Wednesday, August 30, 2006

David Brent @ Microsoft

If you are a fan of BBC's The Office then you'll like these training videos produced exclusively for Microsoft UK in 2003 which are the hottest property on the 'net right now. Starring Ricky Gervais as the 'ultimate manager' David Brent and Steve Merchant playing it dead-straight as a Microsoft nerd. These videos are the real deal folks and Gervais was furious that they were leaked.

Somehow I fail to see how these would in any way benefit any employee of Microsoft as Brent's sexism, political incorrectness and utter self-absorbtion deflates any kind of message that a 'training video' should instill in the viewer.

They're still up on Google video: Video 1 and Video 2 37 mins in total, but maybe not for long.

Source: ZDnet

Monday, August 28, 2006

2IGTV Episode 24

In our milestone 24th episode, Bill Shatner leads the way as Andy Dick goes apeshit, Tom Cruise is out on his ass, Ryan Phillippe could be Dent, George Lucas may be loosing his mind and Osama Bin Laden's taste is completly up his ass. We also review Snakes on A Plane, Lady In The Water and A Scanner Darkly. Our much vaunted discussion on SG-1 vs. Atlantis also comes to it's thrilling climax, all here in one Podcast!!!

Get it here now!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Splinter Cell: Double Agent - Mega Preview

When it was released for the original Xbox, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell was one of the most technologically advanced console titles ever. Although many people bought the game to check out the amazing dynamic lighting and impressive stealth action, they kept coming back for more because there was just something about the world-weary Mr. Fisher's lack of enthusiasm about the spy game.

In his latest outing, as you might be able to glean from the title, Double Agent finds Sam going a bit Jack Bauer, attempting to infiltrate a terrorist organization. The line between good and evil starts to blur quite a bit as you'll spend much of your time in the terrorist group's headquarters, where you'll live, eat, and sleep near them as you go deeper undercover. While some games might be content to simply let the hero make his way, Double Agent forces Sam to make a number of tough ethical choices. The game will actually change depending on what you do, and some parts of the game will only be available if you play in a certain manner. There are multiple paths from start to finish, and there will be a number of endings; if it'll be a bit more than the choices in Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight then we may have something cool here.

In each level there will be several objectives for both the NSA and the terrorist organization, and they'll often conflict with one another, somewhat like Alias. Sam will face quite a few ethical quandaries, such as whether to personally kill an innocent civilian to save hundreds of lives. Of course, killing the innocent will get you in good with the terrorists who are testing you, but the NSA won't be happy. If you don't, there will be implications further down the line, and things might turn out worse than if you had just pulled the trigger. Much of these sequences played out during what the developers are calling "directed moments," which are essentially interactive cutscenes. Although the directed moments are very cinematic, they never really pull the player out of the action, instead infusing the proceedings with emotion and action.

From the screenshots released, it looks like we'll be seeing the same sort of stealth action that made the series so great in the first place. In one level, Sam must make his way through a war-torn urban area in Zaire. Like many next-gen titles, the developers are eliminating traditional HUDs in favor of more immersive indicators. Sam will have a small light on his shoulder that will change color depending on his visibility. Another level, takes place in the frozen wastelands of Western Russia. The level begins with a HALO jump, in which you can control the camera and Sam's trajectory and speed. After landing, you makes your way through swirling, dynamic snow to an opening in the ice. Double Agent finds Sam with the ability to swim, and he'll be able to break through the ice to drown his foes.

Given that the Splinter Cell series was always one of the best looking franchises on the Xbox, it's no surprise that Double Agent looks great running on the Xbox 360 and PC. There are some impressive lighting effects, such as when Sam's swimming underneath the ice. You'll see light diffuse dynamically as you look up, and you can even see the silhouette of the enemies above you.

If you're a fan of the Splinter Cell franchise, there's no doubt that you'll be happy with the changes made to the series in Double Agent. The good/evil mechanic sounds nuanced and intricate, and the idea of taking wildly divergent paths as you play through the game sounds superb. This game will take the series in darker and more interesting directions, and will help cement Sam's place in the gaming world.

