Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Gunstar Super Heroes (GBA)
Luminous Arc (DS)
Bleach DS: Souten ni Kakeru Unmei (DS)
Metroid Prime (GC)
Killer 7 (GC)
Wii Sports (Wii)
Reviews to come for those games that I actually play sufficiently..
Friday, 14 December 2007
Thursday, 13 December 2007
I love a gripping story, something scary, something thrilling, some romance, some action - but ultimately something enthralling, involving and engaging.
Bioware, creators of great Star Wars Xbox RPG games, 'Knights of the Old Republic' and 'KOTOR 2: The Sith Lords' recently released their debut Xbox 360 game, 'Mass Effect'.
Mass Effect is a trilogy on 360 and will, in typical Bioware style, have an amazing story with a great dialog system - so all in all a game made for me. :-)
So when I heard there was a novel to precursor (is that the right use of that word?!) the game I was straight onto Amazon. (Mass Effect: Revelation)
This morning on the way to work I finished the novel and found it to be a great read that got me really excited about the game and told me lots of backstory so that I'd fully understand all that went on before the plot of the game begins.
It was a brilliant and gripping novel and kept me entertained for the last few weeks during my commute to work (my iPod hasn't had much of a look in consequently) but suffered from a week ending - that did serve the purpose of introducing (presumably) the game's villain.
So my new read is 'Black Hawk Down' which was given to me as a present for my last birthday by Monkston - so my aim is to have it dusted off by my next birthday ;-) (Given what I slow reader I am - it's a lofty goal..)
So now I have two stories to be engaged in - I can now start the Mass Effect game and get going on the, apparently classic, 'Black Hawk Down'.
Saturday, 1 December 2007
I'm not the kind of guy who'll cook for himself for no reason - I need to be cooking for others to be bothered I guess - but I really feel that I outdid myself this time..
For starter we had:
Pear, walnut and whole grain mustard salad with singed Goat's Cheese.
The reason there are two weird dollops of Goat's Cheese is because I over cooked the first batch and it melted so I made more.
The Goat's Cheese is just 100g of cheese rolled in seasoned flour and then fried on either side for 30 seconds.
It. Was. Delicious!! Especially the walnut and mustard combination - I couldn't really see that one working but it was great!
I was a little dubious about Pear because to be honest I think it's a hideous looking fruit - but the flavour has completely sold me - I'll be using Pear again!
Then for main course (oh this really was amazing..):
Chicken with Cambozola cheese inside, wrapped with two sheets of Parma Ham covered in a creamy Parmesan sauce.
This was amazing and I think my greatest cooking achievement yet! (That says it all really :-) I have a long way to go!)
All in all Laura liked it a lot - and I think it'll probably get made again at some point.. :-)
Both of these recipes were taken from the 'Ready Steady Cook: Ten Minute Cookbook' - a new edition is out soon which'll hopefully be just as useful!
Friday, 26 October 2007
But now that she's asleep and I want to play some videogames, what are the options?
I mean, for an evening like this - Halo 3 or Final Fantasy XII just won't cut it.
I've finished Ico and Shadow of the Colossus - so don't even try giving me them as options - because whilst I agree they're beautiful and artistic games - that doesn't mean that that art fits all situations.
For example, if I turned off Counting Crows and slammed on some Metallica or Tool - right now, that just wouldn't do - it would kinda kill the mood..
So what game fits? Do videogames really have a wide enough spectrum of emotional response in comparison to other media?
A movie like Lost in Translation might fit this moment but I really can't think of a videogame that would be able to cut it..
Much thinking to do on this topic I feel.
Please, post suggestions in the comments section..
Thursday, 25 October 2007
This is the first time I've seen my bed since Tuesday morning.
I've not left the office before 12am since I got there on Sunday afternoon.
But tonight.. tonight..
I played my part in completing the beta submission of the latest game I'm working on. (Ssh! It's a secret!)
I might not sound it - but I'm overjoyed.
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
Final Fantasy Tactics (PSP)
Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (360)
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (360)
Final Fantasy III (DS)
Final Fantasy I (PSP)
Etrian Odyssey (DS)
Luminous Arc (DS)
Blue Dragon (360)
Pokemon Pearl (DS)
There are a *lot* of long games on that list. Some *long* RPG games.
Oblivion and Blue Dragon make me want to cry thinking about how long those games are going to be - but at the same time jump for joy!
I've kinda written off the idea of ever finishing Final Fantasy X based on the fact that it's so awful. (Another post another day perhaps?)
Seriously though, I'm kinda feeling a little bit pressurred to finish all these games - what have I done to myself?!
I know, I know - anyone who plays games is right now thinking 'How old is this post?! Halo 3 is out and he still hasn't finished Halo 2?? You're kidding me right??'.
No. I'm not kidding.
I am a huge Halo fan. Let me be clearer - I am a huge Halo 1 fan.
I love the story, the world in which the game is set.
I love the characters, the plot and the sprawling gameplay which frankly beats Gears of War into submission.
But let me say this: Upon completion of Halo 2 last night I can state that it truely is an abomination.
I know already that Halo 3 is a far superior game (I started the Campaign last night) but I have a bitter taste in my mouth that the Halo trilogy is so hidiously marred by the second installment.
'What's wrong with it? Why do you despise it so?' I hear the fans cry..
The music? Excellent in places - Marty O'Donnell is a genius of smooth, soft emotional music but lacks all tact and sense of urgency during the action scenes.
During the later levels my friend Mike who I forced to play through with me kept asking 'Is this Enya?'.
