Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
I think I've had this post bubbling for a while; the Rings of Akhaten and one or two episodes from Series 7 all watched in the space of a few days pushed it over the edge.
I'm done with Moffat / 11 Who, I think. It's finally shuffled beyond the point where I just throw my hands up and do that Seinfeld leaving the theatre routine. In fact, I doubt I'll see any tie-up to any massively dangling plot threads anytime soon.
(Exploding TARDIS, the voice saying "Silence will Fall", the entirely convoluted and not-much-sense-making "plan" of the Silence, Rory and Amy waving to themselves, what the Doctor saw in his room during The God Complex etc etc so on and so forth).
I'm particularly sick of the Doctor's increasing tendency - or should I say, the people in the charge of the show - to have him save the all important companion at the expense of everybody else (aka collateral damage). Those people on the ship in Power of 3? Yeah, leave them up there as the ship blows up. The people who were trapped in the computer network in Bells of Saint John? Doesn't matter, a whole bunch of them will be returned to severely brain damaged / non functional bodies, or freshly rotting corpses in the ground or something. No biggie. While it's (reasonably) clear that the big Parasite from Rings was not a Sun, but in fact a large planet so everybody hasn't just been condemned to death by freezing, it's entirely possible they've all just been condemned to death by a large object hurtling through space with no large parasite planet to absorb the blow.
Let's not dwell on the fact that the Doctor claims to have been there before yet somehow wasn't aware they send a child over to die once every thousand years, either.
Probably best to avoid thinking too much of how the Doctor "dies" and River sacrifices herself to a long stint in the slammer to keep it a secret, yet almost immediately he's signing threatening notes to the Great Intelligence as "The Doctor", and getting Clara to join in on the incredibly tiresome Doc-Tor-WHOOOO chant we keep being meta beaten to death with (all those Daleks at the end of Asylum repeating Doctor Who is only funny until you realise he just ran off and left a large contingent of Daleks to go wandering off and slaughtering their way across the galaxy. Ho ho ho).
When Matt Smith started his run, I just wanted a season where we weren't obsessing over some "special" companion. Oh, sorry - here comes Amy Pond. Nope, now we're going to obsess over the "mystery" of River Song except it wasn't very mysterious after all. Well, they're all gone now so we can sit back and look forward t - whoops, Clara can't stop dying and we're going to spend the rest of the season being drip fed teases of a resolution that likely threatens to go nowhere fast. We're going to get River back at the end of the current run, aren't we?
I know it's entirely possible to pin too much blame on the sonic screwdriver as a convenient plot device, but really - if it had a horseshit setting it'd be dialed up to 11 after Akhaten. You can argue that it's supposed to get the plot moving, but isn't that only a good thing if there's something worthwhile in the place of whatever problem solving was skipped to dazzle us with more empty action and Feels of the Year (aka your new favourite Tumblr gifset) emoting in the first place?
I don't know about you, but being told that opening a large heavy door with advanced technology is "impossible", only to find that - surprise - he opens it within about 30 seconds is just one hand wave too many. Wouldn't things be MORE interesting if they'd spent 5 or 10 tension filled minutes trying to work out a way to open the door? Instead, we got a Harry Potter style wand battle, a chorister that....killed himself? Teleported away? No idea....and a confusing sequence where Clara got stuck to the glass keeping the vampire inside. Apparently the kid did that. I thought Vamps did it. Who knows, gotta keep selling those sonics to cosplayers and kids so you'll never get rid of the damn thing now.
As for the singing: it's someone deciding that Rimmer singing Kumbaya is an actual tactic. The dramatic call to arms of everybody singing along to the Doctor having Those Feels (TM) would probably have been greater if the accompanying music didn't begin with what sounded like a tinny Bontempi keyboard loop from the 80s. I get the feeling that if this had been Tennant and RTD doing this episode, they'd have allowed the Doctor to win the battle himself. But we have to be constantly reminded how special the companions are even when total absurdity is the end result, so of course Clara can now magically pilot space sleds and kills the parasite with a leaf, complete with the most dreadful pseudo-emotive "logic" I can remember in a long, long time.
