Sunday, 28 July 2013


Happy Sunday!

This week I want to encourage people to try something different. Something initially frightening and intimidating. Something uncool, potentially costly and a bit awkward in places.

And no, I'm not talking about wandering into a biker bar dressed as a lady. I'm on about PC gaming!

I admit I have had my games delivered to my face via consoles for the majority of my life so far, and that's fine. I'm not here to rubbish consoles or throw damp bricks at the chaps that play on them, nor am I going to claim that PC users are genetic supermen, intellectually superior with six-packs like cobbled streets, gleaming white teeth and strong hairlines. No.

I'm going to explain why PC gaming is something you should consider as the next-gen of consoles appear on the horizon, like two hunched tramps wafting their buttocks at you suggestively.

As you read this garbage I DEMAND you remember that I am as far from technically adept as a human being can possibly be (whilst still alive and in possession of all default limbs & senses). I am a bumbling fool, barely able to mash together the words needed for this electronic newspaper you are reading. Honestly, I am the mental equivalent of a brain-damaged chimp.

And even I have successfully built a few PC systems! Stick that in your pipe and eat it!

So I'm going to have a quick look at the things that used to turn me away from PC, and the actual reality of it all. I won't lie, dress-up anything or conceal any pitfalls from you, Sir. It'll be a genuine casuals view of making the lurch to PC gaming. Go!

1: It all costs so much, man!

Yes, at first it does. No denying it. Don't lie. You're looking at an initial outlay of about £600, and the more you spend the better. Type into Google 'gaming PC for £600' and you'll get loads of results, so many in fact that your head will ache with boredom. And you'll start to feel overwhelmed with all the jargon being spurted all over your blazer. But worry not!

See, the thing is lots of PC types actually want the world of PC to be intimidating and impenetrable, to make themselves feel better about choosing the 'uncool' gaming platform. There's lots of silly, silly posturing involved, and lots of 'what, you can't afford it? LOL' style things, but ignore it man!

For every one of those self-congratulating, rude, boastful tools there are ten genuine guys that will steer you in the right direction. Good guys live in every major forum, so go get 'em!*

And, importantly, the games for the next wave of consoles are expected to be £50 a throw. PC games are usually miles cheaper, so if you're the sort of cute gaming beauty that regularly buys lots of games then you'll quickly recover the loss you incur upon your initial PC buy! Massive sense, baby!

2: But I'm too thick to put it all together!!

No you're not, you fat oaf! This bit is easy to type up (thank Dog) and allows the use of a couple of pics to illustrate my point. Firstly, unfriendly PC angries want you to think assembling your own PC is like this:


No. No. Just no. PC's are so widespread and popular nowadays that it would just not make an ounce of sense to have it so cripplingly difficult to assemble/upgrade/smash for a prank.

Once you've bought your components, assembling your own gaming PC is more like this:


It's so hand-holdingly easy that you'd have to deliberately misread or ignore some crystal clear instruction to get it wrong. Everything comes with simple assembly instructions, software and bits you leave in the box at first. It's easier than getting a UAV on Call Of Duty!

3: Ah there, look, you said it! 'Upgrade'. I'll have to upgrade every 7 minutes to stay equal! 

Wrong again, King of thumbs. The PC gamers with penis envy issues will tell you that you have to have the highest spec, most expensive parts at all times, or you will be subjected to withering abuse every time you fire-up Skyrim. Pigeon kidneys! Do not listen, my precious friend.

You will need to upgrade only when you wish to. If you are prone to the towering claims of wealth made by bored liars in gaming forums then you will feel pressure forever, until paranoia drives you into your psychosis-lined coffin. You don't need the best equipment to have a blast on PC. 

Plus, the cost of PC bits is constantly dropping due to the constant advancement. So biding your time and keeping your lipstick dry will yield awesome results. The top spec stuff is always overkill for the games available at the time anyway, you silly sausage! What's the point in worrying over nothing?

4: Right, that seems unconvincing. But what about the games? Exclusives man, exclusives.

Oh right, yeah, all those innovative exclusives like Racing Car Game 7 or Ghetto Marine 4?

PC has infinite amounts of exclusivity. Endless genres. Limitless diversity to be explored, Son.

But there is something about PC gaming that cannot be found on consoles. Communities.

Groups of gorgeous people gather around games and stay. They don't flock off as soon as a new title comes along, they stay around the games they invest in and make them....home. They add to their beloved games with mods, and brilliant user-made content that consoles have never and will never offer.

I'm not talking in-built level designers a la LittleBigPlanet. I'm talking creativity that, in some cases, often exceeds the developers! I'm tearing up right now!

PC gamers tend to stick around in my experience. It's ace to see petitions and protests going on when companies attempt to shut down servers for old games, and it's even more ace when people fork out their hard-earned to keep servers running for the games they adore so hard. The Beautiful PC!

