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Neo_Kelyn Blog

MoH Heroes 2 (Review now up), Jean Michelle Jarre and Naruto.

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Just a quick post to round up the past couple of day.

Medal of Honour Heroes 2:

My review for this is now up, and you can find it here. Read it and see what you think. I tried a new approach this time. Rather than rambling on for pages I have attempted to be as succinct as possible while still trying to maintain some sort of flow. It's the sort of thing I find very hard to do as the temptation to run off on tangents or over-elaborate insults that last a paragraph by themselves is ever present. Your thoughts welcome.

Jean Michelle Jarre:

This pretty much sums up all you need to know.My parents are essentially a pair of hippies and as such my musical upbringing consisted largely of King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and whole host of other 60s-70s bands. And for the most part I still listen to a lot of this stuff. However, I finally got around to listening to another of their favourites, to wit. one Jean Michelle Jarre and his seminal album, Oxygene. I went in there with high hopes, being as he was highly recommended by my parentals.

*sigh*

What a load of wank Seriously, I have never once heard anything so grossly self-indulgent, mind-buggeringly pretentious and all over criminally masturbatory. Every track - every f*#~$£!% track was the same. You could almost here him writing them. "Hmmm," goes JMJ, "Yes, well, I've got a load of electronica here, so let's get them all bleeping, blopping, squeaking and whooshing. Oh, and while I'm at it, let's add reverb and wash out every single sound to make it sound kind of airy." Here, old JMJ would probably have stopped to have a fap while looking at himself in the mirror. "Next," he continues, "I'll write something to go over the top. A melody perhaps... no... how about a a simple motif that I can play over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Maybe I'll modulate or tweak the motiff every now and them, just to give me something to do" --because lords know, the freakin' machines are doing everything else -- "Yes. I rather think that will do for now. Now I must go eat a kilo of turkish delight to make sure my sh!t smells of roses.

On this matter I believe Bill Bailey has the final word(the piece I'm referring to is roughly 2 minutes into the video| Warning: The is extremely British. Beware all Americans that enter here). Of course, it probably doesn't help much that I recently rediscovered my Metallica collection. May Hetfield live forever.

Naruto (+ 2 mini reviews):

I bear no shame in this; I am a Naruto Fan. I'm not a fanboy by any stretch of the imagination, for instants while I'm aware that the series is vastly superior to Dragon Ball Z (I swear I once watched an episode in which the characters did nothing but scream) I also know that it doesn't really hold itself well compared to something like Deathnote, but that's unimportant. Naruto world and story speaks to my imagination, which is the be all and end all as far as I'm concerned. This loves for the series has been pretty much dormant for a while and involved nothing more than watching an episode when I could find both the time and the file. But this all went **** up recently.

My cousin recently bought Naruto: Rise of a Ninja for the 360 (a great game that provides what the fans need while still remaining fairly accessible to newcomers. There are a few glitches here and there and can be completed in just over 10 hours but the mix of enjoyable action-adventure and solid fighting gameplay should keep anyone thoroughly entertained throughout the duration of the story. Score: 8.5). The side effect is that I've been on a Naruto kick ever since. In itself I don't consider this a bad thing, but when the aforementioned kick lures you into buying Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution, you know you've got a problem. I bought it yesterday, I completed it today. It cost me £35 (about $70). In under four hours I completed the story mode and unlocked every character. Me. I suck at fighting games and I tore this game a new one. That says a lot as far as I'm concerned. One that that can be said for it though is that the story mode isn't just about normal fighting, most of them come with conditions such as defeat X with a certain move or make sure team mate Y doesn't die. This serves to add something a little interesting to the fighting genre... but not much. What i also found depressing is that the fighting system in the action-adventure Rise of a Ninja (360) is slightly deeper, far more involved and infinitely more enjoyable than the fighting in Clash of Ninja Revolution, which is a dedicated fighting game. It's just as well that CoNR is a Naruto game because I don't think I could have stomached it otherwise (Score: 6.5).

It's my own fault really. I've been gaming for long enough to know that pretty much every game ported from another medium will suck and it will suck absolutely. Still, on the upside, I think I've gotten over my Naruto Kick. Indeed; a poor game will do it every time.

Taz

Screw Anti-Game Crusaders, We got it Covered, or, Why I don't Bully my Nephew.

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What? So I'm a responsible gamer all of a sudden? What a jack!
Although...

Just over a week ago I was in the closing stages of Bully: Scholarship edition for the Wii when I got a visit from my sister and my five year old nephew, James. As usual, the second James clocked that I was playing a game he was sat right next to me, asking me questions like "What's this?", "what are you doing?", "are there any monsters?". All fairly standard fare. At any rate it beats having him run through the ages of every member of my immediate family and my girlfriend (dunno why, the kid's got an obsession with ages at the moment). Still as I was in the middle of a bike race at the time I thought nothing of it. However, after I won the race I went back to Bullworth Academy to save my game and along the way, as had become custom, I decided to brutalise one of the many bullies that infest the campus.
Great fun, but perhaps not for young eyes.As I pounded the bully's face into the tarmac and delivered a knee drop to his good-stuff I suddenly felt a twinge. I looked to my right and there was my nephew, drinking it all in. I thought to myself, "Hang on, James is five years old, he's just started school. He shouldn't really be watching this, surely?" At this point I allowed myself to get taken down by a prefect and turned the game off and explained to my nephew that he shouldn't hit other kids, that he'll be punished if he does. Usually I'd make light of the situation, adding something like "fighting is dangerous and should only be attempted by highly trained professionals and bikini clad girls covered in oil." Not this time, though. I felt I should make my point clear.

Since that event the situation has played on my mind. I was in shock at my own actions and had little sense of what was at the root of it all. Worst of all I entertained the idea that I was bending to the will of those jumped up special interest groups filled with bored housewives that cause a furore every time TakeTwo release a game.
Then I realised something.
I, we, everyone of us, we are all gamers and responsibility has become part of gaming. This is our duty.

