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Action, Adventure and an Empty Wallet

It seems so much longer than a week since I last blogged but through some strange trick of time it appears it is. A fair amount of my time this week has been taken up by one of my assignments in my computer games programming course which involves programming a pool video game from scratch in a week. I must admit it's not been an easy task and pretty much teaching myself to program Windows and Xbox 360 games over the past few weeks hasn't been overly simple either, however it's been both an interesting and enjoyable venture.

The one thing I think I've discovered about myself this week is I like Bayonetta way more than I thought I did. After going through on easy and normal I played through again on hard, collected most of the LPs, picked up all the couture bullets, unlocked 43 of the 50 achievements and I'm still not satisfied. Something about the combination of the intense hack-and-slash combat, combined with the insane and spectacular way the whole game is presented has drawn me in, in a way I really didn't expect.

I've also spent a little more time with Dragon Age: Origins this week and having had a good taste by now of what the game has to offer I have to say it's better than first impressions would have had me believe. I'm still struggling a little to see past the graphical issues I've been experiencing with the 360 version and I'm not really up for doing a whole lot of inventory juggling, stat management etc. but the combat is good and so far I've found the game has played host to a number of genuinely interesting characters. I've particularly enjoyed the banter between Morrigan and Alistair and the moment that has struck me most so far in the game was making the choices over the child possessed by a demon. It pulls of its story side well and that's something you really want from an RPG.

Speaking of Bioware RPGs, I've been driven half-insane over the past few days by the fact that unlike a good portion of the rest of the "core" gaming community I don't own a copy of Mass Effect 2. I loved Mass Effect 1 and I have been really hyped for this game, but as a student I just don't have the cash for it. Every day I see more threads popping up on the Giant Bomb boards about this game and I rarely view them for fear of spoilers but judging from everything I have dared to sneak a look at this game is amazing. My Dad still owes me an extra game as part of my late 18th birthday present and it's so tempting to call it in for this one but I'm a massive Halo fan and I know when Halo: Reach comes out I'll be regretting it if I've given up my only sure means of acquiring it. The rather generous helpings of info and screenshots Bungie have been providing over Reach lately have left me even more eager to "get my Halo on", leaving me feeling somewhat torn.

I probably would have also played some more Team Fortress 2 this week but sadly my mouse broke and I haven't got around to buying a replacement yet. I've also played one session of Batman: Arkham Asylum this week and a single session of 1 vs. 100 which are still both great games (although even if it is free, 1 vs. 100s endless Bing adverts do have a tendency to drive you to the point of madness). After watching Giant Bomb's recent series of videos 'Set Phasers to Fun' I'm also pretty interested in Star Trek Online but when I can't but regular games I think any kind of subscription-based MMO is out of the question.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and this week I'll leave you with this artistic stop-motion recreation of Super Mario Bros. 3.


Video Games and Being in the Same Room as Peter Molyneux

It has been a very long week for me (in a good way) and I can't believe that just eight days ago I was still at my family's home playing Modern Warfare 2. I spent a good portion of this week participating with two other programmers in a seventy-two hour video game development competition and although we didn't win, a huge amount of effort was put into creating the game we did make and we were all very pleased with the final product that came out of it.

Not bad considering we were three coders who'd only recently pretty much self-taught themselves XNA. The main highlight of my week was something much greater than this however and something that will undoubtedly stick with me for the rest of my life.

I was privileged enough to actually be part of the audience for a two hour talk from legendary games designer Peter Molyneux. I still can't quite believe it myself but the experience was amazing. He talked about his history in the games industry, a great deal about innovation in video games and there was even part of the talk which we've been clearly and strictly told we're not allowed to talk about at all. Of course Molyneux is rather reputed for making exaggerated statements about the games he is working on and he said himself in the talk he is aware of this and that he tells the people who interview him that he gets carried away, sometimes comes out with stuff he doesn't think about and considers it simply part of his nature as an enthusiastic games designer. Personally although I understand the issues people have with Molyneux's grand promises which don't always pan out, I'd rather have an enthusiastic designer working on my games than a less enthusiastic one and it was Molyneux's enthusiasm which made him so compelling to listen to. The talk was interesting, inspirational and at one particular point very, very impressive (but I'm not allowed to talk about that). One of the things Molyneux seemed most enthusiastic about was affecting people through video games, whether those people be the characters in the video games or real-life people. It was amazing to be able to have the chance to listen to such a highly reputed game designer and one who was so passionate about the work he was doing.

