Friday, 19 November 2010

The moment I realised I'm going to hell

Zombie outbreaks are hard enough.  Zombie outbreaks in 1911 are something completely different.  They've not had the luxury of movies telling us exactly what can happen and they certainly don't have any contigency plans for when the dead rise from their graves.  Even so, Red Dead Redemption's latest DLC entitled 'Undead Nightmare' releases a zombie plague upon the citizens of the American West to see what'll happen.  Within no time at all, long-dead relatives are ripping the flesh of their once loved ones with everyone blaming the immigrants, Jews, God and anyone else they seem to take a disliking to that day.  Everyone is turning on each other, supplies are low, and the constant threat of death has everyone a little on edge.  It doesn't take long for the number of survivors to dwindle with each passing day, which is where my story starts.
Upon hearing about a legendary horse, I hopped upon my soon-to-be-redundant steed and made way for Perdido to start the hunt.  It wasn't too long ago since I'd saved a town from being overrun, so my ammo was running a bit low.  Imagine my suprise when I found a camp up ahead with a box full of ammo.  Now the guy had just managed to find some food, and was just remarking on how lucky he was that he hadn't gone insane yet and politely asked if i wanted to sit for a while and share some food.  Silently, I made my way past and opened the box of ammo and took everything I could find.  Understandably, the guy saw this breach of trust and took it upon himself to kill me and take back his supplies.  Since I'd been anticipating a horse appearing at any minute, my lasso was the 'weapon' I had equipped and within seconds I had the guy disarmed and hogtied.  He started begging for mercy and freedom, but I ignored everything he said while lifting him on my back and carrying a way out near a crowd of zombies.  Reaching into my pack, I found a bottle of undead bait, threw it on the ground quite close to the guy and watched as some of the undead noticed the intriguing smell.  I whistled for my horse and rode off away from the screams and sobbing.
I've shot my own horse so I could sell its skin.  I've lassoed nuns and dropped them onto train tracks.  I've killed men while their spouses watched.  However, this act of torture is the act I'm pretty sure Satan is going to remind me about when he's setting up my room in the underworld.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A new review for a new Fallout in New Vegas.

So whatever happened to the Fallout playthrough?  Well it got to the point where nothing was happening and all the jokes I made seemed forced or weren't actually that funny.  I always have a problem with similar projects where I know how to start it, I know how to end it, but it's the middle that screws me over.  So who knows, I might make another few posts sometime down the line once I've figured out what I want to happen, but not right now.  No, right now is for talking about a similar game.  (I say similar in the same way that Vanilla Coke is similar to Coke, in the fact that it's more or less the same thing but with some improvements.)

Today's topic is, you've guessed it, Fallout: New Vegas.  Also known as Fallout 3-2.

My dad and I both got a copy each when it was released last Thursday and since then we've barely talked about anything that wasn't related to the wasteland.  The main reason for this is the size of the game.  You start walking in one direction and all of a sudden you discover a town with a lot of loot, a small populace, a questline and some enemies to sort out.  Each town has its own little quirks and some of the people are genuinely interesting.  For example, a gang full of Elvis impersonators.  The amount of things to see and places to go always astounds me as I can sit down to complete a quest, and 5 hours later I've picked up 4 others, discovered a few places and gotten no further in the storyline.   Obsidian Entertainment have produced a huge environment you can wander around for hours on end.

The main plot of the game seems a lot shorter than Fallout 3, though it makes up with slightly better writing.  Without wanting to spoil too much, the majority of the plot is based on revenge and power rather than F3's "Let's catch up with daddy for no good reason and see what's happening." The plot was a lot more interesting and for once you feel like you're actually making a difference, rather than just following the people in charge and watching them work while you kill some enemies.

The companions you can acquire have also improved, as they do not care about your karma when joining and give you a temporary perk while they are in your party.  After a time, a member might ask you to do a certain questline which improves the perk in the same way Mass Effect 2 manages your crew members.  Mechanics aside, each personality has their own charm.  Whether it's Veronica's jokes or ED-E's use of music to tell you enemies are here there's a lot of fun to be had with each one.  Plus, Danny Trejo and Felicia Day play Raul and Veronica, respectively.  And yes, you get a dog in this game as well.  Let me be the first to say that he's much better than Dogmeat, and I loved that dog.

Even the character creation is improved.  You wake up after an attack and check the good doctor who saves you put your face in the right place and didn't mess around with that brain of yours. It's a less traumatic scene than watching your birth and then the loss of a parent.  And I have to add that the tutorial is vastly improved, since you can actually skip it this time.  The joy I felt when I saw the option to [SKIP TUTORIAL] was insurmountable.  Although, if you do go through with it it only lasts about 5 minutes and you get a few extra caps to start you off, so don't be expecting another half hour long vault opening.

In terms of weapons, the game brings back some of your old favourites such as the Fatman and the Flamer and then adds to the collection.  There are tons of added weapons, and each now gets their own mods to go with it.  Depending on the mod, these can reduce the spread or reduce the weight, or even increase the ammo capacity.

