Friday, 24 November 2017

LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2: Top 5 LEGO games

Originally published on Set The Tape

Everyone likes LEGO, right? Whether it’s fond memories of building your own unique creations as a child, or indulging in buying a fun licensed kit as an adult, you would be hard challenged to find someone that hasn’t enjoyed playing with it at some point. With the massive popularity of LEGO, it’s of little surprise that the LEGO video games have been as popular as they are.

With the November’s release of LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 looming large, now seems like a good time to look back at the rest of the series and to pick out the top five LEGO games you need to check out.

5. LEGO Dimensions

LEGO Dimensions is an amazing game. The game combines dozens of LEGO universes to give you a game where you can play as Batman, The Doctor, Homer Simpson, and Harry Potter all at the same time.

However, the main downside of this game is the cost. Buying new characters and levels can be very expensive. If you can afford to do so, it easily delivers one of the best LEGO games around that is still expanding. What other game gives you the LEGO version or Red Dwarf and The Goonies?

4. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Despite the name, the third entry in the Batman series is a Justice League game, bringing more characters into the series than ever before. It draws from both the Superman and Green Lantern mythos to deliver a game of galactic proportions that builds on the success of the previous entries in the series.

3. Lego Marvel Superheroes

The original LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game is still one of the best in the LEGO series. With a story that spans the whole Marvel universe and a roster of 150 characters, it gives us one of the best Marvel games around.

The hub world in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is fantastic, with an entire New York City to adventure around in. You can visit the Baxter Building, Xavier’s School, and Avengers Tower. You can fight against Green Goblin as Cyclops and Captain America. This game combines so many fantastic elements of the Marvel universe to deliver an enjoyable game.

2. LEGO City Undercover

LEGO City Undercover is what would happen if LEGO created their own Grand Theft Auto game, minus the murder, drugs and prostitutes. LEGO City Undercover is easily one of the most enjoyable games in their roster, with some fun and unique features that make this stand out from the crowd.

Playing as an undercover cop, you don’t unlock new characters, but get to change your disguises to allow you to perform different tasks in the hub world. The hub itself is a huge city that takes the best features from real world cities like New York, San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.

The game is also full of 70’s and 80’s cop show and action movie references, with Columbo, Dirty Harry, and Starsky and Hutch all making appearances, and my personal favourite being the construction worker who talks like Arnie and makes Schwarzenegger film puns.

1. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Could it be anything else? The game that made the series what it is. It’s the oldest game on the list, but it’s still easily one of the best. Letting you play through the first six films of the Star Wars saga, it’s thoroughly enjoyable in its simplicity. Whilst it doesn’t have a lot of the features that later games have, it is LEGO at it purest and most enjoyable.

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Legends of Tomorrow ‘Return of The Mack’ Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

Victorian vampires, Jax with amnesia, the resurrection of Damien Darhk, the return of Rip Hunter, and the first appearance of Mallus. The latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow crams so much into its run time that we’re left absolutely spoilt.

Events kick off this week in Victorian London, where Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvil) is on the trail of an anachronism but ends up stumbling across a dead bodies that appears to have fallen victim to a vampire. Luckily, back on the Waverider, the team has seen that this anachronism is similar to the one that led them to Zari (Tala Ashe) and decide to go investigate, much to the joy of Mick (Dominic Purcell), who reveals that he’s always wanted to kill a vampire as he pulls out a carefully crafted stake that he’s apparently been carrying for years.

With the team and Rip back together, things start to feel a little bit more like the first season of the show, which is never a bad thing. Unfortunately, Rip proves to be less than trustworthy throughout the episode, leading on a particularly sad ending as the character is dragged off by the Time Bureau. It’s unfortunate that Rip won’t be coming back onto the team, but as Sara (Caity Lotz) points out, he’s betrayed every group he’s worked with, and he simply can;t be a part of the Legends anymore. I do like the shift in dynamic that’s been going on since season two, where Sara has been firmly placed as the captain of the ship and the leader of the team, something that will never again be in doubt after this episode.

Whilst the episode begins as a fun vampire hunt through Victorian London, the comedy takes a back seat for the latter half of the episode as it becomes apparent that this isn’t just an adventure of the week romp, but an integral part of the season arc. Whilst I do love the humour of the stand alone episodes, like the previous ‘Phone Home’, it’s great when the show combines that fun humour with the drama that makes up their big stories. Having been promised vampires, the team is more than a little disappointed to discover that there is no vampire, just a time displaced dead body that a cult is trying to bring back to life. Unfortunately for everyone, this body is none other than Damien Darhk, from after his season three appearance and death on Arrow.

I was initially a little skeptical that we needed more Darhk in the show, but thanks to how brilliantly the episode plays his resurrection scene and the massacre that follows I’m actually looking forward to seeing more from him, especially with this weeks guest star Courtney Ford. I won’t say who she’s playing as the episode doesn’t, but it’s going to be interesting when Darhk finds out who she is. We also get some more information on Mallus this week, with some quite frightening hints that he may be some kind of demonic godlike entity, and get to hear the seasons big bad when he speaks through Ford’s character, voiced brilliantly by John Noble. This certainly sets the stage for an interesting, and potentially frightening season to come.

This week also managed to add more preparation to the upcoming departure of Professor Stein (Victor Garber), as Jax (Franz Drameh) and Ray (Brandon Routh) try to sever the psychic bond between Jax and Stein, which results in some amusement when Jax suffers from short term memory loss. Whilst they did attempt this in secret, Stein discovers their plan, and doesn’t exactly disapprove of it either. The separation of the Firestorm matrix, and making the hero into a single entity is sure to be a complex task, one which will surely have an amusing journey over the rest of the season.

