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TTDog Blog

One Final Thought...

Okay... so the Xbox One has the option to charge gamers to play used titles but whether this will happen, or what the price will be is still very much in question.


It's not a massively popular function obviously.


Now what I want to know is this;


If Sony weren't planning on doing the exact same thing surely they would have been shouting it from the rooftops by now... really putting the boot in and making the most out of Microsoft's fumble... but they aren't... their keeping very, very quiet on this.


They've mentioned that the PS4 will be primarily a games console... but they've not said a word on the used game situation other than the PS4 will be able to play used games... they've also been really quiet on whether or not they intend to start charging for the PSNetwork... again missing a massive chance to put the boot in... and that's not very Sony like is it?


And would EA have totally abandoned the Online Pass system if only one of the next gen consoles were planning to implement such a function from day one.


Anyway... enjoy... I'm done here.

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

The title is both a sci-fi reference and a cult comedy reference.


It was passed on to humans by dolphins who were the second most intelligent creatures on the planet... after the mice who actually ran everything.


Humans being the third most intelligent creatures failed to understand it, believing instead that what the dolphin was really trying to do was perform a double back somersault through a hoop whilst grabbing a fish from an out-stretched hand.


Douglas Adams is sorely missed.


It seems apt... the dolphins were saying goodby because they could see the imminent destruction of the planet Earth by the Vogons and we're getting out while they still could... and I'm getting out of Gamespot before the lunatics take over... as off 31 May this site will be dead to me.


I can handle the pathethic reporting of rumours as "News", I can handle the constant repetition of news about certain companies and I can handle the occasional dodgy score... what i don't want to "have" to handle are the morons who turn everything into a pitched fanboy battle.


The morons who think that if they scream louder or swear like a soldier it somehow makes them better than anyone else, if they abuse you long enough they'll win a reasoned argument... but what really winds me up is that the Gamespot staff seem content to let this happen.


Gamespot used to be a fun site... it isn't anymore.


I've regsitered accounts elsewhere to get my gaming news fix, and while I'm not foolish enough to think that there won't be fanboys there either I don't have to concern myself with them, I won't be holding onto memories of when the site was more fun and pleasant to use.


So... thanks for the memories Gamespot... I'll just try and blank out the last couple of years if thats alright with you.

The End Of My Tether

There was once a time when visiting Gamespot used to be a fun thing to do... you could have a bit of banter with other users safe in the knowledge that if someone were to get a little out of hand and start using expletives then they'd get a few days rest... I had several of these myself as the blood boiled and the word "retard" slipped into a response or 40.

Since the lifting of posting restrictions Gamespot is no longer the happy joyous place it used to be, the lunatics have taken over the asylum, rabid fanboys hunt in packs so that if you added up all their IQ's you'd still be struggling to hit 3 figures... friendly banter has become scarce.

Gamespot isn't fun anymore.

So I have a number of options open to me;

One: I can search elsewhere and find a site where I can just ramble on to my heart's content, free from the morons that think just because they shout the loudest they rule... I've got a very old IGN account in the name "TTDog666" which actually matches my Gamertag.

Two: I can make use of one of my other GS accounts and vow never to post in any news thread no matter how retarded and inaccurate the comments are, I can set my profile to friends only and never have to worry about some halfwit polluting my blogs.

Three: Just sign out and only access the site as a guest.

Now I have to say I'm sort of favouring the second option... while the site may becoming swamped by pond scum there are people on here I'd genuinely feel sorry not to hear from again, had it not been for Gamespot I'd have never met N-REAL and experienced one of the most surreal weeks of my life... and it would give me an excuse to explain why I play what I play on the console that I play on to those who haven't read everything I've ever thrown out.

Plus I've always regarded my typing out of my gaming experiences as a sort of therapy, all the thoughts in my head about how Halo sucks or why I refer to a certain driving game as "Gran Turdismo" need to be released in some form... and option 3 would leave me just simply writing the world's longest gaming diary.

So now I open up the floor to those who have taken the time to read this or any other wall of text I've posted, to offer any words of wisdom you think may be of help.

Fourth Time (Un)Lucky

It seems my bank doesn't have a problem with my calling a savings account "Ni No Kuni PS3 Fund" as they haven't asked me to change it yet.

One reason I set this account up (aside from really wanting to play Ni No Kuni when I first saw footage of the game) was to provide somewhere I can dump Paypal funds from selling on old games that I no longer want to keep... and to stop me buying games on the cheap just because I know I have funds available.

To date I've bought just 2 games off Ebay this year, both for pennies, one of these I talked about last time, Metro 2033 which cost me a whopping £4.90 and will be the game I place in my disk tray after this one... which cost me the extortionate amount of £2.99

Now £2.99 has some fond memories for me... back when I was a kid at school games used to cost anywhere between £5.99 and £14.99 for a big release... a small development team named "Ashby Computer and Graphics" which later became "Rare" used to knock games out at £9.99 so games were something you tended to get on Birthdays or else required you to save up a months allowance to buy a new game... then came Mastertronic who started selling games at £1.99

This was great, you could buy a game a week if it weren't for one small problem... most of these games were freaking awful... for the first year there were maybe 2 games worth buying, and then they released "Finders Keepers" which was a small platformer which was worth way more than the £1.99 they were asking.

Nobody pirated these games, they were so cheap you could just buy it yourself a few days later... soon copycat cheapo games companies appeared and we were presented with more crap for pennies.

There appeared a sequel to "Finders Keepers" and this heralded a new dawn in cheap games... a £2.99 range where the output was generally much better, nobody pirated these games either, still too cheap, and soon even the big boys like Activision would release their old back catalogue at £2.99 a hit, and in the case of the Commodore 64 a lot of their back catalogue had never really seen much in the way of a European release.

Yep... £2.99 generally meant a great little game, a few years old maybe, but certainly worth picking up at that price... and thus I remember with fondness £2.99 releases... so when I saw this game at that price I had to buy it... even though I tried three separate copies on my old Xbox which all flat out refused to co-operate and let me play more than a couple of levels... I rebought Halo 3... Fourth Time Lucky?

[color=yellow]April 20th:[/color] This game really, really wound me up last year... three separate copies came and went, one of them damn near perfect condition, not a single mark on the disk, not so much as a fingerprint and still the sodding thing wouldn't let me get any further than the end of Chapter 3.

I never even got the Achievement for finishing Chapter 3 as this doesn't pop until the start cinematic of Chapter 4.

And I keep telling myself that just because I'm playing another First Person Game straight after a second trawl through Bioshock Infinite it doesn't mean I'm getting hooked on the genre... even if I do plan on working through Metro 2033 next... another damn First Person game.

The copy I have now was cheap, but described as being in good condition by the seller on Ebay... seems we have very different ideas of what "Good Condition" is as when I relist it, pretty much the same time as I write this, the condition will be "Acceptable" at best.

The disk is scratched, a lot, nothing major but it shows some serious signs of wear and tear, I've got games as old as this one, I've got DVD's much older than this game and the condition of them is near pristine... how can people mess with disks so much they end up like this one... my one concern here is that there will be one, tiny, scratch that renders the disk broken... but it won't make itself known until I get to the final climatic battle.

Now maybe I'm getting forgetful in my old age (by the time this hits Gamespot Ill have turned 43 for goodness sake) but my hearing is just fine... my memory on the other hand.