New Vegas has a lot less perks than Fallout 3, and makes up for this by offering one every second level, which can get quite annoying when you have to wait longer to get the next.  From the few perks you're offered it isn't a bad selection, with the exception of the traits during character creation.

Hardcore mode was added to the game for those who wanted a bigger challenge.  Instead, it adds an annoyance.  Sleep, Hunger, and Thirst are now measured and increase over time, meaning after sleeping for a long period of time or walking halfway across the map you'll be thirsty.  This decreases certain skills in the same way radiation poisoning works, so it's best to weigh yourself down with food and water rather than weapons.  Speaking of which, ammo also weighs you down and certain calibres have different weights.  If you want to carry missiles around, you'd better not plan on having anything else at all in your pack or walking anywhere anytime soon.  Stimpacks now heal over time rather than giving you health on the spot, so combat becomes a lot more about strategizing when to use health boosts.  Companions are no longer invulnerable and can be killed during combat, meaning that quest you just spent the past hour on is gone thanks to one gang member and a lead pipe.  I'll admit hardcore mods was fun at times, as it added an extra layer of difficulty, but more often than not the fact that I couldn't pick up any loot because of my ammo hoarding annoyed me.  (Although the achievement was totally worth it.)

By now if you've read anything about the game it'll be about the various bugs and glitches in the game.  I know only too well that the game has it's fair share of problems.  Hell, it took me almost 4 hours just to get the thing running.  The game has crashed many times while just walking down the road and some strange behaviour in the AI doesn't help with the immersion.  Going into this I knew there were going to be annoyances such as these, but I realise some people aren't as tolerant of bugs, so beware of them.  The good news is that the developers are busy releasing patches and working to get rid of the bugs.

It may sound like I spent a lot of time talking about how much better this game is than Fallout 3, but thats because there's not a whole lot of new content.  Sure, there's improved content, but if you've played and enjoyed Fallout 3 it's more of the same, which is not entirely a bad thing.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Let's Play: Fallout 3 (Part 3)

UPDATE:  So it turns out the service I was using to upload these pictures suddenly realised it didn't want to do its intended job.  Now I have to check my PC to find the pictures, re-upload them and change the links.  Which is hard since I'm at a friend's at the opposite end of the country.  With any luck I'll find them and get this looking pretty sometime soon.  Until then, feel free to fill in the blanks with whatever images you see fit.

Last time, I decided that Megaton had overstayed its welcome. Thankfully, a guy I'd known for the whole of 5 seconds had given me a device which would detonate the bomb in the centre of town so...you know...yay. How he decides that a guy who hasn't even seen night-time yet gets to destroy a town is beyond me but I'm not going to question the guy giving me caps. Anyway, the journey across the wasteland begins.

I'm pretty sure I won't.
...Right after I buy everything in sight. Doing a one eighty, I head back in to Megaton and go straight for the shop. Soon this will be a pile of rubble, and rubble doesn't go for much of a profit so I've heard. Walking through the gates I hear more murmuring about me from the citizens. I'm not sure if they've heard the rumours, saw me affix the bomb, or are wondering why I came back after running away cackling not one minute ago. I don't make eye contact with anyone and head up the ramps to get some supplies. Lucas Simms eyes me up as I walk out and give the town a glance for what I hope to be my last time.
“Have a nice day, sheriff.”
I hope he doesn't pick up on my laughing. He stops. Shit. You know what I don't do enough of? Running away.

Thankfully I make it outside without someone opening fire, so I'm considering this a victory. It occurs to me that Burke never told me where Tenpenny tower actually was, so here I am outside of Megaton with no idea where to go. Again. Standing here won't help any, so I start walking in a random direction, because that worked so well for me last time.


After a while walking, I realised I've not eaten since last night. Lets see, I have...nothing. Crap. What's this? A house? Well it's the only one standing for a good mile, so I'm calling dibs! I walk inside and spot a kitchen! An honest to God kitchen! It has an oven and everything! Just before I can revel in my amazing good luck, I spot someone else sat at the table.

Looks like somebody doesn't know how dibs works.

“Who are you?”
“No-one you need pay attention to. Just show me where I can sleep and I'll be on my way.”
“You...you're serious? I don't even know you. There's no way I'm letting a stranger stay here, you could kill me in my sleep”
“I can do you one better than that!”
Murdered for a kitchen.  I do not have issues.


And that's the story of how I gained a small, worthless house.

Zak Stoneball: Homeowner

So after a good night's sleep, some actual food, and some time listening to the God-awful radio, I thought it best to go and find Tenpenny Towers. Damn, I can't remember what direction Burke said the place was now. North? I think it was North. Let's head North!

A few hours later I see a bridge. Rather than wading through irradiated water again, I think it best to walk across. When I get to the top, I wish I'd have taken the water. Apparently there's a town built on the top of this crumbling bridge, which makes me think Megaton had the better idea. At the entrance to this town there's a guy aiming a rifle at me and a mine which goes off, further strengthening my idea that radiation would have been safer.