Thanks to a tonal shift half way through, this episode manages to blend ridiculous humour and dramatic developments as it introduces the seasons main antagonist, and returns one of its stand out villains to the series. With the episode raising more mystery than it solves, the rest of the season is sure to be an interesting journey across time.

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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Teacher Loses Job For Being Gay

A teacher in Western Australia, Craig Campbell, has lost his job as a substitute teacher after he came out as gay to his colleagues at South Coast Baptist College in Perth.

Campbell, who had been working at the school for three years, went to the college as a student, and attended their church, chose to come out at his workplace following a family wedding that he attended with his partner, which was also attended by a number of the school's students.

'It got to the point where I was like, 'I can't hide this anymore',' he spoke out to the press, describing his decision to come out. Campbell, who was openly gay in his personal and family life, chose to inform his head of department about his sexuality. 'I told them I was in a relationship, and obviously this is something that I believe is fine from both a moral and theological standpoint.'

Following this meeting with his head of department, Campbell was removed from the list of relief teachers, effectively firing him from his position at the school.

The college principal, Des Mitchell, who can be seen on the college website next to the school's motto 'Rigorous Minds, Compassionate Hearts', confirmed on television to 7 News Perth that Campbell had lost his job because of his sexuality.

'At present, for us, we choose not to employ someone who is openly gay.' He told reporters. 'There is an inconsistency with his beliefs on sexuality and the college's beliefs.'

Campbell went on to say that he was not out during his time at the college as a student, but recognised that some of his students were struggling in the same issues of being gay in an intolerant environment.

'I could see that there were a number of kids who were struggling with it as well. And I'm sure their experience is just like it was for me,' he said.

Unfortunately, the school will not be facing any legal action for homophobic discrimination as LGBT+ employees at private or religious schools can be fired for no reason under the law.

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Looking Back At Star Wars Battlefront

Originally published on Set The Tape

Star Wars Battlefront is an amazing shooter experience, one that not only captures the look and feel of the original Star Wars trilogy perfectly, but uses this setting to give players some truly unique feeling gameplay moments.

The game embraces its franchise setting to a degree that I haven’t seen in many Star Wars video games. Where a great deal of Star Wars video games will use the basic style and trappings of the universe to make the game look like Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront goes into such great detail that it doesn’t look like Star Wars, but feels like Star Wars. And that’s a big difference.

The game goes out of its way to make character, weapon, and location design feel like it’s jumped straight out of the films. It includes the roughness around the edges, the scuffs on weapons and armour, the scorch marks on the bodies of the X-Wing fighters; it goes into that level of detail that most games in the franchise simply lack.

Star Wars Battlefront even goes as far as including original film music and sound effects that are so accurate I wouldn’t be surprised if they were lifted from the original films rather than recreated. Whilst other games do feature such details, like the iconic sounds of the TIE FIghters, here it just feels more real, that more attention has been given to these little pieces.

The result of all of this attention and love of the source material means that Star Wars Battlefront is one of the most engaging Star Wars experiences, one where you actually feel like you’re part of the Galactic Empire, or fighting for the freedom of the galaxy as a hero of the Rebel Alliance.

Star Wars Battlefront may be missing a single player mode (more on that later) but it has so many multi-player game types that it feels more varied than other online shooters. Whilst some of these modes are very recognisable to other games, there are a few stand out modes that can either only be done by Star Wars, or at least benefit hugely from the franchise.

Walker Assault is probably the best example of this, where the Empire team is taking part in an attack upon a Rebel base, escorting their gigantic AT-AT Walkers across a huge battlefield whilst the Rebels try desperately to destroy the walking behemoths. Whilst the odds of winning as the Rebels relies heavily on having a very, very good team behind you it is easily one of the most tense and frantic game modes, as the Rebels try desperately to call in fighter strikes to take out the AT-AT’s.

The game also incorporates many of the iconic characters of the franchise, allowing players to take advantage of character pick-ups in order to play as heroes and villains of the Star Wars trilogy such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett.

Whilst these moments don’t last long you do feel incredibly powerful when you are able to transform into these characters, whether it’s running around with a lightsabre, flying around the battle with a jetpack, or killing enemies with Force Lightning, being these characters are a match highlight. The system is even employed in the air combat modes, where character pick-ups allow you to pilot the Millennium Falcon or Slave one for a brief time.

For all that is to be praised about the game, it’s not perfect. There are a number of smaller issues that let the game down, including the difficulty level of certain game modes, such as winning as the Rebellion on Walker Assault. However, the biggest flaw of the game is the lack of a single player element.

Many games understand that a lot of players are interested in playing online with others, and that for some gamers this overrides the desire to play a single player game, but Star Wars Battlefront has focused on this aspect of the game to the extreme, completely dropping the single player experience.

This leads to a game that, for me at least, doesn’t quite feel like a complete games, that there’s something incredibly important missing from the experience. Thankfully, this is something that has been rectified for the sequel; which will hopefully mean a vast improvement.

Star Wars Battlefront is a very competent and well crafted game, with hundreds of hours of gameplay available if you enjoy playing online with others. Perhaps not to everyone’s liking, but still one of the best made Star Wars games in years.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Why Do People Care More About Animals Than Transgender People?

It has been revealed this week the members of parliament in the UK have voted to reject inclusion of animal sentience into the European Union Withdrawal Bill. This vote essentially means that the UK does not recognise that animals have emotions or feel pain.

This decision has rightly been condemned by media outlets, celebrities, and the general public as people call out the decision as being cruel, ignorant, and downright false. Whilst I completely agree with those sentiments, and feel that it is absolutely abhorrent that the British government would make such a ruling, one of the things that has surprised me most is the level of outrage that this has received.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to social media to condemn this, newspapers have reported on it, television and radio have discussed this, and in near all of these cases people have condemned animals losing this fundamental protection. What truly upsets me, however, is how more people are outraged by this than the hate that befalls the transgender community.

