Lagging behind as ever, this is one of the latest series from Dark Horse, set pretty soon after the destruction of the Death Star, with the Rebels hunting for a new base and our familiar characters struggling with their place in the galaxy, Luke has lost everything he ever knew, Leia had her homeworld destroyed before her very eyes and Han can't quite figure out what he's doing among all these foolhardy rebels.
Occupation: Imperial Colonel, lead pilot
Bircher is an exceptionally gifted Imperial, a talented pilot, leading squadrons of the new TIE Interceptors in his distinctive red flightsuit and also experienced in commanding a Star Destroyer. Due to his success in hounding the Alliance, he was given command of the Devastator, formerly Vader's flagship.
Birra Seah Species: Human
Occupation: Systems designer, Kuat Drive Yards / Temporary Moff
A designer for Kuat Drive Yards, Vader sensed potential in her (and the force) and place her in command of the Second Death Star project as his emmisary.
One of the new 'stealth squadron' formed by Leia and Mon Mothma to operate off the books in the search for a new base of operations and to find the spy leaking information to the Empire. There are several pilots in the squadron, but Prithi is the only one who stands out in this arc, she has a strong attachment to Luke, which causes tension between her and Leia.
I've added a map as per usual, but a lot of the action takes place in deep space so I haven't done my usual spaghetti of lines across the map.
The Rebel Alliance have scored their greatest victory over the Empire with the destruction of the Death Star, but also their greatest loss, with the location of their base revealed they must yet again retreat to space. Scouts are sent out to search for new worlds, with Leia, Luke and Wedge heading up the search, but with every planet they visit, they find the Empire right behind them. Aware that a mole may be within their ranks Mon Mothma establishes a squadron to work off the books to find a new world and root out the mole, but still the Empire dogs all their footsteps, causing a showdown between the squadron and an Imperial Star Destroyer that they barely survive! Meanwhile Han Solo head to Coruscant for a deal on behalf of the Rebellion that goes downhill, with Imperials and Boba Fett on his tail and Vader, overseeing the construction of a new Death Star is troubled by a name he has not heard for a long time...
This is an ongoing story, which takes time to deal with the reactions of the characters to the events of A New Hope as well as providing plenty of action and adventure.
I'm loving the new series from Marvel and Joss Whedon, set in the Avengers Universe, with relevant references to the movies, grounding it in the same timeline, but also brand new characters and missions giving it the strength to stand on it's own.
I plan on doing some sort of review (by which I mean geeking out over the cool new stuff in it!!) sometime around the mid-way point in a few weeks time, but to save time when I get there I thought it'd be good to introduce the key agents involved and thankfully Marvel have done my job for me with a set of 'level 7' videos introducing each character, their skills and history and the actor's own reflections on them.
I'm persisting in continuing my playthrough of Halo 4 long after I finished the campaign. There seem to be rumours/news that the 'Halo' shown at E3 isn't actually Halo 5 but another installment in a larger saga. We'll see how that turns out, but it'll depend opn when I eventually get my grubby mits on an Xbox One.
As implied in the title, this mission is about John and Cortana going after the UNSC Infinity which has crashed on Requiem. As usual I'll slot in my updates here.
Otherwise known as Ur-Didact or 'Shadow-of-Sundered-Star' this figure was the leader of the Prometheans, a key element of the Forerunner military. The Didact was first mentioned in the terminals in Halo 3 and has his backstory further delved into in the Greg Bear novels, of which I've only read the first. Hidden in the bowels of Reqiuem this opponent of the Flood and the ancient humans has tricked John into resurrecting him from his Cryptum and has taken command of the Promethean Knights to take his revenge on his ancient enemy.
Lasky first appeared as a cadet in the live-action series 'Forward Unto Dawn' which I posted on my blog and is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD. Now having risen through the ranks he is second-in-command of the Infinity and running ground operations on Requiem. He is pleased to see that the Chief has survived and to have an opporunity to meet him again.
