Friday, 23 December 2011

2011 - the final month

Has it really been a month since I last blogged... And has it really been a month since I was last separated from my PS3. I am starting to see a pattern here.

So... 2011. It seems as though it all went a bit London bus in the end. Nothing turning up for months over the summer and then many massive releases all happening at once.

Of all the big releases this year Battlefield 3 has to have been my favourite. If it weren't for Assassins Creed Revelations having been released within 2 weeks of it I could have happily still been playing EA's latest military shooter.

I had been looking forward to Assassins Creed, preparing myself for the end of the Ezio era and readying my mind for the 2012 requirement to the series (seeing as Desmond needs to save the world by 2012 we can't have a 2013 release date). Something however felt a bit lacklustre and missing in the latest instalment. It was hard to pinpoint but the easiest way to describe the lacking was in Ezio's role of mentor feeling all too prominent. Where previously the mini games felt useful, this time about it felt as though Ezio should "have a guy for that" yet due to financial constraints could not afford the local temp agency rates. Oh well.

This Xmas will see a multitude of games being unwrapped for my enjoyment that have seen praise this year. Whilst too early for New Years resolutions it makes sense to pledge to make more of my play time and comment here more regularly.

So... If you have read this far it only leaves me to say...

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!!!

sent from iPhone

Monday, 21 November 2011

Books again...

Having completed Battlefield 3 last Monday, and having had to stop reading the Andy McNab book because I had reached a place of story cross over, I have now finished that off as well.

And it brings me back to comment on the adding to and variance of canon in such tie-ins.

For the most part the story is a useful supplement to the recent EA success story that is Battlefield 3. It helps to weave a narrative as to how the games main protagonist gets onto US soil in custody of Homeland Security, provides back story to the character of Dima, and helps to characterise some side lining characters in both story lines.

However in some key areas of the games narrative the book deviates and writes its own set of occurrences or settings. One reason I didn't stop reading sooner was that the Villa described in the book that is the level "Kaffarov" is hugely different to that in the game both in appearance (style of the house) and the events that play out in this setting.

Whilst McNab has clearly written from a more plausible and realistic point of view (as is his trademark) and the games set pieces are more in the vain of action movies and Hollywood, the glaring disparity causes a blip in continuity within the same overall story. Without giving too much away the ending is also wildly different from the events of the level "Comrades" which sets about locating and disarming a nuclear weapon in Paris.

I enjoyed both versions equally, and would like to see the Dima story as DLC perhaps as there is such a blank slate within the game in relation to this character. There were times where I would have preferred McNabs version and times I preferred the EA version.

Battlefield 3: The Russian provides a useful filler to Battlefield 3's campaign story. I would definitely play the game first before tackling the book as it is easy to run over the lines that separate where story lines merge.

sent from iPhone

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dedication and Wikia's

Whilst I may be PS3-less I am certainly not without access to game based material.

As such I have taken the time to read 3 game based books over the last 3 weeks. Each book has taken a differing approach to its place in canon and dealing with the universe in which it exists.

Having played all Assassins Creed games to date my first port of call was Assassins Creed: The Secret Crusade. The style of which took the events of Assassins Creed and Assassins Creed: Bloodlines and sandwiched them in a preclusion to the upcoming 2011 release Assassins Creed: Revelations. Whilst an enjoying read to bring readers up to date on the full Altier story (if not a PSP owner) only the framing device and final few pages added any depth to the canon and, if anything highlighted how repetitive the first game of the series was - thankfully your actions are not verbatim in the book!

My next read was Deus Ex: Icarus Effect, a prelude to the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This fact allows for more creativity and as the story is not focused on DX:HR protagonist Adam Jensen (though he gets a mention) it provides an interesting look at the events alluded to in the game. Unfortunately it has a bit of the Star Trek "Red Shirts" about it as it deals with the Tyrant group who serve as boss fights in DX:HR and through process of elimination (quite literally) you can tell who is going to get taken out.

