Bottle kicking - got any weird local traditions coming up?

The coming monday is one of my favourite occasions of the year. An almost neanderthalic celebration of beer, violence and manliness with a high expectation of injury and inebriation.

It sounds horrible but at the end of every years event everyone celebrates and makes friends and we go back to our lives after an evening of feasting and drinking, it's kind of as close as we'll ever get to valhalla, and with the added benefit of not having to die.

rather than type out a length bad description of it ill link the article for description and ask ;

Any of you guys got any similar (or not) local traditions you enjoy taking part in?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottle-kicking

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30 Day Challenges - Day 02

Music day 02 - Least Favorite song

 
I really hate how stupid american English microsoft windows keeps changing my spelling to 'favorite' - ah well. 
 
  
   
 
On the surface this was a hard one - theres a lot of really awesome music out there, unfortunately for every awesome song - there are 12 shite ones! so narrowing it down to any one track is no easy task.  
However whilst it may seem like an easy target, the realization that of said 12 bad songs per good - 8 of those are usually written by Nickleback - revealed that holy shit! this aint too hard at all! The real hard part is choosing which mundane soul-less by the numbers wankstain of a track i could offer up! 
 Eventually decided on this track for the sheer fact of its "purely written to appear in a sofa sale advert" pacing - and the fact that Chad and co. are about as interesting and 'rock star' like as porridge. and that taking a 12 year old pre-pubescent view of fame - and wrapping it up in the most drab tones imaginable and offering it as a "with the subtleness of a sledgehammer" critique of the industry - does not a good song make Chad.     
 

Football day 02 - Least favorite match

 
  
     

Sat in Anthony Records living room, drinks in hand, celebrations flowing and ready to knock the old enemy out of the cup. Or not :(    
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30 day challenges - Day 01

So these stupid things have been floating around on networking sites - and while I despise them cluttering up my news feeds, one unified daily blog might actually give me an incentive to use this thing - (and maybe get the sup check quest?) 
 
So if you haven't seen them it's this dumb little thing where each day you are challenged to give your entry for whatever that days 'theme' is. 
There's a fair few going round so the two i will take part in are music, and football (soccer to you lot) 
 

Music Day 01 - Your favorite song

 
    
    
Odd choice, but it's the one song that I honestly can find no reason to skip whenever it comes on, even other songs i love i sometimes find myself not in the mood for! Not this one! 
It's a perfect mix of beautiful production on what's there, whilst 'sculpting with silence' around it. The simplicity of the entire piece just really resonates with me. 
 

Football Day 01 - Your Favorite Football Match

 
  
   
 Took a long hard think about this one, there were many contenders (though most of them are also up for 'match that makes you happy') the obvious goal heavy wins were also considered, but when it comes down to it - this match had me like a beaten housewife! such a range of emotions that at the end left me feeling sick, overjoyed, angry and confused. And i needed to change my pants.

Watching our lackluster defense in the first half was infuriating, watching arsenals trademark style of play being used to its full extent was conflictingly a joy to watch.
But the building feeling of confidence, a shared growth between the players on the pitch and the people in the stands, the steady roar getting louder and louder with every tackle - it was going to happen it HAD to happen - and by the end of the match, the fact we could have even gone on to win it did not matter any more.

This is the football match you show to people who don't like/know about football. This is the match that all cliches the commentators like to throw around actually produced. This is how unpredictable and emotionally rendering football can be. And in my time there has never been a match that shows it quite like this!
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GT5 - can impressions be trusted now?

So i threw this into a post on a recently brought up thread about GT5 and reviews - and it turned from a quick reply into something a lot lengthier - and as such i figured it would probably serve better as a blog post, if for no other reason than to draw any off topic conversation that stems from it into a place where it wont get derailed! 
 
In all honesty from the reviews i've seen Gt5 is exactly as polarizing as i expected it to be, both sides of the reviewing fence have stated the same facts and pretty much the same issues the key differences being in where the reviewers saw merit. 
 
Reviews like the IGN one and a couple of the lower ones are basically complaining it isn't call of duty :the racing game it's not modern enough, it's not got online xp for races.   
Users like Hitman (of course) and raymayne (dude is so passionate about the game he's felt the need to post in every gt5 thread with the same copy pasted comment - beginning to think he may be kaosangels evil twin)  are nice and busy looking at the internet for every available opportunity to come up with something negative.   people spending time laboriously frame by frame picking out bad screenshots for a game (which EVERY game has if you look hard enough - yes even on the mighty pc) in order to make other people feel bad about a game they enjoy.  
 
