CHAPTERS ONE, TWO AND THREE

Listening to Nick Briggs third foray into the world of the tin plated pepper pots was an interesting experience for me- I had only a passing knowledge of the first two series, but I like both the Daleks and the idea of a whole series about them. Acclaim has been heaped on Dalek Empire and Dalek War and judging by the first three chapters (entitled The Exterminators, The Healers, The Survivors respectively) I have been missing out. As I sat on the beach during my summer hols, I was transported to the Graxis system, to Georgi Silestru’s office, into the mind of Siy Tarkov- I was gripped within seconds, and thanks to a brief flashback at the opening of Chapter One I came into this world with no disorientation and no confusion. It also helps that this Dalek series is not really linked to the first two in such a way it will turn off new listeners.

The story is split so that it focuses on several groups of characters and pulls of that rare trick of you actually caring about the lot of them. Its like The Empire Strikes Back I suppose- and if that’s not praise im not sure what is. Galanar played by David Tennant, took a while to warm up for me, but the revelation at the very end of Chapter Three got me really interested. This is obviously Briggs world, from the funky package design to the nice recap paragraphs in the CD sleeve, you can feel Briggs hand in the whole thing (indeed, he works in pretty much every department in the Dalek series). He also stars as the Daleks, and is as good as anyone can be WHEN-SPEAK-ING LIKE THIIIIIS! If anyone deserves to voice the new metal meanies from Skaro in the Ninth Doctor’s adventures its this man. Reading the ‘His Dalek Materials’ article last months DWM it was astonishing to find out that my favourite group of heroes, the Graxis wardens, weren’t going to be in the story at all before the script was looked over by a few people at BF towers. The way Briggs has remoulded his story it does not show that these characters (who are interesting, well played and well rounded) were never going to be in it at all! He also exposes how he is afraid of his Dalek series failing, and it would seem to be this worry that has made his script and direction so strong.

Packed with great dialogue and acting, Dalek Empire III Chapters one to three are exciting, terrifying and thoughtful in equal measure. Briggs makes the Daleks scary, and while they were cool on TV, for me, as a sixteen year old who watches too much telly, they aren’t scary at all- Nick has pulled off something special in that alone. You can tell there is still more to come from this series- im halfway through and its all building towards something. I have my suspicions about the Dalek supreme, and that alone keeps me hooked. Dalek Empire III is, so far, great Doctor Who without the Doctor. I would like to hear one of them pop up (it would just be a cool surprise!) but seeing the Daleks minus their Gallifreyan nemesis is refreshing and exciting- after all, as there is no companion or Doctor, we know that no one HAS to survive for next week….

FOUR OUT OF FIVE ]]>

THE FAITH STEALER

When the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz find their journey through the Interzone interrupted by a nightmarish vision, they are surprised to find the Kro’ka offering the perfect solution.

The Multihaven ?a vast array of religions and faiths housed in one harmonious community ?appears to offer the perfect sanctuary in which to convalesce. But under the guidance of the charismatic Laan Carder, one religion seems to be gathering disciples at an alarming rate.

With the Doctor and Charley catching glimpses of an old friend and C’rizz on the receiving end of some unorthodox religious practices, their belief, hope and faith are about to be tested to the limit.

It? time to see the light.

This story takes place after the TV movie. ]]>

THE LAST

Hopeless.

Don’t worry! I’m not talking about the play, that’s actually quite good. Im trying, in my own random manner to refer to the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz’s predicament in the latest 8DAA (Eighth Doctor Audio Adventure acronym fans!) THE LAST, and my oh my this is a bleak one. It opens in a sort of Judge Dredd way- semi serious, with a bit of humour thrown in, but by golly, this gets all a bit grim not soon after. Perhaps it’s the fact its set on a planet beset by nuclear hell, perhaps it’s the fact one of the three characters is paralysed early on, or even the fact it seems everyone has died at least once that makes THE LAST so astonishingly down beat. Not one for the depressives among us then.