Finally - and still reading - is Resistance: The Gathering Storm. This book is what Wikipedia referred to as an interquel?!?

In order to make sure that I did not read this out of synch with my games in the series I had to check the fan driven Wikia timeline to ensure I read the game at the correct point... As such I have completed Resistance Fall of Man and done level one of Resistance 2, after which a jump in time occurs... In which the book covers.

Now... I am thankful to the fans for this effort, however I cannot help but think that there must be better things to do than create a timeline of events for a fictional universe.

Just saying.

sent from iPhone

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Battlefield 3... Calm before the storm

It is becoming a pattern that my ps3 is not in my possession during October. This month it will be in Caroline's custody as she enjoys Zumba.

Fear not however, I shall have it back I time for the release of Battlefield 3. The beta will have ended by this time tomorrow, but for the experience I feel that the crown may well have been contended by EA. I am not usually one to take sides but Battlefield has a lot of immersive elements that I did not see from Modern Warfare 3 in recent demos.

Only time will tell but personally... I cannot wait for Battlefield 3 to be out!

sent from iPhone

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Eurogamer Expo 2011 - My Experience & Top Tips

This weekend was the Eurogamer Expo 2011 at London's Earls Court. The event ran from Thursday to Sunday and I made my visit yesterday between 2pm and 7pm. It was the first time that I have been to such an event and for the experience I am a little the wiser and more prepared for next year (to which I am definitely going to attend). So sit back, grab a beer and listen to my top tips to making the most out of one of these events.

Tip #1 - Go Early
Whilst this may seem obvious it is something not to be underestimated. On arriving at 1:20pm to Earls Court the queue for the afternoon attendees was already pretty long. Doors open dead on the hour of admittance and getting through the registration is a breeze, so the sooner you arrive to queue, the sooner you can peg it to the game of your choice. The most popular games all had queue systems in place and some of these were in excess of an hour long to wait in. Getting in line and inside as early as possible will give you the best chance to get hands on with your highest priority AAA title.

Tip #2 - Go Prepared
Always know what is on as best you can. All the biggest games are announced ahead of these events, and a floor plan prepared. You can guarantee that if you don't decide what is your Alpha target ahead of entry, and know where it is roughly located you will end up looking around to decide what is worthy of your time whilst that one queue you decide on continues to grow exponentially.
It also helps to see if any competitions are being run by the Expo. This year there was an option to go in cosplay in order to win a PSVita with judging done by Nathan Drake himself, Mr Nolan North. Whilst not the overall winner I had fun making my costume (YouTube link to follow in later blog) and was given an exclusive note book, personalised and signed by Nolan. He also signed my action shots from the costume creation (again - later blog to follow). Knowing what is on ahead of time will make your day so much better.

Tip #3 - Go More Than Once (Where Possible)
8 hours seems like a long time (and can be when it is spent in tedium at work), however with interesting developer sessions, long queues and the need to have sustenance (geeks don't get fat by not eating) those hours can fly by if you decide to do a lot of top class activities. I attended an Uncharted 3 developer session and was lucky enough to be ushered in... Because I was competing in cos-play. Had I not been ushered, the session and queue would have eaten 1.5 hours of my time. I didn't do a lot of queuing and still managed to enjoy RAGE, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3 and OnLive... However in 5 hours of visiting that doesn't equate to a lot of hands on time when etiquette dictates that 10 minutes is acceptable, 15 is ample, and 20 is pushing it... Be mindful of this and even if mid game be prepared to offer up your controller. Be prepared to watch a lot and not play everything unless going more than once.

Tip #4 - Go Socially Connected
Expos can be all about the swag. The best way to get this is to follow the event feed on Twitter or any Community Managers on the scene (@kleaneasy, @shade360, @EA_ActionMan & @Actonpies were my best discoveries). Anything that is Tweet worthy coming out from these feeds will be retweeted by the Expo and having mobile notifications will make things very easy. Exits are also a good place to be given parting gifts... This event provided me with 10 packets of Chili Heatwave Dorritos
As well as swag there are some useful feeds that come out from the Expo feed itself and getting questions answered is almost instant from their feed administrator. The world is becoming better connected through these services and they are incredibly useful. Also a good QR scanner is good for collecting links throughout the day to exclusive offers and trailers.