And of course there's the underlying elephant in the corner that most people are choosing to ignore in the cast of being able to be 'that guy' for 5 minutes. Most reviewers got the game on monday, online activated yesterday - is this really enough time to judge a game like GT5?   

Hell! even reviews that have pushed out reviews today based on playing online since yesterday and complained about it ; "It was really laggy" ; "I spawned in a race and everyone else was already racing" 
 Good job guys, making comments on a multi million selling game that has had an online existence for all of 11 hours.  
 I'm sure judging by some of the comments on HOW the online is implemented that it is a little antiquated, its a hardcore japanese as hell game on a platform not exactly known for its online features (not my belief but whatever i'll throw the naysayers a bone) thats been in development for 6 years - of course some of it's massive feature set may feel a little out of date but i'll ask this ; If people were to have reviewed Black ops based on the public first day internet experience - would its online have been as lauded as it is?  
Probably not. 
 
Now i do have gt5 in my hand, i have not played it yet and look forward to doing so. I have seen users on the site who i DO actually take stock in their comments (wintersnowblind . etc) commenting on feeling a tad disappointed with the game so far and as such i do go in with a little bit of fear - that twinned with the constructive as always resident trolls of GB "Lolz game is shit ; 8.5 thats gonna leave a mark" has left a tiny amount of tension in my expectations as the game installs. 
  
But then i remember that GT5 is not like other games, I remember WHY i spent a whole summer school holiday trying to gold every license on each iteration - as someone who medically can not drive cars GT is probably the closest I'm ever going to get to the chance to even take a fucking Nova past 50 MPH. 
 Sure there are other games out there - go ahead, check my profile on Gb and look at my achievement list, i'll wait.
 
I loved Dirt 2 and Motorstorm games, Burnout was essential this generation in my eyes - and of course forza is there. for all of the 3? achievements i got out of that before deciding to stick it on my shelf here and not play it again.  
I can't describe it it just didn't feel right - and i then went straight back to trying to own every car in GT4 (a task i am now abandoning due to gt5, but that was still ongoing) 
 
I get this probably comes off as a huge wank fest to Polyphony and GT5 in general , especially for someone who hasn't even pushed start yet - but the way i see it  if people like Raymayne and hitman and the other users can make negative and borderline offensive comments themselves, without having touched it! and reviewers are being payed to write up opinions about a quarter of a game they played for not even a day - then i guess I'm just as qualified to share an opinion as anyone else. 
  
So for every negative comment here, for every review that states insane design choices are the ruination of the game! let me throw a couple of things out here for you, after all remember my opinion can never be right because some people operate on facts and dont feel emotion and therefore i must be wrong because thats their opinion and opinions cant be wrong but mine must be (sic) 
  
First of all a couple of things ABOUT reviewing the game this is something i read a couple of days ago and i can wager that when this persons opinion of the game come sout, it will be a damned sight more reliable than any of the others and i bet a lot more positive. 
 
http://www.gamesradar.com/ps3/gran-turismo-5/news/gran-turismo-5-this-is-not-the-review/a-20101123152933288098/g-20070711154452396099  
 
Second is a link towards another games site posing the same question i have posed here about the validity of these 'early door but no earlier access than the public reviews' ;  http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=120094 
 
And finally, a review - a review that is not the highest scoring one, nor the lowest scoring and takes into account all the warts and bad things about the game. 
But also takes into account what MAKES gt5  a gran turismo, the feelings you get playing it that no other driving game gives you - and basically the opposite polar of the negative glass is empty views 
 
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2010-11-24-gran-turismo-5-review  
 
Anyway Tl:dr for most of you, but for anyone else that managed to read the whole damn thing i hope that it makes at least a tiny bit of sense. 

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Black ops, choppahs, moustaches and Kindey stones

 Wow, okay so here we go again, 3rd time is a charm! After having a huge ramble about chrome dying on me and making me lose 30 minutes of blogging - as my intro to the second attempt at blogging - chrome died again, so typing in notepad is how we shall do this, and everything else shall be hyperlinked in after!
 
So heres to attempt Number 3, I got Dylan on the Itunes and a cold one in front of me, lets take this shit on the road!


Now I'm not much of a blogger, in fact i have a pretty short attention span compared to most , and when I sit and think how awesome it would be to type up all this shit in my mind I also think "Fuck it" and then go play vidjya games!
However lately I have had a lot of time on my hands, like - a LOT of time! I'm currently in my fourth week off of work due to being infested with Kindey Stones - I'm not going to go into massive detail about it and besides, a pretty intense account and respons thread has already been made present.

