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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Review: Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death

PC, October 2003 [Amazon UK]

Released in 2003 this multi-platform first person shooter from Rebellion was not well received and faded quickly into oblivion. Having revisited the tired demo as part of my ongoing immersion in Dredd comics I had a look on Amazon UK and discovered it available from marketplace retailers for the paltry sum of £4 (including postage). That’s not much more than two US superhero comics and less than the price of a computer gaming magazine. For £4 I thought why not – reputation be damned.

The multiplayer mode was something I knew I’d not be playing, and the arcade shorts were light entertainment at best, irritating shooting galleries at worst. The thrust of my interest was in the single player storyline, hoping to avoid the damn level from the demo as long as possible. The storyline itself is solid enough for an action focused Judge Dredd tale. This isn’t a Dredd story with characterisation and introspective on Dredd’s actions and attitudes, nor is it a satire on any real world events or such like. This is action Dredd, pure and simple, and there are no pretensions of it being anything else. To this end it actually works better as a narrative than Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (so far - I’ve yet to finish that at the time of writing).

You’re put through a short, yet rather pointless tutorial to begin with – one that even the ingame voice of Dredd laments. After you’ve inevitably punched an instructor by “mistake” and had to do it all over again you are freed to walk the streets and arrest some perps. This first proper level is a pleasing start to the game, demonstrating the ability to shout down perps to arrest them and if you’re feeling experimental then you’ll quickly discover you can get away with arresting most of the populace (as almost everything is a crime in Mega-City One). You get tasked with several routine arrest tasks one after the other, and it’s a solid enough foundation for a better Judge Dredd game in the future, should one ever appear. The implementation here is stiff, with people wandering aimlessly and no actual freeform element – crimes don’t occur around you that you can then deal with, you’re restricted to the sequential preset objectives. A fun start, especially the bank heist towards the end, and a good idea, but a primitive deployment.

Before long you’re embroiled in vampires and dealing with a prison riot at the penitentiary that holds the Dark Judges (Death, Fear, Fire and Mortis). It’s here that the story properly begins, which is told entirely through ingame cutscenes (though the camera breaks out of the HUD and into widescreen). The Dark Judges are trying their best to wreck havoc in Mega-City One through hordes of vampires, zombified citizens and the human Death Cult. After attempting to stop things before they start, investigating the zombie situation and doing your best to rescue citizens you (Judge Joe Dredd, obviously) hunt down each of the Dark Judges individually before a final confrontation with Judge Death in Deathworld.

The Dawn Of The Dead homage level (zombie citizens running amok in a mall whilst gently amusing announcements about mad consumerism blare out from the mall speakers) is good stuff but the game tends to fall apart in some of the longer locales. The prison, running around the Icarus lab, trekking through the ruined buildings – they drag on without enough variety. Facing off against the Dark Judges is a bit too hit and miss for my liking. Judge Fire was easily the most satisfying, fighting him with the sprinkler system inside the Smokatorium. Mortis is an almost immobile turret, Fear chases you but doesn’t really excite and Death is an invulnerable distraction on the final level. They’re great potential bosses but they’re too poorly exploited (apart from Fire).

The graphical style is an odd one. There is a style, certainly, and it’s chosen deliberately and it’s pretty consistent through out. Rebellion have chosen to build, in 3D, Dredd art that sits in the Carlos Ezquerra zone of influence (in fact it all looks quite Henry Flint). The characters are an attempt to translate these drawings into three dimensions but they’re crudely constructed and low polygon beasts, with none of the array of texture wizardry to be found in FPS games a year afterwards, or indeed in RPG 'Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic' from around the same time. The scenery walks a more shaky line, sometimes gelling with the character models and other times jarringly different. You can get a decent impression from the screenshots here as to whether it’s too backwards to accept in this modern age of visual glory.

