Doctor Who – Ranking the NuWho companions (2005-2017)

NuWho has been on the air for some time now, and has accumulated quite a sizeable array of companions to its name, spanning several eras. Time to rank them all!

#10 – Rose

Yep, Rose is at the bottom. Those who have read previous articles on my site will know that I am not exactly Rose’s biggest fan, and this is mostly due to her erratic and unpredictable behavior – be it laughing and giggling after having just witnessed someone being brutally murdered in Tooth and Claw, or being a total bitch to Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion, or having a go at Elton for upsetting her mum in Love and Monsters when she herself basically ruined a year of her mum’s life by disappearing and not bothering to tell her. What is frustrating is that this character gets special treatment in the Russell tenure, with basically the entire arc of the era being based around one character – she even got to come back after being gone for a season and a half. So yes, Rose is right at the bottom for just shoddy character development.

#9 – Clara

In a similar vein to my dislike of Rose, Clara stole the show a bit too much when she finally came along. In fact, even before she came along – Jenna Coleman played two distinct versions of Clara before appearing permanently as the genuine article, and this sparked the retch-inducing ‘impossible girl’ storyline that was essentially a more contrived storyline than the whole Bad Wolf thing. The only reason why Clara ranks higher than Rose is that she became slightly less insufferable during her time with the Twelfth Doctor – although she continued to try and take over the show, even getting her face in the title sequence at the end of Series 8 instead of the Doctor’s – the Twelfth Doctor bounced off her better character-wise, and Clara gained more of a personality in Series 8 and 9 compared to the ‘Impossible Girl’ arc that basically carried her through Series 7. Once her character began to emerge, she is really good in some episodes, and once Moffat had got out of his Cbeebies phase Clara was able to meet the more serious and darker aspects that the show took on leading into Capaldi’s era, even having a particularly fantastic death scene in Face the Raven. Although she gets a copped-out immortal lesbian time-travelling spinoff show at the end of Hell Bent she still has to eventually go back and die, which is a pretty dark concept if you think about it.

#8 – River Song

I can genuinely appreciate what Steven Moffat was trying to do with River – the notion of a fellow time-traveller that is encountered out of order and married to the Doctor is a great idea in theory, but the execution was less than spectacular – because her appearance in Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead was so good as a standalone idea for an episode, people were almost disappointed when her return was announced just one series later. Overall, although River herself was a strong character played excellently by Alex Kingston who also had great chemistry with Matt Smith, her reveal was ultimately a bit of a let down and although she is the Doctor’s wife it is strange that so much emphasis was placed on revealing her ‘secret identity’ only for it to turn out that she is the daughter of the current companions. Despite all this, her departure in The Husbands of River Song is still a defining moment in the Twelfth Doctor’s characterisation change for Series 10 so River can ultimately be thanked for inadvertently influencing the best series of the revival.

#7 – Mickey

Poor Mickey. The strange thing about this character is that he was a genuinely good person – he cared deeply for Rose, he was loyal to his friends and was pretty brave by the end of the show, yet for some reason that defies explanation the Doctor just really seems to dislike Mickey at first, probably because Russell had it in his head from the beginning that the Doctor would fall in love with Rose, but what reason is given for the Doctor’s disdain for Mickey? All Mickey did was get captured by the Autons and then be understandably shaken when the whole thing was over, and yet Rose totally abandons him. Throughout the series Mickey jumps from our universe to a parallel universe and back again, again a symptom of the writers not really knowing what to do with him, and eventually ends up with Martha in an unfortunate ‘match the spares’ situation of the ilk of Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood in the eighth Harry Potter film. Ultimately, Mickey’s best qualities are apparent in Series 2, in which he joins the TARDIS team and spends time fighting Cybermen in a parallel universe, eventually becoming a badass.

#6 – Amy and Rory

Although their era spiraled further and further into the nonsense that was Series 7, Amy and Rory are a standout because their relationship gave the show a whole different dynamic that almost makes every episode seem like a continuation of the same story, just framed differently against the backdrop of traveling through time and space. Amy may be bitchy at times and Rory takes a while to find his feet as a character (similarly to Mickey, in many respects) but once he becomes the Roman he becomes one of the most likeable characters on the show. Their best episodes include Amy’s Choice, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, The Impossible Planet/The Day of the Moon, The God Complex, The Doctor’s Wife and A Good Man Goes To War so there is a fairly strong selection there alone, and whilst it could be argued that their combined character was irrecoverably ruined  by the abysmal Asylum of the Daleks they at least got a good send off in Angel’s Take Manhattan.

#5 – Donna

As companions go, Donna is definitely going to be among the best-remembered in years to come, possibly even on the same level as companions like Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith, in that they all take a very unique perspective on the companion role. In Donna’s case that is the role of a loudmouth with an attitude but who has a heart of gold and, in many ways, is very like the Doctor in some ways. Considering the recent trend that started with the Eighth Doctor TV Movie in which the Doctor has a more romantic relationship with his companion, Donna was a refreshing change as it was made clear from the start that she and the Doctor had absolutely no romantic feelings for each other. This makes episodes in Donna’s era seem more concise and better trimmed, as time isn’t spent on a half-baked romance story in every single episode like in the Rose era.

#4 – Nardole

An ex-criminal cyborg from the future, Nardole is primarily used for comic relief in his initial appearances but the fantastic Series 10 molds him into a well-defined character in his own right, who was an unexpected fan-favourite at the time, who is expected to return at some point in the future. His great relationship with both Bill and the Twelfth Doctor made his inevitable departure all the more tragic, particularly with the manner in which it was carried out – essentially, he was doomed to protect the Mondasian children from endless waves of ever-adapting Cybermen with no hope of escape, which is a pretty dark way to go. Thankfully, we do eventually learn that Nardole survived for years and was eventually inducted into the Testimony system, so Nardole fans can rest easy.

#3 – Captain Jack

Who doesn’t love Captain Jack? Apart from being the first representation of an LGBT character on-screen, (not counting Ace because, although intended, that aspect of her character was never directly addressed by anyone on-screen), Captain Jack is unique among the majority of other NuWho companions as he does not originate from modern-day London, instead originating from the 51st century. As such he is more clued up on the various alien races and technology. The best thing about Jack’s character is that he bounces really well off basically any other character, and is one of the few characters in Russell’s era that I believe is due a temporary return, as he worked so well with both the Ninth and Tenth Doctors and I see no reason why he couldn’t work really well with the Thirteenth Doctor.

#2 – Martha

If there is another companion from Russell’s era that is deserving of a return, it’s Martha. Despite her time in the TARDIS being somewhat overshadowed by her romantic feelings for the Doctor, these didn’t get in the way of her character development or story involvement half as much as Rose’s romantic backstory with the Doctor did, and Series 3 gives Martha a chance to shine in some fantastic episodes like The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, Human Nature/Family of Blood, Utopia and Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords, in the latter of which she proves her mettle by saving the world and the Doctor from certain destruction. Her departure, on her own terms, sets her above her contemporaries – particularly Donna and Rose – and her comeback in The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky allowed Freema Aygeman to return to her original character Adeola Oshodi’s defining trait of being a human controlled by an evil invasion force.

#1 – Bill

The personification of wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm, Bill is one of the cornerstones of the masterpiece that is Series 10. Her relationship with the Twelfth Doctor was totally unique and hearkened back to the ‘Professor/Student’ relationship that Ace had with the Seventh Doctor, although in Bill’s case this is taken a tad more literally, as the Doctor takes on a tutor role both in the real-world, marking Bill’s assignments and teaching her in classes, and also on their adventures. Bill’s reputation as a companion who flaunts her sexuality is, in my opinion, undeserved – although Bill does mention the fact that she is gay in numerous episodes, often this is in response to things other characters insinuate, and even the seemingly random remark she makes to the Doctor before they part ways in The Doctor Falls about liking girls is obviously because the Twelfth Doctor appears so oblivious that they probably hadn’t even talked about it before. Ultimately, Bill is one of the most likeable companions in NuWho and Pearl Mackie does a fantastic job of bringing the character to life.

