Sunday, 27 October 2013

Terrible quality A-Z part 2!

This material is so feeble I can't wait for it to be over! So let's just grit our teeth and continue.

J is for Jail: Usually, jails are portrayed as a place where baddies go to comfortably continue running their criminal empires. A place where tough guys respectfully nod at each other as they lift massive weights, surrounded by their 'crew'.

The reality of jail? You are trapped inside a small room with a scumbag, despised by every normal member of society. And to put the cherry on top, you have to regularly take a shower whilst a violent gentleman with minimal teeth appraises your buttocks. Not good, neighbour.

K is for...Karate? I don't even like beat 'em ups, so I'll ignore this letter just in case I can't think of anything else.

L is for Life: Yes, I know life in video games has all the good/bad bits exaggerated and amplified, as the reality of it is a bit tedious. Nobody wants to eat/go to the toilet/get a haircut and all that drudge in a video game, at least not as often as real life requires.

In real life you have to grow up, go to school, get a job...everybody has to. Nobody is exempt from this miserable progression, nobody gets to skip a part and go off shouting at dragons. Games need to put a few more unavoidable, repetitive chores into the mix. Like hoovering the stairs or changing the bedding, say. That sort of thing. And filling in forms.

M is for Mummies: I don't mean the proud parent of a newborn baby, silly! I mean the bandaged-up, musty old super-aggro chav that is the stereotypical Egyptian-style mummy!

In games, mummies have supernatural strength, tend to have some sort of magical ability and are able to still be as enraged and unreasonable as a spilled-pint steroid enthusiast in a packed beer garden! Even after thousands of years sealed inside a stone coffin! Amazing.

Imagine my surprise, then, as I visited my first mummy exhibit in a museum somewhere. All I saw was some stupid eyes painted onto what looked like a shop-window mannequin covered in dirty old wallpaper. Rubbish! And despite how blasphemous and loud my taunts were, I wasn't even cursed or covered in a swarm of beetles!

All that happened was an old security chap politely inquired if I was a mental...which was MORE THAN PHARAOH given the circumstances! You like that? Yeah, you do.

N is for Night: Night time in gaming usually means stealth missions, vampires or a little bit of light necromancy in a local cave. So in general some pretty dark & exciting stuff.

Night in real life? Moths/Daddy-long-legs occasionally scaring the wife, having to sometimes get up and visit the toilet, and the odd weirdo mucking about in the back street near a skip. Boring.

O was going to be for Originality, but that's a subject for a better writer than me, someone with an actual articulate opinion on the topic, and a better understanding of the subject. Not me, then.

P is for Punch-ups: I've never been in a fist-fight, thankfully, but I've witnessed a couple. And in games punch-ups tend to be very tidy. Almost turn-based, even. All very choreographed and that.

The real-life brawls which I have seen have started with some shoving, one or two wild swings and then they descended into a grunting, hate-filled cuddle that rolled about in all the little bits of glass and tab-ends which littered the filthy pub carpet. Strictly Come Scrapping it wasn't, Son.

Q is for Quests: Right, I am going to give you a quest right now. I want you to find a hidden cave in Devon, but the only way you can gain entry is by using a unique key which is at the bottom of Lake Windermere, inside a half-buried casket. Go. Go on, fetch. What are you waiting for?

What's that? You want a MAP?? And a quest marker on the map?? And quick-travel?? And the necessary training to scour the bottom of a freezing cold lake for the treasure??

And you don't know which way Devon is??...

See? Quests in games are always too easy. All on a plate. Outrageous, even. They are so stupidly easy that even the local nutter arrested for yelling at the mummies in the museum could do them.

R is for Robots: Robots in games are usually awesome. Robots in real life are crap. They don't look like hot women, they don't have combat skills and you will be hard pressed to form a brotherly bond with one.

All they do is weld Nissans together, man. Call me when you can at least threaten me.

(OK, I know if I went down a Nissan production line I'd be killed by the robots.)

S is for Soldiers: Soldiers in games are always elite one-man-army types, capable of carrying huge amounts of equipment over huge distances, and murdering huge numbers of enemies with their huge guns and huge hugeness.

Where is the unwilling coward? The chap who would prefer to be a chef? The woman that would rather not drive into a minefield, if there is a longer but safer route available? The pilot that wants to leave some incompetent fool behind so he can go home to his husband? Shame on you, games.