Waving a leaf at a giant planet sized parasite and claiming the leaf contains an infinite amount of potential for a lost life so you have to die now Mr Parasite Planet does not make this any different to two kids playing wargames in a playground and one deciding he's a tank so he wins, bang bang.
It's just.....nonsensical bullshit. I was also hoping Clara would splat head first into a passing chunk of rock, which would have been hilarious. This will always be remembered as the episode where the Doctor disintegrated a giant space pumpkin by shouting at it.
To be fair, things picked up in later episodes - even if they usually almost, ALMOST make it to the finish line without screwing up then decide to go full Thelma & Louise with hideously contrived "twist" endings.
Cold War: Would have been much better without all the entirely predictable padding filler of "Red Shirts hunt for monster, die horribly" scenes.
Hide: Not mind-blowing but probably the most solid episode of the series. Nice set, nice atmosphere, vaguely creepy ghost, interesting resolution and I'm willing to accept the last five minutes or so as they actually tie into the rest of the episode for a change.
Journey: Seriously, did we need all of the backstory for the brothers? What did it add? Who cares? Also padding: clock watching "Is it over yet" sequences where someone runs offscreen to the left and reappears on the right. PLEASE STOP. Ultimately, we saw very little of the Tardis except for bland metal walls and boring monster of the week chases - with Clara inexplicably pausing to giggle to herself every few seconds.
Shouldn't you be running away? (Hat tip to J. for pointing that one out).
Also congrats to the Doctor whose name is such a super big secret that he leaves it scrawled in huge and prominently displayed books in his library (given how easily Clara spotted his name, I guess it says WITH LOVE FROM STEVE on the inside front cover).
Crimson Horror: I actually thought this was pretty solid (if unremarkable), but the ending - oh boy. The scene with the kids was A) Amazingly stupid, B) Horribly contrived if this is seriously the best thing they could think of to show Clara her "old" Victorian incarnation and C) filmed like something from the Sarah Jane Adventures. Did Gaiman want these kids in his story? I couldn't help but notice they were shelved fairly early on in Nightmare in Silver. Speaking of which...
Nightmare in Silver: The only parts of this which were interesting involved the chess game. Everything else was more Red Shirts running around, kids doing their "We're kids" acting and (for reasons I still don't quite follow) Clara being in charge of a bunch of space marines. It seems Gaiman wanted to do much more with the Cybermen, but the production team nixed a fair bit of it. Silent Cybermen would be awesome - we're stuck with the clank clank clank.
Anyway, that's my whiny rant ramble.
PROVE ME WRONG, FINALE.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Does anybody know who sings the parts of Vivienne Lu, of "Yellow Fever" fame, for example? I've no idea. Nobody seems to know for sure, although if this post is accurate then it definitely isn't Lucy Liu. Similar issues abound for many of the in-game tracks, especially when dealing with some of the stations such as "Soft". Well, fret no more because I put a fair amount of time into this and now you're going to read it, damn you.
1) My favourite tracks remain those by Bei Bei and Shawn Lee. What you may not be aware of (I certainly wasn't) is that Bei Bei has another album available on Amazon, though it won't show up alongside the former - you'll be told there's 400 odd albums, and none of them look remotely Bei Bei related. Fear not - scroll down to the bottom of page 1 (I know, strenuous stuff) and there she is with Quiet your Mind and Listen. An earlier album than the collaboration, there are no jazz / 70's stylings and I don't recall seeing it before so maybe it's a new addition to the site. Interestingly, one or two of the songs contain many of the motifs used throughout the newer album. So that's a fun thing to explore.
2) Art of Xen. You're not told anything about the track in-game, but ten seconds of Google action will give you a name - Jay Price. He has an album on Amazon with 12 tracks on it, but unfortunately it isn't available in some (or potentially many) locations. On the bright side, "As Featured on Sleeping Dogs" seems to be on sale in a lot more locations and contains 70(!) tracks to boot alongside being completely fantastic. YOU'RE WELCOME.
3) Shanghai Nights and Gao Shan Ching by Celestial can be found here (UK only as far as I can tell, the US store has a CD but that's it). Don't click the band name to find (as you would reasonably expect) more albums from the same band - you'll be taken to a couple of albums by what appears to be a random gospel / soul singer instead. For some reason, Celestial albums are a nightmare to dig out on Amazon - here's the one containing The Crossing. That album is available in MP3 form on both US and UK stores, and there's a third (non Sleeping Dogs related) album floating around with a little more digging.
