The Handheld Gaming Challenge: Preparation

This year I have decided to make big changes to my video game playing habits. Contributing to this are a number of factors, for starters I have a new job which is going to start taking up more of my time, I want to focus more of my energy into music and finally the general feeling that I'm wasting a lot of my time with console games, not getting much out of it. The weird thing is, I don't really want to quit completely. I'd just go straight back when I get bored and fall right back into the trap. This time I'm going to set myself a challenge and aim to stick to it for at least one year. I feel that it would be interesting to see if I feel any better off for doing so or if anything has changed. And so begins the challenge:

The Handheld Gaming Challenge!

Starting from the 1st of March 2015 I will exclusively play handheld only video games. Mostly this is going to be on my 3DS and iPhone, the idea being that I'm not sat staring at a TV for hours on end each day. I hope that since most handheld games are designed not to be played for huge hours at a time that it will reduce my overall gaming time. Included in this challenge is also a monetary challenge so I can budget better and reduce my total spend on video games. I will allow myself to spend £50 each month of video game items. This total includes physical games, eshop purchases, Amiibos (if I fall down that rabbit hole) and iTunes store purchases.

The only exclusion that I am allowing myself is that I am allowed to play console games with other people in the same room. For example, a few races in Mario Kart will not cause me to fail the challenge provided that I am playing in the same room as someone. I don't consider this cheating because this is only going to happen with my girlfriend or on the rare occasion my friends trek it over to my house.

So there it is! I am still in the preparation stage and I haven't yet purchased my games for the month of February. I also have a couple of days left to do any console related gaming I might want. I think I will be able to cope without for one year and I'm sure the cool videos on Giant Bomb will also keep me going.

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New Years Resolutions: Finish Things

Happy New Year everyone!

Right now I am putting into writing the changes I need to make in my life in order to fulfil a successful year. Either just so I don't forget, or more likely so I can look back at what I didn't do and grumble. 2013 for me was the year when I realised, life really takes over. I made some pretty big transitions life wise, starting off the year working at a record label part time, spending more than I earnt, playing a ton of games in my vast amount of free time and getting my soul destroyed by the music industry. Half way through I got a real job, making real money, a real relationship and a realisation my free time is starting to become a sinking ship. It was a good year really. It may not be the career of my dreams but hey, it's not bad.

With my job now taking over a big chunk of my life it's time for me to use this New Year to bring about some well needed changes:


I rarely finish anything. I had distraction issues as a child which has carried over into my adult life, annoyingly. I do lots of things, but I can never concentrate on anything hard enough to finish it. The main thing here and video game related is I buy games on steam all the time but never finish them. It's stupid I know, but jeez I have 140 games and have finished maybe 30%? 2014 is the year when I'm gonna give that list a beating. I want to play them, I know they are fun. But goddamn I do distracted. So that means I need to be:

2. Effectively Managing Time

Rather than waste my time on stupid websites (Facebook, links from Facebook, etc) I am going to make better use of my time to do more things. See my friends more, play games rather than just sit there, read books, read comics. Actually do something I enjoy rather than waste what time I have. It's definitely a skill, and may require some researching. I need to allow myself time to do some things because this year I want to:

3. Finish Something Major

So as to prove I can do something in my life, this year I want to finish what I've started. I guess that can be finishing off those pesky demos, find a singer for my band, finish that graphic novel I started writing, but something important to me.

I do hope I can stay true to the changes I'd like to make and I hope if anyone else has any goals like this that we all see them through! Apologies for this being not necessarily games related but I shall be doing updates as part of my never ending quest to finish my Steam games. Most likely entitled Steam Power!

Thanks for reading and may 2014 be a successful one for you all!


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Making The Digital Transition

So over the last few months I have been attempting to make the transition to a digital future by purchasing a gaming PC and stocking up on games via Steam. To be honest I am finding the whole process maybe more difficult than it should be. I will say that the games all run better. 1080p, and 60 frames is simply not possible on my xbox but there are just a few things I miss.