5: Anything else then? I'm not convinced. I like my joypad and my couch & TV combo.

Keyboard & mouse is the interface of the Gods. Why do you think there is a desperation to get them onto the next gen consoles? Coincidence?! I think not, pal. You know joypads are clumsy things.

Couch & TV convenience? Heard of 'Big Picture' mode on Steam? Aware that the majority of newer PC games have Joypad support programmed in nowadays, just for yawners like you that can't be arsed learning something new? It's all true. As far as I know. Which isn't very far!

And as for parties and voice communication, the PC has loads of options, all free, all great!

6: Ok thanks, but I'll stick with my console. I'm bored and you're getting a bit aggressive.

Alright look, in the interests of balance I'll offer some of the downsides to PC:
  • If you plump for a desktop you'll need a dedicated area in your home, which is too much of a pain in the tail-bone for some people, particularly if they don't have a lot of room to begin with.
  • You may end up having to buy FURNITURE, which is about as far away from fun as it gets, unless you're my wife and you are obsessed beyond reason with lamps and chairs.
  • You might have to wait ages for that console port you're dying for, and it may be poorly done.
  • You will have to accept that virtually nobody plays beat 'em ups or 'illiterate overly-privileged anti-social millionaire potential sex-threat simulator '14' (Those FIFA games).
  • None of your friends will have one until you convince them otherwise.
  • You will starve to death as a result of you becoming addicted to Team Fortress 2.

Even I'm bored now. I should leave this sort of thing alone in future.

To conclude this biblical epic, I'd like to reiterate that consoles are fine. Honestly, they are. But if you want to really immerse yourself in the world of modern gaming then you really need to consider PC.

You'll meet some amazing people and live inside some hollowed-out games for years. You may even BUILD something for one of those games, thus cutting out an intimate part of yourself and smearing it publicly across something you love. Imagine that!

So yeah, don't buy a next gen console. Come and try something a bit new, a little bit challenging, but a huge amount of lovely. Come and find a community, meet people that are unashamed to say they love games just as much as you do. Get yourself on PC.

Even casuals like me can find a home here!

GL & HF!

Disclaimer: Sensible advice for first time buyers/builders can be found online. Do a wee bit of research, Son.

*Lots of PC build advice types are available on the internet, but there's a bloke called Chico that can be summoned via goat sacrifice here, and he's part of a knowledgeable gang of chaps in a place called MordorHQ, which is a community consisting of 50% nice guys and 50% angry nutcases. Jump in, Sir.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Moaning about Dead Space...

Good day! You're looking healthy today, Madam. Been for a run?

Last week I finished an old game called 'Dead Space'.

In this game I was cast as some kind of invincible soldier with an antique diving suit on, walking slowly around a big dark spaceship full of jerky monsters. Every now and then a 'jump scare' would happen, but I did not jump once because my mental health is pretty much in order, and that long, dark corridor with nothing at all to do in it is kind of a give-away. Pretty dull oranges.

The jerky, awfully animated baddies included a betentacled screaming baby, a tall skinny tree thing, and a topless shouting man attached to a wall by loads of kebabs. And some other things.

The big WOW in this game is the fact you have to dismember the brainless mutants using a sort of laser cutter, which works exactly like a gun for the most part. You just pump the trigger and they obligingly fly apart, like the endless extras in any 80's homoerotic action movie starring a man in a vest.

My character was enduring all this inconvenience to find some big statue that made everyone crazy, and eventually turned everybody into a mutant. I was supposed to locate it, and then drop it into a big hole on an alien world. But SURPRISE! Someone that was guiding me through the spaceship turned out to be a double agent! So that was disappointing. Anyway, she wanted to take the statue back to Earth for some mental reason or other, I wasn't really listening during the cut scene.

So then the final boss appeared, while this woman was laughing in my face at my gullibility. And this is what ruined the whole thing for me. Here, look at this and bemoan it:

Balls. Big, glowing, vulnerable balls.

Can you believe this?? So here is the stiffest test that this alien race can offer, the top of their evolutionary ladder, the biggest boy on their beach, their tour de France. And I'm expected to believe that evolution, the all-governing force in the universe, has allowed a creature with ALL ITS VITAL ORGANS HUNG ON YELLOW BALLS IN ITS FACE to ascend to the top of the food chain??

So, I did all that walking, spent all that time doing what that traitorous bitch wanted me to do, just to shoot some big piñatas poking out of some massive alien slug thing? And to make matters worse, it didn't seem to learn or adapt after the first time I popped one of its tender spheres. It just continued holding its waistcoat open for me to leisurely blast them to hell. Ludicrous. Stupid!