As for the actual games I've played this week I played all the way through Bayonetta and got a great deal of enjoyment out of it. I went in expecting an absolutely insane game and yet it still managed to surprise me with its off-the-wall characters, story and cutscenes. While somewhat "mashy" the combat was always satisfying, especially on normal difficulty where the enemies had enough health to provide battles long enough to feel particularly entertaining. My main quam with the game was that even though I was playing with a new disc and a new 360 I did still experience screen tearing at various points but that didn't affect my experience with the game too much. Perhaps the thing that surprised me most about the game though was the strength of the story in the game. Right from when it was first shown it was obvious Bayonetta was going to be "mad Japanese" and its sense of craziness is made apparent right from the first cutscene and is always a joy to behold. However, although the lore of Bayonetta didn't catch my attention greatly for the first few chapters of the game, I came around and I felt by the last few chapters the game brought across something rather special. Unless you have an aversion to "mad Japaneseness", hack and slash combat or slightly lengthy Space Harrier homages I'd recommend Bayonetta for the 360 to anyone interested.

I finally opened up my copy of Dragon Age: Origins for the 360 this week and as eager as I was to jump in I must admit I didn't enjoy my first half hour or so of the game anywhere near as much as I thought I would. My problems with the game essentially boiled down to some serious graphical issues around the start of the game which were very off-putting, however I will be venturing back into the game ASAP to get a proper taste of what it has to offer and I'm expecting my experience next time round will be much more fun.

Once again I feel I could build almost infinitely upon the wall of text before you but to stop this blog from turning into information overload for now I'm going to say thank you for reading and put an end to this madness. Oh and before I say goodbye I'll leave you with this extremely well-edited Modern Warfare 2 montage. Goodbye.


Renaissance Italy and Going Oscar Mike

Right now I'm happily currently participating in a 72 hour video game designing and programming competition for my university and even though I'm only in the first 24 hours things already seem hectic, however I thought I could at least take a short amount of time out to write my blog for this week because the last week for me has been packed with a ridiculous amount of gaming.

After being absolutely blown away by my first play-through of Arkham Asylum I had a serious itching to jump straight back into the game and play through all over again, however I told myself that while I was still at my family's home with access to my brother's games it would be best to take the opportunity to play them while I still could. Over a period of two days I started and finished the campaign mode of Modern Warfare 2 and while I wasn't as amazed by it as some and I'm generally not into the traditional war theme in my video games, movies, books etc. (I prefer something a little more sci-fi) I still found that there was a lot to be loved about it. Every aspect of the game seemed really well-made and alongside the wonderfully designed gameplay in each level, there were some brilliant and dramatic cinematic moments which really struck me. Every little last bit of that game stayed with me after completion and I never thought I'd enjoy a Call of Duty game anywhere near as much as I did with Modern Warfare 2.

After finishing Modern Warfare 2 I moved onto Assassin's Creed II which required packing a lot of gaming hours into a short space of time to complete but I'm glad I did. I know I'm not the only one who found that although the original Assassin's Creed had something really going for it there was a point the game reached where repetitiveness and tedium seemed to really take its toll, I'm not ashamed to admit that it was without regret I hit a point where I decided to quit the game and leave it unfinished. Assassin's Creed II however was a great improvement on the original and managed to hit the nail right on the head with what needed to be changed from the first game. Besides adding a much wider variety in the types of missions you encounter in the game, as well as more weapons and less boring travelling, the developers of the game went above and beyond what needed to be done. The characters of the game seem to have more personality this time around; I felt a greater connection to Ezio than I did to Altair and I thought Da Vinci was a particularly likeable character. The locations of the game also feel even richer than before from sunny Florence to picturesque Venice and the creators of the game seemed to carry a strong diligence in recreating everything they could about renaissance Italy. I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending, but regardless it was a great game to play.

The end of my time at my family's home was filled with returning to Modern Warfare 2 to deal with everything external to the campaign. I had a pretty good time playing spec-ops with my brother, even if it did make me feel like I was pretty bad at the game, but the thing which I really enjoyed was the online multiplayer. I actually did better in the multiplayer than I expected to and the satisfaction of constantly receiving small rewards for my online exploits was a greatly fulfilling experience. When I have the chance I'd really like to jump in and soak up more of that the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer has to offer.