The final quirk of Dredd vs. Death is the completion time – it took me around six hours and I’m the man who finds Max Payne games take a long time to finish. Sure, you’re left with a pile of time challenge arcade levels but they’re often frustrating and repetitive, and they certainly lack variety. Still… the single player game is a fun blast, despite its many flaws. Arresting criminals, disarming gunmen with a shot to the weapon and generally enjoying the six bullet types available on the modernised Lawgiver pistol (a very nice and chunky piece, these days), not to mention the pleasant selection of weapons for use in the other slot (you can only ever carry two). It’s fun to be Judge Dredd (the game makes a decent effort at translating this from the page) and that’s really what this is. If you’ve an interest in Dredd at all then it’s not a bad piece of fun for £4. For a full price game it would be a truly terrible purchase (and I’d be saying 5/10), and for someone not interested in Dredd it’s not worth their time. For those that are it’s six hours of competent fun for the price of a Commodore 64 budget game…


Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 5:10 PM 0 comments

Monday, September 26, 2005

Revelations And Beastly Power

Having spent a three day weekend (my last until Christmas, unless I can find a way to fall ill enough to avoid work and yet well enough to do things at home…) full of Hulk: Ultimate Destruction fun on the Xbox and construction, installation and marvel at my new Ultimate Gaming PC I’ve been a bit busy. Another fortnightly parcel of comics arrived before I’d even finished the last one, so I’m having to rethink both my short reviews of them here and the number of titles I actually purchase as singles. I still want to review individual comics reasonably close to when they arrive, because doing that interests me, but I clearly can’t wade through the entire parcel every two weeks. Instead I’m going to have to pick and chose, so I’ll see how that goes this week as I try and write up Parcels 3 and 4.

Some general links and comments. There’s an interview with comics writer Paul Jenkins over at Newsarama where he discusses his approach to writing and guiding the story of the aforementioned Hulk: Ultimate Destruction game. It’s interesting to see storytelling in games discussed by a writer from another medium who has an interest in truly exploring the process in games. I’m not sure I can recommend the Hulk game as a top class example of pushing forward game storytelling, sadly, but at least he’s got the interest.

Over at Ninth Art the ever readable Paul O’Brien has an interesting look at the bookstore numbers of manga, superhero and indie graphic novels over in the US. I must admit to being quite surprised at the numbers on the best selling manga digest. Whilst I have attempted to remain free of the more extreme end of the US manga market hype, I had been happy to hear it was rampantly successful compared to the existing western comics market there. Now it would appear that whilst solid, it’s not quite the explosion everyone had thought. It does make me wonder what the numbers on the average Gundam digest are, as Gundam is hardly a dominating force is the western translated manga market from what I can see.

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 11:41 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Review: Judge Dredd Part 1 – The First Forty

Despite my previous comments about 2000AD I’ve never actually read much Judge Dredd. My only experiences of the character in comics have been a few standard strips in the 2000AD/Judge Dredd annuals and some reprints of newspaper strips. In fact the bulk of my Judge Dredd familiarity comes from reading The Megahistory from the library several years ago (a book that covers the creative history, including the struggles and behind the scenes soap opera – I recently bought a copy of my own and re-read it). With this in mind I decided to start at the beginning, back in time to 1977 and the first rocky steps of Britain’s favourite lawman.

It was a good thing that I’d been prepared by The Megahistory because, to be brutally honest, this first year’s worth of Dredd is hardly the stuff of legend. For those unfamiliar with 2000AD, the strips (at least during this period) tend to run to roughly 6 pages, with occasional multi-part tales and, during this period, one multi-issue “epic”. The entire first forty strips are largely an exercise in throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. Despite Pat Mills searching desperately for the ideal first Dredd strip he wasn’t against making use of those he rejected in later issues. He was also in the position of heavily rewriting submitted work in an effort to establish a coherent initial style for Dredd and Dredd’s universe. It’s messy, background building stuff that attempts to found the basics of the Lawman Of The Future and the world he inhabits.