As someone that absolutely DESPISES their job I am an avid supporter of time off work in any shape or form, but after all this time, I am fucking BORED STIFF! I have a pile of games left to play the length of my hair - but because my mrs wants to watch me play them all (video game stories have replaced soap operas for her due to all the exposure ive given them, can't decide if that's a good or bad thing) I cant play them. So it's sitting around now waiting for the hospital to tell me when they are going to operate and hopefully confirm and remove the stones - or tell me it isn't stones and then even more time off (hurray :s).


So yeah, I got time to kill and not much to do with it! My pile of games is reaching critical mass, and theres not a lot i can do about it to clear them up :-
 
CastleVania Lords of shadow
Call of Duty Black Ops
Fallout New Vegas
Mass Effect 2
Red Dead
Fifa 11
Just cause 2
Vanquish
Enslaved
Final fantasy 13
Transformers
3d dot game heroes
Mod nation racers
Shank
Pac man Dx
Lara Croft and the Guardian of light
Borderlands
Sam and max season 3
 
Honestly there is probably a ton more that i have forgotten, but i've noticed that (apart from black ops) I am more than able to blaze through a FPS game in a matter of a week and get the platinum / S rank i desire, but anythign more than that seems to make me lose interest as soon as the next thing arrives - i get the feeling i should be more concerned about that than i actually am.
So the natural thing to do is to go and preorder Gran Turismo 5 as well, I actually despair of myself some times.
 
Anyway i spent yesterday afternoon talking to  - wait a minute, I've just realised all the 'Embed' tools on the site are down, well that's a bit shite! alright nevermind I'm working in notepad anyway, where was I? Ah yes I was talking to Sweep! about some of the finer English traditions we have partaken in over the years and we got to the subject of blogging which is an art that man has down to a SCIENCE! I came to realise that i really have not blogged very often other that to share a purchase, or one lengthy morality based blog when i must have been in a fruity mood.
Sweep convinced me that maybe there was more to life than sitting and watching clips of Kindergarten cop all afternoon (something i had been doing that day) and maybe I could be doing something more productive, so I thought fuck it, lets do this shit.
I'm not sad though, one cool by product of this is that i get to post Kindergarten cop clips throughout the rest of the blog!
  
  

  
Besides the Kidney stones thing's actually dont look too bad! i finally moved out from the hell hole i lived in with my parents and now own my own place (well ok, me and the mrs share it but she knows who the boss is!) Admittedly it took my parents breaking up, my dad trying to burn my mother alive and going to jail and everything going a bit tits up to make me realise that maybe i should get the hell outta dodge! And yes now i've comitted myself to a monthly fee i need to pay - i HAVE to stay at the job i hate :( but you work with what you've been given and when god gives you lemons YOU GET A NEW GOD 
- and i figure i've salvaged an alright result from a pretty terribad situation.

 Probably the greatest thing about this new place is how awesome my gaming setup now is! Before hand i was wedging a 47 inch screen, all my consoles and a surround sound into what was basically a fucking box room. It was just about bearable but not ideal!

 
 Old joint


This new place is still pretty small (recession dawg) however its just a lot tidier for all my shit! My surround speakers are now in surround places and i no longer go blind while playing!  




Admittedly i still need to find a decent place for my consoles - however I'm confident that for now, the floor shall suffice. 
 



 And the less said about the pile of cables keeping my internet running, and the trailing surround cables across the floor - the better,  but hey for a start it's alright ! i keep it clean, tidy, the mrs does the cooking, and then bitches whenever i have one of my bi-weekly fifa nights.
 



Things could be worse.


So one game i DID manage to get around to completeing was the newest Medal of Honor and you know what? it was not as bad as i was lead to believe by a lot of people.
 
I mean it was short, and tier one was complete BS, but I actually really enjoyed the multiplayer on it even if it was a bastard child between Battlefield and CoD.
The offensive and defensive streaks were a great idea, and having overall team input contribute to them rather than solely kills was another good idea.


The weapons just felt a little off i guess, though the sound was (as always form dice) phneomenal, seriously that studio knows how to make good sounding games and they really dont get enough credit for it!
The single player was not too bad i guess, there was one mission in particular that was fucking Ace - the last 10 minutes of the 'Belly of the beast' mission had a knot in my stomach tighter than anything an fps has thrown at me so far, obviously no spoilers and all that jazz but i thought that part was really well implemented, and totally sticks out as a part fo the game i'll remember - which is a victory in itself for the game i guess!
I'll get a review up sometime soon or something.
 
