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A step in the right direction

Reading the blog posts on the soapbox, I discovered an interesting article by EarthThatWas. The article talks about the new wave of digital distribution and DLC that was brought about by the new generation of consoles. The article is very good, but what really peaked my interest was a comment by user KevinH1986.

Kevin's comment related to the fact that physical media formats will never die because simply too many people like him have relatively poor broadband connections and thus downloading games takes way too long when compared to simply going to the store and picking up a boxed retail copy. While I agree with this in theory, there is one company paving the way for this to be slightly less of a problem: Microsoft.

Microsoft have come up with a truely ingenious thing in xbox.com, the online portal that allows you to check your gamer score, send messages and do all of the things you can do through your xbox. This includes browsing the xbox live market place/arcade, and its in this regard that they are paving the way for a digital distribution future.

By allowing users to browse the marketplace and then purchase/select items such as games, movies, themes and add-ons they want to download and then linking this to that users xbox so that when the machine is turned on the downloads automatically start, the house that bill built has taken the first true steps towards a digitally distributed future.

However, in order for this utopian future to happen, Microsoft have to take a leaf out of a rivals book, and that rival is non other than Nintendo. The japanese giant success in the online space is a debate lauded on by far too many and will go on until they get it right, but there is one feature of the Wii that is truely ingenius: Wiiconnect24.

With the Wii constantly connected to the net even in standby mode Nintendo is able to let customers know when a big game is out on the VC or Wiiware, or send messages that an update is available or they are organising an online tournament, without the machine having to be on. If Microsoft were to take this constantly connected concept and add in the xbox.com portal, then rejoice my friends, for the future is now.

This functionality will allow us to browse xbox.com's marketplace early in the morning while at work, then purchase and add to the queue the items we want to download. This then filters down to our xbox's, which despite being in standby mode starts the download. Even with a relatively bad connection speed the game etc should be down by the time we get home and is ready to play. This should, in theory, resolve the problem that Kevin would have with his slow speed.

Now obviously, this will probably never happen, the simple fact of the matter is retail is too big and powerful for the console manufactuers to ignore and therefore a digital distribution only model ultimately fails at the design stage. You never know however, and if someone had the nuts to attempt it, we could well see a revolution in how we buy, get and play our games.

*Edit* Having thought about it, retailers could still make money from this by changing to sell only hardware and peripherals, though this would greatly reduce thier profits. I guess time will tell.

Leaving it too late...

A few days ago I discovered that the lovely JodyR has started tracking my posts. Thats interesting. Its interesting because I want to be come a better writer, and having a member of staff at gamespot pay attention to my writing is a good confidence boost. However, the purpose of this post isnt to lamente how good or bad a writer I am, mostly because I know I am not great, but to give a fair warning to anyone out there who is around 18 years of age or younger.

I am 27, I am getting married in July and I work as a IT support Analyst. There was a time that this is what I thought I wanted to do with my life, but as I continue down this career path I realise more and more that I am not happy. The reason I am not happy is because I have discovered two new loves in my life: gaming and writing.

A quick look at my previous blog posts will show I have written stories before which are heavily influenced by games, movies and anime, but while fictional writing is a favourite (currently trying to write my first book) I have discovered that blogging on life, love and the human condition as they pertain to games and other things is far more rewarding. As such I have discovered I am actually alot more creative than I let myself believe for the majority of my life, and I would love a career that lets me explore that much more.

There is a downside however. I am 27, which means that I have left it far too late to be able to do much about changing careers. I know if anyone does read this they will generally state that it is never too late, but the reality is somewhat different, especially at my age.

You see I have a house with my wife to be, and both our families even within a twenty minute drive. I live just outside of the city of Leeds in yorkshire, and careers in writing in that area are few and far between, especially if you want to write about games. Most of those jobs are situated in London, and that makes it very difficult, even in this day and age to apply for jobs which I would love to do. There is also the fact that we have built a life here, together, and it is unfair of me to ask her to up sticks just to satisfy I job craving I might never be able to stop.

So my warning to the 18 year olds and younger is this: decide what you want to do with your life now and keep that idea in mind at all times. Move to where the work is, be that in the same country or overseas, work hard and keep your goal at the fore so you do not end up like me, in a career that stifles natural talent. If you want to be a games designer, QA tester, games journalist or hell even a milkman, dont let anything stand in your way, especially your own negative views of yourself, because I guarentee you they arent as bad as you think they are.

And now I will close what is probably the best blog I have ever written knowing that very few people will read it. It certainly wont get on the soapbox, and why? well because, quite simply, I left it too late.

LittleBigPlanet Final Impressions

*Disclaimer: I am not writing a full review on the reviews section as I didnt actually complete the single player mode. Here are my thoughts on the game, written as a review but I cannot review properly as I didnt finish it.

