Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Byte: So, I lied...

I'm totally not going to shut up about World of Warcraft. Well, blame the games industry for not putting out anything else on PC worth playing at the moment. Okay, I guess there is Sins of a Solar Empire, which I'm currently reviewing for Videogamer, but I don't really want to pre-empt what I'm going to say in my review here. So you're stuck with me banging on about Warcraft. Sorry...

I spent last night boosting Richard's character with Shareth, since now I don't really have anything better to do with her, other than reputation grinding. We knocked off half a dozen or so "red" quests (i.e. quests that are five levels or more tougher than your character) and got Charlatan from level 32 up to level 34 in just a couple of hours. I even got to partake in a bit of merciless ganking, as some horde idiots made the mistake of going for Richard when they thought I wasn't paying attention. One or two hits later, they knew better. BECAUSE THEY WERE DEAD. There was even an opportunity to do a bit of revenge killing just outside of Southshore, as a level 61 Tauren Hunter was ganking people in town, and just generally making life difficult for people landing at the flight point. So I stealth into Cat form, sneak up behind him, Pounce (so that he's stunned for a few seconds), Mangled his bovine ass a couple of times, Maim (stunning him again) and then did a Shred for the coup-de-grace. He didn't even set his pet on me, not that it would have made any difference... I slaughtered him in six seconds flat and didn't take a single hit. And my gear is shite. If I had epic gear, he never would have known what hit him. His corpse was still lying there over half an hour later, so I'm guessing he logged off or switched characters, feeling a little miffed. I guess doing the swinging paw dance in Cat form over his corpse was rubbing it in a tad. But hey, at least I didn't teabag him.

Rich and I did get a little pissed off with a Blood Elf Paladin, though, as we were making our way past Tauren Mill. He kept ganking Charlatan (one hit kills, he was a level 70), but ran off like a coward when I jumped him in Cat form. It only cost us five or ten minutes of boosting time, but still. If he'd actually stood and fought me, I probably would have been killed (as I only PvP in the game world and don't do battlegrounds), it was just the fact that he ran away from a fair fight that irked. Ganking is par for the course on a PvP server like Zenedar, but not following through on a fight when you initiate it is bad form, really. It's just not cricket. But, as I say myself, cowards live to run away another day, so I guess the onus is on you to stop him from chickening out by murdering him quicker...

Anyway, I think Richard was pleased with his progress, and we accumulated a huge amount of cloth to send to my tailor, so that I could make Charlatan some nice armour for use in a couple of levels. Unfortunately, after topping her up to 225 skill, I then found out that you need to be level 35 as a prerequisite for training to Artisan Tailoring... meaning that Tarithel has nine more levels to gain before she can learn any new recipes. D'oh. I don't find priests that much fun to play, and the only reason I keep Tarithel around is because of her professions skills - I'm very reticent to junk a 225 level Tailor - and more importantly - and 126 skill Enchanter. Enchanting in particular is a real bitch to level - it's taken months to get this far. Nine more levels will be quite painful to get. Though it might not take too long, assuming that Richard is going to be distracted by GTA4 for the next few weeks, I'll probably have time to devote to my low level alts. But, until then, I guess it's Orange Mageweave Shirts all round!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Byte: EPIC FAIL

I bought Wii Fit on Friday.

I haven't taken it out of the box yet...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Byte: Okay, I promise I'll shut up about WoW now

Shareth is penniless. I blew FIVE THOUSAND GOLD in one click last night, when I went to Wildhammer Stronghold in Shadowmoon Valley and bought my Artisan Riding Training. So, despite being broke, I'm bloody ecstatic, as I'm now flying about on a Swift Purple Gryphon. I admit that I cheated a little with the money - after completing my dailies last night, I was still about 100 gold short of the magic 5000, so I got my Hunter alt, Yonn, to forward Shareth the difference, because I didn't really want to wait an extra day. Though this is just debt-settling, really, as it was Shareth who paid for Yonn's Striped Frostsaber and his first set of riding training - which coincidentally cost... 100 gold. So I don't think it's that much of a cheat.