  
   
 

So GUNS ARE A THING!?! 
Seeing as we are on the FPS trail i might as well throw this little snippet in here, I am LOVING black ops, i mean i havent really touched the single player yet, been too busy whoring the shit outta the mutliplayer (once i finally got my ps3 in a dmz - only way i could play with friends) and man Treyarch really thought a lot of shit through on this one, every gripe i had about mw2's multiplayer (which i played and prestiged for several hundred hours) has been banished - like thoroughly!


The fact that killstreaks dont effect eachother, the fact that the perks are arranged in such a way that they balance eachother out! The fact that grenade launchers stop you form being naded at spawn by being held back for a few seconds ; the fact that CoD points basically make it like my other favourite FPS of all time, COUNTER STRIKE! and it has motherfucking GUN GAME!
- the fact that the customization options are above and beyond what many fps's outside of halo offer, and the awesome theatre mode, It's just really impressed me how well though out stuff is (now that it's actually working)


Speaking of theatre mode, I totally have one gripe with the multiplayer, the fucking gunship man! i know a nuke was a game ender and that has been removed, but jesus christ every time I get a gunship it is game over!!


I managed to rip 3 videos from my gameplay yesterday showing how fucking ridiculous the gunship is heres nuketown :- 
 
    
    

 
  
   

And okay I guess nuketown is a small map so that kind of devastation is warranted but what about on a larger map? say.... WMD?
 
  
  

Nope it's still ridiculous - and even more so when you can get the damned thing in a care package - but you know what? Imma troll you here and say im lying - i actually love the gunship there is NO excuse for getting raped by this shit, all it takes is someone on your team of up to 9 people to pull out a missile launcher and then BAM my play time is over.


As you can see in the videos that never happens, maybe people are retarded that i get matchmade to, but god-damn no one has every killed my gunship and the match hsa always ended!
First thing i do when I see a chopper in the air is think of Ryan davis, then pull out my strela and the asshole slucky to get a kill - and i get 400xp 


CARRY MORE LAUNCHERS PEOPLE


Anyway i should probably wrap this shit up, but before i do, we are nearing the end of the month, how is your no shave november going?
Admittedly i cheated and shaved about 5 days into it when i got admitted to hospital ( i needed something to do, those places suck!) but as of this morning im getting back to my standard facial fuzz - dont think it'll reach critical mass in time, but it's getting there!. 
 


 


Anyway that's that, i'm not gonna make a stupid promise like 'IMMA BLOG ONCE A MONTH' because i'll be back at work (or back in hospital) next month and have no idea how much time i'll have, but this has killed a couple of hours for me and in that i think it's justified.
 
  
  

MVP!!! 
x
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I wanna be the guy!!!

THAT MEETS THE LEVEL DESIGNER FOR THE KIDS LEVELS ON SUPER MEAT BOY

 
So i can tear his fucking head off! 
 
Seriously!  
  
I woke up this morning after what was probably the most overly hyped (and by proxy, crushingly boring and disappointing) Boxing match for a long time! 
Over in the Uk we have 3 boxers that get the mainstream attention :- Ricky Hatton ; David Haye and Audley Harrison 
 
Hattons pretty much vanished into nowhere since his good old Cocaine Mountain adventure, leaving the other 2 to be the mainstays of the sport for the nation. 
  So it was inevitable at some point in an attempt to drum up a spectacle , they were going to have to fight eachother!   

Now anyone worth their money was plotting on Haye to absolutely kill harrisson, who's only claim to anything is "I was a good olympic boxer"   
Whereas Haye, the sky is the limit for that lad! 
 
So last night we sat in a dingy old pub, having payed extra for the privilege of watching the fight IN FULL 3D 
Spoilers to follow :- 
  
Seriously, all the 3d glasses did was :- 
  1. Make the ropes look like they were sellotaped onto the front of the tv!
  2. Make my friend look like jeff goldblum
 


 

We got there 4 hours before the fight, making sure we got a seat, for a good month or so this fight has been being billed as the biggest of the decade, everyone was there, we were lucky to get a seat despite our pre-emptive strike!  So naturally we need to drink, a lot, before the fight begins. 
Fast forward four hours, at least double that in beers and a handful of shots in between and i am well and truly trolleyed! especially taking into account i haven't drunk for well over a month because of Kidney stones! (though that's a story for another time!) 
  
