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Science-Fiction Weekly – Gears Of War 4, Doctor Who, Black Mirror, Power Rangers

by Andrew Reiner on Oct 11, 2016 at 10:00 AM

If you didn’t fork out the extra dough for Gears of War 4’s ultimate edition, which allowed you to start playing it last Friday, the game is officially out today, and it’s well worth your time – even if you just want to see cool science-fiction technology in play. In my review, I called Gears of War 4 a continual delight, dazzling with exceptional multiplayer, and the best campaign since the series’ inaugural release.

What my review didn’t touch on too much is the unique science-fiction vision that The Coalition used throughout almost every environment. This series’ art direction has always been relatable, with architecture inspired by Britain’s 1800s Regency era, and weapons modeled after the Vietnam War. The Locust forces were the only thing that truly looked alien, and it was a nice contrast to have, as the player felt a connection with the world.

Gears of War 4’s world delivers that “We’re not in Kansas anymore” sensation, even in some of the human-controlled cities. Early in the game, we get an intimate look at one of the Coalition of Ordered Governments’ newest establishments, but it doesn’t look like it is designed for humans. It feels cold, and bleak – and the only signs of life within it are giant yellow construction robots that are feverishly assembling new buildings and technology. For anyone that’s seen a Transformers cartoon or movie before, you can’t help but think Bumblebee is making a cameo in this game. This particular robot design is incredibly close to the Autobots' favorite little guy, but oddly, it doesn’t feel out of place in this sterile world. The city is also protected by robot forces called DeeBees, which are surprisingly agile and intelligent, but still approach threats with a menacing slow march forward, making them look like a bit like archaic technology in these instances. The coolest touch in this city is a giant, rotating wall that slides along the periphery to protect it from harsh storms. The wall is intimidating to look at, but also something to marvel at from a technology standpoint. It shows just how far this society (and technology) has come since E-Day.

As the game progresses, the world, which ranges from countrysides to rundown factories, is infested with sprawling orange veins, almost looking like an alien hive has claimed these territories. These veins are often joined by large, pulsating eggs that almost look like they glow. The veins are a telltale sign that the Swarm, the game’ new adversary, is here. Although many of the environments hold qualities of the Gears of War titles of old, the Swarm infestation makes them look decidedly alien. It’s a cool touch that pays off handsomely for the gameplay – as the eggs hold new kinds of horrors.

I highly recommend you give Gears of War 4 a whirl, even if you haven’t completed the previous three games in the series. The first act of the game is a primer that details enough of the series’ lore to bring newcomers up to speed. My recommendation carries more weight if you appreciate cooperative play and competitive multiplayer. Both avenues of play are immensely entertaining in this new installment. You can check out the COG city of note in the video below:

After you take a look at that, three trailers demand your attention. The first is for the upcoming Power Rangers film. Rather than giving fans what they want (kids in powered armor beating the snot out of aliens), this teaser trailer spends its time solely on character development, and I hope the film follows suit and doesn't rush into the action. I want to see the Power Rangers kicking butt as much as anyone, but I also think the film will be better off if they fully embrace the human element. The Marvel films are perfect examples of how developing interesting characters behind the masks is just as important as showing off their super powers. Those characters make more of an impact on us, because we can relate to them and legitimately like who they are.

Even if you aren't a fan of Doctor Who, you may want to keep the show's upcoming Christmas Special on your radar, as it blends the Doctor's typically wacky science fiction with superheroes. Yes, the Doctor is teaming up with a Superman-like being in New York. This can only be great. Here's the official synopsis for this episode: "This Christmas on BBC One, the Doctor joins forces with a comic-book superhero in New York for a heroic special written by Steven Moffat, titled ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio.’ The family favorite will return on Christmas day as the Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, joins forces with an investigative journalist, played by Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall, The Player) and a superhero to save New York from a deadly alien threat." The trailer below gives you a brief look at the episode and the hero of note:

Netflix's excellent Black Mirror is returning for a third season, and the trailer makes it looks absolutely nuts (in all of the best/most disturbing ways). If you haven't watched this show yet, go into it expecting a dark, character-driven Twilight Zone, and just let the fun unfold. DO NOT look at any story synopses for it online. Also, don't watch the trailer below unless you are caught up!

Before I leave you, I have two quick notes to address: 1) HBO's Westworld is ridiculously good. That second episode is even better than the first. I won't discuss it here, but would love to talk about it in the comments section below. 2) Star Wars rocks! Did you really think I would finish a Science-Fiction Weekly without mentioning it? The gallery below is loaded with images of upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story toys. See you again in seven days!