This is important. I'm not saying that a video game will necessarily influence a child, or anyone else for that matter. Hell, my nephew loves Zelda. Even though most of his time playing it constitutes of accidentally erasing saved games (much to my sister's annoyance) he can't get enough of it. He eats that s*** up. And I fully encourage this as the games really speaks to his imagination, bringing him alive. I've spent several hours now pretending to be a moblin while James acts the part of Spider-Link (don't ask). It's clear to me that gaming can have a profoundly positive effect on children.Spidey and, um... Link...Yeah!
However, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't be cautious about the games our kids are exposed to. Around James I have no problem playing Zelda, gunning down Space Pirates in Sky Town in Metroid Prime 3 (you gotta love the Metroid series if only for the names), waging war in Battalion Wars 2 or even eviscerating my way through a game like Ninja Gaiden. Why? Because the violence in these games is pure fantasy, and what's more it's also compounded with a fairly strong sense of right and wrong. Hell, I could even play a GTA game in front of James, I'd simply stop myself from needlessly murdering civilians and explain to him that the people I was killing were bad guys that wanted to hurt me and (adding some hyperbole) take over and enslave the world.
See, the thing is, I won't let James play or watch Bully: SE because it's so quickly associated with school life. I don't think that the game will make him pick fights at school, but it's always best to air on the safe side. Besides, he's five and will rarely accurately interpret a situation beyond basic emotion, e.g. that man's angry and he made the other man sad (I wish I could reference a study here. Though I'm fairly sure Prof. Robert Winston demonstrated one on the BBC not too long ago). James simply wouldn't truly grasp the impetus behind the fighting and be able to reconcile it with real life. Whereas a fifteen year old, perhaps even a twelve year old, will grasp that Jimmy Hopkins fights to stop bullying and that beating and being beaten might not just end in a quick fix up job at a nearby infirmary.

Gaming. This is our hobby, this is our love. This is also our responsibility. We all know about the anti-gaming crusade, the ranks of which seems to filled with those that have never played games and parents that don't seem to want to believe that the responsibility of what a child is exposed to in the home lies SOLELY with the with the parent and no one else.
The C64 gamers and arcade trolls of old have grown up now, and no doubt many of them have families. The average gaming age has gone up, more adults are gaming. What we have is a generation of parents that know exactly what their kids are playing because they're probably playing it themselves. While we, and by we I mean every gamer, take responsibility for what our kids and younger relatives play and watch then the censorship groups don't have a leg to stand on. We win (even though not being able to play what you want when you want can suck on occasion).
I know a lot of this rant has consisted largely of common sense, for which I apologise, but I felt I had to point it out. Even if non gamers refuse to take responsibility for their children's entertainment - even though age ratings are clearly posted all over games these days -it's still up to us to do so with our children.

It's true. that is what games do.
(Seriously, just a day or two with Photoshop, just to grasp the basics.)

Not that I see the anti-gamers as a serious threat or anything. Some people will complain about anything. Harry Potter, VCR home video, Galileo - Hell even the Waltz was controversial when it was first developed. That's right, the freakin' Waltz; a dance. I don't know, I'm sure it'll all pass eventually but some people really need to get out more.

Thanks for reading.
Taz

At Play.com Live: Experiences of a U.K Games Exhibit.

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To be honest, I'm speechless. The very fact that someone decided to try to set up a public VG show in the U.K. is beyond all previously discovered realms of bafflement, but for the show to happen is surely a clear sign of the approaching apocalypse. For the show to actually be half way decent suggests to me that the choirs of heaven have finally lost to the legions of the pit and that, come the aforementioned Judgement Day, we are all well and truly f@#?!*.


If you gleaned anything from the nonsense above then you know that Play.com held a games exhibit and that it was surprisingly quite enjoyable. The Event took place over this weekend passed in Wembley stadium. I bought my tickets the moment I got wind of the event, back in December, (thank you very much Gamespot U.K.'s London Calling Blog) and was quietly stoked about the thing for the 4 months leading up to the event. My anticipation was partly because it was a U.K. games show but mostly because it was all I had left, my job having stopped me going to a couple of truly epic gigs over winter.
After months of waiting the magic date of March 15th rolled around and I, armed with a bit of cash and with my cousin by my side, made my way to Wembley. When I got to the stadium the first thing I did, the very, very first thing I did, was queue. That's alright though, we're English and if there's one thing we English can do really well, it's complaining. So as we whiled away the time enjoying a really good moan about the fact that we had to queue, the line itself whittled away until, before we knew it, we were all inside. You see the, the true secret behind the English's almost inhuman propensity to withstand the most outrageous of queues is not some natural factor of temperament, such as patience or subservience, bred into our genetic code; far from it. The real secret is being able to truly loose oneself in the throes of minor, but righteous, indignation and thus passing the time in ways that would have old A. Einstein revising certain aspects of his now legendary Special Relativity.


Enough babble now and onto the games.


Kung Fu Panda (360):
The first thing I encountered upon entering the show was picking up a 360 controller and spending an innocuous 20 minutes playing Kung Fu Panda. I suppose there's nothing really to report here. It was a pleasant enough demo in which I had to progress through a fairly linear stage filled with simple platform elements and several waves of tiny warthog beasts, through which you have to brawl and maul. The graphics were sharp and the controls were simple. From what I saw the game does nothing particularly impressive, but then you wouldn't expect anything else from a movie port. The game seems set to be an acceptable, perhaps even solid, experience aimed at fans and the younger consumer.


de Blob (Wii):
Alright, I've looked in on this game a couple times over its development and regarded it with lukewarm interest at best. It looks interesting, sure, but it also looks simple and potentially tedious. Tedious it isn't. Simple, yes, but this definitely works in its favour. I had the opportunity to play through a level but, while the somewhat attractive demonstrator had her back turned, I discovered I could play a mode called Free Paint. This done I was free to roam around a bleak, monochromous town and get my paint on. You know what? The game works. It just does. The nunchuk thumb stick moves de Blob and a wiimote waggle sees our gelatinous friend jump, which is pretty much all you need. With these two controls you can guide our man around the town, pick up colour from a wandering colour beast type thing and then proceed to paint the town red... or blue, or green, or purple, etc. And that's it. Pretty much. I dunno, the B trigger did something but I didn't have enough time to figure it out. But apart from that it's a simple, and joyful, matter of wandering around town, painting all that you see (and avoiding enemies, but regrettably I did not encounter anything.