A Cryptum is a place of solitude where a disgraced Warrior of the Forerunners will spend an extended length of time, even centuries, in hibernation. When Didact was awoken from his Cryptum he was able to use it as a ship to travel around Requiem, it had powerful scanners and incredible speed, though it was vulnerable to heavy weapons fire such as a MAC blast.
This massive vessel is over five and a half thousand metres long and bristling with experimental engines, weapons and even carrying it's own escort fleet of frigates into battle. As well as a warship it is designed for scientific exploration with the latest equipment and teams of highly trained researchers to investigate the wealth of technological resources uncovered by the war.
A newaddition to the UNSC's arsenal of ground vehicles the Mantis is an exoskeleton capable of being operated by a single occupant to devstating effect. Equipped with a chain gun and a missile launcher. The vehicle can also launch physical attacks on any ground forces unfortunate enough to approach it.
A Promethean shotgun-type weapon. I have to say this was my least-favourite weapon because it looked and functioned exactly like a shotgun, particularly when reloading it. I know it has to be balanced because of multiplayer etc. but I thought for an alien weapon it was just a bit too human.
Another addition to the UNSC's store of weapons the railgun accelerates a projectile to devastating speed. While requiring a short time to charge it is deadly against infantry and light vehicles when fired.
Scythe Anti-Aircraft Gun
Placed on the outside of the Infinity's hull this weapon could function both in atmosphere and space firing at a rapid rate to drive away enemies. John activated these weapons to repel Covenant forces from the downed Infinity.
Lance Guided Missile Launcher
Used to defend various facilities and warships, these missiles when activated by John repelled incoming Phantoms approaching the Infinity. There was also an Onager MAC turret mounted on the hull, which was used to repel the Didact's Cryptum.
Following the Didact across Requiem, John and Cortana find forces from the Infinity who are being overrun by pursuing Covenant and the native Prometheans, who have begun acting as allies against humanity. Eventually Chief meets up with Lasky and a detachment of Marines and Spartan-IVs who are pinned down on the surface. Fighting their way back to the Infinity Chief takes a Mantis to the hull and reactivates the defenses, repelling the invaders andf giving the UNSC Crew a chance to regroup and escape the surface. Reclaimer
As the Infinity lifts off, a company of it's forces are commited to taking out the powerful Forerunner cannons preventing their movement.
Andrew Del Rio
Commanding officer of the Infinity, he has a reputation for ensuring that hjis ships come back from battle in one piece. Tasked with leading the converted warship on a science expedition to locate the remaining Halo rings and study them to ensure they will no longer activate he and his crew were lead to Requiem.
Sarah Palmer is commanding officer of all the Spartans aboard Infinity deploying Fireteams to key situations across Requiem. She is a skilled combatant able to work independently as well as lead her force of super-soldiers
The new generation of Spartans, enhahnced from adult volunteers instead of 'conscripted' children are the powerhouse of Infinity's forces. Chief assisted a force of Spartans in his mission. One gripe I did have was that all Spartas wore 'Recruit' armour, which made the look like ODSTs rather than something more definitive like the 'Warrior' armour seen above.
Wife of the Didact and in the end opposer of his plans to bring harm to humanity she was able to leave something of her essence behind on Requiem, this part of her recognized John as a reclaimer and aided him, also revealing the full extend of Didact's plan.
A suitable massive vehicle, eclipsing even the Elephant vehicle of Halo 3. A mobile command centre able to transport a whole company of soldiers around the battlefield and able to deploy support vehicles from it's lower deck. The vehicle even has it's own mini-MAC cannon capable of delivering massive damage.
A heavier Covenant dropship with powerful armaments and capable of travelling in space. Equipped with a powerful plasma beam, similar to that of a Scarab this larger vehicle could deploy a significant force quickly into a warzone and support them with heavy firepower.
Powerful Forerunner weapons, capable of doing immense damage even to starships, only heavy weapons fire could incapacitate them.