The core idea of many of these stories is a perfectly legitimate plot for a Dredd strip. Unfortunately the implementation is ham-fisted and only bearable at best. The dialogue is almost entirely compose of people shouting and finishing their lines with exclamation marks, something that happened a lot in comics of the 60s and 70s but was often done much better than this. The characters are largely flat and non-existent. Establishing Judge Dredd as a definite individual is still a work in progress by the end of this period, despite the efforts of Robot Wars and the one-off The Return Of Rico. Frighteningly the most established character is the generally very irritating Walter the robot who exists mostly as Dredd’s comedy sidekick.

The most interesting part of the early Dredd work is watching the developing visual aspects. Mike McMahon is the defining artist of these first 40 strips. He begins by aping the style of “pilot strip” artist Carlos Ezquerra but quickly starts his journey through more expressive comic art. His apparent love of the circular Dredd helmet in this period (it gets more and more like a ball on his head as time goes on) does detract from watching him develop, and rather cripples the other artists (excluding Ezquerra’s few printed contributions here). The Dredd strips not by these two tend to result in a laughably stupid looking central character, with even the first efforts of Brian Bolland looking particularly painful when Dredd is on the page. When the awful circular helmet is finally evolved past it becomes much easier to enjoy the evolution of the Dredd artwork.

The first “epic” Dredd story is the multi-part Robot Wars, which does display the first sparks of quality (and is incidentally written by John Wagner). The racism allegory is hardly subtle but works much better than most of the other material, and shows more of the dark comedy potential that would be realised so often later on, more than most of the other strips that is. The Return Of Rico is something that would fuel so much of Dredd’s mythos over the years but as a strip itself it’s a woefully short and clumsy piece. Still, it’s one of the highlights of these messy early works so it is a stand out point. It’s also worth noting that despite John Wagner (the writing half of Judge Dredd’s creation) being the definitive Dredd writer, his work here is almost as stumbling as everyone else’s.

Ultimately this is a history lesson rather than an enjoyable experience, at this point. I know it gets better (as I’ve already read the next period I’ll review and on after that) and I can’t deny that a lot of the corner stones of Judge Dredd & Mega-City One are established here. It’s just that anyone expecting to fall in love with the character during its first year (if they’re reading it today) will be hard pressed to do so.

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 9:29 PM 3 comments

The _blacklibrary Opening

This last Saturday was the official opening day of Always Black’s Second Life project, the _blacklibary. Inside the much talked about world of Second Life he’s created a three dimensional version of his website, in the form of a large library. I’d not seen this finished version of the library so it was a good few hours taking the tour, chatting and then hanging around (and messing around) in the library bar. There were many and varied folk with some truly strange Second Life creations being shown off. The following pictures are my own, but there are more on display at the forum thread here, and a mention in the Second Life Herald here. I’m the bald, purple bearded and green glasses wearing chap. In the game. Not in real life. Yet.

Bobsy (the sky pirate and ingame travel journalist) demonstrates to Sweetybearbaby and myself his ability to grow pretty flowers as he walks. He’s “not gay” and he certainly wasn’t naked in the bar later, no sir.

We lounged around in the bar chatting and being attacked by multiple insane flying joints and giant carrots. This was the calm before the storm. Notice poncy crossing of legs by our host.

We later exploded into a fit of jigging (once AB had hooked us up with some streaming net radio music ingame). Bunny ears were a requirement, honest. A better picture of the full jig can be found here.

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 9:45 AM 0 comments

Monday, September 19, 2005

Review: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Final Fantasy VII was my introduction to the Japanese variety of role-playing game and a very enjoyable introduction it was too. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the lovely looking CG movie sequel to the game. Things are not right in the world, there’s some kind of disease running rampant and three blokes on bikes have arrived with a connection to Cloud, Sephiroth and Jenova. Thankfully the plot stays reasonably coherent and doesn’t drift off into impenetrable explanations of spiritual things, plus it actually resolves itself in a rather straight forward manner.