Micheal Ironside returns as Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell: Double Agent, deployed on October 19th.

Sources: GameSpy, IGN and 3DGamers

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto Demoted

Our Solar System: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

"Waitaminute Colonel!" I hear you say "Aren't there 9 planets in our system? How can you be the Field Operations Commander for an international organisation charged with defending the Earth from alien attack when you forget Pluto as part of a threat assessment?"

Well if I listed them yesterday, there would have been 9 planets, but now there are only 8. But unlike one of my Marines who steps out of line: Pluto's been demoted, stripped of rank and position for no good reason other than the definition of 'Planet' being redefined by a bunch of nerdy astronomer scientific folk.

The International Astronomical Union made its decision after a week of heated debate at a conference in Prague. They approved new guidelines which defines a planet as: "A celestial body that is in orbit around the Sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." Now Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's. It has been put into a new category of 'dwarf planets'.

When the debate started a week ago, there were proposals to reaffirm Pluto's status and make planets of its largest moon, as well as two other objects. However, the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted, 2003 UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto, and Charon, the largest of Pluto's three moons, will not become planets.

Hopefully no one will get the idea of applying some new definitions to the Military. I certainly don't want to be demoted at the behest of some group of dumbass civilians.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Giacchino to score next Trek

It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that longtime J.J. Abrams collaborator and composer of the music for his Alias and Lost series; Michael Giacchino, will be composing the score for Abrams' Star Trek XI.

The composer says he is only starting to think about how he will approach the forthcoming score for next installment of the Sci-Fi franchise. Speaking at the release party for the Lost Season Two DVD, Giacchino said, "it's kind of on the distant radar. I know they're working on it. [But] it is so far away we haven't even discussed it yet."

He further speculated that he could approach the Star Trek XI score in the same way he did the music for Mission: Impossible III, which referenced that franchises previous films and TV series, he said that he may cherry-pick some of the cues that he likes and discard others. "I think that ultimately you might pick the theme that you think is the important one and utilize that in a certain way and then go completely somewhere else with it,". I guess so long as he doesn't misuse the work of the late Jerry Goldsmith everything will be allright.

But everything will be allright; My first embrace of Giacchino's pheonomenal work was while playing Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault. It was easily one of the greatest scores for a computer game ever composed, and that still holds true today. The Incredibles was the first motion picture to benefit from the composers talent and the success of the score for M:I-3 and for Abrams hit TV shows ensures that Giacchino will play with the big boys from now on.

I often apply the same disaster-senario to projects in the entertainment industry as I do with National Security and once speculated on what would happen if John Williams tragically died before composing Revenge Of The Sith- the answer: Micheal Giacchino.

Source: IGN, Trek Today, Yahoo

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Colonel has Stargate SG-1 cancelled

Sorry folks, as I say in my profile to the right "you've made the wise choice of coming here to benefit from my vast wisdom". Once such person was obviously an overpaid TV executive who read the very last lines of this post in May and has pulled the plug on Stargate SG-1.

(Right: The true SG-1 team)

I'm not surprised I'm being listened to, after all 10,000 hits gets serious attention in the online world. On Monday evening the announcement that Stargate SG-1 the longest running Military Sci-Fi show in the history of the planet, is to cease production with its current 10th and now final season arrived.

SCI FI channel issued the following statement: "SCI FI Channel is proud to be the network that brought Stargate SG-1 to its record-breaking 10th season. Ten seasons and 215 episodes is an astounding, Guinness World Record-setting accomplishment. Stargate is a worldwide phenomenon. Having achieved so much over the course of the past 10 years, SCI FI believes that the time is right to make this season their last on the channel. SCI FI is honored to have been part of the Stargate legacy for five years, and we look forward to continuing to explore the Stargate universe with our partners at MGM through a new season of Stargate Atlantis."