Chief, Cortana and Del Rio butt heads about what to do, with Del Rio arguing that they should leave Requiem, and Chief arguing that they should press their advantage against Didact. John joins Gypsy company and they head out and combat Covenant forces and Prometheans on the way to the particle cannons. Entering a Forerunner structure the Librarian informs John of the Composer a weapon used to turn humans into digital form, making them Promethean Knights. She also informed him of her plan to accelerate the evolution of humanity and triggered changes in John, including immunity to the composer. Returning to the ship, with the gravity well disabled, Del Rio makes ready to leave but Cortana shows her rampancy. Refusing to hand her over for examination Chief leaves the ship, opting to stay behind on the planet and stop Didact.
Wow it's been a long time since I did one of these, and the last one was a catchup too! Anyway here's what I was into over the summer break.
1) Man of Steel
I really enjoyed the Superman reboot. Not having read any Superman comics I didn't have any hangups going in and I thought the artifical birth/ trying to create Krypton on Earth was a good valid reason for Zod to fight Superman rather than simply wanting to conquer. The fights were suitably epic and the story held together well.
A teen Sci-Fi series, I was attracted by the plot of all adults (in fact everyone over 15) disappearing, which reminded me of The Tribe TV series, but the book stands on it's own. Some of the kids develop superpowers, some of the animals mutate and something worse is hidden in the darkness, not to mention the struggle for control. A force field traps all the kids in, similar to Under the Dome, but Stephen King endorses these books so I don't think the similarity is a problem for him!!
The latest arc of Dark Times follows K'Kruhk and the group of Padawans and younglings he has been trying to hide from the Empire. After being stranded on a remote moon and giving in to his savage nature to defend the Padawans from pirates the Jedi master now leads his weary group to a refugee camp, only to find more peril awaits them!!
Occupation: Jedi Youngling
One of the large group of Jedi younglings accompanying K'Kruhk on his journey this is the first time he is named.
Occupation: Jedi Master
OK, he's not a new character, having been a stalwart of the Republic comic series, but he's new to me!! Zao escaped Order 66 by virtue of the fact that he did not take part in the Clone Wars as a Jedi General and therefore easily blended in to the mass of refugees until the force brought him to K'Kruhk.
Occupation: Jedi Youngling
Sidirri was one of the younglings under K'Kruhk's care, however she had been deeply affected by the events that had occured since Order 66 and a distant member of the group of Jedi. Troubled what happened on Arkinnea she left the Jedi, with Zao following to try and help, and never returned
This vessel was used for planet-wide delivery of ore for processing, but was adapted by the Arkinnean militia for transporting refugees out of the crowded refugee camp.
Militia Patrol Vessel
This craft was used by the militia to patrol the planet and conduct operations, it could carry a complement of militia soldiers, touching down quickly and returning to the skies to patrol for enemies.
A primitive race with simple tool-building skills, these natives had interacted with ancient Jedi who had built a temple on their world and when K'Kruhk and Zao demonstrated the use of the force and their lightsabers they chose to ally with his group, remembering what the Jedi had done for them in the past and they aided the fledgling Jedi group establish a home on their world.
(I don't have co-ordinates for this planet as it's new, so no map for this post I'm afraid!)
Arkinnea was a remote planet in Expansion Region, which K'Kruhk sought as a potential place for his younglings to rebuild their lives. However Arkinnea was overrun with refugees for both sides of the conflict and became a boiling pot of tensions controlled by Imperials with a local militia running operations on the ground.
A long time in the past Arkinnea had been home to a Jedi Outpost and the native species recognized the Jedi.
