Thursday, December 18, 2008

Prince of Persia 2008 wows game reviewer

I'm sure glad this game reviewer clarified that the latest Prince of Persia is a new release and not just a rehash of the 1989 original. The graphics are obviously outstanding and he praises the dialogue and character interactions as well.

A snippet of a very extensive review:

Prince of Persia is a delight to behold. The game’s scenes cover the full spectrum of classic “desert epic” settings, carrying the player through deep caverns, sprawling wastelands, grand and towering palaces, and ancient cities of stone. Given the series’ reliance on platforming and acrobatic movement, of course, all of these areas have extremely vertical layouts: Players can expect to scale impossibly tall towers, climb and run on massive walls, and even reach the sky atop a series of dirigible-carried platforms. They may not be as crisp and shiny as the tall rooftops of Mirror’s Edge, but they’re extremely colorful and pretty to look at — and thanks to the unlikely and perilous ways in which one must navigate these areas, there are still plenty of vertigo-inducing moments.

The characters, too, are rendered quite nicely, using an effect akin to cel-shading to let them stand out against the scenery while still providing a high level of detail to their costumes and faces. Their animation is suitably fluid and spirited, and during cut-scenes, their faces exude an appreciable range of emotion, infusing each character with charm, confidence, vulnerability, or menace, as appropriate. More than anything, though, the characters are brought to life through the game’s spectacular writing and voice acting. - More

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Immortal Fire: Field of Glory Greek, Persian and Macedonian Army List for the Wargamer

Immortal Fire: Field of Glory Greek, Persian and Macedonian Army List (Field Of GLory)I see Osprey Publishing has released a line of manuals to inform wargaming enthusiasts.

"Providing accessible and informative coverage of the Greek, Persian and Macedonian armies, Immortal Fire
details conflicts such as the Spartan stand at Thermopylae, Alexander's
victory at Gaugamela, and his fight for the Granicus river.
Well-designed, visually stunning and with detailed historical overviews
of each army, these comprehensive army listings, with supporting maps
and artwork allow gamers to recreate some of the most legendary battles
in history. Take on the role of the world's greatest tacticians and
soldiers and change history."

Legions Triumphant: Field of Glory Imperial Rome

Legions Triumphant: Field of Glory Imperial Rome Army List"Field of Glory provides the historical tabletop wargamer with a new,
accessible rules set. With no new high-quality games system aimed
specifically at the Ancient and Medieval wargamer for over 10 years,
this product will fill the gap in this market. Legions Triumphant
includes a well-designed, visually stunning and comprehensive army
listings, with detailed historical overviews of each army, supporting
maps and Osprey artwork."


Municipium"A prime mechanism of Roman expansion and control in the provinces (and
in Italy during the conquest of the peninsula c. 500 -- 265 BC) was the
municipium (later the colonia), the premiere Roman provincial town. The
game takes place in one of these municipalities.
Players are each in control of a powerful family and try to
strategically place their family members in the various institutions
throughout the municipium and gain the support of the citizens;
Scholars, Merchants, Soldiers, Priests and possibly even the Praefect.
At various times in the game, if a player has the most influence in an
institution, the player can exert the power of that institution and
gain the support of certain citizens. Meanwhile, the preafect moves
around the municipium and players strive to have the most influence in
the institution that he visits, thereby earning his favour. There are
seven institutions; Temple, Baths, Emporium, Praetorium, Tavern,
Basilica and Forum, each of which have their unique powers with which
players must decide how and when to use in an attempt to become the
most influential family in the municipium.
Complete artwork by Mike Doyle. This is a 3 -- 5 player game with a
playing time of approximately 40 - 70 minutes."