Oozing Charm and likeability from every pore is no mean feat, but it is one that LittleBigPlanet achieves with great aplomb on first glance. Scratch beneath the surface however, and the real beast comes to light and its one that spoils the title almost beyond repair.

Sackboy is a charming and likeable mascot, and one that Sony does right in putting its faith in. The instantly customisable character provides a great focal point for his first title. However, Sackboy isnt without his flaws, most notable of which is his frustrating control scheme.

This scheme sometimes doesn't even recognise a press of the jump button, and can lead to cheap and unfair deaths, adding a frustration factor to what should be an endearing and polished title. The somtimes harsh level design can compound this and mean that I wanted to throw my controller at the wall more times that is right for a platformer.

Each level contains items that you must collect to get the 100% completion for that level, however, several of these items are located in areas that force you to have at least one other player with you. While its good that this forces players to work together and the co-op sections are well thought out, if your PS3 isnt online it can prove infuriating to try and complete these sections by yourself with a second controller or completely impossible if more people are required.

The multiplayer is LittleBigPlanets biggest failure, as there is no way I can see to invite a friend to join your game, therefore you have to rely on the game finding someone who is playing the same level and adding you to thier game, which rarely happens and can prove so laggy its not possible to play. The ability to ask friends to join your game is a fairly basic addition to a title in this day and age, and its oversight here really brings the game down.

The charming exterior belies a frustrating and unfairly harsh (at times) game, and though many will overlook this, it simply proved too frustrating for me. Sony can do so much better, and the foundations are laid for what should be a superior sequel.

a sample (long post)

I present for your viewing pleasure the prologue and first chapter of a crazy fan fiction story I have been in the process of writing for two years. It sucks, and the current work i am doing is alot better, but hey I thought why not see what other people think. enjoy!

Prologue

Leaves crunched gently under his feet as he moved slowly toward the smoke filtering through the thin, bare branched trees. He felt strange, like he knew something was in the middle of the smoking crater, something powerful, and it made his stomach flutter and his heart beat faster as he edged closer, waving his arms in front of his face in a vain effort to clear the smoke.

He passed between two trees and entered the tiny clearing, a wave of warmth washing over him as the sound of his foot steps changed from crunching leaves to cracking glass. Looking down, he saw the ground was charred and burnt, smoking from whatever impacted. The crater was about two metres across he guessed, just barely being able to see the other side through the thick smoke as he neared the closet edge. He knelt, his grey trainers digging into the charred ground and cracking the small pieces of glass that were once sand and dirt, waving the smoke away, he peered into the centre of the hole.

The smoke began to move away, slowly seeping into the air above him, revealing a small object lying in the ground. It seemed to be emitting a dull red glow, which was slowly pulsating. The same feeling washed over him, his stomach tightened and his heart began to pound in his chest, his breathing becoming faster and faster. He reached down, slowly inching his hand closer to it, expecting immense heat to radiate from it and burn his hand to a crisp. To his surprise, the only heat he could feel was ambient from the surrounding crater and as he slowly pressed his finger tips onto the object, all he could feel was a low rumbling.

The object felt rough as his hand began to move around it, tracing the bumps and curving lines across its surface. If felt like a rock, hard and slightly warm. The rumbling got more intense as his hand began to close around it, sending vibrations through his arm. There was a high pitched whine and he was thrown back by a wall of air slamming into his chest. His heart pounding, wincing from pain of his undoubtedly bruised ribs, he looked at the strange item.

It was slowly rising out of the crater, glowing a deep crimson, and was spinning on its axis. Cracks started to appear along its surface, criss-crossing it with dark lines. The light intensified for a second, dulled, and then the object exploded, sending dust and shards of stone flying in all directions.

The shrapnel sprayed over him, stinging his hands as the hard stone hit his skin. He stood and dusted himself down, surprised at how unafraid he was, pushing the sound of his pounding heart out of his head. He took a tentative step forward, sensing the raw power being given off by the object, which now looked like a small star, the dull red glow reminding him of the red giant suns he had seen in so many science fiction movies. He reached out, his finger tips mere inches from its surface and watched as streams of energy began to snake their way from the glowing ball of light.

The strands slithered smoothly along his finger tips, wrapping around them and slowly moved over his hand and down his wrist. Fear began to well up inside him, but he pushed it back down, convinced, somehow, that he was in no danger. The ball was getting smaller now, as it was teased out on to his hand, the thin lines of energy wrapping around his wrist and forming into a band about two inches wide. The ball disappeared as it slid silently to the top of his wrist and began to form into a rectangle, about five inches by three. The outer two inches of either side dropped down a couple of millimetres, forming a circle in the centre of the rectangle. Two lines slid across the centre of the circle, the area between them turning black, as the rest of it solidified. There was a flash of bright red and everything went quiet, as though all was right with the world. He stared at the item now strapped to his wrist, brushing his fingers over the smooth, warm surface with his free hand. Suddenly the words 'Digivice Active' appeared in the centre of the black band. He raised an eyebrow at strange name as it disappeared and was replaced.