The first thing that keeps irking me back is the way everything on a console just works. Like I don't have to spend any time configuring anything. I just put the game in and it works first time. I have not had that experience on my PC. Granted I am not a massive tech guy but sometimes getting things to run in the most optimal way has been a bit of a challenge.

The second is clearly one of those mind fucking things. But I just find it harder to relax playing my gaming PC rather than sat on my sofa on my xbox. It is clearly a mind thing, but I just can't shake it. I know I can't sit on a sofa and play Company of Heroes but sometimes the xbox seems less stressful.

Finally, boxes. I really miss collecting the damn things. I already have a record collection I love and part of my brain is saying just stick to that but I can't help but want to clutter my room up with more shit!

It's tough. I really want to just get over this and move into the digital generation but I'm finding it hard. Has anyone done this and have they got any tips?


Impressions: Planetside 2

So the other day one of my close friends interrupted my Hitmanning with a message on steam, stating that I should download Planetside 2. I had never heard of it or seen any coverage of the game so when I questioned him on what the game was, he said it's Battlefield but bigger. Sounds interesting. So I go ahead and download it, check GB for any and coverage and there's only a few trailers. Turns out, the game is an free to play MMO where persistent battles take place on multiple servers. On each of these servers are three factions waging war for control of Bio Labs and Research centers that give strategic advantages to the overall faction competition. I thought it actually looked pretty cool.

After downloading I made my dude and was launched from space, pretty much straight into the action. At first I thought this was a cool way to get new players into the action and finding a feel for the game, but slowly descended into frustration as pretty much nothing is explained to you. I'm all for not treating the consumer like an idiot but I really had to rely on my friends to tell me all about the weapon unlocks, attachments and progression. That said there were intro videos on their site I chose not to watch.

I have to say my first hour with the game did not go well. The game looks pretty impressive with all these dudes running around attacking Bio Labs and such but after a while I kept thinking over and over. There's so many dudes! So many DUDES! Not being used to the game and the amount of people shooting at each other, it was pretty common for me to die over and over without really knowing what the hell was going on. I also found that the objectives onscreen where not very clear about what you have to do. Turns out it's quite simple, to capture a place get some dudes and stand inside the main part of the building. To defend, don't let the dudes in.

After playing for a few hours I did start to get the hang of things. I'm still not 100% how the unlocks work but from what I saw you get 1 cert point for every 250xp. You get xp for pretty much everything, 100 for a kill, repairing vehicles, reviving dudes and completing objectives. A new gun for example, would set you back 100 cert points and a new scope on that gun 30. Obviously everything you can unlock you can always buy with real money, and while the free progression feels slower than most shooters, the fact you can unlock any gun at any time is nice. You can also pay for cosmetic stuff which I don't think you can unlock.

As for the gameplay, Battlefield is a pretty good comparison. Taking a control point usually starts with my faction moving from our previously captured control point to the next in as many vehicles as we can. Then once we get a good hold in new territory, someone will drive in a vehicle that we can spawn from. Then all the dudes rush in and take the objectives. The length of time this takes can vary depending on defence. I will probably say that the vehicle sections are the most fun that I had. I have a feeling that it was due to the fact I could get multiple friends in a vehicle and go take out tanks or future helicopters. As infantry you die very quickly and was kinda sucky when playing in my group. Even though we were rolling with a medic and the other classes it was very hard for a group of 5 of us to all stay alive and be tactical. There really are so many dudes in the battle which weirdly made me feel a little isolated. Even though all these people were real people they die so fast it's kinda like COD where everyone around you dies while you soldier on. This might change as everyone starts to work out what to do.

Overall so far it's been one of the better F2P games I've tried. I might even write a review.

Thanks for reading!



Adventures in Age of Empires online

After getting back from holiday I have been playing Age of Empires online, much to my like and frustration. I haven't really played an AoE game since the first one and I have many happy memories, albeit old, of playing that game. So when AoE Online dropped I decided to buy the Egyptian pack and just go with it. I got to about level 6 or 7 before I went away on holiday for two weeks and now that I'm back I've been bang on it. As much as I've played so far I would definitely recommend it to people, whether you want to buy the premium civs or not. There is a surprising amount of content in there and if you want to go that extra mile and get slightly better shit and play pvp, it's probably worth it. As far as the RTS playing is concerned I seem to be having some trouble.

