Thursday, 30 May 2013

Doctor Who - New series, new species part 42

Oh yes the answer to life, the universe and everything is contained in this post as we have a quick peek at the alien species featured in episodes 1-4 of part 2 of series 7 of the New Doctor Who (they don;t like to make their numbering easy do they?!!)

Well episode 1 'The Bells of St. John' (the title is a reference to the TARDIS) didn't feature any new races, rather a return of the Great Intelligence, a villain featured in the Christmas special and classic Who. The Intelligence inhabits the Wi-Fi, uploading people's consciousness for it's own purposes. In doing so it used some mobile servers, colloqiually known as 'spoonheads' to upload and control people remotely - they're not a species, but they're worth a mention on the blog I think.

Spoonhead














In the next episode 'The Rings of Akhaten' we were treated to a whole host of aliens in a bustling marketplace as well as some principal character races too. The Doctor ran around the marketplace like a giddy child (as would I!!!) and threw out some alien names, which I was too slow to catch - thankfully the community on the TARDIS Core website caught a few of them, which I'll post up here now.

First the races seen at the marketplace

Do'reen










The true species name is unknown, but  a member of this race was a vendor at the marketplace on Akhaten trading vehicles for items of psychometric value.

Pan-Babylonian










Native to the same system as Akhaten this race came to worship at the festival of offerings.

Hooloovoo










Another species native to the Akhaten system

Ultramancer











A metalic species which the Doctor was excited to see due to their rarity, also native to the system

Also named, were Terrabeserkers, Lucanians and Lugaleracush - I'm not sure but they may be one of these two beauties from the official site.










Ok, prime story races now.

Choristers
 










This humanoid race, native to the Akhaten system, were chosen to sing to the 'Grandfather' a deity they believed responsible for the creation of the universe and who they sang to keep asleep. They had psychic powers which enhanced their capabilities to reach out to the god and keep him at bay.

The Vigil










Appointed by the 'Grandfather' to oversee the sacrifice and worship of the singers these individuals hunted the young 'Queen of Years' who ran because she was afraid of her duties. They were able to teleport and use telikenisis against their opponents. When they were no longer needed they were obliterated by their master. 

The Mummy











The name given to this creature by the Doctor and others who encountered it, initially believed to be the old god who the worshippers tried to keep asleep, the being, encased in a transparent prison was in fact a way for the true god to wake up if the system of pacification failed. Like the Vigil it was destroyed by it's master. 

Akhaten










While visually impressive Akhaten wasn't really anything new and I was surprised at the Doctor stating it was the biggest thing he had faced when he had battled against a sentient star (as the tenth Doctor) and another sentient planet 'House' in this series. That aside the puzzle solving of finding the true villain and the corny-but-believable manner of defeat made it a convincing villain.

A malevolent gas giant that had become sentient and aquired great power it fed off the fear and worship of sentient beings who offered up their stories and songs to it, which fed it's hunger. Essentially a parasite it controlled and possessed other beings to bring it the food it desired and when the suystem finally stopped after centuries it attacked, threatening to consume the entire solar system. It had little self-control, however and consumed the overwhelming psychic power of Clara's leaf, which held potential stories as well as past history, until it destroyed itself, finally freeing the system from its tyrrany. 

The next episode 'Cold War' featured a classic Who race the Ice Warriors. It was nice to see this race, in their cumbersome looking armour as a credible threat and seeing Skaldak out of his armour was (to my knowledge) a first visual appearance in the series and it didn't disappoint. We also got a glimpse of an Ice Warrior spaceship.












The Crooked Man










I quite like this race visually, the story of a ghost having some sort of scientific explanation was standard DW fare, but the added menace/uncertainty of another creature in the equasion added to the mix. What I really liked was the creatures appearance - after the whacky but all humanoid creatures of the previous episodes it was good to have a truly weird looking alien!!

This unusual species was a rare kind. some of which hid among the shadows on Earth, one individual was trapped in a pocked universe and was trying to get home. The Doctor, tracking down a ghost that turned out to be a time traveller trapped in a pocket universe encountered this creature which was also stranded there. Initially fearful the Doctor returned to rescue the creature to his mate which was occupying the haunted house.

Phew! Don't think there'll be quite as many next time!!! I'll post about the second half of the series soon!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Halo: The Television Series


Before going back to my usual run of well out-of-date game and comic book reviews there's one more piece of news from the Xbox One event - a Halo TV series, directed by none other than Steven Spielberg himself!! No news on the story yet but if Forward Unto Dawn is anything to go by, this should be awesome.

It will be airing on Xbox One's new TV service so I don't know when I'll be able to get my hands on it but it's very exciting news nonetheless.

Watch the announcement video below for a bit more info.