'Commencing information upload' scrolled across what he guessed to be the screen and suddenly pain exploded in this head. Images flashed in front of his eyes, stills of massive, snarling creatures, warriors in coloured armour and epic battles. The pain intensified as he struggled to control his breathing, trying to work through it as the information flooded his mind. He felt his mind absorb what the Digivice was sending him, telling him how to us it and why it was now strapped to his wrist. Letting out a loud gasp of pain, he fell to his knees and as suddenly as it came, it was gone. He knelt on all fours, breathing heavily, staring at the Digivice. He Regained control of his racing heart, listening out for any sounds of movement from the surrounding woodland.

"Ok, let's see what you can do" He whispered.

Chapter 1

There was a faint odour of bleach in the air as he made his way around the store, occasionally picking up items and scanning them casually. He was always paranoid that one of the security guards would pull him aside and accuse him of shoplifting, but they never did, he just preferred to be paranoid, thinking it gave him something to keep him honest.

Not that he needed much of that at the moment, the last few months had been a whirlwind and the media interest in his activities were only getting worse, he knew it wouldn't be long before some intrepid reporter started to track him, and that was most definitely, bad.

Finally finding the right aisle, he grabbed the small wok he needed and proceeded to the checkout. The store was surprisingly busy for this time in a morning, having only opened about twenty minutes ago, but it was a fairly busy part of town and it was just after the school run. He got in line, staring out of the window as he waited patiently for his turn. A large double decker bus pulled up at the stop just in front of the window, rumbling loudly as it waited for its passengers to board.

"Next please" the cashier said.

He shuffled up to the counter and placed his items down, fidgeting about in this pocket to get out his wallet as the young women started scanning the wok and a few other little pieces he had picked up, the till beeping loudly with each successful scan.

"Ten ninety seven please" she said, her long blond hair blowing in the breeze from a small fan next to her.

He pulled a ten pound note and a pound coin from his wallet and started to hand it over when his stomach tightened, his digivice beeping in his mind and glowing dully. He stopped and looked around, there was nothing unusual, nothing happening as far as he could tell and was confused by his digivice's reaction. He scanned outside the store again, just to be safe, and then he noticed her.

A young woman, with long light brown hair, slightly curled, sat with her back to him, turning her head and talking to someone he couldn't see. Not that it mattered; he knew exactly who she was talking to and he really didn't need the hassle.

"Sir?" the cashier asked politely, her perfect blue eyes staring up at him.

"Sorry, here you go" he handed her the cash, packed his things into the shoulder bag he had with him and nervously exited the store.

He stepped onto the pavement just as the young women looked round, she saw him, spun and as he looked through the dirty glass of the window, he saw a cow printed coat shift uneasily.

"Fantastic..." he thought sarcastically.

It had been nearly a year since he last saw AJ, and it looked as though nothing had changed, the women, called Jen, had seen him, told her and her body language was all he needed to see she still didn't want to know him. That upset him, when they fell out he was young and stupid, and perhaps over eager to rectify the situation but she couldn't even give him 2 minutes to explain himself and he had always felt the situation was left unresolved, all he wanted was to apologise now, but the feeling she hated him just kept growing.

His digivice beeped, but there was nothing on the screen apart from a faint pink glow. He looked again at AJ, staring through the grime covered window as their eyes locked on one another. There was something different about her this time though, almost like her outline was glowing a dull pink, the same colour as his digivice screen. He gave her a confused look, and then started noticing the glow getting brighter, her entire body starting to radiate an aura of pink light. There was a loud beep, and he looked his wrist. The screen was shining brightly, illuminating his face as he tilted to see AJ again. The light flashed, and a small ball of pink light rose slowly out of the screen, stopping in front of his face. It glowed brightly then shot off, zooming into the bus and stopping in front of AJ. She eyed it cautiously her legs tucked up on her seat as she reached out with a thin finger and gently touched the glowing ball of light. It began to tease itself out, stretching slowly over her extended finger, snaking its way down her hand and started to converge on her wrist.

AJ was mesmerised, unable to do anything but watch as the pink ball of light disappeared, reforming itself into the strange device that now adorned her wrist. She looked at it, staring at the smooth screen and pink outer casing as she ran her fingers over its slightly warm surface. It beeped, and something scrolled across the screen, she didn't have time to read it however, as her head exploded in pain, images of terrible, vicious monsters ran through her mind, of warriors in coloured armour and of intense battles. The images began to slow, fading to a sort of static, as though the television signal was cut off. Something dark shot in front of her eyes, then back, before all she saw was a face covered in shadow, the only colour coming from the sharp white teeth that protruded from its smiling maw.