So that concludes my list ranking the NuWho companions, 2005-2017. If you enjoyed be sure to leave a like and you can follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Top Ten Sci-Fi Spaceships

The Science-Fiction genre is replete with examples of iconic spaceships, often used as transports and even mobile homes for the characters in science fiction. As such, the ship almost becomes a character in itself, developing its own quirks and technicalities that give it its personality. But the question remains – which ship is the best? For this list we will be judging based on how useful the ship would be, and the extent of its powers. To begin:

10 – Red Dwarf – Red Dwarf

red-dwarf.jpg

Despite being a slow, unwieldy, ancient mining ship that is peppered with meteorite impacts, Red Dwarf always pulls though and provides a home for its disparate band of occupants. Also, it comes packaged with Holly, the transgender eighth generation ‘hologrammic’ computer with an IQ that supposedly exceeds 6,000. Depending on the day, Holly might be sane or totally senile, and the ship seems to attract trouble on a near-daily basis. Don’t look forward to speedy travel with the Dwarf, however, since it trundles along at a snail’s pace. You do, however, get Starbug, but its up to you whether or not that’s a good thing.

9 – High Charity – Halo

highcharity

The Covenant Holy City-ship of High Charity serves as the cultural, political and military headquarters of the alliance, and mobilises the Covenant assault force against Humanity.  The best thing about High Charity is its environments, which you explore during the Halo 2 levels Gravemind and High Charity. The curved purple interiors and modular architectural design demonstrate the alien nature of the Covenant, and in terms of power it boasts a slipspace drive for instant transportation and a vast array of destructive weapons, with docking structures that can contain and transport hundreds of capital ships. So whether you like strolling through botanical gardens or invading planets with huge fleets of warships, High Charity is for you.

8 – Thunderbird 3 – Thunderbirds

thunderbird-3.jpg

The ultimate classic rocket design, Thunderbird 3 might not have weapons but it is extraordinarily fast – able to make it halfway around the world in a matter of minutes, in some cases. Overall, the red rocket tops any other rocket-type ship in sci-fi, and the best part about it is that you might even get Tracy Island thrown in, as well as the ability to travel to and dock with Thunderbird 5, an orbital space station. Designed to launch as an SSTO (single-stage-to-orbit) rocket, the ship can be re-used unlike contemporary rockets used by NASA, and it even runs on the same fuel,

7 – Ebon Hawk – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

ebon_hawk1.jpg

The spiritual predecessor to the Millenium Falcon, the Ebon Hawk serves as the home for the traveling circus cast of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This ship was constructed over 1,000 years before the Falcon, so it isn’t as fast but it does seem to be more heavily armoured. However, featuring dual engines, the Ebon Hawk was certainly fast for its era, and could certainly hold its own against more powerful ships like the Leviathan. After all, this was Darth Revan’s ship for a reason.

6 – Serenity Firefly

serenity.jpg

Similar to the Ebon Hawk, Serenity is a freighter primarily, designed to haul cargo from planet to planet. Thanks to heavy modifications, however, she serves as the vessel of Mal Reynolds and his crew, a band of vagrants and smugglers who partake in various illegal activities. The ship was described by Firefly creator Joss Whedon as the ‘tenth character’ of the series, and she has character indeed – fans have likened Serenity to freighters like the Millenium Falcon. The biggest strength of Firefly-class ships is their durability and ease of repair, and Serenity is no exception.

5 – USS Enterprise-D – Star Trek: The Next Generation

galaxy class

The USS Enterprise is a fantastic ship in its own right, but the USS Enterprise-D surpasses it in almost every conceivable way. For one, it is essentially just a more powerful version of the original Enterprise, and it also has much more advanced technology aboard like the Holodeck and the Saucer Separation. Not only that, but the ship is also more luxurious, with more space and better living conditions – the original Enterprise was built with practicality in mind, with dull grey bulkheads and no inch of space wasted, whereas the Enterprise-D has a warm beige interior design with the occasional appearance of wood paneling. With the addition of the crew, particularly Data, the Enterprise-D is equipped to deal with any obstacle, whilst also providing a comfortable environment.

4 – Millenium Falcon – Star Wars

millenium falcon.jpg

Allegedly the fastest piece of junk in the Galaxy, the Millenium Falcon is certainly a go-to starship if speed is a priority. Han Solo boasts in A New Hope that the Falcon ‘made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs’, which sounds like he made it up on the spot but will undoubtedly be extrapolated to the Nth degree in the upcoming Solo Movie, but the general jist of what he is saying stands – the Falcon is a fast ship. Able to outrun any Imperial starship, this unassuming-looking freighter has gone on to become one of the most famous ships in the Galaxy, and aided in the destruction of not one but two Death Stars. The only real downside of the Millenium Falcon is its amenities – it is essentially a grotty smuggling vessel, with very few forms of entertainment to pass the time during the long hyperspace jumps (unless you count a dodgy holographic chess set and a flying ball.) The ship would be handy in a pinch, but for long-distance travel the Falcon falls short of the best ‘conventional’ starship in Sci-Fi, which is:

3 – USS Voyager – Star Trek: Voyager

voyager.jpg

The Intrepid-class starship won the top spot for Top 10 Federation Starship Classes, and the most famous ship of its class is at least half of the reason why. The exploits of the USS Voyager top any starship of this dimensional plane, and its already advanced and reliable design is augmented by many modifications that the crew picked up during the ship’s time in the Delta Quadrant, including some Borg technology and a massively improved warp drive. With the Voyager also comes the Delta Flyer, a greatly upgraded and improved redesign of the standard Federation Shuttlecraft for ship-to-surface transport or even ship-to-ship dogfights, an innovation that other Federation starships lack. Despite the greater focus on tactical systems and speed, the Voyager still features the entertainment systems available on the Enterprise like the Holodeck, and is sleeker, faster and comes with a holographic medic.

2 – Heart of Gold – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

heart of gold

The Heart of Gold is powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, a wonderful new method of crossing interstellar distances in a mere nothingth of a second, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. This incredible propulsion system temporarily launches the ship through every part of conceivable space simultaneously, and the only payoff is a temporary bout of extremely high improbability, which can cause hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, or a complete rewrite of the ships entire internal environment at a molecular level. Known effects have included the creation, and spontaneous upending, of a million-gallon vat of custard, marrying Michael Saunders, the transformation of a pair of guided nuclear missiles into a whale and a bowl of petunias, and transforming one of its crew into a penguin.

1 – The TARDIS – Doctor Who

tardis

The TARDIS may not look like much of a spaceship, but its abilities exceed all of the other ships on this list combined. Capable of traveling anywhere in time and space, the TARDIS can quite literally take its crew anywhere in any time period, and even other dimensions under the right conditions. If that were not enough, the ship is dimensionally transcendental, meaning the interior exists in a separate dimension to the exterior, creating the illusion that it is bigger on the inside, and the interior of the TARDIS is so vast that after over 2,000 years of owning the ship the Doctor has still not managed to fully map the floor plan. The TARDIS is alive, in a sense, and can alter and reshape its interior to suit the needs of its occupants, as well as allowing for a huge amount of internal systems such as a karaoke bar, a cinema, a library and a swimming pool, all of which occasionally move, change, or in rare cases fuse (causing the swimming pool to sometimes appear in the library). The ship is shielded to the extent that Dalek missiles – of which less than 10 are needed to eradicate a planet – don’t even scratch the blue box. Undoubtedly, no other spaceship in Sci-Fi even comes close to beating the TARDIS.

tardis interior.jpg

And that’s our list of the Top 10 Sci-Fi spaceships. If you enjoyed, be sure to leave a like, and you can follow us and like us on Facebook for more content like this. If you have your own list of Top 10 Sci-Fi spaceships, be sure to leave it down in the comments below!