T is for Throwing: Throwing things in real life is hard. It makes you tired. You don't get a handy visual thingy appear before your eyes in real life, helping you judge elevation, power etc. No.

You just sort of chuck things hoping for the best, either too hard so it goes sailing over your target, or too weak,shallow and wristy so it lands about two metres away from you. LIKE A GIRL THROW.

U is for...Oh I don't know, I tried. Udders? Umbrellas? Underwear? Ugandans?

V is for Voice Acting: Despite what wordy people desperate for games to be seen as art will tell you, the standard of most acting in gaming is shockingly bad. Really, really awful.

Although it has led to some properly funny stuff, actually. Here, watch the following video for...

Thirty five minutes! Good grief. I'd edit it but as you know by now, I'm too thick. So here:

Did you watch it all? Nah, didn't think so. Maybe watch it in instalments? Oh, do what you want.

W is for Women: Games hate and under-represent women. They are either bouncy-breasted combat whores or...bouncy breasted combat whores. The end.

Oh, or they are weakling kids needing protection from a masculine figure. BIG MAN are we?

X is for X-ray vision: What else!

Look, if you really had X-ray vision, wouldn't you just see through the entire planet all the time, thus rendering it useless & a massive hindrance? You wouldn't be able to pick to which degree your vision penetrates objects, would you? Any physicists reading this care to shed some light?

Y is for something beginning with Y that I haven't thought of: Something something something! And something, something something Y something something something. Something? Y? Something!

Something something something Y something. Something. Y.

Z is for Zoo: I remember how very cooperative and lovely the inmates where when I used to play Zoo Tycoon. They did predictable things at predictable times, and bred when I commanded them to. All was simple and well regimented. Real zoos? Pff.

Real zoos are junk, man. All the animals stink, and they hide most of the time. What's the point of taking a pocket full of small change to pelt the heads of the gorillas with if they insist on hiding in their not-even-got-SkyTV rubbish little sheds? I had to buy a Mars bar at the motorway services to get that change you c***.

Well, we've reached the end. And thank Dog, it couldn't come soon enough.

I hated every moment of this, I will never do it ever again. It was like being blind in one eye for four hours! Just kidding, it was worse than that. Thanks for enduring it with me, honey.

Next weekend: Something else of diminishing quality!

GL & HF!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A-Z part 1!

Hello beautiful yet manly friends!

This weekends post shall consist entirely of an alphabetised list! And as such, from this day forth, Sunday the 20th of October shall be known to all as...


Thy mind shalt be blowneth!

So, let's get started.

Here is an alphabetised list of things that video games have never done properly!

A is for Archaeology: Games have always made archaeology appear too damn sexy, from Lara croft and her sprayed-on cave-diving hotpants to Skyrim and its long-haired, tanned and rippling Nordic gym-boy protein guzzlers. According to gaming, archaeology is about giving several undead warrior Kings a good kicking, then stealing their massive pile of unmarked, untraceable and morally neutral cash, and then finally reanimating a gorgeous ghostly stripper Queen to take as your wife.

Have you ever seen 'Time Team'? A factual TV programme about real archaeology? It's a load of scruffy old weird blokes with inch-long, soil-encrusted finger nails scratching about under a dug-up car -park in Leeds for some pieces of an old toilet seat. No.

B is for Booze: Games would have you believe that booze is the portal to awesome experiences, the consumption of which results in a few minutes of comedy staggering and a bit of slurred chatter. The truth is booze makes irritating people 9000% more irritating and it rapidly converts your hard-earned cash into a headache, a medium-sized puddle of vomit and a few gallons of brown urine.

C is for Crime/Criminals: Baddies usually get an easy ride from games. They are painted up as either misunderstood heart-of-gold diamonds-in-the-rough, or glorious social rebels 'sticking it to the man' as we all wish we could in a radical and unrestrained manner. No.

Criminals, be it big or small, are scumbags. They are free-loading vermin wilfully ignorant to how society should function, hitching a ride on the backs of decent folks with a tattooed shrug and a sneer. Somebody needs to make a game that casts you as a genuine dull-witted burglar, where everybody hates you and people can tell you're a human poo just from one glance at your rustling sportswear. 