THE LAST endeared me to it for a few reasons, then pushed me away again and left me somewhere in the middle. The nice continuity references to two departed companions left me in a state of interest (I still love references to the Doctor’s past) as did the excellent way in which each of the three leads get their own portion of the story. This has got me all interested as to where the story can go from here on in, before the Eighth Doctor gets home…

The frustrating problems however are why this play gets three instead of four out of five. The fact the ending is a criminal cop out (the changes made to the characters in this play, on the sheer maturity side could have reaped rewards down the line) -the events of this story could have echoed down the line, but sadly, that’s abandoned by the end title music at the back of Part four. I said before its grim and that’s no understatement, but the real thing that got to me during this is that im really not warming to this callous bastard masquerading as the Eighth Doctor. They seem to have sapped all the fun out of McGann, there is little sign of the wonderful Time Lord we met in the TVM- something pretty much all of the BF McGann stuff is guilty of. Im hoping that while the story is progressing well, McGann’s character (rather than his acting, which is excellent) is improved. He can play a great Doctor, so cheer him up!

Overall then, THE LAST plays to a group dynamic I hadn’t seen before as well as making C’rizz an interesting character who carry’s large chunks of the play and its thematic weight. When he and the Doctor get back to ‘our’ universe (Charley isn’t a definite on that level) I hope he stays this good. Overall? A mixed and bloody grim bag, but one that I would listen to again. Still-

THREE OUT OF FIVE. ]]>

VAN HELSING

– Game Review By Peter Edwards

Introduction

Shortly after the awful movie Van Helsing was released, a game adaptation was released let’s hope it will be better than the film.

Story

Van Helsing is a man who is on a mission from god to destroy evil. Along the way he fights Mr Hyde, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster and ultimately Dracula. The game follows quite closely to the film one worthy inclusion though is a bit of background story on Van Helsing which is not the theatrical release. There are cut scenes before every level which run parallel to the movie but often they are somewhat shorter and often missing characters from the film.

Gameplay

The important bit, despite what I thought of the film I did enjoy the way that it played, it was extremely easy to pick up. It is very similar to Devil May Cry but this can only be a good thing as D.M.C was an extremely good game. You start off with handguns an Game Review By Peter Edwards

Introduction

Shortly after the awful movie Van Helsing was released, a game adaptation was released let’s hope it will be better than the film.

Story

Van Helsing is a man who is on a mission from god to destroy evil. Along the way he fights Mr Hyde, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster and ultimately Dracula. The game follows quite closely to the film one worthy inclusion though is a bit of background story on Van Helsing which is not the theatrical release. There are cut scenes before every level which run parallel to the movie but often they are somewhat shorter and often missing characters from the film.

Gameplay

The important bit, despite what I thought of the film I did enjoy the way that it played, it was extremely easy to pick up. It is very similar to Devil May Cry but this can only be a good thing as D.M.C was an extremely good game. You start off with handguns and Tojo blades later on in the game you can get more enhanced weapons like the shotgun and the bow gun both seen in the film. There is a rather nice evasive roll that you can do which is reminiscent of D.M.C, one thing that is unique however is the grapple hook you can make use of this to start combos or to perform grappling jumps. Overall a big plus point.

Graphics

The graphics are pretty good the backgrounds all look good, as do the cut scenes. Unfortunately Van Helsing in the game doesn’t look very similar to Van Helsing in the film.

Sound

I didn’t take much notice to the sound but from what I heard it seemed ok nothing spectacular or anything particuarly bad.

Conclusion

A very sound game there are a lot of things going for it namely the gameplay, unfortunately there isn’t much replay value to this.

7/10
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X-FILES: RESIST OR SERVE

Game Review By Peter Edwards Introduction

As an ex-phile! I hadn? really kept up to date with the show for a long time, but when the opportunity arose to review an X-Files game came along I jumped at the chance. The game is divided up into 3 episodes, they all start and end as any other X-Files TV show which makes this a fully interactive X-Files experience.