 

Top 10 Best Halo Easter Eggs

So I’ve already covered the topic of Creepiest Halo Easter Eggs, Funny Halo Skulls and Hardest Halo Skulls, so it seems only fair that I also rank the funniest and/or coolest Easter Eggs in the Halo Series to round this theme to a close. For this list I will not be including Skulls, since I have covered those already, and none of the Easter Eggs that appeared in my Top 10 Creepiest Easter Eggs list will be appearing here either. So, coming in at number 10:

10 – Windows Phone – Halo 3

windows phone

The wall-mounted phones in Halo 3 have tiny Windows logos on them, a nostalgic callback to the era in which this game was released. This is one of several computing-related references in Halo 3, another being the fact that the UNSC computers offline with a modern-day blue screen of death. Just a small but relatively interesting detail that shows the dedication to making the world seem real.

9 – Excalibur – Halo 2

excalibur.jpg

This Easter Egg is tucked away in the top floor of a destroyed building in the Halo 2 level Outskirts. What makes this interesting is that it is located outside of the level boundaries, meaning that the developers must have known that players would manipulate the game mechanics in ways that would allow them to leave the level boundaries, and yet rather than filling every corner of every level with invisible walls or death timers, Bungie instead filled the outside areas of their levels with secrets to find. This Energy Sword serves as a reward for players who manipulate the game mechanics, as well as seeing one of the infamous ‘Rex’ symbols written in rocks and blood (shotgun shells in the anniversary version). This sword can also be used to implement a glitch that gives you an invisible Energy Sword with infinite ammo in the next level, so it is a useful Egg to find.

8 – Notice Board – Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

ceabillboard.png

The Pillar of Autumn’s notice board in the original version of Halo: Combat Evolved was already full of in-jokes, references or gags such as a note claiming to have lost Alien‘s cat ‘Jonesey’, but the Anniversary version steps this up a notch. The ‘Cat Found!!!’ notice is clearly a reference to the Jonesey post on the original notice board, and the Spartans on the ‘Defy the Covenant’ poster are wearing Halo: Reach-era armour, further solidifying the link between Reach and Halo: Combat Evolved. There is even a trollface next to a blatant advert for Halo 4 which, at that time, had not been released, so in a way this notice board looks both to the past and to the future.

7 – Red vs Blue Marines – Halo 3

 

This one crops up a lot because it doesn’t take much to find – simply go further along to a corner near the start of the Halo 3 level Crow’s Nest when the game prompts you to turn left, and you will encounter a door with a Marine standing outside. What proceeds is a humourous argument between the Marine outside and another Marine, presumably just inside the door, over the password needed to get in. What makes this even better is the fact that the voices are done by various members of the Red vs Blue cast, and the conversation changes depending on the difficulty.

6 – Football – Halo 2

football

This one takes some effort but is really fun if you can pull it off with two people. The football itself can be located at the very top of a damaged skyscraper in the Halo 2 level Metropolis, which continues Halo 2’s theme of placing fun and interesting secrets and hard-to-reach areas. Using various Skull combinations, the players can then push the ball with explosives out of its corner and down into the play-space of the road itself, and with two Ghosts this can make a game of giant football in the streets, if you can overcome the strange physics of the ball.

5 -Siege of Madrigal – Bungie Games

controlroom.jpg

This Easter Egg is brilliant because it recurs throughout the franchise, and when activated it plays a piece of music called Siege of Madrigal from one of Bungie’s older games, Marathon. To activate it in Halo: Combat Evolved, one must fly a Banshee up to the peak of the control room tower in the level Assault on the Control Room and park in a very specific spot (to the right of the second-highest rung, to be precise.) The tune can be found in almost every Halo game, usually located in a very specific but hard-to-reach location, and can be heard here.

4 – Flyable Pelican/Phantom – Halo: Reach

flyablepelicanphantom.jpg

It had long been a dream of Halo fans to actually get a chance to fly the iconic dropships of either the UNSC or the Covenant, but Halo: Reach finally made it possible, albeit in the form of a very glitchy Easter Egg. Bungie knew that fans had always wanted to fly a Pelican because the vast majority of the few mods that exist for Halo generally are mods that allow the player to fly the Pelican, and although they implemented a form of air-vehicle in Halo 3 with the Hornet and again with Halo: Reach’s Falcon, they knew that before they left the franchise for good they would have to provide some form of closure to fans, and so enters New Alexandria, an air level in Halo: Reach that primarily uses the Falcon, but with the flip of a secret switch and a quick flight through a giant ring-shaped building and your Falcon is magically transformed into a very unstable Pelican. Phantoms can also be driven if you manage to complete the same method with a Banshee, although that is even more unstable with no collision detection at all.

3 – Club Errera – Halo: Reach

brutedj.jpg

Oddly enough, this next Easter Egg is actually from the same level as the previous one, but that is no real surprise since Halo: Reach’s New Alexandria is jam-packed with fan-service Easter Eggs, since it was Bungie’s last massive open level in the series. The basic story behind Club Errera is simple – in the game as normal, you pass through a nightclub during your mission to destroy Covenant Radar Jammers, but if you manage to find and activate a secret switch before coming into the Club, all of the Covenant will be either dancing, Dj-ing or waiting at the bar, and the Hunters act as bouncers guarding the door. Overall, it is a surreal experience, and you can even change the music with different switches, one of which is a remix of a track from the Halo 2 Soundtrack.

2 – Scarab Gun – Halo 2

scarabgun.jpg

This unassuming-looking Plasma Rifle floating above a conveniently placed danger sign atop a skyscraper (that requires sacrificing an arm and a leg to get to) is actually the key to ultimate power. There are few examples of Easter Eggs as sandbox-altering as secret weapons, but this is the obvious exception. This weapon, although looking visually identical to a Plasma Rifle, is actually a placeholder for the Scarab’s main weapon used semi-regularly throughout the level Metropolis in Halo 2. Using a Banshee, (which requires a tedious and complicated method to even obtain in the first place) the player must fly up to the very top of a specific building in New Mombasa, the player can find and acquire this weapon, which allows them to shoot Scarab beams to their heart’s content. Unfortunately, this weapon is extremely hard to use since it can often kill the player due to the insanely high splash damage, and a single tap of the trigger can instantly kill the player. In the Anniversary version of Halo 2, a whole Skull was created to turn every weapon in the game into a Scarab weapon, (that thankfully turns off scoring) so now even casual players can experience the power.

Honorable Mention – Secret Talking Grunts, Halo: CE, Halo 2 and Halo 3

secretgrunts.jpg

This single Honorable Mention is in fact three separate Easter Eggs, all involving secret Grunts with specific lines of funny dialogue. The first is the ‘Thirsty Grunt’, who can be found during the final run of the last level of Halo: Combat Evolved. When approached, he expresses his hope that the ‘food nipple’ is waiting for him at the starship, clearly ignorant of his impending doom. The next, ‘Cowardly Grunt’, can be found in the Halo 2 mission Uprising, during which the player is actually allied with this Grunt since you play as the Arbiter. However, this Grunt will refuse to fight, and instead pitifully cowers in the corner whilst assuring the Arbiter that he will stay behind to make sure nobody sneaks up on him. The final Grunt is aptly named the ‘Final Grunt’, since he is the final grunt you encounter in Halo 3, although he is occasionally called the ‘Jerk-Store Grunt’ since he rants and raves to the Chief, claiming that ‘the Jerk Store called, and they’re all out of you’ as well as berating the Chief for having a troubled past and claiming that he is high on gas. Wow.

1 – Terminals, Data Files and Audio Logs – All Halo Games

halo terminals

This could be considered cheating since I’m incorporating a vast array of seperate Easter Eggs into this one entry, but they are essentially the same thing – hidden lore elements that are buried in the game and left for the player to find. This process began in Halo 3 with the ‘Terminals’, Forerunner (or sometimes Covenant) devices that could be accessed to read/hear small snippets of information about the wider story of the game and its context. This continued with Halo 3 ODST’s atmospheric audio logs, Halo: Reach’s data files and continued well into the 343 era with fully rendered mini-movies being hidden throughout Halo 4, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 2 Anniversary, and a huge swath of fully voiced audio logs for Halo 5: Guardians, which is one of the few things worth praising about the game. What makes this such a great Easter Egg is that it is the perfect way of making players want to learn more about the wider lore of the games, as by hiding it away and including an element of challenge to find them with achievements encourages players with a sense of accomplishment or desire for 100% completion to scour the levels searching for clues and piecing together the wider lore that explains the origin of the Forerunners, the Halos, the Covenant, the Flood and countless other aspects of Halo lore.