“Hang on, you're not one of them. I nearly blasted you in two.”

Gee, good to see the town guard is observant. His blindness actually makes a whole lot of sense, seen as he probably thought this bridge was a great place to live.
He wants a word with me, and it seems that townspeople have been disappearing and they want my help.
“Help costs caps”
“Do I look like I just stepped out of Tenpenny Tower?”
No, but if you know where it is that's be much appreciated.

First mission: Go check on the townspeople. Not exactly the daring quest I'd imagined, but it'll do for now. I'm new at this and need experience.
The first house tells me this isn't going to be easy. Upon walking inside the guy tells me to get out and leave him and his wife alone. Ok, so maybe you don't want to be saved. Fine, stay here to die.

"Your husband's a douche.  It's his fault you're going to be dead soon."

Everyone's fine in the next house. I wonder if the last place has any food. Or caps. I'm not getting paid for this, so there had better be some generous people here. All I've seen so far are crazy ladies and douche husbands.
I walk inside and see...corpses. Lots and lots of corpses. With blood. Everywhere. Man I hope I don't get blamed for this. “It was like that when I got here” seems too clichĂ©. Ah well, better steal their stuff (The stuff without bloodstains) and go tell the guard that he's doing a crap job. Oh hey, those beds look comfy.

If this doesn't look like a good place to rest, I don't know what does.


Seven hours later I talk to the guard and tell him the family's dead.

“So where have you been for the past seven hours?”
“I got tired.”
“Oh, you slept at the West's place?”
“Yeah. Oh, that reminds me, they're all dead. It wasn't me. Actually, it was like that when I got there.”
“What?! So...you went around to everyone's house, found a murdered family, FELL ASLEEP, and came back seven hours after I put you on an urgent mission to check on three houses?”
“That about sums it up yeah. Are you sure you're not going to pay me for this? I did a good job I think.”
“Jesus, I don't know where to...I mean...you slept next to their...how did they die?”
“Wolves? I don't know, I barely looked. They were all icky”

Needless to say, I don't think my excuses went down well, and he sent me off to find a missing member of the family. By that I mean he told me the names of three places and pointed. I don't think people in this place realise I've not been outside before, never mind scouted everywhere to find every little place people mention.

I see finding Tenpenny Towers has been put off for a while until I find this guy. I really hope somebody else doesn't come and blow up Megaton while I'm gone. I wonder how long Burke can wait.

Next time: CSI: Wasteland.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Let's Play: Fallout 3 (Part 2)

The last time we left our murdering hero, he was pondering what to do now that the vault is a not too distant memory. Selling some loot sounds like the best option for now.

So I'm standing here with 12 different vault jumpsuits and a load of assorted junk. (Where is Zak holding this stuff anyway?) It'd probably be better to turn this into currency since I've not even had breakfast yet. While looking for a way to open the overseer's office, there was an entry on Megaton. That seems as best a place as any to start, so let's go!


Um...Where's Megaton? My Pip-Boy just says to go there. Does it not realise that this is my first time outside? Well...I guess I'll start walking...this way? Maybe? Screw it, following the road seems like a good idea. I stumble upon a vending machine with 2 bottles of Nuka Cola. I down both bottles before realising they've probably been there for over 200 years, which makes me feel a little queasy.
Further down the road is a school. Hopefully they'll have some sort of map or someone to ask directions.

What a friendly looking place.
“Hello!” My cries echo off the walls. Damn, no-one home. Throughout the corridors are badly mutilated corpses and skeletons in cages. Blood smears the walls and the building is falling apart. Good to see the schools didn't change in the nuclear blasts then.
Inside a classroom is a girl, not much older than me. “Hi, I'm lost. Can you help?”
“Haha, fresh meat boys!”
I wasn't aware there were any 'boys' before I turned around to run and saw a guy with a pipe in his hand. He didn't look like a plumber, so I'm pretty sure he wanted to introduce the pipe to my face. That would have been a conflict of interests, so my first kill in the wasteland followed not soon after. Then my second.

Pictured: Justice.
Well my plan to empty some space is failing, since now their stuff is weighing me down now. I'd better go find that Megaton place.
I high tail it out the doors, shouting out “I'll be back to SCHOOL you all another time!” Note to self: Kill everyone next time so there'll be no-one left to remember that awful pun.
After more searching, I finally reach Megaton, and JESUS CHRIST WHAT IS THAT?!

It's like Satan impregnated my nightmares.
If that's what I've got to fight, I'm going back to the vault. Amata never said anything about fighting demonic insects when she said I have to escape. Actually, she didn't say much besides don't kill anybody, so I guess this is karma. Anyway, I make my way inside what looks like a giant metal boob and suddenly wish I was back at the school. The school didn't look like a crater in the ground, and that building actually had a roof.