Buying your swift flying mount is one of those key milestones for a character in WoW, and it's nice to feel that I earned it, rather than running off to a gold-selling website and simply buying it - I really feel like I've achieved something, even if it's totally meaningless to about 99.9999999% of the world's population. It might not sound like that big a deal, but when you get your swift flying mount, it's not just a way of saving money on gryphon taxis, but it's a real status symbol within the game, saying "I've really put in the hours on this". Okay, so the rest of my gear might be vendor trash to everyone else running around in PvP or Raid Epics, but at least I've got the mount. Which will be totally rendered obsolete by the time people reach level 80 in Wrath of the Lich King, probably, but at least I'm not alone in that. And I can console myself that I haven't spent weeks grinding the reputation to get one of the Netherwing Dragon mounts...

It's slightly surreal now that I've finally got it, though. It's taken nearly a year of casual(ish) play since I hit level 70 to get it, and I'm now left with the question, "what the hell do I play for now?" I suppose I could do the Druid quest chain for the Swift Flight Form now, if I can ever find where the quest starts from (to the Thott-mobile!), or I can just spend my time helping power-level guild chums. Of course, I've still got no less than five alts to level, particularly Yonn, since he's now in Outland, but I do need to raise some more cash for Shareth... maybe I'll sell some of the primals I've been saving in the Auction House - I'm sure I could get a fairly decent price on the four Primal Fire I have lurking around in my leatherworking bag. Anyway, now that this epic goal has finally been achieved, the true endgame really begins for Shareth now.

Since my main aims in the game have now been achieved, I can concentrate more on the social side of the game (since I've practically soloed the entire way in the game up to this point), and do some raids and high-end instances, as I'm not too fussed about reputation grinding (which is dull-dull-dull). It is kind of ironic, though, that what's most likely to happen is that I'm just going to play with my alts now. You spend so much time grinding and grinding and grinding to get up to level 70, raise thousands of gold to get all the super-duper-sexy flying mounts and all that, and then you stop playing with the character because there's a greater sense of progression and achievement from levelling alts... But we'll see - I think there's a bit of an expectation in the guild that now that I don't have anything to really aim for with my level 70 that I should help other people out more, and I suppose that will be fun. Anyway, this is certainly good news for Richard, since I can now spend the time I would be using for dailies to boost him instead...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Byte: Random Tangents

This is what I love about the internet. I was just having a chat with my old chum Richard about the merits of various character classes in World of Warcraft, and was talking about how nice it is playing a Hunter, because you have your own private tank (i.e. the pet). Since I use Trillian, rather than MSN Live Messenger for my instant chat, certain words get underlined in the text, hyperlinking them to Wikipedia if they have an entry, and of course, "tank" was underlined. So, veering off on a random tangent, as I have a habit of doing, I opened up the Wikipedia page, and used the disambiguation page to find the entry that defined tank in the context in which I was using it.

Which then lead me to discovering the term "meat shield", which I'd never heard before. Isn't the internet ACE?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bark: Mister Smoketoomuch... you better cut down a bit then!

Apologies for the gratuitous Monty Python quote... Not to be outdone by other ill people in my circle of friends, I've also been feeling pretty wretched lately. Constant, chronic headaches that last for weeks, disrupted sleeping patterns, anxiety, depression, lethargy, and generally just feeling like it's not worth getting out of bed, or that life is so crap that there's no point in even bothering anymore.

I wouldn't call it stress - still no grey hairs yet - but something's not right, and I've just been feeling like I've been digging myself into a hole for weeks, as the headaches are destroying any sense of concentration and focus I have, and it's almost impossible to sit down and work for any length of time at all. And like most people digging themselves a hole, it's only when you can hear the lava rumbling that you finally twig that it's time to stop. Which is what I did today - I saw my GP and was promptly diagnosed with chronic tension headaches and high blood pressure. While the headaches are what are sapping my will to live in the short-term, the blood pressure is potentially the more serious problem. High blood pressure in someone in their early-30's isn't a great sign, especially when your entire immediate family has the same problem, and my GP informs me that the typical cause is someone my age is kidney problems... though I guess we'll find out for sure over the next month or two, as I go for blood tests (because who knows what else is wrong?).

I don't suppose that this really comes as much of a surprise to me, as I know I drink too much, eat too much and don't exercise enough (and pretty much have done since I started working in IT), so there are definite lifestyle changes that need to be made. I guess it's also all just a part of getting older, too. I'm reminded of Sick Boy's Theory of Life in Trainspotting: you start out young, then you get old and cannae hack it... It's all downhill after 25, I'm afraid, chums. Getting older I can't do anything about, but thankfully everything else is treatable... I guess this means I'll have to spend less time indoors drinking and gaming myself to an early grave and spend more time at the gym. Which reminds me of the joke Bill Hicks made about Jim Fixx, who dropped dead of a heart attack in his early 50s, immediately after going out for his daily jog. You can't win, really. But at least you can die trying...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Byte: How typical

With my lady being away visiting friends in France this week, I've predictably made quite a bit of progress with my two main WoW characters. Yonn is now in Outland, and about halfway up to level 61, thanks to the truckloads of experience points the game chucks at you in Hellfire Peninsula, and it's quite nice revisiting some of the quests I did a smidge over a year ago when The Burning Crusade first came out.