So that’s my list of Top 10 Best Halo Easter Eggs, I hope you enjoyed and if you did then please be sure to leave a like, and remember to like us on Facebook or follow us on WordPress for more content like this, and look down below for more Halo related content!

 

Star Trek – Top 10 Federation Starship Classes

The world of Star Trek is defined by magnificent and elaborate starship designs of various diverse cultures, races and factions. The show has created dozens of iconic starship designs, many of which are recognisable even to people who have never seen the show, but by far the most iconic are the various Federation Starships that appear throughout the various incarnations of the legendary series. For those not in the know, the Federation in Star Trek is made up of a multitude of different races, including humans, and the various starships we see throughout the show ferry our heroes from planet to planet, engage in ship-to-ship combat, and provide a home from home for the sizeable crew that make it their mission to explore the furthest reaches of space.

The question remains, however: which Federation starship type is the best? Of course, there are many different criteria that can be used to define what the ‘best’ class of ship is, from how iconic it is, to how powerful it is within the show itself. For the purposes of this list, I will be factoring in several different criteria including longevity, artistic design, reliability and physical power, and I will not be including ship classes from either the revival movies or the expanded universe. With that out of the way:

10 – Miranda-class

miranda class

Although it may be accidental, the Miranda-class has become somewhat of a running joke in the Star Trek universe, due to the numerous examples of Miranda-class vessels getting destroyed, attacked, lost, captured or having their entire crew die of old age. This is almost certainly due to the incredible quality of the original studio model of the USS Reliant, which led to the show’s creators re-using the same model for many other less important ships. It may seem odd now, but the USS Reliant was actually supposed to be quite powerful compared to the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as it is capable of holding its own in a fight against Kirk and his crew. However, subsequent appearances of Miranda-class vessels have presented the ship as being woefully under-powered, possibly due to the huge time jump between the Original Series and TNG.

9 – Prometheus-class

prometheus class.jpg

Visually, the Prometheus-class is awesome – the pointed primary hull, the four nacelles – and of course the infamous ‘multi-vector assault mode’ which splits the ship into three sections for coordinated attacks – but the reason why this ship ranks low on the list is the ease by which it is captured in the show, during its only significant appearance in Star Trek: Voyager’s Message in a Bottle. Despite featuring advanced armaments, prototype tactical configurations and improved shields, the ship is already in Romulan hands before we are even introduced to it, which begs the question – how on Earth did the Romulans manage to steal this advanced top secret prototype so easily? Clearly the crew were redshirts in disguise, considering they apparently all just dropped dead with little resistance.

8 – Nebula-class

nebula-class.jpg

A smaller and more compact cousin of the Galaxy-class starship, Nebula-class vessels are shown to share the same levels of endurance as their larger cousins in the show, with examples like the USS Phoenix and the USS Sutherland holding their own against comparatively larger starships, including the Galaxy-class itself. One of the best things about this vessel is its design, as it includes the newer, sleeker design of Federation Starship whilst also invoking a sense of continuity, since the ship is structurally similar to the previously-mentioned Miranda-class ships.

7 Ambassador-class

ambassador-class.jpg

Despite its brief appearance, the Ambassador-class USS Enterprise-C proved the worth of this class both as a Federation starship but also as a class to have a ship bearing the name Enterprise. The design of this ship has a clear motive – to form a link to bridge the gap between the original USS Enterprise from the Original Series and the USS Enterprise-D from TNG – and it works perfectly. The clearly separate Saucer, Engineering and Nacelle sections are reminiscent of the original Enterprise, with the blue circular deflector dish resembling that of the Enterprise-A, and yet the colour scheme and sleeker look makes it visually similar to the Enterprise-D, providing clear continuity between the classes and forming a ‘missing link’ between the Original Series and TNG.

6 – Sovereign-class

sovereign class

From one Enterprise to another, the most famous Sovereign-class starship is of course the USS Enterprise-E, the final ship in the mainline show in the chronology of Enterprises. Created to replace the unwieldy Enterprise-D model that was unsuitable for big-budget movie levels of filming, the Sovereign-class is meant to represent the pinnacle of Federation starship design for its era, featuring advanced ‘Quantum Torpedoes’ to replace the regular old photon torpedoes and a more traditional Federation starship design that incorporates updated technology. Unfortunately, the entire point of the Sovereign-class’s creation was made irrelevant by the transition from physical models to entirely CGI ships towards the end of the TNG Movies, but we can still appreciate the fantastic design.

5 – Excelsior-class

Excelsior_class

The ‘new kid on the block’ towards the end of the Original Series era, the Excelsior-class was essentially the sleeker, cooler younger brother to the now-outdated Constitution-class ships. With famous post-Original Series starships like the USS Excelsior and the USS Enterprise-B represented by the Excelsior-class, it remains one of the most famous and well-known Federation ship classes that is not the primary ship of a mainline TV series, although it does feature prominently in Star Trek VI and Generations. Interestingly, the prototype Excelsior-class ship was captained by none other than Hikaru Sulu, further solidifying the idea that the Excelsior-class bears the torch passed on from the older Constitution-class.

4 –  Defiant-class

defiant.jpg

Although the design of the Defiant-class ships represents a radical deviation from the standard Federation starship look, within the context of the show the change was warranted. Throughout the late-TNG and Deep Space Nine era of Star Trek, the Federation is faced with enemies that require a more tactical and combat-orientated response, rather than  the usual ‘exploration first, combat second’ philosophy that had previously dominated their starship designs. The Defiant-class represents a prototype of dedicated warship designed to fight and defeat the Borg, a vicious and powerful threat to the Galaxy. Seeing action throughout Deep Space Nine and First Contact, the Defiant-class lives up to its role as a combat vessel by aiding in the defence of Earth from the Borg and the war with the Dominon.

3 – Constitution-class

constitution class.jpg

The grandfather of Federation starships, this is the one that started it all. This design would go on to influence each and every Federation starship to come, and is respected as one of the most iconic and memorable starship designs ever created. In terms of the show’s continuity, the Constitution-class is far from the first Federation starship to be created, but the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 is certainly its most famous, and the adventures of Captain Kirk and his crew go on to become almost akin to the stuff of legend by the time of the Voyager and DS9 era. The ship itself is supposed to be one of the best Federation ship designs of its time, and although it is far outstripped by the Federation starships shown in later Star Trek incarnations, the legacy of the Constitution-class is upheld through the name Enterprise, and all the fantastic ships of that name to come. Talking of which…

2 – Galaxy-class

galaxy-class.jpg

Known most famously for the USS Enterprise-D from TNG, the Galaxy-class starship serve as the primary setting for TNG, and so forms the backbone for what is arguably the essential Star Trek experience, depending on how you rate it in comparison with the Original Series. As a result, like the Constitution-class, the Galaxy-class has become one of the most recognisable ships in all of Star Trek. From a visual standpoint, this vessel effectively conveyed that massive changes had occurred in the Star Trek universe since the era of the Original Series. The ship maintains the same basic shape as the earlier incarnation, but with a sleeker design and more advanced-looking engine and sensor technology. In-universe, the Galaxy-class is a powerful exploration vessel, and although we never see the Enterprise-D go head-to-head with a Romulan Warbird to the death, the vessel is held in high regard by many allies and enemies of the Federation, making it a formidable vessel.