Now I haven't played an RTS properly ever, but I spent years of my youth playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sim City and Civilization. I have no problem micro managing villagers, building my base up effectively, all that general crap. My problem, at least I think it's a problem, is when it comes to combat. So you have units, and those units do damage, an example of this might be 20. Each unit, I think all but maybe not, has a bonus to another type of unit, for example a Spearman is effective against cavalry, a War Elephant is effective against buildings, normal stuff I believe for an RTS. It just really started to annoy me when ever I got into an epic battle. So I normally have a nice mix of units and in order to maximize the potential of my army it would make sense to send Spearman against cavalry and ranged against ranged. When I get into battle everything just becomes a complete mess, everyone just seems to attack whatever they're next to. Now please correct me if I'm doing this wrong, but I tried putting all my units into numerical bound strike teams and attempt to take out specific things that way. Did not go well at all. I tried a bunch of weird things to try and make my units attack what they should be attacking but it kept stressing me out. I hope someone can help me out here because I feel like I'm playing the game wrong, or maybe I'm just looking into it far too much. My other strategy is to just make 14 War Elephants and just go wreck shit up in the enemy base.

Now that may sound slightly negative but I actually really enjoy the game. Not all the quests are build an army and go fight which is nice and I do like the tech tree, although I imagine at the end you'll have everything maxed out. I would like to get into the pvp but I'm gonna save that until I'm at least level 25.

Hopefully someone can give me some battle tips please :)


RPG indecisiveness

So with Mass Effect 2 around the corner and Dragon Age still whirring around in my 360, I always like to have a little think before hand about the character class I'm going to play, in any RPG. The problem I seem to have and I don't know if anyone else does is that I always seem to regret my decision of the character I've chosen. Maybe I'm just an indecisive person, but I had to play the first 3 or 4 hours of Mass Effect before I could fully get into it with a character I wanted to play. Then I blasted through the rest of the game. Dragon Age was weirder because the origins stories made me think, well this story could be more fun or whatever. I decided in Dragon Age the mage story was the best so I went that way and about 15 hours from that I'm still going. Mass Effect however, was sooo hard to decide. Maybe I'm greedy and just wanted all the powers, it doesn't matter though. I've never played an RPG where I've felt I'm gonna be 100% satisfied with my character choice. Hopefully Mass Effect 2 will be easier for me to decide.


Resident Evil 5 Demo Impressions

Just finished playing the demo and for under 500mb, that demo is damn impressive. The graphics, whilst not finished I would assume still look really great. Really nice details very sharp looking. While there isn't really much innovation in the controls from the previous game its still very sharp, if its not broke don't fix it I guess. The game is still very tense as you can't move and shoot but the core movement is still solid. The aiming was far too slow for me and I had to change that but after it was great. I'm a bit mixed about the AI partner though, while she can be some help she seems to use up ammo really fast. I like to conserve and aim for the head with every shot, Sheva on the other hand pretty much blasts fools like a gangsta in a disagreement, on speed. Still, she was occasionally helpful, her saving me and me saving her is fun. I got a bit pissed off when we split up and literally 10 seconds into her moving down the building she was screaming for help, I hope there aren't too many of those moments to be honest. I did like the new equipment select and trading, seemed a bit Dead Space inspired and a good addition. Overall it seems like its the same Resident Evil I loved nearly 5 years ago, I'm sure there is more to whats in the demo though.
Also its worth noting I haven't tried the co-op, and co-op always makes games more fun. I can't wait to be screaming at my mates "I NEED MORE AMMO!!!!" or "GIVE ME HEALTH!!!!! NO THE GREEN HERB!!!!!" Yeah my friends aren't into Resident Evil.