Hannibal: Rome Vs. Carthage (RPG)

Hannibal: Rome Vs. Carthage"One of the greatest military commanders and tacticians in history descends on the Roman Empire once again! Do you face him as Rome and try to ward the invasion that comes from the North, or do you climb atop your war elephant and show Rome you will take that which they hold most dear: their territory! Designed with all new artwork from Kurt Miller this is a reprint of the very popular Avalon-Hill version from 1996. The game uses the popular card system, which first appeared in Avalon Hill's We the People, to recount the Second Punic War from 218 to 203 B.C. Players use strategic-level cards for multiple purposes: moving generals, levying new troops, reinforcing existing armies, gaining political control of the provinces involved in the war, and generating historical events. When two armies meet on the battlefield, a second set of cards, called Battle Cards, are used to determine the winner. Ultimately both players seek victory by dominating both fronts: military and political."
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Saturday, November 08, 2008

East Anglia Theater Troup Presents "The Mummy's Tomb" as a Musical?!!

mummys-tomb02ed.gifYou can’t keep a good ghoul in its sarcophagus. Especially when it’s an ancient Egyptian. It can be truly frightening, or that terror can be exorcised through laughter. Ken Hill’s musical The Mummy’s Tomb has just enough of the former to whet the appetite and crisp dollops of the latter to assuage it.

Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 may have boosted interest in this extraordinary culture but heroic stories and chilling legends captured the European imagination long before then. This stylish production by Matt Devitt does the audience the courtesy of giving us a touch of authenticity as well as crisp comedy and a quite brilliant staging.

Designer Rodney Ford must take a large share of the credit for this. He has created a monumental sandstone-coloured pillared set which wraps around the stage, looks as solid as granite and reveals all manner of trickeries – multiple levels, trap-doors, sliding panels and so on. Richard Godin’s lighting wraps an illusion of pure gold around the pillars when required while the monumental statuary boasts glowing eyes.

The Queen’s resident company cut to the chase… act, sing, dance and play a variety of instruments with great facility as Professor Niven (Paul Leonard), his daughter Nancy (Michelle Log) and her two fianc├ęs Paul (Oliver Beamish) and Rodney (Simon Jessop) go in search of the vanished tomb of the Amun Ra high priest Inmutef (Marcus Webb).

He, of course, has been buried alive by order of the pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Shaun Hennessy) – that’s the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten, by the way – for inappropriate behaviour with the queen (Claire Storey)– while Nefertiti was presumably having her head sculpted. But Ashayet as well as her former lover has acquired physical immortality, to be renewed in thoroughly unpleasant ways.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rise of the Argonauts

An Epic Scale Greek Mythology RPG
As the King of Iolcus, Jason had everything – a prosperous kingdom, the respect of his peers and a beautiful fiance. But when she was assassinated on their wedding day, Jason vowed to take revenge on her killers – to do anything to restore her life and earn back the respect of his subjects.

To accomplish this heroic feat, Jason must seek out the Golden Fleece and with the help of Greek mythology’s greatest heroes, set sail on the most epic voyage of all.

Engage in Brutal Combat Against Beasts and Enemies!
An epic scale action RPG, Rise of the Argonauts immerses players in a gladiatorial adventure set in the vibrant and powerful world of Ancient Greece brought to life. Taking the role of Jason, players will battle alongside Hercules, Achilles and other Argonauts as they engage in brutal combat against formidable beasts and enemies, in a vast world alive with wondrous inhabitants and stunning panoramas.

The search for the Golden Fleece is not only one of exploration but of transformation: from warrior king to exalted hero touched by the gods.

Streamlined RPG Experience
Gamers will spend more time playing and less time micro-managing inventory and resources through a streamlined HUD and inventory system. Players can earn unique powers and abilities, but avoid tedious record keeping by dedicating deeds to a god of choice.

Characters become stronger with armor and weapons upgrades significant in scope, leaving enemies nearly helpless. Players must learn to appease the Gods and interact wisely with those they encounter , as decisions impact the story flow and available missions.

Unleash Devastating Attacks
Players will assemble the most effective team of Argonauts for each mission to put the best battle plan forward. Lethal combinations of weapons and powers granted by the Gods, combined with the battle-tested loyalty of the Argonauts, make Jason a devastating force in combat.