Story

You can play either Fox Mulder or Dana Scully (another thing that impressed me about this game is that they had the cast and writers.) The story starts off in Siberia with a meteor crash and then forwards to the present day with Mulder and Scully investigating murders in a town in Colorado then the fun starts. Then zombies, conspiracies and extra-terrestrial? all enter the mix.

Gameplay

Very reminiscent of Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill which can? be bad. It is fun to use your torch and gun at the same time just like the show. Some of the camera angles do get you a bit muddled at times this area could have been improved.

Graphics

The graphics are certainly above average if you look closely the lip-syncing looks like a 70? kung fu movie but that is just a small gripe

Sound

The sound and background music is eerie. The best thing though is the voices as they are voiced by the actual actors.

Conclusion

A very enjoyable game a must for any X-Files fan and if any non-fans want to play a very good Resident Evil style game this is highly recommended. All in all a very good game and for only ?0 The Game Is Out There!! Go buy it

9/10
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ZOMBIES!!!

Board Game Review By Brian Edwards Widescreen edition, twilight creations ZOMBIES!!! yes, the card / board game of every bad undead zombie flick you ever saw, plus some you didn t…. The helicopters about to leave Bubba, give me yer hand… aaaaaggghhhhh not JUST yer hand!????? 2 6 players, brains optional. Ages 12+


ONLY 17.25 BUY ]]>

SPIDER-MAN II (PS2)

Game Review By Liam O Brien

While we all wait for the second part of the continuing adventures of Peter Parker to hit dvd, it? a fine time to grab a copy of Spider-Man II on Playstation 2, X-Box or Game Cube. Following on from a successful first outing in 2002 on the major consoles, the follow up improves in almost every way on the original. The graphics, game play and combat systems have all seen a major overhaul, making this a title well worth buying.

What You Need To Knowz/b>

Surprisingly, you play Spider-Man, protector of New York city. Following on from his battles with the Green Goblin two years prior to the game and the film, Spidey? life has become even more confused. Love of his life Mary Jane Watson is off romancing astronaut John Jameson, best friend (of the wall crawlers alter ego Peter Parker) Harry Osborn wants you dead for the apparent murder of his father (who was the Green Goblin) and a major crime wave is hitting the city. Get to work web head?

Gameplay

What? apparent with Spider-Man II within seconds of beginning your game is that this is a major improvement on the original. The big change this time is that Spider-Man actually swings over the streets of New York, rather than swinging around on roofs up in the clouds as in part one. You can swing your way from one end of Manhattan Island to the other- diving from the top of the Empire State or pulling off nifty aerobatics for the sheer hell of it. That? one of the many joys of the game- being outside, pelting round skyscrapers exactly as you see at the movies. The developers obviously understand being outside up high is far more fun than being boxed inside foiling bank raids. Luckily, much of the game takes place outside, with you swinging about stopping petty crimes such as armed robbery and car jacking or swinging the sick and the injured to hospital, saving little kiddies balloons from floating away or saving New Yorkers from falling from the top of buildings. The game offers total freedom- you can go anywhere on the map. The web swinging is a simple system, but takes time to totally perfect, once you do, the sky is literally the limit. Other niggles have been ironed out from part one- you now have to have something for your webline to stick to- no more invisible barriers to hold you aloft. Another great thing is when you have just kicked off playing, you can find yourself outside Oscorp or the Daily Bugle from the movie, or outside the Chrysler Building or even on Ellis Island. The combat system is greatly improved, making Spider-Man II, while not quite a pick up and play title, a game that makes you look like you know what your doing fast.