Shareth is also doing pretty well for herself, as I sold a few high level items at the auction house, and I'm now less than 600 gold short of the rather extortionate 5000 gold sum it takes to train the Artisan Riding skill. A month ago, I would have thought that this would still be a daunting prospect to try and grind, but now I know that it actually represents half a dozen hours' play over the course of a few days, I'm curiously reluctant to just get my head down and do it. So last night, rather than knocking another 200 gold off my target, instead I downloaded the Freespace 2 Source Code Project Installer and a whole load of assorted Freespace 2 mods, including the Freespace 1 total conversion.

Why, you may ask. Well, I was reading a post on RPS about some chap who'd done a Planescape: Torment speed run in about an hour, and one of the links in the comments thread lead me to stumble across a quite amusing, screenshot-punctuated account of someone completing Freespace 2, with the screenshots clearly showing that the enhanced texture packs from the SCP have been installed. And boy, do they look tasty.

Freespace 2 was one of those games that I absolutely loved, but never completed. I never could beat the Bearbaiting mission, where you're given a slow bomber, thirty enemy fighters, a useless wingman, and you have to knock out all four of the Sathanas's beam turrets in the amount of time it takes you to knock out three. I must have tried that mission thirty times, and I found it bloody impossible, so I'm hoping to have a better time with the SCP installed. I'm currently doing The Sicilian Defense, which isn't so bad, provided you're not getting nailed by friendly beam cannon fire... my fault for lurking too close to the hulls of enemy cruisers, I guess.

What's really impressive is not just the sterling job the Freespace community have done in updating the game - it almost looks as good as something like X3 - but that the game still stands up beautifully, and Freespace 2 is, what? Nine years old now? The original Freespace campaign is worth a replay, too, as that's even more challenging, since your craft don't have shielding for the first half of the game, and with the SCP texture packs, it looks pretty awesome. They're as good an excuse as any for cracking out the force-feedback joystick and annoying your girlfriend with the noise from the feedback motors, anyway. They've certainly aged better than the X-Wing games, which mostly refuse to run for me these days. There is an upgrade project knocking around for X-Wing: Alliance, but it doesn't seem quite so well-accomplished as the Freespace 2 one, which seems pretty odd, as you'd expect Star Wars to have a much bigger geek-base. I guess it was the decision to release the source code for Freespace 2 that really got the modders excited, which is why it's got a much more active community. Well, that and the fact it's a better game... heresy as that may be for Star Wars fans, it does pain me to admit it's true.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bark: Just kill yourself now

...and save Nature the bother of doing it later.

News today that taking vitamins may not be as healthy as previously thought, and can actually shorten your life.

So, we can't eat salt, because that gives you heart attacks, we can't eat red meat because that gives you cancer, too much alcohol will turn your liver into foie gras and too much caffeine will turn you into a nervous wreck. Great. What's left? Celery. Which takes more calories to eat than it actually contains. So then you die of starvation...

This kind of scare-mongering really annoys me. It makes me want to go out for a crunchy pizza supper and ten pints of lager.

Byte: The ultimate betrayal

A former State cohort, Rob Hale, just sent me the most awesome video of a guy getting inadvertently creamed by a teammate in Halo 3.

Absolutely brilliant.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Byte: Newfangled Internets

Well, as you can probably tell, since I'm using the internets to write this to you, the installation of my new router went swimmingly. Plug it all in, follow the Instructions For Numpties(tm) on the configuration CD, and within 20 minutes, I had everything up and running. No faffing about manually configuring DNS settings, oh no. This is an intelligent router that doesn't need you to tell it what to do. I just had to put in my ISP username and password, set up the SSID and encryption settings, and voila!