Finally I'd like to thank my parents for my late 18th birthday present; a working Xbox 360 Arcade and a copy of Bayonetta and I'll finish up here by linking you to my top 10 most anticipated games of 2010.

Happy gaming people.


A Night in the Asylum

So we've reached the end of the second week of January and unfortunately something happened this week which I've been expecting for a while; my Xbox 360 finally stopped working. It's an old pre-owned 360 Pro well beyond its warranty and it looks like it's just become worn out and died. As I'm still owed a late birthday present from my dad though it looks like I'll be getting a new 360 this week along with a game or two and I have wanted to get Bayonetta. For now I'm back home with my family before returning to university so I'll have access to a working 360 and a very nice TV for the week anyway. The only thing that really bummed me out about my 360 packing up and dying is that when it decided to do that I was just about to start Dragon Age: Origins.

This week I've been playing a bit more Dawn of War 2 and Garry's Mod (because who can resist playing around with a gun which fires toilets?) but by far the highlight for me was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum. My good friend who goes by the internet alias of Ninja Duckie is to thank for giving me this game and hanging out with me while I made my way through a good portion of the game. I started playing around early afternoon and I just couldn't tear myself away from it after that. Including some time spent away from the game for dinner and a very short bit of rest after that I spent around 10 and a half hours on the game, finishing it the same day as I began. At no point did it seem like a chore to progress through either, I was entertained throughout the whole time.

I've actually wanted to play Arkham Asylum for a long time now, I had high expectations for the game and it more than lived up to them; it was an amazing game. One of the things which hits you early about the game is the really great look and feel of the combat, I was aware of the very high praise it had received but until I played the game myself I still couldn't take in quite how good it is. I rarely find that I really enjoy stealth combat in games due to the trial-and-error aspect and the steep penalty for running into enemies but the stealth combat in Arkham Asylum felt brilliant. I also thought quite a few of the riddles in the game were clever, the gadgets were simple but fun to use and the general design of the whole game was very well-done. The atmosphere and environments of the Asylum itself were also great and I thought one of the best bits about the game was the characters. Before now I could never really take the Joker as a serious villain but after seeing and playing Arkham Asylum I got a really good sense of how Joker's complete disregard of the seriousness of the havoc he wreaks makes him such a great villain. I could go on for ages about Arkham Asylum but I won't waffle on, I'll just say I found it an amazing game.

Now the only tough decision I have to make is what to play next. It's very tempting to play through Arkham Asylum again but while I'm at my family's home my brother is willing to let me play any of his games so I think I'll take this opportunity to play through the campaign of Modern Warfare 2 which is not usually my type of FPS but I'm expecting to be very good. I'm just gonna end this by posting this medley of famous video game tunes made on Mario Paint and say thank you for reading.


Two Thousand and Ten

It's now the year 2010 and the Christmas break has been awesome for me. Tomorrow I return to my university dorm for a week of exams and that means that far from the ridiculous number of hours I've put into games over the past week, there'll have to be a lot more time spent revising. I'll be back down with my family from Friday onwards though and so that means plenty more opportunity to make some progress on my many games.

I also got a late Christmas present on Boxing Day, Lumines. It was less than £2 on Steam and it's another game I'd recommend for the price it's currently at on Steam. It's not a game I've become overly absorbed by but it's a fun game to play in short bursts.

The game I've poured the most time into this week is Garry's Mod. I've been impressed by the amount of user-created content constantly being released for the game and I've found the quality of the user content I've downloaded somewhat mixed, but it's always been an interesting experience. There is the disappointment of finding the little glitches and shortcomings in something you've downloaded but there is also a large amount of content out there which is of a professional quality. I've found the multiplayer can often be a dull experience, but I've spent an amount of time on the single player I never dreamed of spending with the game.

I made one brief attempt to get into Counter-Strike: Source but I must admit that having no idea of what each weapon was like and feeling severely outclassed by much more experienced players did push me into putting the game to one side for now.