So the countdown for the fight is finally happening,t he fighters enter the ring, this is it! the moment we have been waiting for! and then!!!!!!!! 
 
Nothing 
 
For two rounds they sit and stare at eachother and occasionally pretend they want to hit eachother - though for 2 rounds, no one actually throws a punch!!  
  
I have money riding on the 7th round being the one to contain a Haye Knockout, so even if the show is lacklustre, im more than happy for it t ride out a little longer 
 
Then in the 3rd round, this happens 
 
  
  


And that was it, game over, good night vienna! the jig was up!  
4+ hours of drinking for 5 minutes of nothing, then the softest technical knockout i've ever seen, i was angry, drunk and disappointed, but mostly drunk! 
So we carried on drinking for the next 6 hours and i stumbled home past 5am, and woke up nice and early, hung over as hell. 
 
So by now if you are still reading, you are probably wondering what this has to do with SMB or IWBTG - well the kicker is that my ps3 is dying a death, and the last port of call before it gets replaced, is me performing a total system restore on it, a process that takes upwards of 5 hours, so i decided the perfect sunday hangover cure was to let the ps3 sort itself out while i played super meat boy! 
 
No harm there, so bottle of water and sick bowl in hand i booted up the 360 and within 10 minutes had found a warp zone, It was the kid, i had heard legend of its taxing difficulty, and i was in no state to take it on, but i perservered 
I was greeted with this 
 

I wept, i cried, but as i had 4 hours remaining til my ps3 was operational i stuck at it. 
I eventually finished the first level of the set after about 2 hours, and that sucked, because it meant i had to stick at it now, no matter how pissed off i got - maybe an hour into the 2nd level i beat that too - and it wasn't long before level 3 lay at my feet - half an hour after my ps3 was ready. 
 
Of course the ps3 was still fucked, i still need to replace it, and im still hungover - but at least i unlocked the kid, But the level designer? fuck that guy, hes an asshole!
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Just cause 2 and moral choices done right? (or is it possible?)

So recently I've been playing through Just Cause 2 and really enjoying myself whilst doing so - admittedly I have not done any more than the first faction mission available, but the other several hours have been thrown into '100%ing' as many of the locations as possible (yes there is a trophy involved) 
 
Now i know what you are saying -  
"But Omega, this is titled really misleadingly, making me believe there's a discussion about the implementation of morality systems in games, yet here you are talking about trophy whoring an open world game!"  
And this far you are correct, however bear with me, this story leads somewhere! 
  

The foreplay  

So as i mentioned before - this game so far for me has been a sandbox city takeover simulator, however one particular aspect of this game that can kind of grate on you especially on the hardest mode, is that once you generate HEAT (wanted level) it is kind of hard to lose it without dying and starting over.  
The reason this occurs is that usually to '100%' an area, you must blow up a substantial amount of targeted buildings which count towards your completion, so whilst your simple item collection may go completely peacefully and un-noticed, as soon as you blow up that first radio mast or gas station? it is ON motherfuckers! 
 Another water tower meets it's firey demise (i know i don't get it either) 
So after raiding a military base last night i managed to escape my HEAT by stealing a Helicopter (sorry Ryan) and flew over the skies of Panau.  Casting my gaze over the horizon a thought dawned in my head,:- 
"Wouldn't it be totally awesome if i just flew over all these areas that have shit for me to destroy, and use this helicopter to blow the fuck out of everything in advance" 
Knowing full well that my superior piloting skills (and unlimited missiles) would help deal with whatever Panau's finest could throw at me i decided this was naturally the best way to go about business, and made my way towards the nearest town. 
  

The Crime

 As i neared the edge of the small ill-populated shanty i hungrily eyed the generators and petrol station sat near the docks - normally upon blowing these up the coastal patrol boats would go nuts and i'd be hosed with 50. cal before i could get my parachute a decent distance from the scene of my crime, but not now not this time!  
I levelled my chain guns and missiles at the general area of the buildings and squeezed my l1 and r1 triggers the resulting explosion and chaos reward was every bit as satisfying as i hoped. 
Naturally the Heat appeared and taking out the approaching patrol boats, soldiers, nuking the streets of the town and taking down anything that remotely looked like a helicopter (including one particularly unlucky albatross) led to me being the victor, the HEAT disintegrated almost as quickly as it had appeared, and a calm descended over the wreckage of my labour as the sun gently lowered over the ocean.