To add to my wisdom and foresight rom May, I noticed that the quality had diminished somewhat with the departure of Richard Dean Anderson at the end of Season 8, but I was further taken aback last month as I began to watched Season 10, by the sub-standard of writing and plot especially when compared with its spin off show Stargate: Atlantis. To be honest, SG-1 should have ended when the Gou'ald were defeated, but instead our heroes go off and piss of a group of powerful jihadist aliens who sprout all manner of religious zealotry, which is fine to the common audience, but for someone like me who has to watch the same type of shit practiced by the more nefarious members of the tea-towel-head brigade through my night vision sniper scope more often than I'd like to: You'd understand why I prefer the more Science-Fictiony concept of alien space vampires in Atlantis' Wraith!

While it is the end of Stargate SG-1 in ist's current form, the producers were quick to say that it wasn't the end of SG-1's adventures, although they couldn't say anything right now. It doesn't take a Marine Colonel to figure out that they're talking about a TV Movie series or a full Motion Picture (which could be somewhat confusing if Dean Devlin puts his plans in motion)

Hey! Maybe I'll pitch my own idea based on my real-life adventures with the Marines of SG-3, Stargate: Jarheads...?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Joe Rosenthal dead at 94

The subject of a heated discussion here earlier, Joe Rosenthal the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who snapped the famous shot of the second flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945 has died aged 94.

"What I see behind the photo is what it took to get up to those heights — the kind of devotion to their country that those young men had, and the sacrifices they made," Rosenthal once said. "I take some gratification in being a little part of what the U.S. stands for."

Source: Fox News

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Transformers Character Lineup

The lineup of Transformer characters is:
Autobots: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, Rachet and Ironhide
Decepticons: Megatron, Starscream, Brawl, Barricade, Bonecrusher, Scorponok, Frenzy and Blackout.

Character descriptions:
- Prime "every society has that noble king. That King Arthur."
- Bumblebee (left) is the "same underdog, same G1 character we know and love." and that despite being a Chevrolet Camaro "The clothes don't make the man." Be aware that when Hasbro approached BMW to make a new Bumblebee toy they declined as they did not want to be associated with war toys. Clowns: they lost out in the greatest advertising ever.
- Jazz's attitude is "can't do something with style it's not worth doing at all."
- Rachet continues to be the medic of the group but will not match his Gen-One alt mode.
- Ironhide remains the gutsy muscle of the group and make "any Transformer bust an O-ring just with his stare."
- Megatron will be explored beyond just the usual evil, destroy this and that mentality.
- Starscream will continue to try "to best Megatron."
- Brawl is an "extremely pissed off Decepticon" and is based on other iterations of the Transformers which may continue in sequels.
- Bonecrusher is basically Megatron's willing slave (and apparently the closest thing to a Constructicon)
- Barricade is the Saleen Mustang police car seen in some leaked photos and who likes to hunt down the Autobots.
- Scorponok is closest to the Beast Wars iteration with a "little bit of flavors from the other things."
- Frenzy is the replacement Soundwave. The alt mode will be a stereo.
- Blackout is the EMP guy. Has the weapons to knock out most electronic items, which of course is bad news for the military and the Autobots.

Source:, Yahoo

Friday, August 18, 2006

Snakes Secret

New Line Studios has had unprecedented extraordinary success (especially in this day and age of the internet where anyone in the world can know anything in seconds) in keeping details of Snakes on a Plane secret (I'm assuming there's more to it than just some snakes on this plane...).

The film opens today without benefit of preview showings or even screenings for critics, although no one is expecting the film to bite the dust. Even vaguely intelligent moviegoers usually avoid a film released without advance screenings because it can indicate a studio knows the movie is bad (Batman and Robin anyone?) however Snakes is unusual in so far as people who have never seen it already call themselves 'fans' and many hope it will be awful.

"Bad Movies are special," New York Post critic Kyle Smith wrote "genre flicks - shoot-'em-ups, stabathons, disaster epics -- that make you holler and stomp for 90 minutes. Then when the lights go up and someone asks you how it was, you reply, 'Oh that? That was a Bad Movie.' A Bad Movie is a bad movie you watch over and over."

What do I think? I think it's going to kick muthafuckin' ass! Check out this youtube file for some Snakes related hilarity.

Sources: Yahoo, Youtube

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ospreys cross 'the pond'!

Right: V22 Osprey over the river Thames.

