the devastating massacre of the Jedi crushed Yage and he was never the same afterwards. He was hard on his daughter, raising her like the son he wanted, and she eventually earned her place as leader os Skull Squadron. Yage was responsible for co-ordinating starfighter flights on the capital and when, as part of the plot to free Skywalker, he was ordered to recall fighters from the temple he complied.

Konrad Rus

Species: Human
Sex: Male
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: Moff, Head of the Imperial Mission
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)

Moff Rus is responsible for the Imperial Mission, a movement set up by the first Emperor of the Fel dynasty. The Mission serves as a peacful way of bringing species and worlds to the Empire as part of the 'Victory Without War' programme. Rus co-ordinates the various 'missionary' stations and secures funding and resources to aid worlds for the Empire. The missionaries embody peace and so he wears a white analogue the the Imperial Military uniforms the rest of the Moffs wear. While seen as part of the old regime, and indeed he maintains contact with a number of Fel's supporters, his loyalty is to the throne and he betrayed princess Fel's location to the Sith after it was told to him by Missionary Vao, though he tried to ensure that Krayt would not harm the girl. He continues to serve, though he is isolated from the rest of the council, who don't trust his contacts with Fel.


Species: Chiss
Sex: Male
Homeworld: Csilla (?)
Position: Moff, Head of the Diplomatic Corps
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)

'Fehlaaur' is a Moff who serves on the council as a fully fledged member yet also is made useful because of his connection to the Chiss Ascendancy, to secure the formal alliance between the two groups. As head of the Diplomatic Corps he is responsible for the alliances between such groups and other neutral parties like Hapes. Before the war he also worked with the Corps, having dealings with Jedi such as Kol Skywalker. Fehlauur managed to remain calm during heated council debates, bearing accusations against the Ascendancy for harbouring former Emperor Fel.

Nyna Calixte

Species: Human
Sex: Female
Homeworld: Unknown
Position: Moff, Director of Imperial Intelligence
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
- as Corde #9 (Trust Issues, part 1)

The most complicated and intriguing of all the Moffs, her story and ambitions have shaped the actions of many around her, yet so little about her is known. What's complicated is that she lives two lives, one as Moff, the other as one of her own agents, Morrigan Corde. Morrigan Corde is an out of service agent that does freelance work, she was also involved with Kol Skywalker while on a joint mission and secretly married him and had a child called Cade, living with him for two years until she was recalled by the Empire. As Calixte she married Yage and had a daughter with him, Gunn, before moving on to Veed because her marriage wasn't working and also to further her own goals. She brought the Sith into the war because the Empire was losing against the Jedi. She was angry when the Sith attacked Ossus and suspected that Krayt wanted the throne. To counter this she enabled Emperor Fel to escape, creatinga counterbalance that meant the Sith needed the Moffs to hold the loyalty of the Empire. She brought 'Morrigan' back into action when the Sith went after Cade and prevented the Sith from finding him (while also sabotaging an alliance between Fel's Empire and the Galactic Alliance) and later rescued him, utilising both the Moffs and Cade's crew in her plan. What her plans or loyalties are, no one knows, but she will always be one to watch in the unbforlding saga of Legacy.

Morrigan Corde

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Halo: We Are ODST

I don't often post up to the minute stuff here - even my 'Movies this month' posts are usually late!! I generally prefer to take my time and post up things of interest as they come. But for once I'll pop up something you might like - this is a live action short film designed to promote the new game Halo 3: ODST. A similar work was done for Halo 3 by Neil Blomkamp, who was slated to produce the Halo movie and went on to make the epic District 9, so these things are no amature projects I assure you.

Anyway I'll get on and let you watch the movie shall i?

Both this and Halo: Landfall are available on Xbox Live and most likely on YouTube by now. ODST is released September 21st.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Too Human: Gods and Guns

OK, so I've been doing these follow-up posts for games since the Assassin's Creed review and I think it's a good way to get into wider issue that impact, or are touched upon by gaming. At the same time, however, I don't want to force the issue, and I did feel my Halo post was a little laboured, so I'm changing the set=up slightly to include more general Sci-Fi issues and clichés that may come up as well as more serious social/religious themes that games may present, so here's my attempt at perhaps a more balanced approach.

Guns, honestly?

A cool feature of Too Human is also one of it's greatest weaknesses as a piece of Sci-Fi with integrity. That feature is to give the player and characters guns. It's initially quite cool to go around as Baldur, the norse god weilding your laser cannon or dual pistols. But then, you start to think about it and you have to ask - why? Aside from the fact it's instantly recognizable, makes familiar gameplay and that guns feature in pretty much every game ever made - does it really belong here? The rest of it fits so perfectly, the Gods are cybernetically enhanced, the world tree is a super-computer, the goblins and elves are robots - yes, this a technological past, but it meshes so well with the myth that you can believe that the story was twisted as society became more primitive.

Where to guns fit in, surely there's be some reference to 'firesticks' or something similar in the old tales, but no the Gods and their enemies do battle with swords, axes and hammers, not repeaters. The human armies are also equipped with these weapons, which further deadens the illusion. But it's so close to what I think it believable, the berserkers carry axes, the swords are technologically advanced and can shoot energy, the dark elves even carry high powered bows. All this can be accounted for as ancient weaponry or magic.