Even the Wii detects it and configures itself without too much pissing about. I am pleased. My old router is less pleased, however, since it is now sitting in the bin.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Byte: Retail therapy

I've been a little bit under the weather recently, what with the actual weather (snow in April? is someone up there taking the piss?) and my girlfriend trying to kill me by bringing back a succession of viruses and germs back with her from the school she works at, so what can a young(ish) man of (modest) means do to cheer himself up?

Clearly, the answer is to indulge wantonly in drugs, alcohol, rock-and-roll and adoring groupies, but I'm kind of put off my the long-term health risks. So I had to make do with buying a new wireless modem router. Okay, so maybe it's not quite so edifying as snorting cocaine off the pert breasts of nubile 18-year-old redheads in a jacuzzi full of champagne, while Bohemian Rhapsody plays very loudly in the background, but it does have the advantage of being less likely to result in me being disowned by my girlfriend and family, not to mention being slightly cheaper and easier to arrange...

I've been after a new router for a few months now, as my current one has gone from the state of "occasionally not-working but mainly working" to "occasionally working but mainly not-working". Having to periodically rip the power cord out of the router to reset the dropped ADSL connection every time I want to use the internet was really beginning to get old. Besides, since it never worked properly with my Wii and never worked at all with my DS, it's been living on borrowed time for over a year. And since I've just been paid, the time has come for it to be replaced.

I decided to buy Netgear this time and splash out a bit, because they've got a solid reputation for home networking kit, and I'd been looking up model numbers to ensure Wii compatibility, and the Netgear routers seem to be the safest bets. After Kendo tonight (still having fun with that, by the way) I get to have the joy of setting it all up. And by "joy", I, of course, mean "pain". But at least it should be less of a pain in the bum than a router that decides for itself when it wants to work. I'll let you know how it all went tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Byte: Tantalising

My Warcraft obsession shows no signs of abating. Yonn, my Hunter, is now tantalisingly close to Outland, as he hit level 57 yesterday evening. A couple of years ago, I never would have thought I'd ever get one character up the level ladder that high, let alone two. Blizzard have definitely made levelling up a whole lot quicker in the last few patches, as I'm sure I've gotten Yonn up to his mid-50s in half the time it took Shareth. Yonn's questing in Winterspring now, which is one of my favourite map areas, in terms of ambience. But then, I always was a sucker for snow. I abandoned my Wind Serpent pet in favour of a Winterspring Screecher Owl, which I called Barney - Barney Owl... see what I did there? Oh, please yourselves... - who's still slightly ornery and in need of further plying with food, so I can get him trained. I'll probably lurk around a few low level areas while I do that, as I also need to raise my stave skill, and I've swapped Yonn's professions from Skinning/Leatherworking to Mining/Jewelcrafting, so I need to work on those, too. It's one way of accumulating some rested state, I suppose...

Shareth is still doing daily quests, and (including stuff for sale in the auction house) is now past the 3000 gold mark. I'm pretty much kicking myself for not starting on the daily quests much earlier, as if I had, I'd no doubt be riding around on my epic flying mount by now. Still, I don't think I've got too long left to wait, since I've made the best part of 2000 gold since the Sunwell patch went live. And I've not even been playing every day, which is the really amazing thing. Another couple of weeks, and then I should never need to use a gryphon taxi in Outland ever again. In the last week or two, the whole artisan riding training thing has gone from seeming utterly unattainable to being a realistic short-term goal, which has no doubt really spurred on this current period of compulsive play. I'm not really sure what I'll do with Shareth once I've got the mount up and flying. I guess I'll go around the Outland instances I've missed, snaffling up some of the Rare quest rewards and raising a bit of faction reputation while I'm at it. Either way, I can't see myself stopping playing anytime soon, not with the PC release schedule looking so barren, anyway.

I suppose I should get around to playing some Sins of a Solar Empire, but I'm not in a strategy mood at the moment. What I really want is a single player RPG, but I've had my fill of Knights of the Old Republic and all the other Bioware ones for the moment. Kieron on RPS posted a nice piece on Vampire: Bloodlines earlier, and I'm quite tempted to dig that out again. I never quite got around to finishing it the first time around (I got too pissed off with all the bugs after I reached Chinatown), but people are saying nice things about the latest fan-patch, so I may try it again with that. I did adore playing as a Malkavian - such terrific dialogue - and Malkavian girls did get the best outfits... Mmmm, leather!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bark: Mother would be proud

My lady and I were up in Manchester this weekend (an old stomping ground of mine, incidentally), visiting a friend for their birthday, and we got to do something very unusual. We went to the cinema to watch an opera, being shown live by satellite.

