Category Archives: Feature

Envisioning A Gears of War Collection For Xbox One

When gamers think of Xbox, they think Halo. It’s Microsoft’s number 1 exclusive franchise and has been ever since Halo: Combat Evolved first arrived on the scene in 2001. Master Chief is the face of the company – their poster boy, their golden goose – and doesn’t seem to be running out of steam. And here we are in 2014 on the brink of Halo 2’s 10th anniversary and its being celebrated in style. At this year’s E3 – as if you haven’t already heard – Microsoft unveiled Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One. Not only graphically remastering Halo 2’s campaign and select multiplayer maps, but also included is Halo: CE Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, the Halo 5: Guardians beta and the Halo: Nightfall digital series. A pretty cool treat if you ask me and I’m sure Halo fans will agree.

Halo; The Master Chief Collection

 

So now that Halo is receiving the full works, what about Microsoft’s number 2 exclusive franchise Gears of War? We know Microsoft now owns the franchise after purchasing the rights from Epic Games, and we also know the newly formed Black Tusk Studios is working on the next iteration in the Gears of War franchise. But before you know it November 2016 will be upon us, and not only is that a potential release date for the next iteration of Gears, it will also mark the 10th anniversary of Gears of War 1. And as of writing this a Gears of War collection is the second most requested post on Xbox’s feedback website, only being beaten out by people wanting backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360. There’s a demand for it to happen then, and only time will tell if it actually does. Regardless though, this post is just one Gears fan’s vision and potential ideas what the collection could include.

Gears Collection Vote

1) Dedicated Servers For Gears 1 & 2. 

Gears of War 2’s multiplayer is well documented upon fans, and anyone who played it at launch will tell you one thing: it was broken. Lag plagued Gears of War 2’s multiplayer upon launch, to people spawning without a weapon, ridiculous bullet delay even to the point where you had no other choice but to quit – and possibly for good. Many gamers quit Gears of War 2’s multiplayer because of the online issues it had and it may have even been such a bad online experience for some that they never returned; and dare I say the experience was off-putting enough that they might have even quit the franchise for good. Plus Call of Duty: World at War also released in the same month as Gears of War 2 so potentially there was a lot of players that switch over to Cod and players just never returned. Epic obviously learned from their mistake as Gears of War 3 and Judgement had dedicated servers and GoW 3 even had a public multiplayer beta six months prior to launch.

Gears of War 1’s multiplayer didn’t always run smoothly either, however it faired much better because players could choose to host or join a game, whereas GoW 2 seemed to select the host randomly and subsequently caused problems when the host’s connection was weak. This is why it’s pivotal for the Gears Collection to have dedicated servers, and it may even entice players who originally played GoW 2’s multiplayer but quit  early on and never returned.

Broken Gears of War 2 Disc

2) Horde Mode For Gears 1 

Ignoring the lag in GoW 2’s multiplayer for a second and you may remember that GoW 2 introduced the now fan-favourite Horde mode. Now purists out there that regard Gears 1 to be best Gears game may want to see it stay untouched, however I don’t think many will complain about the addition of a new mode, especially when Horde has proven to work – and work well – on many of Gears 1’s maps that were remastered for Gears 2 and 3. So yes, Canals, Gridlock, Mansion, Subway, Tyro Station, Fuel Depot and War Machine were all remade and playable in Horde mode for Gears 2, and Bullet Marsh, Raven Down, Clocktower and Gridlock were playable in Hoarde 2.0 in Gears 3, leaving the question as to why there would even to be Hoarde in Gears 1? Well there’s still plenty of Gears 1 maps that have never been remastered and playable on Horde mode, and those maps are Mausoleum, Rooftops, Old Bones, Garden and Process. Gears of War: Judgement never had a horde mode either but it did have the somewhat similar Survival mode.