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

SF at the Movies - May '13

Here's the Sci-Fi on our screens for this month:

Star Trek: Into Darkness


And that's it!! Let me know if I missed one!!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Xbox One

It's finally been revealed!! The new Xbox console is the Xbox One (no one predicted that name, I'm just glad it isn't the 720!!!) with the motto that it is the new all in ONE entertainment system, going beyond just a games console.

The design looks a little clunky on first look and I will miss the curves of my 360 when I eventually shell out for this beast but I think Microsoft are sending a definite message that this is designed to sit alongside your Freeview box, Blu-Ray player and (as Microsoft would hope) replace them as the ultimate entertainment system.

And it does seem set to do that, from beinbgf turned on with a voice command ("Xbox on") to having a personalised home screen to being able to seamlessly jump between gaming and other functions, even operating on split-screen so you can IMDB that guy who was in the thing with your movie still playing on the main screen. New features include Skype calls, which have been long awaited by fans such as myself, and will also work with the split-screen function, meaning you can video chat with your friends while gaming.

The biggest boost is the ability to be able to watch live TV by hooking up your reciever to the Xbox One (I'll be interested to see if my Freesat box is compatible) and watch your TV simply by saying 'watch TV' and you can also access and search the TV guide from your xbox with voice and motion commands.

I'm interested in how the new Kinect works, because it only has one camera visible but they boast that it has much better functionality then the previous generation and seemed to be pretty slick in the tech demo at the press conference. We'll see how it pans out - the controller is also supposed to be the 'best ever' but from the outside it hasn't changed dramatically.

Obviously gaming capabilities have been boosted with improved graphics and processing power - Forza 5 was use to demonstrate the realism of picture achievable on the new console. There will also be a new achievment system, improved matchmaking and social capabilities. And the ability to replay your gameplay and take screenshots of all games you play - a very big draw for me - expect to see loads of screenshots popping up on this blog when I get my hands on it!!

No word on the price tag yet but some retailers have put up a preliminary listing of £399 - we'll see what finally emerges nearer to Christmas. Well that's it for now - whatever the final price is I'll be waiting till it drops down first so you won't hear any Xbox One news from me for a while yet - but it does look to be a very exciting console!!

Lastly I was hoping for lots of game announcements but it looks like Xbox are holding their breath till E3 for that - one game was announced 'Quantum Break' which seems to feature time-shitfing/travelling gameplay. Watch the teaser below!


Monday, 20 May 2013

Xbox Event


Yes it's finally here! The new generation Xbox console, following on the heels of the Playstation 4, will be announced tomorrow and you can watch the whole thing live on Xbox Live, Gametrailers and numerous other websites.

It's airing about 6pm in the UK so I'll probably only catch the tail end of it but I'm excited to see what the future holds for Xbox gamers even if it'll be a while before I can afford to buy the shiny new console (assuming it's shiny that is!!).

I'm hopeing for some fun new features - PS4s on the fly video capability and allowing another player to remotely take over your game to get you past a hard boss are pretty revolutionary features and I'm hoping that Xbox can top them with something awesome. 

Anyway, hopefully there'll be a swath of new game announcements, trailers and other tidbits for me to spill over onto this blog.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

It's been a while but I'm going to post something current on this blog!!! It's been rumoured, hinted at and anticipated with trembling but the first official trailer for Marvel's 'Agents of SHIELD went online yesterday and here it is in all it's glory!!


It looks like these new agents are going to be investigating the other-worldly and finding their place in a world that is starting to fill up with super-heroes. It looks like it's got great potential with Avengers and Firefly director Joss Whedon heading up the show it's a sure hit!!

I'm hopeful that it can be the new Torchwood and be consitently good, unlike the Who spinoff, which had some great moments but wasn't consistently good.

I've no doubt it will come to Sky and I won't get to see it or blog about it till it's out on DVD but nonetheless I'm excited for this one!!!

Next Up: Doctor Who

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Blogga's Wall - February - April 2013

So a bit of a catchup post again - here's what went up on the wall over the past few months.

1) Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion











An avid collector of the Essential Guides this was high on my birthday list and it didn't dissapoint. A chronological summarisation of Star Wars literature with editor's notes and fantastic illustrations highlighting the key moments in the stories. For me it's great to show my wife where Star Wars stuff we're reading fits into the big picture, check out the timeline placement of certain stories and also read succinct summaries of all the prequel-era stuff I never bothered to read!!! If you want to quickly refresh your knowledge or introduce friends to the EU then this is the book for you!!

2) Star Wars Legacy: Prisoner of the Floating World #1











The return of Legacy is awesome!! The comic book series set 100 years after even the latest novels is what got me into Star Wars comics in the first place and a chance to continue that story is well worth jumping on board. I have to be honest in admitting I miss the old series and style but I'm certainly willing to give Ania Solo and her friends a chance and spent more time in this era. You'll have a review when the story arc finishes in a few month's time so I won't say more at this stage.

