Just thought I'd share!
I've been an over-active consumer as of late - I sort of forgot that Halo 4 and Assassins Creed 3 were on the horizon (despite placing early pre-orders for both, something I'm not very accustomed with). There are always a few titles I'm on the look out for at a certain price - and if I find them, I order them, at least when I'm raking it in at work. Most recently picked up Batman Arkham City for 20 and Rage for 10, stupid really as Halo 4 and AC3 should keep me pre-occupied for a long time. Well… one more than the other most probably. Quick-fire opinion time!
Assassins Creed 3
As I said, I rarely pre-order games, that's usually reserved for franchises very close to the heart. Unlike Halo, I don't have many childhood memories of the AC series. But this game was hyped so prominently, eventually I got sucked in. Especially because I spent time in America during university, I found the story and setting equally appealing as the technical feats on show. But having played for a steady 6/7 hours now (still not that much, I know) - I have to say I'm a little disappointed. The story element and cut-scenes are fantastic and the game does a great job of delivering the narrative and creating an immersive bustling world - but I wouldn't say the former has really helped the game-flow itself. All of the setup hours felt like a tightly structured novel - the next day, six hours later, the other side of the Atlantic - how convenient. Now I know this was probably the most straightforward way to setup the game considering its scope, but as I've continued I've found this type of structuring hasn't really become any less prevalent. The world itself feels like a sandbox but the missions and delivery of narrative comes in a very boxed/constricted form - which also seems to (re) utilize a lot of old AC ideas: to me it's a bit of a contradiction. And not a major one, it just seems to take the sheen off what otherwise is a hugely ambitious game, for which it should be applauded. There are moments of greatness, but for me, it's not the perfect package, and not so much of a final-push of this gen's hardware as I'd have hoped.
Now this game has taken up the bulk of my time. I had no idea what to expect from 343, I expected a game on par with previous Halos in the way that Black Ops improved on Modern Warfare - technically distinctive, but generally perhaps not so much to distinguish at all. To the Halo fan like me, 343 start the campaign out in familiar fashion; they seem to be paying homage to Bungie with a lot of the sections which is great. But on top of that, I think they've re-invigorated the series. The Prometheans are a worthy additional set of alien foes - their weaponry is balanced excellently with Covenant and UNSC guns. In multiplayer this is most evident, especially the new powers like promethean vision - it feels like a smarter way of levelling and rewarding - it's not mindless machine guns and helicopter attacks like in CoD, all of the perks reward the fast and smart thinkers. I really love the addition of the killcam to most modes, and overall - multiplayer is awesome. I'm sticking with it because I'm sick of buying CoD each year. I'll stick with this till Halo 5 thanks! In terms of the campaign, I loved the first run through on normal. Great sense of flow from the different types of combat, excellent more human-centred story-line, much better cut-scenes and a much bigger sense of the Halo universe. About to continue my heroic run-through.
No time to really talk about Arkham City, it seems like a really polished game and I'm ashamed I held out for so long. Will be interesting to see what Creed 3 and Wii U Batman will offer as incentives for people already owning a 360 or PS3 like myself. Game of the year Arkham City is about £20 some places, the Wii U version will surely be double. Rage I have yet to play, but for a tenner, it was mainly for curiosity's sake.
In other random news you don't care about, I have new reference monitors and headphones on the way. I've also taken an interest to the audio of Halo (thousands of soldier audio dialogue, with clever algorithms to avoid repetition and so on) - which got me thinking about another area of music and sound which I'd definitely consider working in if I got the experience - audio engineering for video games.