Even though I'd played the game and heard the voice a few times last year I'd failed to notice that the voice of the Arbiter is that of Keith David, who also voices Anderson in Mass Effect... and I'd also failed to properly notice the dulcet tones of Ron Perlman in there as well.

Now missing Ron could be understandable as he only briefly appears in the sections I had managed to play, but the Arbiter appears in the opening scene of the game... really should have spotted that one.

For the first time in a long time I'm playing a game completely without concern for Achievements... I know that there is more chance of the Pope fathering Quintuplets than my getting close to a full set here, the online community is probably dead and even if people were still out there playing they'd mock my total inability to play properly.

Sure I've looked at the Achievement list, but apart from getting the individual Chapter completions and one for completing the game then I'm looking at putting more work into the game than I really want to... having played the first two games I'm only really playing this to see how the trilogy ends... I'll end up with maybe 400 points out of the game which I can live with... not sure how I feel about this game pushing me past a 1,000 point on my Gamerscore but I doubt it'll cause me any physical harm... and it's not as if it's a major milestone.

Maybe I've been spoilt by First Person Games giving you a prod in the right direction, in Bioshock Infinite you could press a button and an arrow would show you the way to go next, in Deus Ex there was always a marker showing where you ought to be heading... in Halo 3 these appear when the game realises you haven't a freaking clue as to where to go next.

I am, at the same time, bloody terrible at playing the game, I've been killed more times than I care to remember, blown myself up several times by throwing a grenade only to have it bounce back to me, tried to take on a massive tank type thing with a pistol and gotten splattered... in short... I'm sh!t.

But the game has let me get further through the story than I already had, but it took me a while to get there... some parts I remembered, others I was totally clueless about... and when it came to start Chapter 4 it all became unknown territory.

Yes, despite this being the most hideously conditioned of the 4 versions I've tried it works just fine, and as I type I've completed 5 of the 9 Chapters in the game on Normal mode... I'm not going to bother with Legendary or Heroic as frankly I'm dying enough as it is... why would I want to die even more?

So I finish Chapter 3 again and Im onto Chapter 4, new ground, more fighting and lots of machines to kill... a good level, and the last where I maybe get any serious enjoyment out of it... Chapter 5 brings in the worst part of the Halo universe... the Flood.

Now it was commented on last time up that maybe I should have posted Spoiler Warnings about the death of a certain Evil Prophet in Bioshock Infinite, but as this game is approaching its 7th birthday surely there aren't people out there who are still pondering over whether or not to buy this game now? Apart from the lucky person who buys my copy on Ebay obviously.

Yep... the Flood turn up to dump all over Chapter 5 and I die several times on the final part of the level, I'm never a big fan of games where enemies just fall from nowhere to attack you and they do this a lot, they also seem to be impervious to bullets when they jump around but that could just be me being a crap shot... I get through the level and watch another cut scene and then another as Chapter 6 starts up and I call it a day... I'll finish the game and be done with the Halo universe tomorrow... having finally been allowed to finish the fight by an Xbox console that doesn't hate the game.

[color=yellow]April 21st:[/color] There may have only been 4 Chapters to go but they get progressively bigger until the final assault... and the fight is finished... and my desire to fight any further is extinguished with the closing credits.

When I originally set out to play the game last year is was because I was anticipating Halo 4, the gameplay videos looked so damn good that I felt myself being dragged into the game again, so I thought Id play through 3 and then start 4.

Back in the days of the original Xbox I loved the gameplay of Halo games... as I work through the last 4 Chapters here I grow to hate it, there is no fun in being massively out-numbered and reliant on dumb AI to help.

For example, I'm assaulting a base and you drive to get there, I take the turret to blast everything out the way as the AI is a piss poor shot... turns out he's a piss poor driver as well even going so far at one point to drive over the cliff... we die a lot and it's infuriating, even more so when we get past the next bit and die again and get reset way back down the road.

When launching an assault of the Gravemind I find myself battling through a huge indoor cavern swarming with enemies, I locate a flame thrower and I'm sorted, or I would be if an explosion hadn't blocked the way back to the cave.

Games like this aren't fun anymore... and I'm not really sure they were fun in the first place, endlessly swarming enemies isn't fun... getting killed for no reason isn't fun... the driving sections are sodding annoying.

I finish the game and vow that that is me done with Halo, I've finished the sodding fight and I couldn't give a rats toss what happens to Cortana in Halo 4... it's an over-rated franchise that really should have moved forward with the times but didn't... it's still stuck in 2004 and I never want to experience that again.

What should have been a nice 2 hour romp through the final 4 Chapters became a 5 hour slog, replaying parts over and over and over as I struggled to even work out where I was meant to be going, getting shot down reaching for the next checkpoint because I'd played the last 2 mins at least 10 times... not fun, not fun at all.

Even worse it's put me off playing another First Person game... I was planning to at least start Metro 2033 having completed the game to see if it was worth pre-ordering "Metro 2033: Last Light" which is due out in a couple of weeks... and now I just can't face the thought of playing yet another First Person game so soon.

[color=yellow]Forz'ed Into It:[/color] With Metro 2033 being forced into the back log by the very stink of Halo 3 and it's hateful gameplay I'm forced to check out something else for my gaming kicks, not long term as I've decided to leap into Dragon's Dogma in a big way when that arrives... so I start something that I can steadily work at over numerous sessions... Forza 3.

I had made an unintentional start here when I spotted an Achievement in Forza 4 for porting over a file for use from Forza 3... so I loaded it up, and accidentally collected an Achievement for leaping 5 feet in the intro race, so I figured I may as well win that race and collect another Achievement for winning a race, and then another for designing the vinyl set I ported over... 5 minutes play... 30 points.

Now I'd made a few notes on collecting a few of the non-racing Achievements in Forza 3 which I figured on doing with assistance from a second profile, but it seems I can't access my US and Japanese accounts without remembering the passwords... and guess what I can't do.

So I can't help myself get two Achievements for selling things from the Storefront, but I can collect a few others... buying something, even if it was free (having not played anything in the main game apart from the intro I had no cash) and completing a Time Trial, setting up a tuning file (adjusting the tyre pressure by the tiniest amount) and taking a photo, making a 5 second movie from a replay... and winning an Auction.

The last one was hardest, seems even though we were into the last minute any new bids instantly extend the time of the Auction so it seemed to drag on forever... mine, a black Golf GTi from the 1980's was mine... sadly I can't sell it on to instantly recover the credits I paid... and then onto the proper racing.

Forza games are fun, even with (and considering my inability to play anything too hard... definitely with) all the driving aids turned on and the game playing as easily as possible it's fun... and I can see myself working through the 6 seasons, hunting down rare cars and so on... a few hundred easy points are there for the taking... 800 seems a reasonable target to set myself there.

Second Time Around

It's taken a while but I feel ready, re-energized and prepared... enough time has passed for the gaping wound to become a minor irritation... I'm heading back to Columbia.

I'm not going to attempt the game on the hardest difficulty and "1999 Mode" served its purpose once I'd unlocked it... with a completion already out of the way I'm steaming straight onto "Easy" mode for the second run and I'm prepared with a walkthrough.