The story? Downright fabulous and sprawling but unfortunately rushed because of the structure of the game. Story telling wasn't aided by a poor voice/music volume balance - it was very hard to understand what Tartarus (one of the lead bad guys) was saying..
Gameplay? Halo 1 shoved in a corridor. Not enough great set pieces and too much opportunity to just run through without killing any of the adversaries.
To be honest though - I wanted to play as John, Spartan 117, the Master Chief. Not as some alien guy, 'The Arbiter'. I didn't buy Halo 2 because I thought it would be an awesome game in it's own right - meaning I bought it because I loved Halo 1 and expected more of the same - and I was seriously disappointed.
I'll write up a more lengthy review if demand warrants it - there are some aspects of the game that are welcome additions to the franchise (like the Battle Rifle, oh my goodness, what a gun..) but as a summary: Halo 1 was ground breaking and deserved it's high acclaim and huge praise. Halo 2 was like playing Quake 2 with nicer graphics and some bells and whistles - and I didn't even like Quake 2. How about that to stir up some anger, eh?
Saturday, 11 August 2007
That isn't what I want to discuss here.
I wonder do I have a reputation of being exceptionally slow at completing/starting videogames?
I yearned for Final Fantasy XII for a long, long time and for some reason have still failed to start it - other, frankly, more fun looking games keep popping up and demanding me to complete them - Gears of War was very 'demanding' so I finished it three times.. :-) (Great times with my friend, Dan 'PhoenixKnight1' Richards..)
Anyway, recently, since my re-purchase of an Xbox 360, I've been playing 'The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion' again.
Whilst, this is a gorgeous, compelling and involving game - because I've gained a lot of the beginning achievement points the beginning of the game was quite hard for me to get through (OT: Is this a downside to the achievement system: 'if you don't get an achievement it's not worth doing'? A discussion for another time perhaps..)
But let me tell you of what happened in Oblivion tonight because this should make all 4 of my readers run out and buy it.. (Monkston, I know you already own it - just play it for goodness sake!)
I had heard from a beggar in the centre of the city that recruiters for the Dark Brotherhood come in the middle of the night to those who murder someone.. that is those who kill anyone who doesn't attack you first.
Now, I know that murder is wrong. I will not condone murder in the real world - but this is a fictional game. We're not talking about people, we're talking about 3D models of people.
I understand that some people find it hard to understand that I don't see a problem in 'killing' something that represents a human being - but you cannot kill that which isn't alive remains my argument.
So, I went to a place where I knew a beggar sleeps every night and waited. I threw fireballs and shot arrows at her - and guards came to her rescue but even after their arrival I continued with my assault - until she died.
After this I went to prison and 'served my time'.
Why'd I do all this? Well, merely because I want to join the 'Dark Brotherhood' so I can see what happens - and also get the achievements..
However, on my way out of prison a strange character handed me a mysterious note describing what appeared to be an invitation to the Thieve's Guild - the guild that was just rumored to exist because it was secret!
Basically, in order to join the thieve's guild, I had to find someone in particular in the city and steal their diary from them whilst the person is asleep.
There's a catch though.. there are two other 'recruits' trying to steal the diary too.
To cut a long story short I got to the apartment and found.. one of the other recruits had got there first!! She had the diary and was leaving the house just as I entered.. so what do I do??
Well, I pick-pocketed her of course.
I can't think of any game where you can do all those things..
I love Oblivion.. TBC
Sunday, 5 August 2007
My conclusion, is that whilst 'Blue Dragon' draws me in greatly with a promise of a very lengthy game, great artwork from Toriyama and direction from the Father of Final Fantasy, Sakaguchi, and music from the legendary Uematsu.. Despite this, I'm inclined to agree with James Mielke.
Blue Dragon is boring. Yes, boring.
It looks beautiful (though I agree with Edge magazine, that Toriyama's art doesn't work as well in 3D without cell-shading, his characters looked better-off in 'Dragon Quest VIII') and the cut-scenes are of exceptional quality (as is the whole graphical feel of the game - especially in HD) and whilst I enjoy it's complex battle system and the timing elements involved (If you haven't, you really should check out the demo on Xbox Live Marketplace) - it really does seem rather, well, dated.
Basically playing in a very similar fashion to an old 'Dragon Quest' or 'Final Fantasy' game from 15-20 years ago, with a few extra bells and whistles thrown in, 'Blue Dragon' doesn't offer that much in the innovation department. It's turn-based battles are very formulaic and don't give the player much of a scare or thrill, it all seems quite by-the-numbers.
Eternal Sonata, or what it really should be called, Tales of Chopin (j/k), is another tremendous looking JRPG. It's combat is nothing short of superb and I found myself experiencing something I hadn't felt in quite a long while in this genre - I was having fun?!
The battles, which take place in real-time, allow you to strategically position yourself near or far from your opponent. Hits to their back take away more HP than front attacks - but you have a limited amount of time in which to take your turn.
My problem with this game though is the 'World Map' areas.
Eternal Sonata looks amazing, it's vibrant, colourful, full of life.. It's like a videogame equivalent of Walt Disney's Fantasia.
So then why did the developer decide it was a good idea to position the camera in a 'Final Fantasy VII'-like manner? Whilst 'Blue Dragon' has a movable camera so that I can view all the locations from whichever angle I like, 'Eternal Sonata' decides to force me to view things from the perspective they want me to view it from.
Sonata took two steps forward with it's superbly fun battle system but another two steps back with it's camera.
The 'Eternal Sonata' demo is currently only available on the American and Japanese 360 marketplace - but well worth checking out.