Two MV-22B “Ospreys,” belonging to Marine Tiltrotor Test and Evaluation Squadron 22, have made history by completing the first-ever Tiltrotor Vertical Assault Aircraft trans-Atlantic flights. The Ospreys successfully flew from North Carolina to England and back.

“The MV-22's ability to make two trans-Atlantic flights within a three week period, and fly every day in Great Britain during that time period confirms its reliability,” said Col. Glenn M. Walters, VMX-22 commanding officer. “The aircraft and aircrew performed above my expectations in accomplishing the most arduous portion of a self-deployment. This was the final event that demonstrated the full range of unique capabilities this aircraft will provide to our war fighters in the near future."

The flight covered more than 4,000 miles, much of it over the North Atlantic, in challenging weather conditions. Both aircraft were conducting a self-deployment rehearsal in preparation for the Osprey’s operational deployment scheduled for next year. Over 40 Marines participated in the exercise, including pilots, aircrew and ground support personnel. While in England, the Ospreys flew a total of 17 flight events, all of which were executed on time. The craft even participated in the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford and the Air Show at Farnborough, U.K.

Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, deputy commandant of Marine Corps aviation, remarked on the success of the historic trans-Atlantic flight and how this brings the “Osprey” one giant step towards deployment sometime next year. “The leadership of the Marine Corps and those that have been involved with the aircraft has had confidence that it could complete a mission like this all along.”

Colonel "Whopper" Creedon of the United Nations Extra-Terrestrial Invasion Defence Agency, a strong supporter of the Osprey since it's early design stages, was rather smug about the now-proved abilities of the Marines new craft. "I'm always right" he said "especially about things I know about. I said many, many, many times that this would fly and succeed where others failed, but the Marines were behind this baby 100% so it could not have failed. So to all those who said [the Osprey] was a lemon, I say a big Screw You!". It was obvious The Colonel had been drinking.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sith Lord is Visitor 10,000!

Yes indeed, I'm sure it can't have failed everyone to notice that The Colonel's Eagle has received its 10,000th visitor. I'm pleased to announce that the nefarious SITH APOLOGIST has won the much sought after prestige of being the 10,000th* visitor and the coveted prize that goes with it.

The apologist of all Sith arrived on Sunday August 13th at 14:29. He stayed for a whopping 2 hours 47 mins reading 17 pages, most likely containing material he missed during his long absence recently.

Be not envious, as this would only lead you down the Sith's dark path (and forever will it dominate your destiny) and instead; join me in congratulating Sith Apologist as he wins a genuine United States Special Operations Command lapel pin (pictured left), identical to the worn by myself and US Special Operators on off-duty civilian clothing.

The Colonel's Eagle has grown exponentially since its inception and has many frequent returning visitors. Stick around folks and let's see if YOU can be visitor number 20,000 for which the next prize will be up for grabs.

*he was actually visitor 9999. A random Yank who didn't read the site regularly and was only here to find Spiderman stuff was 10,000. A French dude was 10,001 but all French are disqualified from participation for being a shower of wankers. The closest hitter was thefore the Apologist.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2IGTV Episode 23

In these troubled times where terrorists mastermind a plot to prevent the Colonel from getting his Cherry Coke from the UK: We discuss the crowning of David Hasselhoff as King Of The Internet. A new movie starring Brainless hulk Vin Diesel, who'll be sharing movieland with another of his ilk; John Cena. We discuss Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, the demise of E3 and the next market to be consumed by Microsoft, the modern-day Borg.

Get it all here.

Space Marines: A Reality?

Col. Jack Wassink is a former Marine Corps jet jockey with a weird new mission. This blunt, 45-year-old chief of the Marine Corps's tiny Space Integration Branch in Quantico, Virginia, shepherds the Marines' radical vision of space warfare.

Unlike the Air Force, Navy and Army, all three of which sponsor expensive satellite programs, the cash-strapped Marines are pushing just one space concept. It's called Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or SUSTAIN, and it's a reusable spaceplane meant to get a squad of Marines to any hotspot on Earth in two hours then get them out. The idea is to reinforce embattled embassies, take out terrorist leaders or defuse hostage situations before it's too late. "The Marine Corps needs this capability," Brig. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer told Congress in 2004.