They say that fore-warned is fore-armed and I know what to expect, I also know how the game works and where and what I did wrong before... this time around the experience should be a little more relaxed and hopefully rewarding... the word "should" really ought to be in six foot high bold italics there.

[color=yellow]April 15th:[/color] I've found a rather wordy guide that lists out at which point all the Voxphones, Kinetscopes, Telescopes and Infusions appear as you progress... which runs to 81 pages, I've gone so far as to highlight the relevant words for each to make them stand out... I'm not really bothered about finding food and health, or salts and Vigors as these are fairly commonplace in the grand scheme of things.

I prefer a totally written guide like this, video guides are fine for boss battles or showing the exact location of a very hidden item but generally a well written guide is fine for what I'm after.

As I settle down to start playing I here news of the Boston Marathon explosions and I don't want to play the game anymore... I don't want to see the terror of the bombings either, only an hour before I'd been watching the Red Sox beat the Rays on Mike Napoli's double in the bottom of the 9th Inning... a joyous sight, I don't really want to see devastation.

So I listen to the news reports and slap Tiger Woods 2014 on for a last hurrah, I'd played 18 holes in the morning and seen that my current status within my Country Club was that of "Champion" and that seems like as good a time as any to quit... onto Ebay it goes, but right now playing a few online rounds while I listen to the news is just what I need.

2 hours in and I can't listen anymore... I'm coming down with Manflu (a hideous disease that leaves mortal men weak and feeble, but I battle on) and I don't need to hear anymore... I eventually return to Columbia.

I don't really get that far, my concentration levels are low, my mind elsewhere... I make it to monument islands and call it a day... I've managed to use a Kinetscope that I missed earlier (hidden away behind a tent) and a Telescope I somehow missed (on a floating ship that I totally failed to notice) so I've now seen 33/37 of the sights.

I also collect 5 infusions that come from adding the season pass that I didn't get first time which will help towards one Achievement, and another is found in the optional chest side quest from the opening level so I'm well ahead of my first play there.

I'm working through the game on Easy, having cleared it on Normal (about as brave as I get) first time around so I can take a little more time wandering through levels and not get splattered quite so much in some of the battles like I did before... while being excessively wordy the guide is pretty good, I'd failed to notice the Barbershop Quartet in the early game were singing a Beach Boys track, and some of the conversations the NPC's are having as you walk past are pretty funny.

In the back of my mind is the knowledge that I seem to be the only person who was upset at the ending, the whole Infinite number of worlds with Infinite number of Booker's and so on seemed a cop out to me, the idea that the Prophet Comstock knew I was there because I was really him from a different version of the world seemed like an even bigger cop out... just me that found this ending even more infuriating than that in Mass Effect 3.

[color=yellow]April 18th:[/color] It's amazing how much game you can get through when you're ill.

The 17th and 18th were not good days... suffering (valiantly) with Manflu I was off work ill, and much of the morning each day was spent colleting medical supplies from the local store (tissues, head ache pills, throat sweets and hot medical drinks... and chocolate, and maybe a sausage and bacon roll from the café on the corner of the street) and sleeping to recover... I've never drank so much fresh orange juice.

The afternoon were recovery time with my copy of Bioshock Infinite and a box of tissues, long pauses to blow my nose or catch a sneeze, and the realisation that the game is (as were the first two) bloody short when you've already played through it once.

It's also a rather sad state of affairs when the most exciting thing I found on day one was that the DVD box inlay is reversible so my copy now sports the "pen and ink" styIed drawings that had previously been on the inside of the inlay... a very 1912's looking game now resides on my games pile.

I'd done rather well first time through when it comes to collectables, I'd missed only 3 or 4 Telescopes of Kinetscopes and the guide helps me pinpoint those I missed, often because there was a lot going on at the time, Voxphone wise I missed 11 and most of these were near the end of the game for the same sort of reason, 2 were missed right before the final battle after I killed old Comstock.

The Kinetscopes I quite like, they add something to the history and lore of the game, how Columbia came to be separate from the rest of the US, how Comstock controls and rules over the populous of Columbia and the racism and sexism that was too prevalent in the era... the Telescopes... seem rather pointless, a look at the rest of Columbia just a tiny bit bigger than if you just adjusted the camera angle when you were stood next to it.

Playing on Easy has made the game a little quicker to get through, it doesn't lessen the experience and there is one point in particular that I had forgotten from my first run through that still made me jump... in the Warden's Office at Comstock house whilst looking for Elizabeth.

Second time around I'm also reminded, more strongly than before, that the game is missing a lot of what was shown in early videos... the scene where Elizabeth is upset by the death of a horse, or when the pair of you jump through a tear and end up outside an alternate Paris with "Revenge of the Jedi" showing at the cinema... both missing from the main game, the alternate Paris does briefly appear when you spy on Elizabeth prior to your escape but nothing like the premise built up pre-release.

I have made more use of the Vigors than I did first time through... knocking 20 enemies off Columbia itself is much easier using Undertow which I never really saw the point of before, nor comboing Undertow with Shock Jockey to electrocute enemies... much more fun, and I did spend more time trying out different combos with them.

Specifically setting traps with prolonged use, there being an Achievement for catching 3 or more enemies in a trap a set number of times, Murder of Crows seemed quite good for this one as there are numerous times when several enemies will be rushing towards you at once.

Late Thursday night I finished the game for a second time, there are a few of the "kill XX enemies in XX fashion" that I haven't collected, 30 hook execuations, 5 headshots whilst riding rails and 30 deaths whilst riding rails are all nowhere near complete and I haven't the patience to work on them... the other, unclaimed, Achievements all relate to completing the game on the 2 harder difficulty levels... no chance at all of grabbing them... and killing a Handyman by just shooting his heart sounds too much like hard work.

I've since lent the game to a friend... had I not bought the Season Pass already then I'd have slapped it on Ebay by now... I'm getting nothing more Achievement wise from the main game, and I still hate the ending and I do seem to be the only one on that... my final Gamerscore total from the main game is 710 points which is acceptable enough, the whole Achievement list showed a distinct lack of imagination.

[color=yellow]Bought Sold Bought Again:[/color] I've bought yet another game that I have had previously in my collection... and this time it's not one that I've already played before.

With money in my Paypal account (that should in theory be destined for my PS3 fund) I find myself surfing Ebay and I see a copy of Metro 2033 going very cheap with under a minute to go.

Now I never played it when I owned it before, never got round to it really.. the book was okay, the footage we've seen of "Metro 2033: Last Light" look superb... so I've bought the game again, and I intend to play through the game as soon as it arrives as it's going to help me decide whether or not to pre-order "Metro 2033: Last Light" which is due out in a few weeks.

Such is my dedication to actually playing the game this time I've shelled out 240 Microsoft Points on the small DLC pack which added new weapons and difficulty settings to the game, and I've found myself a walkthrough to assist me... I read the book (was a little less than impressed to be honest) and have to say that it is perfect fodder for a video game... it just dripped atmosphere (if not exactly a massively coherent plot) and would make (in my eyes) a perfect setting for an RPG... guess I'll find out soon how it fares as a First Person Shooter.

[color=yellow]Final Thought:[/color] Now before Bioshock Infinite was released there was a news story about how a member of the development team was "so affected" by the religious themes in the game that he felt compelled to quit, but then didn't.