K'Kruhkbrings his younglings to Arkinnea in the hope of terutrning them to normality and a civilized life, but instead finds a refugee camp run by Imperials and resentful militia men. In the camp they find Master Zao, who was led to them by the force and who has sensed danger in the camp and leads them out again to the wilds. While searching for a new home they discover the nature of the danger - the militia are dealing with the refugees by carrying them in an ore carrier then dropping them to their deaths. K'kruhk puts a stop to their plan, but draws the attention of the militia and also the local Imperial officer. They have a standoff with the local natives and the militia, but Sidirri, affected by what she has seen, strikes out with the force in anger and ends the conflict. The Imperial officer brings justice to the militia, then catches up with K'kruhk, revealing that he still believes in the Jedi and sends aid when he can, allowing the Jedi to build a new life on a remote part of the planet.
Meanwhile on Coruscant, Darth Vader continues to train the bounty hunter Falco Sang to hunt down Jedi for him.
Wow! July just came and went, but with the arrival of the summer holidays normal service has been suspended, though I hope to resume more regular posting over the next few weeks if the return to work allows time for it!!
Anyway, at the very last minute but here's what is up on silver screens this month
Kick-Ass 2 (not strictly SF, but superhero comic-book adaptations qualify I think!)
And that's your lot! Sorry again for missing July out!!
OK so finally continuing with my progress in Halo 4, I have now completed all Spartan Ops chapters so have 'fully' completed the game. I've been meaning to continue posting for a while, but what with E3 the blog has been somewhat saturated with Halo content recently so I thought I'd give this post a bit of breathing room.
As in the title this post covers the second and third playable missions of the game.
After the planet opens following the mysterious scan the wreckage of Forward Unto Dawn is sucked into the void along with several of the Storm Covenant fleet unlucky enough to be in it's gravitational field. John fails to reach an escape pod in time and falls through the portal into the planet's interior. Requiem is a Dyson Sphere with an hollow core and a planetary surface on the inside of the crust. New Enemies
OK so not a new type at all, but the redesign of the Zealot, especially with the 'eyes' on top of the helmet is pretty darn cool!!
AKA M739 Light Machine Gun this is a nifty new addition to the UNSC's arsenal a drum-magazine fe machine gun with a rapid fire-rate and a huge ammo reserve capable of taking down powerful enemies with sustained fire.
The Typew-55 Anti-Infantry Stationary Gun is the lastest incarnation of the Covenant turrets seen throughout the Halo series.
After recovering from their fall Chief and Cortana battle their way through the wreckage of several ships to try and find a Cartographer to explain where they are and if there is another way off the planet. Cortana tells Chief that she is nearing Rampancy, having been in service far longer than the expected 7 years of an AI. Chief plans to steal a ship and get back to Dr. Halsey who may be able to help Cortana. As they explore the Forerunner structuresthey find a reference to 'reclaimers' following the information they deduce that UNSC 'Infinity' has also found Requiem. Thye try to track down it's signal but are suddenly attacked by strange beings.
Chief jumps into a portal opened by Cortana and resumes his search for Infinity and a way off the planet.
Seemingly powerful Forerunner AI constructs similar to Sentinels, they have a far darker history to be revealed. They carry powerful weapons and have the ability to teleport at will and deploy Watchers from their backs for defense and support. They are dangerous alone and deadly in a group.
Dog-like Forerunner AIs these foes carry Forerunner weaponry in their 'mouths' and are capable of scaling walls and leaping to great heights to swarm a foe from all sides. They always deploy in packs using different tactics to wear down an enemy.
Flying Forerunner AIs these enemies can swarm an opponent but typically they are deployed to support Knights, with Knights able to carry them within their armour. As support they are most deadly, able to project hard light shields over Knights, catch and return thrown grenades and even resurrect fallen Knights.
I wasn't overly impressed with these weapons, sticky grenades and even frags are more effective weapons, while the pulse it emits is deadly it isn't too hard to avoid, even when launched from Promethean weapons. The grenade emits a powerful area of effect which weakens enemies and then detonates, sometimes incinerating it's victims.
