Friday, 3 August 2012

Mass Effect 3: Leviathan

Exploring the Mass Effect universe has dominated most evenings! The franchise is a stellar mashup of sci-fi concepts from the minds of Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas to name but a few.

BioWare has officially confirmed the first premium single-player DLC on a par with Mass Effect 2's Lair of the Shadow Broker. Leviathan. Players will be able to further explore the origins of the Reapers in the oceanic depths of the planet Despoina.

Something lurks in the dark corners of space, something powerful enough to kill a Reaper. Shepard must discover the most closely guarded secret in the galaxy before the Reapers silence it forever. Discover more about the origins of the Reapers as you race across the galaxy to find the Leviathan. Unravel the dark history of the Reaper Race before it is too late.

Taking place during the events of Mass Effect 3, players will be thrust into the darkest corners of space where they will hunt a mysterious being rumored to be powerful enough to destroy a Reaper. As they race against time, they will begin to unravel the secret of the Leviathan.

The developer has reiterated that Mass Effect 3 for Wii U will be more than a pedestrian port! Are you interested in replaying the game on Nintendo's next generation console or is Shepard's story at an end?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Daleks, dinosaurs... Doctor Who is back!

A spectacular new promo image for the upcoming Doctor Who S7!

Generations of Daleks, dinosaurs on spaceships, Weeping Angels and the demise of Amy Pond?

Starting this Autumn on BBC One and BBC America! Watch the trailer here.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

OS X Mountain Lion arrives on the App Store

Alas, my iMac (Late 2006) is too old to play nicely with OS X Mountain Lion! Let me know what you think of the latest iteration of OS X in comments. Apple's press release follows...

CUPERTINO, California—July 25, 2012— Apple® today announced that OS X® Mountain Lion, the ninth major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is available as a download from the Mac® App Store℠. With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion includes iCloud® integration, the all new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, Facebook integration*, Dictation, AirPlay® Mirroring and Game Center. Mountain Lion is available as an upgrade from Lion or Snow Leopard for $19.99.

“People are going to love the new features in Mountain Lion and how easy it is to download and install from the Mac App Store,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With iCloud integration, Mountain Lion is even easier to set up, and your important information stays up to date across all your devices so you can keep editing documents, taking notes, creating reminders, and continue conversations whether you started on a Mac, iPhone or iPad.”

With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion includes:

*iCloud integration, for easy set up of your Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Reminders and Notes, and keeping everything, including iWork® documents, up to date across all your devices; the all new 
*Messages app, which replaces iChat® and brings iMessage™ to the Mac, so you can send messages to anyone with an iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® or another Mac;
*Notification Center, which streamlines the presentation of notifications and provides easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps; system-wide *Sharing, to make it easy to share links, photos, videos and other files quickly without having to switch to another app, and you just need to sign in once to use third-party services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo; 
*Facebook integration, so you can post photos, links and comments with locations right from your apps, automatically add your Facebook friends to your Contacts, and even update your Facebook status from within Notification Center;
*Dictation, which allows you to dictate text anywhere you can type, whether you’re using an app from Apple or a third party developer;
*AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send an up-to-1080p secure stream of what’s on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV®, or send audio to a receiver or speakers that use AirPlay; and
*Game Center, which brings the popular social gaming network from iOS to the Mac so you can enjoy live, multiplayer games with friends whether they’re on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Additional features in Mountain Lion include the revolutionary new Gatekeeper, which makes downloading software from the Internet safer; Power Nap, which automatically updates your apps and system while your Mac is asleep; and a faster Safari® browser. New features for China include significantly improved text input, a new Chinese Dictionary, easy setup with popular email providers, Baidu search in Safari, and built-in sharing to Sina Weibo and popular video websites Youku and Tudou.

Pricing & Availability OS X Mountain Lion is available from the Mac App Store for $19.99 (US). Mountain Lion requires Lion or Snow Leopard (OS X v10.6.8 or later), 2GB of memory and 8GB of available space. For a complete list of system requirements and compatible systems, please visit: OS X Server requires Mountain Lion and is available from the Mac App Store for $19.99 (US). The OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date upgrade is available at no additional charge from the Mac App Store to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 11, 2012.

Download OS X Mountain Lion from the App Store

Thursday, 19 July 2012

My Xbox LIVE updated for iPad

A couple of weeks ago Microsoft updated its free iOS companion app with media control functionality. At the time I bemoaned lack of support for iPad…

This Tuesday that complaint was rendered moot! This is a welcome addition, but will leave users clamouring for more! For example you can't switch on the Xbox 360 or purchase games in-app. Presumably the good stuff will arrive in the form of SmartGlass later this year.