D is for Desks: I love my desk. It has drawers and a cupboard, is just the right height for me and does everything I need it to do. I wish everyone could experience the joys of the perfect desk.

Therefore I suggest someone develops 'Desk Simulator 2014', an awesome game wherein you shop for a desk, assemble it then see if you can fit your chair into that gap for your legs. You could have QTEs involving hinges, or perilous perma-death scenarios if you misplace one of those small screws.

Back on topic, I've never seen desks get the credit they deserve in games. I've seen them chucked about in Half-life, seen them used as barriers in Resident Evil and even seen them floating about in space thanks to Mass Effect. No respect, see? Never used properly.

E is for Easter: Why has Easter never featured in gaming? Christmas features all the time! Bloody Halloween is always being shoved down our eyes and valentines day has had a few dodgy Japanese porn games dedicated to it. So what's the beef with Easter? I like chocolate.

F is for Forests: Forests are NOT full of treasure, hidden ruins, men with the legs of a goat, portals to other dimensions or anything exciting whatsoever. They are rubbish and full of trees and litter.

G is for Ghosts: Ghosts are not real. They can't exist. Just stop it. So why can't we (for once) have a game that has a supposed haunting unmasked as some dodgy plumbing, or a particularly ill-fitted hinge causing a door to swing open with a creeeeak? Ghosts in games are always a cop-out, used to fill a hole in which the writers could come up with nothing better. I spit on you, Pac-man!

H is for Horses: Horses in games tend to be willing accomplices, always ready to offer their services as a grass-fuelled taxi when in need of convenient A to Z shenanigans. They are friendly, obedient and loyal. They seem as if they would die for you! Nothing would make them happier!

The truth? Horses are dangerous, vicious carnivores with no morals whatsoever. And they can sting. They aren't helpful, they are stupid and they are lazy, lazy beasts. Eat them instead.

I is for Invisibility: In games, being invisible is used exclusively for killing things without alerting anybody. In reality, being invisible is rubbish & useless.

You can't steal anything, because people will see you carrying it off. You can't do anything especially dangerous, as you're still just a person. You can't even move about in your own home, as being unable to see your hands, legs or feet would make it impossible at first. Think about it, Son.

So the only thing I can come up with that invisibility is really good for? I'm afraid standing silently in the corner of changing rooms is the best I can do for you. Pervert. Wash your hands.

And that brings to an end the first part of this ordeal suffered by your eyes, and yes, I understand that I'm not exactly halfway through the alphabet. If you care so much, YOU write it.


And any suggestions for the letters X and Z will be gratefully received and rehashed without any form of credit given. Plagiarism is how I roll, yo. It's gotten me this far!

GL & HF!


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Press Start.

Take a minute, and let me tell you something about myself.

Let me tell you, fellow traveller, of the things I have seen. The things I have done. The many things I have witnessed.

Let me try to illuminate the things that shaped me, formed me, moulded me into the man you are connected to this very instant. The moments that sculpted the bare, formless rock of my existence into the character you see before you. For better or worse.

See, I have been to so many places that it is impossible for me to list them for you. I've been to all four corners of our globe, I've been to the deepest depths of the oceans and I've stood and admired the desert blending seamlessly with the horizon as the sun washes over me.

I've journeyed into the very heart of our planet, gazed awestruck into the blazing core of our mother. I've also admired her endless beauty unfold beneath me from the highest heights as I swept overhead, upwards and upwards until the utter silence of space quietly surrounded me, cold and empty yet with dignified beauty, like a flower in a grave. As I hung there I was scrutinized by the stars, masses of pure light turning their faces toward me, nameless and distant. So many, so far.

My travels have not only been in terms of distance, friend. I've strode through history, witnessing cultures rise and tyrants fall, civilisations flourish and decadent empires drown in the waves of their sins. I've been to the dawn of man, stood and watched as our ancestors made their laborious climb to the peak of the food chain, and I've been flung forward to our glorious future, scattered among the stars and isolated in distant systems, yet still connected to each other as only we can be.

Time and space have not yet restrained me. I have been its master since the beginning. It bends to my will and yields before me. I can travel to and fro with impunity, flicking through the pages of our lives and pausing as I please.