Ultimately, (and I may well change my mind) I feel like I would probably rather purchase 'Eternal Sonata' than 'Blue Dragon' - I don't think I quite have the will to battle through 3 discs of tedious fighting and generic looking characters to find out about something I genuinely don't care about. I think it's 90 hours long, is that right?
Sonata? 30 hours long and one disc. 1/3 of the length of BD but probably three times as much fun.
My gripe with both games though is their lack of 480p non-widescreen support.
Don't developers understand that if you don't have a widescreen TV it probably means it's either old (at which point small text is not a good idea) or it's small (so big black borders at the top and bottom of the screen aren't really going to help the situation!) - I remember reading that 50% of PS3 owners are still playing in SD - I'm sure that the percentage of 360 owners in SD can't be that different?
Right now though, I won't purchase either game on release. I really don't feel that versus such heavyweights like Halo 3, Fallout 3, Virtua Fighter 5, Bioshock (more on that in the next article) that Eternal Sonata or Blue Dragon are worth the £40 entry fee. £20? Certainly. Well then, I'll wait six months after their release and enjoy them all the more then..
Saturday, 4 August 2007
"Let me be honest. I loved Diorama, Silverchair's last album, before that I loved Neon Ballroom.
I remember buying 'Tomorrow' on single on the day of release - I've been watching this band since the release of their first record.
But this? Young Modern?!
This is Silverchair as Silverchair should be.
Progressive, developing, growing and shaping their music in a structured fashion - I loved Diorama so much that I was actually kind of expecting to be disappointed by this new record.
But this is exactly the progression that I could have hoped the band post-Diorama might have become.
Favourite tracks include: Straight Lines, Waiting all Day, Those Thieving Birds/Strange Behaviour, If you Keep Losing Sleep, Reflections of a Sound etc.
Check this album out - I guarantee you won't regret it. Best album for me, for the last two years even pipping Pearl Jam's eponymous album."
You can listen to the record online at Silverchair's website http://www.chairpage.com.
Friday, 27 July 2007
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So, this is an update.
Well, this week I've been involved with Christ Church/Bridge Chapel's joint project 'Word in One City' which was a great joy, great fun for me!
I loved being able to spend my mornings being educated from the Bible, Andrew Evans gave us us all an overview of the book of Revelation, Steve Palframan gave talks on 'The Doctrines of The Cross, The Bible and The Person of the Holy Spirit'. (It was very helpful to have re-illustrated to me from the Bible why I believe what I believe!)
Afternoons were spent, basically, telling people the gospel, trying to explain to people who Jesus is and why He died on a cross.
It's interesting that isn't it? When I grew up at school, we had the Christmas and Easter stories drummed into us - but not once did anyone tell me why Jesus was born or why He died on a cross! How crazy!
I met a lot of interesting people between Tuesday to Thursday, if you're reading this and are a Christian, please, pray that I would see those people again and that we'd be able to talk some more.
Today is Friday and I'm having a day off. This doesn't mean it's going to be as exciting as I'd like though..
Because I've been rushing in and out of my flat for the past week, it consequently looks like a bomb site. I have a list as long as my arm of people I need to call or e-mail (though this is much better than being lonely!) - so, sorry, if you're one of those people but I'm getting round to it I promise! Today, I also need to contact some more recruitment agencies in my search for a new job (I finish with Christ Church on August 26th) and work on my PlayStation 2 demo too.
I guess it doesn't sound too bad - I just wish I was spending the day with Laura - that would be nice :-)
Speaking of whom, I haven't mentioned Laura on my blog really as of yet..
Laura and I have been going out (or 'dating' if you're American) for 3 months and 1 week and 4 days. She is studying to be a doctor and is currently really busy working on her Special Study Module, which is something to do with CPR, ageism and the resuscitation debate.. I am looking forward to reading it though.
Tonight is Friday and we'll be reading through our next chunk of the book of Acts, which I think is Acts 6/7 - the choosing of the seven and Stephen's speech/stoning. I do love Stephen's speech though:
"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him - you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it."
That Stephen, he was one bold chap!
Anyway, yes, Laura, for my friends from home/America/anywhere else in the world.. Laura is a beautiful, red-headed Northern Irish girl, petite and with a beautiful smile. She is very quick and intelligent, sharp to keep me in-line and to rebuke me (a necessary requirement in a girlfriend I think..) and a fast learner as to challenge me in my thinking about almost everything - which is a great encouragement for me, she forces me not to be lazy and to sharpen my arguments and to look at my Bible more. She is also lots of fun, easy to relax with and a brilliant cook :-) (Food goes a long way.. ;-) ) Above all, she is a great friend to me.
Well, I did start writing a longer sub-section to this post but have decided that I'll finish it up properly and post later in the day (if I get time!)..
Thursday, 26 July 2007
See those shadows on the walls and floors? Those shadows that are there where there shouldn't be shadows?
Exactly. Because they shouldn't be there..
This is called 'ghosting' apparently - this where parts of geometry that have been loaded into the game earlier are still effecting the scene, even though they're currently not in use.. Weird.
I wish that Bungie/Microsoft would just come out and say whether this is a 'Halo 2' game issue or a Microsoft Xbox emulator issue - but even then, I really don't care - I just want it fixed!
I see that lots of people on the Xbox.com forums are having this problem - so why isn't it being addressed?
For a game that is supposed to be very important to Microsoft, they're not doing a great job of looking after it..
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
PS3 has PS2 backwards compatibility, Metal Gear Solid 4, the whole range of the coming Final Fantasy XIII games..