Download My Xbox LIVE (iTunes)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Star Wars Origami session at Comic-Con 2012

If you are going to Comic-Con 2012, definitely stop by Room 7AB from 2-3pm on Friday, July 13th for the Star Wars Origami folding session with author and master origami artist Chris Alexander.

Chris will be leading a hands-on class, teaching you step-by-step how to fold an exclusive Comic-Con Boba Fett helmet, as well as a lightsaber and Han Solo in Carbonite. This is an event you won’t want to miss!

The Jedi Master of origami, Chris Alexander teaches young Padawans how to fold 36 amazing projects from a galaxy far, far away. All your favorite characters, creatures and objects from the Star Wars universe are here. Included in the book are 72 sheets of specially designed origami paper, so that once folded, the models look like they stepped out of the movie. August 7, 2012 | ISBN 978-0-7611-6943-7 | $16.95

Chris Alexander began doing origami at the age of four. Since then he’s created dozens of original designs, many of them Star Wars themed. He has a large Star Wars fan base and tours the country folding at conventions and museums. His website is He lives in Lancaster, California

Star Wars Origami will be available in bookstores August 7, 2012. Pre-order here.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut bows Tuesday

Not since Heavy Rain (PS3) has a game so masterfully captured my imagination! From immersive art design and rich characterisation to a soundtrack the equal of TRON: Legacy. Mass Effect 3 is in a class of its own.

I may have missed out on Mass Effect (having only recently won an Xbox 360) and its first sequel, but Mass Effect 3 has invaded my subconscious. So much so that I've dreamt about visiting The Citadel and battling Cerberus forces alongside gamers' favourite blue-skinned alien: Liara!

Much has been written about the game's controversial ending(s) and the developer's pledge to release a free patch that clarifies continuity issues. For gamers dissatisfied with the ending(s) of BioWare's Mass Effect trilogy, a free Extended Cut will be available to download from Tuesday on Xbox LIVE.

“The Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut is a downloadable content pack that will expand upon the events at the end of Mass Effect 3,” the game’s website reads. “Through additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes, the Extended Cut will include deeper insight to Commander Shepard’s journey based on player choices during the war against the Reapers. The Extended Cut will be available to download at no additional charge on June 26th on Xbox 360 and PC and PlayStation 3.”

EA has announced that Mass Effect 3 will be released on Nintendo's Wii U console this upcoming holiday season. A future patch supporting Microsoft's Xbox SmartGlass app could add further replay value to the game.

The developer suggests that players use the last save file prior to the Cerberus HQ mission to unlock the new Extended Cut DLC. Personally, I'm going to undertake another walkthrough...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Control Xbox 360 with iPhone

For the past few weeks I've been considering a Microsoft Media Remote purchase! Yesterday the Redmond-based company updated My Xbox LIVE (iTunes) with media playback controls! The app is free, but requires an Xbox LIVE Gold membership.

What’s New in Version 1.5

• Use your iPhone with your Xbox to connect, control and discover content on your console. Connect your iPhone for access to a quick list of your most recent console activity. Control your content with play, pause, fast forward and rewind media controls. Find fresh entertainment to play in the new Discover section.
• Improved Authentication to make it more stable

• Improved Authentication to make it more stable
• iPad high-resolution images

This is the perfect excuse to dust off my iPod touch, which had been consigned to the drawer since I took delivery of a new iPad last month. The latter will become invaluable when the Xbox SmartGlass app is released, for smart phones and tablets, later this year.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Prometheus: An Alien Paradise

This weekend witnesses the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the UK. However, John Rivers takes timeout from the festivities to explore the dark depths of LV-223...

Guest post by John Rivers

The story of Ridley Scott’s Alien was one I knew long before I actually saw the film [Likewise - Ed]. My Dad had the adaptation by Alan Dean Foster* and as a 10 year old I enjoyed taking it to primary school and enlightening my fellow pupils with the new swear words it contained.

I also used to be able to recite the crew and the order in which they died: Kane first, then Brett, Dallas etc. The story became a collection of images that I thought I knew. When I actually saw the movie of Alien aged 16, I was astounded by how slow the opening was, how Scott rushed nothing, took his time through the images - a dark and empty spaceship, John Hurt gets up in a series of slow dissolves, emphasising the brief amnesia of waking from a long sleep. It was therefore a joy to watch Ridley repeat the sequence in Prometheus albeit this time from the point of view of David, Michael Fassbender’s wonderfully creepy and yet somehow loveable robot.

That’s just one example of how Prometheus echoes Alien, there are lots of other moments that hark back to the 1979 movie, that’s half the fun of having a prequel. It is, however, where Prometheus differs that the movie gets more interesting. A scientific crew is sent to investigate LV-223 which, according to a longshot archaeological guess, may be where humanity has come from. They poke an ant hill with a big stick and guess what happens next? Well, perhaps not quite what you were expecting, and that is why I think so many reviewers felt disappointed.