In the week leading up to the animal sentience vote, the same week as the Trans Day of Remembrance which recognised the members of the transgender community that have died or been killed in 2017, British media published an anti-trans article every single day, with such publications as The Daily Mail and The Sun stirring up hate towards the trans community.

Whilst this was an increase on the normal amount of anti-trans sentiment, this was only the latest salvo in the war against the trans community. This year we have seen ourselves attacked in the media, mocked on television, attempts made to ban us from the US military, been portrayed as sexual predators.

The push back against giving transgender people equal rights with the cisgender community, to be recognised as regular human beings hasn't been met with the same level of outrage or condemnation that the animal sentience vote has received.

You don't need to look far on social media to see regular, everyday people clamouring for animals to be recognised as sentient, and condemn those who don't feel the same, calling people inhuman or in some cases monsters for supporting the vote. In contrast, when people turn around to those with anti-trans sentiments and call them out on the issue are often told that these people are entitled to their opinion.

Transphobe and TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) are terms that we are told by those with anti-trans sentiments are rude or abusive. We are told that our desire for equality is forcing our opinions on others.

Why are people who feel that animals shouldn't be recognised as sentient seen as horrible people, yet those who deny trans people their identities and their rights simply voicing an opinion?

The answer appears to be, the public see transgender people as less than animals.

I have been discriminated against in my job, I've been sworn at in the street, laughed at, mocked, called a freak, had people tell me I'm delusional, that I'm a man, I've been spat on, threatened with physical attacks, rape, and murder. I've not seen a single person come to my defence in these situations, I've been told to shrug it off or ignore it. If people had abused animals in such a way in public they would instantly have been called out on it.

I know that this article seems to be nothing but a rant and a moan, that there's nothing that will change from this, but the constant media assault, the constant fight to be seen as a human being is just so tiring and so demoralising.

Being trans isn't easy, trans people are under constant attack, we're being told that our identities aren't valid, that we're delusional or mentally ill, we're made out to be criminals, rapists and child molesters in order to push political agendas; and any time we speak out against this we're demonised for wanting to be seen as human.

Animal rights are important, they matter, but if you feel that trans people are worth less than animals, perhaps you should think a bit more about your stance on the matter.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #76 Comic Review

Originally Published on Set The Tape

With the last issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles nicely wrapping up the Trial of Krang story, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 2 mini-series covering what happens to the Trutles on their way back from Dimension X, one of the last remaining plot threads hanging over is that of the Triceraton and their return to Earth.

This story reminded me of Doctor Who, and the stories involving the Silurians. Much like them, the Triceraton are evolved from triceratops’, and have returned to a world that was once theirs and is now the domain of humanity. I was expecting this story to follow a similar path, with the Triceraton and humans both unwilling to share the planet with the other faction.

Because of these preconceptions I was pleasantly surprised when the warlike Triceraton turned out to be the peaceful faction, approaching humanity with caution, but also friendship. Unfortunately, thanks to the Earth Protection Force and Agent Bishop, a peaceful first encounter between the two races turns into a vicious conflict that soon turns into a fullscale war in downtown New York, one the media report as a terrorist attack.

The issue focuses on this first meeting, and the Triceraton leader Commander Zom rather than the Turtles, who only appear briefly as they return from their crossover with the Ghostbusters. The time spent with Zom and her companions means that by the time Bishop turns on them and the battle starts the reader has come to care for the Triceraton, rather than them just being a group of faceless combattants.

This is most evident in the moment when Sergeant Gord sacrifices himself to save his commander. Despite having only known the character for just one issue his death comes as a saddening shock. Perhaps it’s also partially down to the face that we learn the painful backstory of the Triceraton this issue, that they were used as slaves for thousands of generations and simply want a home to live their lives in peace, but seeing them met with open hostility and being called monsters is a lot more shocking and painful than you’d expect.

The issue also manages to pack in the action, with the clash with the Earth Protection Forces incorporating gunfights, helicopters, and even jet packs to give a good variety. With this being only the first part of both this particular storyline, and the fight between Earth and the Triceraton, the skirmish is short lived, but will surely expand over the coming issues.

Whilst this issue does lack the titular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in any particularly important content, it does spend it’s time making a very strong foundation for the story to come, and clearly defines some of the main players and the stakes that are on the line. A strong start to what is sure to be an interesting an engaging story line.

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My Little Pony: Legends of Magic #8 Comic Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

The eighth issue of My Little Pony: Legends of Magic continues on where the previous issue left off, with the as yet unnamed young pony leaving his home town to recruit together the greatest heroes in all the land in order to defeat the evil that has enslaved his friends and family. This issue manages to not only recruit the first member of the team, but adds extra mystery by setting up the next issues adventure too.

With the unnamed pony (I’m still betting it’s a young Starswirl) trapped down a hole, he finds himself being rescued by the very Pony that he’s come to recruit, Rockhoof. With his companion shovel and the ability to dig deeper and faster than any other pony alive, Rockhoof is a very physically impressive character, and ends up dominating the pages that he’s on.

Despite his imposing physical appearance, Rockhoof shows that he’s a very humble pony, refusing to be called a hero and describing himself as simply part of a larger group, the Mighty Helm. All very good qualities for a hero really. Although the young pony pleas with Rockhoof to join him, it’s only through showing his own injinuity and helping Rockhoof and the Mighty Helm to save their own village that Rockhoof finally agrees to go along with him.