I've found some comfort in remembering that 360 has Halo 3, Halo Wars, Blue Dragon, Crackdown, a better unified online service, Live Marketplace, the ability to play my friends over Live (that's obviously 360 specific as none of my friends have a PS3), Final Fantasy XI in HD, Virtua Fighter 5.. online(!), the list goes on..
I also need to remember I already own quite a bit of Live Marketplace content:
All 'The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion' expansions and content
Street Fighter 2
All the 'Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter' content
Most of the 'Perfect Dark Zero' content
Some of the 'Call of Duty 2' content
Texas Hold 'Em
Again, the list goes on.
Though, we all need that little extra push every once and a while.
So for comedy value I thought I'd ask my (lie) good friend (/lie), Major Nelson, for a helping hand. (Only a lie because I don't actually know him..)
Major Nelson is the Head of Microsoft's Xbox Live Programming and runs a blog/podcast over at http://www.majornelson.com - Major (real name: Larry Hryb) is an extremely busy man and I've never been able to get to truely chat with him and pick his brain. (Which, Major - if you ever read this - contact me - I want geek chat about XNA and 360 architecture!!)
Anyway, I sent Larry a message explaining that if he sent me a message over Live I would buy a 360 and not a PS3. Simple as. That's all I asked for - and to be honest, knowing it was a little lame and silly I didn't expect a reply.
This was Major's response:
Whilst not the most detailed reply, no worry Major, I'll keep my word. I'll be buying a 360 again this week.
Good timing from Major though - as annoyingly, my Live Gold account has just expired. :/ Typical. :-)
David / RagingAvatar
Thursday, 12 July 2007
For me, Nintendo don't even factor in - I can't play a great online FPS game as Nintendo's online infrastructure is a joke, lacking modern/basic features such as a unified log-in id, the ability to know what games your friends are playing etc.
Microsoft lacked any new hardware/feature-set announcements and merely showcased all the games they had already announced - there wasn't anything new/ground-breaking for me to see there..
I have no desire for a (frankly gross looking) limited edition Halo 3 360 and the 'Messenger kit' (a keyboard attachment to use messenger on) is old news. (Though I wonder, can I use this to type in FFXI?)
Sony did impress me however.
Their showcase of MGS4, as usual, looked amazing. Phil Harrison showed off 'Home' to be a 3D world incorporating the best features of Xbox 360's dashboard and the arrival of NCSoft's MMORPGs means there's some great games coming to PS3 in future.
But a good E3 showing, does not a great console make, Sony..
These are essentially the reasons why I'm going to go back to 360:
1. I miss Halo.
2. 'Virtua Fighter 5' with achievements? Online matches? Are you kidding?
3. It's a *lot* cheaper than PS3 - and £3.33 per month for a great mature online service is worth it.
4. According to vgchartz.com, 360 has sold over 7 million more units than PS3. Unless PS3 can ship *lots* more units, quickly, game developers will be jumping onto the larger user-base in order to get their game to more gamers. I want a console that gets the good games.
5. My all-time favourite game 'Final Fantasy XI' is playable in HD on 360 and I already own it.
PS3 plus points:
1. I have beta access to PS3 games..
2. The PS3 architecture is infinitely more interesting to me than 360's - though this might prove inconsequential anyway as I can't develop anything on either at the moment..
(EDIT: I've just realised that this, of course, isn't true.. Anyone can make an Xbox 360 game using the XNA development kit.)
3. PS2 backwards compatibility.. Though this is being removed from the latest models and I would have to buy a US PS3 in order to play my US PS2 games. Which means I would have to quickly buy a US 60GB PS3 before the 80GB model is released without the hardware emulation - I can get one for £500. That's a *lot* of money..
My decision to move back to 360 is hampered by the notion that I know I won't get many great RPG games.
However, this is helped by considering this thought, these are some of the PS1/PS2 RPGs I haven't even started:
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy X-2
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy VIII
And anyway, these are the Japanese-style RPGs coming to 360:
Un-announced Mistwalker-developer 360 MMO
And these are other RPGs I like the look of on 360 (some are already released):
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Phantasy Star Universe
So, the plan is this...
Get a 360. Beat Monkston's butt every chance I can get at 'Gears of War' and enjoy lots of co-op 'Crackdown' action.
Continue with 'Final Fantasy XI' - as if I really have a choice..
Get (J-)RPGs as and when they come available (though I played 'Blue Dragon' yesterday at Monkston's place and thought it rocked - I just had that 'I don't want to get started now - I can't save it!'-feeling).
Enjoy all that 360-media-streaming-goodness of getting videos/photos/music out of my surround sound and TV. (And it has been pretty rubbish not having a DVD player for the last few months..)
Get my Tactical RPG fix on my soon-be-purchased PSP.
So, how are you going to do this David? How are you going to get the money for a 360? Didn't you already sell yours because you couldn't afford it?
Yes, I did sell it - but I can get the money now. Easy. I'll sell my guitar.
UPDATE: Guitar has sold on eBay. Result. Buyer has collected it. Transaction complete.
David / RagingAvatar
Sunday, 8 July 2007
I've played the beginning of this game probably 3 times before now, each time starting as a national of the nation of Bastok.
This time however, I decided to mix it up a bit by joining the San D'Orian ranks.
This was probably the best move I could've made..
I'm not overly familiar with the city or it's surrounding areas, so starting as a San D'Orian has given XI a whole new lease of life!
This time around I really have made choices I wouldn't have made before - I decided to play as a WAR for my main job which means fast levelling (at the moment), huge HP and great use of weapons (parrying, shields etc..) but obviously I have no MP so can't cast any spells..
These are the new shots of Clovien and some include his recently purchased armour. I love it!
