Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Grand Theft Auto 4 - Post Play Thoughts...

Well well well, April 29th finally came and went and the millions of gamers who'd been waiting for the next installment of the GTA franchise finally got their collective wish. But the question is; "was it worth the wait"?
OK, the game is truly amazing and the graphics alone are more provocative than Carmen Electra with a lollipop, but is this the next gen leap we were all hoping for? I don't honestly know...
Granted I've only played for a few hours and the main story hasn't really kicked in yet (it still feels like I'm being groomed for greater things through a long winded tutorial opening that feels more like I'm watching a movie than playing a video game) but I haven't had the "oo" and "ah" moments of wonder I had during San Andreas. I guess it could be that with SA you had the unbelievably huge expanse of land and water to cover (along with some great plane piloting and subsequent free fall-parachuting moments therein) and with IV you're a little more confined to the gloomy streets of Liberty City, or maybe it's that there's too much (un-skipable) story that takes place (I like to get on and play the game regardless of the scripted storyline) but I just don't feel 100% happy with this game. I'm 99% happy so that's something but as of yet I haven't had my proverbial 'bell' rang with anything mind blowing.

I have to say that I'm impressed with the dates with the girls and nights out with Roman (your cousin) as you can actually play games like bowling and darts etc and the whole game itself is so polished you can see your face in it. The time and effort that has gone into it is mind boggling and it really does show. The cut scenes are cinematic even if they do become tedious (doesn't Nico sound like Borat?) and the driving is cataclysmically hectic at times and the new shooting dynamics work quite well (thank you Rainbow Six and Gears of War!) so these are all good points that make this game an absolute must-have regardless of my current apathy.
Don't get me wrong, I love this game to bits really, but I guess I'll have to play it for much longer to find my "wow" moments. If I do I'll let you know. ;)
8/10 (so far!)

Mighty Muggs take over the world, well maybe not the UK...

'Mighty Muggs' the newest and greatest craze to hit the shelves are expanding... but maybe not into the UK. The unfortunate news came to me this week that Hasbro have had such low pre-orders for their new Mighty Muggs range that they may cancel the UK stock and leave them to domestic US customers. This is devastating news for me as I'm a huge fan of this line and wanted to collect the entire lot. I may still get my chance in San Diego this year but I'll need one hell of a suitcase to bring them all back! This cancellation may only affect the Marvel MM line but if orders don't pick up soon we may see the Star Wars and Indiana Jones line relegated to the US only market too. And the waves were getting so good too! ;( See the current proposed range below.

Collector News Update

What an exciting year 2008 is turning out to be for us geeks. Not only do we have some stunning blockbuster movies coming our way such as Iron Man, Indy 4, Hulk and Batman: The Dark Knight but we have some quality merchandise to accompany them.
First off is the release tomorrow of Indiana Jones 3.75" Action Figures Wave 1.

These figures have pre-sold so well that the manufacturer, Hasbro, haven't been able to get enough stock into the UK to cope with the demand. Like Hasbro's current 3.75" Star Wars figures these figures have multiple points of articulation and numerous accessories and this first wave is based on the first movie Raiders of the lost Ark.

Released in May the highly anticipated Heroes action figures by Mezco are going to be one of the best selling items of the year.

My company has the exclusive distribution rights for Heroes in the UK so I'm proud to say that if you see these figures anywhere in the shops, I bought the stock that supplied them. Having had the only prototypes in the country for the London Toy Fair in Feb I can tell you these figures are pretty accurate and will be great for collectors. I definately want the Hiro and Claire versions for myself!

"I haaaave the POWER!" Yes He-Man is returning and in a big way. After Neca's 6" mini statue line in 2007 it was announced at the recent New York Toy Fair that Mattel (the original manufacturers for He-Man back in the 80's) will be bringing our favourite Eternians back to life for a new collector focused line.

There will be a "King Grayskull" San Diego Comic Con Exclusive figure released in July and then a whole range of characters showing up after that. I personally can't wait to see these as I was a huge He-Man fan back in the day (still have my original figures too!).

Watch this space for more tid-bits!

Breaking News... Well not exactly...

Having recently augmented her chest size from a perfectly acceptable 32D (more than enough for most women... and men for that matter) Jodie Marsh, pictured above doing her best Worzel Gummidge impression, has announced she wants to go bigger.
The government has taken pre-emptive steps to make sure they cater for Jodie's world record beating size increase by starting work on a boulder holder worthy of her aspirations. Pictured below is the end result. Let's hope it's enough for Miss Marsh and that Katie Price aka Jordan doesn't attempt to beat her. We may well see a real "battle of the planets" if she does!