It is a freedom that comes with immense possibilities, a gift beyond value.

It will change you. Again, for better or worse. I know which applies to me, brother.

Now, along the way I have met people. Characters. Souls. Brilliant flares of existence that drift into your path, like leaves on the wind, dipping and swirling with their destinies unknown.

Once contact is made, as in life, you end up absorbing something. Something stays with you, gets imprinted onto you. Memories are forged, and tempered with proud recollections years down the line. Some of the briefest encounters have lived on in my mind, treasured and maintained like the rarest and most fragile of portraits. Names and faces may fade, but the impact remains. Always.

And what an impact some made. Some of these characters have started out as strangers, unproven and doubted. Some have caused unease from their very arrival, setting the senses on edge with the threat of betrayal. Or worse. Much worse.

Some have committed acts of such evil that the mere thought of them is a curse, some have shown that cruelty and malice are as constant and elemental as mercy and hope. They are truly the stuff of nightmares, completely devoid of redeeming traits. They have hearts of the deepest black.

But the role they play was as important, potentially even more so, than the glorious allies I have made along the way. Strangers became friends, friends became brothers, then those brothers parted ways as the great story demanded, leaving behind indelible memories, an essence which influences you as much as their departure saddens.

I've known great Generals, capable of shouldering the burden of war without complaint. I've known great scientists, bending the very fabric of the universe with their genius, and making weapons of mighty forces such as gravity itself. I've known Kings, Princes, faithful servants and noble thieves.

I've stood on battlefields, shoulder to shoulder with brothers, knowing the task ahead will claim our lives many times over. But there was no sadness, no melancholy. Only wonder. Would the plans we made result in total victory, sweeping aside our enemy? Or would the slightest mistake from one of us lead to panic, uncertainty and loss? I've tasted both hundreds of thousands of times.

That is to say, I have celebrated the honoured company I keep. I am honoured whichever way the fates fall, defeats and victories never diminishing the pride I feel to be alongside them.

To be with them at the end, as it returned to the beginning, was everything to me.

I don't only have tales of conflict from my travels. I have not lived for battle at the cost of everything else. Please, don't misunderstand. There is not only war in my soul.

I have loved, too. But the wounds suffered by the heart are the most painful to recollect.

However, not all loves are destined to be lost.

I have seen my faith repaid countless times. I have shared lives enriched by the certainty of destiny, knowing she would never forsake me as I struggled to find her. Knowing she wanted to be found.

It has always been, and will always be, a matter of when.

The prize? A kiss, a ceremony, a family? Or the fates of millions, held and bound inside something as deceptively delicate as her? It has always been different. The only constant was the wish to find her.

Not all endings are happy, friend. I've seen time stand still as she was cut down before my very eyes by the hungry steel of a bitter enemy, the pearls and ribbons falling silently from her hair, leaving me with nothing but impotent rage and fathomless despair.

I've seen her turn her back on me, manipulated by the poison of lies.

I've even seen her rise up to meet her fate head-on, sacrificing herself without thought, slipping out of my reach regardless of my selfish cries and reasons. Her bravery outweighing my own.

Enough of these stories of war and dreams of connections lost. There have been so many things I need you to know about.

I have had my body of flesh replaced with metal, and my heart hardened into an engine as I battled wheel-to-wheel with racers from across our planet. I have struggled joyfully against the most talented of drivers, all of us laying claim to fractions of seconds and inches of tarmac, but with a noble respect and a fierce friendship. A true spirit of competition with fairness to the fore. Always.

I've visited the historic circuits which have echoed throughout our lives to the sound of legends being made, and tested myself against the wheeled heroes from all eras. I've been side by side with my own racing idols at speeds that the eye can barely follow.

Yes, I've looked into their very souls and been staggered by their unquenchable will to win. And as the harsh metallic cry of their engines dissolved into the distance, I would close my eyes and wish for the start line once again. Just one more race. Just one more. Next time I will match them.

I have armed myself with swords, shields and spell-books, and rode mighty steeds across lands filled with mythical wonders and breathtaking vistas. I have stood atop snow-capped mountains, as the sun rose regally into the broad azure sky, giving me the clarity to gaze out onto the endless lands below.