1 – Intrepid-class

intrepid-class

Despite being smaller than the Galaxy-class, less advanced than the Sovereign-class and less iconic than the Constitution-class, the Intrepid-class is a fantastic ship in its own right. Quick and nimble, it demonstrates its efficiency throughout Star Trek: Voyager as the titular USS Voyager holds its own against practically everything the Delta Quadrant can throw at it, provided no time-travel is involved. The Intrepid-class personifies the apparent change in Starfleet from the era of TNG, with stark grey metallic corridors replacing the beige and wood-paneled interior of the Galaxy-class ships, and more focus on speed and durability than sheer power of its weapons. The design of the Intrepid-class also departed from the traditional Federation starship design, doing away with the separate saucer and engineering sections and opting instead for a sleeker, more aerodynamic dagger-shaped design. This design choice complements Captain Janeway’s spiky personality, and it is no surprise that some species in the Delta Quadrant come to see the USS Voyager as a warship, since Janeway demonstrates the Intrepid-class’s resourcefulness when dealing with more powerful enemies like the Borg, by pushing the craft to its very limits. Indeed, in an alternate timeline in which Voyager is constantly attacked by a race that can negate shielding technology, Janeway and her crew manage to keep Voyager running after weeks of constant attack, to the point that the ship loses an entire deck but still functions. Likewise, the Borg modifications made to the ship during Star Trek: Voyager demonstrate the ship’s adaptability, as does its ability to actually land on planets, a gimmick that is used about as often as the Galaxy-classes’ saucer separation.

So that’s my list of the Top 10 Federation Starship Classes, I hope you enjoyed, and if you did, remember to leave a like and you can also like us on Facebook. If you want to see more content like this, take a look below!

I have also reviewed the Doctor Who episodes Tomb of the Cybermen and Genesis of the Daleks, and you can check out the portal to my Dalek customs collection tours here!

Top 10 Most Challenging Halo Skulls

Skulls in Halo are gameplay modifiers that were first introduced as Easter Eggs in Halo 2 to provide an extra layer of depth to the game, and to provide more of a challenge for players by altering the way the game plays. To activate a Skull, the player must first find it, which is usually a challenge in itself, as the Skulls are scattered throughout the campaign levels, usually well off the beaten track, with some requiring complex exploits, codes, platforming, glitches or even surviving a gauntlet to actually reach them.

In this list, I will be counting down the Top 10 Skulls from the perspective of modifying the game to make it more of a challenge. I have already done a list of Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls, and to clarify there may be some overlap between that list and this one, since not all the Skulls that make the game more difficult are necessarily frustrating or unfair (although some of them are). I will also be factoring in the difficulty required to actually retrieve the Skull, to a certain extent, but I will not be including Skulls on this list purely for that reason (so no Halo 2 IWHBYD). With that out of the way, we start with:

10 – Fog – Motion Tracker Disabled

fog

Fog, referred to as ‘Cloud’ in Halo: Reach, disabled the handy motion tracker that has been a staple for mainline Halo games since the beginning. This effectively removes the ‘eyes in the back of your head’, as the Skull’s description states, meaning you cannot sense enemies before you can see them. This Skull is most often used by players on Flood levels to heighten the sense of fear as you are unaware of enemies sneaking up behind you, although experienced players can easily overcome this. Overall, this Skull removes a helpful feature in the game but nothing more, so it provides some challenge but doesn’t really affect gameplay all that much, unlike…

9 – Tilt – Enemy Strengths and Weaknesses to Particular Weapons Increased

tilt.jpg

Though that may sound like an overly complex description, this Skull’s very specific effects are actually surprisingly complicated, since Halo’s weapon sandbox philosophy relies on certain ‘types’ of weapons that are stronger or weaker depending on how you use them. Plasma weapons, for example, are good against shields but not against armour, and with this skull on plasma weapons become twice as effective against shields but twice as useless against un-shielded targets. What makes this Skull challenging is that it makes all enemies with plasma weapons (which is a lot since plasma weapons are the staple of the Covenant armory) twice as good at taking down your shields. This Skull does make fighting Flood somewhat easier, however, and can come in handy if you can acquire plasma weapons of your own, making it somewhat of a double-edged sword.

8 – Tough Luck – Enemy ‘Luck’ Increased

tough luck

To say that this Skull increases the ‘luck’ of AI does require some explanation – technically, this Skull modifies AI behaviour so that they are much more effective at dodging grenades, vehicles, and basically any form of slow-moving threat, whilst also making it far more likely that enemies will enter an enraged state. This does create the impression that the AI is just ridiculously lucky, however, and this makes the player seem unlucky by comparison, hence the Skull’s name. Needless to say, this does create a challenge, and although this Skull’s effects also extend to your allies the sheer frustration of having enemies be able to dodge grenades that they cannot even see drains any potential fun-factor from this Skull.

7 – They Come Back – Flood are Terrifying

they come back

This Skull’s official description reads: “Flood Combat Forms spawned by Infection Forms reanimating a corpse are much more dangerous“, although they neglect to mention exactly how the Flood Combat Forms are made more dangerous – one would expect a damage boost, improved intelligence, or perhaps an expansion to the amount of weapons they can use – but no. This Skull speeds up Combat Forms so they now charge towards the player at breakneck speed, all while flailing their limbs around in an impossibly fast and suitably terrifying way. This Skull does only affect Combat Forms that had previously died and later reanimated, but in real terms, that’s still a significant proportion.

6 – Catch – Enemies Throw More Grenades

catch

This Skull has a very simple effect, in that it makes enemies throw more grenades. Whilst this inevitably leads to a hailstorm of lethal fire pelting the player from all angles, all is not lost – this Skull also makes enemies always drop two grenades of their preferred type when killed, which even the odds slightly. An unusual quirk with this Skull is that it almost forces enemies to throw grenades with reckless abandon – they will toss explosives regardless of situation, even if it will almost certainly get them killed. This Skull would have ranked higher on the list were it not for the apparent reduction in AI intelligence and for the fact that anyone who is familiar with Halo multiplayer will knows how to deal with countless poorly-judged grenade tosses rounding every corner.

5 – Famine – All dropped Weapons have Half Ammo

famine

This Skull is just plain cruel. Already sparse ammo for heavy weapons, sniper rifles, or basically any power weapon is now ridiculously rare, and the fact that all weapons have their ammo halved means that plasma weapons now expend their ammo within mere minutes, finding dropped ammo refills is even more essential, and every last shot has to count. For an even greater (and ludicrous) challenge, this Skull can be combined with the ‘Recession’ Skull, which makes every shot worth twice the ammo – so you are essentially left with a mere quarter of the ammo you would have in regular gameplay. To add a further level of difficulty to this Skull, it remains one of the most frustrating Skulls to retrieve in Halo 3, requiring the use of several players at once unless a rare Gravity Lift powerup can be obtained, and even then it requires precision platforming. Halo 2’s incarnation of this Skull should have made my Top 10 Creepiest Halo Easter Eggs list, since the Skull is found surrounded by twitching Flood corpses…

4 – Assassins – All Enemies are Cloaked

assassins

If cloaked enemies weren’t bad enough, this Skull amps that up to 11 by making every single enemy cloaked permanently. This includes everything from Flood to Hunters, and even includes your own Marines if you betray them. Oddly, this Skull was originally set to appear in Halo 3, but was removed, probably to make LASO (Legendary with All Skulls On) mode less infuriating. This is one of the few Skulls that could possibly be considered a whole separate difficulty in itself, as when activated even the lower difficulty settings require a whole new level of skill to master.

3 – Thunderstorm – All Enemies are at Max Possible Rank

thunderstorm

I already covered this Skull in my Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls, since its ability to promote allied Elites to their highest rank does come in handy in missions where they are available. However, in any other given situation, this Skull definitely amps up the difficulty by making all enemies at their maximum possible strength, intelligence and tactical capability. Not only that, but in Halo 2 it means all Elites can withstand a direct stick with a plasma grenade on Legendary, and will draw their swords to cut through Marines with ease if they are angered. This Skull also gives all Sentinels and Elite Flood Combat Forms shields, meaning it is harder to take them out with quick successive precision shots.