I don't usually buy big games straight away: it's always seemed slightly foolish considering they decrease in price dramatically, often only after half a year or so. Most of the best games I've played this generation came at a fraction of their launch price: Halo Reach was 12, Red Dead Redemption 15, LA Noire was 12.99, Forza 4 was also. But this year I've been sucked in by a few titles: the first of which was Assassins Creed 3. The biggest deal for me though is my other pre-order this side of Christmas, Halo 4. Halo is a series I've grown up with, and especially now reviews have started coming in - I'm getting ridiculously excited. I would definitely pay full price at launch for a Halo game, especially such an intriguing one as this: it's 343's first Halo (not counting anniversary) and it's the start of a new three game arch which will conclude on Microsoft's next generation platform. But I'm already regretting Assassins Creed 3 at 30 pounds. Why? Well, despite all it's technical accomplishments, I can't help feeling a bit duped by the hype (once more) - it seems like a great game, very ambitious, perhaps not quite fulfilling its potentially, especially given the annoying glitches and problems I have already encountered. But for me, the main reason is, I can't justify spending full price just to get an early look in, - I picked up Rage and Arkham City GOTY last week because I was bored on the internet: combined total of 32 quid. Both of those may be getting on, but they offer a hell of a lot of content and fun, for a fraction of the price. So far AC3 has kept the wrapping on those titles, and it is nice in some ways to be one of the 'first' consumers to play the game, but ultimately.. I think it's better to reserve only a few franchises for dedicated investment as soon as the game releases. All of this pre-ordering malarkey is just getting worse and worse! Sometimes I wonder whether this sort of attitude towards game-purchases is quite detrimental to the industry (only committing to certain titles) - but at the same time, when there's so much mindless repetition and reproduction - it also just a smart thing to do surely. Even with AC3, which claimed to be a complete re-fresh on the series, it still re-uses/rehashes many aspects of the previous games.
Anyway, happy gaming everybody. It should be a busy week for those of us wielding 360/PS3s.
I've been getting back into driving games in a big way recently, after spending a good four or five years ignoring the vast majority of them. It started out with Dirt 3 which I took a gamble on because it reminded me of V-Rally which I played the hell out of on the N64. Found that to be a great game, so I looked into other driving games when I noticed the Forza Horizon demo on XBL. I love that for two reasons: a) it feels like a fresh direction for racing games it terms of the events (like racing planes!) along with the open world environment with sim cars, and b) it seems to be set in Colorado which is cool for me because I spent some time out there, I really miss those environments! Lastly I also picked up Forza 4 for 12 quid, and a friend convinced me to persist with fully manual and not assists - which once you get used to, absolutely transforms the fun of the game! No going back.
Also here's my latest track:
I recently spent a decent amount on some recording gear, a new keyboard and a better DAW (the apogee duet 2) which has been helpful for the music stuff. Which I can do lots of, with uni done with. Miss it already.
If you like the music please like/favourite/share and whatever, it really helps!
Just a quick blog to say howdy, please check out the latest track that I made. As usual, did it in the wee hours, and thus have successfully sacrificed an adequate amount of sleep before going in for my shift at work in the morning. Ah well. Just got a new keyboard (Novation 61SL) that has been amazing so far. I'm not a keyboard player so I'm trying to learn the ropes, it certainly increases the options which is nice. Next on the music equipment agenda, a proper condenser microphone for vocals.
Gaming wise, I recently played the Sleeping Dogs demo and I'm pretty tempted to give it a go. The arcade-slant on open-world formula is just great fun, feels like a throw-back to the times of Sega. Or at least that's what it did for me. Still looking for Wii games on the cheap, and failing. 360 games are so much more affordable, I keep picking up great games for around £20 - the Wii on the other hand, collects more dust.
A quick note on a game I just finished: LA Noire, in my opinion, is the best game of this generation by quite a margin. From a technical standpoint it is very impressive. The beautiful graphics lead enable a fantastic depiction of 1940s LA, the facial animation was amazing; the voice acting itself and audio in general is also stand-out. But the main reason I say this is because it represents a very fine-tuned balance between these technical achievements and the more organic components: story (which I applaud largely because it’s the first game I’ve played where narrative isn’t funnelled into the gamer’s gullet, you’re not treated as an idiot, how much you invest is up to you but there’s a very clever and complex story at the centre), innovation and so fourth. When the game released I wasn’t so sure whether I’d like a detective style game (probably not the first, but the first big mainstream of the detective genre?) I held back and waited for it to get cheap. But I have been really impressed by it. The only real criticism I think I have is that you sometimes the gameplay itself feels like a passive vehicle for the story to unfold, but even that in some ways should be applauded. I’m glad to see developers aren’t afraid to heavily invest in this aspect of gaming, in a world of mindless first person shooters. To me, while technically games have come on waves and bounds in recent times, I think some of the more organic components such as story have been neglected and under-estimated. Not that there also isn’t plenty of joy in ‘the princess has been kidnapped’ type of games that just set you on your way: but it’s great to see the heavier dramas start to arise, because they can be done extremely well, as LA Noire shows.