Advent Children is quite obviously an exercise in fanboy/girl gratification. The scene where the game’s entire surviving playable cast arrive to do battle with the summoned creature (a slightly odd version of Bahamut, it appears) is just a classic grab from “101 moments of smug feel-good enjoyment to be included in fiction”. It’s cheesy, clichéd and not quite as dramatic as it could have been, but it’s to be expected. The entire film is full of these kinds of giggle-inducing pleasers for the game die-hards. Cue Cloud whipping out an insane multi-part sword. Cue Tifa kicking seven shades of shit out of someone with her bare hands. Save the complete Aeris scene until as close to the end as possible. Cue Sephiroth. Cue limit break resolution.

Despite all of this, it was fun. I’m not a Final Fantasy VII fanboy but I do have a healthy appreciation for the characters & universe created in that very enjoyable “game”. I did giggle guiltily at some of the clichéd “look, it’s this person/action/object!” moments. I also have a surprisingly high tolerance for fiction that can convince me it’s quite fun, despite any other flaws. Without this tolerance I would be hard pressed to say anything better than “it was ok, I suppose”. With this love of The Fun I quite enjoyed the experience. It’s not something I see myself watching time and time again but it didn’t induce spasms of embarrassment at its cheesy wish fulfilment. Above average fun, I thought.

(As a postscript, I thought the End Of Fight jingle from the game being used as the ring tone was an amusing nod and play with our expectations. They had me worrying that we were about to descend into some kind of stark game/movie amalgamation.)

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 3:15 PM 3 comments

Thursday, September 15, 2005

CS sux OMG h4x!

I'm probably months and months late in noticing but I just discovered the wonderful I abused the company bandwidth and read the whole lot, which has some really amusing stuff for the Half-Life 2 gamers like me. The four that mentioned Counterstrike:Source really nailed it for me though. Links below:

August 12th
August 15th
August 17th
August 19th

Also: For my weekend I have Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Equilibrium to watch, which should be nice. Oh, and Webstat4u are popup-introducing bastards. That is all.

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 4:35 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I wasn’t going to post this rambling post as it doesn’t really have any point (and, you know, isn’t very good). Then I thought “bugger it” and I may as well, particularly as I’m thinking of coming back to looking at some Judge Dredd comics down the road.

Of late I’ve been increasingly more and more interested in that staple of British comics, 2000AD. As a weekly anthology running since 1977 it’s pumped a wealth of material out into the world, some of it top quality, some of it full of good ideas, some of it utter crap. It’s also been a breeding ground for a lot of British talent that’s since shifted over into the American market. As a comic reading kid I was brought up initially on Thundercats and Transformers (UK) comics, then Turtles (the UK comic reprinting the regular colour US series rather than the original black and white source, as far as I’m aware. 2000AD wasn’t something I was allowed aged 6 to 12, my parents frowned on its gore ridden adult approach to comics. After that I found my wallet distracted by other things and never really pursued it.

Luckily the wonders of friendship meant that between the ages of 10 and 16 I had a friend whose room housed several treasures: an Atari 2600 console (later replaced by a Sega Megadrive) and a healthy stack of 2000AD, Starlord and Judge Dredd annuals. I spent many a day there whilst my brother and the friend gamed, devouring those annuals. Some of my most influential comics experiences (after Transformers UK) were those strips of Harlem Heroes, Ro-Busters, Flesh, Invasion, M.A.C.H. 1, Strontium Dog and (to an oddly lesser extent) Judge Dredd. They were steeped in a merciless attitude, dipped in dark comedy. The mix of storytelling with extreme violence, varied art and darkly comic subject matter is probably responsible for my modern day love of titles like Preacher and Transmetropolitan.

Now I have begun to obtain these comics again, alongside the other stories from those days. I can revel in the better pieces and cringe at the worst. Zarjaz!

