Friday, March 07, 2008

Come With Me If You Want to Live an Alternate Life

Third week in and I already fail on my Thursday deadline. Sorry, busy day yesterday. On the plus side I've finally watched the fourth episode of Terminator.

Watching the first episode of the Sarah Connor Chronicles I had a quiet telling thought. That 'this is a better Terminator than T3'. Now I'm not a hater of Rise of the Machines, but it easily the worst of the Terminators and the female 'Terminatrix' was terrible. When news of the series broke I did think it was a mistake to ignore T3 and base itself as an alternate timeline after T2 but this seems to be working pretty well so far.

Sarah Connor Chronicles seems to get a few things right as well, the evil Terminator is a standard skeleton the same as Arnie but with a different outer shell. In fact we starting to see many different shells and it can almost be explained that the reason we saw Arnie so much was just familiarity of older John. In fact John's done really well too, instead of the bit of a wimp we had in T3 this John is shaping up into being a possible leader of what remains of Humanity.

As already stated I thought the Pilot was quality, the second was what's been throwing me as it was a bit dead and not much happened, while the third was a lot better though bizarrely Sarah comes off as the weaker one of her and John, but this was reinforced with the fourth episode in that it seems John's ready to starting fighting back now and delay Judgement Day, though the sense its inevitable is growing. Meanwhile Sarah is more about running from anything that puts John in danger and possibly stopping him from becoming the leader of humanity in the war.

As for the cast, I have no problems with it what so ever. The new John is a much better follow up to Ed Furlong than Nick Stahl ever was. Lena Headey is a good replacement for Linda Hamilton, although she's visibly less built and while there are times she doesn't quite get it right, for the most part she really is Sarah Connor. Summer Glau is great as the new Terminator on the block as well. While I occasionally get annoyed that she wasn't kept more human as she was in the pilot I can accept that she was programmed for that interaction and did have some time to adapt before meeting John in the school.

It intrigues me that the newly announced Terminator film with Christian Bale as John is saying it'll tie into Sarah Connor yet will be a sequel to Rise of the Machines. I can only assume that with it being based after Judgement Day it can take the stance that either can apply as what happened before the war and it's up to the viewer to decide which they prefer.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another Gate To Go Through

This week was originally going to be the Terminator post but three episodes in and I've not yet made my mind up. So I've been forced to think of another topic and the only other geek one I've got at the moment is Stargate Atlantis.

When it first started I didn't bother as I wasn't really watching SG-1 and couldn't be bothered with another show. Eventually I got round to picking up SG-1 again, as previously mentioned way back when I started this blog. Hints about the Atlantis expedition were dropped here and there and I kept thinking I might pick it up but nothing major. SG-1 finished and I thought about watching Atlantis to get my Stargate fix from but once again never followed it up. The news of Amanda Tapping's character Carter was joining the crew along with Jewel Staite of Firefly fame finally got my arse into gear and I started watching it from the very beginning.

During first half of the first season I started to think I'd made a mistake. The show felt like a poor rip off of SG-1 and not trying to do its own thing at all. Then things started to work, apart from a couple of niggles which I'll get to in a minute, the cast really started to work well and the series started to set itself apart from SG-1. McKay especially has become one of my favourite characters, mostly due to David Hewlett's acting. The episodes where he has a woman sharing his mind and an alternate version of him turn up were fantastic acting in my opinion. One problem still remained and that was Aiden Ford. Throughout season 1 he was an incredibly weak character and just seemed to be there to make up the numbers in the team. The crew seemed to realise this themselves because as soon as Season 2 kicked off the character goes through a pretty big change and a lot more interesting.

My other niggle is Sheppard. I do like the character, but my problem lies more in how the Stargate universe has a plethora of similar characters. When O'Neill was replaced by Mitchell in SG-1 I commented how apart from one or two slight differences the two of them were pretty much the same character. The same can be said of Sheppard. Admittedly with nearly three season under his belt (for me) and a totally different cast of characters surrounding him he's a lot more distinct than Mitchell, but I can't help but help shake the familiarities. Though I guess it is one of those features that make it feel like a Stargate show.

One thing that really amazes me about Stargate is how much of a shared universe the shows have. I didn't really notice it watching SG-1 but then it was in isolation at the time but now with Atlantis the amount they reference each other and continue minor plot points is crazy. I'm used to shows like Star Trek that while they do share the same universe the two barely meet or are mentioned. Stargate seems to revel in this though, and I must admit I do love it. That's pretty much how I feel about Atlantis too, its so wonderfully tied into the existing Stargate universe while at the same time telling its own story. A story which could be quite dark but they keep light hearted and the moments that come from the characters interacting, especially Sheppard and McKay, make it all worth while.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

TV Round Up

Another month and one post. You know, it strikes me I'm my own worst enemy with these things. So starting this week I'm going to try and post once a week, on a Thursday no less. I'll even force myself to come up with topics. Now I'm pretty sure I've said something like that before but I'm determined to do it this time. That said, this week I'm going to do my old fall back of the quick round up, this time on two TV programs.

Torchwood season 2 is well under way and is pretty good so far. Things have certainly improved on the first season anyway. It seems to have a higher budget, better guest stars (James Marsters for instance) and the hits now out number the misses on the story side of things.