Now I'm one of the most utterly un-religious people out there, I don't mind if other people believe in God as long as they don't try and force their views onto me... I don't believe in God in the slightest, I often wonder why if God is all powerful and wise why the hell does he pick the retards of this earth to spread his message among the rest of us?

So it may be just me but I can't see why (unless the guy was the most over sensitive, religion crazy, fanatic ever to work in gaming) he was getting so upset... was it the way Comstock was distorting the teachings of the bible to suit his own needs? Christianity and Catholicism have been doing this for thousands of years, cherry picking passages of the Bible to suit yourself is a staple of all religions.

And surely if this "developer" was so upset by the religious content of the game why was he not just as outraged by the Racism displayed throughout? Or the huge amount of violence in the game?

Maybe, and this is the cynic in me thinking, it's because a religious angle was more "Politically Correct" than drawing attention to the Racism, and that the last thing developers want to do is draw even more attention to the "Violent Games" debate than is already out there... cynical marketing tactic by any chance?

Storm In A Twit-Cup

March 18th... the date that I once more bought a game that I sold on years before... Red Dead Redemption, yet another "Game of the Year" or "Complete Edition" variant, and another title that is now bundled with all the DLC that I missed or skipped over originally.

Take L.A. Noire for example, I sold the game on after I completed it... but was able to pick up the game again with all the new stuff, for less than I received when I sold it... to me, thats a bargain.

I've done this before with Borderlands, Dragon Age, Fable 2 and Fallout: New Vegas and there is, in the back of my mind, the same place that considers all the sad financially rewarding things to be good ideas, the thought that if I were to wait until the "Complete" of "Definitive" editions are released I'll save a packet... but this just isn't going to happen... like I have the patience to wait.

Had I waited for the "Game of the Year" edition of Skyrim I'd still be waiting 18 months later as they are still working on DLC now, the DLC for Grand Theft Auto took so long to be released I'm surprised anyone still had their original copy to play it on.

I can't see myself doing it that often in the future though, I'm no longer subject to such strict financial restraints, I no longer have to worry about hard drive space with my new(ish) 250Gb console and I'm actually picking up the DLC for these games when they are released, but if you have delayed waiting to buy a game for whatever reason these "Complete" re-releases are some of the best value you could ever find on a shops shelves.

[color=yellow]Next Day:[/color] Work is slow, so I spend more time than I should looking up stuff on Amazon... as is known I have been looking at picking up a PS3 later this year, but can't abide the Dualsh!t pad so I've been looking at a third party pad or two as there are some which have the left stick in the right place.

Then I stumble across an adapter called "Cronus" that claims to allow a 360 pad to be used on a PS3 and vice versa, surely this is too good to be true, I could buy this and not have to worry about a third party pad... until I discover that the price is $54.99 online and not generally available in the UK... I find it on Amazon and by some freakish coincidence (or a cynical cash in, it's your call) the price in the UK is £54.99

Guess I'm back to looking at third party pads as the ones I have come across, if I bought 1 of each, would still be less than this... ho hum.

I've come to the conclusion that my works PC just hates me... Internet Explorer flat out refuses to remember anything to the point where I can login to a website, read a news article and discover that between reading the first page and loading the next page it's managed to log me out... thanks works PC!

At the same time when I login to my online retailer of choice to pay for a pre-order it just freezes after I click to agree to their pre-pay conditions, so I can't pre-pay for a game while I have the funds in my account... thanks works PC!

And then when I check my e-mails I get a warning that the selected message is from an "untrustworthy" source... when the message came from my home email address and was a response to one I'd sent from work in the first place to remind myself to look up something at home... thanks works PC!

[color=yellow]Something Fishy Going On:[/color] Borderlands 2 has had an update which increases the Level Cap from 50 to 61 and introduces a new level of weapons, this has taken so long because there were balancing issues... so we're told.

So how come when I download this new content it's just 108Kb in size?

That's more like, well, say... an Unlock Code size download.

Hardly enough data to introduce a whole new level of weapons, or to balance out some of the more powerful ones that were already there... am I the only one to find this all a little suspect?

[color=yellow]Always Online:[/color] A whole sh!tst*rm broke out over Twitter as a Creative Director, thought to be working on the next Xbox, defended the concept of "Always Online" in a less than polite manner.

Now I'm generally always online anyway, as are a lot of 360 gamers who subscribe to Live or use the Marketplace... so no big deal, but people do seem to be over-reacting here.

Firstly... I doubt very much whether he's the "only" Creative Director here, and I really doubt that he has the final say on the finished product... you wouldn't blame the Dallas Cowboys for the comments of one Linebacker would you?

Secondly... this is pure devil's advocate stuff, we've had no confirmed details on the next Xbox, so rumours like this and the blocking of second hand games could have simply been floated out there to gauge the public reaction, the option to block used games could be built in and just disabled, the same with always online... if the public reacts in a negative way then they aren't implemented.

[color=yellow]Assassinated:[/color] Much as I started the year intending to work through my back log of games I have slapped one on Ebay that was never touched... Dishonored.

It didn't really cost anything as it came with my new console bundle last December, and while it had been given rave reviews it just didn't look like my thing... even if it does appear to be a mix of Deus Ex and Bioshock.

I'd found a guide that gives walk-throughs for both plays, High Chaos where you kill everything and the world ends up all gloomy, and Low Chaos where you stealth around the place and everything gets increasingly more bright and shiny.

Nice idea but I didn't really want to drag myself through the game twice going to such extremes of approach... so it sat there, un-played and pretty much un-wanted.

My pile of un-played games is shrinking though, between now and the release of the South Park RPG chances are I'll have time to work through Bioshock Infinite again, finish off Tiger Woods and maybe Finish The Fight in Halo 3... more than enough first person action to be going on with.

[color=yellow]Dilemma:[/color] Today is April 12th and I know that over the course of the next couple of days I'll collect the final Achievement that is realistically possible from Tiger Woods 2014.

So what do I do once I've collecting it?

I've enjoyed the two weeks I spent playing the game, but there are signs of RSI kicking in on my right arm so I have to take care of what I'm doing given that the cricket season is coming up fast.

Will I play the game again in a few weeks... not really likely, but I have put a fair amount of cash and Microsoft points into the game... and the only way I can see myself getting those back is by slapping it on Ebay while the game is still relatively new.

But... it's the game that has got me back into playing games with other people online, something I haven't done for years, and part of me feels that I ought to stick with it just for that.

But... I've got a feast of RPGs on the horizon... Dragon's Dogma is set to arrive inside the next 12 days and then I'll be lost in a world of cartoon violence and sorcery... what to do?

[color=yellow]Nooooo!:[/color] Minutes after I typed the above I check my online store as I'm looking for an RPG to pick up, not really sure why as there are 2 due for release soon that I know are heading my way... or at least there were, seems the South Park game may have been delayed again, the release date that was listed as 26 April 2013 has now disappeared to be replaced with TBC.

This was all set to be the best birthday present I could ever give myself, it was a day one start for me and if the online store I use keep up their usual good work it would have arrived a day early and that a) happens to be my birthday, and b) is a day I've got off work in because I don't want to ruin the day by going into the office.

Rather annoyingly had I known then this extra time could have been used to work my way through Dishonored or Nier not a happy bunny.