Players will change weapons on the fly to outmaneuver and inflict lethally devastating attacks on opponents, decapitating them with swords or cutting them in half with shields.

Mythological Ancient Greece Brought to Life
Players will battle deadly foes, fearsome opponents and legendary monsters while experiencing a living, breathing and vivid ancient world taking players far beyond the generic broken statues and ruins that so often define the myth.

The thrill of battle and intensity of action is strengthened through Tyler Bates’ (300 composer) epic musical score.

Scheduled for release January 1, 2009.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Comic Book Artist Brendan McGinley Tackles Roman History

For those of you who may have found reading about the Punic Wars a bit dry, you may wish to take a look at Brendan McGinley's online web comic, "Hannibal Goes to Rome". I found the graphics quite energizing and appreciate his efforts at bringing Roman history to readers who prefer a visual approach to learning!

"I've always loved comics," Brendan explains, "and comics helped me fall in love with history. I can only recommend Larry Gonick's CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE series, which taught me gobs about Roman history! But it was my inexplicable love of Carthage that led me to write Hannibal Goes to Rome. I guess I'm just fascinated by the idea that such a prevalent culture could be swept completely off the map, and even worse -- the history books. It made me wonder what other zeniths of human society are just whispers to the wind now. "

"You really have to respect Hannibal -- love, hate or fear him, he made for some audacious history! "

Check it out:

Shadowline Web Comics

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Imperium Romanum: Emperor Expansion Pack

"The Imperium Romanum: Emperor Expansion enables the player to travel through the ancient world, starting in Great Britain, passing through the wilds of Germania all the way to the fertile banks of the Nile in ancient Egypt.

16 challenging missions are divided into four campaigns which take place at well known historical sites such as Aque Sulis (Bath), Hadrian's Wall, Massilis (Marseilles) or Treverorum (Trier).

The Imperium Romanum: Emperor Expansion demands strategic and economic skills from the player if they are to become a successful governor.

The Emperor Expansion also requires the player to factor in the effects of religion and the all important Roman gods.

Additionally, the Add-On provides new and bigger maps, newly designed buildings, new tasks, and extended voice recordings.

Original Imperium Romanum required to play."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Romans surge onto mobile phones

"Mobile games publisher HandyGames has revealed a bunch of new titles due for release in the second half of this year.

They include Romans and Barbarians, which will let you take part in battles between, yes, Romans and Barbarians. We're thinking a strategy game. Meanwhile, AD 1066 will focus on the Norman invasion of England."

I checked out HandyGames and found several other history-related titles including "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull" based on the popular movies. The "Kingdom of Heaven" game description says "As a terrible siege begins, Balian and Sibylla must rally the people of
Jerusalem. If the city despairs, all will be lost. As one of these
heroes, you must lead as many of the citizens to safety as you can, as
quickly as you can." For a cell phone game the graphics aren't that crude either.

I checked their strategy titles and found they even have a mobile version of my old favorite Roman city-building game "Caesar".

These and dozens of other games are available from Jamster through their game, ringtones, and wallpaper subscription service for $9.99 per month. Parent warning - this website also offers adult content. I recommend supervision if your child wants to subscribe to this service for games for their cell phone.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Murder in the Abbey

Thou Shalt Not Kill!
Monks, murder, and above all, suspense. An old abbey is the scene of a series of mysterious murders, and only one man
can put a stop to the slaughter.

Former Grand Inquisitor Leonardo and his assistant Bruno are sent by the Vatican to the isolated abbey to investigate the strange goings-on surrounding a carefully guarded secret.

Yet hardly have they arrived when their quest is overshadowed by an attempt on their lives...

Murder in the Abbey is a mystery of cinematic proportions whose suspense goes far beyond that of a conventional adventure game!