Do I blame Too Human for their decision? No. Guns feature far too commonly in games, comics and TV because we see them as the epitomy of technology and we are too lazy to imagine something more advanced or different. There was a good opportunity to try here, but unfortunately they didn't take it.

On a lighter note - the gun gameplay was pretty darn cool and the targeting system worked well, especially when shooting specific limbs off trolls and things, so it wasn't bad at all in gameplay terms it must be said!!

So, what's the deal with Thor?

Thor is ever-present in popular media it seems. When you need to bang in a mythical character into your game, comic book or TV series, Thor is the go-to guy. Thor has been a popular figure, with Marvel comics creating their version where the hammer Mjolnir imbues power to it's ordinary user - there's even a movie adaptation on it's way soon. Even new original comic series The End League feature's their version of Thor in the opening issues and Mjolnir as a central plot point.

Now I can hardly have a go at Too Human for including Thor, the game is of course about Norse mythology and I think they do a good job of interpreting and characterising the God in the game - so don't think this is all complaints!! I'm rather addressing the God's prevalence in other media, though his prevalance in the game must be noted. Why is it, when we want a mysterious hero, a leader, a figure of power we so often go for Thor?

One of my friends is obsessed with Thor, if he could choose to be a hero, he would be Thor - but why? Because Thor is raw energy, a being who can clobber his way through anything wielding a magic hammer. Sounds cool doesn't it? But is that what we really need? Which of the world's problems could really be solved by shooting lightning from a hammer wielded by a God who speaks in monosyllables? Thor exists for battle, and so needs for there to be a battle for him to be any use - to have him around and on your side requires for you to face battle all your life, something which the Norse held to and romantics might believe. But how many of us face battles, and how many of those who do sit and pray for a better warrior? No. The hero we need is one who can touch our lives in all circumstances, and who will ultimately bring an end to all war by wielding ultimate power over all armies and rulers.

Well I hope that's of interest at least, anything I'm not clear on please leave a comment.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Star Wars Legacy: Cade's Journey

I was gonna do this a bit later, when hopefully I'll be covering the planets in Legacy, but for now there's still a bunch of characters I wanna introduce you to so that'll have to wait methinks. But I want to share this elsewhere and I need a URL to do that so I figured what the hey, upload it here.

I bought the new Essential Atlas which details the Star Wars Galaxy and I figured it's be interesting to plot where Cade had travelled to during the series and see how far and wide his travels took him.

I hope it's clear enough, follow the straight line from Ossus to Lok to start with then hopefully it should be clear.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Heroes: Destiny

A while back I posted up the Heroes webseries (or 'webisodes') which told the story of new hero Echo de Mille and his clash with the company. Since then there have been a number of other webisodes introducing characters and giving backstory on others.

This series was based on a 'choose your hero' interactive game on the main website where users could design and create a new hero, giving them a name, look power etc. Then they could vote on which they thought was best and the winner, Santiago, is the hero of this online video series.

There are a number of fun things on the website that you can access, giving you an insight into the wider world of the heroes. You can look at secret files on the Primatech site, look at personal websites for Claire, Hiro, Nikki and Mohinder and catch up on an ARG lead by Hana Gittleman who had a cameo in the first series.

There's plenty ongoing at the site - regular free online comics which give a far greater story to what's going on, currently going into more of how REBEL was founded and the action Micah and his group took against Building 26. There are also iStories, featuring main and side characters and giving you the choice of where to take the action. And most recently Survival, a game where you keep your own hero alive, join a faction and if you're lucky you might even feature in the storyline!!

Anyway, back to the webisodes - i couldn't find a combined video so I'll give it to you in it's four parts.

1. Let Us Pray

2. Intervention


4. Escape

I think I've said enough so I'll leave it at that, do check out the wider world of Heroes online.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

SF at the Movies - August 09

Yes, I know it's September alright, but you can allow a guy a few days slip right, plus most August films should still be available for your viewing for a few more days at least. I also have to apologise for missing Moon out of the last post - and for missing it at the cinema!! Right, anyway let's be moving on.

G.I. Joe: The rise of COBRA

Released 07/08/09

Another classic toy based movie hot on the heels of Transformers 2, and bringing the big action-SF summer to a neat close. The film follows two soldiers as they are initiated into elite military unit G.I. Joe after the theft of a deadly weapon. They become acquainted with guns, advanced fighting vehicles and accelerator suits as they become fully fledged members of the over-powered military unit and take the fight to the COBRA forces assembled to fight them, finding betrayal, revenge and lost love along the way. This won't win any OSCARS, but it's a good laugh and a fun flick with enough gadgets and tight-fitting combat suits to keep any geek occupied for it's duration.

The Time Traveler's Wife

Released 14/08/09

I'm intrigued by this one, though I fear I may miss it. The plot tells of a girl who falls in love with a man who suffers from a curious condition, he randomly travels in time, unable to control where he goes or how far into the future or past he will go. The story tells of how these two struggle to make a life and a family together and account for his condition. Based on a best-selling book it looks to be an interesting love story with a Sci-Fi twist.

and there's erm...

Aliens in the Attic

Released 14/08/09

This is the movie telling the story of an alien invasion that comes via the attic of an American family containing a squad of rather plucky children. The diminutive aliens exert a mind-control weapon, controlling all the adults, but leaving children exempt from their control (in a bizarre contrast to Torchwood: Children of Earth) and able to take the fight back to the invaders. Starring Ashley Tisdale of High School Musical fame this is sure to be... a film.