'AJ....AJ' she heard 'Soon AJ' and the image faded with a maniacal cackle.

She looked up to see Jen and another friend rubbing her back, asking if she was ok. She looked out of the window, tears rolling slowly down her face and saw him standing on the pavement stunned. She realised the whole bus was standing over her in silence, just looking at her.

'Wh..Why are you all standing over me?' she asked

'You were screaming AJ, don't you remember?' Jen replied, a worried smile gracing her pretty features.

AJ stared into his eyes through the window, then bolted upright and steamed off the bus. She leaped onto the pavement and headed straight for the man she had told never to speak to her again all those years ago.

"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?" she shouted at him "WHAT THE hell HAVE YOU DONE?!?!"

She shoved him, forcing him a step back.

"Its not my fault"

"Its never your fault, what the hell is this thing?"

"You already know, you know what it is, what it does and how to use it"

"Is that what happened?"

"Yeah, the upload is pretty painful; I honestly didn't know you were..."

"I bet it you did it deliberately" she began to sob

"Whatever you may think, I would never hurt you"

"You did that ages ago!" Jen jumped in.

"I have never had a problem with you; just leave it between me and AJ"

"Listen and listen good..." AJ's voice became menacing "there is nothing between us, never has and never will"

"Whatever AJ, keep telling yourself the same old bs"

"screw you Dan"

The words stung, after everything that had, even if it was one sided, there was more to it then she let herself believe, he was sure of it.

"I don't want any part of this"

"Uh, tough" he deadpanned

"WHAT?"

"This is your destiny, sooner you realise that, the better"

AJ's breathing slowed, she suddenly felt calm, like everything was right with the world around her

"He is right AJ..." it was the voice from earlier, "embrace it"

She rubbed her temples, trying to block the voice in her head out.

The light steadily got brighter as he approached it, casting strange shadows on the walls of the stone chamber. His steps clicked on the floor, echoing around the ancient walls, adding to the sense of isolation the chamber gave off.

There was a blast of cool air as the orb of light reacted to his presence, his dark purple cape swaying out behind him, revealing his dark skin and long arms, ending in light blue hands with sharp talons on the end of his fingers. He moved one hand out over the orb, laying it on the invisible, curved field that protected it.

"Show me what I desire" he whispered.

The light became blinding, forcing him to close his eyes. When he opened them, the orb had projected a holographic square in front of him, showing several figures standing on a pavement. There were raised brick flower beds to either side of them, green plants and the off splash of colour from an open bud covering their top. The shadows of vehicles could be seen moving along the pavement to the right, but a much larger shadow, almost rectangle in shape, covered the figures.

Two of the figures were obviously female, their long hair blowing gently in the breeze as they stood looking at a young male. His hair was dark brown and spiked up, he carried a black bag on his back and wore a blue top and slacks.

He had never understood their preoccupation with clothes and how they look, and was fairly sure it was just a huge mating ritual he would never understand. Though to be fair there are members of his own race who have similar predilections.

One of the females, who wore a long white coat covered in odd shaped black dots, pointed a finger at the male, and both the females looked angry. The image suddenly flickered, and a black aura began to shine around the women in the coat. There was another flicker and her image changed for a second, but it was enough time for him to release what she was.

"So, it is true..." he pondered.

The male gestured to her with his right hand, and the image zoomed in to his wrist and turned a vague red.

"Ah, I knew it!"

He released his hand and the hologram instantly disappeared, plunging the chamber into almost darkness once again. The claws on his feet screeched as he spun, carving a semi circle in the stone work. He stormed down the pitch black hall, his steps still echoing around him as the chamber door slide open silently and he stepped out into the cool night air of a balcony.

The balcony sat half way up a square keep made of ancient stone and had images of goblins running around its edge. The barrier keeping clumsy fools from falling was made of the same material, and he had always found to be surprisingly sturdy.

He surveyed what was before him, running his bright yellow eyes over the courtyard below. Flames from oil and hay lights illuminated the area, and cast strange dancing shadows on the stone walls.

Various creatures moved around, some were chatting to each other, some just stood watching the others and in one area some were fighting. The fights weren't particularly brutal, rather a way to keep their fighting skills honed.

The cool air wafted the scent of burning oil into his nostrils and filled his mind with memories of battles he had fought and won. He smiled to himself, and then looked down as a roar of victory rang out from the courtyard.

"Perfect" he thought.

The roar had come from a creature in the fighting area, who stood towering over its opponent who lay bleeding the ground. It breathed heavily, but had enough breath to roar again and raise its massive hands in the air.