2 – Mythic – All Enemies have Increased Health

mythic.png

The semi-unofficial ‘Mythic Difficulty’ involves playing Halo on Legendary with this Skull on, and it definitely increases the challenge by making all enemies ridiculously strong. With this Skull on, certain high-ranking Elites won’t even be vulnerable to an overcharged plasma pistol, making the age-old ‘Noob Combo’ strategy of taking out shields with an overcharge and following up with a headshot obsolete. There are a few positives to this Skull, namely that your allies are given a slight health boost too, but this seems utterly inconsequential compared to the massive boost in health and shields that even a lowly Elite Minor receives on Legendary. Combine this with the Thunderstorm Skull, and you have your own personal purgatory.

Honorable Mentions

Blind – No Heads Up Display

blind.png

I include this Skull here as an ‘honorable mention’ since it doesn’t really seem fair to the other Skulls to actually include this on the list proper, because it certainly makes the game ridiculously hard. Without a Heads-Up Display you cannot see your motion tracker, health, ammo, grenades, or even the reticule – however, this Skull is rarely used in actual gameplay since it was not added with the intention of being a challenge. It is not included in the required Skulls needed to activate LASO, it does not need to be found on Legendary and it is often found near the start of the games in which it appears. This Skull was included as a means to create machinima, take screenshots or record game clips before those features became more readily available through theatre mode or Xbox capture, but if you want to attempt to actually play the game with HUD elements disabled, a better alternative is the Malfunction Skull which disables one random HUD element with each try, a much more lenient alternative.

Ghost – AI no longer flinch from attacks

ghost

One of the many Skulls to debut in Halo 2 but never return again, the effect of this Skull sounds like no more than a minor inconvenience to the player, but when activated the effect becomes immediately noticeable. This Skull essentially makes frontal assault melee attacks against Elites useless, since without the flinch mechanic the enemy can immediately melee you back, which is an instant kill on Legendary. The removal of flinching also means that enemies are no longer stunned by sniper shots, glancing explosive attacks or vehicles, which can be frustrating when pacing shots.

Jacked – Ground vehicles can only be used by hijacking

jacked

When vehicle hijacking was first introduced in Halo 2, it was hailed as a fantastic innovation to help balance vehicular combat – essentially, it meant that the player could easily acquire a new vehicle without having to waste time killing the occupant, and made dispatching heavy vehicles like Wraiths much more easy. However, with this Skull activated, vehicles can only be used if they are hijacked, which basically makes UNSC vehicles unusable. Thankfully, air vehicles are not affected, so at least it isn’t totally game-breaking.

Anger – AI fire weapons much faster

angery react

Found in the Halo 2 mission Gravemind guarded by a secret invisible Grunt armed with heavy weapons, Anger makes all enemies fire their weapons at ridiculous rates – much faster than the player can physically fire them. Plasma rifles become a stream of lethal energy, Jackal Snipers can pick off the player and three Marines in rapid succession, and Grunts fire their weapons so fast that they overheat. This Skull makes standing still a death warrant, and on Legendary allies are ripped apart by a merciless wave of weapons fire. Whilst this sounds like a nightmare, that’s nothing compared to number one on this list:

1 – Iron – ‘Death carries a Heavy Price…’

iron

This Skull is insane. Whilst activated in Single Player, checkpoints no longer exist, meaning that if you die, you have to restart the entire level from scratch. This Skull has almost certainly been responsible for the destruction of more Xbox controllers than any other Easter Egg in the history of the console, because it makes every single level an unforgiving rage-fest on Legendary. Don’t think co-op will save you either – whilst checkpoints do still exist with Iron on in co-op mode, the death of any player reverts everyone to the last checkpoint, making teamwork and strategy essential since the cheap ‘hopscotch’ method (which involves leaving one player out of combat for the others to respawn nearby) totally redundant.

To make matters worse (or better, depending on if you like insane challenges) most of the Halo: Reach Weekly Challenges, Xbox Achievements or Maximum Scoring Records require the use of the Iron Skull, such as the Vidmaster: Annual achievement which requires four players to complete the final level of Halo 3 on Legendary in separate Ghosts, so if any player falls off the crumbling walkways, everyone is hurled back to the checkpoint. The only reason why you will ever want to activate this Skull for fun is if you want to rack up insane score multipliers, since it offers the highest point multiplier in the game for its insane level of difficulty.

And that’s my list of Top 10 Most Challenging Halo Skulls, I hope you enjoyed, and if you did then be sure to leave a like, you can also comment down below if you thought any other Skulls should have made the list. Also, you can Follow Sacred Icon or like us on Facebook for more content like this, uploaded every other day.

Click the links below for more Halo related posts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Prequel Characters – and Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Sequel Characters

It’s fun to bash the terrible CGI in the prequels, particularly because it’s not hard. You get mobile games with better graphics than the CGI of the CGI in Attack of the Clones, and despite the slightly improved CGI in Revenge of the Sith it includes even more truly awful and unnecessary CGI characters. As part of their quest to disassociate themselves as much as possible from the prequels (for better or worse), Disney decided to use more practical effects in their sequel trilogy, and yet even more godawful CGI characters slipped through the cracks. To clarify, this list is judging both the quality of CGI used for the character and the strength of the actual character itself, and with that, we start with:

Prequel Countdown:

5 – General Grievous – Revenge of the Sith

grievous.png

Despite being totally obsessed with Star Wars as a child and knowing oddly specific knowledge about obscure parts of the lore and wider universe, I have trouble now remembering what General Grievous was supposed to be. It must have been explained in a tie-in novel or comic or even video game, but therein lies the problem. Nobody knew who General Grievous was because the film didn’t tell us, he appeared seemingly out of nowhere as a random Separatist leader who had lightsabers. I was among the relative few who watched Star Wars: Clone Wars animated TV show as a child, but that portrayed Grievous as a cold, calculating badass rather than the choking, shuffling Transformer-esque robot we got in the movie.

4 – Watto – The Phantom Menace

watto

The Phantom Menace ticks almost every box when it comes to criteria for terrible Star Wars movies, but a conspicuous exception is that it is not riddled with as much blatant CGI as its prequel siblings, but the CGI creatures that they do have are among the worst. Watto is not only terribly rendered but he is also terribly racist, embodying a crude Middle Eastern stereotype in his accent and character whilst also sporting a prominently large and hooked nose. But seriously, why did Watto need to be CGI? It would have saved a lot of time and effort to just put someone in an alien costume and have him stand there, even if you dub in the lines later. But no, instead we have to watch over half an hour of Liam Neeson negotiating gambling odds with the Crazy Frog. Thanks, George.

3 – Lama Su – Attack of the Clones

lama su.jpeg

“Who?” I hear you ask? Exactly. This idiot, Lama Su, appears briefly in Attack of the Clones to spout a huge wad of exposition about the Clone Army to Obi-Wan, but aside from holding the dubious honour of starring in what has been scientifically proven to be the most boring scene in all of Star Wars, Lama Su also holds the responsibility of the entire plot of Attack of the Clones in his hands. He’s the man with the answers, so to speak, and so when Obi-Wan goes to visit him you expect to finally find out answers to all the questions that have been cropping up throughout the movie: ‘Who is Count Dooku?’ ‘Who is trying to kill Padme?’ ‘Who wrote this script?’ spring immediately to mind. But no, when the movie was in dire need of some explanation as to the basic backstory, what we get is more questions. Who the heck is ‘Sifo Dyas?’ is he ever even mentioned again? Is he Count Dooku? We may never know.

2 – Dexter Jettster – Attack of the Clones

dexter jettster.jpg

Imagine it. You’re sat in the cinema, watching Star Wars: Attack of the Clones for the first time ever. You thought The Phantom Menace was pretty bad, but so far this film seems  promising – there’s been a speeder chase, explosions, lightsabers, even some mention of a wider story that you may or may not have been interested in. Overall, it seems more like proper Star Wars.
And then this brown, hulking, four-armed CGI creature comes shambling over to Obi-Wan Kenobi, calling him his ‘old buddy’ before giving him a hug, pulling up his trousers and squeezing his bloated computer-generated body into a plastic booth in terrible futuristic 1950s space-diner. Who let this happen? Who created this abomination? Why does he have that creepy Mario mustache?
Like many prequel characters, ‘Dex’ only appears in one scene – a bland, one-dimensional throwaway character who is cobbled together on a computer. But think – with the Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie coming out, maybe there’s a chance that Disney will do Dex justice.