I've also played a lot of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 and that is a great strategy game! I played a lot of the original Dawn of War and didn't know how I'd find a campaign experience where they'd completely removed all base-building aspects and the idea of commanding large-scale armies. I've found that the focus on a controlling a small number of troops on the battlefield gives you the satisfaction of having very powerful units which can decimate entire armies of opponents at the same time as being a very refreshing experience for anyone who is used to playing real-time strategy games. The constant movement of troops and the utilisation of each units special abilities makes the gameplay more akin to that of games like Torchlight or Diablo in some senses. On the normal difficulty the game has been challenging but fair so far and I've enjoyed being able to have the freedom of being able to choose from a number of available missions at almost all times. The real strength of the game is its unconventionality.

I've also started systematically going after all the puzzle pieces in Braid. Somehow I struggled my way through getting all the pieces in world two and three and it's been actively going after each individual piece which has truly made me appreciate the genius of the design and programming of each of these puzzles. It's mind-blowing that they managed to come up with these levels and I've really surprised myself by the way I've been able to solve the seemingly impossible problems set before me by Braid. I have a long way to go if I want to finish the game though.

I'm still holding off on starting Dragon Age: Origins and continuing Borderlands while I'm playing everything else. Bayonetta is also coming out this month and more importantly so is Mass Effect 2. I might just be able to get at least one of those games to add to my hours of backlog.

Thanks for reading, I'm gonna leave this blog here with a great video from Kotaku (scroll down). Enjoy 2010 everyone.


What I Played in 2009

With the new year just around the corner so many of us are taking the opportunity to look back over 2009 and decide our favourite games of the year, however I don't think a game of the year list is quite right for me. There are many games of 2009 that look brilliant but I have not yet had the chance to play properly, while I've still sunk plenty of play time into games released pre-2009 and so I present to you not a game of the year list but a list of all the notable games I've played in 2009. I've omitted some games from the list that I didn't play significantly but aside from a few exceptions this is a pretty much of complete summary of everything I played in 2009.

America's Army 3

The original America's Army was a very unimpressive affair and seemed to come across as subpar in just about every way. I thought that perhaps two games down the line maybe they would have realised what had been done wrong in the past and at least partially started to fix the mess that was America's Army, alas it was not to be so. Once again I was met with an ugly, generic, boring shooter, although right from the start I managed to encounter many more glitches in America's Army 3 than I did in the original. It's pretty safe to say America's Army 3 is the worst game I played this year.

Brütal Legend

Brütal Legend seemed to be the real mixed bag of 2009, the pressure was on Schafer to come out with another creative and spectacular title and many felt he fell short of the target. The action-adventure portion of the game was satisfactory but really brought nothing new to the table and the strategy portion of the game was severely hurt by its controls, but the voice acting, animations, environments, characters and storyline of the game blended together to create an expertly woven world and that was where the enjoyment was to be found in Brütal Legend. It may not have been perfect but I thought it was a great game.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

During my summer break this year I tried for the third time to immerse myself in the highly acclaimed Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I really want to like this game but once again I've found myself just unable to enjoy it. According to my brother I'd had the misfortune of ending up with the most boring selection of quests I could have possibly stumbled across and to be honest it felt like it. For whatever reason I also found it hard to get to grips with finding where the best place to be in the game was and what I should be doing to progress properly. I found myself floundering through areas quite a way beyond my level and never really finding a practical way to gain experience. Maybe I'll try again next year.

Elite Beat Agents

Back in the first half of the year when I was still in college I walked into one of my local stores in search of a game that I now can't recall, but whatever that game may have been they didn't have it, however my eye was caught by a rather reputable DS game that some of my friends also had a particular liking for which I bought instead and so began my time with Elite Beat Agents. The insane mix of visuals playing out all sorts of ridiculous stories, combined with the simplistic but challenging gameplay made this somewhat niche game an absolute joy to play through. If you have a DS I highly recommend taking a look at Elite Beat Agents.

Fable II

I actually started playing Fable II around Christmas Day 2008 so the huge majority of my time with the game has been in 2009. Right from the start I found the game an enchanting experience, it was one of the best first impressions I'd ever received from a game. For a long time afterwards I was enthralled by the wonderfully presented Kingdom of Albion and was blown away by the time I had finished the game. The game delivered greatly on both aesthetics and gameplay and had a unique charm to it. It's a shame that the DLC felt rather lacklustre when placed alongside the main game but Fable II is a big contender for the best game I played this year.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

This wasn't a huge game for me in 2009 but when I want to just load up a game and get a few really good minutes of light gameplay in, Geometry Wars is where I turn. Even a year and a half on it's still fun.