David / RagingAvatar
Saturday, 30 June 2007
This is now my third time - and I'm determined to do what I want to do in this game..
My new character, Clovien is WAR 5 currently. He is an Elvaan male and lives in San D'Oria. I've already joined a linkshell - a seemingly good one, nice, small and lively - they guys there are pre-dominantly English which is great - and I'm already trying to start a static for low-level players on Monday nights.
So, if you play FFXI and are on Bahamut, you have a low-level job that you want to get going (we request that you reserve the job for the static because that way no-one rushes ahead..) meet us inside the gate at West Ronfaure at 7pm GMT.
I really have to get far in this game this time..
Oh.. here are the first pictures of Clovien:
David / RagingAvatar
I'm not usually one to advertise someone's commercial site but this is too useful to pass up.
The other day I needed to send my games development portfolio to an agency and it would never have been allowed to pass through their e-mail servers just because of the file size.
So I needed somewhere to upload the files to and to be able to pass a link on to the lady at the agency.
In steps MediaFire. A brilliant site with an excellent user interface that keeps all your files and links indefinately.
Check it out at MediaFire.com - I think it's excellent and I know this sounds like I'm getting paid for this - but trust me, I'm not. I'm still poor. ;-)
David / RagingAvatar
However, it was released last year as a Gameboy Advance game and has quite a large cult following - personally, I'm one of the people awaiting the English fan-translation to be released at Mother3.org...
Still, I found this video very interesting indeed..
Just saw this too, a 'Mother 3' Japanese TV ad, where Kou Shibisaki (who starred in the movie 'Battle Royale') describes the emotional impact of the game.
Interesting for all those people who think video games are for kids ;-)
David / RagingAvatar
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
It was a little slow before and sometimes would reboot randomly (which isn't very handy) but this new ME firmware seems to work a treat and includes a very sexy red theme for the GUI.
David / RagingAvatar
Monday, 25 June 2007
My version however is probably significantly less than stellar.
But hey - my Cannonball was ok..
David / RagingAvatar
It's 'Thumbing my Way' by Pearl Jam.
I don't know if it's any good - to be honest, who really cares?!
David / RagingAvatar
Sunday, 24 June 2007
Tom and I used to love Vanessa Carlton's song 'A Thousand Miles' back in College and I went on to quite like her debut album and even went to see her play at Manchester university..
Though I seem to recall being quite disappointed at her foul language..
However, I had this specific version of her song 'Ordinary Day' on my phone (back when I used that for an mp3 player) for what seemed like an eternity.
Just to showcase to those who haven't figured out or noticed that I really am a down-right softie: I love this song for beautiful lyrics like:
he said 'take my hands, live while you can, if we walk now, we will divide and conquer this land..'
as I looked up into those eyes, his vision borrows mine, and I know he's no stranger for I feel I've held him for all of time..
There you all know now..
Unfortunately, the video isn't available on YouTube as an embedded video but I can link to it.. Check it out.
David / RagingAvatar
I did the vocal which I guess makes me Avril.. :/ lol
I don't think we ever did this song but this is my favourite..
Female vocalists don't really feature much in my iTunes collection but there are some choice tracks here and there - this is a great one..
David / RagingAvatar
Saturday, 23 June 2007
Tonight, Ed Kitchin's wife Jen is away on a church excursion and Ed came over to continue his 'Shadow of The Colossus' epic (see last post) and I am therefore left with my Macbook - which is by no means a bad thing..
Last August I bought 'The Official Blender 2.3 Guide' in an attempt to learn how to use the famously difficult-to-use-at-first 3D modelling program, Blender which is freely available over at Blender.org.
So I made this gingerbread man from the book - I think he's quite cool looking and when I next get chance I'll add bones to him and create a walking animation video..
This is quite a break through for me as it means that I will soon be able to make simple 3D artwork to export and include in my games..
A great portfolio breakthrough!
Here's (almost) the same image - the difference being that it was produced using the Yafray renderer:
And here is a pearl ;-):
And a Yafray version of the pearl..:
3D modelling is *fun*!
David / RagingAvatar
Monday, 18 June 2007
A friend of mine from college, Tom, *made* me play Ico. I mean, seriously, he *made* me play it. Tom ranted and raved about Ico until it was clear that it wasn't debatable - Ico was genius.
Later on, I played it. I finished it. I completely and utterly agreed with Tom.
Ico was an amazing achievement in videogame design - a whole game, set within the walls of one castle - with few enemies, no boss battles - a game where the puzzle, the challenge is in where it is set.
You play as Ico, a small-horn-headed boy who guides Yorda - a mute, ghostly-looking character around the prison-castle in which you're now trapped.
Yorda isn't as brave as Ico and you must find ways to get her through all the different problems that face you as you go.
Ico was genius. Beatiful - so gloriously lit with sun-flares and reflective surfaces that many herald it as that which defines videogames as art.
Shadow of the Colossus (SoTC) it's sequel is equally as stylish. Equally as gorgeous to look at and just as impressive in scope.
You are The Wanderer and must defeat the sixteen Colossi in order to bring your girl back to life.
The Colossi are all equally huge and vary enormously but whether you have to climb up the hair on the Colossus' leg to stab it in the head or trick it to hit a building in order to collapse the bricks onto it's back and shatter it's armor, they are now the puzzle, not the location.
All in all, SoTC is a superb game and I would heartily and openly recommend it to anyone - I'm certain that I'll play through the game again on the now unlocked 'Hard' difficulty.
But I do have two gripes.
First of all, if a game is technologically savvy enough to offer me Progressive Scan 480p graphics on a PS2 game, as well as widescreen modes - then why didn't they think to include Dolby Pro Logic II surround?
