Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Check out my massive Tats!

During 2004 Computec Media UK was swallowed whole by the corporate evil known as Future Publishing. I probably spent a grand total of three days in their offices before I realised that I would rather be cleaning Satan's ringpiece with my teeth than working for them. So, packing my bags and heading off into the sunset, I looked for freelance gigs and one of the first was to develop a PlayStation magazine concept. Apart from it being jolly good fun and well paid I also managed to secure one of the greatest pieces of junk tat in the history of gaming. The PSX could be described as an early PS3 that was born hideously disabled and dumped in a binbag outside a hospital somewhere. A lot of it's features managed to end up on the PSP and PS3, like the menus and icons for various media functions, so Sony salvaged something from the trainwreck. Otherwise the DESR-5000 was a bigger white brick than a red-ringed 360 could ever hope to be.
Photographed by Mark Pierce

Monday, 25 February 2008

Chainsaw battles!

I got a noticeable twinge of excitement at the announcement for Gears of War 2 at the GDC conference held last week. You won't get what I mean if you don't play games to any degree of seriousness. You won't get what I mean if your idea of gaming is sitting with Grandma swinging your Wii wand around like the Elephant Man in zero gravity. Despite it's criticisms I really enjoyed the spectacle of Gears of War. The macho future war theme and insane visuals had me hooked and the multiplayer was the first decent Live game I had really persisted with. Though you had to keep your fingers crossed that you'd get a good group of players and not the Yankee pre-schooler obsessed with mothers and criminal acts associated with said mothers. That aside, roll on November!
World's Greatest RPG?
Probably not but Lost Odyssey is right up there with some of the best and I've played a fair few. What's so good about it? For me the key feature that really stands out is the 'acting'. Sounds odd but there is a level of drama between the characters that I really haven't seen before in a JRPG. There are so many standout moments that switch from hilarious banter involving Jansen, a lecharous magic user who tries to score with every woman he lays eyes upon, to some powerful emotional moments as the hero Kiam struggles to regain his memory and find out what happened to his family. Brilliant stuff. Every other aspect of the game is top notch quality though Mistwalker have played safe with a familiar feel to game mechanics, battles etc. Still, it's got me hooked and comes highly recommended if RPGs are your 'bag'.
As simple as ABC
All the usual suspects posted their circulation figures last week. It made for amusing reading as one would expect. The clown princes of publishing, namely Price and Butt, did the expected showboating despite the fact that everyone else can see the actual figures are a shambles. Anyone can who can make a song and dance over mags that sell under 20k would have given Day-Lewis a run for his money. To top it all off was the debut ABC for the latest incarnation of the Official PlayStation rag. Oh dear…

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Stuff and Nonsense

Digging through the archives of last year collecting images from finished work for the website. I always plan to do these things after each job but I don't and it makes finding the right pictures much harder. The example above is work I did on a Rogue Galaxy guide for a US client. Worked on a strategy guide and a sales support brochure to 'educate' the US specialist press about the joys the game allegedly offers. Close to 400 pages. All Rogue Galaxy. Well, lets just say the project started out a lot of fun but ended up a nightmare.
Devil Won't Die
Beaten the game twice and only managed 200 achievement points. Capcom want you to work hard to get all of these beauties. It's not become a chore… yet. Great gameplay and fantastic cut scenes keep the game playable even after multiple viewings. Which are inevitable if you're trying for S ranking on each stage. The game does have some painful moments though. The camera can be a particular target for a Harrod insult or two especially during some of the Secret Missions. Secret Mission 11 with the destruction of two statues using the Pandora weapon was a pad smashing moment for sure. One other awful decision that Capcom put into the game was the increase in costs for skills and items. When you have just a few things left, you'll buy one of skills and the remaining abilities get a 30% increase in their cost! WTF! Who sat down and thought that one up! Mining Proud Orbs are like all other farming techniques. Utterly tedious!
Caught in their Webb
New series of Mitchell and Webb this Thursday. I am a recent convert after catching an episode of the first series and then promptly got my grubbies on the Peep Show collection. Now this is proper sketch book material, not that tripe Little Britain.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Tears of Joy!

DMC 4 arrived and what a beauty! First 30 minutes was fantastic stuff though not much actual gameplay admittedly! The battle between the two leads was superbly orchestrated and I am looking forward to sinking some decent time into this much later tonight!
Update: Wow, what a blast! My thumbs are killing me doing these stylish combos while I work on the S rankings. Playing on Devil Hunter mode right now and have managed two S and two A rankings for the first four stages. Oddly enough, getting the red orbs is trickier than my time/style scores. Got to smash more chairs I guess!

World of Harrod…

…is a busy one. Lots of things on right now and not enough time as always. There used to be a day when I would sit around the rented apartments I frequented during my Emap years and be bored senseless. Now if I have anything less than 50 things to do at once then it's worthy of a Columbo-style investigation to see whats gone wrong. Here is the lowdown on a few things:
• Gaming: Devil May Cry 4 due any day now from Play. Reviews have been slightly disappointing but it's one of those games that, if it's your thing then review scores don't matter. Actually, review scores really don't matter! Also looking for a cheap copy of The Club and there are some good deals going so I might pick that up this week too. The Lost Odessey is another in my sights. Blue Dragon was pure JRPG and Mistwalker's latest looks set to continue in that vein. Play-Asia doing a nice deal on the Japanese version which also has full English voice-overs and menus! Oh joy!
• Tees: Got some nice designs in progress including concepts based on Dreamcast, Neo Geo and 16-Bit gaming in general. Also some ideas for Gears of War, CoD4 and Devil May Cry are moving forward. Takes a while to develop as we need to be careful not to infringe anyones copyrights whilst still retaining the feel and style of the theme in question. Plus, if we would not wear it ourselves then it doesn't get through the approval process!
• New Ideas: Working on something new with some chums of mine and developing ideas for another new strand for the business. This has bigger potential in the future should it actually get legs and run. Cannot say too much right now as you would expect. In fact I'd better shut up already!
• Tat: I have unearthed a few bits of Tat for you all and once I have some pics then I'll post them here. Will be giving the attic a comprehensive sorting out in the next few weeks and I am fully expecting to discover a veritable treasure trove of classic Tattle.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Grass is green and the girls are pretty?

I've not noticed any girls in Paradise City. Heck, there isn't a single soul in town. It's like the whole place is some futuristic, car-controlled world where humans have been removed because they could not stand us moaning over game ratings and censorship. I really enjoyed the drivers flying out the windshield in Flatout: Ultimate Carnage and there are some spectacular ways to trash your vehicle in Burnout. Think of the ragdolling you could get upto! Not to detract from the hugely enjoyable experience but everyone who watches me play asks why the car has no driver! I was apparently one of the few that liked the demo. Burnout faithful are seemingly upset over the free-roaming gameplay that Paradise City now offers. Screw them! Burnout is hugely entertaining with some excellent online modes to dabble in when the mood takes you. Only downside is I am a big collector of game boxes and since my copy is a promo version it has a butchered front cover and no manual. Beggars can't be choosers as me 'ol grannie used to say!