Gears 1's 10th anniversary

3) Beta Access For Gears of War 4

Now this one’s obviously going to depend on when Black Tusk plans to release Gears of War 4. It may even launch before November 2016, therefore an inclusion of beta access in the GoW collection is out of the question. However, if Gears 4 isn’t released by the end of 2016 then the inclusion of a multiplayer beta is a logical one. The Gears 3 beta was a great treat for the fans to get hands on with the multiplayer early and wet the appetite before the game’s actual release, as well as providing Epic with player feedback and statistics.

gears 3 beta

4) It Would Be a Test For Black Tusk To See Which Gears Game Is Most Popular

Including all four Gears of War games into one package could be a very interesting experiment, especially in terms of the multiplayer side of things. Black Tusk could very easily monitor the popularity of each Gears game online and could then mould the multiplayer in Gears 4 around whichever game has the most active multiplayer community. If the collection was to release on GoW 1’s 10th anniversary then of course a lot of the focus would already be on Gears 1 and therefore people would be more naturally inclined to play for nostalgia, but Black Tusk could also see which maps and modes are popular too.

Black Tusk

5) A Developer Diary Video Celebrating Gears’ 10th Anniversary   

Yes maybe casual gamers who pick up the Gears collection would just rather play the game(s), but for hardcore fans that have been there from the start, a peek behind the curtain to see how the sausage was made is always interesting. There was a great developer diary included in the special edition of Gears 2, and this time they could take it one step further by interviewing current employees at Black Tusk to ex employees at Epic, and, of course, an interview with the Gears of War Godfather Cliff Blezinski would be a nice treat for fans as well now that he’s moved away from the Gears franchise.

Cliffy B

6) Team Deathmatch for Gears 1 and 2

Adding Team Deathmatch to Gears 3 was probably the biggest risk Epic has made on the multiplayer side of things (excluding the exclusion of Locust from multiplayer in GoW: Judgement, that is). Gears of War 1 and 2 was mainly built around round-by-round multiplayer, and if you died early on in a match then, well, you had to spectate for the remainder of the round. That was the price you paid, until Team Deathmatch came into the fold. Gears of War, to me, will always be about it’s two core multiplayer modes – Execution and Warzone – however the risk of including TDM has obviously paid off as it’s proved to be a wildly popular mode in both GoW 3 and Judgement, right up until to the moment I’m writing this where most people are playing TDM. In this day and age of fast-paced first-person shooters like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo and now even Titanfall, players have become accustomed to respawning instantly after dying, and the thought of having to watch a teammate whilst dead instead of jumping right back into the fold is a daunting one – especially to casual players. I can’t imagine diehard Gears fans would like to see TDM in Gears 1 or 2 – especially not in 1 – but again, if it’s included and proves to be the most popular mode, then it could be a risk worth taking.

Gears 1 Multiplayer

7) A Kill-Cam And Video Editor

Gears of War 2 allowed you to take photos when you were spectating in multiplayer, but I really feel like Gears has needed to step up for a while now and include a full in-game video capture and editor. If you get an amazing headshot or clutch 4v1 and you want the world to see it then you should be able to do just that. And what about being able to edit your own videos too? Everyone loves a good montage, but what about a comedic video series? The possibilities are endless with video. Plus Black Tusk could run weekly video series such as top ten kills of the week, top players of the week, and biggest fails of the week, which would not only be fun for the community but they could involve them by allowing players to vote and by rewarding active players in the community.   A kill-cam seems like an obvious inclusion to me also, as it would be nice to see from the perspective of the player who killed you, especially if it’s a nice headshot or a frag grenade thrown from afar. Kill-cams have been prevalent in first-person shooters for many years now but not so much in third-person shooters. Plus it would mean that ultimate end of round humiliation for the player that’s killed as they’d have to watch themselves being killed.

gears photo mode

 

So there you have it. There are my seven things I’d like to see included in the (as of right now hypothetical) Gears of War Collection. But what would you like to see in a Gears of War Collection? Would you even want one at all? Be sure to let me know on Twitter @icon162. Thanks guys, I hoped you enjoyed reading it!