The game is beautiful in every respect but the audio not being in surround left a bitter taste in my mouth - I kept returning to the options menu in the hope that I just hadn't seen it last time I looked - but alas, it was an omission.
My second gripe is the game world in which SoTC is set.
It's *huge*. Don't get me wrong - it's size isn't my complaint - its that there just simply isn't anything to do!
The player spends a long time journeying to the location of the Colossus - journeying across barren deserts and through red-rock mountain terrain - but there really isn't anything to do..
I can't understand why the developer couldn't have included some smaller enemies to ambush you on your travels..
I admit though, these are extremely minor gripes.
SoTC is a superb game and should be played by every discerning PS2 owner.
I'll be playing it again - (as well as finishing Ico again as I've lost the save file) and I'll be looking at the rumored PS3 sequels (there are two in development I hear) with great interest..
David / RagingAvatar
Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine in the States once said something along the lines of the fact that Killzone was too ambitious for PS2 - something I heartily agreed with.
True, Killzone does have it's flaws. Character models and weapons are superb - but foliage, walls, colour palette? They all look a little bland, a little simple, a little.. well, unfinished.
Killzone had a *lot* of hype to live up to though didn't it?
Touted as PS2's Halo-beater, the FPS game for PS2 to answer the Xbox-owning critics, to silence their shouts and taunts that ask 'where is PS2's Halo?' - Killzone, I would say, foolishly, was apparently the answer.
Killzone was not designed to be a Halo-beater.
Killzone was not designed to be pitched against a game running on far-superior hardware.
From what I can see, Killzone is a game that was a labour of love for many - a game designed to tell a story and create a believable world - a game that seems ultimately rushed, no doubt as Sony wanted Killzone on the market sooner rather than later.
PlayStation 2's Dual Shock 2 controller can't really stand up to Killzone's fine movement shooting - I fiddled continuously with the analog stick settings in the game's options menu.
The engine couldn't cope with all the extra on-screen objects - trying to pull the data from the disc as fast as it could before the next frame shows, but most of the time, too late.
The dialog and voice acting is poor.
The story, ultimately cheesy and cliched.
But you know what?
I love it.
There. I said it! In your face Killzone-haters! :-)
Killzone's single player mode took a few levels to get up to pace but when it started running - it was sprinting!
My criticism to the level designers at Guerilla Games would be to tell them to give me more of the cooler weapons and vehicles sooner in the game, for a shorter amount of time but give me them more frequently - I spent too much of this game running around with a Helghan rifle when I could have been using a sniper rifle, rocket launcher or something.
Actually, I'll also criticize the one-hit-kill sniper rifle - too easy my friends - if you want to make an FPS, make one - but make it so that the player does the shooting - if I shot someone in the leg in real life, they're not dead straight away - and the game shouldn't respond that way either.
But Killzone's online mode is strangely compelling - I return to it frequently - and the single player game, whilst sometimes a chore, kept me coming back for more and more until it was complete.
If Killzone 2 on PS3 can deal with all that model data, if the level designers work hard at balancing the player's progression in terms of ability and weapon availability, if the game is updated to deal with 'modern' gaming features such as online-co-op with drop-in/drop-out - Killzone 2 will be a truely amazing feat.
But thanks to Killzone PS2's great lastability - Killzone 2's purchase from me is guaranteed. Brilliant.
David / RagingAvatar
It's not very common for me to finish videogames.
I take a *very* long time usually to finish anything.
Before finishing Metal Gear Solid 3, the last game I finished was probably Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter on Xbox 360 - which proves it was quite a while ago as I haven't even owned an Xbox 360 in about 6 months..
It takes a game that is something special. Something unique. Something that demands me to drive onwards.
A lot of my friends (and perhaps stray readers of this blog) know that I am quite a Final Fantasy fan - but I have only finished one of the FF games, Final Fantasy VII - and have never managed to complete any of the main story arcs in Final Fantasy XI.
But let me be clear. I am a HUGE Metal Gear Solid fan. I have been since before the release of MGS1 in the UK almost 10 years ago and I have even met MGS director Hideo Kojima.
It pains me to admit though that it has taken me this long to finish MGS3.
Let's give a little back story though.
I didn't buy a PlayStation 2 on immediate release, none of it's games appealed to me. It was certainly very expensive and all it had going for it was Timesplitters (though it was excellent but not a 'killer-app' by any means), Fantavision and Tekken Tag Tournament. (I'm more a Virtua Fighter guy..)
When MGS2 was released though - I had to have one.
Fortunately for me, my Dad was kind enough to buy me one for a late birthday present - and I got to play it a lot when I got out of hospital from knee operations.. (I was kind of injured at the time..)
MGS2 wasn't good.
Graphically superb. Gameplay? Amazing. Story?? Incomprehensible.
The story aspect of the game that had made MGS1 so compelling had been ruined by MGS2's over-complex, over-dramatized, sub-character-who-you-never-wanted-to-play-as's-girlfriend's-rambling's.
MGS2 was an ambitious game, apparently, according to Kojima Production's Ryan Payton in a recent podcast, ruined by poor translation.
I can understand that that may have been a cause but this cost the fanbase dearly as it greatly put me off MGS3.
Don't get me wrong, I bought it as soon as I could. I loved it. At first. But quickly got disheartened in fear of it becoming like MGS2..
More fool me.
'Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater' is a tremendous mark of one team's vision of videogame excellence.
Graphically? Just what you would expect from Kojima-san's team, excellent. MGS3 pushes the PS2 *really* far whilst having a versatile engine capable of lots of simultaneous on-screen explosions and gun-fights.
