Tv Review – Game Of Thrones

Game of Thrones is the newest series from the warm nest that is HBO. This tv network has a couple of great series already and can add another one to its list with a Game of Thrones. Even though the first season had only 10 episodes it has become wildly popular and a second season has been announced. I know I’m a bit late reviewing this, but the show hasn’t aired in my country yet and I prefer to watch it in HD so I waited for a while. So I finally watched it a week ago, and here are my impressions.

Game of Thrones is based on the books ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin. The first season revolves around the first book in this epic series. The story takes place in Westeros, a land that consists of 7 kingdoms where the 7 noble families vie for control. During the series the story focuses on one or more of these families.

The current king (portrayed by Mark Addy) is feeling threatened and seeks the support of his old friend Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark (portrayed by Sean Bean). Ned Stark follows his king to King’s Landing, the capital, to serve as ‘Hand of the King’ which is a sort of advisor/regent position.

In the meantime, quite a few events are afoot. The children of the last king of the ‘Targaryen dynasty’, Viserys and Daenerys, are trying to take back the land they feel belongs to them. The wife of Ned Stark has her hands full in the north of Westeros and Ned Starks bastard, Jon Snow, decides to become a ranger and protect ‘The Wall’ (a gigantic wall that separates the kingdom from a whole lot of bad shit). On top of all that, the queen and her twin brother keep a secret and conspire against the king and his loyal followers such as Ned Stark.

In summary, enough material to fill a couple of seasons.

The atmosphere of the series is excellent I must say. A lot of time has been spent on costume design and it shows. Same for the set pieces. The fantasy element is obviously quite dominant but the CGI is brilliant as well. Even the intro has seen a lot of work! On top of that I really like the distinct accents that each of the actors have. Few things are crushing immersion as much as a bunch of Americans running around screaming (no offence).

The casting has been done quite good as well. Sean Bean as Eddard Stark is simply amazing. Bean has quite the resumé already (He’s Boromir in LOTR) and he feels quite at home in the Game of Thrones setting. Mark Addy (Robin Hood) and Lena Heady (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) deserve an honorable mention as King Robert and his bitch queen, respectively. Peter Dinklage portrays the dwarf brother of the queen, Tyrion, and he does a marvellous job. He also seems like the only sane person of the entire Lannister family.

Personally, I didn’t know the books before I saw the series and I see the series from a whole different point of view, no doubt. There are some references to places and names that mean nothing to me (yet) but I’m sure that those of you who read the books know quite well. Don’t worry, I fully intend to read ALL the books!

The first few episodes might feel a bit overwhelming if you’re just entering the world of George R.R. Martin, but the pace slows down a little bit in the later episodes.

Finally, I like that the makers don’t shy away from blood, violence and sex (which is there in abundance) and that the writer of the books doesn’t hesitate to kill off characters (you’ll know it when you see it, blew my mind really)

In short, Game of Thrones promises to have a great run on HBO. Don’t miss it!

/Niels

Cowboys & Aliens

“Cowboys & Aliens’: the combination sounds strange but titillating – a bit like Budweiser & tequila, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, or LSD and ketamine.

But the mix is disappointing: instead of being immersed into an exciting fusion of two classic genres you will simply see clichés being doubled.

In the first half director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) manages to squeeze at least a little bit of fun out of the grape; the title music seems to have been written by Ennio Morricone’s clone, the saloon doors flap just like in the old days, Daniel Craig listens to the clicking of his pistol while squeezing his eyes like Eli Wallach did in The Good, the Bad and The Ugly “, Keith Carradine – always great to see him again – plays the sheriff and our blast from the past Harrison Ford who gets to hoist his 68 years old bones in a saddle once again,  plays a rock-hard former army colonel who’s main occupation is terrorizing a little – scraped off by the prairie winds – town.

All very successful:  one would almost wish that the aliens had just stayed away because we have to admit that I grew fond of the wonderful and immersive Far West atmosphere. But no, just when it all seems perfect those darnful aliens start to drop from the sky and with the next blink of your eyes you’ll see Craig and Ford running, like as if being chased by the IRS from one explosion to the next cactus.

When the last scene faded away and the credits started rolling we realized that “Cowboys & Aliens” symptomatic produces all the mishap of what a clever American journalist labeled the “buy now / write later syndrome”: producer Scott Mitchell Rosenberg sold the concept to the film studios before even one scene had been shot, then an army of screenwriters was instructed to – without much success –  invent a decent story.

On the bright side (yes there’s one) it’s a good thing that “Cowboys & Aliens” never became the big success they were hoping for in the US or otherwise in no time we would have gotten a shipload of spin-offs over us. Imagine: Knights & Aliens’ or ‘Dwarfs & Aliens “or” Cowboys & Dwarfs’ . The horror!

Watch the trailer below and feel free to comment.