The Bourne Conspiracy (360):
If I'm being honest, which I am (mum always told me it was the best policy after all), then all I can tell you about this game - based on hands-on experience at least - is that there is a driving section that seemed to work just fine. That's it. That's all I got to play of this title. However what else I can mention is that it does look good. Surprisingly good. There's a trend amongst ported games which sees most of them, whether ported from, or based on, film, T.V., or literature, turning out to be unimpressive at most and truly dire, quick buck for the publisher, pieces of trash that are intrinsically offensive to every gamer everywhere. What I saw while standing in line for this game was gamers standing, playing, completely transfixed. The graphics aren't groundbreaking by any means, they're even slightly lazy in places, but overall they stand up to casual scrutiny. The combat and movement systems seemed to work fine; I certainly didn't see anyone screaming at the thumb sticks in paroxysms of rage because the aiming reticule was too sensitive or anything to that effect. Overall, the game looks promising. I'm not entirely sure it's going to be another Chronicles of Riddick, but it's got the potential to at least stand its ground.


Grid (360):
The most impressive thing about this game was the fact that the demo I played was a several month old pre-alpha build (or at least claimed to be). For the life of me, I can't see how they're going polish the game they demonstrated. It looked beautiful (so long as you ignore the observers in the stands - but hey, when do they ever look that great?), and the visuals were technically sound as well. It took me a while to get to grips with the controls, but once I did they were solid as a rock, emulating a real driving experience quite closely. I would have loved to have tried a different car though as I really had to fight to keep mine from over-steering. Even when the cars got damaged they still looked fantastic, and it here that I was expecting to find some flaws, but no, not all. The dents, scratches and crumples were all realistic enough and they appeared to be entirely unscripted - the car took damage according to what was hit and how hard, i.e. a head on collision did not always cause the bumper to fall off or the bonnet to fly open. If drive sims are your thing then Grid is definitely one to watch.


Lego Indiana Jones (360):
Unfortunately I didn't get as much as I wanted with this one. No sooner had me and my cousin gotten 5 minutes into co-op play (which was in no way hampered by the camera) than everyone was kicked out of the event as the morning session of the day came to a close. But what little we did play was thoroughly enjoyable. It played as slick as it looks. The controls can be grasped within a minute or two and suit the environment down to the ground. The characters had the obligatory jump, attack and action commands but they also had their own weapon/ tool. Indiana had his whip, naturally, which can be used to take out foes or swing from certain branches, and the Indian kid I played had a spade which was good for laying the smack down, digging up treasure or paddling a raft. Had I had a little more time with the game I might have been able to expand on this a little. Have no fear though; I think I can safely say that this is going to be a fun game when it's released in June.


HALF TIME:
Of course I played more games than I have so far talked about, but as most of them are already released I have decided to omit them. The day wasn't all about the games on display. Unfortunately the organisers saw fit to have a stage and fill it with bands that did nothing but stopped me hearing the games I was trying to play. There was also a GH3 rock out competition that I caught the end of that I'm sure would have been fun to watch had cared about it in even the slightest. Still the other asides seemed to distract a certain volume of people from the games, making the queues less severe. So, y'know, "every cloud" and all that. What was nice was that as my cousin and I were politely but firmly ejected from the stadium with the rest of the crowd we handed a free copy of Knocked Up, which is a surprisingly good film.
We strolled away from Wembley and stumbled upon a little Irish pub and decided to sit down with pint of Guinness an take stock, not only of the day so far, but of the contents of our free goody bags. I won't bore you with the details of the bags contents because it's all been recycled now. One cool freebie I did pick up was a de Blob T-shirt, and I'm not afraid to admit that it has only further warmed me to that charming little title.
A quiet pint and a sandwich later and we headed back to the stadium, skipping the crowds thanks to our *ahem* V.I.P. passes. That's right: V-I- mother f***ing - P, baby! (In truth, they weren't anything special and only cost a couple of pounds more than a normal ticket. I just thought I'd mention. Because, yes, I am that sad that I need to exaggerate something insignificant to anonymous readers in a bid for validation. *sigh* It's a curse.) Once we got inside we made a rather startling discovery. There was a whole other freakin' room to view. It was most definitely time to get our game on.


Far Cry 2 (P.C.):
Regretfully, this wasn't a playable demo, but a couple of developers from Ubi's Montreal studio playing and commentating their way through a several month old build of the game. Aside from frame rate issues and an audio bug that forced them to restart the demo, the game looked good. No doubt the poor frame rate was due to the stunning particle effects. The game is set in Africa, which is dusty as hell, and the game reflects that. Lots and lots of dust, not quite the same magnitude as the amount of smoke in F.E.A.R but it looked just as good. So what's new in the sequel? For one, there's a 50 sq.Kilometre sandbox world to play in, and there seemed to be quite a dynamic friend system in play as well. The player can ally or befriend certain NPCs around the world who will, if they're aware of what you're doing, come and haul your ass out of a conflict when you fall, patch you up (we got to watch this NPC cauterise a grievous wound on our character's leg) and then provide cover fire as you decide what you want to do. This sounds great, but if your friends cops a cap to the face he stays dead and can no longer help you when you fall. The demo ended with a paraglide flight over some savannah, demonstrating for us the overall graphical beauty and some funky, entirely autonomous wildlife. They showed nothing of feral abilities, but what I saw seems to be shaping into a solid game.


Haze (PS3):
Don't hate me, but I am starting to get a bit jaded with all the FPS games coming out. We get them one after another and for the most part they're just another action packed, thrills 'n' spills shooter held together with, to be fair, another shamefully nominal storyline that even the trashiest of American thriller novelists would turn their nose up at. Usually though these games come out with a hook- be it an extraordinary scenario or clever little mechanic intended to blind us from the gameplay's otherwise painful monotony. So what's Haze got going for it? Erm... well... pretty much everything I mentioned above. You shoot things, you employ the clever little mechanic to your advantage and try your hardest to ignore the storyline. Alright, so I'm being a little unfair. As a shooter, it's solid, it really is. It's got the compliment of ballistics you might expect and which are all easy to aim and fire. In truth, I found the aiming in this game the least fiddly of any console FPS I've played so far. I also got to charge around in an APC which was great, preferable even over Halo's Warthog. And what about 'Nectar', the all important gameplay hook? It makes your enemies glow and washes out the background a touch. Um... super. That's just... yeah. It does have a cool twist though. I was lucky enough to witness one of my team mates having his Nectar supply slashed, sending him crazy and forcing me to shoot him.
Hands up. I'm being very harsh towards this game, especially seeing that only played parts of the first couple of levels. I'm aware that you eventually change sides and that the story gets interesting, but I have been embittered. For the half hour I played I spent 10 - 15 minutes in effectively one cutscene. 10 - 15 minutes!?! I wouldn't mind if there was some substance to the script but it's not, it was all B-movie banter. I'm reserving judgement on Haze at the moment, but I hold no high hopes for it. From what I've seen it looks for all the world like just another FPS. I hope to be proved wrong.