Getting A Boost With Tiger Woods

Many years ago there was a freak weather incident in the UK... the tail end of a hurricane was reportedly on its way and possibly the most recognisable weather presenter on TV famously announced it wouldn't hit the UK... he was very, very wrong indeed.

A friend of mine and I had arranged to play Golf on the Sunday morning and it was still somewhat blustery.

I'd only been playing properly a year or so, enough time to at least have an idea what I was doing, to learn all the theory but not to execute much of what the theory taught.

I was self-taught, upon seeing someone grip a club lower on the rubber to gain more control over the shop I figured doing something similar when attempting to hit my bigger clubs would work for me... and thus I'd drive off using the big woods but gripping them further down the shaft to stop my hideous slice... it worked but it hurt my wrists after a while so I had to try something else.

Anyway, I've waffled, we're on the course and the wind is causing havoc with the ball flight, something that would start on line would be blown miles off course and we weren't scoring well... to be fair nobody else was either... with the wind as it was this was a day where if you were playing then you could be considered to be "Hardcore" and scores stopped mattering.

We approached the 5th hole, a par 3 with a monster right to left gale blowing, no trees around so it was completely exposed... and my inner-genius figured if I aimed at the people 40 yards to the right on the next hole the wind would blow it back on line... and thus I took aim for a man in a blue jumper and nailed it... the wind grabs hold and swung it back towards the green where it finished within 6 feet from the hole... that was the moment I really got hung up on Golf... it was to be my sport.

Over the years I upgraded my clubs, played more often, bought a more advanced Driver with a graphite shaft so I could hit the ball longer off the tee without breaking my wrists and began to improve to the point where I could get round my local course in less than 80 shots... as a weekend hacker I was pretty proficient,

I still enjoy the game despite having barely played because of other sporting commitments (come back in the summer when I next hit a sports title) and I've been playing Tiger Woods titles since I imported a copy of Tiger Woods 98 on the PlayStation because it had a hidden episode of South Park on the disk... and of course I played way too many versions of Tiger Woods last year for easy Achievements... now we have the 2014 version.

I couldn't get the "Historic Edition" as this is/was an exclusive to my least favourite retailer "Game" so I'm left with the standard edition... which, oddly, came with a code for a bonus player... that well known golfing legend... Andy Roddick.

Thinsg can only get better after a "bonus" like that surely?

[color=yellow]April 1st:[/color] Lets clear up two things straight away: 1) I like the old styIe presentation when playing a character from the 1920's and 1930's which extends into the EA Sports replays... very nice, 2) I hate the way that the game is presented 100% of the time in a letterbox format on my screen, if there is a way of making it full screen I haven't found it.

Now, while the presentation is all nice and pretty I have turned off the animations after I sank a putt playing as an 1890's golfer and he did the Tiger fist pump... too much EA, way too much... animations off thanks very much.

It's the usual fair, with the usual additional bells and whistles.

The Challenge mode is called "Legends of the Majors" with 62 key events from all four major tournaments providing the challenges... only sometimes you have to do better than the actual event (the last one I tried being the recreation of Jack Nicklaus driving through the green at St. Andrews and making Birdie, to get the golden "Legend" award I had to make Eagle) and there are clearly some missing.

One of my great memories of The Masters was seeing Greg Norman choke against Nick Faldo where he started the final round 7 shots clear and finished 5 shots down... not there, or how about the time where Greg Norman lost a play-off to Larry Mize when Mize chipped in from way off the green... not there either.

How come one of the greats of the game, Tom Watson, isn't present at all?

There's plenty to do but the nature of the game makes it very repetitive, they've included female golfers as well but this is merely lip service, the career mode doesn't change, there are no female only challenges... still a male dominated game... and how come I couldn't make my female golfer so top heavy that the laws of gravity would have her falling flat on her face every time she tried to stand up?

I've already harvested a few hundred points and the game has taken me past the 80,000 Gamerscore mark... I figure I should be able to collect a good 900+ out of this one, but will probably give myself an RSI in the process.

The "Historic" element works well, with the Augusta National taking on a totally different look... and that's before you consider the two sets of 9 holes were played the other way around in 1934, playing the courses with old gear is a little frustrating when you find yourself limited to older clubs with shorter ranges after you've spent so long levelling your player up to be able to hit the ball further and further with more control.

[color=yellow]April 2nd:[/color] As I diligently work towards collecting an Achievement for loyalty I also want to collect the Achievement for playing in a Country Club tournament and here there is confusion.

The Club setting is "Pro" so I set my gameplay settings to match, when I go to the Country Club Tournaments section I'm informed there are 7 tournaments available, only I can't play in any... my status within the Club is "Amateur" which looks to be based on status points, so I work towards gaining these and still no joy... I even ask a total stranger on TrueAchievements if there is something obvious I'm missing.

And there is... the small matter that my Club hasn't got any tournaments set up to play in, so next morning I wake earlier than normal to collect my Loyalty Achievement and then go hunting down a new club to join briefly to enter a tournament.

I find one, I can play in it... all is well... and then I discover that this is to be played on a course I haven't got because you have to download it... start again, find one I have got and the Achievement clicks before I even play a shot.

Back to my old Country Club as I was pretty loathe the leave, after all I am one of the Club Leaders performance wise and it's the only club with my home City in the title.

Now... a grumble... DLC courses from day one.

Each of the last few years versions have come with 15-20 courses and another 15-20 available as DLC from the start, this was explained as being purely a licencing issue, the cost of the licences to use the courses being such that to include them all from day one would push the cost of the game up so each year they flip the courses on the DLC... if it was free one year, it'll be DLC next year and so on... obviously some courses will be there all the time like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews but others will flip.

I can handle this, I can understand this... what I don't get is why the "Fantasy" Courses, designed and created by EA themselves are DLC... these didn't cost anything to licence, they don't change from one year to the next... these cost EA nothing... so to charge for them is a bit of a rip off for me.

Now this is one of the reasons that I flat out refuse to buy these additional courses... another reason is that they are generally stupidly hard to play... now this is fine for the Elite player who seem obsessed with the game and want a challenge but they just infuriate me... I don't want a course where the green has bigger humps on it than a camel, or is fast as putting on glass, or has a fairway the width of a piece of paper.

There are 4 of these, Predator set in the Jungle, Highlands set in the upper reaches of Scotland and features some holes on floating islands (and I'm done with Bioshock Infinite for now, last thing I want to see is more floating islands), Greek Isles set on the islands of Greece (no kidding) with ancient ruins and Emerald Dragon which is the only one I would consider as it actually looks like it could exist.

Second Grumble... there is an Achievement for hitting a hole in one... with a "Control Golfer" which isnt explained anywhere, so when my created player with stats all in the 40-50 point range (so nowhere near the supermen you end up with) aced a par three I was expecting the "plink plonk" noise to signal points and nothing... seems a user created player is not a "Control Golfer" so it counted for nothing. (EDIT: I've since discovered why it didn't pop... it will be explained later.)

I'm also working towards completing all the Challenges with Legend status, which means I have ended up replaying some a dozen or so times to fulfil the necessary criteria... and these can take time, the current one for scoring birdie on 4 holes with Lee Trevino centres mainly on the 2nd hole of the 4 as the hole is placed in a dodgy position... but you can birdie the first 3 and miss the putt on the 4th and you have to restart... I'm not even halfway through yet.

