- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2007

Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Heroes in site

NBC‘s smash superpower-fueled series, “Heroes,” returns tomorrow night, and its official Web site (www.nbc.com/ heroes) delivers a fantastic visual and interactive place for fans and new viewers of the Emmy-nominated show.

A feature-packed site jammed with section heads, photo-box links and side menus greets visitors as they decide where to begin their online journey. Of the numerous choices, I would recommend four places to find the coolest multimedia action.

First, the show’s comic-book-style themes and use of sequential art by some of the characters is echoed brilliantly in the Novels section, which delivers 49 chapters to embellish the show’s multiple story lines. Visitors can use an online player to manipulate and read the short tales or download a PDF version of the illustrated stories to read about some action at Yamagato Industries, the early adventures of Claude Rains (a mentor to one of the heroes) and Hana Gitelman’s past.

Comics industry professionals involved include writers Steven T. Seagle, Joe Casey and Chuck Kim and artists Michael Gaydos, Phil Jimenez and Marcus To.

Next, a video section offers behind-the-scenes segments, character profiles, recent “Heroes” events and, just as for the first season, complete replays of the new episodes with cast commentary.

Another place worth a look, linked from the main site, is the Yamagato Fellowship (www.yamagato fellowship.org/index.shtml), which offers text and images on the life of famous heroes such as Crazy Horse, Sir Gawain, Thor and Beowulf. A recent addition presents a five-part History Channel-like documentary, narrated by John Rhys-Davies, on the life of the samurai sword saint Takezo Kensei.

Finally, the first-season DVD set of “Heroes” (Universal Home Entertainment, $59.98) is available, and a special site touting its release also gives fans a set of nine games to unlock some online riches (https://challenge.heroes thedvd.com/).

The Heroes: Season 1 Challenge requires a player to take part in matching heroes to their abilities, solving visual puzzles, chatting online with a couple of the characters and even decorating their My Space site with “Heroes”-themed art elements to unlock exclusive video content found on the DVDs.

Unfortunately, for those who don’t know the difference between Sylar and Sprague, the NBC site is not much help. Instead, I suggest a jump to the unofficial Heroes Wiki (https://heroeswiki.com/Main_Page) obviously created by some very hard-core fans. The dense online encyclopedia offers more than 1,600 entries on the show’s mythology, with entries found under the Article Portal, including characters, episodes, events, timeline, groups, places, cast and speculation.

Resident Evil Convoy

One of the actresses who stars in “Heroes,” Ali Larter, also is part of Sony Pictures’ just-released “Resident Evil: Extinct.” A link from NBC’s “Heroes” site (www.nbc.com/Heroes/ resident_evil/) takes players to an area to view exclusive photos, a video and an online adventure based on the movie.

For those unfamiliar with the “Resident Evil” film series, it taps into the mythos found in Nintendo’s popular zombie video-game franchise of the same name.

The online challenge, called Convoy Game, mixes vehicular and first-person action as a player works through nine levels to escape a devastated and undead-infested Las Vegas desert to reach the promised land in Alaska.

After a player’s age is verified and he registers, he must choose from six types of vehicles, including a station wagon, ambulance and fuel tanker. He then goes on missions to retrieve fuel, power-ups and survivors while speeding around and occasionally squishing the mindless zombie menace, a task that reminded me of the ancient video-game adaptation of “Death Race 2000.”

In between drives, the player wields gradually more powerful weapons to clear out areas populated by ghouls wanting to make lunch of him. Points are awarded for all of the zombies eliminated, and players can track scores against others from around the world.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www3.washingtontimes.com/ familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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