Battle of the Bands (Wii):
A rhythm game that utilises the wiimote motion abilities to have you waving along with the song? Hella fun! That's it. Ok, so there are some motion detection issues but it only seemed to affect the game when I had to wave the wiimote down to hit the beat though and could quite possibly been fault of my own. Another thing is that there is a lot of inter-band action going on, which is mostly pure violence, but you never notice it because you're so focused on hitting the notes. What you do notice though is the way the songs you're playing change genre depending on which band is dominating the battle. It's easy, it's almost cute, it adds a new flavour to the rhythm genre and regardless of how simple it looks and how stupid it makes you look, this is a fun game.


Soul Calibur IV (360):
No. No I did not get to play as Yoda. You can go elsewhere for you star wars fix.
I suppose I'm probably not the best person to talk about this game as Fighters are not my forte and this was a very, very early build. So early that a character would still get back up after being K.O.d, but it is so early that we can forgive it its flaws. What I did find worrying was that more time and effort seems to have been put into the visuals than the actual fighting gameplay, and for a game that is ALL fighting, that can't be good. There nothing wrong with combat, per se, it was just bland, and a hell of lot slower than I remember the SC series being (admittedly it's been some years since I picked up a Dreamcast pad and revelled in SCII). I think too much time may have been put into breasts. Literally. If you've ever played DOA extreme 2 you might get an idea of what to expect from the female characters in this game. It's not quite as extreme as DOA, but it's not far off. It's too early to say, but I hope this won't be the death of a longstanding IP.


Condemned 2: Bloodshot (360):
I found this little gem five minutes before the event closed, leading to much the same situation I experienced with Lego Indi. This was even more of a shame as the three minutes I played of this was three solid minute of sheer grim, but unbridled joy. Whoever had played it last had left in the middle of a fight so I was thrown straight into the action, braining 3 maniacs with a crowbar, one of which I executed via an environmental kill; to wit. I rammed his head into a T.V. A couple of further fights followed, including one with a flipped out Doberman and another which resulted in me throwing some schizoid into a dumpster and standing back to watch with ill restrained glee as the lid toppled and concussed my would be slayer. It was at this point that the security guard approached me and said "This is the third, I will not say it a fourth, it is time for you to leave."
He... well, he didn't appreciate my trying to bribe him to give me five more minutes so I decided to cut my losses and make with the offski. But Condemned 2, from what I played, seems to live up to hype that might be surrounding it. It's moody, it's gritty and it's brutal, all of which is reflected with flair through the visuals, sound and gameplay. As to whether it's cerebral too, I can't comment because I didn't get a chance to play with any of the forensic mechanics, nor glean any of the story, but one can only hope. I only wish I could have played longer and gained some sort of genuine insight into what this game is and what it's trying to do. But from 3 minutes I'm hooked and seriously considering investing in a 360.



All in all, the event was a solid day out. I was a little disappointed by the lack of new content on display, but as it was the first U.K. games exhibit in about half a decade it's hardly suppressing that publishers put little faith in it as a medium to display new content. Ubisoft and THQ both put forward a reasonable and well received slew of games and definitely made their presence felt, as did EA to a certain extent, except that most of their display pieces are already on release. Conversely, Square Enix screwed us over. There was present not a single demo, they simply set up a couple screens and sofas and played a series of trailers that have been shown many times before at other shows. There was definitely enough going on for those whose attention not held by the display games. There were bands, competitions and impromptu Rock Band bands performing in public as well as a whole host of cos players, cult celebrities, cult displays and a reasonable attractive woman sitting on a reasonably attractive motorbike. I ignored al that though and what time wasn't spent playing pre-release game builds was lost to either queues, UT3 for the P.C. or, for some inexplicable reason, dynasty warriors.
It was a pleasant surprise but the day was really good. I didn't go back for the second day purely because I knew I'd just wind up playing Condemned 2 for 8 hours straight. If Play.com Live rears its head for a second year I shall certainly be making an effort to attend, and suggest it to anyone able to make. My only hope is that we get some brand new content on show next time.

My First Wii related Injury

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It's been a while coming, but the inevitable has finally happened. Due to playing Bully: Schollarship Edition for the Wii (obviously) I have given myself a mild case of Repetative Strain Injury. I first noticed a slight twinge in my nunchuk-side wrist during a mission in the close of chapter 2, about a third way into the game. The idea was to box a prep boy into submission to demonstrate exactly how big my balls are. About half way through the match I gave up on trying to use tactics and opted instead to simply thrash my arms about in the hope that my character, Jimmy, would take a hint and start leathering the inbred panty-waster into a gelatenous heap of human goo.

It worked, but at a cost. I believe the aforementioned arm thrashing was sufficient to send my left wrist over the edge into the realm of dull, throbbing pain it now occupies.

Has this stopped me Playing?

No.

Has this put either Bully: SE or the Wii down in my estimation?

The hell it has. Bring the pain, mother-fungler! Bring the pain, and bring the joy!!!

Good day, sirs.

Thor's Nuts! Free Time? For Me? What Devilry is this?

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Well, dip my biscuits, it has been one helluva quarter year so far. Things, however, do seem to be slacking off for the next couple of months. To the point that I might even start making regular contributions to this esteemed site.

Since December my spare time has been brutally mugged, murdered, hung, stoned, drawn, quartered, put through the electric chair, burnt, had its ashes reformed into a diamond and then smashed into dust which was then thrown to the wind and thereby left to get lodged in the eyes of any casual passer-bys so that the memory of said spare time would, for some obscure reason, be forever associated with intense ocular irritation and potential blindness.

Alright, so that's a little melodramatic, sure, but it felt hella good to write.

The culprits of aforementioned atrocities are as follows. Work, The Dream and The Girlfriend.