Graphics

Not the greatest visuals to grace any of the main consoles, but they do succeed in nailing both the look of the comic book and the film by ensuring that Peter Parker looks like Tobey Maguire, that MJ looks like Kirsten Dunst, while keeping a distinct comic book flavour with some of the locations and other characters like Black Cat, Shocker, Mysterio and other who don? turn up in the film. The engine used on the game works well- there are few glitches in the main game area (New York) with everything and everywhere looking suitably like its real life counter part, despite the fact Sarah Jessica Parker and friends are nowhere to be found. Some of the interiors designed for the game don? look too great, and Spider-Man II will not age well graphics wise. However, some snazzy cut scenes and general ?eel?ensure any rough patches are smoothed over.

Sound

Strains of heroic music appear when your not going on crusades, choosing to swing through the streets of the Big Apple instead. When you can be bothered to fight crime, the score shifts into something appropriately close to Danny Elfman? score for the film (I did miss the Spider-Man theme though). The other SFX such as the sound of the webbing and traffic and other sounds is mixed well. The main characters are either voiced by the actors that play them (Maguire, Dunst and Alfred Molina as Doc Ock) or sound like they do in the movie. Overall, it? a nice link to the film, with the game Spider-Man more akin to the comic books wisecracking super hero.

Value For Money

Having been making great progress for about a week now and only being a quarter of the way through Spider-Man II is a game with a life span. With something in the region of 32 levels, it will take some time to finish off, whilst having a gentle difficulty curve- it doesn? suddenly get impossible (well, not yet, and im on level 11). I picked up my copy for ?9.97 at Asda, with Amazon offering the game for 29.99 (bearing in mind if you want it send first class you?l be paying p&p on top of the cost). Spider-Man II is good value for money, it? a long game and a good one.

Overallz/b>

Spider-Man II is a fun, exciting game that perfectly allows you to recreate moments from the film, whilst mixing in the option to follow a storyline. The pace of the game is up to you- I have taken thing leisurely, but a player can choose to cut to the chase and follow through to the next super villain showdown. A fun, addictive game that improves on the original in every way- highly recommended.

8 OUT OF 10.

Liam O?rien 2004.
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THE ULTIMATES VOL. 2, HOMELAND SECURITY

The Ultimates Vol. 2, Homeland Security.
Mark Millar, Brian Hitch (Illustrator)
Paperback: 192 pages (June 1, 2004)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
ISBN: 078511078X

The ambition of this series is matched only by its amazing ability to be completely off schedule. This would storm the charts if it got released on time. Thankfully, Marvel are taking steps to correct this and with Vol. 3 starting in December, it? a good a time as any to review the last major outing for the U.S.? Ultimate Defence Deterrent.

Set in the re-imagined, up to date ?ltimate?Marvel universe, this is a heavily re-worked concept of the Avengers. A state sponsored super-hero lead arm of Shield, The Ultimates are the U.S. response to the mutant terrorist threat. In the main, this storyline is pretty much re-dressed classic Marvel action, an Independence Day retelling of the Skrull Invasion scenarios. It? Millar? snappy dialogue and the messed up interpersonal relationships between the characters that make this so unmissable.

Millar and Hitch expand on the work they put into The Authority, with widescreen action and SFX that would just kick the ass of any major movie if anyone ever got enough greenbacks together to film their stuff. Hitch is for me probably the best penciller out there at the moment, making the delays between issues worth while. Whilst comparisons with this series to Wildstorm? are inevitable, the actions of The Ultimates as a state sponsored group are very different from that of The Authority? anti-establishment operation, who are practically hippies with superpowers and a huge space ship. In contrast, Captain America, Iron Man and others are cast as prefect representatives of the status quo. Luckily the irony of this is not left on the writers. All of the characters are less than super inside, be it in their morality or other aspects of their personal lives.

Standout moments are many, but they include an almighty fleet of SHIELD heli-carriers, and Captain A facing off against his old WW2 alien nemesis, with one of the best one-liners I?e ever read.