I would love a 2nd LA Noire, in the meantime, hopefully a lot of the first game will influence GTAV: it’s amazing how great Noire looks in comparison to GTA4. Also a Wii U port would be awesome.
Just a quick warning, this is a very detailed rant, couldn't think where to offload it.
I just received my undergraduate results and I’ve got a 2:1 (in English Literature and Creative Writing) but I’m a little bit disappointed with it. Some of you may know I did a year abroad in America at the University of Colorado, Boulder. After delving into my transcript, I found that my American grades translated back rather fishily. Over two semesters I got 1 A, 6 A-s and 1 B. I was led to believe (out there and also told at my home university) that this was very good. But the transcript reveals that not even my straight A (the maximum achievable grade, there are no A+ given) translated back as a 1st (i.e. 70% of a module). This also meant that my A-s translated quite a bit lower than I was led to believe, I was expecting them to be reasonably close to 1sts. It seems to be that this ‘translation call’ probably has made the difference between me getting a 1st in my degree overall, and the 2:1 I have received. This year I did very well. I’ve worked out that I was basically a few marks from the boundary between 2:1 and 1.
The most irritating thing is, there is only two weeks for me to do anything about it. I never had access to my translated grades until now, I had nothing to base myself on this year. All in all, I feel kind of hard done by. It’s really soured what should be a great day for me. I would be really happy with a 2:1 if that was what I earned. But I can’t help feeling I’ve been undercut; now instead of relaxing I have to spend the next few weeks emailing people, writing up my case for a formal appeal, battling it out against admins. I was told when I did my year abroad that it would not have a negative effect on my marks, I can’t imagine my life without that experience but considering how this has turned out, I think I’d have to discourage other people doing the same. Hell, I may well have to go my graduation and pick up a diploma that I’m still contesting. I’ve spoken to several people from my university and they all seem to think I have a good case (they can’t explain why an A hasn’t come back as a 1st and have admitted that seriously compromises things considering all the A-s I got in America), but apparently degrees are rarely altered in this situation. It’s heart in mouth time. Just when I thought it was all bloody over. Fuck paying for this shit. Maybe I’ll just move to the US and never pay off my student loan.
Having said that, I am thankful I have a decent degree. But I have to find out about this, otherwise I'll always be wondering.
My body clock has been royally screwed with by a three-week series of horrible all-nighters to meet final year deadlines. I definitely regret: not having my dissertation finished until the wee hours of morning on the day it was due, I also regret leaving my creative writing portfolio ‘because I already thought it was good enough’ only to discover a couple of days before that it was not. Beside those I’ve had a ton of essays to due. Honestly I’m so thankful everything is over now except two exams in a few weeks. Then I’ll be free to do the stuff I want to do (and have been doing anyway, at my works expense), with that in mind, here’s a Beatles cover I recorded at 3am today. A bit of fun, with a guitar solo at the end.
I’m looking forward to E3 immensely, also hotly anticipating Max Payne 3 which is out at the end of the month. In other procrastination news, everybody needs to buy Fez on XBL for retro/sprite/dreamy 3D goodness, it’s the stuff I dreamed would be in the future during the days of the SNES.
Hope everyone is well,
I’ve wanted to get serious about recording more jams for awhile, about five months ago now I got hold of some great gear (iMac, a good audio interface, Logic Pro 9, MIDI keyboards and so on) and now I think I’m getting the hang of things. Was going for something mellow to jam over. I love playing over things like this, and never happier than when jamming on my Deluxe Fender Strat.
And this years resolution is to write an album. I think this is the first track I’d be happy to add. Please let me know what you think!
Also I get to use this as coursework for part of my degree it’s for a film lit module about adaptation, I have to adapt a scene from Romeo and Juliet to music. This is supposed to be the balcony scene between Romeo on guitar and Juliet as the keyboard. Haha. English degrees..
Still have that dissertation to write, with SSX on the way soon..