Tip #5 - Enjoy Yourself
Games are about having fun. Don't go and expect to be given any special treatment, be prepared to feel like a sheep and find blank expressions if asking complex questions from those at the stands. A lot of these people with STAFF on their shirts are volunteers. As for feeling like sheep, the main idea behind these events is to get as many people to play the game as possible in order to draw in extra interest in the product - so you will be herded through areas and expected to move when the shepherds tell you. Big games will be time limited or have restrictions on options and many of the highly anticipated will be run like well oiled machines with sessions run to the second and reset after each sitting. Skyrim was the latter, whilst Modern Warfare 3 offered up Multiplayer only. Thankfully Battlefield 3 had both Single and Multiplayer on offer, even if it was limited with regard to inversion.

That finishes my tips for attending Expos, and how to enjoy it from personal experience. I was looking forward to many games on display already, and Eurogamer Expo 2011 has done nothing to change those views... games that I got hands on time with were excellent and I am anticipating my pre-orders all the more.

It was disappointing that I didn't get to play everything I would have liked, and that it was only multiplayer on offer from Modern Warfare 3. In all however I certainly got the bug and will be a repeat attendee.

sent from iPhone

Thursday, 8 September 2011

My next platinum trophies... I am determined


Sorry... that is being screamed at a mirror, "You filthy trophy whore!!".

I've taken a fresh look at what is outstanding on my trophy list and despite my current immersion into the world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, my whoring tendency is taking hold and making me want this and other Platinum's SO BAD!

So, I do declare that this winter (it might as well be with the bloody weather at the moment) I will be focusing my efforts on Plat-ing the following games;

  • Fallout 3 (come on - just a few more levels to get karma at)
  • Uncharted (JUST Crushing to do)
  • Medal of Honor (support actions & Tier 1)
  • Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (JUST Final Boos taking no damage)
The problem games that I will probably never Plat are;
  • Assassins Creed: Brotherhood (bloody online trophies)
  • Skate 2 (bloody online players using the board throw glitch)
  • Tony Hawk Ride (why did I buy this again... it was £5 but still... WHY!!)
So... there we have my whore confession. Alongside the list of "to do's" I will be tackling Battlefield 3 and Assassins Creed: Revelations, so hopefully by the New Year by "to do" list will have shrunk rather than stagnated as that is just two games to disrupt my mindset.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Deus Ex "Racist" Argument

Controversy in entertainment is nothing new, and games seem to get a hell of a beating when they cross that line. Modern Warfare 2 with it's civilian killing, Manhunt for it's use of any physical object, and Grand Theft Auto for... Well the list on that one is too long.

The most recent incident to come into the fray is Deus Ex for it's character "Letitia". I won't rehash verbatim here but the argument from some is that her position and manner in the game is representing her as "less than human", and is a slur upon all people of a coloured descent. The full story is at

I won't argue... The character has a stereotyped manner, but then on your trip to China the whole city is full of stereotyped pigeon English when an NPC can speak it. Letitia is also not the only NPC that is bin diving, just the only one you can interact with. Countless hobo's on the streets of Detroit ask you for credits and "... (they) won't lie, (they're) gonna buy booze." The use of all these stereotypes should be put under the spotlight, however there has not been the same outcry of insensitivity that just one character garners.

One reason for the outcry against Letitia is that she is clearly poor and sounds uneducated and that this is a poor racial stereotype from yonder years. These allegations however are completely ridiculous when we know nothing about her history aside from that she used to be an informant for Jensen. Perhaps she has always been poor, perhaps she is truly uneducated. The fact that she is of coloured descent is not highlighted in anything other than her visual appearance so to call this a "racist" issue is bogus as there are several other characters that are black and have done well for themselves... A computer genius, an undercover cop, a security guard. Jensen does not act in any way out of order to Letitia, no matter what choices you make in conversation. If the game were racist, I'm sure would do so in more than one example.