I literally sighed. Sometimes gaming is crap. And this was one of those sometimes. The game did display some artistry in places, but it all gets undermined when they bolt on such a stinky finale.

To be fair though, the awful final boss did kill the treacherous bint that got me into all this, so that's a partial result.

I'm currently trying to get through the sequel, looks to be more of the same so far. Except they've added the clichéd, dog-eared staple of every rubbish horror movie ever made: SCARY KIDS.

And my character appears to have an annoyingly optimistic voice, he sounds a little too secure for my liking given the situation he finds himself in. He's just too upbeat for an amnesiac, hallucinating man trapped in a shopping centre full of kamikaze monsters. And SCARY KIDS. Look at them:

Attacked for no reason by violent, unreasonable feral children. This could be any council estate in the UK.

 So I'm not overly enthusiastic to be honest, chief.

But I suppose I should be happy that I've actually finished a game for the first time since the mid nineties. Or something. I currently have a queue of titles that I intend to see out to the bitter end:

  • Dead Space 2
  • Mark Of The Ninja
  • Tomb Raider (The one from last year)
  • The Last Of Us
  •  Dishonored DLC
I wanted to have a bash at the Gran Turismo 6 academy thing too, but I'm just too lazy. You need to commit to that sort of jazz. I just wanna play Team Fortress 2, man. Don't judge me.

I tend to look around a lot when I'm playing campaigns. I like to admire & appreciate the artistry and work that has gone in, I like to examine the walls and ceilings, open all the doors and peek inside all the drawers. So as you can imagine, all this snooping about takes time. So the little list above should last me around a year!

Well, that's enough looking into the window of my soul for one post.

See you soon, non-existent reader!

GL & HF!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A brief FPS chat!

Hello...There! My faceless chums...

I've not posted for a few weekends due to THINGS happening, which have left me either too tired to contribute to the endless amounts of pointless crapola on the internet, or too busy to find a couple of hours to construct my usual blah blah.

So I thought you deserved something brilliant, something so extraordinarily entertaining it will live on in your brains forever, something moving, emotive, something that strikes a chord with your very soul. Something truly wonderful.

But I'm too thick, so you can have this instead.

FPS. First Person Shooter. Shooting games. Shoot 'em ups. Gunny Bang Bang Do.

I have played around 4 different shooters across my gaming life so far, and enjoyed some more than others. Basically, an FPS involves you being in control of a pair of hands/arms brandishing a weapon of some description, mowing down enemies for some reason or other, and being in possession of various superhuman strengths necessary for surviving multiple bullet wounds and carrying tonnes of military handbags full of grenades.

The first one I recall with any sort of clarity is Operation Wolf, an arcade conversion which I ran on my dear old Amstrad CPC 464 (with colour monitor, yo). Look below and understand:

Look at those glistening arms, shuddering with exertion as he aims his huge cannon at....STOP.

 Like all FPS games, Operation Wolf was comically macho, as the pic above demonstrates. No metrosexual, hair-product using, pierced-face animé collectors here, just monumentally angry, tanned bodybuilders desperate to destroy you and everything you stood for! And why not?

OK, so the point of the game was to rescue some bumbling POWs that couldn't be arsed doing their jobs properly as usual. In order to do this you had to shoot through waves of fellow human beings, men with wives & children, pets & hobbies. It was a moral dilemma, but goddamit those POWs had families too, AMERICAN families, so leave your morality in the goddamn locker room. Etc.

As the waves intensified, tanks rolled on, helicopters flew on, chaps fired Bazookas at me, and the screen was basically awash with bullets and explosions. You could acquire grenade power-ups, I think, but the most clear memory I have is that in order to acquire health you had to SHOOT an OIL DRUM, which revealed a fully cooked ROAST CHICKEN. Which you then SHOT to consume!

Some valuable lessons in life to be found there, Son.

Anyway, as the ever-present AC-130 containing the stupid hostages sped away to safety, leaving me behind swamped in fanatical bodybuilders, the most gratitude the ungrateful sods could show me was a feeble 'Thank you'...Oh, and they made sure they said this as the plane was taking off, that lot couldn't get the cargo bay door shut quick enough! 'Thanks, but no thanks' they clearly meant.

Oh, I should mention that you didn't control some hands/arms in Op Wolf, you dealt death via a ghostly reticle that lurched about on the screen. It was like being there!

Next, DOOM. Look, it's here:

I used to play with lights out, trying not to do a fear-poo.

Doom was savoured (for me at least) via the PlayStation. It was properly atmospheric, creepy and Gothic with lots of charming Devil-worshipping* touches. I can't remember what the point of all this pixellated Satanism was, something like find your way out of hell I think, which had the odd starting point of the planet Mars. Is that right? Dunno.