And I know this will continue... there will be others just as hard further on, and if I want to collect the Achievement for Legend on all Challenges they'll have to be done at some point so why not as I'm doing them in order?

I have worked through a few other Achievements, sinking a birdie putt on a specific hole at a specific time, collecting my Tour card and finding the werewolf (play a round at night with a specific character and you'll see he's transformed into a Werewolf) and so on... in theory I ought to be able to score the full 1,000 Gamerscore but that is going to take weeks look out for some general/no-specific/rambling blogs if this turns out to be the case... although I may have to jump straight into the South Park RPG when that arrives.

[color=yellow]Getting Brave:[/color] Now I used to play online a little with the original Xbox but stopped after a few weeks, the infantile, racist, profanity strewn chat from 12 year old Americans was just too much... I knew I was rubbish, I didn't need someone who's testicles have still to drop to tell me this.

Now a month ago I bought myself a month on Live to capitalise on some online features of Borderlands 2 and a few Arcade games, nothing major really but late Sunday evening (end of March time) I found myself playing an online round of Tiger Woods... and it was a revelation.

No abuse, just a few polite and pleasant messages (I have headphones but have no idea how they work or whether they were even on) and it was good fun, so... when the other half asks what I want for my birthday I asked for a Live Subscription.

I'm going to give it a go for a year... whilst being uber careful of what I play... I doubt very much that the level of conversation will be as high in Call of Duty for example, but as I don't play that I shouldn't have much trouble... but I have splurged on a decent set of headphones compared to the crappy official set that came with the console, and at the very least they'll have instructions that let me know if they are turned on or not.

[color=yellow]April 3rd:[/color] I've called time on the "Legend" awards for all the Challenges after I was asked to sink two long shots from rough in high winds... too much to go for and there are going to be more on the way to the end.

I have worked out what is meant by "Control Golfer" in that it refers to the playing styIe of the player, a John Daly or Tiger Woods are described as "Power" golfers because of their distance, whereas a Luke Donald type player who relies on finesse more than brute force is a "Control" golfer... as my created character is "Power" orientated the hole in one counted for nothing.

In theory if I convert my player to a more "Control" based set up for the career mode then the next one will count and the Achievement will pop, but right now I'm still working on his stats so it's something that I'll have to look at in a practice round before I take it out onto the course proper.

I've ventured online again and got my behind handed to me on a plate... I may have finished the round at -15 but I lost by 11 strokes... think the other guy may have been better than me.

[color=yellow]April 5th:[/color] I've been using the website for a couple of years, it helps out with solutions and fixes for troublesome Achievements, can provide guides and walkthroughs for bigger titles to help people collect Achievements... and it helps set up Booster Sessions.

These are where a group of players will arrange a time and date to work specifically on one Achievement, maybe winning X games online, or killing X number of players in a certain way and they'll help each other out... and here we have an Achievement for 4 players in an online game using Legendary golfers.

People aren't playing online as Legendary golfers... too self-centred and ranking obsessed, so I joined a Booster Session, my first ever and at the appointed time I logged on an was joined by 3 other gamers and together we played a round with unlocked Legends... my first online Achievement for playing with others.

It felt really satisfying, we didn't need to play the round as the Achievement kicks in as soon as you load up the first hole, but we all stayed and played 18 holes... I even prepared for this by buying a more "up market" headset... strange feeling chatting with an American while sat at home waiting for a fitter to come and lay our new bedroom floor.

I'm still working through the game, as mentioned some Achievements will take a bit of a grind so I'm looking at another weeks play, I won't collect the Achievement for getting "Legend" in all the Challenges as some are just scary hard, too many shots require you to sink the ball from 150+ yards in high wind so there's 20 points I won't get, and I doubt I'll collect a full pin set before I'm done which would be another 30 points... but 950 I can settle for.

Infinitely Different

Much as I enjoyed replaying Bioshock recently I do have one small admission which may make me stand a little to the side when it comes to the masses of Bioshock fans... I preferred the sequel just a little bit more.

There was a little more variety, and because I'd been there before getting into the swing of the gameplay was much easier, you couldn't rely on the one-two punch of Freezing an enemy and then unleashing the shotgun on the frozen body... protecting the little sister as she gathered Adam was much more challenging than fighting a Big Daddy and there were the fights against the Big Sister at regular intervals... but... if I were to choose one game to demonstrate all that's good about the current generation I'd pick the Original.

And now we have Bioshock Infinite... and we're not in the water anymore.

I'm expecting bright colours, more variety in locations and bigger more sprawling areas to explore as the level designers are being so constrained by the underwater setting... Rapture had, by its very location, to be a little dark and forbidding... but up in the clouds there is more scope for freedom of expression and imagination.

It's also the first game I've played for a while without a guide or walkthrough to nudge me along... and I'm looking forward to that, the second play will be the time for hunting down Achievements, searching or deliberately hunting down every document or collectable... purposely switching to a less favoured weapon to rack up a few kills as necessary... but the first run will be all about the game, the thrill of exploration and the nervous creeping around new areas when I've just been handed a new weapon, or vigour, or a whole bundle of healing items... we all know what that means.

There will be spoilers in what follows, but only for those who have delayed playing... if you're into Bioshock you'll have probably seen everything listed here already and much more... if you've not played it maybe this will be the nudge you need to start it up now rather than wait any longer... to mimic Buzz Lightyear, "to Infinite and Beyond!"

[color=yellow]March 26th:[/color] I get home and find my package waiting for me, I'm already fighting the urge to play... but I resist... dinner first, code for pre-order goodies located and eventually I spend an hour working slowly through the early level.

This acts as your training level nicely disguised as a country fair styIe event, booths are set up to allow you to try out a couple of weapons and get to grips with using Vigors in various situations, the first time you get your hands on a full Vigor is just before you have to use it to move on through the level... it doesn't feel like a training level... surely a good thing.

Its jaw droppingly stunning, bright, full of life and, as expected, a million miles away from the drab colours forced upon the two previous Bioshock games... the locations and outfits worn by other characters are full on 1912 styIe... a lot of effort has clearly gone into the game.

I avoid the easy mode in favour of normal, I turn on Subtitles and damage indicators, Borderlands has made it a joy to see numbers spewing forth from an enemy when they've been hit so this was a no brainer.

You can only carry two weapons at the start but this does make you think about which weapons you carry around with you, especially as early doors you have very little health and no shielding.

Plasmids have been replaced with "Vigors" which do the same thing, rather than Eve to power these you have a supply of "Salts" which are used up as you use your new powers, Possession (which allows you to control turrets and machines) uses up a hell of a lot of salt each time you use it, two blasts of possession and all your salts are gone.

The game progresses, the story unfolds as you hunt for "The Girl" only it was never going to be a smooth trip, you're branded the "False Shepherd" and its clear your arrival and intentions have been made known to the authorities... how else would the "Prophet" know of my aims or even my name in the very early stages of the game.

Movement between areas is tricky to get the hang of at first, having learnt to use the hook to climb there was an instance where I just hung there and got killed as there was no explanation of how you get down and I was looking for another hook to latch onto.

When you find Elizabeth the game opens up and calms down a little, everyone you see no longer wants to kill you, but her reaction when you first have to shoot someone in her presence is handled brilliantly.