1 – Jar Jar Binks – Who Else?

jar jar.jpg

There is very little I can say here that hasn’t already been said. Jar Jar Binks is overdesigned, overacted and overly hysterical, and he appears far too often throughout the prequels. As a one-shot Dex character, Jar Jar might just be remembered now as an embarrassing scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, but due to the diabolical decision to make him a main character in the first prequel movie cast a shadow across the entire trilogy, and due to his prominent role in what will soon be considered the ‘first’ Star Wars movie, his poorly-rendered shadow now looms over the entire franchise.

Sequel Countdown:

5 – Maz Kanata – The Force Awakens

maz.png

If you thought the prequels were the only Star Wars movies with totally unnecessary CGI characters, you were wrong. Enter Maz Kanata, who singlehandedly introduced at least 3 major plot holes into not only The Force Awakens  but the wider Star Wars story too. If she has been on her planet for over a thousand years, why have we never heard from her before? If she’s older than Yoda then surely she would have some interesting things to contribute to the prequel story if anyone thought to ask her – heck, Obi-Wan should have gone to her instead of Dex, She’d probably have had Palpatine’s diary lying around in her back room somewhere. Come to think of it, she never explains how she retrieved Anakin’s lightsaber from Bespin, so after being pointlessly shoehorned into The Last Jedi and possibly even the Han Solo Movie, we may be due a fourth round of Maztime in Episode IX.

4 – CGI Tarkin – Rogue One

cgitarkin

The uncanny valley reached new depths with this creation, which in fairness is a highly accurate representation of the late Peter Cushing (who, after ANew Hope, would go on to play the Doctor in the garish and hilarious Dalek Movies), that sparked debate upon the initial release of the film as to whether or not the digital recreation of an actor who is long dead was even ethically justifiable. Regardless, old Wilhuff has appeared once before, in the prequels – except that time he was played by Wayne Pygram pretending to be a younger version of the character – but when Rogue One came around, they felt that the movie needed a totally accurate digital recreation of Tarkin, who looks like he is made of plastic compared to the real members of the cast. Admittedly, the performance of the actors imitating Cushing do a fantastic job, and overall the level of quality in the cameo is high, it just the visuals which let it down.

3 – Porgs – The Last Jedi

porg.jpg

Of course Porgs are objectively adorable, there’s not question about that – but were they necessary? Well, the answer is certainly no, unless you factor in that Rian Johnson needed something to cover the fact that the island used to film all of Luke’s scenes plays host to a Puffin colony. From a marketing perspective, Disney certainly jumped on the idea of having a tiny puffin-shaped creature to turn into thousands of mass-produced stuffed toys, McDonalds Happy Meal prizes and lunchboxes, but their scheme did backfire somewhat when it turned out the movie was terrible, and so now everyone has a central icon to rally against in hate of this movie, and it’s the poor Porgs.

2 – Everything in Canto Bight – The Last Jedi

canto bight.jpg

So whilst not everything in the Canto Bight sequence was CGI, there were a lot of critters running around – the alien mounts that rampage through the casino merely added to the cacophony of visual diarrhea in this scene, with one particularly annoying alien insisting on inserting dozens of gold coins into BB-8 – why? Surely BB-8 isn’t hollow? And why does BB-8 have a mechanism to fire them out like bullets? The thing that most annoys me about Canto Bight, however, is that it continues the sequel trilogy’s trend of introducing vast swathes of new alien races without supplementing it with aliens we already know exist in Star Wars. Sure, the Galaxy is a big place, but after seeing recurring races like Rodians and Twi’leks so often in both the prequels and the original trilogy it seems odd that suddenly everything is different.

1 – Supreme Leader Snoke – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi

supremeleadersnoke.png

Despite the hundreds of theories stating otherwise, Snoke turned out to be totally useless in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, simply serving as a poor-man’s Palpatine to play the role of the ambiguous evil dark lord master who is really strong with the Force. Unlike Palpatine, who is shown to be the puppeteer from the beginning, Snoke seems to have suddenly emerged from the shadows, and it is this trait that initially peaked everyone’s interest. Sadly, however, the potential for this character was extinguished in The Last Jedi, as Snoke is tossed aside as quickly and easily as Palpatine was before him, and now the hopeful theorists are left to widely speculate their way to insanity trying to uncover the hidden meaning behind this character that was ultimately as contrived and disposable as the multitude of CGI characters in the prequels. His death scene definitely had shock factor, and it did come as a surprise, but it is extremely likely that Rian Johnson wanted it that way to make the movie more memorable – at the expense of a potentially important character. And note I say potentially important – Snoke had all the makings of a good villain, but we just never found out enough about him to understand either his motives or his place in the Star Wars universe. As such, he is now cut in half and cast into the chasm of irrelevance like Darth Maul before him.

So that’s the Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Prequel Characters, and the Top 5 Terrible CGI Star Wars Sequel Characters, if you enjoyed then do remember to leave a like and you can follow us either here or on Facebook. Look down below for more articles like this one.

Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls

Skulls in Halo are gameplay modifiers that were first introduced as Easter Eggs in Halo 2 to provide an extra layer of depth to the game, and to provide more of a challenge for players by altering the way the game plays. To activate a Skull, the player must first find it, which is usually a challenge in itself, as the Skulls are scattered throughout the campaign levels, usually well off the beaten track, with some requiring complex exploits, codes, platforming, glitches or even surviving a gauntlet to actually reach them.

In this list, I will be counting down the Top 10 Skulls from the perspective of modifying the game to make it more fun. I will also be doing a list of Top 10 Most Challenging Halo Skulls for balance, and there may be some overlap. Nevertheless, we start with:

10 – Bandanna – Infinite Ammo

halo bandana.png

Bandana comes quite low on the list due to the fact that it basically amounts to cheating, but having infinite ammo comes in handy for other reasons than just making the game ridiculously easy. This skull is essential if you want to do any boundary-breaking, out-of-map exploring or ridiculous grenade jumps because it means you aren’t limited to the 4-frag cap from the original Halo 2. Hidden deep within the Silent Cartographer Island in Halo: Combat Evolved, retrieving this skull requires clever manipulation of the original Halo’s unusual physics engine, and a clever way of making this skull redundant for any actual ‘cheating’ that was included in Halo: The Master Chief Collection makes gaining points impossible whilst this skull is activated, so really its just for fun.

9 – Black Eye – Melee Recharges Shields

black eye skull.png

Whilst it might seem like it wouldn’t be very fun at all to have to melee enemies in order to recharge your shields, the Black Eye skull appears on this list due to how it works in Halo 2. Unlike all other Halo games (so far) Halo 2’s version of the Black Eye Skull lets you increase your shield strength to far in excess of what is usually possible by whacking enemies, allowing you to survive explosions and other forms of damage that would kill you in normal gameplay. This opens up huge possibilities for exploration since you can stack grenade explosions to propel the player up high buildings and across chasms, and since Halo 2 lacks any form of invisible barriers or kill timers, basically anything you can see, you can reach.

8 – Grunt Funeral – Dead Grunts Explode

grunt funeral.png

It requires no explanation as to why a Skull that makes dead Grunts explode like Plasma Grenades makes the game hilarious to play, particularly since it actually also adds a layer of challenge to the game since all Grunts become time-bombs, and avoiding them at all costs is a priority. An interesting quirk with this Skull is that any and all dead Grunts explode, including ones that are already pre-loaded into the level – this can create some interesting results, particularly in Flood levels, as it redistributes any object that isn’t glued to the ground in a blaze of plasma.