Anywhich, you shot stuff, chainsawed stuff, BFG 9000'ed stuff, and generally knocked loads of blood out of lots of spiky demons, all over the place over and over forever. A bit rubbish really. For those interested, you controlled hands AND arms.

Somehow, I have no idea why, this game has become a bit like a nerd version of the Turin Shroud, a relic so holy that to criticise it is to be damned forever by your peers. Well, get ready for this, I didn't even bother finishing this game and there is nothing you can do about it. So go away.

How about Star Wars: Battlefront I & II? Both great, both lovely, and both written about previously in a post I made in May, entitled 'Let's punch a Wookie!', which is available for your consideration in the 'archive' section of my electronic internet word area, or 'blog'. Go and rejoice in my talent!

I enjoyed Halo, I think. I remember playing loads of co-op with my mate Mick, and he was properly immersed in the whole thing, giving clipped military commands and telling me to 'secure' things. I love it when games make non-gamers forget that they have accidentally slipped into our world, it's priceless, so I'll always have good memories of Halo. I bought the Xbox for it, you know!

Right. RIGHT. I want to do this next bit justice, because it's actually properly important to me. This game defined how I would play games from that point on, it made a change so deep in me that it left me a different person. It remains the only game, ever, that made me bark at my wife.

I loved this game like no other, it's called Half-Life 2 Deathmatch. Look and nod:

Too excited to get a decent pic, were we?
Everybody that ever even stood near a PC gamer knows how good Half-Life 2 is, no need to bother cooking that particular meal again. It's awesome, we all know this. So blah. But I have to mention it a little bit, to get the tale going. Think of the next bit as being narrated by either Morgan Freeman, or Sir Ian McKellen, all those two seem to do is narrate movie openings in that benevolent, patronising protective old know-it-all voice. I hate them for this to be honest, but that's not your problem!

When I fell into PC gaming I was clueless as to what Half-Life was. I was in the pub with a guy called Bob, who happened to be a PC gamer at that point. He was asking about my new comp, how was I getting on and all that, and which games had I bought. I told him I'd picked up Half-Life 2 Game Of The Year edition, and he was universal in his praise for it. I explained how I was struggling adapting to WASD + mouse, and was more than a bit unwilling to learn.

I had the following monday off, so I thought to myself 'OK Lee, let's give this a proper stab'. So I did. I was unhappy for a while, but then I got better. And better. And then I found HL2 DM.

My memories of the first few weeks are crystal clear. I was whipped everywhere I went, smashed to pieces relentlessly by toilets, saw blades and projectile bidets. Not finishing last was my target...

Anecdote Fast Forward Engaged >>>>>>

...So I ended up really really good at it. I was one of those players that won every round, an annoying show-off that could not be killed. It was all I played, and I played A LOT. Hours and hours, everyday without fail. I couldn't ignore the call of the leaderboards. I loved it, man.

One evening, just as I was engaged in a high-stress duel with an equally fantastic player (I know, I know) the wife came home from work and insisted on saying hello to me. Can you believe it??

I roared "F***ING HELL WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT THEN?!?" Being the ultra-cool, balanced woman she is, she just walked out of the room. I sat burning with despair, as I slipped behind the lead player, never to recover those precious few kills that made a huge difference at a high level. God, it was pathetic AND ridiculous, like Mr. Pathetic and Ms.Ridiculous had a kid and named it ME RIGHT NOW. What a laughable scenario!

Anyway, the point in revealing this trash to you is that I had never been, nor will I ever be so totally consumed by a video game. How many hours did I put in? I could have built a bomb shelter!

So, from HL2 DM onwards I tended to eschew single player stuff, in favour of multiplayer gaming. I wasn't interested unless there was a scoreboard and an online leaderboard somewhere to climb.

I have a pal that insists this attitude is damaging, and I agree with him to be honest. So of late I've bought some single player 'story' titles, which I've been having a go at. They're alright, but they don't have that magnetic hypno-signal that HL2 DM had. I don't play it at all now, and when I do bother to try, I find it to be utterly empty apart from horrible 'Team' servers full of hackers teleporting about, and generally being a dashed nuisance. Confound it! But I had my fun, so I can't moan too much.

Also, you had power over a pair of hands, no arms this time. I know this detail is important to you.

FPS is a nice genre, with lots of choice. Of the same thing, mostly. But it's still choice! Hurray!

I have played Quake, Call Of Duty, Counterstrike, Stalker, Crysis, Bioshock, Unreal, Planetside 2, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Wolfenstein, Battlefield, Team Fortress 2.....and loads more, obviously. None of them were awful, surprisingly. Most were pretty interesting, for a while or two.

So yeah, there you go. The conclusion is: some FPS is alright, mostly.

...Erm. See you next week?

GL & HF!

*DOOM was accused by some passing Priests of being an introduction to Satanism, have a Google if that sounds up your street.