Now, I'm hardly what you'd call an opera buff. Space opera, certainly. Web browsers, occasionally, but not classical opera. When it comes to the cultural arts, cinema, sculpture and painting are much more my thing, and even though I own well over 100 albums, I couldn't exactly say I have any great love for music in general. There are certain artists I really like, and certain types of music I really like listening to, but until Saturday, opera was not one of them. In fact, the kind of associations I naturally have with opera are those of my Mum hogging the TV for three or four hours on a Sunday afternoon to watch Don Giovanni or Tosca, back when the BBC used to believe in cultural TV programming, when everyone else in the house would much rather be watching the Grand Prix...

I have to say, though, I did enjoy it immensely. Opera's probably the most complete of the creative arts, as it tells a story, uses music, and then there's the aesthetic design of the sets and costumes to appreciate as well. You can enjoy each element in isolation, but when you put them together, it's pretty overwhelming. Especially when you consider just how hard it is to be an opera singer. Not only do you need to know how to sing, but you have to know how to act (albeit more melodramatically than dramatically), and you've got to have a voice that can project over an orchestra and fill an opera house (which are typically pretty immense - much more so than your average theatre). Of course, it's very easy for people to dismiss opera because it's a) very expensive (even the tickets to watch it at the cinema were on the wrong side of £20), and b) not as immediately accessible as a film, but having now sat down with an open mind and watched one from end to end, I think that, while perfectly understandable, that kind of attitude does opera a disservice. Sure, not everyone can afford to fork out £160 for a seat at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden every week, but that's not to say that you wouldn't enjoy an opera, even if your musical tastes are more Moby than Mozart. I know I'm going to try and pick up a few more opera CDs from now on, which can only be good news for my Mum, as now she'll have more ideas about what she can buy me for Christmas...

Byte: WANTED

I'm sure you're all heartily sick of me rabbiting on about World of Warcraft by now, so I'm putting out a plea to game designers everywhere.

Someone, please, release a decent single-player RPG. Preferably on PC, but any platform will do. And SOON.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Byte: We are 50% towards achieving our goal

One of the more interesting things about the Shattered Sun Offensive that was introduced by the 2.4 Sunwell patch is that the new map area, the Sunwell Isle, is gradually changing over time. That is, as the offensive progresses, enemy mobs are actually being pushed out of some areas of the map. I'm not sure how far Blizzard are going to go with this (as the island would be pretty uninteresting if there was no-one left to fight), but it is different in that you're actually getting a sense of progression in terms of actually affecting the game world, which makes a change from the normal "kill 10 of these, 5 of these and 5 of these" quests and it doesn't make the blindest bit of difference from one day to the next.

There would definitely seem to be several stages that the Offensive has been planned in, as some of the daily quest givers update you with a reported progress (as per the post title) whenever you retake a quest from one day to the next. It might just be my imagination, but as you retake the quests more and more, some of them definitely seem harder; though this might be a symptom of more people being aware that the quests are there, and there are simply more people competing for the same number of mobs. Most of them, however, are still doable in under 15 minutes, so I'm still making plenty of gold - in fact, I'm now halfway to getting the magic 5000g I need to afford my Artisan Riding training, (just a dozen gold shy of 2500) which probably represents the most gold I've ever had. So it's a bit of a shame that I'm going to spend all of it in one go, but it will be worth it. I reckon another two or three weeks, and I should finally be riding my Swift Purple Gryphon, which has been waiting patiently in the bank now since I turned level 70.

I'm supplementing my daily quest income by making a rather nice leatherworking bag, the Bag of Many Hides, and flogging them in the auction house along with any excess Green items. So depending on how things sell, I'm making well over 100g a day, which is a pretty good return for an hour or two's play. It's being back in a friendly guild, however, that's really making the game more pleasurable for me right now. I'm still soloing most of the time, but having the guild chat in the background, and doing the odd instance makes the whole experience much more convivial and less of an escape mechanism. I'm playing to be with people, not because I want to hide from the real world. Sure, there's still the sense of escapism - at least until I master being able to polymorph into a Dire Bear or Shadowcat in the real world - but that's less important than being around a group of people who like doing the same things as you do. It's even better that we've got a good mix in our group: Brits, Belgians, Dutch, and a few other nationalities, besides. Though I still find it amusing that you can always tell which people are the Brits from the mainland Europeans, because the Brits have the worst English...