The new Knight Rider, you know, I wish I had enough to make a full post of this one as this is another one of the big childhood passions. Unfortunately the movie was OK and that was about it, I will be happy if it get turned into a series though. My problems are all little things that bug me like KITT should call Mike 'Michael' even if everyone else in the show calls him Mike, I mean he doesn't use connotations, why nick names? The woman was annoying but I get that she was a necessary evil for the movie and hopefully will have a greatly reduced role in the series. The theme song was atrocious, why mess with one of the all time great theme songs? The car was amazing though and Hoff's appearance was pretty cool.

I've yet to watch the Sarah Connor Chronicles but I've got a bunch just sitting there waiting so shouldn't be long now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lights equal Warranty

Or "How Microsoft Did Me Over".

Just before Christmas my 360 started making funny noises when loading some games, Mass Effect being the most obvious. Then it started being a bit funny reading some discs, but give it a couple of tries and it would be fine. But everything really started going wrong just after I completed Assassin's Creed.

I was running around one of the cities trying to find some of the flags and Templars because I've got this nagging feeling that once all are found it's going to unlock something though I doubt I'll actually bother doing it. Anyway, as I was running around the graphics went majorly wrong the whole thing started cross hatching and bits of scenery flashing in and out of existence. So I went back to the dashboard but the system notifications were suddenly see through so I switched the whole lot off and asked Chris if he had anything go wrong while he'd been playing but he hadn't.

Over the next week I had quite a few similar glitches across different games when Chris came up with the idea of checking how a DVD displayed. Everything was fine so we decided to try reconnecting the cables and see if that made a difference. Boy did it. The damn thing wouldn't switch back on.

Instead of a lovely green shade my 'Ring of Light' was now displaying the long feared colour of red. Not in the oft talked about three display but one red light in the lower right quarter. I was gutted but took solace in the fact that although my console was 14 months old Microsoft had extended warranties to 3 years. So I ring technical support who seem to get the same lessons as I did when I started my wonderful job in a call centre but they don't seem to apply them intelligently. Microsoft, it is very annoying to have someone on the other end of the phone rabbit exactly what you said to make sure they understood. Then came the bombshell, "I can see that you're guarantee has run out." But hasn't the damn thing been extended to three years? "Sorry sir, that is only for the three light problem." So Microsoft have opened up and said Yes the 360 has a lot of faults and yes it is our fault so we'll extend the guarantee, but only for one specific problem. So now the bastards are charging me 60 quid. However, her computer bust so I had to call back in two hours to finish the call.

Two hours later I get through to a guy who says that one of the options I had chosen previously was quite slow and this other way was much quicker, I was inclined to believe the guy because he sounded much more switched on than the other one. A week goes by and the courier still hadn't turned up so I ring Microsoft again only to be told that the original operator was right the e-mail option was quicker and the 2nd guy was talking out of his arse. So now I wait up to two days for them to e-mail me the labels before I can contact the couriers. Why does it take two days to e-mail me? Surely it's just a case of marking that's the option I chose and clicking a button that sends me the bloody things, talking about time wasting bureaucracy. Then they take two to three sodding weeks to fix the machine.

Well at least I've been lent Wind Waker to distract me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Game of the Year 2007

We're now a week into 2008 and its the time of year that everyone's giving there Best of lists for the year previous. Not one to break tradition but not arsed enough to actually create a full list I'll just run through the candidates of my Game of the Year.

First a bit of background of my gaming habits. I'm an action gamer at heart, I occasionally dip into driving and Guitar Hero but most of the time I'm prefer to be shooting or slashing my way through games. Though I do have a penchant for RPGs too.

First a breakdown of the contenders, the list almost reads as what I can remember from the last few months but in my opinion they are the better games of 2007. From earlier in the year both Crackdown and The Darkness came close to being included here but neither really stood out, The Darkness wasn't overly outstanding and Crackdown's missions left a lot to be desired.

Everyone's probably expecting my final choice to be Halo 3, but to be honest not really. I thoroughly enjoyed the story but the single player was just more of Halo, nothing about it was amazing to play that I hadn't seen twice before. Multiplayer was amazing, and some of the features it included were revolutionary and I really miss when playing other games.

As I said in the review, Halo 3 was battling all year in my mind with Mass Effect as the one I was most looking forward to. Mass Effect wasn't without its problems though. My biggest problem being that the side missions were horribly under developed.

Bioshock was a fun game with fantastic design behind it, but the gameplay was pretty standard FPS fare. Assassin's Creed I've just finished, I loved the story and the game play was fun, I keep hearing how reviewers found the game repetitive, and while I never felt like that I can certainly see why they feel that way.


My game of the year, which I'm sure people have worked out due to it's lack of appearance in the candidates list is Call of Duty 4. The single player was fantastic offering two great perspectives of the open fighting of a US Marine and the more sneaky version of Modern Combat in the role of a member of the SAS. It varied from little set pieces to massive pitched battles, running across Eastern European fields escaping following guards to searching a Middle East city for some Saddam wannabe. There's even one level where you control an AC-130 gunship.

The mulitplayer is fantastic and I've had more fun with Call of Duty 4 then I did with Halo 3. The only questionable point is that the further you get in multiplayer and complete the challenges the more guns you unlock, making the dedicated gamer automatically stronger due to the kit selection. There is also, in my opinion, the genius stroke of making all achievements single player, so you're not having the problem as you do in most games of people ignoring the actual objective of the game and just doing anything possible to get an achievement.