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Merry Christmas Gamers

Once more Christmas rolls around, this year under my tree I am definitely going to have Zelda: Skyward Sword and Uncharted 3. Fingers crossed for Mario Kart 7 for my 3DS. This certainly has been a bumper year in gaming, picking my GoTY would be hard if it were not for Skyrim. that has got to be my number one purely for the enjoyment and immersion it has given me. I realise it has its flaws but I forgive it everything. Batman AC was indeed also a fantastic game and I would say pretty much, if not entirely, flaw free but for me personally it could not hold my interest. Dark Souls was great, the list could go on and on. I am just rambling now so to the point.....

MERRY CHRISTMAS GAMERS

AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

Who ate all the pie-charts?

Since recent changes to Gamespot the pie-charts on the user ratings of games are gone, I liked these as they gave a "quick glance" indication of how ratings were split. I place a fair amount of store in user ratings as they can give a good indication of a games overall quality. For example a game may have say 2000 user ratings with an average of lets say 8 but yet have no abysmal section of pie indicating it is no absolue stinker of a game. Alternatively a game may have racked up 1000 votes say and have a quarter rating it abysmal showing a potential at least for a rotten game. Obviously on format exclusives you need to take fan-boys into account. I don't use any one review source as a bible, some have more of my respect and I view them more seriously, however I do miss the pie-charts. Rant over.

Peace and happy gaming peeps.

Further Tales from Skyrim (May contain spoilers, or nuts, or both)

Toachi Zentrik's Journal

After a disturbed night's sleep I awoke knowing I had to head back to Windhelm. A fellow adventurer in Skyrim had informed me of his doubt to the mage's guilt in The Butcher case, in fact he alerted my attention to the chap who ran the curiosity shop, Calisto,or some name similar.

I had only been back in Windhelm a matter of minutes when I became certain of the mage's innocence as the lass from the stables was brutally murdered just by the side of the inn. After looting and stripping her to ascertain wether she in fact had a pulse I became unswayably convinced she was in fact dead because a re-animate corpse spell worked on her a treat.

Armed with the knowledge the mage could not have done it I was sent by a guard to speak with the mage, he informed me by his calculations another murder was imminent, by way of recompense I picked the lock of his cell so he was free to leave and following his instructions went to patrol the Stone Quarter.

However upon exiting the palace I saw Calisto running suspiciously, by which I refer to the white arrow he had placed over his head. So I followed him to the house, where I had first suspected the mage, to apprehend him and he immediately attacked me yet would not die. When he yielded he would not speak, just start attacking me again till eventually he just stood there oblivious to my blows and still pleading The Fifth Ammendment.

I decided to try and report back to the mage, who despite being free to leave his cell had not. He did not want to know. I get a similar disinterest from both the Jarl and his Steward. Calisto also refuses to leave the house he has settled in. I am beginning to suspect a conspiracy or cover-up. What is wrong with these people? I wash my hands of the sordid matter.

I have also heard tales of dragons flying backwards but as yet have not witnessed this sight for myself. I have also heard talk of a world outside of Skyrim, what fanciful nonsense is this?

That is all for now, supper to be made, apple and cabbage stew and grilled leaks me-thinks.

Toachi Zentrik. High Elf Battlemage.

Tales from Skyrim

Toachi Zentrik's Journal

I woke up early, 4.30 am. I wanted an early start from Whiterun as I had to travel to near Falkreath to begin my days quest. I had been to bed early the night before after having sorted out my gear to ensure I was carrying the minimum of stuff so I had room for loads of lovely loot.

I decided to leave Lydia at home again, much as she was useful for carrying loot, she still had anger management issues where she would dash into combat with no thought for her own safety. No, she would be safer at home and would be company for when I returned. I have reached the point where I am selective about what I pick up as I can make my money from my alchemy, yesterday I made one potion worth 1150 gold and though I only got 710 gold when I sold it I still turned a nice profit. With my gold now well over 100,000 I consider myself one of the wealthy of Skyrim.

I regard Whiterun as my home even though I own other properties throughout Skyrim, there is something about Whiterun I like, though it certainly isn't the chap who stands at the corner of the general store everyday moaning "You know what's wrong with Skyrim nowadays..." Yes I do it is whinge-bags like you with your boringly repetive comments. Why don't you ask me if I saw the match the night before or something. No one like a whinger!

On a sad note though I was in Riverwood a few days back when a dragon attacked, the locals and I took it down pretty quick like but not before it managed to kill Alvor the blacksmith. I shall miss him, trading with him was always beneficial. Now I only have the store in Riverwood to really sell loot too. There is the pub of course but like all inns in Skyrim carry little gold. Alvor leaves a widow and one fatherless daughter. The wife says she misses him but the daughter seem to be denial about his death, poor little mite.

I solved the case of "The Butcher" murders in Windhelm yesterday, though I probably should not have stripped the last victim Sarah the Wicked down to her underwear and then perform a re-animate spell on her! She turned into a pile of ash and was evidence I guess. Strangely though her body reappeared in the Hall of the Dead later on, most bizzare. I resisted the temptation to re-animate her again but may pop back later and see if she is still there!

That is all for now, dragons, giants and trolls to slay. Gold to be made.

Toachi Zentrik. High Elf Battlemage.

Dark Souls

I loved Demon Souls, however I have to confess I did not actually finish it. I was about 90 hours into it and pretty close to the end when my PS3 died and I lost my save file. I did not have PSN+, if it was even around at the time. I got a new slim PS3, all my other game saves I had managed to transfer to my PSP Pro Duo stick but as anyone will know Demon's Souls is protected. I did start again but was too heartbroken to really get into it, I did not have the same armour at the start. My first game when I started the first area was having a pure white tendacy event and the gate at the side of the start was open and I got the armour from the building up the top of that area, Brushwood armour I believe. One day soon I will go in again.

