This week has been a busy one all around, what with schoolwork in full swing and all sorts of new television to dominate our time. All right, it’s mostly the television. After all, this week gave us dozens of premieres to keep track of, and we need to be at the vanguard to bring you all the freshest and most informed pop culture opinions that we can offer. At least, that’s how we justify it to ourselves. What better subject of our final collaborative piece of the week, then, than a show that is equally steeped in the complexity and density of our modern pop cultural world: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The premiere of this newest head of Disney and Marvel’s fearsome cultural Hydra has prompted us to bring you our favorite shield-related pop culture recommendations.
Star Trek Online: Before you assault my home with pitchforks and Nerf guns, take a moment to remember that the ships in the Star Trek series do in fact have shields. Cryptic Studios launched STO back in 2010, and it has since gone completely free-to-play. It’s the rare free MMO that doesn’t require you to pay for stat boosters or armor, and it opts for premium cosmetic items and some bonus optional content instead. I only played it for about a month, but I was consistently surprised by how much care and detail was put into making this a fully explorable Star Trek universe. Borrowing from all eras of the shows and films, players can take their spaceships to Deep Space Nine, fight off Borg cubes in intense space battles, and even set phasers to stun! The combat was pretty solid, with ground battles involving lots of rolls and dodging attacks, but the space battles were even more spectacular. As your ship flew around the enemy, you could divert power around to weapons, shields, or engines on the fly. It made for some incredibly close fights, and the group content only magnified the game’s combat strengths. The only reason I stopped playing was that the quests themselves were kind of dull and repetitive, but I definitely recommend giving it a shot just to take a fly-by tour of your favorite Star Trek locales with some of your buddies.
The game is free on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/9900 and it runs surprisingly well on all sorts of hardware.
If the game makes you want more of this universe, check out this Netflix search for “Star Trek” on Netflix and take your pick of the various shows, films, and documentaries: http://movies.netflix.com/WiSearch?raw_query=&ac_category_type=none&ac_rel_posn=-1&ac_abs_posn=-1&v1=star+trek&search_submit=
FTL: The shields are down, enemies are in your ship, and your weapons systems are down. Do you try and drain the invaders of oxygen, or do you dare to fight? In the game FTL, you control a space ship replete with crew and subsystems. The object of the game is simple: escape the rebel fleet that is chasing you. The game puts a new spin on sci-fi space battles, turning the typical laser gun battle into a desperate survival attempt as resources get scarcer, and enemies become more demanding. The game demands patience in the face of frustration, as fantastic playthroughs can be destroyed within the course of a few minutes, with no salvageable value. However, this makes the gains even more worthwhile, and any progress becomes amazing. For those of you who wished that you were Captain Quirk on the bridge of a slightly knock-off Emterprise, this is the game to play. All shields up Scott. Set engines to go.A Steam link for the game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/212680/
Or you can go to the official site for the game itself: http://www.ftlgame.com/
Critical Hit: I have two gripping nerd-obsessions that I should probably air out right now: podcasts and RPGs. For years I’ve enjoyed myriad aural pleasures from dozens of podcasts, be they comedic or not. Over time I’ve come to enjoy specific podcast personalities, and in this case I’d like to extol the crew over at Major Spoilers, a website concerned with all sorts of comic book and pop culture journalism. They host a handful of great podcasts, but the one most germane to our discussion of “shields” is their D&D liveplay podcast: Critical Hit. It chronicles an epic fantasy campaign populated by the nerdy funnymen over at Major Spoilers. Admittedly, the show is at this point fairly far along in the campaign, and I’ve had to drop it because I just don’t have the time to keep up, but I still stand behind the first dozen episodes or so as being a solidly entertaining, self-contained story.
This is the show’s archives over at the Major Spoilers website: http://majorspoilers.com/category/critical-hit/
And here’s the TV Tropes page for the show if that sort of thing whets your whistle: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Podcast/CriticalHit?from=Series.CriticalHit
Now that we’ve shoved three vaguely shields-related recommendations in your face, it’s time for us to hunker down back in the trenches of the fall premiere season. Of course, we could use some comrades in this struggle, so join us down in the comments and sound your battle cry. That, and go through our boot camp of a Round-Up this week, which is a collection of links to the pilot episodes for shows new to television this fall.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: http://www.fox.com/brooklyn-nine-nine/full-episodes/48219715729
The Crazy Ones: http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-crazy-ones/video/
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: http://watchabc.go.com/marvels-agents-of-shield/SH55300807/VDKA0_xbsx0pri/pilot
The Michael J. Fox Show: http://www.nbc.com/the-michael-j-fox-show/video/series-premiere-pilot/n41115/