• Innovative cinematic presentation through a new method of combining 2D and 3D graphics
• A faithful reproduction of a medieval abbey, its architecture, works of art, secret passageways and treasures
• Music, effects, top-quality voiceovers and over 70 minutes of orchestral soundtrack recorded by the Prague
Symphony Orchestra, all in Dolby Surround Sound
• 1000 scenes in 60 locations promise 40 hours of gameplay
• Unique setting and presentation offers a fresh approach for adventure gamers

Scheduled for release August 19, 2008.

Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy

Helipolis, the City of the Sun and one of the most important capitals of Egypt is in crisis, as a terrifying epidemic threatens to destroy this prestigious city.

Begin your quest for the truth and search for the remedy to save the inhabitants of Heliopolis. Travel through the land of the pyramids and marvel at the wondrous architecture. Witness the beautiful graphical backdrops as you attempt to solve interwoven puzzles and challenges.

  • Full screen panoramic graphics in first person perspective
  • Interact with numerous characters and explore many exciting places
  • Fluid animation and realistic voice-sync technology
  • Original soundtrack beautifully mixing ancient sounds and modern composition

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Excitement Builds for Mummy III

Lot's of material appearing on the web about the new Mummy sequel, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" that premieres August 1. The trailer looks very exciting and I look forward to another outstanding performance by Jet Li. I became a fan of Jet Li after watching his superb performance in "Hero". Of course, a film focused on the discovery of a terracotta army would appeal to me as well since I was mesmerized by the fascinating figures of the real terracotta army at a traveling exhibit in San Francisco a number of years ago. I hope to travel to China before too many more years pass and see the famous archaeological excavation in person.

Lots of "behind the scenes images and video on Rob Cohen's page.

Interesting "webisodes" on the special Pappa John's Pizza site.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mammoth Hunter Meets Early Egyptians

Review by Mary Harrsch

Well, I finally had a chance to watch 10,000 B.C. on DVD. I must admit, I was a little thrown by the combination of a story about very early man and Mammoths and Saber-toothed cats mixed with people of an Egyptian-like culture complete with paper, advanced metallurgy and pyramid building. It kept me watching if for no other reason than to try to figure out the plot amidst total confusion. Roland Emmerich has an apparent obsession with ancient Egypt and keeps injecting references to it in his work. The "tribes" attacking the pyramid-shaped temple in the climax seemed like just a bunch of actors in different costumes recreating the climatic scene in "Stargate". The young boy with the dread locks even seemed to imitate the role of Skaara in Star Gate, insisting on trying to be grown up but stumbling into trouble.

The makeup and character of the 'wise mother" figure reminded me of the little sorceress Galen (Pauline Lynch) in the TV miniseries Attila who, through mysterious means, took the deadly effects of the poison arrows shot at Attila (Gerard Butler) by his rival Bleda (Tommy Flanagan) upon herself thereby sacrificing her life to save Attila. However, I would hate to draw too many comparisons as both "Stargate" and "Attila" far outshine Emmerich's latest film and both are personal favorites (although Attila scores higher - probably because I am a passionate fan of stories about the Roman Empire and I must also be honest - Gerard Butler is very pleasant to watch - leather speedos not withstanding!)

Perhaps if Emmerich had included a time portal the film would have at least made a bit more sense rather than juxtaposing wildly disparate historical and geographical elements without any apparent rationale. This would have at least placed the film in the realm of science fiction or fantasy rather than leave it dangling precariously above the category of historical fiction.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cleopatra Riddle Of The Tomb

By: John Breeden

Game Industry News Editor

There has recently been quite a few puzzle adventure type games that start out in Europe and eventually get ported over to the U.S. market. Cleopatra Riddle Of The Tomb is one of them. However, unlike most of these efforts, this title actually does not do anything wrong. It offers about ten hours of mostly enjoyable gameplay.