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 4:03 PM 0 comments

Google Blog Search

So Google has finally launched a Blog focused search page at It's strange that it's taken them so long to pull this one out after the acquisition of Blogger many moons ago. Apparently Technocrati offers this kind of functionality already, setting the pair up as opposing forces (hopefully meaning a healthy level of feature creep). It apparently works off RSS feeds, which will ensure a more frequent updating of the index than you get on standard Google. The downside is that, according to Scripting News, it doesn't play too well with posts that don't have a title (something I always avoided in the past due to the precious minutes often required to think up titles). There's more commentary at that link.

I ran some tests, because I am greatly bored. Tests may in fact need to be downgraded to "I had a fiddle" actually. I used Jack Cross 1 as my subject because I was interested to see whether the consensus was similar to my own opinions (see the post below). Initially I noticed that it's far more essential to make good use of grouping expected grouped search terms, like "Jack Cross", than it is in regular web search Google (in my experience at least). Once I did that I no longer got a list of results that brought me huge posts about someone named Jack, which later turned into a discussion of something that made someone cross. I did notice that my own post had not yet been indexed (established by a "Fortnightly Comics Parcel" search only bringing up parcel 1, not parcel 2*). It's strange that the "updating much more frequently due to RSS magic!" blogsearch was not picking up a post from a week ago.

Incidentally, the opinion on Jack Cross seemed to fall around the same area as my own, with obvious swings further towards each extreme. This one ran along similar lines to mine, that it was not an enthralling first issue and didn't tell us enough to engage with the book in the long term, but did tell a reasonable beginning to the story. Actually clicking on Read More on that post gives you a more negative view of the comic than my own, but it's in the same ball park (and it's not a stock "Ellis is crap, this is crap" review at all). On the other hand, this post is still in the same area but focuses much more on a positive view of what's there in the book. It's quite rightly not generating the same level of enthusiasm that Fell and Desolation Jones have.

So yes, off the point there somewhat. The Google blogsearch seems like a promising start to a tool and it's something I think I'll make use of myself for exercises like the above, whether here or just for interest.

* I have since redone the search and now it's showing everything, including this post. So it obviously does refresh very very quickly indeed. Bastards!

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 1:26 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Review: Fortnightly Comics Parcel 2

Fortnightly and nearly two weeks late, how appropriate. I might be even more brief and incoherent than usual. I appear to have forgotten to read Nightcrawler 9, so I can't say anything about that (well... except that Darick Robertson's pencils suffer yet more ink woes, this time they appear to be done with a paintbrush). New X-Men: Academy X 17 is waiting to be read whenever I get around to reading number 16 and Mutopia X 2 I read but seem to have buried somewhere. Oh yes, and Smoke 3 arrived so I can now read all three, which I'm looking forward to but means I clearly have nothing to say on it yet.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Annual 1: Ahhh, at last. I can't do anything more than agree with the general 'net consensus that this is a welcome return to form for Bendis on Ultimate Spidey. Definitely his best issue in a while, though it's a pity we're not seeing it as strongly in the ongoing series. This is the kind of quality that made me interested in Spider-Man comics for the first time ever. Great potential in the Kitty Pryde-as-girlfriend thing setup here, and the arrival at the situation is suitably teenaged. Good fight scenes (made good mostly through the dialogue around them) with the Rhino and a welcome return for the Shocker character (everyone's favourite loser criminal). Art on the annual is from Mark Brooks, whose cartoony style (not too dissimilar from regular Mark Bagley's but generally rather careful and controlled) fits Ultimate Spidey to a T.

Jack Cross 1: This was a better comic on the second reading. It's the start of a new Warren Ellis ongoing series, this one for DC. He's working through various concepts in the arena of "special agent/detective/crime" based fiction, though in usual Ellis fashion he's exploring different aspects of that broad arena with each book. Jack Cross is all about a privilegeded special agent (and political activist) who is an external problem solver of sorts, presumably based on extraordinary accomplishments in the past that we'll learn more of down the road. In this debut issue he's employing his brutal interrogation techniques to uncover information from a CIA mole in the Department of Homeland Security.