Advertisements

Has The Delay of Watchdogs and Driveclub Tipped The Scales in The Xbox One’s Favour?

ps4 xbox one

 

Not only did Watchdogs get delayed earlier this week, but the PS4 exclusive Driveclub did as well. That’s minus two big games for the PS4. Watchdogs isn’t a PS4 exclusive and this is also a minus for anyone who has the Xbox One version on pre-order, however this is a much bigger blow for PS4 owners. The PS4/Watchdogs bundle was reportedly the most pre-ordered bundle around the world, therefore stores and websites were having to contact everyone with that bundle on pre-order to give them the sad news. Those picking up Playstation Plus and expecting the PS Plus edition of Driveclub are also left out in the cold, then, too. What if Watchdogs and Driveclub were the two games they were going to pick up on launch day? Disappointment is what. Their pre-order is secure, sure, but are they going to want a PS4 now? Are Killzone: Shadowfall and Knack strong enough to compete against the Xbox One’s Forza Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome?

 

Although It’s too early to jump the gun and say which console is going to have the better games until they’re actually out, from a buyer’s perspective Xbox One has more exclusive games; which isn’t something we could say about the Xbox 360 throughout this whole current generation. As it stands the PS4 has 32 playable games at launch, and the Xbox One has 21. (It should be noted that some games that are included on the PS4’s list are already available to buy on the PS3.) It’s going to come down to quality over quantity at the end of the day, but having more games to play at launch is something that Sony surely won’t shy away from boasting about. All’s fair in love and console war, after all.

ps4 bundles

Minus the Watchdogs and Driveclub bundles

I’ve heard some people say that both launch line-ups aren’t particularly strong. To those people, I point them to previous console launches. Even with the absence of Watchdogs and Driveclub, this is one of the strongest launch line-ups ever for a console. The absence of blockbusters like Watchdogs and Driveclub now gives the chance of two Playstation Network games to step up to the plate: Resogun and Contrast. Both games have now been added to the Playstation Plus Instant Game Collection, and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this generation, it’s that everyone loves a free game. Sony have focused a lot of their Playstation 4 promotion towards Indie games and developers, and what better way to get people interested, who may of otherwise been skeptical about these two unheard of new IPs, than to give them away for free.

 

I also can’t help but feel that the Driveclub delay might actually help Driveclub out in the long-run. Gran Turismo is Playstation’s top exclusive and biggest seller, and with GT6 coming out so soon after the Playstation 4’s launch – December 6  – some racing fans may have skipped on Driveclub and opted to wait for Gran Turismo anyway. Now, though, Evolution Studios don’t run the risk of having Driveclub be overshadowed by GT6, and not forgetting that it may have been out-shined by the hugely popular Forza Motorsport 5. There’s usually a drought of games after a console launch, but now though Driveclub can stand on its own and release at any time during the first half of 2014 where it’s going to be in competition with very little else.

A whopping £80 more expensive than the standard PS4 unit.

A whopping £80 more expensive than the standard PS4 unit.

 

So it’s not all doom and gloom, then. In fact, the light at the end of the tunnel is bright in spite of these delays. I’d be very interested to know what you think of the recent delays, and I’d also be interested to know if you are or aren’t picking up an Xbox One or PS4. Feel free to use the comment section below or get in touch with me on Twitter @icon162

 

 

 

Out This Week

Welcome to another addition of Out This Week, the weekly feature that highlights the week’s biggest new releases in videogames and movies. So read on below to see what’s out, what’s hot and what’s not.

Videogames: 

The Last Of Us DLC – Abandoned Territories Map Pack (PS3) 

TLOU Map Pack

The first batch of DLC launched for The Last Of Us this week, but while it wasn’t the single-player component – which we want the most – we are getting four new maps to play on the great multiplayer mode for £7.99. Even though I’m not a big fan of season passes, I am tempted by The Last Of Us’. They haven’t released what the other two pieces of DLC are going to be included in the £16 DLC, though it’s bound to be another map pack and, hopefully, the single-player component. You also get a 90 minute making of video to sweeten the deal.