Anyhows, strayed from the subject, Dark Souls. My impressions so far is that it an excellent game and in many ways is better than Demon Souls, in some ways it is worse. The world structure and how it links is excellent, and the bonfire system is good. I also liked the nexus as well though. So far I am in Anor Londor after 60 hours so I think I have made good progress, I am level 72 and started off as a warrior who began evolving into a battle-mage. When I got the Gold Hemmed Armour I only donned the jacket and skirt as my upgraded Elite Knight helmet and leather gauntlets +6 provided better protection than the gold hemmed equilvilents, at this point I really felt the evolution.

Negatives about Dark Souls are, firstly major downer on Blighttown. Firstly the slowdown is noticeable, though in itself not a major problem. My issue with Blighttown is the collision detection, being killed because my character can not walk over something which must be sticking out of the ground 1cm, also the camera can get awkward here.Not to forgetthose damned mossies, they really cause chaos to the auto-lock. I really loathed my first run through here, made worse by the fact I actually entered via the Firelink shrine side and did not need to fight my way up the the top to fight the boss but I did realise this, not till I reached the still locked sewer entrance. I also wondered what that key was for, and I must have walked past the door without noticing! I have since gone back and opened it. I cursed and swore as I fought my way back the first bonfire, down near the boss. The boss was easy enough as I could summon man-eater Mildred.

I have felt robbed of the sense of achievement a couple of tiimes, the first was the Taurus Demon. He had crushed me a few times and I went back, armed with firebombs and I felt I knew his patterns. I had him down to about five percent health with me on full with 3 Estus flasks left when he whacked me off the bridge to my death, he followed me over and I was credited with the kill but lost any drop he may have made. I did get the souls though, once I reclaimed them but I felt cheated from victory.

All in all though Dark Souls is an immense game, a real gem and I recommend it to anyone who can take a challenge.

My Ratings!!!

I have come to the conclusion, at times I have been slightly to generous with my ratings. i.e Dead Space 2 - 10. Really I found the middle to end bit below the standard of the start, at least from a design point and therefore a 9 or 9.5 would be more fitting as the game had already proven it "could try harder".

When deciding my own personal score I take into account the technical aspects, framerate, pop-up amount, graphics and level/open world design. This is the most important area really, the pure technical part of wether the game "works". I then take fun and enjoyment into account, obviously this is purely personal and totally subjective but a flawed game which I really enjoyed would score higher in my books than one which was technically great yet still could not hold my interest. Take Deadly Premonition (Rainy Woods to my american cousins), a masterclas(s) {forbidden word?} in how not to make a modern game yet spellbindingly captivating. I can't remember what I scored it, if I even did rate on Gamespot (it will be wrote in my Big Book of Beaten Games which I keep at home!), this would have ranked higher than many games undoubtable more competant.

I try to be fair and rate games for what they are, if I play an older console game I will try to rate with its peers, a genre I am not as keen on won't be as much fun to me, still I try to bear this mind.

I hold the view video game reviews are less subjective than other media as there is a clear area in which subjectivity does not feature (technical aspects) yet with say, films, short of holding the camera upside-down there is less that can be judged technically, therefore film reviews are, in my opinion, more subjective.

With hindsight I feel I have been slightly generous with some ratings.

One last sentence. I doubt anyone even started reading this, nevermind reach the end, but if by chance anyone is out there please let me know! And yes, I perhaps missed an "N" from my title.

Castlevania: Lord of Shadow

Got this for my birthday (21 again!) and I think it is awesome, despite the annoyance of no moveable camera this game has sucked me right in. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys God of War or Devil May Cry types of games. I have the PS3 version and as yet have not encountered any framerate drops or pausing at the end of finishing moves as some reviews indicate.It must bethe 360 version that has those issues, though an install would rectify it no doubt. I generally get multi-format games on the 360, the only exceptions were a few when I first bought my PS3 and then Darksiders and Final Fantasy XIII as both were reportedly noticeable better on the PS3.

Truth about this blog is I am wondering if blogging will raise my Gamespot level faster! Sorry, sad role-player really, can't resist a grind. ;)

Fanboys are out out again.....

I chose humour as a catergory for this blog as I do find fanboyism humourous. As a PS3, Xbox360 and PSP and DS owner (not too forget PS2 and original Xbox nor the PC) I can honestly say I am not a fanboy. Sure I have a preference, for me the 360 is my most used console however I love the PS3 as well. My PC I do not regard as a real option as it is not a gaming PC, the most technical game it manages is S.T.A.L.K.E.R and what with having Vista I even have be careful with the older games. It does have Torchlight though which I can not recommend enough, as well an asortment of other games which get some playage.

My point, if anyone was wondering, is what drives people to be fanboys who are critical of everything they cannot play. The most recent example being Halo: Reach. How can anyone honestly score it a one. Perhaps the average review is generous, perhaps not. But a one, now come on people grow up. There are some PC only games I would love too play but can't and I do not feel the need to log on and score them a one.

The gamer score section on Gamespot is currently running at around 8% scoring it abysmal. I bought the game myself and no way is it abysmal, nor is it a ten. I scored it a nine on the strength of multiplayer personally.

I have never scored a game that low myself as I will score games I finish and anything worthy of a one would not get finished and hence not scored. I appreciate professional reviewers would be obliged to finish the game (though I am not convinced they all do).

That's all. Peace and happy gaming to one and all, even the haters.