Halo 3

With my consistent love of all things Halo this title was once again my go-to multiplayer game for the year. I played the game noticeably less this year than in 2008 but I think my 77 game Halo binge on that one day this year more than made up for it. I think Bungie still has an awesome game in Halo 3.

Halo 3: ODST

Being the Halo nut I am, this was a game I followed obsessively closely as Bungie divulged more and more details on it in the lead-up to its release and I was very excited when it finally hit shelves. Although with party-based multiplayer pretty much blocked out for me (stupid university firewall) I didn't get much of a chance to play firefight, I still got plenty of opportunity to play the campaign. While I didn't think ODST was as good as any of the games in the main Halo trilogy, the campaign still provided a good variation on the Halo gameplay I know and love, showed off some nice graphics and environments, particularly in the lighting of it all, had some good voice acting and O'Donnell's departure from his regular musical style for the Halo games provided a refreshing soundtrack. The disc containing the complete multiplayer content of Halo 3 and the beta invitation to Halo: Reach were sweet extras too.

Halo Wars

With highly-reputed strategy game developer Ensemble Studios behind it Halo Wars had the potential to be a great game. In some aspects Halo Wars could have been better, mainly in that the gameplay of Halo Wars felt shallow and somewhat simple when compared to other RTSs and that although it did a better job than most at trying to adapt an RTS game to the Xbox 360 controller, the controls still weren't perfect. The gameplay was enough to keep my attention through the campaign though and then some, Ensemble did a great job at keeping the look and lore of the Halo universe intact and those cutscenes looked damn good too. It wasn't everything I wanted from a Halo RTS but as a fan I was pleased with what Halo Wars had to offer.

Pokémon Diamond Version

Since the start of my time as a gamer I've found something extremely likable about the Pokémon games. Nothing invokes a sense of nostalgia in me as much as the Pokémon games, their graphical and musical style and obsessing over collecting as many Pokémon as possible. Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum have a heck of a lot of longevity for those interested and building my Pokémon collection was a great little distraction earlier this year.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

Not the best game of the year, but none the less a good game. The environments felt somewhat samey, some of the missions could get a bit repetitive and possibly the worst part of the game was the checkpoint races, however what it did right, it did very right. The game provided excitement by the barrelful in some of its more hectic scenarios and set up situation after situation where we were able to appreciate the raw fun of just demolishing massive structures with giant hammers, explosives or whatever the hell we damn well felt like.

Rock Band 2

Few games have the replayability value that Rock Band does and I've sunk a considerable number of hours into Rock Band 2 this year. When you're able to play a song you really like on a rhythm game you really like it's a wonderful thing and not only has Rock Band 2 been able to provide me with some really awesome songs on its original soundtrack but also a wide selection of DLC. I don't really have much access to this game now I'm at university (I wouldn't even be able to fit the drums in my room) but while I've had the chance to play it it's been unforgettable.

Team Fortress 2

I've had Team Fortress 2 as part of The Orange Box for a long time, but at one point this year with the chance of Valve bringing the TF2 updates to console seeming extremely slim and with the game at a reduced price on Steam I finally shrugged my shoulders and decided to get the PC version and I am so glad I did. I really don't know what to say to convey quite how much the PC version is an improvement over the console versions, but I'd like to at least say that Valve have been brilliant to their community and finished this year on Team Fortress 2 with a real bang. Bravo guys.

World of Warcraft

I actually left out a few other lesser-known MMOs from this list but I thought World of Warcraft was well worth a mention. While most seem to play games like this for months on end, I have a tendency to dart in and out of the MMOs I play, usually playing other games alongside them as well. Near the end of this year I started playing World of Warcraft again and started levelling at a rate I've never been able to before, exploring new areas and even got into a fair number of raids. For me World of Warcraft takes all the best elements of MMORPGs and fits the pieces together in a brilliant way.

That about wraps it up for 2009, this year has brought some really great games and I feel like I've only scratched the surface of what it had to offer. I'm sure 2010 will be a year of enjoying what I've missed up to now, continuing to play my old favourites and (finances permitting) experiencing some great new titles. I hope you've all had a great 2009 and I wish you an even better 2010.