Art is from Gary Erskine and it's a bit stiff throughout the book. It works better in the interrogation scenes but the colouring throughout isn't particularly flattering for Erskine (it's rather reminiscent of the low end of Marvel colouring that also tends to bug me). I've seen him do better but hopefully he'll grow into the book more as it progresses. It's a sedate first issue but still a fulfilling package that doesn't drag. There are less of the trademark parts of Ellis' dialogue style than I was expecting, which is nice because I always like to see the man force himself into a style other than his most comfortable. The book needs more characters though, ones that have personality and can form some kind of ongoing cast. Karen is the only person other than Cross to look like a prospective regular, but neither her nor Cross get established in any strong way. A gentle start that hopefully picks up as the series progresses.

Weapon X: Days Of Future Now 2 (of 5): I was just about enticed into the ongoing series by the dark and rather homicidal take on the B and C list end of the Marvel mutants, so I was a bit miffed when it ended without time to resolve anything whatsoever. This miniseries is meant to be that resolution, some time after the original ended prematurely. So to end up reading an alternate near-future story, which kind of does that but kind of doesn't, is something of a disappointment. When it's finished I shall probably be able to re-read it without that problem looming in my mind, but for now it's there and keeps this firmly rooted at "competent yet disappointing". Tieri's writing is solid enough, and the pencils from Sears are not as bad as his past work, though a better artist would be welcome (and I think one is due with issue 3). Yes, competent yet disappointing does it for now.

Cable & Deadpool 18: Every fresh solicitation is a sigh of relief for this, perhaps my most guilty comics pleasure, sadly hovering dangerously close to cancellation. Nicieza's script delivers more verbal comedy from Deadpool as the central character of this arc and the strongest point in this issue. The plot is resolving in a less than satisfying manner, however. It has a dual purpose in resolving the abominable X-Force miniseries that we can blame on Rob Liefield, and to reset Cable's powers once more. These are achievable goals but Nicieza's plot is stumbling at this end of the arc. Zircher continues to be a perfect fit on pencils for this title, though.

Wolverine 31: Mark Millar's 12 part story (split into two 6 part arcs) finishes off after dragging rather heavily in this second half. Romita Jr. delivers nice enough art (though he has done better in the 12 issues) and the issue is the low end of good on its own, but the Agent Of Shield 6 part arc has been less satisfying than this issue would suggest. Oh, and the attempt at an "emotional epilogue" really doesn't come off.

Ultimate X-Men: Annual 1: I don't usually read this title but figured I'd pick up the annual as it's a stand alone issue. It works fine for someone with little knowledge of the ongoing, which was good to see, and I did like Brian K. Vaughan's use of our expectations to spring the ending (and increase its impact). Tom Raney's pencils don't seem up to his best, possibly due to the inking and/or colouring. They're still pretty enough though. It doesn't click with me like the other two Ultimate annuals, but that's possibly due to my lack of connection with the ongoing. The upper end of the score below.

New X-Men (Academy X): Hellions 4 (of 4): I have liked the work of DeFilippis and Weir on the New X-Men kids - even if it's not been excellent, it has been generally good (and they're all new characters, which is nice to see work). This more focused miniseries has been particularly strong and this issue rounds it off nicely. I would say that it was predictable to see them swing to the side of heroes, but it wasn't something I was sure they'd definitely do until it happened. Good art from Clayton Henry, much better than his work on the terrible Alpha Flight relaunch.

Authority Revolution 11 (of 12): I'll go back and look more closely at this series and my opinions on it when it's finished, I think. For now this is a "fight against mind controlled good guy" issue, which are never my favourite kind. The art is somewhat scrappy too - either a bad day for Nyugen or some bad inking. Average stuff but I'm still interested to see how it ends.