The Aftermath

I still needed to scour the area for collectibles, now able to do so peacefully without worrying about pissing off any popo-50 i landed my helicopter in a vacant field and made my way through the streets. 
The fire from burning vehicles, both civilian and military was strewn across the streets - bodies lay piled on the road twisted under collapsed portions of towers and stations - I stopped to take stock of the scene, and felt.... nothing, nothing at all! i picked up any collectibles in the area and once the meter read 100%, jumped into my cockpit and flew a km or so to my next target - the story repeated. 
 
So after the 'cool story bro' above i began thinking to myself about why i had felt no remorse in my - lets face it - act of mass genocide, maybe i was de-sensitized by all the brutally violent TV/FILM/GAME i had been fed?
No that cant be it 
Ok maybe i was influenced to do wrong by good for nothing musicians in rebellious rock groups or Gangster rap? 
Nah probably not.  
  
I came to the conclusion that the reason I did not care was because I had not yet been given a reason to, these 'people' this 'populace' were merely window dressing they held no weight in the world which I was immersing in other than to try and dissuade me from going too nuts, and to maybe add a little bit more authenticity to the world. 
At the end of the day as long as I got what I wanted out of my experience, I was willing to do whatever the hell i wanted to this population with no fear of repercussion.
 


 Another group of 'innocents' about to sacrifice themselves in the glorious name of Omega

          

In other games

So taking this one step further, are there actually any games that do the opposite? are there any titles out there able to successfully make you hesitate on the trigger - to think about your actions before following through? Most follow a tried and tested format of  
  •  Kill the terminally ill charity donating organic lovable rogue and get his awesome green shirt
or 
  •  Don't kill him , remain green shirt-less however have smaller horns and people don't shout 'JERK' at you as often
Its a tough decision that has troubled us for generations but perhaps the Penny Arcade guys had it summed up best in a comic referencing Infamous
    

Whether in treatment of NPC's, or scripted 'Moral events'? i had a hard time coming up with a list of games that in my eyes qualified as 'effective' in this area. Here's a run-down in no particular order of the games that i think manage it well.
                     

Games that 'pull it off'

 1.  Fable 2 
 
Fable 2 is a bizarre entry here, and if i had the time or willing i would add it to both this and the 'ineffective' list, however I'll spare the multi post and give both accounts here there are times when Fable 2 is so cookie-cutter format in its execution of morality that it's almost a no brainer - do you help the nasty thief steal something or tell him to go away!? decisions decisions (although one particular quest involving the jilted ghost lover really did take a nasty turn)
However due to the 'generation spanning' that the game features, the effects are more on a grander scale, investment in property and control on prices and other general attributes can all cause dramatic shifts in the landscape as the game progresses - by the time i got towards the end game of Fable 2 i had spent a significant amount of time checking all my constituency territory and making sure all residents were as happy as could be while remaining profitable - I'd even managed to stay faithful to my 2nd wife - after learning my lesson with the first, who left me with the kid after I returned with an std from a semi-bored trip to a lady of the night, and informed me she was leaving me.  
 
 
 Not to mention the 'Dog' element.


Whilst the minor characters such as the dog, any potential family, and the residents of any land you owned were by themselves, relatively small enough that any impact any individual one could have would be unimportant, they all added up to a world in which you may at least find something to care about - even if it is for purely financial gain. 
 
2. Heavy Rain 
  
Now before we get into this, can i just make clear that this is not one of the ' OMG THIS IS THE CITIZEN KANE OF GAMES' kind of impressions, i do love this game dearly even with it's flaws - but for now the discussion is going to be on the way it makes the player consider their options and interactions with the world around them using solely the set-up of scenarios, its portrayal of characters and the way you really can't 'sit' on a decision that doesn't always necessarily have the desired outcome. 

Whilst being as vague as possible to avoid spoilers, there was a scene in the game in which a character I had just started interacting with was getting edgy - His personality was hard enough to read as it was and my presence was not helping matters. 
I wanted to get some information out of him, however my dickhead partner began to take things into his own hands and getting heavy handed on the subject. 
His gun was prized free and a stand off occurred in which i found myself tossed up with the decision of taking a shot at this lunatic  -or trying to talk him out of it. 
 
