Ever Heard of a Power Nerd?
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift Review

If the team at Blue Sky Studios should be proud of anything, it’s their ability to invent characters that are both loveable and insane. The Ice Age series has so far proved this theory, with even the most tertiary of personalities standing out due to amusing writing, solid voice work and a unique role within the world they inhabit. We’ve seen a mammoth believe she was a possum, an eccentric one-eyed weasel voiced by Simon Pegg, and then of course there’s Sid, the idiot sloth with a heart of gold. While it’s rare that film franchises should ever reach a fourth instalment (though many do), Ice Age has remained fresh long enough to warrant another shot at box office greatness. Thankfully, Continental Drift is a fun adventure that frays a little, but retains nearly all the charm of its predecessors.

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It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
Mark Twain
The Amazing Spider-Man Game Review

The webbed wonder is well-versed in the realm of video games, having spun a web across consoles old and new, from the sidescrolling days of the first Nintendo system through to the Playstation One and beyond. He’s found success in the open world antics of Spider-Man 2 and more recently tinkered with a level-based, combat heavy style of play.

Beenox has taken a bold step in returning the web-head to the sandbox of New York City, allowing players to once again go behind the mask and take on the role of hero with all the random crimes, car chases and web-zipping they could hope for. In concept this is nothing new, but has the developer at last uncovered the formula to making a truly amazing Spider-Man game?

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Online Dating - Bit of a Character



WARNING: This is probably the most facetious, most downright offensive and brutal article regarding online dating you’ll see for years.

Due to fairly popular demand, here is the second part of my dating site run-through. This time, I’ll be covering the different types of women a guy can expect to see online, as well as a few types of guys that women will encounter (oh that’s right – I do my research before starting one of these things) and do so on a near constant basis.

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A Flash of Red



Red Sonja is one of those characters that few people know, at least outside of the terrible 80’s film featuring Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Brigitte Nielsen. In fact, the character was something of a spin-off from Conan, though I won’t go into who did/did not create the character in the first place, as that continues to be a source of irrelevant confusion.  Disregarding the old Marvel incarnation of the character, Dynamite’s revamp in 2005 has resulted in some very solid tales spun depicting a powerful woman’s struggle against the cycle of repeated destiny. Sometimes… she just has a brawl in a bar.

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So Who’s Second Hand? The 2nd Runner Returns



What does it mean when one of the games I’m most looking forward to is actually a re-release of an eight year-old and sadly overlooked title? Perhaps it just makes me unique or more than likely a little bit strange. If that’s the case then I’m most definitely not alone, if the current HD ports of the God of War and Ico/Shadow of the Colossus (to name just a few) are anything to go by. It’s a simple fact that re-releases sell, and it didn’t take long for games companies to realise that backwards compatibility might not be the way to go; it may be great for the consumer, but why accommodate it when making a quick buck from releasing old games makes such perfect business sense?

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Augmenting the Future



Neural implants, bionic limbs, retractable weapons and active camouflage have all become synonymous with the science fiction genre, and most recently in video games such as Crysis 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The abilities granted to the player from these technological marvels are often a necessity in the name of progression, adding greater depth through a range of customisable options; but just how have they influenced gaming and are they more grounded in reality than we might initially think?

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Online Dating - 10 Things Guys Should Know



I don’t profess to be an online dating expert, nor can I guarantee success, mostly because looks, height, build etc, really do play a major part in it all. That said, there are certain rules that can make the steep learning curve a little easier. To that end, I offer these ten basic tips for guys struggling online, having tried and tested them (making various mistakes along the way) for over a month. It’s important to note that the rules are very different for women, as it’s widely regarded that they are the ones accepting and rejecting applications.

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Fighting the Call of the Undead

I’ll admit it; this is coming from someone who, until very recently, has failed to even scratch the surface of what Call of Duty: Black Ops has to offer, single-player or otherwise (I’m well aware that a quick run-through of the demo doesn’t count). One aspect of the game that this humble writer has been schooled in is the entertaining Zombie mode, which was first pioneered in Treyarch’s 2008 hit, ‘World at War’. The haunting groans of the shambling dead, the screeching sounds of the sprinting ghouls and the rattling noise of desperate gunfire stay with you long after the session has passed, but just what is it that makes this mode so appealing?

