Three happenings

Two Lord of the Rings thoughts.

First, The Two Towers video game was released last week for the PlayStation2. For fans anxiously awaiting the Special Edition DVD release of Fellowship of the Ring or the December theatrical release of The Two Towers this game should probably find its way to your video game console. Not only does it include footage from The Two Towers but you actually play in the movie. Let me repeat. You actually play in the movie. Here’s how it works. You watch a sequence straight out of one of the films, and suddenly you’re controlling a character from the film. Take the battle on the slopes of Mount Doom during the War of the Last Alliance at the start of Fellowship. The game begins with Galadriel’s prologue, the armies move into place, and suddenly you’re Isildur fighting hordes of orcs. Each level in the game works the same way, and the further into the game you progress the more behind-the-scenes footage from the films you unlock, like easter eggs on a DVD. Some things translate better than others–the cave troll attack in Moria is intense, but there’s no significant linking of the Moria adventure to the next level, the attack at Amon Hen. And fans may be bothered by the arrow’s eye view of the killing blow Lurtz delivers to Boromir. Despite that, this is a solid action title that any fan of the films will appreciate and enjoy.

Second, Waiting For Frodo has been updated this week with two new comic strips. The most recent strip is about Richard Harris who passed away a few days ago. I’ve never warmed to his work as an actor, and his turn as Dumbledore in the first Harry Potter movie did absolutely nothing for me. But the other new strip, about Sam’s love life, illustrates well the blinders that people wear in relationships.


Sega announced World Series Baseball 2K3 for the XBox, PS2, and GameCube recently. Considering the quality of last year’s version for the XBox, I have high hopes for next year’s edition. And considering that the new edition will add classic ballparks, like the Polo Grounds, WSB2K3 could be the ultimate baseball game. EA’s Triple Play franchise suffers from unrealistic play and deformed players with gigantic heads, while Acclaim’s All-Star Baseball is so difficult as to be frustrating. World Series, by contrast, melded beautiful graphics with a customizable batting interface to accomodate all skill levels.


Faction Paradox: The Book of the War arrived in the mail today from Mad Norwegian Press. I’ve spent much of the evening flipping through the book, from one entry to another. The book is an encyclopedia to the War in Gallifrey’s future mentioned in Lawrence Miles’ Doctor Who novels Alien Bodies and Interference and Simon Bucher-Jones and Mark Clapham’s The Taking of Planet 5. Reading even a few entries I now understand how horriby misused Faction Paradox was in The Ancestor Cell. The entries on Anastasia Romanov were fascinating, and I was amazed by the effect of the Difference Engine on the nature of reality.

One of the entries makes the point that history isn’t real, isn’t objective. It’s purely subjective observation of the known facts of the past. Manipulate those facts, or the interpretation of those facts, and the appearance of history changes. This isn’t a new thought by any means–historical revisionism goes on every day–but I found it refreshing to see it said in an ersatz Doctor Who context.

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