"Ogremon," He called, all the creatures in the courtyard stopped and looked at him "I have a mission for you"

The creature looked down at his opponent who had managed to scramble to its feet.

"I am chosen," it said "if you still believe you are more powerful maybe you should take it up with the master."

"N..No, I bow to your strength" the smaller creature said.

"And so you should"

Ogremon grabbed a large, spiked club and hoisted it onto his shoulder then began the walk to meet his master. The creature on the balcony sprang over the stone railing and landed effortlessly, raising as his servant reached him. Ogremon dropped to one knee and bowed his large, horned head, but still was as tall as his master.

"What is your command my lord" There was a hint of fear in his voice.

"Go to the portal, travel to the other side and retrieve the item."

"The item? You have found it?"

"I have.." a slight hint of pride tinged his voice "It is in the hands of a human. Tear him apart, and retrieve it"

A smile graced Ogremon's features. "With pleasure my lord."

Ogremon stood, towering over his master and bowed his head again then began the walk to the portal.

"Ogremon?" his master said calmly.

"Yes my liege?"

"Do not fail me"

He pointed his hand at the creature Ogremon had been fighting, and his arm shot forward, extending and growing in size. His taloned fist clasped around the creatures head, its muscular body writhing as he tightened his hold. There was a muffled scream, then a crunch and dark liquid sprayed out between his fingers. The body went limp and he released it a moment later, what was left of the head drawing strands of gore and brain matter down from his hand as it slid to the floor.

The creatures looked frightened, almost all of them stepping back as the arm retracted and went back under his coat.

"I...I will not my lord"

The fear in Ogremon's voice pleased him and he leapt back onto the balcony. He retreated inside as Ogremon shook his head and turned back to his objective.

I'd like to say this is my last post about the Wii, but....

As any regular reader of my posts (think are a couple. I think.) can attest, I have lameted on the Wii several times and how it has changed the way games are played and indeed thought about by the general public, but there is one other thing I have yet to comment on: how it has changed how I look at myself.

You see I dont consider myself a mega hardcore gamer, certainly I dont count frames in Street Fighter 4 or compete in Gears of War 2 tournaments, but I am a hardcore or 'Core' gamer. Much has been made of Nintendo forgetting the core gamer so I dont want to get into that here, what I want to talk about is how my perception of what a hardcore gamer is has changed.

The all knowing overlords of the very site you are reading are what I used to consider mega hardcore gamers, great at playing games, with massive collections of games and systems built up over the years. I imagine thier apartments are lined around the walls with shelfs upon shelfs of games, like some loot filled cave of secrets. A truely hardcore gamer place to be.

However, the Wii has created an interesting phenomeon, one which seems to be creating a whole new cave of secrets, except this one has wooden swords and cups and crowns made of iron. You see every single person I know who owns a Wii and isnt a true core gamer has a massive selection of games for it. Many more than I have and I have a Wii, a PS3 and a 360, and that has changed how I percieve a core gamer.

Its not just about how big your gaming collection, as I used to believe, but about how much you actually 'game'. My soon to be sister in law has three times the number of games for her Wii than I do across all of my consoles and handhelds, yet I believe between her and her boyfriend they have actually completed about 2 games. Admittedly some of this is to do with most of the games being mini-game compilations, but the still it is possible to 'complete' them, to unlock every mini game.

A core gamer, i.e., myself, has to distinguish themselves in other ways, instead of saying 'looking at my collection, I am king!' they have to be on sites like this, actually knowing about games and have an opinion based on somewhat of critique of the game in question. They must also complete games, maybe not every game they own, but certainly alot of them, and then move on. It seems this new 'Wiicore' (see what i did there?) play the same few games over and over, keeping the ones they dont like alot in reserve, rarely moving on except when they see a knew game that is cheap.

Cheap is why this became the phenomen it is, Wii games are simply cheaper than others, and therefore people can afford to buy two or three for the same price as they would a 360 or PS3 title.The Wiicore simply gobble up the cheap mini game compilations, despite the fact they are probably medicore games, and so thier collections swell, yet the people have no idea about the games they are playing.

That is where my perception of the hardcore/core game has changed, rather than being someone who plays more games than everyone else, they have to player fewer, better games for longer and actually know what they are talking about. The fact that my soon to be sister in law has 30 games and I have less than ten means nothing, because mine are titles such as Gears of War 2, GTA IV and Littlebigplant and The World Ends With You.

What do you think dear readers? are the Wiicore a good or a bad thing? how is your collection and what do you consider yourself, Wiicore or hardcore?

Raving Rabbits vs Monopoly: The showdown

Sat in my local MacDonald's the other day, I noticed their current happy meal promotion was giving away mini versions of board games such as hungry hippos. This got me thinking about board games, and the current state of them in the modern world.