The game is set in Ancient Egypt and surprisingly, is historically accurate. Most games figure everything set in Egypt should have hieroglyphics when in fact at the time of Cleopatra, Egypt had long-since been conquered by Alexander The Great. As such, puzzles here use the Greek alphabet. This little twist, positioned right near the start of the game, lets players who know figure out that Cleopatra is going for realism as well as enjoyment.

You play an astrologer working under a master named Akkad, who in turn works directly for Cleopatra. You also happen to be in love with Akkad’s daughter Iris. The game begins when you show up for work and both Akkad and Iris are missing. Given that Cleopatra has launched a civil war against her brother/husband Ptolemy which is tearing up Alexandria at the moment, this is not too surprising. (Although I did not know that Ptolemy was both brother and husband to that crazy Cleo, so that was a bit of a shock.)

At its heart, Riddle Of The Tomb is a puzzle game, more so than an adventure game. You basically can walk around with impunity (in other words not worrying about getting killed) until you hit a puzzle that needs to be solved. Unlike a really difficult puzzle game where you have to figure out what a puzzle is, here it’s pretty easy. When you hit a wall, sometimes literally, you have found a puzzle.

Let your light (beam) shine on!

The game does a good job of easing you into the whole puzzle solving adventure. The first puzzles involve trying to find out where you master and girlfriend have gone (or were taken).

The puzzles themselves are fairly diverse and range from combining objects in your inventory to conducting basic research on Egyptian culture to discover, for example, what order to place statues for the ceremony to weigh the soul of a dead person. Almost all the puzzles are connected to Egyptian lore in some way, which adds a nice touch to the atmosphere.

Friday, May 16, 2008

James Nares' Rome 78 screened at Anthology Film Archives in New York

Not far into Rome 78, James Nares's unlikely rendering of a sword-and-sandal costume drama on the minuscule format of Super-8 sound film, two soldiers clad in armor and togas lean against what one might generously imagine to be the walls of the Roman Senate, but is more likely a cheaply renovated East Village apartment. The pair discusses the increasingly erratic actions of Emperor Caligula without the genre's usual pseudo-Shakespearean gravitas; they sound like two deadbeat downtowners bullshitting at a bar. "

Rarely screened, Rome 78—part of this week's James Nares retro at Anthology Film Archives—has nevertheless built up its own aura over the years, no doubt due to its subcultural provenance. The cast includes a crowd that the British-born Nares remembers today as "all sort of downtown personalities": James Chance and Pat Place of the Contortions (for which Nares himself played guitar), fellow musicians John Lurie and Lydia Lunch, club heroine Patti Astor, television survivor Lance Loud, and filmmaker Eric Mitchell. Today, Nares is best known as a painter: His large-brush abstractions partake of a coolly controlled happenstance that one might faintly relate to Rome 78's more ragged insouciance.

Punctuated by in-camera flash-frames, off-kilter shots, and inappropriate laughter, Rome 78 (1978) embraces shabby-chic as a formal objective. Nares mocks up Ancient Rome by shooting in faux-classical sites like Grant's Tomb and Tribeca's American Thread Building, where a decrepit penthouse loft with a peeling-paint dome serves as an echoey stand-in for the imperial palace. The latter location required ingenuity: Posing as potential renters, Nares and associates asked the manager to show them the apartment, then unlocked the windows on the way out; a few hours later, they broke back into the space, full cast and crew in tow, to shoot the necessary scenes.

At every moment in the film, New York circa 1978 bleeds uncontrollably into a flimsy pretense of first-century Rome. Scheming courtiers allude to intrigues in Gaul, Brittany, and the Lower East Side; Mitchell chain-smokes while seducing a black-lingerie-clad Lunch on a zebra-skin rug; the Emperor himself—astonishingly portrayed by twitchy, gap-toothed ectomorph David McDermott—declares his own divinity at Grant's Tomb by screaming above the honks and engine rumbles of the West Side Highway.

