Back in the game

sc1I’ve recently had a bit of a games bonanza on the XBox 360. I have been playing Splinter Cell Conviction and Alan Wake. This combination is slightly freaky because in Splinter Cell you are sneaking around shooting out the lights and trying to stay in in the dark while in Alan Wake you are running around turning on lights and  trying to stay lit up like a Christmas tree at all times.

Splinter Cell Conviction is the latest in a line of 5 Splinter Cell games from Ubisoft. It’s a notable game series because in my opinion it’s gone from strength to strength and they’ve never had a dud. Even the Tomb Raider series only managed to get to Tomb Raider 2 before producing a complete lemon in the form of Tomb Raider 3. The plot lines and characters have remained contiguous and consistently engaging. It is also the only stealth-based action adventure I’ve played that manages to sustain it’s stealth element so consistently throughout the game without it ever getting tired or stale.sc2

The graphics in the latest episode are some of the best I’ve ever seen. They are rich and smooth and glossy and detailed. The playing environments are large, rich and detailed and the whole feel of the game is immensely satisfying. There are a number of game modes in addition to the main narrative that come under the title “Deniable Ops”. These arcade modes include a “Hunter” elimination mode, a survival mode and an additional “Infiltration” mode that can be unlocked via download.

aw1 Alan Wake was announced 5 years ago…yes, 5 ! The build-up and hype since including the release of a series of short films before the game has been hard to live up to. The format of the game is “survival horror” similar to Resident Evil and the game does evoke some of the same sensations of dread and apprehension. It has a great story. It’s like a mish-mash of Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone. It is formatted into episodes which give it a TV-like quality. There are some nice touches like episodes of a TV series very similar to The Twilight Zone that you can watch on TVs you find around the game and being able to tune into the local radio station.

The overall game play is OK and the environments are rich and detailed. However it is let down by poor graphics and clunky animation. Opening doors for instance is performed by bumping into them. Even in cut scenes the animation is clunky and when you see detail like hands picking up objects or putting them down the gestures are vague and unconvincing. Yes, the work they’ve done with light and shadow is impressive but I’m guessing that was added at the end and the animation and graphics are the stuff from 5 years ago when the game was first announced.


ColorShift – Mind-bending Fun


Electric Box


The Player of Games

I have just bought myself half a PlayStation 3 as a Christmas present (I’m coming to the “half” bit in just a sec). I never seem to get tired of acquiring games consoles. My current collection includes :

  • PlayStation 1
  • PlayStation 2
  • PSP
  • XBox
  • XBox 360
  • 2 Dreamcasts (one Japanese import)
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Game Cube
  • Nintendo GameBoy Pocket
  • I have been playing Metal Gear Mobile on my Nokia N95 recently but I’m not sure that counts

I think that’s all of them. I still don’t have a Wii. The crazy thing is I hardly ever get time to play them. My son is too young to be really interested in video games yet and my daughter is only really interested in the Nintendo DS.

The PlayStation 3 sneaked into my life as a result of the following conversation. I have no idea how this came about, but as you can see my wife is actually talking me into buying a PlayStation here. I wasn’t dreaming. This really took place :

Wife : I still have nothing for you for Christmas. What do you want?
Me : I don’t know. I have everything I need.
Wife : How about a Wii ?
Me : Are you seriously offering to buy me another game console ? Wow, you really are out of ideas then.
Wife : So you don’t want a Wii?
Me : I just don’t think we’d use it. Lots of people I know have them and they used them a lot to begin with and then it just tapered off and now it just sits there and they hardly ever use it.
Wife : Well what about that other one then ?
Me : What, PlayStation 3 ? They’re nearly twice the price of the Wii.
Wife : We could go halves. You could buy me the other half for Christmas.
Me : You want half a PlayStation for Christmas ?!
Wife : Well, can you think of anything better ?
Me : No. I can’t. But I think you will, probably sometime between when I order the PlayStation 3 from Amazon and Christmas morning and then there will be sulking because you’ll have forgotten this was your idea.

NB : I’m trying not to sound too keen at this stage. In fact, this is a god send. My wife is hard to shop for and I’ve just used up all my good gift ideas on her birthday.

Wife : Oh well. If you don’t want to…
Me (sensing the moment slipping away) : Although…now I think about it, you can play Blu-ray movies on a PS3 and we did talk about getting a Blu-ray player…
Wife : OK. That’s settled then.

You see. Job done, zero pain. I’m thinking this could in part be because I have recently sold off one of my guitars and perhaps I’m now below some secret guitar/console quota she has imposed in retaliation for my “one-in-one-out” shoe/handbag policy.

But now, on reflection, I see that this may only be the beginning. The thing is I don’t watch much TV and as a result I still have a lumbering, 5 year old CRT television set which was fine…until the whole PlayStation thing happened. Now I will have Blu-ray which is pointless unless you have HD. I can feel a big, flat screen, HD Ready 1080p looming on the horizon as I type. I don’t need one…I don’t think I even want one…but it’s there…waiting…


Less painful than beating yourself unconscious with your mouse…





Click below to lose the rest of your day…


Another British Success

The incredibly popular Nintendo Wii gaming console was designed and developed in Newcastle, UK. It’s actually supposed to be pronounced “way-eye”.
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