A couple of months ago my girlfriend had a few friends round to our place for lunch, they had some stuff to eat and decided they wanted to do something else, so they pulled out a recently acquired copy of the Game of Life and started playing that, which I found really strange as they were making out it was a real novelty.

Fast forward a little and its Christmas day at my girlfriends parents, and I had brought my Wii, and my girls sister and her chap had brought a bunch of their games. We sat and played that after Christmas lunch for about three hours and this felt right, it felt like it is what we should be doing at Christmas and not playing board games.

That was a strange feeling I realised as I sat eating my Mcflurry, as it was only a few years ago that if I was gonna play a game with friends it would be a board game, video games simply not having the relevance that they do now.

So have the roles reversed? Has video gaming become the default pass-time while board gaming has become relegated to a nostalgia trip for people who are starting to get a bit old?

Well with the success of the Wii I would have to say yes, video gaming is the new default, purely because it is the pick up and play nature of the system and relative ease of setup that allows people to get to play quickly, and it's generally a lot easier to show someone how to play a video game as almost every board game I have played we had to keep returning to the rule book.

Most of the people I know have a Wii and played a bunch with family and friends over the Christmas period but very few of them played a board game in the same period. It strikes me that the previously mentioned happy meal promotion is an act of desperation by board game manufacturers to get people to buy more copies of their games and compete with the likes of Nintendo.

I cannot deny the appeal of board games, but sheer accessibility and ease of use of most party games on the Wii and even other consoles means they are fighting a loosing battle, trying to compete against an opponent who vastly over powers them in terms of money to burn and number of people buying (despite the massive board game section in most Toy R Us stores).

What do you think? Are board games just a nostalgia to the days when you just weren't as into video games, or are they still a great past time and it breaks your heart to witness people playing Wii sports instead of a round of monopoly?

The games I am Waiting for in 2009

The last two years have been a fantastic era in gaming, producing some of the greatest games ever made. Will 2009 be as good? who knows, however it is shaping up quite nicely, despite the absense of the big names such as GTA and MGS.
So what am I waiting for in 2009? well there will probably be no surprises to anyone on the following list, but ya know, I am a slave to the big names! so we have:

Killzone 2

Didnt play the original, but I have to say that this looks amazing, and its a PS3 exclusive so it just has to be checked out, should be pretty sweet all in all, but will it stack up to the likes of Halo or Gears? only time will tell.

Street Fighter 4

I might not actually get this, as I have tendency with fighting games to get them, play them a bit then put them down, and also I suck so bad at them its untrue, but I grew up on Mortal Kombat and Street fighter and prefer thier wacky special moves rather than Tekken's more realistic slant.

Halo 3: ODST

I am the first to admit that Halo 3: Recon was a far better name, but I am still looking forward to this as the Halo universe is one of my all time favourite universes across movies, books and games.

Halo Wars

As with ODST its Halo so is a must buy for me, but more over I want to know if an RTS on a console could really work, as I have always played them on PC and havent quite worked out if a pad would be good enough yet.

Mad World

My Wii has languished under my TV for too long, I am currently playing De Blob, which is pretty cool but the game I am looking forward to the most is Mad World, hopefully it will spark a revolution and Wii will have a decent selection of games that arent just mini games collections.

The Conduit

As with Mad World, The Conduit could provide a revolution on the Wii and get some kick ass games on the system. Metroid Prime 3 was a great FPS on Wii, so if they take thier cues from that, this could be pretty sweet, colour me intrigued.

Heavy Rain

Ok so much has been lauded about wether this will actually come out, I really hope it does, as Farenheit was one of the best games I played on PS2 and I really cant wait for this, as the makers have proven themselves masters of cinematic story telling.

Borderland

This could be really sweet, and is the direction FPS's seem to be going in, so I think I might give this a try since I missed Fallout, and everyone needs to play one post apocolyptic FPS right?

Resident Evil 5

Love the series, so this is a fair no brainer, as it is for most people. Will the control's stack up in a post Gears world? only time will tell, but the current word is hell yes.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

The first one rocked, and the second looks to be more of the same, I just hope they dont artificially make the game longer, and that they keep to a similar or only slightly longer length as it added to the action movie feel.

Final Fantasy XIII

Another series I love, really cant wait for this. The power of the new consoles should really provide Square Enix the basis to generate one of the most beautiful worlds ever commited to disk. An epic in the making.

F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin

The original F.E.A.R was a fantastic game that really did creep me the hell out, so I cant wait for this, should be a truely awesome experience. Just wish I had picked up the expansion pack.

StarCraft 2

I hope it comes out this year, the original is a fantastic RTS and this can only improve on that. I wont, however, be playing online, I'm just not good enough.

Ghostbusters

Being a child of the 80's this is a fairly obvious inclusion, and with Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis writing the script, this could be a fantastic nostalgia trip and decent game to boot.