Wasteland paradise, apparently.
According to the sheriff there's a shop here, so for now I guess I won't shoot up the place. Plus I heard talk of a bar, and they didn't have alcohol in the vault. I really hope they don't ID.

After stepping into Craterside Supply I regretted my decision. The shopkeeper's voice was so annoying I think I may have to wear ear plugs next time. She's just lucky to have a guard or all her stuff would need a new owner.

The voice of an angel, if the angel had been smacked in the knackers.
After loading all of my stuff onto her, I go outside to see what people do for entertainment here, since I hadn't really thought this far on. Amata told me to find my dad, but he left strict instructions not to follow him, so I'll leave that deadbeat alone to abandon his only son. Looking around I see a café, a bar, a few houses and IS THAT A BOMB?! That's seriously a bomb. A working one? After hunting down the sheriff again I ask if he's insane.

See?
Apparently these people have a church centred around this thing. I've heard crazier religions, but there's still something off putting about the whole thing. Somehow I end up telling the guy I'll disarm the bomb and after a slip of the tongue, I think we somehow came upon the conclusion that I was doing it out of the goodness of my own heart. He ran away before I could correct him. Clever guy. So, down to the crater I go. “Don't mind me, pretend I'm not here!” I say to the crazies praying to this thing. The preacher doesn't bat an eyelid, but I do hear some murmuring from the rest of his people. Apparently they think I'm weird. Figures.
After standing in the irradiated water for Lord knows how long, I realise I don't know anything about bomb disposal. This doesn't really bother me, since I'm not getting paid for this ordeal anyway, so I go to the bar to get wrecked and to see what 200 year old scotch tastes like.

My third shock of the day came when I walked inside and saw a corpse working behind the bar. I wasn't aware that this was the zombie apocalypse. I must have been staring since Stubbs calls me out and asks if I want something. I manage to murmur something about a drink before he tells me what he is and who he is. I should have been paying attention but I spent the majority of the conversation wondering how his vocal chords still worked while the rest of him was just decayed flesh.

Does he charge in brains instead of caps?
A few drinks later and the beer goggles began to settle in. He wasn't so bad. I mean anyone who gets me drunk is alright in my book. And how did what's left of his skin stay there? Does it peel off? In chunks or in slithers? Before I had time to explore these disturbing thoughts further, a guy calls me over and asks if I want to do a job for him. There was talk of a bomb and talk of Megaton and talk of destruction. It may have been the booze talking, but it seemed a marvellous idea! It's get those images of Gob out of my head for one, and hopefully destroy squeaky-woman once and for all. First Megaton, then the world! Although this is some pretty good Vodka, and it'd be a shame to waste it all. This place isn't so bad really. I mean, the female to male ratio is pretty decent, and I'm told there's an empty house I could probably buy. This decision will need a few more drinks before I can make my choice.

I awoke the next morning with pants around my head, 120 caps lighter and a strange woman next to me. “Morning, Tiny”

SHE KNOWS TOO MUCH.
I don't know if it was the anger or the fear of gossip which drove me to affix the detonation device onto the bomb, but there was certainly no doubt in my mind. Megaton would burn. I wanted to hang a banner saying 'Blame Nova' but I couldn't find any ink. 

Oh well, time to go meet Burke and make my mark on this wasteland. Or at least take one off.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Let's Play: Fallout 3 (Part 1)

Fallout 3 is one of those games where I start playing at 1pm when I have a bit of free time and close the game next Wednesday. I know it has some pretty big flaws, like a terrible story, glitches and characters who are just clones of everyone else in the wasteland, but there's something about it which hooks me. I try not to focus on the story too often and revel in the exploration, spending hours walking from one side of the map to the other, just to see a place I've not been to yet.
It's for this reason I've chosen to start a Let's Play with this game, something I've toyed with in the past but never came to fruition.

There are quite a few mods I've installed with the game, but for the purposes of this playthrough, I've turned off all but Fellout, Burnification, and Amplified Cripple Effects. The first two to help give better screenshots, and the last because I like having to crawl away when both my legs are broken. As far as mods go, these few are pretty stable, but should they cause a problem and need removing I'll let you know.

I own all the DLC so if there's an enemy or weapon I mention which you've not seen, that may be why. As for which DLC I'm going to go through, if any, I've not decided yet. It all depends on how much material the game itself is providing me with.

With all that out of the way, Let's Play Fallout 3.

Fallout 3 starts you off in a unique way, in that you're literally pushed into the world via birth. As a child you're asked to name your character, as well as give yourself a gender and appearance. I think this is asking a little too much, but I strive on and birth Zak Stoneball into the world. He fashions a bright blue mohawk, and equally amusing facial hair.

If your hair isn't colourful and wacky, you're not doing the apocalypse right.

Before Zak can tell his dad any other personal details any father should already know, his mother starts to feel a bit unwell and you're rushed off into the back before you watch your mother die. No, you don't get XP for this.

This starts the tutorial where you go through the key events in your life in excruciating detail.