/wi11em

Pre-Played: Star Wars – The Old Republic

Since the success of World of Warcraft everyone wants a piece of the MMO cake. The alliance between EA, BioWare and LucasArts is taking a shot at pushing WoW off the MMO throne with their upcoming game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. I’m here to tell you a bit more about this highly anticipated game.

Even though developer BioWare doesn’t have any experience in making an MMO, their resumé is more than impressive enough to set some high expectations. Since Baldur’s Gate, the developer has been the authority in the field of western RPGs. Just think of their recent success with Dragon Age and Mass Effect. BioWare isn’t quite ready to hand over their title as lead developer in this field. Their other Star Wars project Knights of the Old Republic is still appearing on more than one ‘best of’ lists. Is it any surprise that this game serves as the basis for BioWare’s newest Star Wars game?

Own story

Star Wars: The Old Republic is set to take place 300 years after Knights of the Old Republic, a couple millenia before the events of the movies. There is a temporary ‘peace’ between the Jedi and the Sith, but a new conflict is about to start. In The Old Republic players will be able to choose one of two sides to witness the story from the perspective of one of eight available classes. This makes for 8 different storylines, that intersect at certain points, but who are different enough to encourage the player to try out different classes.

The story will be quite expansive, as we’ve come to expect from BioWare. It looks like The Old Republic will have more to offer than just missions where a certain number of enemies has to be defeated. Like those dreaded kill quests in the original WoW … Kill 50 of these, and then 30 of those! Anyway, back to The Old Republic. The storytelling will be reinforced by the fully voice acted dialogues of both the NPC’s and the players. Dialogue plays a major role in the outcome of quests. It’s even possible to have a conversation between the quest giver and the different player, where each player chooses a dialogue option and the game randomly calls upon a player to speak.

Specialisation

An MMO like The Old Republic needs more than just a good story though. That’s why the game will offer more than sufficient possibilities to alter a character to your own taste. For this, there are many options, like choosing your race (human or otherwise), the before mentioned 8 classes and 1 of 2 specialisations for each class. A class in itself only offers a base for the skills of your character, whereas the specialisations is for well … specializing.

The Sith inquisitor, for example, is one of the Sith classes that uses the force. The first specialisation, the Sorcerer, is based on the emperor from the movies. The Sorcerer can give support at range by using lightning. The Assassin, which is based on Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace (Episode 1), is a melee-oriented fighter and uses a double-edged light saber (or whatever that’s called). Even though classes share traits and walk through the same storyline, the specialisations make for more than enough diversity which in turn makes the game have 16 more or less different playstyles. Look below for a list of each side’s classes:

The Jedi

The Sith

 

 

Trooper

Bounty Hunter

Vanguard

Commando

Powertech

Mercenary

Smuggler

Sith Warrior

Gunslinger

Scoundrel

Juggernaut

Marauder

Jedi Knight

Imperial Agent

Guardian

Sentinel

Operative

Sniper

Jedi Consular

Sith Inquisitor

Sage

Shadow

Assassin

Sorcerer

Flying and exploring

Next to the quests on the many planets in The Old Republic universe, space battles also play a major role in the game. Even though it’s completely optional, every player has access to his or her own spaceship. This ship can also be adapted although it’s not clear to me in what way. What is clear, however, is the fact that there is a possibility to explore different worlds in your ship. Of course, you’ll occasionally have to navigate through an asteroid field now and then.

Although it’s always hard to predict if an MMO has any chance for success, the quality of The Old Republic is not to be underestimated. BioWare’s way of telling a story is unique and is suited for an MMO, on top of that the game looks beautiful, especially in comparison with other MMO’s. Star Wars: The Old Republic could be the gold egg everyone has been waiting for since the arrival of World of Warcraft. Beneath all those fancy cutscenes and dialogues it’s a good old-fashioned MMO. The Old Republic will be released on the PC somewhere in 2011.

Watch the trailer below for a little teaser of epicness yet to come.

A game from BioWare in the Star Wars universe with all the awesome music and lore? This is one game I’m willing to pay top dollar for! What do you think of it? Let me know in the comment section below and be sure to follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook!

/Niels

The Witcher 2 Coming To Xbox 360

Speculation and rumors surrounding a console version of Witcher 2 have been flying for months, but today developer CD Projekt made it official: Witcher 2 is coming to 360 later this year.

The announcement came at CD Projekt’s Summer Days conference. No mention of a PS3 version was made, but reps from CD Projekt confirm that the 360 game will contain all of the major updates that the PC version has undergone since release.

You can look forward to learning more about the title next week during E3, where even more info (and gameplay) will be showcased.

I will finally get to play this game because my pc can’t handle it. Although I was hoping for a PS3 version as well I understand why it’s only for Xbox 360. Microsoft needs more exclusive franchises to keep its head above water in the near future, and The Witcher 2 will certainly help with that, rest assured!

/Niels