"The Corps has always been an expeditionary force, a force of readiness, a 911 force," Wassink says. "All SUSTAIN is, is a requirement to move Marines very rapidly from one place to another. Space lends itself to that role."

Spaceplanes -- that is, craft that take off and land like airplanes but achieve low orbit using rocket motors -- aren't science fiction (like the Aliens dropship) anymore. In 2004, Burt Rutan's Space Ship One snared the $10 million X-Prize by demonstrating that a relatively cheap and simple vehicle could get a man into low orbit in two stages and return him safely. Air Force Brig. Gen. S. Pete Worden said Rutan's bird offers a glimpse of a future military space transport. “It’s just a scaled-up version of that that would do this [SUSTAIN] mission."

This year, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, launched a spaceplane program called Hot Eagle. Capitalizing on Space Ship One and Hot Eagle, the Marines are hoping to get a space transport into service soon. But Wassink says the Corps can't go it alone. He's been working hard since 2003 to convince the sister services and the scientific community to get behind SUSTAIN. "We've seen the entire gamut of reactions. Some people don't get past the past the giggle factor. Some people think we're off base. Some think we're visionary."

Wassink and the Marines are the underdogs of space. Of all the military space techs on the drawing board, SUSTAIN is the among hardest to pull off. "Propulsion and aerodynamics are going to have to be developed," Wassink says. "And there's a whole host of safety considerations. It's certainly not something the Marine Corps would be able to develop and acquire on its own."

But SUSTAIN promises, for the first time, the capability to influence events anywhere in the world fast and with flexible force, lethal or non-. Wassink believes it is truly revolutionary -- and possible in 10 to 15 years. That's why he's at the Pentagon or in research labs every week pitching SUSTAIN. And that's what motivates him to keep trying when skeptical scientists and generals laugh him out of the room.

"Think about how fast aviation developed. By the end of World War II, you're flying jet aircraft as opposed to propeller planes. That's just 20 years. It's realistic," Wassink says "And I'm excited about it."


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Police Squad on DVD

In November this year, Paramount will finally release the hilarious antics of Sgt. Frank Drebin, Detective Lieutenant, Police Squad! (as he introduces himself).

One can't have enough Leslie Nielsen and while in this 6 Episode short lived comedy series he's without O.J. Simpson, he's not without the side splitting antics that made the Naked Gun movies so popular.

Paramount Home Entertainment will release Police Squad! - The Complete Series on DVD with all six episodes of the comedy, and will feature tons of bonus materials and extra features. It will be available for about €20.

Special features include: a brand-new interview with Leslie Nielsen, Behind-the-scenes featurettes, Hysterical audio commentaries by the creators on select episodes, a Gag Reel and more.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Britishland: Defcon 20

Our neighbours in Great Britain were in a 'bit of a tizzy' yesterday when the Pakies gave them the heads up on a few troublemakers attempting to cause come trouble over some outbound British flights over the Atlantic.

Left: A copper patrols outside the Houses of Parliament yesterday morning, note the powered targeting mount on his MP5- that's bloody expensive let me tell you, but guaranteed to take down any running Brazilians at 150m!

All flights into and from the UK were disrupted and passengers subjected to delays, searches and reclassification of hand luggage, including the prohibition of anything that could be used as part of an explosive device including bottles of alcohol and iPods.

One Hannah Pillinger, 24, from Horley, Surrey, said she was more disappointed not to be able to take her iPod on the flight as opposed to a 10 hour delay."Eight hours without an iPod, that's the most inconvenient thing."

In all seriousness however, well done to the boys of Scotland Yard and the Intelligence and Security forces across the UK in thwarting this heinous action from those whom the Global War On Terror is waged against.

You won't win, you Terrorist Bastards!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Medal of Honor: Airborne gets Jeep

Electronic Arts and Jeep Brand announced that they inked a deal that will put the Willy-Overland Jeep in Medal of Honor: Airborne, the next installment for the World War II first-person shooter franchise.