First on the agenda, learning to walk. At the age of one I walk to dear old daddy, who doesn't seem the least bit interested in Zak's ability to jump up and down, but I guess he's a man of priorities. Showing a very negligent attitude towards parenting he then forgets to lock Zak's playpen as he leaves the room. This gives you the chance to go and get up to all sorts of nefarious deeds like OH DAMMIT! The door's locked. I guess he's smarter than we think. Ah well, let's take the time to sort out our stats. With a name like Stoneball I want to be able to crush men with my fists, so that's Strength getting priority. Plus carrying extra weight is always a plus.

I really wanted to put all the points into Strength.

Nothing else important happens in this tutorial except for some slight character development, so I'll skip forward to the GOAT exam. Sadly this is more about questions to develop your stats and less about farmyard animals. The way to the exam room is littered with loot (doctor's tools) which tease me by dissapearing from my inventory after the next life event. You'd think I'd be able to keep it all in a drawer for when I leave the vault in three years time. Actually, at the rate this tutorial is going that three years may as well be realtime instead of in-game. Anyway, GOAT.


Zak wakes up three years later to find his dad has left the vault. Needing to escape (I don't know why, since you're not the one who broke out) I pick up the weapons on my table and take a pistol Zak's childhood friend, Amata, gives me. Promising to use it only as a last resort while simultaneously checking how much ammo I have, I get ready to kill some guards and escape this horribly lit place.

The first of many guards who inexplicably die while I'm in the vicinity.
Butch, the school bully, comes up to me asking me to save his mother. This is the same Butch who punched me because I wouldn't give him my birthday present nine years prior. After I stop laughing, I say I'll help. This is only because I want his jacket.

Sadly there was no option to tell him to eat a dick.
After 'accidently' missing 5 times his mum falls to the ground in what I presume to be thanks. I take her clothes as a reward.

The bat slipped.  Multiple times.  It was the Radroach's fault!
I go to tell Butch the good news, that I cleared the infestation, but he turns angry. Ungrateful. I steal his jacket as payment. From his corpse. After I beat him.

I don't like it. Well...this was worth it? Good thing I never liked the guy or I'd feel guilty.
Nothing much really happens until I get to the Overseer's office. Amata begs me not to kill him, but before she's ran away and he's finished calling for guards he hits the floor dead. I hope Amata will believe that I just mis-heard her. This gives me the password I use to open up an exit in the overseer's office. How did dad do this before? He managed to get out, and then put the key and note with the password back in the places he found them just in case his son wanted to come with? Well anyway I manage to kill a few more guards, get to the entrance of the vault, and step outside to breath in the first non-tutorial air of the game.
Ah, freedom.


So...what now?
Next time: Time to go to Megaton to sell all the stuff those dead guys dropped.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The internet doesn't have enough 'cat' blog posts.

For those of you that don't know, I own one of those new fangled computer thingies.  I usually use it to search for porno and pictures of dinosaurs.  (The two are not related).  Because doing this was all too tiring on my legs, I purchased one of those 'chair' inventions which worked wonders.  This allowed me to use my computer for long periods of time while sat down.  I also own a cat, who seems to think she owns the chair.  Now, if anyone else was to sit on my chair I'd slap them and start phoning a lawyer.  However, everytime I walk into my room to see a ball of fluff sat in the centre, I try to squeeze past so I can have enough space without disturbing the precious feline.  I'm writing this sitting on half a buttcheek while the cat is taking up the rest of the space asleep.  I'm quite uncomfortable.
Not content with ruining my dinosaur session, she also seems to think the best view in my room comes from the area in front of the monitor.  Now I wouldn't be angry, but she only ever manages to think this when I need the monitor for looking at things.  Pushing her off only tells her that I don't want her to sit there, which she translates to "Please sit on my mousemat.  You like mice, right?"  Chances are if I'm using my computer, the mouse would be a pretty handy tool as it helps to click on things. 
Again, she's moved and is sat on my mousemat, looking over my room like she owns the place.  I've never felt so imasculated.  I'm being overthrown in my own domain my a creature who can barely reach my knees.
Does this happen to everyone, or does my cat just really like the internet and want to join in?
I don't mean to one of 'those' people who always talks about their cat, so here's just the one post.  Be glad I didn't include pictures with hilarious captions in grammatically incorrect ways.  Tune in next time for a post about dogs!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

If I say No Deal will you leave?

What's that mum?  You want Channel 4 on?  Alright, but I want you to be sure.  I've checked what's on and I think you might want to reconsider.  Wait, what?  You do know what those words mean, right?  You want to watch-..Ok, I'm going to go ahead and pretend I'm adopted for the next half hour or so.  Fine, we'll watch Deal or No Deal, but I'm not happy with you.  Just let me compose myself first.