What this is however, is a lack of understanding and embracing diversity. It takes all sorts of people to make a community and the world is full of differing individuals with differing mannerisms, habits, accents and culture. To be pissy over Letitia is tantamount to saying "that isn't the correct way to represent a black woman, black women are like this... " and in my opinion Mr Nacisse of Time Magazine... That sounds pretty damn racist to me. These are just my opinions of the issue, they represent my outsider perspective on a situation that I feel has been blown out of all proportion. It's been a few days since this was actually blown up and there are two camps, those that see it like Narcisse, and those that understand that people are free to sound how they want and talk however they see fit.

Now I have that off my chest... Time to get back to enjoying this glorious game!

sent from iPhone

Monday, 29 August 2011

Deus Ex = Cranial Sex

Wow wow wow wow wow... I cannot stop playing this awesome game.

The only reason I am not playing it right now is because my PS3 is packed up in a laptop case ready to be taken home. Rest assured however that this game will remain lodged in my disc drive until the final moments of this epic journey... And may remain there further still in order that I can play it through again.

It is so refreshing to have a game force you into thinking. Especially when the main thoughts are... "where is a vent", "did they see me", "what will the consequence be", and my favourite... "can I use the stun gun on them without being spotted 'cuz that thing is so freekin funny!".

If you haven't already... Buy this game! It will consume you but it will be worth every hour you invest. Come 7:00pm or so tomorrow, my evening will be Deus Ex'd until bed time.

sent from iPhone

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Pledge of Dedication

I've gone through the up and coming pre-orders I have on and have decided thus...

I shall once again complete these games before straying from their side. That's Deus Ex this month, and Battlefield 3 and Assassins Creed Revelations later this year.

I'm not usually good at these kind of promises but by Jove old bean I'll give it a jolly good new go.

And probably fail.

sent from iPhone

Call of Duty Map Packs

Okay... I understand that DLC is big business and is a great way for publishers to continue the life of an existing IP. I've purchased my fair share and even bought GOTY editions to replace my existing games where it makes more economical sense.

However... Come on Activision! Make the map packs cheaper for CoD!

I know it isn't fair to single out Activision on price alone, as both Bioware (Dragon Age: Awakening @ £30) and LucasArts (Force Unleashed 4x 1 level packs @ £8 each) are equally guilty.

The difference with CoD is that they KNOW people will buy those packs. If they were priced lower my guess is that even more people would as well. They look like good fun, expand the playability of the multiplayer, and each pack is a little different in some way. The problem however comes from the latest pack for Black Ops (making it pack number 4) being 4 maps from an old CoD and 1 new map... Yet it is still £12!!!

If I were to purchase all 4 map packs I would be sinking the original RRP into a year old game for the multiplayer alone. It just seems wrong. Luckily CoD has such a massive following I should be able to sit it out until there is a PSN sale on these packs and still know that there will safely be a community of players still there to enjoy them with... I just hope the same DLC strategy isn't in place for MW3.

sent from iPhone

Monday, 22 August 2011

I am a Sports Champion

I recently grabbed Sports Champion for PS3 Move and am LOVING the fun it provides.

It has been out some time and has had the unfortunate "Rockstar" syndrome since launch, in that the price just WON'T come down. Thankfully an eBay seller had it brand new at a nice low price and so it felt the time to snap it up.

It surprised me how a simple game like Bocce (boules/ petang to us Eurotrash) could be so much fun. The other games are also totally kickass! Archery with two controllers makes you feel like Robin Hood in the living room. Duelling is brutally fun. Table tennis is almost as intense as the real thing, and disc golf (frisbee) takes me back to holidays in Cornwall.

The only weak link is Volleyball which feels a little too on rails, and the feebleness of some opponents polino setting in Bocce is laughable.