Sonic Lost World (3DS/Wii U) 

sonic lost world

There’s been a lot of Sonic games. A lot. At this point in time, there’s more bad Sonic games than there are good ones. Although I only played a short demo at this year’s Eurogamer Expo and I haven’t played the full game yet, I can say that Sonic: Lost World is no Mario Galaxy, unfortunately, that some fans may have been hoping for. It’s received very polarising reviews around the board, though, and it currently holds a 62 rating on Metacritic. So, not the worst rated Sonic game by any stretch of the animation, and maybe a good one to get the kids for Christmas. Speaking of games for kids…

 

Skylanders Swap Force (Wii/3DS/Wii U/360/PS3) 

skylanders swap force

I’ve never played a Skylanders game and I probably never will, because the games aren’t exactly targeted at twenty-year-old males, though If I was a little kid again then I know Skylanders Swap Force would’ve been the talk of the playground. The game looks colourful and fun enough, and it’s actually outshining Sonic with an 85 rating on Metacritic. Interestingly enough it’s been released on the Wii — is anyone still playing their Wii?

 

Movies: 

Captain Phillips  

Tom Hanks Captain Phillips

It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve seen Tom Hanks in a film, and I almost – almost – forgot how good of an actor he really is. Never have I seen an actor portray someone in a state of shock of so well. It’s a powerful film that’s made even more tense just knowing that it’s based on a true story. If you don’t know the true story of what happened to Captain Phillips, then you’ll probably be better off going into the film not knowing the outcome. The pirates in the film all deserve credit as well for bringing the story to life and commanding as much screen time as Hanks. One of this year’s best.

 

Escape Plan 

escape plan

Both Arnie and Stallone have been in their fair share of poor movies as of late (excluding Expendables, of course) but, believe it or not, Escape Plan is the first movie that sees these two action icons slug it out in a good old fashion prison fisty-cuffs. Why on earth 50 Cent is playing a computer expert in the film is beyond me, though, and those who have seen the film are reporting that he’s terrible in it. So listen up, singers/musicians: stop being terrible in movies. Yes, I’m talking to you, Rihanna. Rant over. If you do like your action meaty and your story cheesy, then Escape Plan is the one for you at the cinema this weekend.

 

That’s it for this week, guys, but be sure to check back next week to see what’s being released in the world of videogames and movies.

 

 

The Videogame Releases of October

October is a mammoth of a month for games, with Grand Theft Auto V’s online launching, the PS3 having its last exclusive swan song with Beyond: Two Souls, and with Nintendo coming out swinging with two of their biggest franchises’ in Zelda and Pokémon.

GTA Online (Oct 2)

GTA Online

Well well well. Is this the worst online mode launch for a console game since Gears of War 2’s multiplayer in 2008? Perhaps it’s too early so say – considering the online component only launched two days ago – but only a minuscule amount of people have been able to play so far. Personally speaking I’ve had no luck whatsoever, even in a private online session. Hopefully this time last week we will have all forgotten about the launch woes because we’ll be having too much of a blast robbing banks with friends! GTA’s online launch woes does leave me to wonder this, though: If the online had’ve launched alongside the game’s initial release (September 17) then we probably could’ve all been playing online smoothly by now already.

Platforms: PS3 & 360

Rain (Oct 1)

Rain

Having just played through Rain to completion only a few hours ago, I’m going to make a bold statement: This is this year’s PSN equivalent to Journey/Unfinished Swan. I will say that it doesn’t quite reach the same high heights of the two aforementioned games – which most games don’t – but it is the standout PSN game of 2013. An adventure game with simple-yet-effective puzzles and platforming that will stay with you thanks to its powerful, atmospheric soundtrack and heartfelt story. It’s fairly short, clocking in at no more than six hours, but it’s worth every penny of its £10/$15 asking price.

Platform: PS3

The Legend of Zelda: The  Wind Waker HD (Oct 4) 

wind waker

Super Mario 3D World is arguably the Wii U’s biggest game of the year, but from where I’m sitting, Wind Waker HD is Ninty’s biggest of the lot. We all loved the Gamecube, right? Well those of us who owned the thing most certainly did! I’ve got a confession to make, and it’s one I’m not proud of: I never played Wind Waker on Gamecube. I know, I know; I’m a terrible person! But, and I assure you of this, I’m going to make up for my sins and play the hell out of Wind Waker HD. Man, HD remakes are awesome, aren’t they? Fingers crossed for that Super Mario Sunshine HD remake!