The first issue of this story set up the young pony to be a bit of a nothing character, someone who needs the help of these legendary heroes in order to save his town, but this issue appears to be sowing the idea that he’s a lot more competent that he thinks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on to help each of the ponies that he’s trying to recruit in a similar way. This issue even sets him up to be able to do that when he and Rockhoof travel to a swamp to recruit Mage Meadowbrook, where all of the herbivores in the swamp are being effected by some plant that is turning them into vicious predators, leading to an army of animals descending upon our heroes (complete with flaming torches).

It was a genuine surprise to see Mage Meadowbrook in this issue, as I’d expected that we would have one issue to recruit each of the ponies into the team. With the comic playing with expectations, and throwing in mysteries and adventures that need to be overcome in order to get the legendary heroes to join the team, there’s sure to be more twists and surprises before the story is through.

With artwork that is bright and colourful, and clearly depicting each of the legendary heroes, the book continues to build upon the history of the My Little Pony universe in fun and exciting ways.

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The Flash ‘Girls Night Out’ Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

The Flash continues its race towards the much anticipated wedding of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Iris West (Candice Patton) as the boys and girls of the show go out for their stag/hen nights respectively (bachelor and bachelorette for our american readers), which nicely splits the two groups into their own tidy narratives which makes it good for discussion and review.

The boys, initially hanging out round Joes (Jesse L. Martin) house watching some old movies of Barry and drinking brandy before they head out for a fancy steak dinner. Thankfully, Ralph Dibney (Hartley Sawyer) turns up and points out to Cisco (Carlos Valdes) that his party is as boring as you’d expect with that plan, and drags the group to one of his favourite hangouts, a strip club. The events at the strip club are there simply to keep the male cast members in the show, and to give us something to laugh at, as things go from one extreme moment to the next. Having concocted a batch of super alcohol so that Barry can get drunk, Cisco may have miscalculated as Barry ends up very, very drunk.

Thankfully drunk Barry is amazing, screaming around the club that he’s the Flash, getting covered in sauce and crying about how much he loves chicken wings, and asking Joe why Rose couldn’t move over to let Jack up on the door. His best moment has to be when he makes a weird judder and claims to have gone to the bar for peanuts without appearing to have moved. Whilst this may simply be Barry messing around, the idea of his drunkenly speeding around the room was genuinely amusing. As to be expected, things go mad (mainly thanks to Ralph), and the group end up in a huge bar fight and get arrested, only being bailed out towards the end of the episode by Harry (Tom Cavanagh).

Ralph is proving to be a great addition to the cast, fitting in nicely to the role of an antagonistic dick that seems to mainly be there to annoy Cisco, a role that used to belong to Harry back in the day before their friendship. Harry is also very good this episode, quietly stealing all of his scenes with his very ‘I just don’t give a shit’ attitude. More of this please. The main focus of the episode, however, is as the name suggests, the women. Iris is joined on her night out by Cecile (Danielle Nicolet), Caitlyn (Danielle Panabaker), and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) who has come to town especially to celebrate.

Unfortunately for the group, their night out is quickly derailed when a metahuman thug shows up, bringing our Caitlyns dark side, turning her back into Killer Frost. After teasing for a number of episodes, we then get to meet Amunet Black (Katee Sackhoff), one of the new ongoing villains for the fourth season. Whilst her British accent is a little ridiculous, and goes all over the place at times, it’s obvious that Sackhoff is having an absolute joy playing the part, and is intentionally hamming things up. Whilst this doesn’t always work, her scenery chewing is perfect, and reminds me a lot of Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) in the way that it’s so silly, yet fits well.

Whilst we don’t get much of a look at her powers in this episode, or at least the full extant of how dangerous they are if Killer Frost’s fear of them is to be believed, but with her being a returning antagonist, hopefully we will get to see more of this as the season progresses. We also get some progression on the Caitlyn/Killer Frost front this episode, as the rest of the team learn that Frost isn’t quite gone, but isn’t necessarily the killer villain that they’ve suspected. I’m sure that this is another story that will progress throughout the season, possibly connected to Amunet’s.

‘Girls Night Out’ manages to pack in some great story and character progression, introduce a new villain, and deliver some great comedic moments without feeling boring or drawn out. Having followed on from the brilliant ‘Eloingated Journey Into The Night’, it looks like this season of The Flash has found its groove.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 2 #3 – Comic Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

‘The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are on the run. The ghost of Darius Dun, a crime boss whose assassination was ordered by Splinter, has summoned a group of demons – The Collectors – to abduct the Turtles, all in an attempt to hurt Splinter. Luckily, Donatello reached the Ghostbusters for help before the dimension-hopping demons caught up with him.

‘To confuse the trail, the boys in gray split up with the mutant heroes and went on random runs through the infinite dimensions. They take a quick pause to allow their portal technology to recharge, finding themselves in vastly different surroundings!

‘Peter Venkman and Michelangelo appear in Zoo Amsterdam, a city of anthropomorphic animals, where Peter was mistaken for a demon by that dimensions paranormal investigators – the Ghostbusturtles! Ray Stanz and Raphael found themselves in a frozen forest, ambushed by Scandinavian specters! Winston Zeddmore and Leonardo wind up on a world of pure war, narrowly defying death at the hands of an unfeeling army of androids!

‘Back in the Ghostbusters’ home dimension, Ego Spengler and Donatello work on a trap that will send the Collectors directly to the containment unit, a prison they can’t escape from… if the two teams can manage to trap them in the first place. Donatello has an idea about how to make that happen…’

The third issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 2 continues the story of our two heroic teams working together across the mutli-verse to stop supernatural forces, whilst managing to pack a lot of fun and action into its pages.