Gears of War 2 and Fallout 3

So these are the big games that Ive been playing recently and though I have had trouble finding the time to play them from what I have so far they are both awesome. I never played Fallout 1 or 2 so the universe is completely new to me. I do however love Elder Scrolls games all the way back to Daggerfall, so while Fallout 3 is completely different anyone who has played an Elder Scrolls game before will feel right at home. The HUD is very similar as well as the conversation trees and animation. The Pipboy is very similar to the Journal in Oblivion which makes item and quest management a breeze. All in all the story is great so far and the combat is very tight, VATS is just amazing.

Gears of War 2 on the other hand, I had played the previous games and Gears 1 I don't think I have ever played through a singleplayer game so many times. The combat was so good and now its just better. The movement speed and shooting is so much improved while the story and campaign is miles better than the first. Ive heard a lot of bitching about the multiplayer and while I think the chainsaw is a bit too powerful the overall package is great. My favorite part has to be the party system, sometimes its a bit slow but it really matches you up to people your ability. The extra player is a cool edition making things a bit more hectic while the power weapons are just amazing, they do have a bit of a learning curve which means you won't get a mortor shot right every time, but they will blow shit up. The rotating weapons each round is great too letting you really make up tactics. My mate doesn't actually like the online because he feels its too different from Gears 1 but that might just be him being a purist. I came around to it fast and so did my other friends, you now have to aim with the shotgun which is a million times better and the non downing sniper is sweet aswell. I welcome the changes to be honest and am having a blast online at the moment. Hit me up if you want some games!


Mercenaries 2 impressions.

So I got Mercs 2 in my rental post yesterday and decided its alright. While I am having fun with it there are so many bugs that really start to annoy me. The one in particular is the AI stuff, especially the VIPs. While they really suck at doing anything and the mission design is really boring theres just something about the game that is just fun. While I don't think the bugs are as game breaking as some reviews say they are really annoying. Anyway the main thing is its pretty fun. Blowing shit up is awesome.


Geometry Wars and Soul Calibur IV

So this Wednesday I woke up at 7am and waited by my Xbox anticipating the release of Geometry Wars 2, which I have to say was worth getting up at 7am for. I quickly got into leaderboard fever seeing as all the menus display how well your friends have done and where you rank up against them. Its also interesting to see when they did eventually come flocking in, what scores they got and whether they beat any of mine. So anyway, if you haven't bought it already you really should because its definately worth the 800 points. After you've played through everything it does seem to fall flat like the original but again it keeps you coming back for various competitive reasons. One thing I will say that did annoy me however which is the same in Geo Wars 1 is the screen zoom. When playing Waves especially the camera seems way too zoomed in and if you get a wave that comes from the ceiling when your right down the bottom you have about a second to react. While this maybe part of the skill in the game, the Co-op (which is so fun) has the screen zoomed out so you make many less errors. I guess its not so bad seeing that everyone elses is like that, it just does get frustrating.

After many hours with Geometry Wars I decided to buy Soul Calibur IV on launch day and to my surprise it is way better than I expected. The first ever fighting game I owned was Soul Blade for the Playstation which brought back a ton of happy memories. Anyway I have yet to try out the biggest feature, the online, but I have played most of the Singleplayer modes. There is a lot to do when you start with all of the modes open to you, so the first one I tried was Story which funnily enough isn't really heavy on the story. It basically gives you some small background and ends with an epic cutscene but it is also very short, taking about 20 minutes to complete each one. While that may seems short you do have to do it for about 30 characters to unlock everything. The second mode I tried was Arcade which is your standard 8 fights to end which while seems pointless because you don't get anything from it, everytime you play as one character you level up their style and are able to make custom characters. The new mode which serves as most of the games weight is the Tower of Lost Souls where you pick characters and fight your way to the top. While I have yet to get very far, this is where you unlock all of the equipment for your custom characters and there is a lot to unlock. So I still have a lot more to play but Soul Calibur is definately the best fighting game I have played in a long, long time. It seems like a fighting game thats for people who don't normally play them, its very pick up and play and instantly fun no matter which mode your in.

Expect full reviews soon.

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