I have lost myself in sprawling forests, green oceans of ancient trees standing sentinel as I journeyed amongst them. Within I have discovered long lost ruins, crumbled brick and stone as taciturn and lonely as a forgotten secret. What did I find inside? Sometimes treasure beyond my wildest dreams, sometimes horrors above my rawest nightmares, but the anticipation ahead of their exposure was the greatest prize. The bolt of expectation as the key turns in the lock was all that mattered.

I have spoken with necromancers, wizards and warlocks of all creeds. I have aided or disrupted the plans of eternal beings, creatures that have forced their way into our dimension uninvited have either been allowed to roam free, or banished back from whence they came.

I have even reasoned with dragons, scaled Gods of fire and greed, and been rewarded with the lavish gift of their very tongue, words of such potency they could be wielded as a devastating weapon.

What else is left to desire after a communion with such boundless power?

What about true tests of the reflexes, where the eyes and the hands must work as one like nowhere else? What of the unblinking duel of the arena?

What of the thrill of leader-board dominance, the chase for that match-winning kill in battles of high-speed skill and balletic movement? The knowledge that every kill was being matched by your rivals, the climb to the top of the table a neck-and-neck dead heat of focused intensity?

Frantic, breathless competition played out almost at the speed of light. The awareness that your aim had to be true, and the cold ache that the shot may have gone astray. I often prayed they would hit. Please, let them hit. They must. Because my rivals did. Somebody pulled clear. Somebody, and in rare instances I was that somebody, always pulled clear. It is another of the constants I have found.

But if it wasn't you? You were running out of time. Falling behind was unthinkable. Only the numbers mattered. The clock never looks over its shoulder at the ones to be left behind. It rushes to acclaim the gifted, leaving the failed resentful and forgotten, as scorned as the unfavoured son erased from the family tree.

Yes, I have proved myself against the best the world could offer, and found myself capable of great things. Things I will never forget. Things I feel a genuine pride at the reminiscing of.

How have I achieved all this?

How have I dethroned corrupt Kings, and crowned righteous Princes?

How have I slain horrors and cradled dreams?

How have I seen every corner of our world and thousands of others?

How have I sailed among the stars, travelled so far for so long?

How have I wrote myself into myth, and enjoyed the company of legend?

How have I worn so many faces, shared so many lives and chose the course of so many futures?

How have I died such a multitude of times, yet been reborn with ambition shining from my heart?

The exact same way you have, fellow traveller.

The games. Our games. The alternate lives we love.

Sometimes, you'll forget what brought you here. We all will. But there will be moments when the wonder returns, and you'll remember exactly why this is what you love. All the dark clouds of cynicism will clear, the sour taste of change will fade in your mouth as you are transported back to when you could wish for nothing else but just one more life. Just one more go.

Your passion will be renewed.

You will be back at the start.

Press Start.

Now, tell me what you've seen.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Hello on Sunday!


How are you?

Yeah, I'm alright mate.

So this week I'm going to experiment with the 'magazine' format, which means a few paragraphs on a few different topics. Because it seems like less work.

Before we begin, I'd like to put a FUNNY PAINTING OF A MONKEY here:

The's smoking a cigarette...I need this on my wall. Make it happen, internet.


Item #1: Oh dear, console people!

It appears that HD gaming is once again about to elude our primitive console brethren, as this clickable bit of text confirms. Some impressive, important EA suit has confirmed that AAA-rated, massively-marketed hype-fest shooting/murdering game Battlefield 4 will run at a distinctly last-gen 720p! Not too great considering this title will be a 'system seller'!

And this isn't just afflicting the laughably inferior Xbox One, DICE (the Swedish girls responsible for BF4) have claimed the title will have the same resolution and framerate on both systems! So if you're feeling smug about pre-ordering a PlayStation 4...don't. This is undoubtedly going to be a common occurrence. You're going to be buying deliberately weakened titles, as the publishers can't possibly allow massive (and developers are already muttering about the gulf in performance between the two systems) variances between the two console versions! Still, there's always those system exclusives to cling to...hurray for £400 + of backwards! But NEW!

My quotable view: The men twiddling with two little rubber sticks don't care about quality anyway, they just want NEW NEW NEW, IS IT NEW? I LOVE NEW! So nevermind, gentlemen.


Item #2: Auto-aim versus CS:GO.