Following on from the surprise little reveal in the previous issue that Venkman and Michelangello had discovered a group of turtle Ghostbusters in a reality full of animal people, Venkman gets captured by these Ghostbusters, who are named Harold, Dan, Ernie, and Bill after the original Ghostbuster actors (a very nice touch). This leads Michelangelo alone to rescue him. This is a great set up, because it reminds the audience, and Venkman, that behind Michelangelo’s humour and loudmouthed joking, he;s a ninja. He can track people, he can sneak into places, he can jump out of the shadows and surprise you. It’s also a good counterpoint to their story from the last issue, where Michelangelo has the emotional beats and didn’t get the chance to shine as an action hero.

Over in the snowy wilderness of the dimension that Ray and Raphael found themselves in, it appears that the two heroes have found themselves thrown out of their bodies and reduced to ineffectual spirits whilst their bodies have been taken over by Viking ghosts, who are using them to fight each other. Whilst this is great for Ray, who is absolutely loving that he gets to experience something like this and finds the whole thing fascinating, it’s the worst thing in the world for Raph.

Raphael is desperate to be able to take action. He cares about the things that he believes in so much that he’s always the first in line to put himself in harms way, is always the first to take action; so to be unable to interact with or touch anything at all is the worst kind of punishment for him. It’s a great decision to make him the member of the Turltes in this position, as it really challenges him in a way that we don’t always get to see.

Unfortunately, with the issue ending with him and Ray stuck in Ray’s body together things don’t seem to be resolved for the character, and I can see the next issue pushing him to realise that he will need to put aside his lone wolf style brashness and learn to work with Ray in a way that he hasn’t with anyone else in the past. It’s also looking like it will be allowing the creative team to further explore his emotional state and his motivations as Ray has already picked up on some of his inner thoughts and emotions, commenting that even when with his family he feels incredibly lonely. I very much look forward to seeing how this will resolve with the two of them.

Over in the Terminator apocalypse, Leonardo and Winston get a surprise appearance from a group of toad mutants, who manage to steal their dimensional travel device, forcing the two of them to fight to get it back. It;s fun to see Winston and Leo work together this way, the two most straight-laced members of their respective teams, Leonardo with his strict sense of training and discipline, and Winston with his military background.

Instead of dragging the action out it ends fairly quickly, in part because the book doesn’t have the room to have a full scale fight, but also to showcase how good the two of them are compared to their opponents, they don;t need long to beat them even if they are outnumbered. Back in the Ghostbusters home reality Donatello and Ego continue their work towards a way of trapping The Collectors, ans making an arsenal of proton powered ninja weapons. We get to see Donatello going one on one with a giant ghost armed only with a glowing staff, and the result is as great as you’d think.

The inclusion of proton powered weapons for the Turtles is a genius idea, and one that I’m eagerly awaiting the team to be able to use at some point. Whilst most team-ups mean that characters are able to come together to fight an enemy using their own individual skills, the Turtles fighting ghosts would never work without them being given proton packs, which takes a little something away from what they can bring to the table as ninjas. Giving them these weapons means that the two teams can work together whilst still being who they are, the Trutles can actually fight ghosts the same way that they can their other foes, and that’s a great concept. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we get to see both teams in action together.

What this scene also gives us, however, is a chance for the two members of each team who spent some time dead since their last team-up, a chance to talk through their experiences. It’s a unique experience that neither one can really discuss with their respective teams in the same way they can with each other. Here they have someone to talk to who has gone through something similar, who knows the kind of trauma and mental toil that they have experienced. It’s a great scene that gives a good look into the minds of both of these characters, espescially Egon, who very rarely opens up about his feelings.

The story is definitely heating up in this issue, driving towards the inevitable conclusion against The Collectors with both teams coming back together. Thankfully, the book is able to deliver both action and character development as it works to keep its players separate for now. It’s a story that could easily fall flat if in the hands of a less competent creative team, thankfully here it’s being done in such a way that it’s a genuine pleasure to read.

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

CW Release Full Trailer For Crisis On Earth-X Crossover Event

The CW and Warner Bros have released the first full trailer for the upcoming crossover event between The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, titled 'Crisis on Earth-X'.

When all of our heroes gather to celebrate the wedding between Barry Allen (The Flash) and Iris West, including Supergirl from Earth-19, Nazi's from a 53rd parallel earth, Earth-X, arrive to ruin proceedings, along with evil versions of some of our iconic heroes.

'Crisis on Earth-X' stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash, Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers/Supergirl, Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory/Heatwave, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon/Vibe, Wentworth Miller as Citizen Cold, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/The Atom, Maise Richarson-Sellers as Amaya Jiwe/Vixen, David Ramsey as John Diggle/Spartan, Rick Gonzales as Rene Ramirez/Wild Dog, Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt/Mr Terriffic, Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary, Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel, and Russel Tovey as The Ray.

The crossover event airs on 27th November.

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Labour MP Caroline Flint Wants To Protect Women's Spaces From Trans Women Who 'Look And Sound Like Men'

Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley, has spoken out against the transgender community on the Transgender Day of Remembrance in an interview with Evening Standard.

In an interview that begins with Ms Flint discussing being sexually assaulted on the London Underground, before she moves on to discuss transgender rights, and her fears that 'women are getting left behind in the trans debate'.

Ms Flint voiced her concerns that allowing transgender people to access women only spaces could endanger women and girls, 'Young women have told me that they have been in gender-neutral toilets and men have come in, not trans men or women but men, and been abusive and intimidating. These are everyday things, like Topshop making its changing rooms gender-neutral.' She said.

'With the best will in the world, in a changing room there are young girls wandering around in bras because it's seen as safe. Having men in there would change that. I don't know why debate around this has become adversarial. We need to think through how to support those from the trans community but not in such a way that compromises women's and girl's rights.'

Ms Flint then went on to say that she feels that transgender women should be excluded from domestic violence shelters, 'It's important that women feel safe there. It's difficult to judge if someone says they define themselves as a trans woman but for all intents and purposes look and sound like a man.'