Tinsel, Baubles and Plenty of Gaming

Happy 26th December everyone, I hope you all had a great Christmas. I'm having a good time back down in the south of England spending my two weeks break from university with my family and I've received some great presents. From my best friend I got a really nice CD and from my family (well, mainly my mum) I've got a black 16GB iPod Nano, a bunch of chocolate, Dragon Age: Origins for the Xbox 360, as well as Counter-Strike: Source, Garry's Mod, Braid and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 from Steam. It means a lot to me that they got me the iPod particularly because my family don't have much money and while the gifting of that present was somewhat to balance out the fact that my younger brother had demanded a HD TV for Christmas, I still don't expect presents like this from them. I must say the Steam holiday sale has been pretty amazing though, the four games they got me only came to about £23 with Braid currently going for less than £2, Steam never cease to amaze me with their sales.

My experiments in Garry's Mod have been pretty enjoyable so far and I've been surprised how easy it is to just sit around in the game for a while playing with simple objects and tools and still have fun. I feel like I'm still picking up on how manipulate objects in certain ways though and I currently have no idea how to program in Lua, but knowing a couple of other languages I hope I can pick it up reasonably quickly.

Braid has been an enchanting game to play through. I do have some experience with the game having played through the lengthy demo before, but the puzzling concepts of the game still seem innovative and very clever. I've also actually been properly following the story on this play-through and I've found it surprisingly deep and compelling. It's a shame I'm nearing the end of the game because it's been so good.

I have yet to try out Counter-Strike: Source, Dragon Age: Origins and Dawn of War 2. Counter-Strike: Source just happens to be something I haven't got around to trying out yet, Dragon Age: Origins is a game I feel I should really put aside until I can focus solely on committing my time to that single game and Dawn of War 2 I've been having technical issues with. The game went through all its necessary setup but when I've tried to launch it it's just displayed a crash report with no real detail on what's gone wrong. I've deleted the local content and am currently downloading it again from Steam. Looks like I may have a bit of a problem on my hands.

I've also been playing a bit of Team Fortress 2 and all the content in the Soldier/Demoman update is great. The war between the Soldier and the Demoman also got really tense towards the end, who would have known it would be so close? The last thing I was expecting though was for Valve to announce after the Soldier/Demoman update that they were working on a new update to add bots to the game. With them pulling out all the stops for this stuff it makes me wonder what they could possibly have up their sleeve for the final class update but knowing Valve they'll find some way to impress us.

Lastly I've played some of my brother's copy of Borderlands since I've been back down here for Christmas. Everything about the game seems like it really has the potential to be awesome but I'm finding it a little hard to get into. I think this might be another case where I'll need to put the game to one side until I know I can focus on it properly. Still, there's nothing like slaughtering a huge Skag nest with an incendiary pistol and a turret.

That's it for this blog. I hope you all enjoy the New Year and I'll leave you with this rather impressive piece of work, the Halo Periodic Table.


Headin' for the Holidays

Greetings one and all, long time no blog. In fact I haven't blogged in over a month now, it just seems that there have been oh so many distractions. For one thing it seems like I have stumbled back into the addictive realms of World of Warcraft again. I originally just returned to the game to enjoy the thanksgiving event, but after experiencing the instant gratification of my few days on there I couldn't help but be sucked back in. I now seem to be leveling more effectively than before and I'm even trying to get into raiding now which is something I shyed away from quite a bit before, partly because of how much time it consumed and partly because of how seriously some players seemed to take it, while I lagged behind constantly wondering whether I was "doin' it rite" or not. However, I have had to limit myself in my intake of WoW as I still have university work on my hands and coming up to the end of the firstsemester the pressure is on more than ever.

My first semester of university officially ends next week but what's it like to be a student who is just finishing their first three months of a computer games programming degree? Well, it's definitely been an interesting experience. The highlight of it all has definitely been learning about video games themselves and although a lot of the things that came up in the lectures on video games, I was already aware of it was great to have it all presented back to me along with new information. The coursework for that area of the studies also gave me something that was very fun to do and I'm even confident about the module exam. The low point for me has been the maths module which they introduced to the course this year. We have literally had to try and learn the equivalent of an A level in maths in the last 3 months and it feels as though the whole process has been very rushed and I've felt consistently confused as I struggled with everything being taught. As for the rest of the course I still don't think my essay writing is up to scratch with university standards yet but that's something that will probably come with practice. Learning about computer architecture has been cool and learning new programming code has been a good experience as well. Right now however it's crunch time and my sleep pattern will have to suffer some more so I can get an essay and four programming exercises handed in for next week as well as revising for a test.