4) The Cinematic Orchestra, "Burn Out". Well, this one is a bit of a pain to buy, depending on region. The US can buy either CD or MP3, but the UK only has expensive looking import CDs. I believe it's available on iTunes, but you may want to simply purchase direct instead.
5) Yellow Fever by Vivienne Lu. Nope, doesn't exist. Sorry :(
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I reckon by a conservative estimate it'll take me the best part of the rest of my lifetime to reupload all the images should all the plugs be pulled, so hopefully Twitter / Posterous / whoever at least recognises that hundreds of thousands of blogs left pictureless is probably going to cause a bit of a grumpstorm.
Let's not dwell too much on the horrific UI redesigns with mystery meat icons all over the place (that began even before Twitter grabbed them - though they certainly never made any progress with regards fixing it), baffling navigation, being told I don't follow any blogs (while the blogs I follow would magically phase in and out of existence on my "I follow these blogs" list) and more besides - the writing was on the wall, and it was clear that the service was going to be canned when it turned out the "sign up" page no longer resolved.
Rather than bother to just remove the sign up link, they left it to rot which is somewhat indicative of the service as a whole. Indeed, they couldn't even be bothered to do some basic housekeeping when the announcement was made and the front page still crowed "We've been acquired by Twitter" rather than "everything you know and love is going to perish" but whatever.
You guys couldn't stop messing with navigation that (for the most part) worked fine. You couldn't give me that most basic requirement of blogging services - a stable blog interface. You most definitely can't give me any incentive whatsoever to sign up for a new (paid!) service, when the one you're supposed to have been running has had all of the wheels fall off and explode over the last year or so.
Out of all the blogging services I've tried down the years, for better or worse the one I've always come back to is Blogger. God help us if they ever decide to shut down, I'll be blogging on bits of wood with neon marker pens.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Monday, December 31, 2012
My favourite five games of 2012. Why five? Don't know. In order? Not really. More questions? Probably not.
1) Sleeping Dogs. If you've dabbled in the wonders of Hong Kong for any length of time (or China in general) you'll have had a whale of a time with Sleeping Dogs. The acting was top rate, and though they didn't push the policeman / triad schism far enough it still did enough to be one of my entries here. Shame the DLC looks to be the all too common "cheap pricepoint and little content" so beloved of most games around these days. Fighting tournaments and "spooky" Halloween events? Bleh. You have a rock solid storyline to flesh out, guys. Don't waste it.
After a wonderful experience on console, this game almost soured me completely due to the infamous hkshop.exe error on PC (go Google it, then weep). In fact, this sounds more like a rant about things I hate than "my top games" so I'll shut up now.
2) FTL. A powerhouse of decision making and random luck blessing the brave. Best thing to come out of Kickstarter? It might well be. Anybody with the mildest Star Trek hankering needs to have this on their PC. Also here's a few tips (I'll also add to those that Drones are essential).
3) Hotline Miami. If you ever wanted to pretend to be Professor Pyg while powerdrilling the heads of those who truly deserve it, then this is the game for you. I keep seeing "Drive: The Game", but "Professor Pyg: The Tribute Album" would be more appropriate. Not so much what your character does, as the overall feel of what takes place keeps reminding me of him for some reason.
5) Spec Ops: The Line. This shunted a fair few titles out of this spot quite late on, as I only recently played it. The campaign is around six hours on normal difficulty and probably closer to ten on hard. It's powerful, it's bold, it's dramatic, it doesn't shy away from the horrors of war and almost everything it does is very, very smart. In fact, something it starts to do later on with a common videogame "thing" will slowly but surely start to freak you out a bit. And that's before you get to the plot, and the multiple interpretations it bears the weight of. A phenomenal title, and something that everybody should play.
It also doesn't contain a single QTE, and that's quite remarkable in this day and age.