The article continues on to include Ms Flint's fears that trans people are trying to impose transgenderism on children when they choose to dress in a way that doesn't match their assigned gender.

She states that she feels 'that a wider group of voices wasn't heard on the women and equalities committee.' The inquiry that she referrs to published a report in 2016 that called the government to make improvements to the Gender Recognition Act, chiefly to reduce the number of hurdles that trans people are required to go through in order to legally change gender.

Despite claiming that she 'absolutely supports trans rights' this is not the first time that she has spoken out against the trans community, having previously intervened in a debate in parliament claiming that gender-neutral toilets put cisgender women at risk of sexual assault.

At the time she cited evidence that cisgender women would be put at risk in gender-neutral toilets from a case where a student at the University of East Anglia placed cameras in gender-neutral toilet. After it was pointed out to Ms Lucas that the case in question was a cisgender man placing cameras in a female only toilet facility she still refused to retract her comments, even going on to complain about gender-neutral facilities because men 'urinate in the sink'.

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Supergirl ‘Damage’ Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

The latest episode of Supergirl pushes Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) to her limits as she faces the consequences of her past actions, and the series finally brings the brewing conflict between Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie (Floriana Lima) to a head.

Lena Luthor has never had an easy time on the show. Being the younger sister of the worlds greatest villain, a man who stands against the worlds brightest becon of hope, means that she was straight away put into a position where she was tarred by the same brush before she could even make her on screen debut. When her mother turned out to be the head of a shadowy group that was trying to kill any alien and was willing to even put civilians in danger to do so, she was able to solidify her stance as being different from the other Luthors by standing against her.

Thanks to the Daxamite invasion at the end of the last season Lena finally showed the public how much she differed from her family when she helped Supergirl to stop the attack on Earth. She’s come so far and fought so hard to be seen as a good person, so this episode hits harder than you’d expect when it appears that she is responsible for poisoning a load of children, even if this was an unintended side affect of stopping the Daxamites.

McGrath plays Lena beautifully, and manages to play the anger and hurt that the character is feeling in very believable ways. It’s painful to see this very strong woman reduced to a mess, drinking alone, wallowing in her misery. She’s been such a strong person up to this point that it comes as a genuine shock to see her unable to handle the situation.

Towards the end of the episode when she confronts Morgan Edge (Adrian Pasdar) she’s taking a step down a darker path, one that is much more in line with the rest of her family, but you can’t really feel like she’s in the wrong for wanting to shoot someone who was willing to kill children just to get back at her. The fact that she even went on to tell Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) to let her die to stop more people from being put in harms way shows that despite this moment she’s still the good person we’ve come to know her as.

This episode manages to showcase just how strong the friendship between Lena and Kara is, with the latter refusing to allow her friend to give up and take the blame for the situation. I’d been a little dubious about their friendship in the past, but seeing it here it’s really obvious that it’s a good inclusion in the series, though there were a few moments in the episode where I was expecting Lena to reveal that she knew Kara was Supergirl. It seems like it’s only a matter of time until Lena does find out that Kara and Supergirl are the same person, hopefully this won’t be something that will drive the two of them apart, as this episode shows just how good their friendship is and it would be a real shame if we were to lose that from the series.

One of the things that the series has lost, however, is the relationship between Alex and Maggie. After a number of episodes that established that Alex wanted children, and that Maggie didn’t, this finally becomes an obstacle that the couple could not avoid. With neither side willing to budge on their stance on the matter it meant that their relationship couldn’t really go any further, and this episode they finally parted ways.

This may not be the last we see of Maggie, but it’s certainly the end of one of the better couples the series has had. Whilst it’s sad to see the two of them no longer together, and the end of the only long term LGBT+ relationship still happening in the CW’s DC Universe, it’s nice to see a television relationship end over very big real life things rather than the usual trope of one of them having been cheating.

The episode manages to showcase just how strong some of it’s female actors are, and even lays the seeds for further season arc developments as Samantha (Odette Annabel) discovers that she’s bulletproof. Whilst the series has lost a great relationship, it’s also showed just how strong the one between Lena and Kara is.

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Batman: The Telltale Series – The 5 Best Batman Games Ever

Originally published on Set The Tape

Batman has been around for close to 80 years, has been in thousands of comics, dozens of films and television series, and man, many video games. But with the character having been around for longer than we have, how do you know which Batman games are worth playing? Here’s a list of 5 of the best Batman games, ever.

5. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (PS3, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Windows)

The third entry into the LEGO Batman series is definitely the best, with players not only able to take control of Batman and Robin, but a whole host of DC heroes and villains in a story of galactic proportions.

Like all LEGO games, the gameplay is simple, and appeals to both children and adults, though it does occasionally feature some rather fiendish puzzles. Despite this simplicity the game is very addictive, and will keep you playing for hours.

Because it’s story focuses on other characters from the DC Universe as much as it does Batman, it’s the least Batman centric game on this list, but still manages to keep the caped crusader at the centre of the game.

4. Injustice 2 (PS4, Xbox One, Windows)

The follow-up to the successful fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Injustice 2 stepped away from the idea of ‘what if Batman and Superman had to fight’ and took on a more complex story, one where that fight is over and Batman is trying to put the world back together.

This may be a fighting game that features characters from around the DC Universe, but it’s heavily a Batman story, more so that the first game. His characterisation is well thought through, and his interactions and relationships with other characters are enjoyable to watch, even when they’re with his enemies.

Thanks to a very strong fighting mechanic, challenges, and unlockable character customisation options, Injustice 2 is a very strong game with massive replayability.

3. Batman: The Telltale Series (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows)

Set early within Batman’s career, Batman: The Telltale Series tells an episodic story where you not only play as Batman, but as Bruce Wayne too. Taking control of both sides of the character you will investigate crime scenes, build relationships, and make choices that will shape the story around how you play.