The fact that MGS3 uses its in-game engine for it's very dramatic and cinematic cut-scenes is indicative of the quality of the rendering engine.
It may not be a very manly thing to admit, but I did actually shed a tear at the end of MGS3. The story was that good. That compelling. That involving and that emotional.
The soundtrack of the game is techno/classical throughout - apart from the emotional scenes towards the end of the game which opt for classical-heart-string-tugging anthems.
Harry Gregson-Williams' composer of the 'Armageddon', 'Chicken Run', Shrek trilogy, 'The Chronicles of Narnia' soundtracks, shows amazing talent at working with other composers - he reworks Noriko Hibino's MGS theme music with his own style and mastery of orchestral range to appeal to your sense of patriotism and loyalty, as does the game's story.
Needless to say, I bought the soundtrack CD.
I shall go this far with this game:
It is the finest example of videogames growing up.
A beautiful story, compelling action and gameplay.
Heart-wrenching plot that drives the player to complete the game and press onwards.
'Metal Gear Solid 3' is one of the finest games I've ever played - not all of it, such as the 'eating' gameplay mechanic or the requirement of player patience (well, the 'stealth' genre isn't for everyone..) may make it a little less liked by some - but MGS3 has guaranteed the safe arrival in the near future of a PlayStation 3 and 'Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots' in my gaming cabinet..
David / RagingAvatar
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
This is a song called 'High Road' taken from their album 'The Rising Tied'.
It's been getting quite a bit of play on my iPod lately - *man* I lurrve my iPod, it's like a music-habit-monitor device.. LOVE. IT.
Saturday, 9 June 2007
Previously, Damien Rice's 'Cannonball' had been firmly sitting at my number 1 in iTunes but 'What I've Done' by Linkin Park, taken from their new album 'Minutes to Midnight' has had over 60 plays since I bought it on the 23/04/07 - so that's in under 7 weeks. That's a lot for one song!
The video is actually, quite disappointing, Chester, LP's frontman looks a little like Rob Halford from 80's metal band, Judas' Priest, I'm not a fan of the leather-village-people look.
SUPERB song though.
Death Cab for Cutie's 'Summer Skin' was one of those Tuesday free downloads from the iTunes Store - and I didn't give it much of a listen at first - but lately it's been soaring up my chart.
Check it out. The video is great but the audio quality isn't too hot - but was the best I could find.
Some of you might know that I am quite a music snob. I don't like adopting other people's music, I like to discover things for myself.
I don't like 'mainstream' music very much and I don't typically 'do' MTV bands.
Forcing me out of my comfort zone - Laura has inadvertently made me addicted to The Fray.
This is the embedded player from their website - I might even buy the album one day.. :-)
EDIT: I removed the embedded player - it got too annoying for me - so it must have been annoying for you.. You can get to it at TheFrayMusic.co.uk
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Anything, and I mean anything about it.
I want UNIQUE complaints so don't repeat something that has already been said - but suggest anything - if you want the PSP to be able to sync it's bookmarks in the web browser with the PS3? Say it. If you don't like the feeling of the Home button on the SIXAXIS, say so! Get it off you chest here.
Oh - and please, keep it clean..
Friday, 18 May 2007
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
This is mainly due to lack of broadband in my flat.. (sigh)
This is my cover of 'Bleeders' by The Wallflowers.
Again, it's a little shorter than the full song - I cut a lot - but you get the general vibe of the whole thing.
It's not too shabby - but again, I removed my own head for the sake of my pride. ;)
I'll hold my hands up and admit that I forgot the third verse.
I also messed up the intro.
And my voice is a little too deep for this kind of song.
I also cut my own head off to avoid great embarrassment.
Apart from that.. it's not bad.
This is for you.
Tuesday, 1 May 2007
By not telling anybody and by seeking an entirely personal agenda, the bomb would most likely be a success.
Currently, the main methods by which terrorist plots are discovered is because those terrorists often don't work alone. They are often working as part of a much larger group and their communication either by cell-phone or e-mail must have been intercepted at some point. Either that or someone from within the group loses their 'courage' and switches sides, handing the information to our anti-terrorist police units.
Monday, 30 April 2007
I played a little bit of GTA3 - (though at the moment I'm kind of
bemused about the content of the game as a Christian.. more on that
another time though..) and went on to read a chapter of John Virgo's
'God's Lavish Grace'.
As a staff team at Christ Church Liverpool, we've been reading this
book over the last few weeks - and as is often the case - I've fallen
behind - and at the moment I'm far, far behind.
So, I thought "Well, if I read a chapter a night for the next week -
I'll catch up nicely!" - so that's what I'm aiming to do.
Personally, as a Christian man, I would openly confess to knowing
about God's grace.
There is nothing that I can do that will draw me away from God.
There is nothing that I can do that will make God draw away from me.
There is nothing that I can do that will make God draw closer to me
or me to Him.
I know all those facts. I know all the doctrinal theory of it.
I've read Romans 5 (please, if you don't know it - check it out - you
can read it over at www.biblegateway.com) - I know the deal.
It's only because of Jesus that I can approach God.
But bravo Mr. Virgo, I've never heard it put like this - and it's the
reason for my late night post:
"Now Christ is your righteousness. Just as when you were in Adam,
your endeavours to live the holy life did not take you out of Adam
and so left you as a sinner, so now you are in Christ and your sinful
actions do not take you out of Christ but leave you still righteous
in his sight. It is by virtue of your relationship with Jesus that
you are thoroughly accepted. Your own personal failings do not take
you out of him and therefore his righteousness still stands to your
The scandal of the gospel is that God is willing to justify the
ungodly. "But to one who does not work, but believes in Him who
justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as
righteousness" (Romans 4:5)"
- Chapter 3, Page 39, God's Lavish Grace, John Virgo
So in the same way that you can't stop being a sinful person without
Christ, you can't approach God without Jesus - the Christian person
cannot make God unapproachable through their action.