4:10pm:  Oh God, it's that damn song.  Are you happy, mother?!  I'm already regretting your decision.
4:11pm:  JESUS!  What's that?!  Who?  Noel?  Huh, what a strange man.
4:13pm: Why are the audience still clapping?  Are those actually people or just robots designed to clap endlessly?  I honestly can't tell.
4:15pm:  So we've seen the contestant for a full minute and I already want her to stop breathing.  Why is she laughing at everything?  That's not funny.  STOP ENCOURAGING NOEL!  HE'LL ONLY CARRY ON!
4:16pm:  Finally, they've picked the first box.  Wow, only the first box? It feels like a year since I turned this on. 
4:16:30pm:  HA!  The Gods have failed you!  Have I ever told you I love the colour red?
4: 17pm:  Ok, so the largest number has been eliminated.  Can we stop watching now?  Why are you looking at me like that? 
4:19pm:  Oh, we get to see the rest of the people there.  Because that's what I wanted to see, the people who didn't make it through today.
4:20pm:  Ok, laughing at Noel I can understand.  I like you a little bit more.  Keep doing that.
4:21:30pm:  Stop laughing!  It wasn't that funny!
4:22pm:  So I'm back to not liking you again.  Congratulations.
4:23pm: Adverts?  Goodie!  Freedom!  I've never been happier to see people shouting at me telling me to buy insurance for things.
4:27pm:  On no, we're back.  I miss people shouting at me.
4:30pm:  So apparently picking the 1p box is the greatest achievement in the history of mankind. 
4:31pm:  Why are they still clapping and cheering?  It's not their money.
4:33pm:  Now she picked a red and they start clapping again.  This game has stopped making sense.
4:35pm:  Why are people offering encouragement?  I'd be happy to leave that place with at least £100. 
4:36pm:  Actually, I'd just be happy to leave that place.  I'd take a lot to get me there in the first place actually.  Maybe some sort of kidnapping.
4:44pm:  Why is she crying and talking about her family and debts.  Wasn't this a 'happy' program 20 seconds ago.
4:45pm: Oh good, more nervous laughter.  I missed that noise.
4:50pm:  "Stand up if you would gamble."  Yes, because the audience matter.  Those clapping robots have a totally unbiased view on this, you know with them taking home some of the money themselves.  What's that?  They don't?  Then what's the point of this?!
4:51pm:  So she's basing her decision to win or lose a bit of money on a load of people who stood up.  What a great decision maker.
4:53pm:  Everyone cheer!  She's slightly richer than she was before!  This is a big part of your life and you should show it!
4:56pm:  Thanks mum, I didn't need those brain cells after all.  Whats next?  ...Come Dine With Me?!  I'll be over here with this noose.  Pay me no attention.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Probably only good for a rental

And just like that after three years of solid gaming, I've beaten the education system.  I didn't think much of the end boss, with it's huge difficulty curve, but overall it was a satisfying game.
First off, the NPCs in the game had huge dialog trees, and it really felt like you were forming a bond with them.  It seemed like each NPC had their own personality, and I didn't see a single repeated model.  The dynamic clothing system was also a nice touch which helped immersion.  The voice acting is also superb, although I didn't recognise any of the voice actors.  The facial expressions given usually match up perfectly to the voices which almost makes me wonder how such a perfect system was coded.
You need these NPCs to help you complete the many tasks the education system gives you, which are usually in the form of essays or code generating.  Some of them tell you about topics in the background while you play the drawing and sleeping minigames which I found really rewarding.  However, it is VERY important to pay attention to the information you're told, as you are tested on it at the end of each level.  This is easy enough during the drawing, but the volume turns down and everything goes black during the sleeping minigame, so it is much harder.  There's also something about the game which throws this minigame your way during the most important topics, which I thought was a cheap shot. 
At the end of each day you have the option to study what you learnt, allowing certain topics to be easily recalled whenever they're needed, or doing one of the many minigames the game offers.  These include increasing your social standing with certain characters,  playing one of the ingame video games, or taking part in the drinking minigame, which I'll talk about in greater detail later.
After each level, as stated, you are tested on what you've been told, but this grade is added together with your grade from other minigames given by the teaching NPCs.  You are usually told to go and write and essay using the knowledge you've been taught so far.  This is where the game really shines, as you can talk to the other characters and gain more knowledge, or you can go the evil route and steal their work.  Enter the influence level, which admittedly needs some work.  Certain acts gain bad influence, meaning the characters don't treat you with as much respect, and can even start to dislike you depending on the action you took.  This influence level can end the game for you if it goes too low, so it is important to keep it up, which doesn't allow for much experimentation with different methods.  Apart from this small point, it really shines through, as each character knows everything you did, and your actions sometimes get brought up in conversation, which was suprising to hear, and sometimes very rewarding. 
The customisation is another great factor of the game, as there is literally millions of combinations of clothing styles.  The game boasts hundreds of shops in the city you choose to start in, which each provide different unlockables for your character.  My only concern is once you take an item out of your wardrobe to throw it away, you have to unlock the item again.  I'm not sure if this was a bug or intentionaly programmed in.  You unlock items by spending money which you get given each year, and through more minigames.  The amount you get each year is determined on your character creation, and some stats you gave yourself, as well as your parents and family, so I hope you have a good background prepared for your character.    This money spawns at the start of the year and in installments throughout the game, so you should always have something to carry the game on.  If you unlock too many items, you need to play some minigames to get the monetary rewards.  This requires you going to one of the shops or buildings and asking if you can play the minigame.  Sometimes you get lucky and you proceed to play the games, but you can only play them at certain times of certain days, with each building having different rules.  Once you've unlocked yourself your clothes, you can also work on your appearence.  There are hundreds of different styles of hair styles and colours, with the hair length growing each day, allowing for a lot of change should you require it.
There is also a drinking mechanism in the game which gives you some really cool effects.  Once you drink a certain type of drink, the screen goes nuts, and your character gets harder to control.  You may see yourself falling over, shouting dialogue at others even though you didn't choose an option, or even jumping into bouts of dancing at inopportune moments.  A very fun distraction, but if this action is taken too much you start to become addicted which makes the game more about this mechanic instead of the education aspect.
All in all, it is a very rewarding game, but with a huge price tag of £3000+ a year.  I can only recommend this to hardcore fans of the genre as it doesn't seem to be for everyone.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The most annoying things about the World Cup