Platform: Wii U

Dragon’s Crown (UK, Oct 11)

Dragon’s Crown was released over in North America at the start of August, and I’m not entirely sure why we’re getting it a few months later in the UK – other than the fact that we get stuff late sometimes. I can’t help but feel as if the August release date would’ve faired much better for Dragon’s Crown, though; as, well, as you can see from this list October is a pretty big month for games and Dragon’s Crown is now running the risk of being buried at sea by the bigger names. Personally speaking, I think I’m gonna have to pass on Dragon’s Crown for now. Not because it doesn’t look great, but because there’s other games that are taking priority at the top of my list. And not to mention that Beyond: Two Souls and Pokemon X & Y are both out on the same day.

dragon's cornw

Platforms: PS3 & PS Vita

Beyond: Two Souls (Oct 11)

Heavy Rain is, at this point in time, my favourite PS3 game. It is without a doubt one of my favourite games of this generation, too. Beyond: Two Souls has been my most anticipated game of the year, and my gut reaction is telling me that it’s going to be special. Real special. I was fortunate enough to go hands on with a generously lengthy demo just last week at Eurogamer Expo, and I wasn’t disappointed. It plays similarly to Heavy Rain, but yet it feels so refined and different. A lot of people may have already pegged The Last of Us as their final swan song for the PS3, but those people have peaked too early.

beyond two souls

Platforms: PS3

Pokémon X & Y (Oct 12)

Pokémon was the first game I ever played on a handheld. (It was Pokémon Blue on the Gameboy Colour, if you were wondering). The franchise will always hold a special place in my heart, like it will to many others too. Ever since Blue & Red there’s been vast improvements throughout  instalments, but X & Y, by the looks of things, is a new breath of fresh air with its polygonal 3D graphics. Don’t worry though, Pokémaniacs, this is still Pokémon and you know and love it, with gym badges to collect, Pokémon to collect and bad guys to battle. Editors Note: I’ll totally be picking up Pokémon Y.

pokemon x and y

Platform: 3DS

Sonic: Lost World (Oct 18)

Sonic’s back! How many times have you heard that before? I feel like I’ve typed it enough times in the short time I’ve been writing about games, but no matter how many times he gets knocked down, you just can’t keep the speedy, blue hedgehog away. I got to go hands on with the Wii U version for a short time at Eurogamer Expo, and while my socks weren’t knocked off, I was impressed enough to put it on my huge pre-order list. It had the feel and upbeat tone of Sonic Adventure 2, and the new enemies – the Sinister Six – may look directly targeted towards kids, but the stage I played was very challenging. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play the 3DS version, but it does seem as if all the marketing is focusing on the WII U version. Probably not a good sign. Regardless of how it fairs critically though, this is sure to be an early christmas presents for the kids. Right, Mum?

sonic lost world

Platforms: Wii U & 3DS

Batman: Arkham Origins (Oct 25)

I don’t think I had ever been more excited for a game than I was for Arkham City in 2011. And I know I wasn’t alone in this feeling either, as it was one of the best selling games that year. I’ve got some bad news though (well, for me at least): I was majorly disappointed with the demo I played of Arkham Origings. It didn’t take the golden goose of worst game of the show award (that went to Ryse: Son of Rome) but it just felt exactly the same as Arkham City and it looked exactly the same too. That may not sound like a bad thing considering Arkham City was pretty darn great, but why we’re receiving a prequel now from Warner Bros. – not Rosksteady, the creators of Asylum and City – after the Joker was killed off in Arkham City is beyond me. I love Batman as much as the next person, but the chances are I’ll be giving Arkham Origins a miss.

