Archive for May, 2011

Just got the latest Sims 3 expansion – Generations – through the post today, for review purposes of course. You can read some initial thoughts I had on it here, but I can tell many an hour is going ot be lost to this game over the next few days, especially now that I’ve finished with Red Faction: Armageddon.

Here we go again.




Posted: May 29, 2011 in Gaming, Lifestyle/Culture
Tags: , , ,

You know, I’m really not a fan of fighting games. Over the weekend I decided to catch up with a good friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while, and we decided to just have a more ‘old-school’ night around mine which involved gaming, a film and a couple of beers. He’s a bit of a Tekken fan, so naturally we played a few rounds of Tekken 6. Back in the day, there used to be four of us – Me, Immie, Gavin and Tom, and every Saturday we’d go around Immie’s house and just hang out – usually videogames, but sometimes we’d do other stuff as well.

Even though I had a GameCube and PC at home, those Saturdays were really want defined me as a ‘gamer’, and there’s lots of fond memories there. Anyway, back then I didn’t own a PS2, or an Xbox for that matter, all I had was my N64 and my GameCube, so the only practice I got at games like Tekken were at these weekend gatherings and I just sucked, hard. The others were all infinitely better than me, and yesterday was no exception. I just can never remember the combos, and if I’m being honest I just found it a little boring after a while too. In later years before we all started going our separate ways, I basically gave up and just read a book whenever they stuck on Tekken. Typical me, I’m in my own close knit group of best friends, and I still manage to be anti-social.

But then we’d stick on Timesplitters 2, of course, and I could have my revenge. Me and Gavin, we’d always want to be snipers. Immie, was a bit of an all rounder and Tom… well, back then he wasn’t much of an FPS guy. At least, he didn’t seem to get on with Timesplitters. While myself and the others would be finding our sweet spots and trying to out-think each other, Tom would just be running around the map like a “noob” and was basically target practice for the rest of us. Worms and Smackdown games were popular ones as well… not so much in later years for wrestling, but when some of the later Worms games came out, we’d always have a blast with that – everyone would make alliances against me though, usually, which was annoying.

It’s strange, looking at how far gaming has come in that time, at what’s happened to me and my friends. I sometimes ham up about how I’m getting old and that it sucks, but it’s not that, really. I’m just growing up, and that’s nothing something you can easily wrap your head around. I’m excited though, and proud to be at the forefront of an emerging medium like videogames, and I consider myself lucky to be one of the few people who can truly say they love their job, not matter what the otherside of the coin is like.

But yeah, I really suck at fighting games.

Well, not necessarily a book, but I wouldn’t mind doing something else as a side project or whatever. I like to write… in fact I’m in this business more for the writing than the videogames themselves. As great as it is to go to early previews and events, I reckon I’d enjoy it just as much as movies, or books… maybe music (although probably not, actually), but videogames was just the one I decided to go into. I love stories. Hearing/reading stories, telling stories (when I’m feeling creative, I’ll tell a story through my reviews/previews) … and the best medium with which to do that is books.

One of our better writers, a guy called Mike Rose (nice guy. Bit of a loud drunk.) has just published his own book – 250 Indie Games You Must Play. You can order it here, if you’re interested. It got me thinking though about how I really should try and diversify within what I do, i.e. writing, and how I’d love to write a novel in the vein of Iain M. Banks, or Orson Scott Card, or one of my other favourite authors. Closest I’ve gotten so far is FanFiction, and the only fanfic I formally started – a serialised Halo/Battlestar Galactica crossover – I never finished, despite getting the odd request for more.

I read an interesting article a while ago about this author who was completely self-published – I don’t the link anymore sadly, I don’t think, but she’s taken advantage of things like Amazon’s kindle store, and so had never had to deal with a traditional publisher. Her books aren’t in physical form, mind, but from what I remember she did well for herself  through purely digital sales. Just goes to show how the digital economy is truly taking off.

Here’s a conversation I just had with my mum about it:

“Mum, I think I want to write a book.”

“You’re only 23, what on earth do you have to write about?”

Thanks, Mum. Still, she has a good point – I have no idea what I would write about, whether a novel, or a list-book like Mike’s done… even in general terms of just diversifying myself, noting really comes to mind, which is a concern because I don’t want to be stuck in some kind of low-paid rut all my life. If only I could break out of the preview/interview/review/next cycle for five minutes to have a think…

Oh hey, look at that. A blog title that was to the point and not cryptic, analogical or just plain random.

Yeah ok… getting a bit carried away with the headlines now. It’s late though, so this is only a quick one. As you read this, I’ll probably be with THQ, for reasons I won’t be able to tell you about for a while. Anyway, last week I was still musing about what to do about my hardware, light upgrade, full new computer, etc… and then this happened. Forget what I said last time about shit getting real. NOW shit’s just got real.