Work: I work The Churchill Theatre, Bromley as a stage technician; perhaps one of the most bizarre professions on the planet. Such is the job that it is not entirely uncommon to find yourself 20 foot up in the air, hanging by your knees and screaming "WHERE ARE THE F***ING ELEPHANT LEGS" while attempting to tie a bowline knot with one hand. Now, I realise that given the the second paragraph of this blog I have proved myself somewhat prone to hyperbole but the scenario I just describe actually happened during the production week for the launch of the Doctor Dolittle Tour back in September/ October time. To reiterate, theatre is a strange, strange place.

The second thing to note about the job is the thing that's actually relevant to this blog. The hours. 70-90 hour weeks are not uncommon. But this wasn't the issue. The real issue was that I had to help construct, and crew, an Andrew LLoyd Webber musical (*shudders*) a Pantomime (something only the English can even begin to comprehend.) starring Paul Michael Glaser (Yup, the original Starsky and the world's biggest C***), the beginning of Disney's High School Musical UK Tour (oh dear god, no) as well as the relaunch of Never Forget, which is based on the music of Take That (I pledge my soul to any dark lord that's listening because the holy one has clearly given me the finger). I suffered all this in quick succession, starting from the end of November and ending some 2 days ago. While the season has been quite lucrative I have lost the best part of 3 months wallowing in a stagnant broth of pity, self loathing and barely controlled madness.

And yet I still love the job. Go figure that one.

The Dream: What small amount of time the working season afforded me was partially spent trying to realise my dream of becoming a novelist. The book is done, and has been so for a while, the joy I've had recently is that of editing. In the past three months I have somehow managed to find the time to proof read and produce the second draft of my: The Gods Watch Over. I shan't explain anymore except that this process takes up vast amounts of time concentration and, perhaps most importantly, patience. I'm leaving it there because, given the opportunity I could expound this topic almost indefinitely.

The Girlfriend: Alright, let me get this straight now, I have no problem spending time with my beau and I do love her dearly, but a problem arises when 80 - 90% of your time is otherwise spoken for. It can leave one feeling a touch strung out when time has to forcibly snatched out of thin air in order to acquire a few hours quality time together. This situation can be further exacerbated when you're forced into making an effort when all you really want is to, if you'll excuse the bluntness, knock one out, roll over and go to sleep.

Even in light of the items above I found time to game. I managed to blitz through Zelda:TP, Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy and The Simpson's game (there is only one reason to play that game and his name is Will Wright) as well as logging some time with a few others. Given the way I was forced to play them, i.e. clasping the odd hour here and there, I don't think I really got the most out of it. Except for Zelda. Zelda are most good, yo.

The schedule's freed up a bit now, what with a series of small shows moving through the theatre and the fact I shall be letting others read my book for a while. This means great things. A return to normality for the girlfriend and I for one. For another, I'll get to spend ample time with my beloved Wii. I've just started playing Battalion Wars 2, which is shaping up exceedingly well, and I've got Bully: Scholarship Ed. and No More Heroes on their way with Okami, Spore and SSBB likely to follow. In addition to this, I've bought tickets for Play.com Live, the U.K.s first real public games expo for sometime. That's coming up real soon and is something I'm likely to post a report on.

Oh, and hell, I'll probably end up getting outrageously inebriated with my long neglected friends at some point too. ROLL ON SPRING!!!

Resident Evil 4: A Survivor's Diary :- Final Day.

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Foreword:
Ladies and gentlemen... we got 'im! That is to say, I wrecked this game, and enjoyed every... 99... 95% percent of the minutes of it. I have been introduced to a new genre, survival-f*****g-horror baby! And Alone in the dark has just been announced for the wii? It's like it was fate.

Last time:
A lot of stuff, most of it consisting of things doing exactly what they shouldn't do. Whatever, the whole thing had a shadow thrown over it because I got shivved. I got shivved big time.


So I kicked off today's play by going to get my own back on the b@st@rd who shivved me yesterday, but he got me again. And another time. Then he almost had me but some lass called Ada came and scared him off. She may as well have not bothered because I got fried by some lasers, so I had to go back and try the whole thing again. I got shivved again. *sigh*
I get past that crap and then this happens.

...Well. More or less. Less rocket launcher though. And more magnum now I come to think about it. And I ran... a lot. Still, you get the gist. I have to make good my disapproval of this scene: I don't care how butch you are, how fast you can regenerate or if you have one way nerves that don't send pain signals to your brain, if you get 50+ bullets put in you - actually in you - then you die. You get very dead, very quickly; irrevocably so. Whether you suffer blood loss, nervous shock or multiple organ failure, you get the deads put on you. Hence my annoyance with this boss.
Leaving a bloodied heap of bio-altered mulch behind me I travelled on, en route for revenge. The guy that knifed me earlier on, he was back and now with 20% more knifey goodness, and an smg, and grenades, and a crossbow. I, however, had a couple of bullets in a handgun and a really lucky aim. Unfortunately he had a really funky, bullet proof arm that soon put a stop to my fluke shots. This man:

A very bad man.
...Jack Krauser is his name. I'm not afraid to tell you, he can hit really hard. He was all like, "grrr, I'm gonna walk at you with my bullet proof arm." And I was all like "Bring it, mofo! I got no ammo, but I got this knife that I'm gonna OH MY GOD YOU STABBED ME!" And he's like "yeah, you like that." And I'm like "No." And he's like "tough **** b!tch, 'cos I'm gonna do it again." And I'm like "oh, be reasonable now -OW!- I'm sure we -OW!- can talk -OW!- about this like rational -OW!- human be-STOP STABBING ME!!!" He, um - he didn't stop So I had to fall back on an old friend, to wit: one Mr. Magnum (I know I've used this tactic extensively, but hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it). Interestingly enough, I shot him in the foot and his chest exploded. I wont complain though; saved my ass.
Next came what was perhaps the best, most kickiest assiest piece of gaming I have experienced in quite some time. I ran into what I assume was some sort of army base, inhabited by entire platoons schized out Nam veterans (even though they're spanish) on a life long mass slaughter bender. All those psychos and what did I have? Well, I had a pistol, a shot gun and for back up I had A MOTHER F*****G GUNSHIP, BABY! HELL YEAH!!!I was granted time to take a leasurely stroll through a world of destruction, mopping up what few ganados survived the chopper's onslaught. It was beautiful, beautiful moment, ruined only when some ass came along with an RPG and blew my back up out of the air. Still, it was great while it lasted.