Hopefully, as more people in the Guild push up towards level 70, we'll do a few more of the high level instances, such as Tempest Keep, because I've not really touched any of that stuff yet. It's quite amazing to think that I've put over a month in real-time into the game, yet I've not experienced barely half of the game's content yet. Not that I expect that I'll ever play through it all (I certainly have no ambitions of ever taking a Horde character all the way up to the level cap), and in all honesty, I'm not that fussed about all that high-end raiding, where it takes you 100 hours to get all the reputation attunements before you can even start, but it is pretty staggering just the sheer volume of STUFF that there is to do. I'm not sure what I'll do once I do finally get my epic flying mount - reputation grinding and instances, I suppose (I can't be arsed with battlegrounds or arena PvP) - or maybe I'll put more time into my alts. Yonn hit level 56 last night, so he's just two levels from Outland - roughly ten hours play, assuming a fully rested state. I know it won't be quite the same as the first time around, but I am really looking forward to taking a new character to Outland. So, suffice to say, it's hard for me to see where another game is going to get a look-in at the moment. Even if Mario Kart on Wii is due out in the next couple of weeks...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Byte: Grand Theft Apathy

Could there be any game released this year I care less about than GTA 4? A quick scan of the PC release list on Play.com reveals that, actually... NO.

If you ask me, and I know you didn't, but I'm going to give you my opinion anyway, the GTA series has been all downhill after Vice City, and nothing I've seen about GTA 4 excites me in the least. Take the recent BBFC classification statement, which reveals that GTA will feature "strong violence, very strong language, very strong sex references and drug use."

Of course, it's the availability of "three levels of service" from the in-game prostitutes that has caught the eye of most journalists and commentators, especially that GTA now features masturbation! Hurrah! Terrific! NOT. Thirty years of home computing, and what's the pinnacle of videogaming achievement? Hand jobs... Weep. Cue a million "videogamers are all wankers" jokes.

It's not so much that the game contains sexual content in the first place, more that the game cops out instead of puts out. So blood-splattering-on-walls graphic violence and cocaine snorting is fine, but any sex has to be "un-detailed". Of course, this is so middle-America doesn't have a collective heart attack at the sight of an exposed nipple, but it still strikes me as utterly ridiculous. I mean, at least be even-handed. Though given the amount of flak The Witcher got last year for daring to go halfway towards showing "sexualised nudity" (as the BBFC so inelegantly puts it), perhaps it's not surprising. How much do you want to bet that GTA 4 will get rave reviews that talk about how cool it is to get "private" lap dances or their cocks sucked in cars... Because modern, forced prostitution is such a morally noble service and far more socially acceptable than the consensual sex between two willing adults you got to have in The Witcher... Granted, there was prostitution in The Witcher as well, but the context in the game was that of women organising themselves for mutual safety, rather than being in hock to violent, money-grabbing pimps. And context, as we all know, is everything. So let me just wave my hypocrisy flag now if people start praising (or ignoring) the sex in GTA 4 when they were so quick to criticise it in The Witcher.

Frankly though, if an audience can cope with blood splattering on walls or over the camera lens, I'm pretty sure it can deal with a little sex, so the fact that the developers feel the need to hide the sex seems overly prudish. (Or is it a tacit admission on the part of Rockstar that they expect the game to be played by 12 year olds who haven't quite discovered the joys of girls yet? Who knows?) Graphic violence, graphic drug use, but cartoon sex. Where's the consistency? A lot of gamers complained about the removal of blood from the European version of No More Heroes, but it didn't bother me in the slightest. Firstly, if you've got an energy blade weapon, the discharge from the blade will cauterise the wounds as you make them, so there wouldn't be blood spurting everywhere anyway, and secondly, the graphics of the game are so stylised that having bodies vapourise into black pixels is more in keeping with the aesthetics of the game than having huge fountains of blood gushing like a newly-drilled oil well. Realism isn't exactly high up on the priority list of the design document. So I'm forced to conclude that the people who complained about there being no blood only complained because they get a kick out of seeing blood. Which just goes to show that videogames, and the vast majority of their audience, still have a lot of growing up to do.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Byte: April Fools

It's the time of year again when everyone makes pathetic attempts at being funny just so they can point and say "April Fool!"

Well, that is everyone except Blizzard. Who are so good that they don't do just one hoax, but two.

Say what you like about the way Blizzard make games, but you can't deny that they've got a sense of humour.