Batman Arkham Origins

Platforms: 360, PS3, Wii U

Xbox Live Indie Games Out This Week

Welcome to the Indie Games Corner! Here I’m going to highlight the newly released indie games on Xbox Live a weekly basis. I will have dabbled and played each game highlighted below, and I’ll give my impressions as well as the final verdict. What’s the final verdict, you ask? The final verdict is simple: Either A) Buy it, B) Try it, or C) Don’t buy it or even try it. So read on to find out below what’s hot and what’s not in the world of independently released videogames!

Dawn Of The Fred (80 MS Points)

By far the best game to come out on the XBLIG this week, but still with that extra little something missing. DOTF – unlike many Indie Games – stays true to its cover art, and is a proper representation of how the game looks. And that’s a good thing, as it not only has created a small identity for itself, but it could also be a proving ground for the developer to work on from here on out. It could’ve done with some music with a faster beat to mesh more with the visuals and fast gameplay, and the repeated sound of the guns became annoying quickly, but Dawn Of The Fred more than warrants a try for fans of the zombie genre.

Final Verdict: Try it

dawn of the fred

Dark Storm Blast 360 (80 MS Points)

It’s games like this that make me question a few things. Why is somebody charging money for somebody to play this? Why do I put myself through the displeasure of playing games like this to then write about them? And how can we have an independent developer like Phil Fish make a great game like Fez, but have independent developers put out crap like this. It’s a twin-stick shooter with graphics that would’ve looked just as bad in the 80s.

Final Verdict: Definitely don’t buy this or try this

Demon Dash (80 MS Points)

demon dash

If there are any poor souls out there who actually spent 80 MS Points on this game, then A) Why? And B) Just.. why? Demon Dash stays true to its name… you have to dash demons all right. Down, A (jump) and X (shoot) is all you need to play Demon Dash, as that’s all there is to it; shoot demons, jump over cars or slide under them. Oh, and all whilst some terrible heavy music is playing in the background.

Final Verdict: Definitely don’t buy it or try it

Word Cheat (80 MS Points)

word cheat

30 seconds in and the game unexpectedly crashed. Twice, in fact. Good thing I didn’t buy it then! So while I can’t tell you what my experience with the game was like, though if the box art is any true representation, then I imagine it’s, for a lack of a better term, boring. 

Final Verdict: Definitely don’t try it or buy it

Space Pilots (240 MS Points)

The Indie Games section on Xbox Live has more than its fair share of space shooters (the most popular genre on the XBLIG, perhaps?) though I’ve yet to come across one that tries to break the tried-and-tested mould, and Space Pilots falls right into the category of generic and been’ there, done that’. Space Pilots has made me pose this question, though: When was the last good space shooter?

Final Verdict: Don’t buy it or try it

space pilots

Out This Week

Welcome to another addition of Out This Week, the weekly feature that highlights the week’s new releases in videogames, movies, television and comics in one handy place. So read on below to see what’s out, what’s hot and what’s not.

Videogame of the week – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Xbox 360)

Quite simply, you will have never played a game quite like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons before. Simultaneously you take control of two brothers, using the left stick and left analog stick for the older brother, and the right trigger and right analog stick for the younger brother. The control scheme feels very alien at first, and it can become very frustrating during particular points, though look past the controls and you have a beautiful world similar to Fable with a mesmerising story to boot. You can read my full review here – https://scottbarkergaming.wordpress.com/tag/brothers-a-tale-of-two-sons/ 

Brothers a tale of two sons

Also out this week:

Tales of Xillia (PS3) – One for the JRPG fanatics out there!

Movie of the Week – Alan partridge Alpha Papa

Alan Partridge, also known as Steve Coogan and Siegeface, makes his way to the big screen for the first time in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which sees him and several hostages held up in a siege at a local radio station after one former radio presenter goes a bit crazy after loosing his job. And that’s the whole premise, really; though in true Partridge fashion, there are plenty of laughs along the way. The simple concept isn’t quite strong enough to warrant the 90 minute running time, and sometimes the plot stretches a bit too thin. However, if you’re looking for a laugh this weekend, then get down to the cinemas for some good old British humour!