All that was left for me to do was rescue Ashley from Saddler's grasp -aided by Ada, the lady in red (no, not the scarlet hussey that de Burgh sung about). We removed the parasites that were busy taking over our bodies and carried on to the easiest finale fight in the history of gaming. Osmund Saddler, the mastermind of the whole operation, is an otherwise genial kind of man that's always ready to enter into a spot of witty banter. Until, that is, he transforms himslef into this giant, four legged, beasty type monster thing covered in spines, spikes, claws and other sorts of general unpleasantness. He talks tough, but is a bit of a wet hen. Allow me to explain how to dispatch of such a monstrosity, through the medium of a panicked conversation.

Me: SHOOT THE EYES, SHOOT THE EYES, SHOOT THE EYES.
You: THERE'S SO MANY EYES, WHICH DO I SHOOT?
Me: I DON'T CARE! IF YOU SEE AN EYE, SHOOT IT.
You: BUT HE'S COMING FOR ME!
Me: YEAH; REALLY, REALLY SLOWLY.
You: BUT-
Me: -SHOOT THE GOD DAMNED EYES, YOU PANTY WASTING SISSY.
(pause)
You: What if I use this bazooka I've been hoarding for the entire game?
Me: ...
...
... yeah, that might work.

And so, after a quick ride on a jet ski along a subterranean river Leon and Ashley were free to watch the island blow up, destroying all trace of Saddler, Las Ganados and Las Plagas and saving the world.

I did it. Me, a horror game rookie survived this kick ass game. There are other modes and games unlocked upon completion, but I won't be detailing them as I have the main game. Hope you enjoyed this trek through the RE4 world, maybe encouraging you to get the game if you haven't already. Look out for my full review coming sometime soon. Possibly.

Resident Evil 4: A Survivor's Diary :- Day 5

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Foreword:
This is a really fun game. That is all.

Last Time:
A lot. A lot happened last time. Lots of BANG!, plenty of *splash*, myriad "Aaaaaaaaaaah!", inumerable "don't throw that thing at me you c***" and "wait. Crossbows? really?", a few "splat", "noooo" and "ah ha ha ha haaa"s, too much *slash* *slash* *stab* "Ow, that was my chest you f*****g f**k!", and just enough "Wheeeeeeee! I'm on a mine cart."

I remember starting play; I put some key in a lion's mouth. It all kinda goes dark from there. I seem to recall going up a tower with barrels being tipped at me (I won't make the obvious DK/ rip off reference here as I think I did that to death last post.)
...Oh yes, before that I got chased by a statue. Not one of those small things you might link with the word "sculpture" but one of those mini colussus deals more usually associated with the term architecture. Yeah, that was a bit on the stupid side. He chased me down this path, presumably after someone to play with, cracked his head on a doorway and then fell over, taking out a bridge I was in the middle of running across. Then came the whole tower thing with barrells and this lift. Oh ho, so many robed dudes came to say hello. They would jump onto my lift, "Hellooooo!" they would shout, "how are you to... to...urgh, hmph...gah!" and then their heads would explode in a mass of really sharp tentacles (a recurring theme throughout the game that I believe represents...um... the spanish...and their, er...their tendency to, um... to self...detonate?). After the welcome comitee came what I was there to do- meet the boss. Again.

This was a bit of a let down as the maths of the situation was unthinkably simple.
This:

Crazy dwarf turned crazy bio weapon dwarf.
Plus this:

A sexy, sexy gun.
Equals this:

Win win win win
With that out of the way I jumped on a boat and went to this island that Ashley had been whisked away to. Seemed like a pretty crap island to me. There was a single fecking palm tree in sight. Still I stolled on a little way and, what d'ya know, all hell broke loose. Axes, machettes, crossbows, cattle prods and dynamite a gogo - one guy even brought a mini gun. A flaming minigun! He seemed to be having some sort of psychotic episode in which he was in a jungle, a was an alien with dreadlocks and the mini gun he was holding was still very much a mini gun. Blood, guts, bullets, blades, s*** and pubic hair filled the air (pubic hair - because I'm a sadist). I t was like watching a tasmanian devil take out a nest of rats, played double speed, and with guns. Messy. After an elaborate sequence involving lasers, mirrors and the most poorly constructed security system known to man (seriously. Someone's gotta shoot the architects of these places) I was a allowed a brief reprise before the whole thing exploded again. YAYNESS! I felt like a lone soldier storming Omaha Beach. There were crazies to left of me; loons to right. Infront were the mad bastards and behind approached the derranged brigade. In the middle was me. One man, 5 guns and a f*** load of grenades. They didn't stand a chance. I emmerged from this relatively unscathed, mostly due to the outrageous stockpile of first aid tinctures I seemed to have acquired. On wards an upwards. There came a few enemies, but nothing special. Then there was this fat meathead with a hammer or something. Let me tell ya, the bigger they are the harder they hit. I decided to shank him in the end.

Ah. Yes. Yes, indeed. I believe I have made good my objections to things that don't die when shot. More so about things that get shot in the head and don't die. I was positively vehement about things that get shot to death and then revive themselves in a mass of jugular born tentacles. Well, that crap is childs play. What I stumbled upon next simply took the p!ss. It took the p!ss then fed it back to me via an I.V drip. These:

-{Censored}--{double censored}-
Not only do they not die when you shoot them, not only do they not die when you shoot them in the head, not only do they not die once you blow their head or any other body part off, but they heal their wounds in seconds and carry on walking at you like nothing has happened. I - I just - I mean - well - you know - they - I - AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!! I was livid. I was not going to stand there and let something dismiss the laws of physiology so flagrantly. Alright, I may have shot it a little more than was strictly neccesary, but it started it. Still, my frustrations at the situation were more than made up for when it died. These beasts explode in a hail of dark crimson goo, leaving behind nothing but a pair of rather confused looking legs that wobble about uncertainly for a few moments before figuring out that they're dead and falling over. After a couple of these abominations I recovered the keys I needed to find and rescue Ashley... again, at which point we stormed back through the building and jumped into a massive waste disposal gulley. A quick trek through the rotting underbelly of the island, in which I encountered more things that stubbornly refused to die, we came to a behemoth of a bulldozer. Part of being the president's daughter must entail acquiring a HGV liscence because that girl could drive. Oh what fun we had, rampaging through the tunnels, leaving a plague pit's worth of dead Spaniards in our wake. Things went a sour when some pillock decided to drive a cargo truck into us, causing us to total the bulldozer against a wall. Not to be discouraged we made the best of a bad situation and entered the building via the massive hole our transport had created. Two rooms in and guess what. Thats's right, Ashley got captured, AGAIN. I mean, damn! It's enough to make a man throw in the towel.