3) Chocky











One of a large pile of John Wyndham novels given to me by my pastor when he left for France, I enjoyed this novel about a boy with a not-so-imaginary friend. I didn't find it as enjoyable as 'Triffids' or some of the other books I've read and I don't know if the father's hapless attitude was symptomatic of the time (smoking in front of kids and ignoring serious psychological disorders - very pre-health and safety!!) or just annoying writing but it was fun to the end.

4) Assassin's Creed III











With the fourth installment due later in the year I thought I'd better lay my hands and this game as soon as the price came down a bit and thankfully it did. I'm still plodding my way through Halo's Spartan Ops but I've had a few forrays into this game and found it just as gripping as the rest of the series even in it's early chapters.

Thanks for reading - up next: Doctor Who!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mass Effect 3: The End


It's finally time!! The last post covering Mass Effect 3!!! It's been a while since I finished, enough time for me to finish the campaign of Halo 4 in fact, but it's still great to look back on this epic adventure as Shepard finally takes the fight bacvk to Earth.


With Cerberus out of the picture it's time for an all-out assault on Earth, not only to free the planet but to activate the Crucible, which requires the Citadel as it's key component, now orbiting the planet with the heaviest force of Reapers guarding it. Anderson outlines the plan, the allied forces are split into three fleets:-

The Sword - which will engage the Reapers directly and occupy their forces
The Shield - which will hold back and protect the Crucible until it is ready to activate
The Hammer - which will punch through to the ground and attempt to infiltrate the Citadel from the city of London.

All forces are committed and a fierce battle begins.


video


Upon landing Shepard is asked to meet up with the rest of Hammer forces, but on the way they find Hammer troops being picked out of the sky by Reaper anti-air so Shepasrd is diverted to take it out.

The Hades Cannon is a massive Reaper device, the size of a Destroyer-class Reaper. It is capable of damaging large targets and picking nimble targets such as shuttle out of the sky. Shepard used the power of the M-920 Cain to take it out. 








Shepard pushes through to the Forward Base where he meets up with Anderson and also Wrex who is rallying his forces, while Javik is reflecting on the first war with the Reapers and how close his people came. There is also a communications station where Shepard spoke to all his former comrades scattered throughout the warzone, thanking them for all they have done to keep the fight alive. After a moment of peace with Liara Shepard heads through to the briefing.

London is a complete warzone, but their goal lies ahead - the conduit which will transport ground forces up to the Citadel where they can secure it. 






A Reaper destroyer lands ahead of the conduit. Shepard manages to defend and activate some Thanix missiles ahead of the Reaper and uses them to take it out with a precisely timed shot.  With the destroyer out of the way it's time for an all out push to the Citadel.

Just when it couldn't get any worse - Harbinger shows up!!







Despite the valiant efforts, most of the Hammer force is wiped out and Shepard's crew have to retreat to the Normandy leaving him to fight on alone, injured, to the Citadel. After wandering through the now empty station he meets up with Anderson only to find them both ambushed by the Illusive Man, now a slave of the Reapers, he kills Anderson before Shepard convinces him of the truth and he kills himself (much as Saren did) leaving Shepard free to finish the process.

Now under his control, the Crucible docks with the Citadel, completing the device. 








Shepard  now confronts the Catalyst and has a hard choice to make.

The Catalyst (taking the form of the boy that haunts Shepard's dreams) is the intelligence that the Leviathans created, which in turn created the Reapers.









The Catalyst confirms that the Reapers 'harvest' organic life due to the constant conflict between organic and synthetic life that threatens to eradicate both kinds. Because of this the Reapers were created to harvest sentient life at it's peak before the conflict grew and then start again every 50,000 years with the organic life becoming integrated into a new Reaper. 

It gives Shepard the power to choose the Galaxy's fate, destroy the Reapers (and all other synthetic life with them) or take control of them as the Illusive Man wanted to, with Shepard becoming the new Catalyst. Shepard, unhappy with these choices, uncovers a third - synthesis with organic and synthetic life merging into one and bringing unity and peace to the galaxy.

Shepard starts the process, at the cost of his own life, but he brings a new era of peace to the galaxy. The Reapers now merged with organic life offer their knowledge and help the races of the galaxy rebuild and look to the future. I'll leave you with this vid which shows the ending, slightly different from mine (ignore the female Shepard and dead Miranda!!) but which covers the future fought for by Shepard and the conclusionm of the game



I hope you've enjoyed hearing about my adventures in Mass Effect - there's a new comic series starting in a few month's time, the Citadel DLC I may get and BioWare have strongly hinted that they are not done with the universe even if they are finished with Shepard's story so I doubt this will be my last ever post on the subject!!