By the end of the evening I've spent three hours wandering and exploring, collected a handful of Achievements but with it being my first time through (and there will be more, I've also shelled out 1600 points on the season pass for DLC) they aren't important now... I'll set a target of 650 points from the game which will take me close to 80,000 Gamerscore, not the biggest of totals but some of the Achievements listed online look brutal... I don't have a chance of collecting some of them, others will obviously take some work on a second run through or by replaying chapters.

[color=yellow]March 27th:[/color] Elizabeth starts to come into her own more as the story progresses, she knows that Booker is not a good, honest, reliable man but also knows that he is her only way off Columbia... and thus she helps out.

Thankfully when it comes to combat she isn't a burden, she doesn't have to be protected like so many other sidekicks who attract bullets like a magnet, she takes cover and will search nearby areas for Salts and Health packs to help you out.

This is crucial as the fights get more crowded and you find yourself up against greater and greater numbers... a handy assist with a Salts bottle can make all the difference if you use it right.

I've worked through the story a bit more, collected a few more weapons and discovered upgrades... they were always coming, Bioshock made a big thing about increasing the power and scope of your weapons and plasmid abilities so it was always going to happen in Infinite... it's also led to my now being cash strapped as I splurge on Vigor and Weapon upgrades whenever I can.

I resist the urge to buy ammo as there are always plenty of weapons left around to either restock your own ammo or to simply swap your weapon for, there are Achievements for killing a set number of people with a weapon type and I've yet to collect any of these as I'm switching weapons too often to concentrate on any one and I hope that your kill totals carry over into subsequent plays.

I had worried about getting myself lost when it came to using the skyways, lots of tracks leading to all different places but they've ensured you can't get lost with smart placement of carriages to limit your movements when needed.

In a hideous dilemma as I get home from work I find that my copy of Tiger Woods 2014 has also arrived (a day earlier than the scheduled release) and as I've bought the Historic Edition Upgrade for 1600 points that is getting mighty tempting... but it can wait... I want to see what happens next in Columbia.

[color=yellow]March 30th:[/color] A long session sees me approach the conclusion of the game and what you expect to be a boss battle against the huge bird which acts as Elizabeth's guardian.

Now this will be the only warning I give... HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD.

Turns out this is not the case, the bird may well be her guardian but it's only acting out of her best interests, it will defend her to the end and thus far from being your foe, it's an ally that can be used to take out the bigger enemies in the final battle.

This is a bit of a let down... but it's not the worst thing that you'll see before the credits.

Whereas before as you approach a big battle you'll find lots of weapons and ammo vending machines scattered around this is not the case at the end, you've just come off a huge battle with a deranged and angry spirit and you'll be low on ammo already and there just aren't the opportunities around to change and stock up on bullets.

In the end you're defending a Zeppelin from the Vox Populi who you were originally helping, this is the twist in that once they get on top they do more to destroy the world of Columbia than anything else... to take down the ship they need to destroy the Power Core which is, conveniently for them, totally exposed on the top landing deck of the ship.

Gunships and raiders will attack it and you can direct the Bird to take down the gunships and bigger enemies, but if, like me, you have a dodgy weapon selection at the end, the last battle can be a struggle as I had an under powered weapon and a low ammo weapon to take out the foot soldiers who attack the ship.

You will die in this battle, a lot.

Once done it starts to get all Metal Gear and very talky... very, very talky.

With the Vox Populi out of the way the Bird comes for Elizabeth and she tears open time and space and suddenly you're somewhere else... Rapture.

The talking continues, when you leave via a Bathysphere you come to the Lighthouse where you started the game which is, you're told, one of millions in an Infinite number of potential worlds.

You're also told that the main premise of your mission was wrong, the phrase "Give us the girl and you're debt will be cleared" is a reference to another time and world where Booker gave up his baby daughter Anna to clear his debts... and hadn't left the room since such was his remorse.

Her the symbolism of the AD mark on the back of your hand which marks you as the "False Prophet" earlier... Anna DeWitt.

It gets worse, Elizabeth has a missing link on one of her fingers, and you see how this came to be... she's the baby girl you gave away years before and this missing piece was cut off as the Prophet took her away through a tear in space and time... so Elizabeth is your daughter.

And they've not finished there... turns out that Booker is also the Prophet, so the grey haired old man whose head you bash in later in the game, is yourself just in a different version of the world... very confusing and very annoying.

This whole ending was more annoying to me than Mass Effect 3, it put a downer on the experience and sort of put me off a second play straight away... I'm certainly regretting picking up the season pass before I finished the game, so I put the game away and start something else till I feel the urge to replay it... and I will replay the game, just not now.

The atmosphere the game creates is brilliant, the hospital level as you search for Elizabeth who has been taken from you, is almost as creepy as the asylum level in Thief 3, you desperately want to find her as you keep finding Voxophones which make out she's been away from you for years, all of these apparently having been "misplaced" through time and space, and you're given a clue as to what to do by a much older version of Elizabeth herself.

When you do free her you can't help but feel relief... she a genuinely great sidekick character and the game is much better for her presence and mannerisms, without her the game would be a simple First Person Shooter... it's just a shame that the ending ruined the game somewhat for me.

At the end of it I'd collected a round 500 Gamerscore which is less than my 650 target but I'll be able to collect the rest on a second run through... had the ending been better this would be a certain candidate for my Game of the Year... but right now it's not there... we'll have to see what the DLC adds later in the year.

Brownie Points

I have an admission to make... well, I've got plenty really but I'm not about to go into detail on most of them, but when it comes to playing games that I've been bought as a present I'm really, really bad about playing them.

There's a reason for this... they tend to be games that I wouldn't normally pick up, in RPG terms these are optional side quests that often get ignored because I'm concentrating on the main story... if it were a game I "really" wanted to play then I'd have bought it myself.

The last game I was bought as a present that I played instantly was "The Darkness 2" which I played through several times before I was done with it... a first person shooter of all things but one I enjoyed immensely, recently "Game of Thrones" was worked through inside a few months of its arrival... but on the other hand there are others that still sit un-played.

The worst of these is "Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare" which I've had over 2 years and only recently placed the disk into my 360 and, to be honest, only because I've got around 10 days to kill before Bioshock Infinite arrives and I don't think Undead Nightmare will be that big a task to work through.

In the case of this particular game there's another reason... as awesome as Rockstar games are I've never really had the urge to replay them once I've completed them.

I can spend days just exploring the world of Liberty City, hunting Buffalo and playing cards in the plains of the Wild West... but I don't really want to go there again afterwards... so Undead Nightmare has been placed on the pile and other games played through instead... but with 4 fairly sizable games out in the next 4 or 5 weeks that will demand a lot of my time I need to get into the good books of my other half... here I can kill two birds with one stone, clear a game from my pile and score big at home in preparation for games to come.

[color=yellow]March 17th:[/color] So... here I am having read back the last few paragraphs about Rockstar titles not really lending themselves towards replays... but after 4 hours of traipsing around the plains of Red Dead Revolver again I'm getting the urge to buy the game again.

Which is a considerable change from what I was thinking at the start of the four hours.

Initially I wasn't overly impressed by "Undead Nightmare" as I battled to "make the town safe" by killing a set number of zombies and then rounding up and killing off the last few shuffling corpses... and got killed in the process.

This came after I'd been despatched to the graveyard outside the town to burn the coffins that had miraculously appeared and which seemed to be the source of the shambling bodies wandering the streets.