Breaking News... Well not exactly...

In India today 6 year old Indian Elephant Nelly had his first vindaloo. In preparation for the ensuing 'Deli Belly' Nelly's keepers built him a special 'Nelly sized' toilet. As you can see from his face this was a welcome luxury and he made good use of his newly built amenity. After a good hour or so enduring his first experience of the 'curry squits' Nelly enjoyed 3 barrels of Guiness before passing out on his hay-laden bed for the remainder of his evening.
After extensive tests experts are excited to have found a new form of instant liquid fertilizer that gives all their crops that spicy Indian taste straight out of the ground. Nelly however didn't seem as excited...

Friday, 25 April 2008

10 of my favourite programmes you should be watching...

Hey peeps. Time to share with you my recent top TV choices. these are the programmes I'm enjoying the most from the US and UK and if you're not watching them yet then why the hell not?!

THE UNIT - Damn this series is good, and I mean GOOD! Following the lives and missions of 5 Delta Force operatives and their families this amazingly addictive programme has had 3 explosive seasons so far and has had some of the most watchable TV moments I think I've ever set my eyes on. The cliffhangers alone bring me to my knees screaming "nooooooo! I need more dammit!". I can't rate this highly enough, an absolute must watch series.

REAPER - Another of my favourite TV programmes ever! Sam had his soul sold to the Devil by his parents before he was born and when the Devil comes to collect, Sam is forced to become Satan's bounty hunter, returning escaped souls to Hell by means of a weekly McGuffin/ weapon of choice called a vessel. This series has grown so much in only one season I'm amazed I've only been watching it for a couple of months. Created by the writing God that is Kevin Smith and starring some quality talent (including the stunningly gorgeous Missy Peregrym) this programme has some seriously enjoyable moments and should run forever!

HEROES - If you're not watching Heroes where the hell have you been? Again a series that will always stay in my top 3 for all time. The continuing story of various super powered individuals exploring their powers and coming together to fight a pre-destined catastrophe and the programme's main antagonist. Some truly unique and amazing characters and actors feature in this "god I need to see the next episode" series and the second series is just as good as the first (don't listen to the critics, they're wrong).

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (NEW SERIES) - Who would've thought that a remake of the classic 70's sci-fi series would become such a TV phenomenon. A truly classy bit of TV Battlestar Galactica has brought the Cylons and the Colonials screaming back into a new generation with some very adult story lines and strong characters battling it out for the search for Earth. Only 4 seasons of this series is a tragedy, but you've got to love it while it lasts. Tricia Helfer (Cylon Six) can take up residence in my head any day...

JERICHO - A huge surprise to me this one. Something I probably wouldn't have watched had it not been for my mate Phil telling me how good it was and boy was he right. This series follows the lives of the towns people of Jericho Kansas, a small town that survives multiple nuclear attacks on the United States of America. With twists and turns in the storyline which wrench you about like an old wooden roller coaster and a cast that you feel you know from day one, this programme has become one that I can't wait to watch the next episode of. Cancelled after its first season Jericho had a small reprieve through its fans to bash out another season to finish off the civil war/ conspiracy path the show started to take. Unmissable TV.

LOST - So many people gave up on Lost in it's first season for... well let's face it 'losing' them with it's crazy story lines and 'continuous questions that only lead to more questions', that they never gave it a chance to get where it was going. Which I have to admit still isn't anywhere just yet but it's good TV so I give it the benefit of the doubt for now. Characters are likeable and things are never what they seem which makes you watch just for morbid fascination of what crazy thing is going to happen next... Smoke monsters, time travel, and ghosts etc!

SMALLVILLE - Superman the early years right? Nope, not if you're an avid Superman fan like me. Everything is wrong about this series, Clark not being the geeky, glasses wearing fool he should be in public, being friends with Lex Luthor, knowing Lois before the Daily Planet, Kryptonite creating 'Meteor Freaks' to give Clark a 'baddie of the week' etc etc. But hey it's great TV and you can't help but love Tom Welling as Clark and get excited when a DC superhero turns up on the odd occasion. It's become too obvious though that Clark should end up with Chloe (maybe a mistake by the writers with Kal-El's ever growing love triangle) and Lana should be beaten to death with a tractor and thrown into the sun for being such an annoying goit.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES - There have been some truly awful transitions from the silver screen to TV in the past and I really wasn't ready to give this series a chance. I'm a huge fan of the Terminator films (the 3rd one not so much) and the idea of having a series where Arnie was replaced by the perfectly tiny Summer Glau and the hard arsed Linda Hamilton being replaced by the stunning and very feminine Lena Heady just didn't seem to want to sit with me. However I was proven wrong and this series has got me hooked. Totally negating the 3rd film as part of the franchise's history (a good move really) the Sarah Connor Chronicles takes some serious liberties and artistic license to create a great little bit of TV. Can't wait for season 2.