The Medal of Honor series has been renowned in the WWII genre since 1999 due to its faithfulness to historical accuracy and authenticity. Jeeps played an important role for in WWII moving troops, information, and tracking the enemy. More than 350,000 Willys jeeps were built and used during the war.
Medal of Honor: Airborne lets players fully control where each mission begins and how it plays out. This is the first time the series has included fully player-drivable vehicles like the classic Willys-Overland Jeep. Authentic to their use in WWII, the Willys Jeep will be able to access more areas than the other drivable vehicles featured in MOHA, because of their four-wheel drive features and can-do attitude.

"The Medal of Honor: Airborne experience begins with unprecedented freedom of approach from the air. With the addition of the Willys Jeep, that freedom continues on the ground, on road and off, and in combat scenarios of all types." explained Patrick Gilmore of EALA. "This is the first time in any Medal of Honor game that a player will have the ability to drive a Willys Jeep, and we're very excited to see this new addition increase the fun and intensity of the gameplay."

But there is a trench war going on in the World War II shooter sub-genre. Electronic Arts' original WWII FPS, which first debuted on PlayStation in 1999, has reached great heights, but during its run, games such as Call of Duty have stolen a lot of the series' thunder. About a year ago, EA took a different direction with MOH, opening it up with larger, wide-open spaces, giving choices to players, where there was simply a single trail before. Medal of Honor: Airborne, the newest game in the series, takes it one step further, offering players the chance to drop from airplanes into the battlefield.

Now that EA has announced its official partnership with Jeep, the publisher has opened up a little, giving us information on a number of subjects. EA is digging deep to re-capture the sub-genre with a game that people will love, and pretty much everything else -- from AI to graphics to vehicles to the newly implemented air drops.

Apparently, players will be PFC Boyd Travers, a soldier in the Army's newly-minted Airborne division. After Nazi attacks in Crete and Belgium, American military officials saw the need for an army capable of a vertical envelopment tactic—that is, they could drop into combat from the air. Volunteers were recruited and specially trained in America and England. Generally, the Airborne preferred soldiers who were bilingual and self-managing, given that they would be dropped behind enemy lines, and largely cut off from command. Travers is no exception. He is fluent in German, and self-managing almost to the point of insubordination.

As Travers would say, he likes to, "go for the long odds." That means he'd rather crash and burn doing something spectacular than see victory doing something mundane. The Airborne division is perfect for him. Travers winds up in the 82nd Airborne, then later transfers to the 17th to participate in Operation Varsity, the invasion of Germany.

Travers' war takes him through every major Airborne operation of WWII; his story is the story of the birth of the Airborne, which continues to help define American combat forces to this day.

While you don't spend a high percentage of game time in the air, the decisions you make in the drop have a significant impact on the game that follows. Thinking of it a different way, the airdrop might go by quickly, but some of the most significant decisions need to be made in that short time frame: Where will I land? What tactics will I employ? Where is the enemy base? What are the relevant approaches? Where are there potential support targets? What are the good sniper/squad/infiltration/assault points? And so on…

Jeep was such an integral part of the airborne experience, EA felt like they'd be shortchanging the concept if they didn't include them. That having been said, Medal of Honor: Airborne is first and foremost an FPS with some cool driving components. Mounted weapons are not standard, but the jeep vehicles will support them. The standard Willys Jeep comes with a high caliber weapon mount which can be operated by a passenger, AI can board the jeep with you and someone has to handle the mounted .30 cal. But for Airborne soldiers in WWII, a Jeep was one of the most valuable resources available. Most soldiers took exceptionally good care of their Jeep; if they were lucky enough to land one, they hung onto it as long as they could. As great a vehicle as the Willys was, sadly, it was not indestructible. While the Jeep affords players additional armor and firepower, various components of the jeep, including tires, suspension, engine, hood, grille, etc., have health. The damage each part takes impacts the performance of the vehicle; ultimately, it can be destroyed entirely.