7 – Masterblaster – Co-op Special Powers

masterblaster.png

One of a few wacky ‘co-op only’ Skulls that 343 industries added to Halo 2 in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Masterblaster gives one player huge overshields but removes their ability to shoot and gives the other player infinite ammo but removes their shields entirely, with the roles swapping after a certain amount of kills. This skull essentially makes co-op a bit more challenging, but also has potential for hilarious results, particularly when the roles switch halfway through a rampage.

6 – Prophet Birthday Party – Regret Guitar

Another bizarre Skull that 343 industries added to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the ‘Prophet Birthday Party’ skull is unique in that it has only one use – if you could call it a ‘use’. What this skull lacks in usefulness it makes up for in sheer ludicrousness, as it punctuates every whack that you deliver to the Prophet of Regret during the boss fight halfway through Halo 2 with electric guitar licks (performed by none other than Steve Vai himself) and lightning bolts. Increasing the difficulty magnifies this skulls effect, as it takes at least 10 punches to kill Regret on Legendary and the licks intensify each time.

5 – Sputnik – Physics Modifiers

sputnik.png

This Skull is essential for level exploration, particularly in the original Halo 2, as it significantly reduces the mass of all objects in the game, making melees and grenade explosions blast objects much further than they did before. This means that the player can use grenade jumps to reach places that are further away, and makes whacking objects around much more easy, allowing the player to uncover passageways and secrets that would be impossible in normal gameplay. For example, to find the Giant Football in the Halo 2 level Metropolis, the player needs to use the Sputnik Skull combined with a grenade jump to blast themselves onto a high tower, and the Sputnik Skull is also needed to be able to melee the football down, after which Ghosts can be used to knock the ball around. There is an even more extreme version of this Skull in the Anniversary version of Halo 2, but more on that later.

4 – Grunt Birthday Party – Headshots Become Explosions (or Confetti)

grunt birthday party.png

This Skull is one of the many that had its effects altered over the course of the Halo games – in the original Halo 2, this Skull required a descent to the very bottom of the Heretic Gas Mine upon which the player is confronted with a circle of dancing Heretic Grunts, all worshiping the aforementioned Skull and with good reason, since all headshots become plasma explosions with this Skull activated, even on dead bodies. However, in later Halos (and even in the Halo 2: Anniversary port in Halo: The Master Chief Collection) this Skull turns headshots into small explosions of confetti, coupled with the jarring but now famous sound clip of children cheering from Viva Pinata.

3 – Envy – Master Chief can go Invisible

envy.png

This may sound like another ‘cheat’ Skull, and in some ways it probably is, depending on your point of view. Technically, all this Skull does is grant the Chief access to an ability usually only accessible when playing as the Arbiter, as in Halo 2 Arbiter’s ‘active camouflage’ replaces the flashlight and allows for more stealth-orientated levels. However, the stealth ability is notoriously unreliable, since it only lasts for a short time and requires lots of time to recharge. When Chief has this ability, you can’t even see the timer for the recharge either, so you have to rely on the audio cues to know when camo is ready to use again. However, it does allow for a stealth alternative in the Chief levels, which adds an extra layer of depth to the gameplay that is usually only present in the handful of tailor-built Arbiter levels.

2 – Feather – Like Sputnik on Steroids

feather.jpg

Ah, the elusive Feather Skull. Unavailable to many players in the early days of Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s release due to a bug in the pre-order system (which was later fixed when all the pre-order bonus Skulls became available to everyone), the Feather Skull initially seemed to be not worth the bother – according to the description, with this Skull activated all melees ‘impart more movement physics’, essentially making this Skull’s effect very similar to the Sputnik Skull. However, when you combine the effects of both Skulls together at the same time, it doubles the effect and allows the player to reach inconceivable heights with grenade jumps, (usually resulting in death unless a much higher-up destination is nearby) but, more importantly, allows for ridiculous arcing jumps if an explosion occurs just next to or behind the player, making this Skull and its older brother popular with speedrunners as it allows for huge leaps that allow Chief to clear entire buildings in a single leap, cutting time by requiring fewer grenade jumps.

Honorable Mentions

Thunderstorm Skull – All Enemies are at Max Rank

thunderstorm

Whilst this Skull will certainly feature on my ‘Top 10 Most Challenging Skulls‘ due to the fact that it makes every enemy the strongest and most intelligent that it can possibly be, in certain situations (in Halo 2 in particular) this Skull also makes the game much more fun, since the Skull’s influence also affects Covenant allies. This means that with Thunderstorm activated, any level in which you encounter Minor Elites or Grunts as allies will now gift you with a squad of highly-trained, uber-powerful Elite Ultras and surprisingly confident and capable Grunt Ultras, and the best part is that Ultra Elites always carry an Energy Sword as their secondary weapon meaning Brute enemies rarely stand a chance.

That’s Just… Wrong Skull – Better AI Sight and Hearing

thats just wrong.png

This Skull, like Thunderstorm, seems like it would make the game more difficult than fun, since it removes the restrictions that the developers put on many of the AI to balance the gameplay – they now hear your footsteps, can see the shimmer of your invisibility, and fire with amazingly precise accuracy at all times, so why is it on this list? Well, for the same reason as Thunderstorm – these effects are also bestowed upon your allies. With this Skull on, allies will rarely ever accidentally kill themselves with heavy weapons, can now locate and dispatch cloaked enemies with ease, and fire with (literal) inhuman accuracy. Essentially, with this Skull on, the allied AI is probably as good as the game as you are.

Streaking – Shields Decay, and Recharge with Kills

streaking.png

The final Skull in the ‘Honorable Mentions’ category is yet another example of a Skull with a challenging effect that can be manipulated for fun. This Skull fixes a critical weakness of the Black Eye Skull, namely the fact that after doing a particularly elaborate grenade jump that blasts you out of the map you have no way of actually recharging your shields. With this Skull on, however, grenade throws can actually recharge your shields, meaning with Bandana on you can slowly recharge your shields by throwing grenades. Whether or not this is a glitch, it opens up more possibilities for exploration by allowing the player to pull off multiple Black Eye-enchanced feats in succession.

1 – IWHBYD – Rare Dialogue is more Common, and Secret Dialogue is unlocked

IWHBYD.jpg

This Skull is fantastic because it makes the game much funnier to play in such a simple way. By reversing the probabilities of common and rare combat dialogue, this Skull makes lines of dialogue that are usually heard only once in a blue moon much more common, and unlocks hidden lines of dialogue that are locked in the game’s standard code. This makes Marines, Elites, Brutes, Grunts and basically anything else in the game that speaks English yell more hilarious (and sometimes vulgar, perplexing or even downright ridiculous) insults to the each other, the player, or even the developers via fourth-wall breaking complaints about the game. The Skull also increases the chances of AI talking to and interacting with each other, and allows the player to hear tales such as the story of Flipyap the Grunt, Sergeant Bank’s message home (delivered in the form of a telegram) and Sergeant Johnson’s many hidden lines of cutscene dialogue.

Named after the subtitle ‘I Would Have Been Your Daddy…’ from the start of Halo: Combat Evolved’s fifth level, Assault on the Control Room, The Skull actually unlocks this line of dialogue for Sergeant Johnson in-game, and he completes the quote with ‘…but a dog beat me over the fence.’ What makes this Skull even more interesting, however, is the ridiculous lengths you have to go to in order to actually unlock it in Halo 2 and Halo 3. Halo 2 involves navigating the normally-inaccessible rooftops of Mombasa to find the Skull (which may or may not actually be there) before having to face off against wave after wave of Ultra Elites who guard the Skull (for whatever reason) before finally unlocking the effects. Halo 3 requires the player to jump through giant holograms of the Halo rings in a specific order – each ring hums at a different tone when you jump through it, so jumping through the rings in a sequence that plays the seven notes of the Gregorian Chant in the Halo theme causes the Skull to magically appear before the player, opening the door for many hilarious encounters to come.

So that’s my list of the Top 10 Most Fun Halo Skulls, I hope you enjoyed and if you did, why not leave a like? You can also follow Sacred Icon or like us on Facebook for more content like this, and look down below for more of my Halo posts!