For those of you who enjoy football, The World Cup is a time to show your support for your country and to watch endless amounts of your favourite sport.  For those of us who can't stand the thing, it's a time of being kept up to date with, and being bombarded by the latest goings on with some athletes we don't care about.
Below are some of the things I have to look forward to every four years and which help to greaten my dislike of the majority of the human race.

Those damn flags:
Are the flags really necessary?  Chances are, we know who you're going to be supporting.  I don't see the point in sticking a flag out of the window or covering houses in the things, but apparently most of the population do.  A short trip turns into a loating for the colours red and white as you pass hundreds of cars sporting the flags.  Though it does allow you to preemptively know which houses not to visit.

No other conversation matter:
I don't like football.  I don't watch football.  I don't know any players in our team.  And yet I'm having discussions with my dad about what went on in that last hour and a half because nothing else has happened recently.  The country has ground to a halt to wait to see what happens with those guys halfway across the world. 

TV goes crazy:
Quality programmes?  Nope, here's a load of adverts about football.  News reports?  Nah, footballers are more important.  I can't remember the last time I turned on the TV to find something other than a football being onscreen.  Well...there was the time I turned over to see a show with the set covered in England flags.

The songs:
Every tournament, we get a buttload of easily forgotten anthems, the most popular being 'Three Lions'.  I don't know what brings people to wail about how awesome England is, but I want it to stop. 

Endless Facebook updates:
I only use Facebook here as it's the current social network in mainstream use, but whatever the network is, you can be assured every other message sent is in regard to the World Cup.  When something interesting happens, it's custom to go straight to Facebook and tell the world what just occured.  This isn't the thing that bothers me since it's the entire purpose of that box.  The annoyances start when a thousand others post the exact same thing.  If someone scores, I hope you weren't hoping for any interesting updates for the next few minutes as everyone goes to post their love/hate of the goal/player/team/all of the above.  I can't wait for the World Cup to be over so I can go back to reading about what meals people have been eating recently.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The things keeping me awake

- Reading over my Bioshock post, I found it wasn't that funny.  So, April Fools, I guess.

- If Jesus knew he'd rise from the dead, why didn't he have better miracles.  Walking on water is all good, but if you really want to screw with people you'd cut your own head off.

- What's the deal with easter eggs?  Eggs don't represent new life, they represent breakfast.  Or horny chickens. 

- Did people know what zombies were, or had they not encountered one before?  I guess they would have left out the part where Judas calls Jesus a 'frigging zombie' out of the Bible.

- They made Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  The next and most logical step is The New Testament and zombies.  Or is somebody working on that?  Would it be a faux pas to ask a priest about it?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