The big thing that struck me here is that this is how Resident Evil should be... you can move and shoot, run to a safe distance and shoot as you walk backwards away from the horde, and the Undead aren't shooting at you... all in a free roam styIe environment rather than the fixed camera fashion of Resident Evils 1 to 3.

The story is presented in typical Rockstar fashion, a well-acted cut scene, not overly long and coherent enough to explain what you should be doing next.

But the number of Undead early doors was over-whelming and my knowledge of the controls was a little sketchy as it's been 3 years since I played the full game... I died a few times, and most importantly I'd forgotten about Dead Eye mode where time slows so you can pick your shots with greater accuracy.

I did remember how to use the lasso properly, which was lucky as the first real action you do is rope and hogtie your wife and son after they've been infected, and very handy when I came across a special horse.

Seems the four horses of the Apocalypse make an appearance and I stumbled across War, a burning horse with extra stamina and power which can set enemies on fire when it attacks them... much better than later when I whistled my horse and found myself astride an Undead horse which handles with all the grace of a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel.

And this is where the repetition hits... to get from anywhere using the paths and trails you will stumble across a town or a settlement, and first time through they need clearing and making safe, and there are a lot of these in the game... and they get dull very quickly.

All the main characters are there (or at least I suspect they are, I've not met the medicine man yet but have heard talk of him) so there are little side missions to attempt when you've cleared a town some much bigger than others.

4 hours of play netted a couple of Achievements, lots of shooting, lots of clearing towns and lots of travelling... the whole game map is in there (it being a standalone DLC disk that I'm working through so the whole map has to be there) and you soon remember just how big the map was in the first place... there are no stores to buy and sell goods in, there's no scope for playing cards or horseshoes but considering what is happening all around you that's understandable.

It's more fun than I expected at the start, and I certainly never expected to be called a murderer by a Sasquatch who bemoaned that there was someone out there killing his family... which was me, as I'd been tasked with killing six of them... guess the mission name "Birth of the Conservation Movement" did hint at something a little different as you're killing things rather than preserving them.

As a whole the expansion will keep me amused for the next week until Bioshock Infinite arrives... and I'm scoring points with the other half for finally playing the game 27 months after I got it... my bad.

Edit: In my boredom I go surfing to find out how much the game would cost me if I to buy it again... I can get the whole bundle (original game and all the DLC) for a mere £14.99 so I look it up... and its from GAME, my all-time favourite online store (yeah right) so I choke down my pride and order the game.

To make room for it on the shelf I've listed Nier on Ebay... I'm just not going to get time to play it, not with a couple of other RPGs on the way at the end of April... as to whether I list Undead Nightmare on Ebay is another matter... not sure of the reaction from the other half when she finds out.

[color=yellow]March 18th:[/color] It's good to see all the hallmarks of B-Movie styling have been incorporated... whereas the original game featured a whole heap of cowboy movie clichés this expansion does the same, where possible, with zombie movies... if you meet an NPC who is just off to walk down the road to collect his gear, a seemingly empty and zombie free road, he's not going to survive.

I reached a quest mark, seems a movie director wants to make a movie of zombies fighting so asks me to find a certain type for him to use, a "Reacher" who spits forth toxic waste and explodes when dead, I find one and deliver it to him, and you just know that as he starts to film his movie they'll end up killing him... no disappointment there.

Seems my next port of call may well be in Mexico, the southern part of the map, which will hopefully be a little more peaceful... per the stats screen I've completed 45% of the expansion, and have spent almost 6 hours in actual gameplay mode as opposed to pause menus and map screens... I ought to be able to complete it all by the time Bioshock Infinite arrives at the start of next week... if not then I may just have to delay my trip to Columbia to complete what I've started.

[color=yellow]March 20th:[/color] I don't really know what I was so worried about.

Everyone has played a game where they suddenly see a list of credits rolling up the screen, where the game suddenly ends mid flow and you're left with a feeling of "what the hell?"

In my case this was Halo 2 where after what felt like a mid level boss battle I watched as Master Chief jumped onto a Covenant ship to "finish the fight" and the credits rolled... game over... what the hell?

Undead Nightmare feels unfinished, it runs out of steam pretty quickly after you enter Mexico.

I've got almost 6 hours of playing time logged in and I've collected 2 story related Achievements, I know what a couple of other ones are that are still to come so I'm looking at another 6 hours of play to complete the expansion... seems logical.

I work my way into Mexico and head in totally the wrong direction... I know there's an Achievement for having all the towns listed as "Safe" at the same time so I head West to clear the two nearby, stumbling over a third while I'm there which doesn't appear on my map and is a real killer to clear... lots of Zombies there and it becomes clear why later on.

I work through the Mexican landscape, saving nuns and blowing up Undead hookers with dynamite as yet another of the main characters from the full game makes an appearance, albeit a brief one... none of the regulars that started the main campaign get killed.

Returning to the Nunnery the Mother Superior sits me down for a chat and suddenly a story relate Achievement pops in, as she chats about what is happening she casually mentions that the President is evil, has reportedly done a bad thing that should be punished and you trot off to see him.

And here's where it all just stops... to start with the town where he's based is the one I cleared earlier that doesn't appear on the map... because you're not really supposed to clear it until the story sends you there.

You shoot the President and recognise the girl he was attacking... she looks very much like a nun you just saved, all this is narrative naturally and she tells you that the President has disturbed an ancient tomb under the fort and taken a mask that he thought would make him invincible.

She tells you this is in a chest over there, and the cut scene shows you opening a briefcase (so not a chest) to find a rather dull grey mask... off you trot to return it, with the girl in tow... great, an escort mission, my favourite kind.

Only she's not attacked or approached, she just trots along with you holding a flame to help you see... at one point you even mention the fact that they aren't attacking her and she says that this is because the Undead are "your demons" and that "you must confront them."

Upon reaching the final area we have a sort of end of level battle, only there's no boss to speak of, just a couple of waves of Undead in manageable numbers and you replace the mask... the girl vanishes, but tells you there is a horse waiting to take you home... where you find your family has been cured.

No fighting your way out, no hazardous trip back home... just a cut scene.

Expansion over, followed by secondary cut scene 3 months later where you see someone else (Seth, the only person happy to see the dead rise as they are his friends) steal the mask and you get the Evil Dead styIe resurrection of John Marston and get to free roam in Zombie form with Death as your horse.

This is where I stop playing... while I can free roam in Skyrim or even Far Cry the appeal here is limited, there's not much to do, no map markers, just roaming around the landscape on a super cool horse... I could go looking for a couple of mythical beasts but I just don't fancy that.

The sudden ending took the gloss off the expansion for me, with all that happened in Mexico during the main game there must surely have been scope for more missions down there, but it looks like a missed opportunity to expand even further, as if they had a set time frame of extra play in mind so just chopped it off when they hit the desired amount of game time.

[color=green]Bonus Time:[/color] My online retailer of choice is pretty damn good... they may not be the cheapest (although they used to be) but they are excellent at delivering games... Bioshock Infinite is out on the 26th and they've just taken the cash out of my account on the 20th which is something they generally don't do until they despatch the game... could my copy be here before the end of the week?

If I do will I get into trouble for playing the game online days before its release even though I'll have a retail copy in my hands?