Despite some people worrying how Telltale would craft a Batman game when it was first announced, their ability to tell an interesting story with well thought through characters proved to silence any doubters.

With a second season of the Telltale series being released soon the game may end up increasing in quality as they continue to tell one of the most compelling Batman stories put to games.

2. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows)

The first game in the acclaimed Arkham series, Batman: Arkham Asylum stunned audiences and critics the world over as it produced one of the best Batman games ever made.

Fusing together a well made story (written by comics legend and long time Batman writer Paul Dini), seamless combat, and stealth, Batman: Arkham Asylum was the first game that actually made players feel like they were Batman.

With puzzles to solve and collectables to unlock the game managed to pace out its story without it feeling overly long, and set the template for how developers have approached superhero games ever since.

Let down only by a weak final boss, Batman: Arkham Asylum only just misses out on the top of the list.

1. Batman: Arkham City (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Windows)

The hotly anticipated sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City builds upon the first game and improves upon it in every way. The sequel offered players an expanded and more intricate story, new characters, improved combat, and a new place to explore.

Having expanded upon the first game in size and spectacle, Batman: Arkham City is the high point of the series, and is still one of the best gaming experiences available on consoles. Incorporating dozens of nods to the comics, and even bringing obscure characters into the series, Batman: Arkham City remains the best Batman game on the market.

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Monday, 20 November 2017

Assassin’s Creed - 10 Years On

Originally published on Set The Tape

With the latest game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed Origins, newly available, and the series celebrating the 10th anniversary of the game that started it all, now seems like a good time to take a look back at the original game in the series.

Assassin’s Creed was one for the first games that I picked up when I bought my Xbox 360, along with Gears of War and one of the Ghost Recon games. I didn’t like it the first time that I played it. I’m not sure why, but there was something about the early stages of the game that just didn’t click with me. After a few days of playing it I ended up putting it aside, and even went and traded it in a few weeks later.

It wasn’t until years later, when I played and loved Assassin’s Creed 2, that I thought about going back and trying the first game again. This time, I absolutely loved the game. I don’t know why it didn’t click with me first time round, but I came to realise that it was one of the better early games on the Xbox 360. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about the game was the level of freedom that it gave you. It wasn’t an Elder Scrolls game, you couldn’t just go anywhere and do anything, but it was far from rigid in the way that it let you progress the story or completed your missions.

The game designed itself around this semi-rigid structure, building the world around you as you progressed through the story, yet giving you multiple options on how to traverse the environments, which included the free-running. Thanks to the success of the series, and the fact that many other games have tried to emulate (or outright copy) this, it’s become just another game play mechanic, but at the time the ability to scale buildings and leap from roof to roof was extraordinary, and one of the features that drew many gamers to try out the game simply to see it in action.

Whilst the game hadn’t yet perfected this, or the combat system, these would prove to be very solid foundations that the franchise would build upon over the last decade. Despite some elements that make the game stand out, there are a few areas in which the game really does drop the ball quite a bit. The segments of the game that are set in the modern day are very jarring, not least because there’s very little to do in these moments. This is something that the later games would go on to correct, having you fight people and traverse building sites, yet here the modern day sections simply bring things to a halt.

Whilst the main body of the game doesn’t suffer from this kind of dullness, it does struggle in some other ways, particularly in how annoying NPC’s can get. Within an hour of playing the game you’ll have heard pretty much every line of dialogue that the civilian characters have, meaning that you’ll get annoyed when you hear the same phrases spoken time and time again. If you can overlook some of these design flaws, and some clunky controls that haven’t yet been perfected, there’s a good game to be found here, with some interesting game play elements, collectible challenges, and mysteries to be unlocked.

Possibly overshadowed by some of the later games in the series, Assassin’s Creed is the title that started it all, and well worthy of another look by people both new to the franchise, and veterans of the series.

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Star Wars: Rebels 4×03 – ‘In The Name Of The Rebellion Part 1’ – Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

The third episode of Star Wars: Rebels final season finally reunites the crew of the Ghost on the Rebel base on Yavin 4. After an opening two parter that only showed Hera (Vanessa Marshall) in holographic form, and didn’t show Zeb (Steven Blum) at all, it felt slightly jarring to suddenly have the band back together, though it was welcome. After the wait between seasons (and then two extra weeks) it was good to see the family reunited, even with the newer additions like Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) and Kallus (David Oyelowo) in the mix.

Unfortunately, the episode seems to be all geared towards a point where it would split the group up yet again to go into the second part of the story. Hopefully this will be something that the season will refrain from doing too much. Whilst it is always good to have an episode or two spotlighting a particular character, with so little time left with the crew of the Ghost I want to see as much of them together as a family as possible.

As well as bringing back all of the regular cast, this episode also brought in two of the big leaders for the Rebellion, Senator Organa (Phil Lamar) and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly). With the series looking set to spend a lot of time on Yavin 4 now that they’ve lost Chopper Base, hopefully we’ll be seeing more of the inner working of the Rebellion, especially at this pre-Rogue One point, where they are less inclined to take direct action against the Empire.

‘In The Name of The Rebellion’ not only looks at the rebels, but expands upon their relationship with Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) that was hinted at in Rogue One, and goes a long way to explain why he and the rebel leaders don’t get along. Despite being on the same side of the conflict, there’s a very different clash of viewpoints as far as how to take action goes.

Saw is a freedom fighter that has lost too much and been fighting too long, sliding further and further away from the man he started as and becoming so close to a terrorist. Whilst it’s only hinted at in the episode that Saw doesn’t care about civilian casualties, in some of the Expanded Universe lore Saw is more than happy to kill hundreds of people at a party just because it will hurt the Empire. He’s not a pleasant person, and we’re beginning to see that more here as he argues with Mon Mothma.

