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Monthly Archives: February 2008

Hello Halo

Our Humpday Challenge against Bungie has now been confirmed and will take place on Wednesday March 5th at 5pm. With it being only a week away, I have to say I’m a little nervous.

Things have reached the point where I exist in the same love-hate state of mind as I did towards the end of our Halo 2 Clan days. This is where you realise you and your team have plateaued in ability and that for every match you enjoy you are going to find one that frustrates the hell out of you because you know the other team are just plain better than you and nothing can change that.

You yo-yo from thriving on Double Kills and one shot snipes to being corpse humped and humilated.

The thing is, I can’t stop playing; I’m almost addicted to the punishment. When it’s good it’s good but after Humpday I think I need a Halo holiday.

What the…?

So who else felt the earthquake last night? A mighty 5.3 on the richter scale!

Earthquake '08: putting Market Rasen on the map.

It was a very wierd sensation as I was only half-awake but through the sleepy haze the whole house seemed to be shaking to a low rumble. I hadn’t got a clue whether I was still dreaming or we’d bought a place with weak foundations.

Even when Ali said the world “earthquake” I didn’t quite believe her and it took the radio to convince me neither of us were going mad.

So where were you when Britain’s biggest ‘quake in a quarter of a century hit?

“Unlock Full Game”

I still don’t have broadband at my place. Not only is this annoying because I’m missing a healthy dose of Halo practise but all my Xbox Live Arcade games are locked out to me.

I want more!

For those of you who don’t know, when you buy and download a Xbox Live Arcade game the license that comes with it is tied to your console. If you move your hard drive to another machine then you are effectively blocked from playing your games unless you can connect to the internet so Live can verify that you do actually own those titles.

With this in mind, as I have upgraded to a new hard drive, copied all my games across to the newer model and have no access to the internet, I basically have a couple of dozen games that I have bought and yet cannot play. Whilst I can see why they want to do this to avoid piracy, this doesn’t half suck for someone who is legitimately in this situation.

Come on Eclipse! Sort out my broadband! I want my Rez back!

Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspurs

Glorious, absolutely glorious. Spurs’ victory over Chelsea yesterday is a result that has put me over the moon, to use a footballing cliché.

Not only were we the underdogs, not only did we come from a goal behind but we also managed to lift the cup against those lovely people from Stamford Bridge.

Grin.

The whole afternoon was a bit surreal as I was round a fellow Tottenham supporter’s house watching the game on German television with a slightly delayed radio commentary from Five Live.

All in all, this lead to a slight confusion around our penalty; for a whole minute we thought one of our players had been flagged offside or had been done pushing. It wasn’t until Berbatov placed the ball on the spot we realised what was going on.

There was no doubt about the final whistle, though, and it was a touching moment to see King and Keane lift the cup together. For their services to the club, I don’t think two players deserve a medal more than those pair.

Well done lads; well done Ramos; and well done Big Martin Jol, whose efforts should not be forgotten.

And the Spurs go marching on.

GDC

Supposedly, the Games Developers Conference is for learning. Or, at least, that’s what the entourage from Rare attending the event told me as they jetted off, chinking their martini glasses. And yet throughout the week there has been unveilings from publishers, rhetoric from platform holders and business men telling everyone why they should buy their middleware.

I’m not denying that somewhere within San Francisco that some lectures may be taken place but for an academic and industry event there seems an awful lot of media and salesmen infiltrating the schedule. Just looking through the frontpage of any gaming site shows there are plenty of hands-on and previews being rustled up to warrant their trips out there.

This is what you want: men with beards.

Whilst these stories may be great for the gamer, the fact that GDC is supposed to be an event for the development does worry me. In a world eager to try and fill the gap left by the old E3 I really don’t think a gathering based around sharing ideas with the rest of the developer community is the place to do it. Already several of the seminars seem to be presentations pimping a new game or attempting to flog a new bit of tech but how much can actually be learnt from them?

Hopefully my cynical question will be answered next week when Robot Minion and Pirate Steve return armed not only with peanut brittle but also their own views of the show.

And, yes, I am bitter about not going.

Portable Recommendations

As my Visual Studio crashes for the umpteenth time today, I sit looking out on the frozen duckpond outside my window and my mind drifts.

Mostly, it’s drifting towards my DS, sitting glinting next to me, and what to play on it now that Ali and I (team effort) have now completed Zelda: Phantom Hour Glass. It was absolutely fantastic but I need something new to fill the void.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Ideally some similar adventure style game would probably be good so as to keep us both amused but I’m open to most things. Has anyone tried Professor Layton?