Seen now, Rome 78 collapses three layers of dead civilization: The script conveys the waning days of the Roman imperium; the sets evoke the Empire State's 19th-century robber-baron capitalism; and the cast memorializes the last days of urban bohemia's counter-kingdom. "I don't think I was the first to draw a connection between the Roman Empire and the American empire," Nares states. "At that time, it really felt like things were falling apart. A real 'decline and fall' seemed very obvious, with the blocks of abandoned buildings and so forth. It was an easy call, really . . . .

"It's my only attempt at a narrative film with actors. It has its moments—quite funny at times, quite beautiful at times, too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

If you speak Greek

If you or your children speak Greek, the Foundation of the Hellenic World produces several multimedia educational games about various topics in Greek history:

Searching for Alexander the Great
Travel with Jason and Danae and follow the course of Alexander the Great! Travel around the world, see museums and monuments and learn about the civilizations that were influenced by the Macedonian king all over the world!

Have fun with amazing games, collect objects that testify to the glorious history of Alexander the Great, solve the riddles and face the obstacles of the cunning Leo Foxy. At your disposal there will be a large encyclopaedia with all the necessary information! Do not waste any time! Create your own presentations and take part in the great competition of the game. Discover the ancient civilization and unfold the magic world of Hellenic history, in an educational game that combines learning and action!

In our new adventure, with Jason and Danae as the leading characters, you will discover the unique history of Alexander the Great. In the beginning of the game, listen carefully to the information provided by the teacher at school regarding the paper you must prepare, which is a presentation of the Macedonian king. Solve the initial riddle, take the book with the rules of participation, which is also the manual of the game, and prepare yourselves for a magic journey to history!

Lead Jason and Danae to the areas of their yard and speak with the heroes that are in the rooms: their advises and inventions will be very useful! If you search well and use your power of reasoning, you will manage to collect the necessary gear which will help you to travel in nearby and far away destinations and discover unknown aspects of the fearless Alexander the Great. You should ask the people you meet in your way, you will see impressive museums, mysterious tombs and traditional Greek hamlets, in order to collect as many objects as possible so you can create your own unique presentation.

When you return to school you will have the opportunity to prepare your presentation and, when you are ready, to show it to your classmates! But the most important fact is that you can save it and send it to us, participating thus in the competition that will regularly take place, with great gifts.


Mystery in ancient Miletus
"Mystery in ancient Miletus" is a game in which knowledge and entertainment coexist harmoniously. It is addressed to children above the age of 10, but also to everyone who wishes to learn about ancient Miletus in a pleasant way. Starting the application, the player has the possibility to meet the family of the heroes of the series "Jason & Danae".

He can also colour various images with the heroes and print them out in colour or black and white.

The game is essentially divided into two parts. The first part consists exclusively of cartoons. The player "experiences" the game through the eyes of its leading characters, Jason (High School student) and Danae (Primary School student). The heroes, always under the guidance of the player, must in the beginning roam through the areas of their residence, in order to collect more information about the story of the game.

In these areas there are hidden many riddles, which every time include a new element that furthers the development of the story. Their solution leads to key objects that contribute to the solution of the game.

After they collect all necessary information, the heroes are ready to "travel" to ancient Miletus.

The second part of the game includes a tour to ancient Miletus, which takes place through the use of interactive virtual reality video (QuickTime VR). Through it, the player experiences the area as it was in the Roman Period, as does the visitor of "Kivotos", FHW's virtual reality system. The successive images (QuickTime VR) that have been used allow for the 360o visual coverage of the areas, solely using the mouse. At the same time, brief historical information is provided for every area.

Historical information appears both in text form and images as well as in video format, which comes from the documentary "Miletus... A City in Four Dimensions". In addition, the CD-ROM includes a glossary and an encyclopaedia with historical data about Miletus, information about the areas and the buildings, the important people that lived in this city, general information about various sports and buildings of Antiquity, but also many ancient sayings.

And some advice!!! Try to call from the devise in the room of uncle Pericles. All telephone numbers can be found on the bulletin board. You will discover many secrets, which will help you solve the game.

Language: Greek!