Only two days ago a bloke tried to tell me that being good at Call Of Duty was the same as being good at CounterStrike: Global Offensive. Can you imagine how my brain convulsed? I tried to explain that all console titles feature a degree of auto-aim. They have to. They have to. The control interface requires tons of smoothing, to control the inherent problems of aiming using analogue sticks. In other words, the inherent rubbishness and clumsy insanity of using two sticks to control what is essentially a cursor has to be controlled via software. No question. It is known.

It's a bit like trying to butter a delicious piece of fresh toast, but with the knife attached to the end of a twelve-feet long pole. Probably using Sellotape. Not Blu-Tack. No, I'd say Sellotape for sure. Yes. And the aim assist would be a hand steadying the pole, perhaps even holding the knife a bit. See?

So I explained that CS:GO does not have health regeneration, it does not have AI controlled prizes for linking kills together, it does not have a bottomless amount of ammo per weapon, it DOES HAVE a truly challenging level of recoil to contend with, it does not have an enormous radius of splash damage for grenades...but most importantly for this chatter, it does not have any form of aim assist. None.

You're on your own, man. Like Bear Grylls minus his camera crew, sound team and make-up artists.

Maybe this is why it's recognised as the benchmark for competitive shooters. Not just by me, but by the competition organisers, the hardware manufacturers, the professional players, the serious gaming journalists...probably even the old lady that lives next door knows it. And her budgie, Clive.

Hmm. I've lost the point here. Ah, that's right! So this chap said it's all about awareness, movement and timing, which to a point is true. But when you have an arsenal of hidden helpers with you, it makes it all that much easier.

My quotable view: Being decent at CS:GO gives you the moral high-ground to widdle from a great height onto players of ANY other shooter. Especially thumb-swingers.


Item #3: Grand Theft Auto 5 or 'V' if you love Roman numerals and the mock importance they somehow signify.

I can't play GTA5 yet, because I'm a PC gamer. So instead I reinstalled GTA4, in order to satisfy the urge I had to revisit one of the best franchises in gaming history. And it worked, actually.

So much so that I probably won't bother with GTA5 when/if it eventually gets a terrible, buggy port over to the one true platform. Unless I fall victim to the tsunami of hype generated by this game.

Which I probably will. It's that font they use. It's hypnotic and alluring, like YouTube videos of cats in shoe-boxes.

It's just a bunch of fetch quests anyway, man. Like Skyrim, but with more angular, jagged strippers.

Drive here, drive there, shoot this, pick up that. All of it easy. No real enemy AI to speak of.

Don't get me wrong, the sandbox element is amusing enough, but the actual progression through the story is kinda repetitive.

And that intrusive 'like-o-meter' thing? No, I don't want to play pool with you,  just-out-of-prison man I've only known for two minutes. Let's just see how the night goes first, slow down Romeo.

My quotable view: When games are as generally good as the Grand Theft Auto series, one can usually cure the hype-lust for the new version. At least for a while.


Item #4: The Battlefield 4 open beta. Or demo. Or whichever it is.

I have played the beta for about 15 minutes. It looks and sounds identical to BF3, to me anyway.

I was pleased to see my ageing system will run it at a decent level (decent for PC, it will smash the console version. Are you kidding me?).

Will I use the beta as intended? Will I provide feedback? Will I look out for bugs and report them? Will I study the UI and offer any suggestions for improvement? Will I assess weapon balance and outline any unintentional flaws in the programming?

No. I'll let people who know better worry about all that. I'll just run about, glancing at the mini-map with despair, wondering where the hell I'm supposed to be going, trying to make sense of all the glowing icons littering my screen until I finally succumb and stash myself away in the back of an empty shop, peering over the counter at nothing.

My quotable view: BF4 looks like BF3. Which is fine I suppose. For mainstream, combined arms style games (that's infantry and vehicular squabbling) what choices are there, really? I honestly found Planetside 2 impenetrably dull, and ARMA 3 is intended for nutters that want to own REAL guns in REAL life. No I don't want to join your survivalist Steam group, cheers anyway...*gulp*

To conclude this weekends offering, I'd like to direct your attention to this:


Many thanks for holding your bloated, swaying heads steady for long enough to shovel these words into your brains! No, I really mean that. I am as sincere as a policeman.

GL & HF!