Resistance: Retribution

If this is anything along the lines of the Killzone PSP game, it should be pretty dam sweet. Must have for the ailing portable.

Rage

Much Like Borderlands, this could be really sweet. It does have one advantage over Borderlands though: It is being made by id, and they do a dam fine job at games. So the war of Post apocolyptic FPS's begins!

Champions Online

I have only played the beta's of MMO's, partly because thats all I have time to do, and partly so I dont become hopelessly addicted. Champions Online could be the one I let slip and completely addict me. Time will tell.

Ok so thats all so far, this list will probably increase with announcments etc, especially around E3 time. Thanks for reading, what are you looking forward to?

My top 6 games of 2008

So everyone is doing top 5 or top 10, so I decided to do a top 6, just to be different, plus its an even number which sits well with slightly OCD personality.

These are the games that this year, after finishing them, I have felt...satisfied. But not because of the gameplay (though that helps), it is mostly because of the story of each game. 2008 has been a fantastic year for gaming, as 2007 was before it and 2009 is shaping up to be, but more than it, games have started to come into thier own as a medium where great stories can be told, and what stories they are.

I dont play games generally that are not heavily story based, so story is quite important to me. In the last couple of years, developers have started to realise games can be/do more, and as such, the quality of the writing within them has increased exponentially. So here it is, my top 6 games of 2008!

Disclaimer: at least one was released in 2007, but i didnt play it until this year, so please bear with!

6. Devil May Cry 4

Simply Great. I have been a fan of the DMC series since the first one, and despite the hiccup that was 2, everyone was fantastic and the series is one of my all time favourites. A truely great game.




Uncharted: Drakes Fortune 5. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune

A real surprise, this game made me like Tomb Raider type games again. Nathan Drake is a great protagonist, the story is fantastic (though it did get a little daft toward the end), and the production values immense. This and Heavenly Sword really justified the PS3 for me, but Uncharted won out, I just found it to be a much better game, full of atmosphere.



Crysis 4. Crysis/Crysis: Warhead

Though they are technically 2 different games, they are essential the same so they go together. Crysis created the one military team I want in real life, the nano suits are so bad ass and just make the wears super cool (to be fair the enviroment also does that later in the games). Pyscho and Nomad and great protagonists, and the larger battle happening around them gives both games tons of atmosphere. The aliens were kinda cool (literally!) too, and I enjoyed every second of both games.


Dead Space 3. Dead Space

Now I have said the other games in this list have buckets of atmosphere, but not one has the atmosphere with the power to make you poop yourself. Dead space does, and it is a truely fantastic game, foregoing muliplayer non-sense and crafting a truely scary place to be trapped in. A great story, with a more personal touch for the protagonist, makes this my 3rd best game of 2008. If you liked the movie Event Horizon, play Dead Space right now.


Gears of War 2 2. Gears of War 2

Gears 1 was a great game, but Epic wanted it to be better, so the now infamous 'Bigger, Better, more bad-ass' quote was created. Epic delievered on that lofty goal, and Gears 2 surpasses it's predecessor in every way. Better graphics, art **** a truely epic story, everything is better, though the best bit is Dom's desperate search for his missing wife, a deeply personal story interwoven into a larger, planet threating struggle for survival, which creates enough questions to justify the obvious Gears 3.



Metal Gear Solid 4 1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Quite simply a masterpiece. I know of several people who wont add this to a list like this under the guise of 'it isnt really a game', and to be fair it isn't. What it is is the first game to take true advantage of the medium, allowing people to watch a fantastic, cinematic story unfold before letting play a fantastic game. So what if there is a 45 minute cutscene? that scene will be probably the best cutscene you have ever seen, directed and written as Hollywood has done for years. The story might be a little complex, but this is a watershed moment in gaming history, and one that will be celebrated for years to come.


So there you have it, my top 6 games of 2008, I hope you enjoyed the read. What do you think about these games?

People who work in game stores: a sumeristation

Before I start this I would like to point out that I mayself used to work at a GAME in my local shopping centre, and I loved it. I am not trying to knock everything single person working at those type of stores, but rather the company policy to hiring, so with that in mind here we go!

Last night I took Guitar Hero: World Tour back to the store. I played it for about an hour with my girlfriend and nephew, and discovered that one of the cymbals dosent work and there is something rattling in the guitar. So I walked in, dropped it down and said it dont work can I have my money back?

Happily they agreed and it was refunded to a gift card. I then proceeded to trade in my launch day PSP, so I could get a PSP3000. I spoke to a different sales advisor behind the counter and got a bundle that included Lego Batman and Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters. She disappeared for a good five min looking for a Ratchet and Clank box, which I found on the shelf behind me. Needless to say I got a little worried, but that wasnt the killer, that could have happened to anyone.