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Also out this Week:

Percey Jackson: Sea of Monsters – When i first saw the trailer for this film, I actually thought it was a parody of Twilight and The Hunger Games. Turns out it isn’t, but just looks terribly bad.

Grown Ups 2 – It took an absolute beating at the American box office and from critics, and it should come to no surprise to anyone who’s seen the awful trailers.

The Lone Ranger – Johnny Depp, much like Adam Sandler, is taking a bit of a beating from film critics at the moment, after a slur of poorly received and reviewed films. Probably one best suited for the kids I would presume.

TV Show of the Week – Breaking Bad 

Well this is it, folks. Breaking Bad’s coming to an end, starting on Sunday (Monday on Netflix in the UK) with part two of season 5 with its final 8 episodes. We all know what happened in the midseason premiere, don’t we? Spoiler: Hank sort of found out that Walter is Heisenberg. This series has been dark ever since it started, and there’s been many lives lost and many drugs made, but will the man who knocks finally be brought down to his knees?

Breaking Bad season finale

Other shows on TV this week: 

Dexter – Dexter’s still plodding along in its last season, though it’s at a bit of a pitstop in its sixth episode and feels a little like we’ve seen this whole process before. Seven times before, in fact.

Ray Donavon – What I like to call the Grand Theft Auto of TV series, as it’s just as crazy, violent and fun as the popular Rockstar franchise. Like GTA? Then check this show out.

Futurama – Leela gets squidification (transforming her into a squid) in this Jack and the Beanstalk (kind of) homage episode.

Comics – Top Pick: Trillium #1

Having just recently read the whole of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth series (yeah I know I was late to the party!), and being a regular reader of his current run on Animal Man, I’m always interested in a project Lemire’s involved in. After reading the two separate but connected stories in #1 of Trillium, It’s clear from the offset that this book has big ambitions. Much like the second most recently released Vertigo book The Wake, it poses a lot of questions and doesn’t tell too many answers. That, my friends, is called the hook — aka hooking the readers into buying the next issue to find out more!

trillium #1

Also Hot This Week in Comics 

The Bunker – A time travel series with not robots or lasers but moral conundrum and character at its heart. I’m not the biggest fan of black and white books, but The Bunker’s first issue is this good and only 69p/$1, I cannot complain!

Superior Foes of Spider-man #2 – With superior villains come superior problems, as the bad guys are bailed out in what could be the year’s sleeper hit.

Robocop Last Stand #1 – Frank Miller’s incredible screenplay has been brought to life in this hard-hitting Steven Grant (2 Guns, Punisher: Circle Of Blood) penned adaptation. It’s Robocop’s last stand, as it was always intended to be.

Burn The Orphanage: Born to Lose #1 – Street Fighter in comic book form, folks. If you’ve ever wanted to see old school fighting games have a great story, then Burn The Orphanage is definitely for you.

Respect The Beard: The Top 10 Beards In Wrestling

With Daniel Bryan being WWE’s hottest superstar and charging full steam ahead into his WWE Title match against John Cena at Summerslam next week with his epic beard attached and new “Respect The Beard” t-shirt to boot, now seems about as good a time as ever to highlight wrestling’s most notorious and glorious beards. I’ve been thinking about this one for a while now and it seems WWE beat me to the post(!), as they posted their own ‘Top 20 Beards’ feature! However, their list focused on a lot of old wrestlers; having grown up in the 90s, my beard focus will shift more towards wrestlers of the past two decades or so. So read on, tell me who I missed, and then check out WWE’s list if you’re so inclined – http://www.wwe.com/classics/classic-lists/bryan-20-beards

10) Randy Orton 

He hears voices in his head, they come to him he understands, but are they telling him to keep the beard? A somewhat surprising entry at number 10, as Randy Orton perhaps isn’t the first name you’d associate with the beards of a wrestler, however – as JBL says – if you built a superstar from scratch, he’d look just like Orton (including the beard). While not the most outrageous or eye-catching beard, it does give Randy that edge we all know he has.