Klarion 3 (of 4): The Seven Soldiers project from Grant Morrison rolls delightfully on with a strange issue to begin the second half of this miniseries. Oddly, it's also my favourite of Klarion so far, with Frazer Irving's art finally generating feelings of appreciation that I can match to the love everyone else seems to have for it. I'm not sure how well the miniseries will turn out but as a stand alone issue this was a good read.

Fortnightly Comics Parcel 1

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 11:46 PM 0 comments

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thoughts On Firefly 4 - 7

I was able to spend my long weekend enjoying more Firefly on DVD, which was nice. There’s not much to add to my initial impressions on the show at this point. The episodes continue to provide that Josh Whedon balance of comedy and seriousness, which makes them instantly likeable. I think it’s a shame that the series never got a chance to continue properly as there are plenty of things being gradually set up for payoff later, and I’m quite sure I won’t get to see them all explored in the second half of the aborted series. Perhaps the movie Serenity will tackle everything that’s left over, but I’m sure things will turn out differently without the prospect of continued syndication.

I’m enjoying Mal a lot, obviously. He continues to make a good lead character and Fillon acts the part very well. His interactions with The Companion make the pair of them interesting, though she’s not a stand out character on her own. The engineer (I’m working from memory and Googling names requires too much effort!) is another favourite. She’s enjoyable to watch and the actress does a wonderful job with her. Oh, and special mention to the episode where an entire town worship’s Jane – it had me giggling myself off the sofa. Happily it looks like I’ll have the next DVD to enjoy this weekend as well.

Thoughts On Firefly 1 - 3

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 3:12 PM 5 comments

Review: Gundam SEED Destiny 44

Well Destiny was rather nondescript this week so this isn’t going to be much of a review. It’s one of the most obvious problems with the show infact. Episodes like this are quite frequent – bridges between Events where nothing much happens outside of people and things moving from place A to place B to setup the next Event. In this case it’s the build up to the inevitable final battle in space. Interestingly there’s been very little space based action in Destiny compared to the Gundam of old but it is something of a tradition that requires all final battles to take place there.

Of course now that I’ve said things didn’t happen, I realise that they did but they didn’t actually feel like they were happening. If you jot down bullet points of what went on, there was plenty but it all seemed so static. I came away from the episode thinking that nothing had happened, you see. Part of the reason for this is probably Destiny’s reliance on the face slapping inter character tension and high volume action arcs. When an episode isn’t taking part in either of that to any great extent then it fades rapidly into the background.

I was glad to see the dual Lacus situation being brought closer to a resolution. I’m generally impressed with the way the idol concept plays out in Destiny, especially when the characters ignore it or dismiss it as being silly. It doesn’t really ring true to see the majority of people actually caring what a singer wants them to do though. It’s the scale of the SEED universe that cripples this concept the most, I think. It’s a concept that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Phillip K. Dick novel but it somehow feels totally alien to a Gundam show. Maybe it’s just my residual hatred of the entire “music/singer saves the universe in a serious mecha war show” concept. Still, it’s not the main focus of the series by any means so it has worked well enough so far. My only fear now is that the final few episodes will contain some universe shattering actions as the result of something a Lacus says to humanity.

A beam/laser/solar weapon that uses colonies as mirrors to destroy other colonies? Shocked I am, truly shocked. I would NEVER have expected this in a Gundam show, especially not one so unlike any Gundam show prior to it!

It would be nice if someone sat us all down and explained the cloned people with long hair situation and exactly what has gone on with Mwu. I don’t suppose this will happen but the constant hints and flashes need to have more of a resolution to them, and currently the Mwu-as-masked-bad-guy/amnesia bit makes the first two thirds of the series look somewhat weird. I’m sure that’s all too much to ask though.

Gundam SEED Destiny 43

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 2:32 PM 0 comments

All original content is copyright Alex Hopkinson 2005. Other content is copyright the respective owners. To contact the author email: alex [at]

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