Prometheus wants us to consider some big SF questions: about the nature of humanity, its origins and future. I quite liked this approach and coupled with the impressive visuals of the planet and the naturally Giger-esque interior I found myself thinking more of 2001: A Space Odyssey that any of the Alien franchise. I considered this to be a good thing indeed, as this genuinely felt like the only sequel since Alien3 to try something different.

The film needs to be re-edited, perhaps with more latitude to ramp-up the tension in the final third (which feels a little messy and disjointed in terms of pace). It also suffers badly from ‘leaving you unanswered questions for a sequel syndrome’: half of this is entirely intentional, the other half comes from poor plotting or perhaps there was more left on the cutting room floor as Scott delivered the 2 hour movie the studio no doubt requested [The Blu-ray disc release may include an extended edition - Ed].

Overall Prometheus is worth seeing and an enjoyable experience in 3D. As part of the Alien franchise it doesn’t feel like it’s on the periphery, it’s simply widened the scope of the Alien universe or perhaps in this case, with Scott experimenting with 3D, given it much more depth.

*My Dad’s bookcase was an exercise in terrifying books: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, Firestarter by Stephen King, The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheately were all there alongside Emmanuelle which was scary for different reasons.

Follow @johnrivers

Friday, 1 June 2012

Star Wars 1313

Lucasfilm today announced Star Wars 1313. A new internally developed IP in the Star Wars universe. This time aimed at a mature audience.

Described as a "third person cinematic action adventure," players take control of an unnamed bounty hunter as they explore the depths of the Coruscant underworld.

Named for Level 1313, a ruthless criminal underground deep below the surface of the planet of Coruscant, the game puts players in control of a deadly bounty hunter as he uses an arsenal of exotic weaponry to hunt down his marks and uncover the truth surrounding a criminal conspiracy. Star Wars 1313 emphasizes epic set pieces and fast-paced combat with a hero who uses human skills and gadgets, rather than supernatural Force powers, to make his way through this dangerous world.

“We’re excited to share one of the projects LucasArts has been hard at work developing,” said Paul Meegan, President, LucasArts. “Star Wars 1313 dives into a part of the Star Wars mythos that we’ve always known existed, but never had a chance to visit. We are committed to bringing the best gameplay experience and visual fidelity to life and I truly believe the work we are showcasing at E3 will speak for itself.”

Not since Dark Forces blasted its way onto my Macintosh Performa 5200 in the mid 1990s have I been so excited about a Star Wars game! You?

Thursday, 31 May 2012

LOVEFiLM launches HD streaming

Yesterday @LOVEFiLM tweeted that it will start streaming in HD. This brings the Amazon-owned company on par with rival Netflix and is a welcome move. However, there is a fly in the ointment.

PS3 owners can't currently stream in HD and the maximum number of registered devices is still limited: Do I forgo a second games console for an iPad?

Here's the full press release:


LOVEFiLM, an Amazon company, today announced the launch of high-definition (HD) service, giving LOVEFiLM Instant members crystal clear viewing.

The HD functionality, available from today in the UK and Germany, will allow members of LOVEFiLM – Europe’s largest subscription service instantly streaming films and TV series over the internet and sending DVDs and games by post – to stream top quality films and TV series on demand and for no extra charge in HDTV resolutions up to 1080p.

LOVEFiLM members in the UK, using PC or Mac, will enjoy content in full 1080p high definition, while members using their Xbox 360 or Samsung and LG connected HDTVs will enjoy 720p resolution. In Germany, HD content will be available initially on PC and Mac in full 1080p high definition.

The catalogue of HD films available to LOVEFiLM members will expand over the coming weeks and months. In the UK titles will include teen sensation The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, family favourite Gnomeo and Juliet and British comedy Four Lions. Top US TV dramas including LOST and Ghost Whisperer will also be available alongside a whole host of British titles, including the BBC’s popular documentaries Human Planet and David Attenborough’s critically acclaimed Planet Earth.

Jim Buckle, MD of LOVEFiLM, commented: “LOVEFiLM is the number one consumer choice for subscription film and TV series streaming in Europe. The introduction of HD quality content further strengthens the offering and marks another key milestone in delivering our members the best possible service with exceptional value.”

Films and TV series available in HD will automatically stream with the improved quality where an internet connection can support it. For 720p streaming members will require a minimum internet connection of 4mbps, while those with connections of 12mbps or higher will enjoy full 1080p where possible.

LOVEFiLM offers thousands of on-demand films and TV series via LOVEFiLM Instant, together with the largest selection of DVD, Blu-ray and games with packages starting from as little as £4.99 per month.

What do you think of LOVEFiLM Instant HD streaming? Tried it out yet? Let me know in comments below...