DOCTOR WHO - Who the hell would have predicted that Catherine Tate would end up as the Doctors sidekick? And who for that matter would've foreseen that she'd be so bloody good at it too? Not me that's for sure! I have to admit to being a Martha fan (well a Martha obsessive is more accurate) and it'll be good to see her making a welcome return this season after her short stint on Torchwood, but Donna Noble has actually really drilled her way into my heart recently, and am I the only one who actually finds her kinda cute? Martha's still my girl. A very good, English TV programme which just cannot fail to make my Saturday nights enjoyable.

TORCHWOOD - Ah Torchwood... The older, omni-sexual sibling of Doctor Who that's gained a following faster than anyone could have anticipated. Not least for it's two stunning lead actors Eve Myles (god I love that Welsh bird) and John Barrowman (he's gay but the chicks don't care!). Some of the episodes over the last two seasons have been mind blowingly good and some have been stinkers but you can't fault it for trying to go against the grain and bring you truly enjoyable TV. Another bit of English TV to be genuinely proud of.

PRIMEVAL - OK I cheated, that's 11 programmes not 10. But hey I couldn't leave Primeval out, it's another one of those brilliant English TV series' that jollies up your Saturday evening and legally lets you watch Hannah Spearitt in her underwear... OK that was a one off but you know it was your favourite Primeval moment. What? The Dinosaurs are your favourite bits? B******s! All jokes aside this programme has enjoyable episodes, some good but not great SFX and great characters which pull you in completely. Season 2 blew me away so I can't wait for season 3. More scantily clad Spearitt scenes please!


BEN 10

Star Wars In Your Pocket on it's way...

Good news Star Wars fans! The new Star Wars 'In Your Pocket' has finally been put into the prototype phase and should be winging it's way to a Clintons or HMV near you in the not too distant future. Having chosen the phrases for the WWE IYP(pictured right) myself (perks of my job as they manufacturer IYP's) and it then becoming the most popular version ever released (yes even bigger than the Mr.T one) I was over the moon to be asked to choose the phrases for the Star Wars release. My only gripe... How they could choose to boot off R2-D2 in favour of a lightsaber sound! Grrrrrr... Still Darth Vader's asthma attack is on there so it's not a total loss!

Next in line is my little baby, my coveted secret... The Thundercats IYP! "Hooooooooooo"! ;)

Mario Kart Wii - Mini Review

A new Nintendo console, a new Mario Kart...
And may I say how very glad I am to see it finally too. From the very first days of screaming round colouful courses on the Super Nintendo I knew it could only get better... Or could it?

Well now, here's the thing. Mario Kart is pure joy as a game, it really is, the new lush graphics, the swanky new way you can control your vehicles with the 'motion sensitive' Wii controller and wheel accessory, the addition of motorbikes and of course let's not forget the wonderful world of Wi-Fi connected multi-player gaming. However I must say that I've never really felt as 'in control' and capable of whipping another person's hide since I played the old SNES original. The N64 and Gamecube versions never really rang my bell, they seemed to be 'all fart and no follow through' if you get my meaning... This Wii outing is certainly a superior release and has all the mod cons and bells and whistles etc but it's just enormously frustrating!
The Wii controller has never been the most accurate device (not always translating your actions and movements to the character on screen) but when using the new wheel accessory you really feel like you've lost something in the controls. It's great to simulate 'wanging' it round the seaside streets or frozen mountains but when you yank the kart left and it carries on straight that's just not on. And another couple of gripes. What's with the kart bumping? Damn, if I get knocked off another cliff edge or rickety bridge by some online numpty playing bumper cars I swear I'll hunt them down and shove a Wii remote so far up their rusty bullet hole they'll be flossing with the hand strap for days... The 'last straight attack' is my final annoyance. You're careering down the home straight, literally seconds before you cross the finish line, after a perfect 3 laps when some goit fires a red or blue homing shell up your tail pipe and pips you to the post, even though they were miles behind. I don't remember it being so difficult to hold the lead in the MK universe before. Maybe that's the whole point, a more edge of your seat ride, but I don't have to like it!

All in all this game is great, my daughter loves it and I really do appreciate the free online multi-player ability this game comes with. Plus the added touch of bringing your beloved Mii into the mix, not only to use as your driver later on but also as statue and billboard faces throughout the game, is a nice touch and makes you feel somewhat more committed to making sure you win.