The 18th December will see me speeding back to my family's home for the Christmas holidays and for a whole variety of reasons it will be good to be back. Naturally as a student I haven't had the cash to purchase a lot of the games I've wanted over the past few months, so I thought this would be an opportune time to share with you my Christmas wishlist of video games; Assassin's Creed 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Borderlands andDragon Age: Origins are my big four but given the chance I wouldn't mind getting my hands on League of Legends,Modern Warfare 2 or New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I'll just be happy to be in a nice big house with my mum's cooking for Christmas though.However, althoughthe Christmas holidays would usually last until 25th Januaryall computer games programming students have to be back in university for the week starting the 4th January which is a bit of a bummer.

This weekend there is an awesome event just around the corner though. While I'm sure it holds no major significance for many I'm personally pretty stoked about Bungie's world premiere of Halo: Reach at the Spike TV VGA awards. With so little known about the game it will be great to finally get a look at what will be the last of the Halo games (at least for now) and Bungie sure know how to dazzle a crowd. This week there's also a pretty awesome and rather unique event happening on Team Fortress 2. The soldier and demoman updates will soon be hitting everyones' PCs bringing with them new weapons and achievements but not only will each cl*ss receive 3 unlockable weapons but they are also both in the running for a secret seventh weapon. Valve have challenged the demoman cl*ss to get as many kills on the soldier cl*ss as possible over the next 7 days, while the soldiers are doing the opposite and trying to kill the demomen. Whichever cl*ss can kill more of the opposing cl*ss by the time our time is up gets that extra seventh weapon. It's exciting stuff and should I get any free time to participate in the conflict I'll be playing on the side of soldier as frankly I suck with the demoman.

Well, I guess that's what a months worth a backed up blog looks like. Hopefully I'll drop my next little bundle of blogging fun after returning home next Saturday. Until then I hope you all enjoy yourselves and I'll leave you with one of my favourite pictures of November 2009.


Boats and Scopes

It is currently Monday 9th November and I'd hoped to have this blog up over the weekend but things were a bit... Busy. Tomorrow is the big release of Modern Warfare 2 and I must say with all the hype surrounding the game I occasionally feel a little bit like a stranger in the world of gaming. Not only is the internet abuzz with talk of Infinity Ward's next great game but even people around my university are constantly questioning who is and isn't getting the game on launch day and most of the time I don't seem to be met with much understanding when I tell people I never really got into the Call of Duty franchise. Still, gaming goes on and I'm happy for all those who are super-expectant of the game's release.

This week I've managed to get myself hooked back on World of Warcraft and Team Fortress 2. Considering the addictive nature of WoW I thankfully haven't got too obsessed with it this time round but it's been nice to do a few quests and participate in the odd battleground match, although it might be nicer if the Alliance won more often. I also did experience a very odd glitch the other day where I was standing at the end of the pier on Booty Bay when the ship arrived and my character seemed to get stuck on a bit of the ship's outer geometry and it started pushing me along. This was kind of cool so I just let it run its course but when the ship sailed off for faraway lands my client refused to load the next area, forcing me to log out and in again. When I logged back in my character appeared to be underneath the game world, falling downwards and after a minute or so he just dropped out of view, lost all his health and the game asked me if I wanted to resurrect. When I did I ended up in the Hillsbrad Foothills, a ridiculous distance north from where I started. It really was the weirdest glitch I'd ever experienced in the game.

On Team Fortress 2 I've been trying my luck with the Sniper this week which has been a bit of a daring move as I have a bit of a history with just plain sucking at sniping in shooters. However, even if I may still not be that good I'm surprised by how much I've improved in such a short space of time, practice really does do wonders. Now if only I could do a half-decent job with the Spy and the Scout.

As promised last week I did upload my review of indie game Osmos to Giant Bomb this Tuesday and I've also filled out the Geometry Wars 2 review on Giant Bomb which was lost in a posting glitch a while back. I may have more reviews on the way in the near future and I look forward to any writing I get the time for. That wraps up this (relatively) short blog for this week. I will leave you all with a video that brought me great amusement. May I proudly present Laddergoat.