I'd already had some success with negotiating earlier in the game and decided to try to be the diplomat once more, but the camera angles were quick and constant in change - the music shrilling up to a crescendo of panicked violins, the buttons determining my options became fuzzy and out of focus and were moving rapidly, i was finding it hard to find the right thread needed to calm this situation down and began to wonder whether I should pull the trigger, as voices and tempers rose I appeared to have locked in on this guy - when all of a sudden he turned and reached into his jacket. 
I went to take a shot, and fumbled my controller.  
What happened next made me realise that there are unforeseeable consequences in this game and that every person i interacted with, no matter how minor their involvement in the overall plot, needed to be treated with the utmost care if i wanted Ethan Mars to find his son. 
 

 Lets play "Good cop - Asshole"
Of course none of this event would have mattered if the setup had not been as stellar as it had - early on in the game i found a good understanding with each character, i saw their motives, i saw their feelings and i saw how i wanted to mould them for my story - for that was Heavy rains beauty, every character to an extent was a cliché - however there were MY clichés.  
The world was so well realized, the characters so endearing, and the environment so intractable that you could quite literally take a character and live the experience through them - that twinned with the weight carrying throughout the whole game that at any moment you could mess up  -people could die, the outcome could be bad- you COULD fail the game but not get a game over, instantly gave this game a level of care that made me weigh every decision against my moral compass. 
 
3.
The Hitman Series 
 So this is a surprise huh? what on earth is a series of games, made before this whole morality system malarkey became fashionable? But once again there is method to my madness ahead. 
 The hit-man games are all about killing- killing lots of people, for money. Not your typical place to find soul searching and to a degree this is kind of a red herring entry, there was no emotional attachment to 47's state of mind as regards killing innocents (he has no emotion)  
The Npc's were not so well realized that i felt bad for killing a single mother, a widowed father, an orphaned child, nothing of the sort - in fact , sometimes people would end up more hurt or framed for my involvement in their existence. 
No, what made me think more about killing innocents, or treatment of particular characters in a level than in almost any other game out there, is the fact that going nuts and killing people was just not professional
 

 1 grenade and this would be a very different picture

For each mission there were ratings associated - based on whether you killed a lot of people or whether you left them sedated - on whether you slaughtered innocents at will, or whether you walked in met the target and walked out without anyone noticing.  
Maybe it was the perfectionist in me but I was unable to settle for anything else but a silent assassin rating in any level they gave, enemies were no longer all instant kill threats that I would do away with whether I needed to or not ( Splinter cell conviction is a recent game that is the opposite of this) i began to go through levels aiming to minimize casualties, both hostile and civilian - and if there was ever an occasion where a stable boy may have to die in order to not witness a crime, or a cellar sweep needed to lose his conciousness so i could have his uniform it was always a last resort. 
 
Maybe that entry is cheating a little seeing as it was all for personal gain that i tiptoed my way around and let people live - however it was a lot more effective in getting me to act differently than in titles such as Infamous or Bioshock in which my moral actions had no real effect on the world, and were based solely on which trophy run i was doing. 
  
4. Dragon Age Origins
 
So maybe an epic ass RPG like this is kinda at an advantage already when it comes to this kind of thing - however similar games in the genre reduce morality to 'Kick out of a window or not' choices. 
 
Dragon age managed to earn a spot here by doing away with a morality meter altogether - maybe it was careful planning that the grey wardens occupied the grey space between right and wrong, or maybe it was a coincidence - but the fact that there was no inherently 'correct' option in any particular situation made me react solely based on personal feeling on the scene rather than :- 
"I'm playing the good character this run through so ill click on don't kill the virgin mary option"  
And most of the time a lot of consequences came out of things I would never have anticipated - similar to Heavy Rain.
 
    

How to spur the advances of a Bi-sexual elf...       
There were of course two more aces up Dragon ages sleeve - one of them being that the nature of the decisions made was far above those normally faced in a game. 
Stumbling upon a defenceless succubus - draining the life from a mortal man who was destined for nothing would normally result in me painting the walls crimson with demon blood, however when it turned to me and reasoned that this man was not going to achieve much in life .
He was destined to be poor, to be ill and to eventually fade with nothing, while in the comatose state it had put him in he was rich beyond wildest dreams, he would live a lifetime in blissful ignorance in his mind where he had a family, a loving selfless wife and a life that is far beyond anything he could achieve in reality, until the point it had drained him dry. 
This reasoning caught me off guard and forced me to think about the difference between the 'mercy' life he was being handed at the cost of his own - versus the fact he was essentially being murdered - the man had no say in the matter and all i had to go on was my own judgement - for your curiosity's sake - i let that succubus live. 
 