How not to get rescued from a plane crash

After looking out of the window for God knows how long, my boredom took me to my wallet. I don't know who I was talking to, but the topic of my parents was available to anyone listening.
I must have been going insane with boredom and needed some air. Sadly, if there is a God, he has a taste for the ironic. Air was exactly what I was getting, as the plane broke apart and travelled slightly more vertically than I anticipated. Down we went, and then under we went, as the plane hit the water. Struggling to breathe, I made it to the surface.
Around me, charred corpses and a ring of fire. Wait, a lighthouse? Convenient. As I made my way to the only dry land I expect to see for a while, I see remnants of the plane exploding and sinking. Serves them right for the crappy meals they served. And where the hell was that drinks cart? I sit back and watch the tail go under for a while, wondering how I'd go about getting my money back for the ticket.
After shouting out for any survivors, I walk inside the building. Behind me, doors shut. After figuring I just fell for Rule #1 of B-movie horror flicks, the lights come on to reveal the most poorly designed lighthouse ever. Who the hell changed the light at the top, and how the hell do they get there? All I see is a large man, staring at me from the wall. Well, I may as well look for a phone or something.
As I carry on, lights keep turning on to guide my path. Either someone's watching me, or this is some sweet motion sensor. I finally get to some sort of lift. Only it doesn't go up. I don't know if it was because I hadn't seen enough water yet, or because there was nothing else to do, but I got in. That was my first mistake.
As the sub lowered, I was treated to a film. Great, even in-flight movies in submarines have ads. After paying attention to a guy talk about politics or something (I was trying to find the remote) the window opened to show something I've never seen before.
A city! Underwater! Who built this? And why? They hired contractors to built this under all this pressure? Why wasn't this on the news?! The whale over there could just bump into a building and kill hundreds!
I heard an Irish man talking about my plance crash over some sort of intercom. Thank God, people. Maybe they can get me out of this deathtrap and back to land. I felt an unnatural hatred for water already.
As I rise to meet my 'rescuers', I see 'Johnny' back away from some woman. Hoping for a good punch up, I keep watching. What I wasn't counting on was the woman to stick a scythe into his gut. I quickly scan the area for weapons, finding nothing. Well...I always wanted to die inside a lift in an underwater city. I guess. Suddenly, the woman runs off, leaving me with the familiar voice coming from an intercom. "Would you kindly pick up that shortwave radio" Would you kindly get me out of here?! I just saw a guy get killed and you want a chat?
Luggage and picket signs were strewn everywhere in this room. It looks like I missed some party. After following the disembodied voices and noises (I'd be terrible in a horror film) my radio buddy tells me to find a crowbar to fend off the so called 'splicers'. How a crowbar is superior to a scythe I don't know, but it's not like there's much here. I find a wrench, hoping it fares high on the guy's 'List of tools to be used as weapons'. Moving on, a 'splicer' throws a flaming couch at me.
I guess this city has never heard of guns.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

I'm never touching Tequila again.

All I remember was a disembodied Russian voice talking to me about children...or something. I've never been one for remembering dreams though I remember a few words. Vault. Pandora. Guardian. I'm sure these won't be important. All, of a sudden...BAM! I jolted up to find myself on some sort of bus. There were only 3 other people and a driver, all of whom looked familiar? Were they at Dave's party last night? They probably stuck me on this bus to get me home, after the fifth tequila in a row. All it took was a quick look outside to tell me how wrong I was. Where the hell am I?! I've never seen this place before, and I think I'd know if I lived in a desert. Dave and his friends must have stuck me on a random bus as a prank. No big deal, I'll just get to the final stop, find out where I am, and go back home.

I turned to see what we'd hit, and saw some sort of dog lying in the road. I could have sworn it's mouth was messed up, or it had scales or something, but I put this down to travelling at fast speeds and the booze still playing tricks on me. I hope I never see what I thought I saw, because that was just terrifying. “Wake up!” I heard from the front of the bus. That voice sounded too familiar. I started to ask if he'd been talking while I was asleep, but he just started asking whose stop it was. I went to try to get back to sleep, when all of a sudden I had a woman speak to me. I thought it was the lady behind me, but she just seemed to be meditating. What happened next I still can't explain. It was like a hologram appeared in front of me and started talking to me. Either no-one noticed or it was normal business around here. Before I could discuss the implications of appearing like this, she told me to get off the bus. Did she not realise I was lost and had a plan? Or did she just want me to give up any hope of going home. Does this count as kidnapping, actually? Before I knew it, I was stood up, and walking towards the front of the bus. I went to ask the driver whether he was telling me stories while I slept, because that's just creepy, and realised I could ask him about this woman. Before I could decide which to ask, he tells me to get off his bus. Forgetting' his tip, I leave.

Recalling the 'conversation' I just had, the woman told me to meet a small, funny robot who'll guide me to my goal. There was nothing. Well, there was an annoying robot, who was pretty small I guess, but there was no way I was following him. “This way please!” he shouted. I turned away to admire the scenery. I saw a gun on the floor, which was probably rusted to hell. Firing a shot off at the robot, I found it fully worked. Excellent. Walking over to admire the damage, I found that the shot had done no damage to the robot, when I had a thought which terrified me. Maybe this was the robot I was meant to follow. Which meant my 'advisor', for want of a better name, had a terrible sense of humor. Sighing, I followed the robot's instructions. He was saying something about a station which stored my DNA. I must have missed the law passed to build these, as that just sounds like it'd be ripe with misuse. I don't even see the relevance for me. From the way the robot's talking, it'd only be useful if I was planning to be harmed during this trip. Nonetheless, I reluctantly touched the device, which seems like that's all I needed to do. The robot seemed happy. Wait, what was that he said about 'horrific death insurance'? I won't need that, right. Right?!

He didn't answer, and walked off, when all of a sudden I heard a rumbling, and a convoy of cars flew overhead, firing bullets in random directions. Damn, I'm not going to enjoy this trip, am I?