It’s sad that Ezra (Taylor Gray) appears to be buying into Saw’s idea of taking more outward action against the Empire. Perhaps it’s because he’s still a young man, or maybe because he doesn’t know that kind of person that Saw really is, but it feels like something of a step backwards for the character.

The action is fairly light this episode, and whilst the scenes at the Imperial relay station do get quite creative with the characters on the moving satellite dish, it does feel like it lacks some of the spark that previous episodes have given us. However, if episodes are willing to give more time over to character development and universe building the way this one has, I’m willing to lose a little action for that.

The episode ends with Ezra and Sabine (Tiya Sircar) having to flee their mission with Saw and Ediro Two Tubes (nice Rogue One callback). How this will play out is anyone’s guess, though I am hoping that by the end of the second part Ezra will have come to realise that perhaps Saw’s way isn’t the best after all, reaffirming his commitment to doing things the way the Rebellion wants.

Whilst not a particularly strong episode in itself, hopefully it will go on to work well as part of the larger story that is being told once the second part of the story airs.

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Batman: The Telltale Series – A Few Other DC Characters Who Deserve Their Own Game

Originally published on Set The Tape

Telltale are continuing to wow audiences with their incredible character driven video games, and are now about to release a second series of their much beloved Batman title.

With so many wonderful characters in the DC Universe to choose from, who else would deserve a Telltale game of their own?

Booster Gold

The greatest hero you’ve never heard of. Booster Gold is a hero from the future, who travelled back to modern day to seek fame and fortune. After becoming one of the guardians of the timestream alongside the Time Master Rip Hunter, Booster learnt to be a real hero as he protects all of reality.

Booster is a hugely underrated character, and one that deserves a video game focus. With the ability to travel throughout time, this opens the door to any setting, and the ability to have decisions in the past affect future settings, something that Telltale would do brilliantly.

John Constantine

John Constantine is a magician, and an arsehole. A working class occult detective, Constantine is known for his cynicism, ruthless cunning, and constant smoking. Despite outward appearances of not caring, Constantine is driven by a passion to do good and combat the evil forces in the world, even if it costs his own soul.

A game centred on Constantine would be able to combine both classic superhero elements, as well as a darker horror vibe. The game would be able to draw on the DC universe’s deep occult mythology to show gamers a side of the comics they’ll not have seen before.

The Flash

With the popularity of The Flash television series, it would be easy to make a leap into video games for the character.

The game would be able to take a similar approach as the Batman game, splitting the action between The Flash and his alter ego, Barry Allen. The Flash could handle the action when it comes to fighting villains, whilst Barry could use his forensic scientist training to solve a mystery of who the villain is and how to fight them.

The Green Lantern Corps

The Green Lantern Corps are the intergalactic police force of the DC Universe, made up of thousands of members from across the universe. The GLC offers the chance to have an extensive cast of characters to draw upon.

Telltale could easily craft an interesting and engaging super hero/cop drama mash-up story from the source material, and can set action literally anywhere within the universe. Possibly the biggest scope possible within the DC Universe, there’s very little limit to what could be done with the Green Lantern Corps.

Teen Titans

The Teen Titans are easily one of the most popular and recognisable superhero teams around. With dozens of members to choose from, including some of the most iconic characters in the DC Universe, there are so many variations of the team for Telltale to draw upon to create their own story.

A game based upon Teen Titans could split episodes between characters, shifting the player from one team member to another, it could focus on the drama of having a group of teenagers living and working together, and it could even include their most iconic villain, Deathstroke. With so many of the heroes and villains of Teen Titans so beloved by fans it would lend itself well to video game development.

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Friday, 17 November 2017

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #60 Comic Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

The latest issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic follows the three Cutie Mark Crusaders, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle, as they plan on taking out a group of young ponies for a night camping in the woods in order to try to help them unlock their cutie marks.

Whilst they have planned for a weekend of apple picking, swimming, cooking out, and possibly even bungee jumping, their plans are thrown out when Rarity arrives to tell them that Fancy Pants is on his way from Canterlot, and that his niece, Gilded Lilly, will be taking part in their excursion in order to try to get her cutie mark too.

With Fancy Pants wanting his niece to have a Cutie Mark in something ‘important and influential’, the girls are unsure of how to go about helping the young pony, but proceed to run the event the way they normally would.

Over the course of the day a number of ponies manage to get their cutie marks in things like bird watching, and cooking, but Gilded Lilly is sad throughout. Fortunately for her, she enjoys astronomy, and gets to come out of her shell when she has to correct the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who know nothing about it and are getting their constellations wrong.

With her love for astronomy evident, Gilded Lilly unlocks her own cutie mark, a telescope with stars. Instead of making her happy, this reduces her to tears, as she feels that the cutie mark will let her family down because it’s not like theirs.

After a short heart to heart with Scootaloo, she agrees to talk to her uncle about her worries. Thankfully, her uncle proves to be incredibly understanding, and can see that astronomy matters so much to her. He tells her that whilst she might not enjoy socialising as much as the rest of the family, she’s going to be important and influential in her own way.

Skipping forwards a couple of weeks, the Cutie Mark Crusaders get a letter from Gilded Lilly, who tells them that she has now started working at the Canterlot Observatory, and that she and her uncle are holding a fundraiser for it, proving that she is indeed influential in her own way.

It’s a nice little story, one that puts across the message that you don’t have to quite live up to people’s expectations in order to be special, that you can follow your own path and be true to yourself by still make the people close to you proud. It’s an important message, one that tells readers that you don’t have to follow a strict path set out by others, but can be who you really are.

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