randy orton top beard

9) Curtis Axel 

Perf-eee-ccc-t! Curtis Axel’s success is partly to do with being a Paul Heyman guy, though don’t give Heyman all the credit; it was also at the same time the son of Mr. Perfect, Michael Mcgillicutty, grew his beard and made his transition into Curtis Axel onto the main roster. Winning the Intercontinental Championship on Father’s Day, there hasn’t been anyone more perfect to wear the belt around his waist than his father Curt Hennig.

curtis axel 10

8) The Wyatt Family 

All three members of The Wyatt family could’ve quite easily individually made their way onto the beard of fame, though considering they’re new to the WWE universe and they are a faction/family, it felt right to put them on here together. All three of the men’s beards probably means they’re going to be the ones stopped and searched at customs, though the people stopping them are just sheep. Follow the buzzards.

 wyatt family

7) Mark Henry 

Some men were just destined to don the beard, and Mark Henry is one of those guys. It’s injustice to the world and to his beard that he has yet to hold the WWE title, though whether he’s cutting an oscar worthy retirement speech in a pink suit or performing amazing feats of strength, such as pulling multiple eighteen-wheelers, he’s always rocking the beard. You know why? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HE DOES!

mark henry that's what I do

6) Damien Sandow 

Silence! Although Sandow can’t swim, his beard is, without a doubt, the most well-groomed beard on the list. In fact, the intellectual saviour of the masses’ beard makes most other people’s facial hair look like mere peasant attempts. Before Sandow turned on Cody Rhodes at Money In The Bank, Team Rhode Scholars almost had a good thing going on with Cody’s moustache (lovestache) and Sandow’s beard, though unfortunately it wasn’t to be. I blame those Ignoramuses on the WWE creative team.

  sandow

5) Chris Jericho 

Now this picture is a nostalgic trip back in time. Back when his rock band Fozzy was starting and when he was the biggest and greatest heel in the business, Jericho’s long hair and sleezebag-like beard summed up his persona perfectly. It’s a very different look to the 2013 clean-shaven, short-haired baby-face Chris Jericho, though luckily for us he’s still just as every bit as good in the ring and on the mic. Come on, baby!

chris jericho beard

4) Macho Man Randy Savage 

Past, present and future, nobody better. Ohhh yeah! The cream of the crop, the Macho Man Randy Savage! Unfortunately I was a little too young to see him during his days in WCW, though of course I’ve watched plenty of the lord and master of the ring’s matches and unforgettable promos online. It was during Macho Man’s nWo days that the beard was put to full effect (I believe), as he dyed it black to perfectly match the black colours of the nWo. R.I.P Macho Man.

macho man nwo

3) Hulk Hogan

That’s right, brother, you wasn’t expecting the list to go on without the inclusion of Hogan was you, Jack? Blonde hair, blonde ‘stache, black beard – not many could pull it off, dude. Despite what you may think of Hogan, he really was – what I would consider – to be the epitome of cool during his nWo days. Undoubtedly one of the most popular and iconic wrestlers of all time, Hogan turned 60 recently, though we all know Hulkamania and his facial hair will live on forever.

 hulk hogan nwo beard

2) CM Punk 

Proving that bigger doesn’t always mean better, and showing real style over substance, CM Punk returned to his hometown of Chicago at Payback against Chris Jericho in June with a Wolverine-like beard. Punk has donned the facial hair in numerous different ways over his career, and luckily enough for him he has the prowess and star power to pull it off. His match with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam is being touted as ‘The Best vs The Beast’, but we all know it’s really Wolverine vs The Hulk. Snikt!

cm punk wolverine

1) Daniel Bryan

 daniel bryan beard 

Yes! Yes! Yes! Come on, was you really expecting somebody else to take the no. 1 spot? After having a beard for the best part of a year with his run as one half of the tag team champions in Team Hell No, it’s now that Bryan’s gone solo that the WWE have capitalised on the epic-ness of the beard and have let him go full wild with it. The beard is here, everybody, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be going away anytime soon. Daniel Bryan has raised the beard-bar from here on out, and it’s going to take a lot of time and manliness to beat it.