The killer came when she sorted everything else out and was ready to start processing the sale. Here is the conversation that followed:

"Can I also get a copy of Gears of War 2 please?"

"For the psp?"

"What?"

"For the psp?"

"Gears of War 2?"

"yeah for the psp?"

"no the 360..."

"Oh ok"

Now unless I have completely mis-read things, isnt Gears 2 the biggest game of the holiday season?!? and certainly the last 2 weeks, surely she should know what format its on, especially since there is only 1 version?

It's this that sums up the hiring policy for games retailers such as GAME. The employee's dont have to play games, or be interested in them at all, hell, I manged to get my future sister in law a job there by saying you dont need to know about games. I have had managers there give out wrong info on games and hardware to customers, and the customers believed them. I have actually taken over from a sales assistant while they were helping a customer before now, and done a better job, and I wasnt even working there!!!!

While I did work at that very same store, the assistant manager told me in not so many words I was bad at my job. I was the only one reading games magazines on my lunch for every format at the time and the only one with every console at the time. My knowledge was unsurpassed in that store, with several of the staff not even knowing the different genres of games, despite them being quite broad.

My point is shouldn't being a gamer be a pre-requiste for a job at a games store? maybe I am being idealistic but they constantly bombast us with signs saying 'Ask for assistance' but what good is that when the assistance knows less than the customer? If stores like GAME want to survive, they have to be the 'Go to' for people who want to purchase games.

And that means having staff who are gamers, who read the magazines, who look at the websites, prehaps even a dedicated team of games journalists who update an intranet site on a regular basis. Again this may be me being idealistic, and its a vision that can never come to pass, but surely this would make GAME and its ilk better places to shop, increasing the number of people who go there and, in turn, increase profits.

What do you think good people? a vision of a beautiful tomorrow? or the mad rantings of a bitter idealogist? discuss.

No one is going to read this so what is the point in a title?

Life is a funny old thing. Especially if you actually sit down and think about your life, what it means, how you act and how others treat you. Doing this, however, is a double edged sword, cause its good to vent and think about yourself so you can get better, it can also drive you insane. I think I may be going insane.

My name is Dan, I am 27, work as an IT Support Analyst and I am currently writing a blog no one will read or pay attention to. The reason for this is quite simple, I am totally insignificant. Everyone I have ever encountered, or will encounter, can live thier lives happily and with no detriment without me in it. I sometimes think that I have affected peoples lives in some way, even to asking a store clerk where the toilets are, but in the end I know that that adds up to nothing.

I used to think I had interesting things to say, that my views and opinions on life, love and the human condition were unique to me and that if people actually asked me about such things I would give them something that they could ponder, if not change thier view to include an understanding of my point. I realise now that I actually talk total **** and that no one cares what I have to say, be it verbally or in blog posts or anything. I bring nothing to the specticle of life, and I sincerely doubt anyone will honestly miss me when I am gone.

Dont get me wrong this isnt any kind of note regarding a cowardly intended fate, I am simply too much of a coward to actually do that. No, this is a vent, albiet one that no will read or care about. I am getting married next year, I have been with her nearly 8 years and I am fairly sure she has just settled on me, but I am not the person she really wants. For example she hates the fact I play games, last night I asked at 11pm if I could play Dead space for an hour, she wouldnt let me, so we watched Heros, to which she fell asleep after about 10 minutes.

If she cant even respect the fact that my main hobby is being a gamer, what hope is there for us? I love her I do, and I think she loves me back, I just cant for the life in me work out why. Maybe I am a safe bet, since she dosent like to take chances. I have tried to be better, I constantly criticize my self and my actions, trying to be a better person, a better friend, everything, but it all seems to have no effect and I end up feeling the same.

My job is ok, I like the people and have met some really nice ones through it, but I have a head full of ideas for games, books, movies etc, in fact I am currently writing a book and I know despite my best efforts, no one will ever read it. Why? because I have thought that one day it might get published, and when I think something might happen it wont. Which also means, someone might actually read this, but I doubt it.

I am creative, but not good enough at anything to make it work for me. Ideas run around in my head but I am not a good enough writer to end up doing that for a living and despite my best efforts I am unable to get a job in games industry. I am going to try and get into a more creative career after the wedding, one that hopefully pays more too, cause like everyone I need more money.

Thats what really worries me, not being able to provide for my wife. Some say I am selfish cause I buy games, but I need something to take me away from life, to fuel my useless imagination. Even though it means less money to spend on items that help our relationship out, I try to minimize expenditure where possible.

I am going to finish here. I know it may seem like I am whining, like I can do something about this, but can I really? can you really change your life If you dont have any balls or talent? can you reset yourself if you fear confrontation and avoid it all costs?

Why am I asking questions to which not one person will give answers to? because I am that sad.