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'Nuff said.

'Nuff said.

A Trip Worth Taking



If one game made a surprising impact on me late last year, it was Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Now, I’m well aware it wasn’t to everyone’s taste, with a few people I know on a personal level describing it as little more than one long escort mission. It could be seen as that in a way, with the character Monkey attached via an invisible leash to female co-star Trip via slavery headband (aha, hence the title). But to describe it as such would be to forego its mesmerising art, engaging narrative, plus hours of solid and accessible gameplay.

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On Hallowed Ground - Major Spoilers!

Alert! This is a discussion piece. If you haven’t seen the final part of Harry Potter, you should probably hop on your broom and go see it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

At long last, the cinematic adaptation of the boy (turned angsty teen) wizard draws to a close. Each film has been progressively darker in theme than the last, with Half Blood Prince taking things all too literally and coating everything in an eye straining shade of black. Part 1 of Deathly Hallows rectified this issue, retaining the foreboding atmosphere and sense of desperation, though the amount of tent action did grow tiresome. This time, everything comes to a head in spectacular fashion, and as fans of the books have known for years, not everyone is destined to make it through alive.

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Henry Cavill poses in Christopher Nolan’s Man of Steel. I’m a big fan of the layered cape here, though part of me definitely laments Brandon Routh, who ironically won’t be ‘returning’ to the role. Amy Adams co-stars as Lois Lane, with Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Russell Crowe as Jor-El. With Zod making an appearance once more, it looks unlikely that we’ll have to suffer from Lex Luthor’s maniacal estate agent ways. ‘Returns’ was good and had one killer plane sequence, yet it stuck too rigidly to the romanticised vision from the first two Christopher Reeve flicks, and the less said about that piano scene the better! Hopefully, allowing Supes to hit someone rather than just lift things and stalk an old girlfriend will make for more exciting viewing.

Henry Cavill poses in Christopher Nolan’s Man of Steel. I’m a big fan of the layered cape here, though part of me definitely laments Brandon Routh, who ironically won’t be ‘returning’ to the role. 

Amy Adams co-stars as Lois Lane, with Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Russell Crowe as Jor-El. With Zod making an appearance once more, it looks unlikely that we’ll have to suffer from Lex Luthor’s maniacal estate agent ways. ‘Returns’ was good and had one killer plane sequence, yet it stuck too rigidly to the romanticised vision from the first two Christopher Reeve flicks, and the less said about that piano scene the better! Hopefully, allowing Supes to hit someone rather than just lift things and stalk an old girlfriend will make for more exciting viewing.

Back to Brotherhood

As with every year, the summer dearth brings much boredom for the average gamer. The (rather questionable) reasoning behind this, is that the lead-up to the Christmas period is a much more profitable window in which to release the bigger titles. Essentially, this is a good strategy for the likes of Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty. But why, oh why, must the majority of games be bundled into this annual window when going up against the big names is commercial suicide? The answer is probably arrogance, but even more questionable is the insistence on releasing games around the start of the year. Do we really all have that much Christmas money to throw around? Well, for the likes of Mass Effect the answer is an easy yes. For everything else, it’s highly doubtful.

Either way, it does give rise to an opportunity; namely the chance to revisit an old favourite. In this case, I chose Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Granted, such a game hardly wins ‘classic’ status when you consider that it’s been little more than nine months since release, but with Revelations tantalising us with the concluding part of Ezio’s trilogy (plus some impromptu Altaiir action) it makes sense to refresh the memory before that game hits. It’s easy to forget just how absorbing Renaissance Rome can be; the sights, the sounds, the crowds, the atmosphere, the freedom - it’s all thoroughly engaging stuff, even if it does lack the variety of its predecessor. 

One of the main issues I’ve had with the game is the terrible horse riding. When you can only trot at a snail’s pace you may as well be playing an overweight banker riding an infant donkey with a knee injury. And for what purpose exactly? The ‘gallop’ button has been omitted for the sake of a ‘stand’ button, apparently to make for more fluid horse combat. At least Ubisoft seems aware of this failing, killing the mechanic dead for the next instalment. For now, I’ll be shanking some soldiers in the Italian Renaissance and having a blast while doing it. But then, am I the only one disappointed at the complete lack of a final boss mode Cesare?