Rubber lips not included

Whilst they may not be able to make me want to live it up whilst I’m going down, the announcement of an Aerosmith edition of Guitar Herodoes fill me with hope. For if Activision are planning on doing themed versions for everyone’s favourite plastic guitar, then it opens the doors wide in terms of possible future content.

Right now we have to wait for the dribs and drabs that reach us via downloads but if they embrace the Sing Star model we could have a new compilation pack every couple of months.

Since 2006, Sing Star have launched over twenty different versionsaround the world. Every one is specialised in a different genre, national taste or decade but each of them are there to broaden the appeal of the series to snare in yet more unsuspecting singers. From Bollywood to Norway, Rock to Pop, Sing Star tries to supply everyone with something and no one could argue that’s a bad thing.

Did they do that one from that one with the meteor?

So could we see the Guitar Hero brand being associated with more bands and genres? Hopefully. Not only would it be a good way to retain its presence at retail and differentiate itself from Rock Band, but as it stands that they have already done an 80’s edition and seemingly have various trademarks lined up, both giving further credence to this possibility.

Here’s hoping for an Ocean Colour Scene version some time soon.

More bang for your buck

A comment last week started me thinking about how I try to get through my pile of games. At this time of year, coming off the back of Christmas’ usual glut of releases, I always have a reasonable stash to play through, but how to go about it?

Pile o’ games. Not mine, I hasten to add.

Do I play each one through until the end credits, getting the most for my money, or do I sample each one a little and pack in more over the year? I’m sorry to disappoint the completists amongst you, but it is definitely the latter.

Whilst this system may mean there’s a chance of getting distracted and never finishing a truly great game, I would rather give a variety a try and get a wider range of experiences than just concentrate on a single release. After all, if a game really is that good it should bubble back up through my pile.

Admittedly things have changed over time; when I was younger, pocket money was a cherished resource and birthday presents were to be appreciated, meaning that games lasted far longer as you never knew when the next one would come.

Now the flipside is true as I definitely have more disposable income but my free time is somewhat reduced. Oh, the irony.

365 Word Review: Assassin’s Creed

One of the games that I’ve failed to be mentioned from my festive haul is Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed. In between Halo practise and demon slicing I’ve been scaling the holy land in search of truth, justice and tall buildings that I can swan dive off of.

Set around Jerusalem and the Crusades, the main bulk of the game sees you scampering around after a handful of nasty men. You learn their whereabouts by eavesdropping on, interrogating and pick pocketing locals, allowing you to the get close enough to then dispatch them.

Stabby McStabbington is on the left.

As you first search out your leads in the bustling streets, these core features are at interesting and novel, however, when you realise that you must do these same three actions over and over again for each of your targets things start becoming a chore.

The saving grace is the exploration as within each city you can climb or traverse anything that you can get your hands (or feet) on. Every sill, beam and brick can be scaled, letting you rise above the streets with ease and cross the beautifully conceived city via the rooftops.

Combat, too, can be an enjoyable affair as you can take on hordes of guards at once. Although the skills earned throughout make things far too easy as time progresses, the ability to throw guards through market stalls or vault walls effortlessly means you can execute fights scenes straight out of Hollywood.

For me, though, not even the free-running can disguise what is an interesting concept but stretched far too thinly. The depth is simply not there and the storyline, although intriguing, is not enough to make me want to continue this repetition.

Sorry, to clarify, one of the storylines is intriguing, the other infuriating. This dual thread is wholly unnecessary and only serves the purpose of allowing Ubisoft to stamp the word “franchise” all over the product and shatter any sense of immersion the player had in his world.

Having said all of that, though, I did like what it tried to do and so for the highpoints that Assassin’s Creed achieved I think it should be commended. Put this one down as a damn good first try.

7/10

Explorer Bunny

Not much to say today other than a little anicdote about the buns

After clearing most of the living room there was nothing left but a pile of empty boxes in the corner. Baldrick, being an adventerous soul, was out exploring and decided to poke around this pile to see what tender morsals she could find hidden within.

Two seconds later, out she screeched with a large stripe of parcel tape down her side. This was then followed by ten minutes of us chasing her round the room with a pair of tong in an attempt to peel it off whilst also trying to keep as much of her fur attached to Baldrick as possible.

May all rabbits owners heed this warning of bunnies and boxes so that the risk of bald buns is at a minimum – remove the sticky tape.