The rest of the best of the bunch
I haven't done much with Torchlight 2, but it seems like a lot of fun. XCOM probably got doinked off the above list by Spec Ops, but is a really rather sensational game. Legend of Grimrock would have booted FTL or Hotline Miami out of the top spots, but again - not enough playtime. Borderlands 2 is phenomenal, but somehow it doesn't quite squeeze into the list. I guess I might just be a sucker for the first game.
And, me being me, I couldn't let this blog post finish without a closing complaint so I'll just come right out with it: my biggest gaming disappointment was Far Cry 3 which - I've come to realise - isn't as good as Far Cry 2. Blog post incoming, release the hounds and happy new year.
Saturday, December 01, 2012
So here's the thing.
1) I have to fill out a bunch of info on the AMD website to get hold of a "special redeem key". I'm told to go to the UPlay site, register / login and enter the code after dropping FC3 into the cart.
2) There's a whole selection of versions of the game with various extras added (or not), and of course there's no indication which version of the game the code works with. I get it right on the second attempt.
3) Despite being a free game, the Ubisoft store wants me to enter payment info - without which, I can't proceed. Uhh....okay? I guess?
4) I hit the purchase button, and I'm told "Your basket is empty". That's it. Has it worked? Well, I don't have an email so I reckon it probably hasn't.
5) Try again, it doesn't recognise the code and the game is showing as full price.
6) I go back again, fill all my info in again, and finally it appears to have worked.
7) There's no explanation of how you get hold of the game and register it to your account (I've already seen one guy who managed to buy it twice, on one occasion setting up a new account inside UPlay while logged into his actual account. How is that even possible?) Should I have a download link sent to me? Will it only be sent on release day? Perhaps I have to open up UPlay and see the game is sitting against my account but not yet downloadable?
Who knows, nobody tells you.
8) I log into UPlay, and it says "You have no games on your account yet" and a big blank space in the games section. Not only am I wondering where FC3 is, I'm also wondering where Driver SF is because I bought that on Steam and the 40 play points (or whatever they're called) I've picked up from that game are sitting right there against my username. So, you know, this thing isn't very consistent (especially as Driver SF does show up, but only if UPlay opens when launching Driver in Steam).
9) Out of the blue, I'm emailed a download link on release day for the FC3 download client.
I fire it up, and I get this box in the middle of the screen very slowly downloading chunks of the game. Well, okay, this is better. I'll go do something else while I wait.
10) I'm playing a game on Steam and amazingly, my desktop focus switches from the game I'm playing to my desktop with this crappy download manager telling me that the net has gone down and the download has paused.
REALLY? You felt the need to drag me out of what I was doing to tell me that? Well, okay...you're eager to please or something.
11) Game finally finishes downloading, I see a rather old school "Unzipping all of these .cab files now" box and the 13th and final .cab finishes up....
The box vanishes, and I'm left staring at my desktop. After a little while waiting around, I go back and fire up the installer thing again and realise that, amazingly, it is choosing to drop all the files into a temp folder on the Admin account. Which is great, except I use a limited user account for things and stuff.
12) Login as Admin, plug in an external HD, spend about 12 minutes copying over all the files, then spend another 5 minutes dropping it all onto the account I actually want the game files in.
13) If I'd been running Admin in the first place, would the installer have begun to do things automatically once the final files were unzipped? Who knows, but here I had to go into the unzipped files and manually double click the installer to begin the installation process.
14) When I run Far Cry 3 now, the game works perfectly (except Driver SF still doesn't show up in the games section unless I load Driver itself from Steam).
15) Except when it doesn't work perfectly, because all of a sudden I load up the game to find myself confronted with a request to "bind this game to my UPlay account forever".
I already did that, guys. So I can only assume "forever" means about a day in Ubisoft land. It's like Bizarro Valve time!
In fact, it seems the whole UPlay service has fallen over across lots of titles:
This really isn't good enough.
HEY, HERE'S HOW STEAM DOES IT:
1) Buy game, click the download link.
2) Game downloads, and whatever needs to be installed does so when you run the game for the first time, game runs.
I will never complain about Steam having a wobble ever again. As for UPlay, games companies need to realise what they're putting out as wrappers for their games are simply nowhere near the standard required to be seen as acceptable rivals to the Steam service. Never before have I seen such an amazing piece of game design hamstrung by such a confusing, poorly executed content distribution service.
And I've played GFWL.