The final thing that gives Dragon age its flavour is the personalities it paints for the characters - they are all so varied and there are so many of them that you are able to custom build a party of your favourite personalities to accompany you through your journey , the banter between them and the ability to put as much effort into developing them through personal missions gave you the ability to create as much a relationship as you wanted, without it ever seeming forced and most of these characters were an absolute joy to have around (until Morrigan decides to start turning into spiders for fun - bitch) 
 

Conclusion

Looking over this little blog I think there are  ways to make interactions with characters, whether major, minor or NPC's important, there are ways to make your interactions with the game environments more meaningful and immersion that little bit better. 
Sometimes we may need to cheat and that 'care' may be based solely on a personal level (see hitman) however examples like Heavy Rain or Dragon Age provide ample development at a level far beyond :- 
Option A = better loot so that! 
   
But for every game that does it well, there's a game for which moral choices are literally a tick in the check-list of requirements for games nowadays - do you think it would be better they were not implemented at all if they were not done to a deep enough level? or is the ;window dressing morality' a harmless addition to a game as long as it doesn't intrude on fun? (a la just cause 2) 
 
Special mention goes out to the Playboy X / Dwayne scenario - while i didn't care much for Gta4 - The story between those two was good enough that i decided that Playboy was a complete Punk bitch 
 
Yeah i iced that fool too
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Finally received my tournament edition stick!!

So I'm probably a little behind the curve here (read as - very far behind) - but today i finally received my Street Fighter Tournament stick!  
 This probably barely qualifies as news amongst the sf4 community, most of which will have snapped up their sticks as soon as readily available - however it;s been a long and windy road to get to this stage for me, and i feel happy enough in order to make a lengthy blog post - so there! 
 
So i pre-ordered Street Fighter 4 when it was released for my Ps3 - and decided to shell out for the Special edition (totally not worth it by the way) i got the awesomeness of the game itself - however the 'street scene and action figures' have never left the wrapper, and the animated film is - ummm, i have no idea where that went! 
  
So after playing Street fighter 4 for a couple of months i was getting pretty proficient at the game and had all the trophies for the game barring the Trials (seriously, fuck those) and was considering buying a Stick to help improve my game, the beef being that :- 
 

  • They are incredibly expensive
  • They were Damn hard to come across due to the random Arcade stick shortage of 2009
 
Yes over here in England they sold out almost immediately, and 2nd hand (read as touting bastards) were selling at 300/400 pounds +! 
 
So i plodded on with my dualshock and enjoyed myself, until eventually other games started coming out and i ended up falling behind the more skilled players, the guys i played with on my friends list moved on and playing against randomers occasionally resulted in (my) tiger destruction. 
 
So fast forward a year later and i had acquired a 360 to sit by my baby  - and a new opportunity to get into SF4 arises with Super being released, a fair few of my friends pick up the 360 version so i decide yeah why the hell not and slam down the dollar to get that version - after a few days im getting back into the swing of things, and loving the new characters, Ibuki, dudley, codey being my favourites so far- however as i'm sure you guys know, the 360 D-Pad fucking SUCKS DUDE 

Despite my sparring partner - Tanuki - and his best efforts, i was still getting my ass handed to me over and over and over - simple things such as cancels and charges and quarter circle moves were suddenly dices with death and lady luck as to whether the d-pad would do what i wanted it to, or whether it was gonna make it up as it went along. 
 
So a little bit of soul and price searching led to this being at home today after i finished work :- 
 

 
There was a random Black cat on my bed right next to where i keep my lucky cardboard box, i decided to keep the cat and call him Kato.  
 
No in seriousness, my TE stick had arrived, i decided to tear it open and take the obligatory opening pictures to post - beaming with giddy pride as i saw the awesome presentation  
 



 
So now i get to learn how to play and suck all over again - though hopefully it will be more bearable than trying to do two successive half backs - not even gonna mention any of guiles ultras  -_- using the standard d-pad. Im fully aware its gonna take a while to adjust  - and im  now gonna have to buy any fighting game that comes out to justify my purchase  - but ill be damned if it wasnt worth it just for the awesome factor and how sexy it looks next to my other equipment! 
 

 

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Little bit of both

Finally got round to platinuming Smackdown vs raw 2010 and tomb raider underworld (i know) and am making my last 2 runs through resi 5 for that platinum
 
Working my way through Demons souls for a platinum, however falloutt 3 and oblivion are getting some playtime on the 360, and Matt Hazard, Dirt 2 and Bayonetta all just turned up for my 360 - im trying to get all of these done before heavy rain , god of war 3 and mass effect 2 - but kinda struggling! 

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