Interestingly enough, as I’ve mentioned before I’ve been wanting to get into the ArmA series, but I’ve been waiting for ArmA II and it’s various expansions to come down in price. Like a Steam sale or something… with ArmA III on the way now though, I might wait it out. Only problem is the specs it requires – you can find them towards the bottom of the article. In summary though, so far it’s the first announced game ever to require an Intel i5, perhaps even the iX series as a whole (I don’t remember any other games ‘requiring’ those processors, although the Total War guys have kind of been sponsored by them for a while, you know ‘runs great on’ kind of stuff). Now, as PC Gamer points out, these specs are coming out a year in advance of the game, and hardware optimisation hasn’t even been considered yet, so maybe those specs will come down.

Is this the shape of things to come though? Who knows. Need more PC games to come out so we can see… good thing E3 is just around the corner, I guess, although I don’t think that particular show has ever been known to have any major PC-only announcements before. There’s a reason people keep predicting the death of PC gaming, you know. Much like how they keep predicting the end of the world I guess… how did Rapture go, anyway? I slept through it.

Still this recent news give me a time-frame to work with. Like with this rig – I built it in time for Empire: Total War – perhaps I can time it so that my next rig is built in time for ArmA III… or another game, if one is coming sooner.

We’ll see.

I’m probably not a great Christian. I believe in the existence of a deity, but I tend to not dwell on the details too much because the rational side of me knows that it’s hard to justify, and I don’t really go to church either because it’s boring… but that’s not what I’m talking about. No, despite its faults and it’s past, one of the key pillars of Christianity is forgiveness. Usually I’m one to let things go, let bygones be bygones and whatever other clichéd phrases that are associated with forgiving, but I think I’ve found an exception.

Recent episodes of Glee have been drawing the bullying sub-plot with Kurt and a minor character called David Karofsky to an amicable close – Kurt is back, David has been reigned in and may or may not even embrace his true nature. For those of you who don’t watch Glee, during this season Kurt’s been bullied a lot by David for being gay and the fact that David himself appears to be a closet gay. We’re not just talking about slushies to the face – which is the more comical bullying the whole cast has been suffering throughout the show – but pushing, shoving, being violently slammed onto the floor and lockers. He had to move schools because of it.

This struck a very deep, very personal chord with me as I was bullied for a period at school as well, and there wasn’t even a reason that I could remember, they just picked on me. I have a half buried memory of being pinned to the floor and then sat on by some guys after science one time, and that kind of stuff – the same things that Kurt has been experiencing – is what got thrown at me as well. It stopped eventually as a good friend of mine alerted the teachers who  then cracked down on it, and one of the major offenders came up to me on the way home and apologised. I just let it go at the time, but now I’m faced with this scenario…

I don’t want Karofsky to be let off, I don’t want him to finally accept who he is and get a happily ever after. I don’t want him to be forgiven. I see him as Saren from Mass Effect, or Sephiroth from Final Fantasy. Zakhaev, The Emperor, Prophet of Truth… he’s a big, bad, evil douche-cock that could really do with some comeuppance in a boss battle or something. I know this is just a TV show and everything, but they’re designed to engage audiences and illicit emotions, so forgive me if I’m getting a little too engaged in this. Repressed aggro, what can ya do? I have to say, even though the story and plot in general is a bit better, and the whacky yet subtle humour more refined, I’m still only in it really for the musical numbers.

I’m honestly glad that Kurt seems to have safer environment now to come back to (even though the most recent episode showed that the bullying had taken on a new form). Continuing on with the videogame linkage, I suppose I can now emphasise a bit more with the character of Anders/Justice from Dragon Age II. Which was odd, because it really pissed me off when he randomly turned up at the end and… did that… thing. Spoilers.

Meh, I’ll get over it. Life’s too short for grudges, right? If I was in Kurts shoes I’d do the same thing and let it all go, I already have.

So… what’s for lunch?

So, I have a bit of a decision to make. A few weeks ago I blogged about how I’d finally come across a game that my PC couldn’t handle – The Witcher 2. We’ve already given the review code off to someone else who can handle it, but from little I’ve played from it (and from playing through the first game as well), I know it’s going to be a good game. However, I’m going to need to either upgrade, or build an entire new rig in order to play it.

Now as reasons go, it’s not the best I know – we’re talking about a fair bit of money here and my income isn’t the most stable. But then again I did build this computer just so I could play Empire: Total War, among other things. It’s sort of a greed vs. need debate. Now, The Witcher 2 is probably a tad unique in the sense that it’s not as scalable as many PC releases are. The industry is all too aware that not everyone has bleeding edge technology, and most of the time their games are scaled for mass-market appeal.

Hypothetically, if I was to do this, I’d probably just go for a completely new rig. When I built this computer, it wasn’t bleeding edge technology – might not have been just off either. Intel had come out with their ix series, Nvidia had already done their series number reset… considering this computer is now over two years old, this was bound to happen sometime soon anyway.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens – see what other PC games come out over the course of the year, maybe wait for prices to drop, new tech to come out, etc… I’m doing GamesCom this year, but I also want to move out as well so there’s a lot big expenses planned for this year, I may not have the money for all of them.