Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Menacing Mince Pie of Fatness (+7)

Christmas is over and I must have put on two stone.

Santy brought me Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. I haven't opened it yet.

Probably won't.

I have, however, delighted in downloading a name edit FAQ for Pro Evolution Soccer 4 from and spent ten hours (I shit you not) yesterday making sure every transfer (including Tiago to Chelsea), stadium name, team name, player name, shirt number, name on shirt, commentary name and team selection was right.

All the while my uncle and aunt were downstairs getting ignored.

I loved every minute of it.

Playing an actual match at the end of it all was a bit of an anti-climax. So much so that I almost erased eveything on purpose so that I could do the whole damn thing again.

But I didn't.

Even I have a line - and I almost crossed it. Luckily, I stayed on the side of cool - clinging desperately to the ten hours my life will never have the opportunity to get back.

That's right . . . I said cool.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Ubisoft and rating 10

I'm 10 on Halo 2, which isn't important.

What is, is that Ubisoft sent me a lovely cocktail shaker.

It contails umbrella stick things as well.

Still can't believe EA own 20% of the damn thing - which means 20% of my lovely New Year cocktail will be EA'd.

I haven't got that kind of space, on account of the vodka and strawberry.

Damn EA. Not only do they take over every game publisher there is, but they are taking over my drinks as well.

I consider this very, very, hostile.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Now nine - later . . . fifteen

Seven seems like such a long time ago - a distant memory, filled with slow movement, poor weapon selection and general n00bish behaviour.

No longer - now that I am rated nine on Halo 2.

It hasn't taken too long either, which is good. What isn't is that I have now seen, and been on the receiving end of, people with a dirty, bulging 15 next to their obscure gamertag. These people are to be feared. When one appears at the top of the rating table for an eight player slayer rumble pit optimatch, it's probably best to accept defeat before the game has begun.

Bungie's rating system is a curious beast. They have detailed the workings on their website, but it's more complicated than finding your way around Future Publishing's hallowed walls. What is clear is that you get major points for finishing above people rated higher than you. Which is fair enough.

I managed to get to nine after a game stopped halfway through because of a loss of connection. My impatient opponents quit while I, clinging on to a faint hope, stayed. When it re-initialised, I automatically won, beating many with a higher rating than me who had pissed off.

Thanks guys.

It's fascinating to experience the various peaks and troughs of demand for the game. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, the game struggled to find me enough players for a rumble pit game. Obviously the entire world was reading The Mail on Sunday over a Sunday roast.

Try any evening during the week and it's busier than Meadowhall at Christmas. And full of American pre-pubescants who are better than me.


Nothing like the feeling post-game, when a balanced selection of players have fought to the bitter end though. I had a game recently on Ascension where I finished one kill behind the leader. Bottom place was two behind me. It was one of the most adrenaline pumping, life affirming ten minutes I've had with a joypad. Cries of 'good game' afterwards fill the soul with a sense of camaraderie you just don't get in single-player games.

It's what online gaming was invented for.

Tell you what though, 25's must play Halo 2 online like God would. I'd love to see them in action, and would probably keep crouching/standing in a vain attempt at showing some freakish respect.

And then die.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Pop goes the Street Fighter II competition

Last night's Joystick Junkies Christmas party was a joyous affair and, I'm pleased to say, devoid of the unholy pain in the ass that is networking.

I'm not saying it didn't go on - it damn well did - I'm just saying I didn't feel the need to take part, and instead concentrated on consuming alchohol. Whenever the first three drinks are free I'm bound to suffer a hangover of at least +7.

Overheard an interesting conversation while in the toilet though - talk of mags going under, two from the US and a couple here in good 'ol Blighty. Not really networking though - unless you count earwigging while relieving yourself of bodily fluid.

No, I don't either. And another thing - I refuse to give money to bog attendants, even really happy sociable ones. I'll even not wash my hands to avoid them.

Er . . . oh shit.

Chris was in great form. That's Chris Birch, founder of Joystick Junkies for all you media daahling newbies. Being a masked party as it were, he was oblidged to wear one. Not many people did - and those that did didn't make much of an effort either. The 'best mask' competition embarrassed me somewhat. I thought about coming in my Master Chief helmet. Glad I didn't. Would have shown everyone up.