So, the person without Jesus - like the Jews in the Old Testament (I
was reading about them in Deuteronomy 29 at staff meeting this
morning) - is constantly trying to keep God's standards - the
covenant commandments - but then realises that because they can't
stop sinning, they just can't keep them!
There is no way that anyone can keep God's standard! No-one can
perfectly do what God asks them to!
God says that the righteous, the sinless, will enter the kingdom of
God. So who can enter then?!
Well, the answer is no-one... alone. No-one can enter the kingdom of
God alone. No-one can know God alone.
No-one... without Jesus.
By being in relationship with Jesus - the Christian person is like an
hour glass flicked over!
The Christian saved by Christ - cannot do anything to make God
unapproachable! Jesus does it all on my behalf! Jesus perfectly meets
The Lord's expectations - I can't add to his perfect attainment of
I can't somehow become more perfect in God's sight! You're
either perfect or your not - how could you be more perfect?!
So, obviously, I can't add to Christ's perfection, He has done it
But the best part, is that equally, I can't take away from Christ's
perfect interceding either..
This weekend is the Square-Enix conference where apparently (I hear) that the future of XI will be announced.. I'm not going to bother holding my breath for a PS3 update to the graphics engine..
OH - and for anyone who is looking for what 3D graphics *should* look like this-gen? Check out Level-5's 'White Knight Story'. I've never seen anything this good in real-time. This is amazing.
On a more personal note, it's back to playing guitar and writing songs when I can at the moment - I feel that's an aspect that has been a little neglected lately.
If I can ever get close to a Wifi connection for long enough I'll upload my cover-video of Damien Rice's 'Cannonball' and perhaps a few others.. I have about 10 videos in the queue. Though I cut my head off a few - I was feeling a little self-conscious.
Anyway, I'm going to run - I'm going to play some GTA3 for a little bit and then go read 'God's Amazing Grace'. What a contrast!
Friday, 27 April 2007
Today I had lunch with Harriet.
Watched a really, just shocking, episode of 'Neighbours'.
Updated and played a little bit of FFXI on my Macbook.
Rejoined the PlayStation Network Beta test groups.
Read lots about PlayStation 3..
Drooled a little bit..
Days off do indeed rock.
Oh and the picture above is the latest of Endrich, taken in Valkurm Dunes.
Endrich is still WHM 18..
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
RagingAvatar.blogspot.com has started anew.
All the old content has been archived away to a secret location.
There's actually many reasons why I've done this - I'm not going into them all now though - but some of the gaming related reasons are because I've left Xbox Live (I sold my 360 to buy a fridge/freezer :s) and have again been drawn back to Vana'diel.
Final Fantasy XI remains my all-time favourite game. Still. Even after all these years there is no other game that can capture my attention the way that that game can.
Endrich is currently: WHM 18, BLM 6, WAR 6. He's coming along nicely.
The current plan is to go to Selbina, get the support job quest finished and then go to Windurst, switch to WAR, level to 20 and complete the Bastok mission 'The Emissary'. A lot to do.
Music for the moment? Well quite obviously I've been listening to the Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan soundtrack as well as Linkin Park's new single 'What I've Done' taken from their soon-to-be-released third record 'Minutes to Midnight'.
Damien Rice is still getting a lot of play time too.. though strangely I keep getting hankerings for The Fray..
Obviously the template for the blog is now wrong - but there'll be lots of updates, changes etc. coming soon.
Can't wait for the weekend - might even have some Goulash..
Friday, 20 April 2007
But James Mielke (aka Milkman) of 1up.com has a great blog which chronicles his gaming habits and his love of music, art and videogames.
I love his blog - but I was quite horrified when I read his article about 'Blue Dragon'..
For those who don't know, 'Blue Dragon' is arguably Microsoft's last hope for Xbox 360 in Japan. It's an RPG directed by Sakaguchi, originally director of the 'Final Fantasy' series, has music scored by Nobuo Uematsu, original composer for the 'Final Fantasy' series and Akira Toriyama designed the characters and artwork. Toriyama is famous in the west for his work on the Dragonball/Dragonball Z/Dragonball GT series.
So, I guess the question has to be asked..
How is it that a game that has so many genre-defining geniuses working on it, can suck?!
Well apparently, Mielke and his famitsu-editing friend come to the conclusion that it's just downright boring and samey.
It appears that videogame design, an ever evolving art form has undone itself. Sometimes the magical old formulas of yesterday don't work so well, ten or twenty years down the line..
Whilst many people today still enjoy 'Pac Man' or (as I understand it a favourite of Andrew Evans':) '1942' - because we've seen twelve iterations of 'Final Fantasy' and have seen it's design and battle systems evolve considerably of the years - returning to (what Mielke describes as) a mish-mash of early 'Final Fantasy' meets 'Dragon Quest' is somewhat painful.
Hopefully, 'Blue Dragon's long delay to western shores is because it's getting quite the overhaul before seeing an American/European release?
I await the final European code before calling my judgement - but unfortunately it's not looking good.
Thank goodness for ol' faithful..
I rejoined 'Final Fantasy XI' again today.
Let the madness begin - I have some real world anxieties I need distraction from.
I have no broadband and can only play online via dial-up.
Final Fantasy XI. I love you.