I left play today after blasting my way through some boiler room or another and making my way onto a steel grill platform, at which point some guys in an army uniform knifed me in the chest. That'll be something to look forward to tomorrow.

Resident Evil 4: A Survivor's Diary:- Day 4

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Foreword:
Today, I played a lot. I mean, I played at the expense of all else. Such was my playing that I almost caused irreprable damage to the kitchen counter by means of damn near melting batteries, trying to recharge them quick enough. As such a lot has happened and I have little time to write it up. Without further a do (except for the "Last Time" section) I shall endeavour to recapitulate the last 9/ 10 hours of my gaming life.

Last Time:
Merchant love, Marvel comic rip offs, invisible mosquitoes from hell and loads of other stuff that made good with the hurting of me. There was a fair amount of blood too.

To save time I am going to provide you, dear reader, with a list that includes, but is not limited to, all of the things that have tried to kill me today. Said list goes as thus: Everything.
Important Discovery 3: Shooting ceiling hanging oil lamps not only saves ammo but it saves lives too. Your life, that is, not the lives of whomsoever you may be raining this firery death down upon. Their lives will not be saved, as should be your intention. I would like to note also that once you have done this you should try your very best to ignore the ensuing light show because it tends to distract you from the scythe wielding lunatic sidling up next to you who fully intends to perform an impromptu and somewhat haphazard tracheotomy only to have his head explode in a mass of whipping, slashing tentacles- who's sole purpose in life seems to be to hate anything that appears adamant about not letting their head explode in a similar mass of tentacles. (That, my friends was a really, really long sentence.)

What next? Right, I saved Ashley, the Presidents daughter, who then went on a arson binge, throwing other oil lamps at anything she didn't like the look of. She made her way back to Leon and the two of them blasted their way back through the castle until they got to a chamber full of lava. Yes... lava. Lava rooms have always grated against me. In games such as Mario - fine. He's a fat plumber tripped out on halucinogens who loves nothing more than squashing mushrooms and small reptiles; lava is the least of one's continuity/ realism problems. In more serious games, it's just silly. THe very notion that someone could channel several maga gallons of lava from a volcano into a castle (which is made of the stone, the solid form of lava) without it cooling down AND THEN keep it at such a temperature so as to keep the lava hot BUT not so hot that it doesn't melt all the stone/ metal (even wood on some occasions) that it sits around, is, frankly, beyond my realms of fantasy acceptance. Regardless, I moved on with that game and, after a couple of pleasant train rides I soon encountered another another dimensional rift that lead Leon and Ashley into the Jim Henson/ David Bowie film, Labyrinth. I really wish I could have found the pictures for you to make the comparison but Ashley got attacked by two robe men on a rather large land boring machine. I'm guessing they must have just come from the greatest party in history because if you're going to drive a large land excavating machine into a castle you have must have to be wildly, wildly drunk.

Soon after this incident Ashley got kidnapped by hell born insect and from here started to get truly silly. After blasting my way through another section of castle, including another fight with a wannabe wolverine (see Day 3 for details) I came once again face to face with obnoxious dwarf that owns the real estate which I had spent the last several hours thoroughly, and methodically decreasing in value. Given the circumstances he was unstandably peeved and saw fit to open up a trap door and send me to my death on the obligatory pungee sticks below. Almost. I Miraculous survived and entered another dimensional rift where I met this charming fellow.

Bright eyes, but no bushy tail: this dude is scary.
What followed I wasn't too uncomfortable about as I have seen the Alien films. Alright, so there wasn't any severe facial molesting, chest bursting or russian doll tongues but all that stuff with lethal tails, nasty claws and the short soiling sense of being hunted from places unseen was there. I'm not ashamed to tell you I may as well have lay down, disemboweled myself and said "here you go, take your fill. My liver is especially tender today, having been throughly beaten by hordes of mace handling monks" for all the good I was doing. The pattern went thus: I would shoot, he would dodge, I would get a new A hole torn for me, rinse and repeat. That was until I remembered that I owned a ridiculously overpowered magnum. Combine that with a few tanks of liquid nitrogen and let the good times roll. Next:

Idiots, just ripe for the killing.
HOORAY! Idiots: though I had missed machettes aimed at my head like...well, like machettes aimed at my head, there is nothing more fun than idiots, especially when your previously mediocre firearms are now stupidly powerful. It was like it was at the start of the game again, nearly every shot I fired was quickly followed by an extremely satisfying splash. And then, AND THEN, I got to play with some dynamite. Sweet. What came next scared the crap out of me. Two, count them, two freaking giants came to get me. About half of this fear was alleviated when one of them mistook a lava pool for the more common water filled variety. That left me with one El Gigantes who, incidentally, wasn't all too fond of magnums either. I have to point out one thing that happened here. I got stamped on. Sure this wasn't the politest thing the Giagantes could of done but it was funniest thing in the game since hearing the game in form that I was about to play "Resident Evil...4!" (see day 1). Still, funny as it was to see Leon lay prostrate beneath the clumsy hoof of some insufferable, lumbering oaf, said oaf had to be taught a lesson, so spanked him. I spanked him till he could be no more. (note: replace "spanked" with "shot" and "could be spanked no more" with "was inarguably dead".)

Next was a cave full of insect that were really too fond of kicking me, closely followed by me gatecrashing a party. A bunch of Ganados were holding a bonfire and by the way they stood around, doing absolutely nothing, they looked to be having the time of their lives. Seeing as I hadn't brought my own beer I decided I would try the next best thing and help with the fire. I thought I had made friends for life right up until the point where they all burned to death. It seems I had been a little sloppy with my aid for the bonfire - to wit, one incediary grenade - and rather than building it up I more sort of just... spread it... a lot. Nevermind. I had little time to dwell on this misfortune because the last thing I did today was a real treat.

Errm...
MIIIINE CAAAAAAAAAR...