If you don't have it yet... get it, invite some friends over, and have a whale of a time.

Playstation 3 Cross Game Chat

Today it was announced that cross-game chat will never come to PS3.

Personally - I don't care. If I am playing a game that does not need me to be communicating with a team for strategic reasons then clearly my attention is needed more by the game and actions in hand.

I have tried to talk on Skype when playing games but it just doesn't work... one activity requires more of your brain than the other. You either miss out on a vital plot point or cue to incoming attacks, or you have long silences where you cannot focus on your conversation due to the on screen madness.

I've argued before that there are no tactical players online anymore, and that headsets have become simple conduits to hurl abuse at other gamers. Thankfully cross-game chat is not coming to PS3... It will mean I can have a legitamate reason for focusing on my games and not worrying at all about what other people are doing.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Platinum Trophies are like REALLY good sex

Forgive the bluntness of my title but it is true when you think about it.

Consider your run of the mill bed action and equate that to a Bronze... it's easy, it’s methodical, you don't really mind how it ends up... you are just happy to have got it. Perhaps you aren't really into it just now and so the reward is overlooked.

Suppose then that silver is those occasions when you roll over and feel like it has been a nice work out, a needed bringing together, or a romantic night in... You are hot and sweaty, it felt like a bit more effort than usual went into that activity, but you know what you have under the hood and can do better. You are satisfied, but maybe you could have done it a bit differently to make it more so.

Gold... well now.  Gold is like when something surprising happens that just makes the whole thing feel like a dream. You work hard, but you get rewarded and for the most part these are rare occasions but you will remember them for a while to come. It might take 2 hours, it might take 6 hours. I wouldn't push the comparison to the sometimes 100 hours required to grind but you get the idea. These don't come easy, but they sure as hell are worth the effort.

This brings us to Platinum. Most often, that niggling little added bonus that confirms your 100% Godly aptitude for PS3 gaming comes from getting that final Gold trophy, so in terms of the type of sex... it is pretty much the same. The difference however is in how you feel about when you are done.

You aren't thinking about just that time, just that moment, not even just the last few times... No... Your mind thinks back to those first awkward Bronze moments, those few Silver nights and the rare Gold experiences, before finally settling on what you have just achieved with that final home stretch towards "completion". You are satisfied, perhaps elated and overall in a very happy place... You aren't sure what that little extra thing was, and don't feel the need to go looking for it. All you know is that you want that same feeling again someday.

Most of all however, you just want to roll over and get some much needed sleep to rest your tired hands, joints and head, ready to start the path to the next Platinum... however long that may take, and how ever many are just within reach.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Sandbox Freedom

What was going to be my first attempt at a podcast is actually easier to blog about. Not least of all because (like sandbox games themselves) once on topic it can take me hours to pick apart the narrative required for the topic.

The first sandbox game that I can remember playing was GTA3. It was an entirely new sensation at the time, offering a 3D world in which to "live" as the games silent character. Hours could be spent away between missions just driving around Liberty City.

Rockstar put out newer and grander sandbox games under the GTA label on the PS2, and an epic re-imagining of Liberty City for the next gen era in GTA IV. Each new game brought with it a new and greater sense of freedom, through vehicular and activity based advances.

Then came the sandbox boom on consoles... They had more power, more disc space and with that, game worlds became mass expanses in which to play around on. I'm by no means insinuating that GTA was a leader and all else are mindless unimaginative clones however. In fact, PC gamers had The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion long before GTA IV was out.

The sandbox catalogue contains some great games that truly play to sandbox strengths, both in FPS and 3rd person mechanics. I guess the easiest thing to do here is list what is good, bad or limiting about sandboxes. However that simply won't work either. Top 3 good and bad would read identical...
Time out from story
Non linear exploration
Immersive living worlds

A podcast is still on the cards and would love to get friends involved - but if topics like this come up, I fear we may have to have people check in on us to make sure we haven't talked ourselves to death.

sent from iPhone

Playstation 3 Trophies