Pop - the West End nightclub that seems to have become home to the pissed electronic entertainment gliterati of London - is a curious place. There is ample space for dancing, which many did, but it has a somewhat cheap plastic feel. When there is nowhere to sit, it's easy to feel isolated from the main throng, and the VIP area is dug in like an alabama tit. No roving reporter is gonna get a story from those hallowed walls.

Chris always brings in retro arcade flat tables to his parties - from Digital Tables. MAME and a few joysticks = wicked night out. Although there was less of a presence this month than the party in October.

Street Fighter II was of course the most popular among attendees. Now I consider myself something of an expert at the game, on account of winning my school championship back in the mid-90s, but playing upside down is a challenge for the best Japanese Zangief players, let alone my crude Western Guile button bashing.

Hold down, up and kick, oh shit, invert everything god damn it, invert!!!

Two guys button bashed on Street Fighter II so hard, they managed to exit to windows and lock themselves out of the game. Yes, that's right, they were locked in Windows. Windows XP as well. Much amusement trying to negotiate Mr Gates user friendly interface with a joystick and six buttons.

Never mind. Had a decent stab at Golden Axe with a mate as well, which was boring as hell. People still harbour love for these games, warped by a perverted sense of warm nostalgia. Somehow, they are better than what we have now. Bollocks.

Remember all those cartoons you used to love when you were a kid? Don't watch them again, they're shit; it'll ruin any memory you have of a fantastic childhood. It's the same for games.

Except Street Fighter II of course.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

rating level 7 = crap

First off, I'm completely new to the whole online gaming thing.

Having just got broadband recently, and now having hooked up XBox Live, I can safely say Halo 2 online is one of the most refreshing experiences I've had infront of a small screen and a console. It is also my first online gaming experience ever.

Call myself a hardcore gamer - no wonder I didn't get that job at Games Master.

Playing with others online is so different - I know I'm a virgin, but I think what Bungie have done to make it welcoming is excellent - pairing players up with a similar rating for quick matches - and should be applauded. As a newbie, I was anxious about getting my arse kicked, not just with Halo 2, but with online gaming in general.

I don't, which is great. XBox Live has opened a whole new world of gaming to me, and I'm sure, a million other gamers across the globe who, like me, have previously only played multiplayer with Pro Evolutiion Soccer and a multitap, or Streetfighter II down the arcade.

Still feel as if I'm playing a hideously futile game of catchup, with online FPS gamers who have been doing this for years on the PC. They are just so fast.

I will probably never get to a level where I'm actually good, but that's not the point. I'll have an amazing time trying.

Have to beat seven though . . . somehow, must creep up to double figures . . .

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Media Darling XMas Party

I'm suffering +9 of a hangover this morning, so please excuse any typos you might find in the vague recollections I have of last night. Unfortunately, I cannot find any blue health potions, and my health bar regeneration rate is suffering from something of a relapse.

I didn't know half as many people in the place as I should have, so I clung on to those I did, which was primarily TMOS Features guys. The buffet dinner was sumptious (I had a feta cheese bake think), complemented by constant canapes that sparked the tastebuds into life. The only think drowning the talk of some theatre production or latest celebrity stunt was the chink of champagne glasses . . .

Which made it all very boring. If there's one thing about parties thrown by members of the press, it's nothing like I would imagine a party thrown by a Future publishing mag. You can't relax. It's a networking opportunity. How could I relax with the editor, deputy editor, executive editor and deputy features editor within earshot?

These guys are proper heavies - so much so I often think they have their own gravitational pull. The way PRs and ambitious hack contacts get sucked towards them reminds me of the Enterprise and some electrical disturbance. It is a constant threat.

After the suitably minimalist bar in Kensington had its last breath sucked out, we advanced to a hotel until around three. I shared a cab with a Feat writer who told me to lighten up - as she did last year. And, like last year, she won't remember a word of it.

It's the only thing holding me back she said. Next interview at Future, I shall try and lighten up. I think I was a bit of an arsehole in the last one.

It's alive!

Amazing really, that I managed to get out of bed and do this.

The start of something beautiful.