Leon zens in with mounted turrets across the globe.
...I mean MIIIIINE CAAAAAAAAAART MAAAADNESSSSS!!!!
This was great this bit. It was like another fair ground shooting gallery but mixed with a ghost ride. Great stuff. Ganados lined track on each side and one shot was all it took to dislodge them, sending them onto the tracks. Didn't matter if they got up again, they only had a few seconds before coming face to face with a tonne of cast iron boxes on wheels. The jolt as they went under the wheels was so satisfying. Splendid. Splendid.

It's unusual for me to end on such a high note, but it just goes to show.

Resident Evil 4: A Survivor's Diary :- Play Suspended

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Due to unavoidable engagements with drugs, sex and heavy metal over the next four days or so, I shall not be playing RE 4: Wii edition. Nor shall I be writing about it; though I would have thought this latter statement would have been obvious. In the mean time feel freel - nay - encouraged to read my previous diary entries.

Resident Evil 4: A Survivor's Diary :- Day 3

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Foreword:
Nothing this time.

Last time:
Giant, homicidal toddlers, spontaneous, betentacled resurrections, chainsaws, president's daughter and dogs; both the good kind and the juggular rending kind. Oh, and a sweet moment on a cable car. All in all, yesterday was a good day. Today, on the other hand...


Today I got no more than five minutes into the game when I ran into the head honcho, one Mr. Bitores Mendez. And here he is.

A man with far too many limbs and not enough midriff.
It was like... it was like he had heard about the concept of Spider Man, but couldn't quite grasp the principles behind it. He didn't cause much of a problem. I hid up in a hayloft for a while until he got bored and fell in half. He literally came apart at his hips... his human hips, and then went haywire; swinging from the rafters like a monkey on speed. I won't tell you what I had to do to him, needless to say it wasn't altogether pleasant. For some reason, upon dying, his eyeball slipped out of its socket. Naturally, I took it.

Incidentally, said eyeball turned out to be the key to the gate out of the village, so, president's daughter in tow, we went through and then got run over. I won't lie, that really annoyed me. I had taken a lot from these wise ass "oh look us, the mindless killers, gonna get ya family and abuse them with farming implements" moaning, shuffling, whiny Spanish bastard psychopaths. I'd put up with a acute cases of pitchfork-face, done the chainsaw limbo, the bear trap rumba, played dodgeball with their explosives and fed their dogs with my own trachea. Running me over with a 7.5 tonne truck not only took the biscuit, but the biscuit jar, the cake tray and other baked goods vessels as well. I went back, I stood in the middle of the path and, ala Tom Hanks at the end of Saving Private Ryan, I took that mother trucker on using nothing but a hand gun, and won. After this Ashley and I got chased into a castle by the cliché angry mob, avec torches and pitchforks and everything... did I just speak some french? Dear Lord!

Inside was a merchant. Now, I feel a special mention should be made for these unsung heroes because today, it finally clicked with me what they actually do. These merchants are the sole reason why Leon Kennedy didn't die as soon as he entered the Ganados' village. The Ganados, when they die, drop cases of ammo amongst other things. Not only this, but nearly every house is a small ammo dump. They hide ammo nearly everywhere: in boxes, in barrels, in cabinets and cupboards, on any flat surface and, strangely, in living crows. All this ammo, but you never find a single firearm. Not so much as a knicker-pistol is to be found around the Ganados. Why? Because those crafty merchants have sneaked around the area, scooping up every available firearm in order to sell them on. Had anyone but the merchants still possessed a gun, Leon would have snuffed it long ago. This also explains why you rarely, if at all, see merchants within view of the Ganados.

This wonderful little revelation aside I had to blow my way into the castle amidst a maelstrom of catapult launched fireballs and mace/ flail wielding monks that were even more opposed to the notion of dying than the Ganados were. That matter cleared up I went inside and met a dwarf, a severely inbred dwarf with a really annoying laugh. I tried to ignore but, as annoying people so often do, he didn't go away. I mean, he did, eventually, but he squeaked on about castles and families for a while and then blocked my path with a big slab. Forced to take another route I discovered exactly how deep The Los Illuminados obsession with marvel comics ran (the Illuminados, by the way, are the religious cult that run show that I have thus far neglected to mention.) So far I had encountered Mendez, the man that tried to be a spider, ( and now I think about it, La Gigantes looks kinda like The Thing) and then I came to Garrador...

Scary, but he ain't got s*** on Wolverine.
...the man that would be Wolverine. I'll give him ten out of ten for effort but no one can come close to Wolverine, no matter how hard they try; a fact that was made quite apparent by the fact that Garrador was a complete and utter cake walk. He got a claw stuck and couldn't move. So I shot him. Continuously. What next? Well, there were monks. A lot of monks. Some of them had shields, some of them bore helmets, most of them possessed really nasty looking maces. What to do? What to do?... GRENADES! All good fun. So, Ashley and I walk on a little way when she suddenly vomits blood, goes schizo and manages to get caught in a trap you'd have to be a complete moron to fall for. She lent against a wall, which clearly had holes in it, and then got caught by some restraints that fired out of said holes in wall and then the entire wall turned around. Great. Obviously I had to get her back, and the only way was down, to the sewers.

Why, can anyone tell, were there giant insects down here that had somehow acquired the impossible talent of turning themselves invisible? Why? For what reason should this be? Sure, mutant rats, crocodiles and the occasional disgruntled sewage trawler are to be expected in such an environment, but giant, man eating, invisible cranefly like insects? You can f*** right off. I wasn't having that. I walked right up to one and told it "look, pal, you're an insect. As such you possess an exoskeleton, which is fine when your small, but given the earth's gravitational pull and the low level of oxygen in the atmosphere you should, by right, simple crush yourself under your own weight." It didn't like. Forgoing further ventures into logic I turned instead to my knife. It didn't like that either. Quickly getting tired of this foolishness I withdrew my shotgun. It didn't much like that either, but at least it didn't stay alive long to make good its protests. That'll teach it to defy the laws of nature.


I left the game after clearing out the sewer, making my way through a corridor full of giant swinging axes (I won't deign to expound the stupidity of swinging axes. It really isn't worth it), performed 1st degree arson against a prayer meeting, swung on some more chanderiers and then cleared out a gallery full of mace and crossbow wielding nut jobs. What do I have to show for it all? About two bars of life and about 14 bullets. Things are not looking good.

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