Apart from many of the features which are already becoming clear visual signatures on next gen graphics (high dynamic range, bloom, crushed blacks, post effects, atmospherics), a couple of next-gen features unique to Airborne that should have a strong visual impact. Among those features is a suite of methods and technology EA shorthand as "best humans." It includes a method for animating and rendering character faces to create more emotional expression and intensity on the battlefield. It also includes some cool tech for higher fidelity environment interactions and an enemy movement style that's a lot more aggressive and in keeping with German army tactics in WWII. All of these features, as well as the integration of vehicles into gameplay, help to make the experience more authentic and more realistic.

Airborne is fundamentally about freedom and player choice. From the first step out of the plane, the player is in control of how the experience plays out. The player defines their landing spot, angle of approach, tactics and style throughout the game. That's a big difference from the rail-ride shooting galleries we've seen within the genre in the past. Basically, the commitment to make a more choice-driven game has required EA to change the way they design levels, and the way non-player-character interactions are crafted. The NPCs are largely driven by the new Affordance engine, which makes enemies aware of the value of the terrain around them, and causes them to prioritize high-value resources (like a pillbox) over lower value (a trench) or even lower value (a blasted tree stump) or no value (open ground). This results in lots of cool dynamic offensive and defensive tactics, no matter which direction the player approaches from.

Don't expect to see Medal Of Honor: Airborne until next summer if we're lucky.

Sources: IGN, Gamespy, 3DGamers

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Iran: It's getting hot in here...

In December 2005, a reporter asked Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, the Israel Defense Force's chief of staff, how far Israel is willing to go to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program; the general answered: "2,000 kilometers" -- the flying distance from Israel to Iran's key nuclear sites.

Unfortunatly in light of Israel's current "little problem" with Hezbollah it seems that it will fall yet again on the square shoulders of the US of A to 'eliminate' the threat posed by the maniacial Iranians once the UN Security council's August 31st deadline arrives.

Naturally before any such action can be taken a recon unit had to be sent into Iran. It was rather warm :) The following is from the declassified sections of my report:

Unfortunately, flattening Iran's nuclear infrastructure isn't easy or risk-free -- and could have serious consequences for American interests. The key challenge: the program is underground, literally and figuratively; Iran burrowed many sites deep below the soil, making them much tougher targets. (It also put some near populated areas to make civilian casualties a certainty if attacked.) And these are the sites we know about: At least two dozen nuclear-related sites are scattered across the country but it may be more than 70.

By burying and dispersing its facilities, Iran is clearly trying to avoid the fate of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program back in 1981 -- when Israeli F-16 fighters, crossing Jordan and Saudi Arabia, destroyed Iraq's 40-megawatt Osiraq reactor in a dawn raid, effectively setting Saddam's nuke dreams back a decade. An Israeli strike at Iran today might feature fighters carrying satellite-guided JDAM bombs, cruise missiles on diesel subs and Special Forces. But the task would be much tougher than the Osiraq strike, thanks to the number of targets and their dispersion, and the greater distances from any Israeli base.

What about U.S. airstrikes? These could take a range of forms, depending on policymakers' desires. Surgical strikes might limit their targets to Iran's air defenses (for access) and key nuclear sites (e.g., Bushehr, Nantanz, Arak). Or an escalated attack could nail all suspected nuke facilities -- plus forces Tehran might use in a counterattack, such as its ballistic missiles and conventional forces. Depending on the strike's objective, think Operation Iraqi Freedom: B-2 stealth bombers carrying bunker-busters, F-117 stealth fighters and other Navy/Air Force strike assets from carriers and theater bases plus Navy destroyers and subs loosing cruise missiles on Iranian targets. Could a raid destroy all sites? Thanks to the covert nature of the Iranian program, that's not clear. It's highly likely, though, that striking key facilities would set the program back, possibly causing Tehran to reconsider the folly of its proliferation policy.

But it's unlikely to be that simple. After an assault, Iran might lash out with a vengeance. We'd have to be fully prepared for some nasty blowback. Tehran and its terrorist toadies can brew up some serious trouble for both America and Israel -- or anyone else that supported an attack on the fundamentalist Islamic state. The Iranian regime is already up to its neck in the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could certainly increase its financial/material support to the Sunni insurgents, Shia militants, al Qaeda, and the Taliban to destabilize the new Baghdad and Kabul governments -- and kill Coalition forces. Iran's other "secret" weapon -- oil. As the world's No. 4 oil exporter, Tehran could rattle oil markets and major economies (e.g., Japan, South Korea, France, Italy) by slashing output. It could also mess with other nations' oil exports -- attacking tankers in the Gulf using mines, subs, patrol boats or anti-ship missiles.

Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are already in force against Israel and Iran could augment this by pounding populous Tel Aviv with its Shahab missiles mated with chemical/biological warheads. The U.S. homefront could get hit, too. Over the last few years, the FBI has evicted Iranian intel officers for surveilling New York City tourist/transport sites. Hezbollah has supporters and likely has operatives in America who might undertake acts of terrorism or sabotage U.S. ports or bases, too. Iran now harbors at least 25 senior Al Qaeda operatives, including senior military commander Saif al Adel and three of Osama bin Laden's sons. If we come to blows, would Tehran help al Qaeda hit the U.S. homeland?

This doesn't mean we shouldn't use military might to interrupt or end Iran's nuclear gambit; it may be the best/only option. There are no easy answers, only tough choices. But the military option has to stay on the table. Otherwise, it's a snap that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will let Tehran's nuclear genie out of the bottle. I'm glad I ain't a General.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Target: Athlone

If anyone is looking for me this long weekend; I'll be in the Westmeath area "just making sure"!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Big news from the casting couch.

It was confirmed today that one half of that recently celuloided "friendly cowboy" duo, Heath Ledger has been cast as Batman's arch-nemesis; the maniacal Joker in the upcoming sequel to the greatest super hero film of all time Batman Begins, which has now been given the title The Dark Knight.

Don't screw it up Heath.

(Left, artists quick impression of the new Joker)

In other casting news, I'm pleased to announce that the part of James "Rhody" Rhodes, former US Marine pilot, Tony Stark's best friend and part-time user of the Iron Man armour has been offered to Terrence Howard. It's unknown yet if Howard will take up the offer but I think there's a good actor who hasn't sullied his career with stupid romantic comedies or friendly cowboy films + he actually looks the part.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The F-35 Lightning II

At an unveiling ceremony a couple of weeks ago; Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England congratulated the team that built the stealth-technology fighter, and said the aircraft will serve far into the future. "The F-35 Lightning II will be the centerpiece of airpower in the 21st century for America and our allies," England said.

In addition to Britain, the consortium of countries that will field the aircraft includes Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Canada.

The Lightning II will be "the most sophisticated, affordable and capable" aircraft of all time "and the very best fighter ever built," promised Ralph Heath, president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., the lead contractor for the F-35 development program.

The F-35 is most-expensive weapons procurement ever undertaken by the U.S. military. Contracts worth about $30 billion, out of an estimated total U.S. government cost of $276 billion, have been issued so far to Lockheed and other contractors.

As Air Force Gen. Michael Moseley let out the worst-kept secret in Washington, the Lightning II name, a giant video screen behind him disappeared into the stage floor, revealing the stealth gray F-35, bathed in spotlights and also shrouded in smoke. "What a fantastic looking flying machine," Moseley said. "Today, we collectively put the enemies of peace and freedom on notice. Their defenses are obsolete."

The F-35 is supposed to eventually replace many of the combat aircraft now used by the U.S. and its allies. It is designed to be stealthy -- hard to detect with radar -- speedy, maneuverable and loaded with modern weapons. Three versions are planned: the F-35A version is designed for conventional takeoffs and landings, and will be used by the Air Force. It will replace the F-15, F-16 and A-10. The B variant has vertical lift capability, and will be used by the Marines as a replacement for the AV-8B Harrier. The C variant will be for carrier launches and will ultimately replace the Navy's F-18s.

Rep. Kay Granger, a Fort Worth republican, argued against critics who say there's little need for a new generation of expensive fighter jets in the conflicts U.S. forces are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraqi terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed by U.S. bombs, "found out the F-16 could make a house call," Granger said, adding that U.S. forces already have a name for his successor. "They just call him 'Next.'"