This is super hero comics refined to the Nth Degree. ]]>

STAR WARS: EMPIRE: THE IMPERIAL PERSPECTIVE V. 3 (STAR WARS S.)

Star Wars: Empire: The Imperial Perspective v. 3 (Star Wars S.)
Welles Hartley, Jeremy Barlow, Paul Alden, Ron Marz
Paperback 144 pages (November 26, 2004)
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 1840239336

Tie-in comics strike back. Again. Four stories from Dark Horse? regular series focusing upon the Star Wars Universe of the classic movies time period. The catch here is that they are all told from the perspective of the bad guys.

Two stories, The Savage Heart and Target: Vader, focus upon Darth Vader himself. The first explains exactly what happened after he almost got shot down by Han-Solo at the end of Episode Four, whilst the second deals with him as a target for assignation from the relatives of some of his many hundred victims. To the Last Man deals with Imperial troops being hunted on a jungle world by bit part characters form Jabba? palace. What Sin Loyalty was my favourite, dealing with a clones misplaced hero worship of his commander. Art on all of these stories is of a high standard, with a talented set or artists through the run

Dark Horse are undoubtedly have a good history of this kind of thing, I loved the Dark Empire trilogy. Here I? not so sure. I? sure a lot of fans will get off on seeing Vader in action, and the other central characters are fleshed out enough to provide some narrative hook. The central theme of ?re the baddies really good? or ?re the goodies really bad??is ok, but at times a bit forced down the reader? throat.

I don? know what failed to inspire me in most of the stories, perhaps none of them really had the length to do their subject material justice. Like a lot of tie-in media, it suffers from constant references to the source, often in glaringly obvious fan-pleasing quotes. At time? it? like reading a message board on theforce.net, where legions of fan-boys compete to get in as many quotes as possible into their posts.

As someone who has consumed more than a fair amount of Star Wars ?U?media, I may have suffered from overkill. And with Episode 3 around the corner, it? not going to get any easier. Much of that, like this, will probably only appeal to hardcore fans. ]]>

TRANSFORMERS: TRIAL BY FIRE

Transformers: Trial by Fire
Jose Delbo, Bob Budiansky (Illustrator), Frank Springer (Illustrator)
Paperback 144 pages (September 24, 2004)
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 1840239506

Transformers old school style, in another of Titan? cool, but heavily overpriced reprints of the 80? series. In this one, we get to meet the mighty Fortress Maximus and the Headmasters for the first time. This volume collects the initial four part Headmasters mini-series and subsequent issues from the main run. In the story, Fort and some other Autobots flee War torn Cybertron to the peaceful beauty of the planet Nebulos, where everyone dresses like Adam Strange, and is scared of our favourite big brightly coloured robots. The plot follows a trouble in paradise theme, as the war they left behind catches up with them.

I read this initially as a kid, and it? often hard at times to turn off my super-nostalgia vision and look at it objectively. The pencils still hold up, with great dynamic movement on humans and robots, and some nice hot ladies. It all fits into the general Marvel style of the time and Springer? work can be seen elsewhere in many of their other titles. Some Transfans may complain about art-inaccuracies, but for me those are just part of the charm. Colouring is again of the time, with background objects and characters often just shaded in single colours. That said, at times it can be quite effective.

As for plot, there are times when it transcends its toy-ad origins, and other moment when it just plods along. As this was supposed to be introducing a whole new range of toys you can see that there were constraints upon the writers. The moments when the characters call out their names in BOLD TYPE just so kids know which ones to buy are rather amusing. Budiansky is often quoted as saying he got bored of the whole robot game about half way through, and that can be seen in the somewhat pedestrian plotting of this run. There is no doubt the series came into its own when Furman and the rest of the UK creative team got involved. The sequences set later on Earth are definitely paced up a notch.

All in all, its?an example of the better parts of Marvel? mid-80? TF run. And it features Scorponok, my best Christmas present ever!! ]]>