This weapon is typically carried by Watchers and sometimes by Crawlers, in human hands it can function as a rapid-fire pistol, shooting bolts of hard-light (the standard Promethean amunition) at an enemy. It is a multifunction weapon and can also fire a spread of bolts in one, creating a shotgun effect.
This weapon is typically carried by Crawlers and sometimes by Knights. It is essentially an Assault Rifle with a large clip and a rapid rate of fire. It's pretty cool how Forerunner weapons assemble themselves out of components in your hand as you pick them up.
A long range weapon carried by Knights, able to fire bolts in a three shot spread or, when focused, a single more powerful bolt of hard light, functioning as a mix of the UNSC's DMR and Battle Rifle.
There were other Forerunner weapons in this level, but I'll save them for a later post.
Master Chief and Cortana venture deeper into the planet Requiem, making brief contact with the UNSC Infinity. All along they are forced to battle the Promethean forces that have designated them a threat and Storm forces that have followed them through. Cortana directs the Chief to a set of pylons which appear to be able to establish firm contact with the UNSC vessel, which they need to do urgently as the vessel risks being puled into the portal they fell through. Chief makes it to the terminal in time - but it is not what he expected...
Yes it's about time to look back at the latest series of Doctor Who and the new aliens that appear in the series - to be fair there are a lot of 'sort-of' species in this post, creatures that technically aren't really new aliens at all but are worth mentioning nonetheless
I didn't know quite what to make of these creatures, they added a good deal of menace to what weoul otherwise have been a load of random exploring...but then again I'd have been happy with just random exploring!!
These creatures, roaming the core of the TARDIS, a result of the Doctor and his companions being exposed directly to the eye of Harmony. Thankfully the Doctor was able to change the course of events so that these creatures ceased to exist. Red Leeches
A quirky little alien in a nice episode starting with the Companions helping Clara and the Doctor and then taking the fight back to the enemy. I have to say the little leech was a nice mix of cute and evil and a nice take on a species type - don't think we've had a small wormy thing for a while on Who!
An ancient race, known as a menace to the Silurtians when they populated the Earth. They produced a venom which could cause horrific changes and death in conact with most humans but could also have a symbiotic and beneficial relationship with a chosen host body. One surviving member of the race, conspired with a corrupt human, Mrs. Gillyflower to take over the human race. Cybermites
Another new Cyber-thingy, but I thought these little creatures were effective and better than last series' rebooted Cybermat with it's snappy teeth, these creatures were actually a threat. It was nice to see the actual Cybermen being more powerful and threatening than they have been in the past.
A weapon of the Cybermen, Cybermites were part of their arsenal in their longstanding war agains humanity. Cybermites could latch onto an organic host and begin the process of converting them into a Cyberman. They weren't able to convert a host by themselves but could turn a being into an agent for them and certainly incapacitate foes if they got close enough. They were also able to turn the Doctor into 'Mr Clever' and alter ego with some of the Doctor's personality and knowledge and yet fully serving the Cybermen.
Another vague non-race designed to add some threat, these 'whisper men' were actually manifestations of the Great Intelligence and did not corporeally exist at all, though they could interact with the world, they were used by the Intelligence to threaten the Doctor's friendsto make him open up his tomb on Trenzalore.
That's your lot - more after the Anniversary Special!!
Yes, this is the one game I missed out - technically it was released before E3 so doesn't come under their umbrella and thus was worth mentioning on it's own.
The story takes place between Halo 3 and Halo 4 and features Sarah Palmer (a minor player in 4's campaign, but a major player in 'Spartan Ops') as well as a mysterious 'Spartan Davis' as playable characters.
The game is a top down shooter for Windows phones tablets and devices running Windows 8. I still run Windows 7 so unless there's a port for iOS sometime in the future you won't be hearing much about it from me for a while. Nonetheless it's exciting to see 343 branch out to more media, also announced is a new comic series 'Initiation' featuring characters from this game.
That's about it - I'll leave you with the trailer which features gameplay and samples of cinematics, done in the same style as Halo 4's terminals.